Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Androgyny in the Air

Last year, D&G launched a line of five fragrances based on cards of the tarot. Included are numbers 1 (Le Bateleur, the Magician), 3 (L'Imperatrice, the Empress), 6 (L'Amoreux, the Lovers), 10 (La Roue de la Fortune, the Wheel of Fortune), and 18 (La Lune, the Moon). Each has a distinct scent, and they have all been formulated as unisex scents, flattering and appealing to both men and women.

Number 10, the Wheel of Fortune.

Although the bottles only come in one size (a 3.3-ounce EDT), I'd say that it's money well spent, as you can return to these scents again and again. While I find that they're best for daytime, you may find a nighttime use for them, as well. Plus, with six to choose from, you're sure to find the scent that's right for you. And besides--the clean design of the bottle will look absolutely chic in your boudoir!

Image via Sephora.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Seemly Wreckage

Alexis Bittar is a pretty fabulous jewelry designer. His pieces are always interesting, at the very least, and at their best, they are transcendent. Take, for example, the Modern Georgian Gold Small Interlaced Cit Hydroqz Earrings:

They're from a line called Miss Havisham, named after the crazy wreck of a woman at the center of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations and riffing off of Georgian jewelry. The best part about these earrings isn't even the beauty so much as it's the name of the cut of the pale blue stones: the Drunken Marquis. Awesome, no? At any rate, I think they're lovely and just the thing for a holiday party, or any special occasion.

Buy through Alexis Bittar for $195.00.

Image via Alexis Bittar.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

To the Mall!

While you're out shopping this holiday season, you might find it a bit easier to carry a small bag, maybe for safety reasons or perhaps because you know you're going to be buying loads of things and don't want to be weighed down by a full-sized handbag. But of course you'll want to look cute doing it. So, ladies, I propose you find yourself a nice wristlet, such as the Simply Vera Vera Wang Asymmetrical Pleated Wristlet:

It opens fully across the top and has enough room for your ID, credit card, some cash, and even a tube of lip gloss--in other words, everything you'll need for an excursion to the mall. Plus, bonus? It can double as a party wristlet, since the icy blue is the perfect color for winter!

Buy through Kohl's for $19.99.

Image via Kohl's.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

WWBFD?: An Introduction

You all know I love Bobby Flay, right? Well, if you didn't, now you do. So I met him two weeks ago. He was signing books at a Barnes and Noble and I went with my best friend. Turns out he's even lovelier in person than he is on television. And he signed a book for me!
Holy crap Bobby Fucking Flay signed my cookbook omg.

It's the Throwdown cookbook, which is cool because it includes Flay's recipes as well as his opponents' recipes. And I've decided to take this cookbook on as a sort of project. Once every six weeks or so, I'll tackle one item and share the results with you. I won't fix every recipe; that's just not practical for my life. But the more accessible ones will definitely find their way here. Look for the first post in mid-December!

In the meantime, please ask yourself: what would Bobby Flay do? (He'd challenge us all to a throwdown, that's what he would do. But in the absence of Bobby Flay, his cookbook--and my use of it--will have to suffice!)


PS Thanks to Kristi, who asked me in a completely different context what Bobby Flay would do.

Lacy Style

As winter approaches and you try to plan your holiday outfits, you might find it's hard to make a decision. Do you want to be sparkly? Sophisticated? Festive? Personally, my style falls on the streamlined end of the spectrum, but I also appreciate great details, which is why I love the House of Harlow 1960 Lillian Lace Overlay Pump:

The black-on-black means that the lace is subtle, but still very ladylike and lovely. And since black is a neutral color, you can pair this shoe with almost any color dress, be it white, silver, red, green, blue, purple, etc. Try adding some pearls to your outfit for a classic touch, or a spiky necklace for an edgier look!

Buy through ShopBop for $198.00.

Image via ShopBop.


Friday, November 26, 2010

"What Elegant Prayer Can I Pray Now?"

I know I recently said I wouldn't make discussions of books a regular part of What We Covet anymore, and I totally meant it. Except within a few days of making that decision, I found out that a poet friend of mine by the name of Nancy Henry recently released a new collection of work called Sarx. When she put out a request asking if anyone might be able to review it for her, the only possible answer was yes.

At 124 pages, this is a sizable collection. Not a single one of those pages is wasted. Nancy's personality comes through in each poem. A few poems call to mind Wallace Stevens, a few Carl Sandburg, but mostly what I hear is Nancy's voice. Lines like, "There's plenty of room on this Olympus-- / okay, so it's a hill, / maybe more of a gentle rise, / but it's what we've got" and "It's like Fantasia on acid / in Surround-sound" bring her slanted world-view into focus through humor. I mean, come on--you have to at least respect a woman who's willing to name a poem "Amazing Rocket Boobs to Mars." And "Talking Dirty" is worth the read just for the line about logophilia. (Trust me.)

But she also has her quieter moments, such as when she writes, "I am waiting / for you to make me a blossom / that will open / into something bright with nectar / from this hard stunted bud." One of my favorite poems in the book, "Hymn," is a prime example of how you don't have to set off all sorts of bells and whistles to convey something poetically. What's more is that if ever anyone truly channeled Walt Whitman in a poem, Nancy is that person and "Hymn" is that poem.

Henry also has a message to share. While it's present in every piece, to an extent, it's stated fully in "Photograph": "and whatever scares you // do it harder." Hearing Nancy say it makes me want to do it. I think you'll feel the same when you read her work.

Buy through Moon Pie Press for $11.00.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

People We Covet: My Family

Today we give thanks, and the act of giving thanks is a deeply personal thing. Maybe you're thankful for your your house, or your convertible, or your XBox. That's totally fine. Me, I just happen to be thankful for my family this year.

I don't mean to imply that I'm not thankful for them every year. What I mean is that it's been a rough couple of months for all of us, and I'm really glad that 1) things haven't gone worse than they have and 2) we've stuck together through it. Not that I would expect any less; we may all be just this side of insane, but we're all pretty legit. And I can't think of a better crew to covet.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving, Part 2: Cranberry Orange Chutney

To be honest with you, I'm the kind of girl who really loves jellied cranberry sauce in a can. Quite frankly, I think it's a spectacular thing, and Thanksgiving just doesn't feel like Thanksgiving without it, at least for me. Some of you may enjoy cranberry sauce but not appreciate the canned stuff quite like I do. And for you, I have a great recipe that will satisfy your need for tart, sweet salvation: cranberry orange chutney.

The recipe comes from the Fresh Market, one of my all-time favorite stores. And, like Saturday's green beans amandine recipe, I used this one at last year's Thanksgiving dinner. Also, like the green beans, this recipe is very simple. Even I couldn't find a way to screw it up, which means I automatically give it an A-plus. Wait for it:

- 1 bag (about 8 ounces) whole cranberries, as fresh as possible; these are super-easy to come by in November and December, thanks to the holidays
- 1 orange, juiced and zested
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick

Put everything into a saucepan and turn the heat to medium. Let the mixture simmer until you have something that approximates a sauce (the berries will burst). This took about 25 or 30 minutes for me, but then again, everything I make on my stovetop takes just a little bit longer, maybe because it's so old. Let the sauce cool in the fridge, and take the cinnamon stick out before serving. 

What I like about this recipe is that it's a great last-minute addition to your meal, and the color is so beautiful that you can't help admiring it. Plus, it's delicious! Try it this Thanksgiving; you won't regret it!

For the official recipe, click here.

Image by the USDA via Wikipedia.


The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide, Part 12: A Gift to the World

I very firmly believe in giving back, and I feel it's necessary to put our best foot forward at all times, especially in the cold winter months when life can be especially hard on the needy, and donate whatever we can, be it time or money. With that in mind, I encourage you to find a local or national charity whose mission you can support. 

One of my personal favorites is Heifer International, an organization that works to eradicate hunger and poverty through practical education and a pay-it-forward system. They operate all over the world, including in the United States, providing families with animals that can help bring nutrition and income to the community. 

Maybe the greatest thing about Heifer is that they give you all sorts of opportunities for giving. If you have only $10, that's all right; it will cover a share of a sheep. If you have $850, that's cool, too; it will buy a camel. If you have something in between those two numbers, you can buy a pig, a flock of ducks, some honeybees, or even trees, among other things. 

Personally, I hope to someday have enough money to purchase a gift ark, $5,000 worth of livestock that can help dramatically alter the lives of people in all corners of the globe. But I hope that you'll consider sending at least a little bit of money somewhere--if not to Heifer, then to your own favorite cause, be it a soup kitchen, your local fire department, an aid group such as the Salvation Army, or someplace else entirely. (If you're looking for more ideas, consider taking a look at the White Envelope Project, a non-profit that can help you connect with a charity that suits you.)

Check out heifer.org, Heifer International's official website.

Image via Heifer International.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide, Part 11: The Resident Nerd

Plenty of my pals are pretty nerdy. (We used to sit around watching the History Channel on Friday nights. Nothing is nerdier than that.) Surely you're also close with someone who skews toward the history, comic book, sci-fi, or fantasy areas of the spectrum. And here's a gift that's sure to please even the most discriminating nerd out there: a miniature ornament set from Hallmark featuring Boba Fett and Han Solo (frozen in carbonite!).

I can almost guarantee that if your friend has any kind of soft spot for Star Wars, he or she will love this. There are people in the world who are very serious about their carbonite, after all. And besides--it's a generally accepted fact that Boba Fett is a total badass. End of story.

Available through Hallmark stores for $14.95. 

Image via Hallmark.


Monday, November 22, 2010

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide, Part 10.5: The Maureen

I'm sure you all have been wondering where I am. Well, for the beginning of November, I participated in National Novel Writing Month. I lost steam after 14,000 words and gave up after 16,000. I am proud of my accomplishments.

But I've had a lot of time to think about writing. One thing I learned was that I get grumpy if I do too much typing. I like sitting down at a desk and writing stuff in cursive and drawing arrows all over the page and doodling stick men in the margins.

I also learned that I am not good at keeping track of my pens. Here is my current, up-to-date pen count: My fountain pen that I lose every other week, and a full Pilot G-2 (I've talked about these guys before), and miscellaneous others that I don't use. I also have no idea where that Pilot came from. None. It appeared as if by magic.

So the obvious solution is to get more pens. Pens like this one:

A member of the Libelle Alphabet Collection, this lovely fountain pen is covered with letters! Letters are my favorite! It also won't break the bank too much if you decide to give this pen to your favorite Maureen, novelist, professor, Luddite, or lover who should write you letters but doesn't. I do not recommend breaking the bank all the way to give a Montblanc to your quiet lover. Perhaps a phone card.


Image via Fountain Pen Hospital.

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide, Part 10: The Quirky Friend

If you're anything like me, you have an unusual friend or two. (Or, you know, all of them.) And shopping for such people can be difficult--something too common might bore them, but you don't want to insult them with something too outrageous, either. Striking the right balance between whimsy and likability is a challenge! But here we have the Tinysaur kits: miniature models of dinosaurs (either a T. Rex or a Triceratops) that you make yourself.

Made from laser-cut oak, these kits are involved and come with a pair of tweezers and a tube of glue to facilitate assembly. Each kit will keep the stranger buddies of yours occupied and hopefully fill them with glee! I mean, come on--who doesn't love tiny dinosaurs?)

Image via Uncommon Goods.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide, Part 9: The Decorator

There are few things that say, "Winter is here" like snow on the ground. But for those living in warmer climes where it rarely snows--and when it does, it doesn't stick--or who prefer not to go outside and see the literal manifestation of all things chilly, we have to make the inside of the house a winter wonderland. If you know someone like this, you might want to help them out with an all-white glossy deer head sculpture:

Sure, it looks kind of strange at first, but consider the possibilities! It could go over the fireplace, in a cabin, on the wall at the top of a flight of stairs, or somewhere else, maybe with garland draped over the antlers. No matter what, it brings a certain flair to the wintertime home, and would make a great addition to the collection of any home decorator with a mid-century aesthetic, or even someone with a rustic side.

Image via Z Gallerie.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thanksgiving, Part 1: Green Beans Amandine

I like green beans. Actually, I love green beans. And I think they make a great side dish, as they go with so many meats, especially chicken, pork, and turkey. So of course I enjoy seeing them on the table at Thanksgiving. (Or, you know, any day, really.) Last Thanksgiving, I made dinner for my parents (with some help from both of them) in my totally tiny kitchen, which was an ordeal, but everything turned out really well, and one of my favorite items on the menu was--what else?--the green beans amandine!

For those of you who don't know, amandine is just the fancy French word for an almond garnish, which is to say that these green beans were complimented by toasted almonds.

The recipe couldn't be simpler: steam up some washed, fresh green beans. While they're steaming, toast the almonds in your oven. When the green beans are done, toss them with the almonds, just a little bit of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. They won't cause too much trouble for you, and they won't take up too much of your time, either, which helps to streamline your Thanksgiving celebration. Enjoy!

Image via Wikipedia.

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide, Part 8 The Traveler

Ward Maps in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is a tiny place--the store is no larger than two dorm rooms stuck together--but it's full of fascinating cartographic artifacts, including a great selection of vintage maps depicting locations across the United States and around the world. One of their coolest products, in my opinion, is their messenger bag:

These bags are fully customizable: you can choose any map from the Ward collection and have it printed on the bag. Perhaps you want to buy one with the recipient's favorite city on the front, or maybe you want to buy one with a map of their hometown, the better to remind them that they have a place to which they can return after a long business trip. Either way, this makes for a functional and personalized gift for the traveler in your life!

Image via Ward Maps.


Friday, November 19, 2010

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide, Part 7: The Bookworm

Do you remember that scene in The NeverEnding Story (the 1984 film, rather than the 1979 novel) where Bastian goes into the book store and the dude who runs the place gets all cryptic on him? Well, it turns out that that dude has a doppelganger who happens to run a book store. No joke. It's called the Dawn Treader Book Shop, and it's located in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The place is so so packed with books that they actually have maps on the shelves to help you figure out where you are: 

But the upshot is that you can find all sorts of cool things there, even a selection of rare and antiquarian books. Topics range from such expected things as literature and history to the less common, like freemasonry and tapestries. Some of their inventory is available for purchase online, but I think the greatest holiday gift for your book-centric loved ones would be a trip to the store itself.

When you go to the front desk, take a minute to talk to the proprietor--a very interesting man, to be sure-- and pay special attention to your surroundings. I believe you'll find that they have a little bowl full of marbles that's labeled something along the lines of, "Have a marble, leave a marble. Need a marble, take a marble." In my personal opinion, that's much better than the "Need a penny, take a penny" system, if for no other reason than the sheer whimsy of it all.

Visit the Dawn Treader Book Shop website, or contact them at 734/995-1008 for more information.


PS If you can't make it to the Dawn Treader due to geographic limitations, find a similar establishment in your area. Frequenting used bookshops helps you to save books from landfills, promote literacy at a reasonable price, and support small businesses, all of which are admirable goals, especially during the holidays!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide, Part 6: The Teenager

Throughout the ages, teenagers have almost universally had one thing in common: a certain unhappiness with their parents. But imagine living with your parents--and five other people--in a space that's been mostly closed off from the world, with bombs exploding nearby and airplanes flying overhead while a war rages on and the government denies you the right to ride your bicycle, hold certain jobs, or even see movies in the theater. If it seems like an exaggeration to the average teenager today, one way to bring home the realities of the world--and help them see that maybe their own situations aren't so bad--is to share this story with them.

Some of you may have guessed already, but I'm talking about The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank's account of her time living in the Secret Annex, a hidden apartment in Amsterdam, during World War II. Obviously this is geared more toward a young female audience, but I think that young men can learn lessons from it, as well, and that it is an important work, if not the most uplifting thing you'll ever read.

The good news is that, although it may bring you down, Anne Frank's story is very important and will stick with you throughout your life. It teaches us that no one is perfect, that it is necessary to keep your faith (in whatever--God, humanity, yourself) through the darkest of days, and that we are never alone in our struggles. Above all, it teaches us that although we may all be different, we all require a little bit of understanding and a little bit of love. If that's not a great lesson to learn during the holidays, I don't know what is.

Image via Barnes and Noble.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Step Up for the Ice Cream Sandwich

So, you remember those ice cream sandwiches they used to sell in the ice cream truck? The kind with vanilla ice cream between two chocolate cookies? Well, I always loved those, and I still do. Except I've found what's basically the Cadillac of ice cream sandwiches, and I love it: the Snickers Ice Cream Brownie.

Just imagine it: a block of Snickers ice cream enveloped by brownies with peanuts and caramel. It. Is. Delicious. I could eat them everyday, if I really put my mind to it, and I wouldn't even feel bad about it--that's how delicious they are. (I find them particularly delightful at the height of summer.)

These little frozen delights are often available individually at convenience stores, and you can generally find them in packs of four at the grocery store. Try one today, even if you don't think you like Snickers; they just might change your mind!

Visit the Snickers website for more information.

Image via On Second Scoop.


PS Yesterday over at What We Covet, I wrote about some exciting vanilla products. Check it out here.

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide, Part 5: The Listener

If you have an avid music lover in your family, chances are that you regularly see that person walking around, plugged into an iPod, body moving to the rhythm. If they're at all sensitive to technology, they may even bemoan the poor sound quality that often comes through their earbuds. But there's good news: Dr. Dre, the well-known rapper and total badass, has pioneered a new line of headphones called Beats by Dr. Dre. They're meant to deliver higher-quality sound and enhance the listening experience. The bad news is that they're pricey, but the good news is that they look great, especially the Heartbeats, a Beats collaboration with Lady Gaga, seen here:

Giving the gift of sound this holiday season might just be the way to go. Maybe the recipient will even let you listen in every once in awhile, bringing the whole family together through music.

Check out the selection at the official Beats by Dr. Dre website.

Image via Beats.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide, Part 4: The Foodie

We all know someone who loves to cook or bake, or maybe just someone who really likes to eat. For those who get handy in the kitchen, consider buying one of several Nielsen-Massey Madagascar vanilla products available through Williams-Sonoma.

Options include 4 ounces of vanilla extract, 8 ounces of vanilla extract, whole vanilla bean pods, vanilla paste, and vanilla sugar. The best part is that there are so many options when you give the gift of vanilla. For example, the sugar could be put to good use to sand the glass of a sweet martini, the extract could help make some cupcakes, the bean pods could be used for homemade ice cream, and the paste could be used in  a creamy frosting. Plus, bonus? Should you give any of these products to someone you see often, you may even benefit from the application of them! It's an easy way to sweeten up the holidays and someone's life.


Monday, November 15, 2010

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide, Part 3: The Fashionista

My personal favorite designers are (more or less in this order) Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole, and Alexander McQueen, may he rest in peace. But I'm going to pass them all up today to bring you an item that I think pretty much any fashionista would want in her closet: the Foliage Priscilla fringed silk dress in red from Elizabeth and James.

This dress is totally adorable, and the perfect color for a holiday party. Pair it with dark gray leggings and black booties, plus a leather coat and a silver clutch, and you're totally in business. Elizabeth and James is an up-and-coming label, or maybe an already-here label, helmed by the Olsen twins (yes, those twins), and I'm particularly fond of their shoes, myself, and their clothes grow on me, as well. Maybe the fashionista in your life will feel the same!

Buy through the Outnet for $187.50.

Image via the Outnet.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide, Part 2: The Moviegoer

As you know, I'm a big fan of movies, and one of the most fantastic contributors to film has been, consistently, Clint Eastwood. Now, 35 of his films have been anthologized in a single set from Warner Brothers, starting with Where Eagles Dare (1968) and ending with Invictus (2009).

The man is a true giant of cinema, and that's more than evident in this collection, which includes such stellar films as Unforgiven, Eastwood's 1992 Oscar-winning tour de force, and  2008's Gran Torino, which is close to my heart, as it is set in (and was filmed in) Michigan. And the fact that these films cover the second half of Eastwood's career stand as a testament to the fact that he's only gotten better with age. 

Any movie lover would be happy to have this set on the shelf, as it will provide entertainment for years to come. Consider it for the film fanatic in your family!

Image via Barnes and Noble.


Saturday, November 13, 2010


So, I had this flash of inspiration last week while I was grocery shopping. Mostly I was looking for easy food that would get me through a busy week, and food items that could multitask--for example, vegetables that could be adapted to different kinds of recipes. I realized I was having a craving for spaghetti, and so I started thinking about what might pair well with pasta. 

And it hit me: I could make chicken parmigiana. Better yet, I could buy myself a box of frozen chicken nuggets and make miniature chicken parmigiana. 

I felt like a total genius. It got even better when I went to the pasta aisle and found that Barilla makes miniature versions of some of its pastas, most notably mini wheels and mini penne. The whole thing was way too perfect. I mean, look at how cute this pasta is!

Anyway, the whole thing was so easy. I put a little dollop of Newman's Own Marinara on top of each nugget, then threw a dash of mozzarella cheese on top and stuck it in the oven. The end result looked like this:

The final result was not only delicious, but it was also adorable:

It's the perfect meal for someone looking to whip something up at the last minute, or for a little kid with an appetite for Italian food. Try it out; you might find that you like a mini meal!


The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide, Part 1: The History Buff

As of today, we have almost a month and a half left until Christmas, and only about two weeks until the start of Hanukkah. But have no fear; I'm here to help you with my handy-dandy Holiday Gift Guide! (Be warned--this post is long, but it could prove helpful to you!)

There will be one post  per day for the next twelve days, and each time, I'll share a single item geared toward a specific segment of the population. Perhaps these won't suit your needs, but I hope that they will at least serve as springboards for your holiday search! Today, we start with one of my favorite types of people, the history buff.

Personally, I'm fascinated by the American Revolution, and I really love the History Channel. When these two things come together, I love every second of it. So here we have the 2-disc Founding Brothers DVD set:

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name by Joseph J. Ellis (who, as it happens, wrote a damn good biography of George Washington), this set covers some of the most pivotal moments in the founding of America, including that most unfortunate of duels between Burr and Hamilton. Best of all, it's reasonably priced, so giving the gift of history won't set you back like, say, an antique would.

Buy through the History Channel's store for $39.95.

Image via history.com.


Friday, November 12, 2010

"Here She Comes; It's Killing Time"

You remember way back in April when I was talking about how Franz Ferdinand sounded to me like the soundtrack to 1960s Britain? Turns out that Karen Elson is their long-lost counterpart or something, because her first album, The Ghost Who Walks, gives me that same feeling, but in a different way.

Now, as it happens, Karen Elson is more well-known for one of two things: either her marriage to Jack White of the White Stripes or her modeling career. In fact, she is one of my favorite models ever, thanks to her always perfect facial expressions and the way she carries herself (and, as a side note, she recently replaced Angelina Jolie as the face of St. John and is doing very well, in my opinion). And while I think that modeling is her true calling, she's done a bang-up job of putting an album together, as well.

Coming in at around 42 1/2 minutes, it's not a particularly long album (the longest song runs 4:21, but most range between 3:00 and 3:50). But in twelve tracks, Elson covers a good deal of ground. The title track has a distinct 60s-era garage sound, possibly influenced by Jack White, although Elson strikes me as the kind of person who came to this sound on her own, and that's why she and White are such a good match. Something interesting to note about "The Ghost Who Walks" is that it works just as well acoustically as it does with a full band, and in fact, the first time I ever heard it was the acoustic way. See here for the acoustic and here for the full band. Note, though, that these videos were recorded live, so even the full-band version sound as little different than the album cut. The upshot of this is that you realize that she's not just some overproduced rock star's wife--she actually knows what she's doing.

In contrast to the garage sound are the more country-influenced tracks, "Lunasa," "Cruel Summer," "The Last Laugh," and "Mouths to Feed" (and when I say country, I mean the more classic country sound, like the kind of songs you'd hear on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack). Other sounds also abound. "100 Years from Now" is a strange carnival-type song and has a Mary Poppins kind of vibe to it. There's a certain kind of urgency to "Garden," and it calls to mind the very best aspects of 1990s alternative music. "The Thief at My Door" calls to mind Sheryl Crow's "Weather Channel."

But for me, the tracks that stand out the most are "Stolen Roses," "The Truth Is in the Dirt," and "Pretty Babies." "Stolen Roses" sounds a bit like the flip side of Madonna's "La Isla Bonita 2008" with its Roma-influenced tones. But at the same time, it takes the country influence, and I can almost hear Hank Williams singing this song. "The Truth Is in the Dirt," on the other hand, pulls more of the garage rock sound in, fusing it with a blues-type structure, evident in the repetition of certain lines. And in a way, the chorus is almost a battle cry: "Here she comes; it's killing time. / Flames are burning behind her eyes."

"Pretty Babies," my very favorite song on the album, calls to mind The Hives' cover of "Find Yourself Another Girl" (from their album Veni Vidi Vicious) plus Scott Weiland's "Lady, Your Roof Brings Me Down" and "Divider," with part of "Barbarella" (from his first solo album, 12 Bar Blues) thrown in for good measure. Again, a certain Sheryl Crow sound is evident, as well as a touch of Fiona Apple. The best thing is that everyone can relate to the lyrics. For example, "Gambled every bit of sense I had, / And now I've lost it all to you" and "I watch the faces as they pass me by; / I'm hoping that I'll see you." Basically, it's one of the most perfect break-up songs ever.

I hope you'll check Elson's work out; she's really very good, and I think we can expect more good music from her in the future.

Buy the whole album through Best Buy for $13.99.

Images via Elson's website.


PS This marks the last of my regular music postings. I'll also be putting movie, television, and book postings on hold for the time being to focus solely on the fashion and housewares aspects of the blog. Of course, I will occasionally make some commentary on a book, song, film, or show, but only when it's something really spectacular. And who knows--maybe the day will come when I decide to bring those things back into the fold completely. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the things I do share with you!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Gobble, Gobble

I'd like to make a disclaimer before I share the following book with you: having never looked through it myself, I have no idea if it's worth the money, but given the origins, I think it's a safe bet. The book, in case you're wondering, is the Betty Crocker Complete Thanksgiving Cookbook.

I mean, if anyone knows anything about American food, it's Betty Crocker, right? So it stands to reason that their recipes would be perfect for this particular holiday. And just look at that turkey on the cover--golden and ready to carve. If you're looking to start your own Thanksgiving traditions, this book would probably be a good thing to have.

Image via Betty Crocker.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fried Rice

As promised, I'm bringing you the fried rice recipe that I paired with my teriyaki shrimp last week. It's more or less delicious. And although I wish I could take credit for it, it's actually based on a recipe from Rhonda Parkinson at about.com (you can see the original here). 

The base of this recipe is rice. I like to use plain old white rice, but I've also used Jasmine rice, which is less sticky than some varieties. Minute Rice is my go-to brand; their boil-in-bag rice is easy to retrieve from the pot and to drain. Four cups--two bags--will serve about four people. Boil up the rice, then drain it and put it in a bowl in the refrigerator until cold. (Although it can be fried warm, it should really be cold.) 

In the meantime, scramble up an egg or two, chop some green onions, and throw them into a bowl together. Set them aside. 

Turn on your frying pan (I use cast iron) and melt just a little bit of butter in the bottom. Put some of your cold rice in the pan, leaving plenty of room for some stirring action. Make sure you have a bottle of soy sauce on hand; my favorite is Kikkoman low-sodium soy sauce. If you're feeling bold, add a little teriyaki sauce.

Let the rice warm up a little, then pour a bit of the soy sauce over it. Add some of the eggs and onions, then stir and cook until golden, like this:

Serve up with the aforementioned teriyaki shrimp, or whatever kind of meat you'd like. You can even add meat to the rice!

Nothing could be easier than this fried rice. I recommend it if you're cooking for a crowd, since it's so simple and quick. 


PS Check in at What We Covet tomorrow for a post about a cookbook!

Tucked Away

If you're not familiar with Design Toscano, you might not know that they sell some pretty weird stuff. If you're looking for, say, a life-sized sarcophagus, you're in luck. Or what about that garden Bigfoot statue? They've got you covered. But scattered in among the strange and occasionally horrifying things you can find a gem or two, such as the Nettlestone Library Ensemble:

This is a pretty neat little set. When you push all three pieces together, it looks like a circular bookshelf. But when you pull it apart, as in the picture, you get two seats and a tabletop, perfect for brunch or tea. As an added bonus, there are hidden compartments for storage. It would make a great Christmas gift for a book lover or anyone who's short on space but big on coziness!

Image via Design Toscano.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Finger Bone's Connected to the Hand Bone

It's not often that I wear rings, partly because they just seem to get in the way, but as you know, I do love a good cocktail ring, especially one with personality. For example, this one from Mawi:

It's gold-plated and the stone is dyed jade. The grape clusters are highlighted by a skull, like something straight out of a fairy tale, or maybe an Alexander McQueen show. This ring is the perfect accessory for a tough businesswoman or a college student with a certain sense of humor. Personally, I would pair it with a wrap dress or a long-sleeved sweater dress for fall. How would you wear it?

Photo via Net-a-Porter.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Sibling Rivalry

Throughout the ages, we've heard many stories of family discord. There's the Oresteia--which, as it happens, is the only extant Greek trilogy (minus the satyr, unfortunately, but more complete than any other Greek cycle). We also have King Lear, of course, and The Metamorphosis, The Virgin Suicides, Atonement, and pretty much anything William Faulkner ever wrote. But for those of us who came of age in the late 1990s or the early 2000s, the prime example of familial dysfunction has to be Cruel Intentions.

An update of Dangerous Liaisons for the teen set, Cruel Intentions is the movie that brought Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon together and gave us Sarah Michelle Gellar making out with Selma Blair. (No, seriously, though, that scene will live in teen flick infamy until the end of days. I can almost guarantee it.) 

For all of its awesome moments--Selma Blair and Sean Patrick Thomas with that cello! Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon's every exchange! Joshua Jackson's hilarious turn as an informant/confidant! Christine Baranski's uptight society mother!--the standout is definitely Sarah Michelle Gellar, who was already well-known as Buffy on the long-running series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, returning to her roots as a bad girl (she had been Erica Kane's conniving daughter Kendall Hart on All My Children for two years in the mid-1990s). Plus she had that cross that doubled as a cocaine receptacle which, while totally not cool on a health, legal, or social level, is so appropriate to her character that you can't help but be impressed.

If you haven't yet seen Cruel Intentions, you definitely should, if for nothing more than the final sequence, which is the absolute best ending for this particular story.

Buy through Best Buy for $9.99.

Image via the Internet Movie Database.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sparkly Kisses

It's very rare for me to find something from Juicy Couture that strikes my fancy. Their use of velour freaks me out, and oftentimes I find their bags too everything--too flashy, too trashy, too branded. However, at least for the moment, they have redeemed themselves with the super-cute Sugar Kiss canvas laptop sleeve.

Think of what a great Christmas gift this would make for a college student making her first trek home--it's pretty and functional, the perfect combination. Or maybe you'll want it for yourself so you can tote your computer between home and work in style. Either way, I think it's a great choice!

Photo via Bloomingdale's.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Eating Out: Olympia Café, Savannah, GA

 I recently had an opportunity to visit Savannah, which is a beautiful town with many culinary options. My first night there, my friends and I took a stroll along the riverfront, looking for a place to get ourselves some dinner. Luck was with us; we found a cute little restaurant called the Olympia Café, a Greek eatery with tons of atmosphere.

At first, this place is thoroughly Savannah: exposed brick walls, green plants all around, and a friendly atmosphere. However, the Greek influence is clear in the decor, with blue chairs and tablecloths, white archways, and lovely little watercolor paintings that depict seaside villages dotting the walls. Although the lighting is dim, candles on the tables provide a soothing glow and engender a real sense of camaraderie with your fellow diners.

As far as the food goes, Ithe fries are on the salty side and the Greek salad is heavy on the iceberg, but the table bread is tasty; the yogurt sauce is mild; and the grilled chicken, for the most part, is left to its own devices--which is to say, unburdened by heavy spices, making it almost perfect. 

I was very satisfied with my meal overall. The price was not at all unreasonable (I paid around fourteen dollars before the tip), and the service was efficient and speedy. Should you ever find yourself in Savannah, you should definitely stop in for a meal!


A Professional Finish

You all know I love kate spade. The company's products range from professional to whimsical, and that's why so many of their bags and shoes appeal to me. Today, it's the Camryn heel in black and white houndstooth:

They fall more on the professional side of the spectrum, but they are also terribly fun, the perfect way to top off--well, bottom off--your work outfit, especially great if you're going out to an event after you leave the office. (Of course, my idea of nightlife usually involves a hot date with the laundry room, but there's no rule that says you can't wash your clothes while wearing heels.) Plus, think of how great this menswear-inspired look will pair with a skirt and bowed blouse. Now that, dear readers, is my idea of a power suit.

Buy through Zappos for $223.50.

Image via Zappos.


Friday, November 5, 2010

"Wasn't It Easier in Your Lunchbox Days?"

For the most part, I don't like Taylor Swift's music, and I want to say that up front. I do, however, think that she is pretty much the classiest girl in the whole wide world. And there is no greater proof of that than a very specific song from her new album, Speak Now: "Innocent." 

More specifically, the proof is in everything that led up to the debut of the song at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards show back in September. In the summer of 2009, Kanye West did a shitty, shitty thing to Swift (who, by the way, has never done anything to hurt anyone, as far as I can tell) when he crashed the stage during her acceptance speech for Best Female Video and not only stole her thunder but insulted her, as well. Swift took it like a trooper, recovering to perform later that night and keeping her head high. West was subsequently lambasted in every venue possible. And yet Swift chose to take the high road and refrained from lashing out.

Image by Angela George via Wikipedia.

Of course, everyone expected her to make some kind of a statement about the situation. So this year, she proved that she was the bigger person when she gently--and somehow very lovingly--chastised West onstage. (She looked completely lovely all the while, as it happens.) The grace Swift has shown is enviable, and I hope that all of her young female fans will look up to her as an inspiration and carry themselves the way she has should they ever encounter tough times. Indeed, in one sweeping gesture, her behavior almost--ALMOST--makes up for that of all the other young female musicians who were unable manage holding themselves to higher standards (I'm looking at you, Britney)

But back to the song. It's very nice, both light in its treatment and heavy in its message. The one line that stands out to me the most is, "Your string of lights is still bright to me." In a way, it's a recommendation not to try to be a constellation in the sky but the simple lights that might adorn someone's room, because it's more important--more accessible. This is a humbling thought, indeed, but still soothing. If only we all had Taylor Swift on our side, life might be more manageable--after all, she seems like a fantastic cheerleader.

Buy through Amazon for $0.99.


PS I would like to wish a very happy birthday to my best guy friend!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Several sellers over at Etsy are fond of recycling the covers of old books, sleeves from vinyl records, or boxes from VHS tapes into covers for notebooks, sticking some blank pages inside and binding them together. I happen to be a fan of this, as you get some pretty banging journals out of the deal. (My favorite--one I bought for myself--was the cover from a very early VHS copy of Star Wars.) I'm terribly fond of the ones using books, in particular, such as this one, from Ciaffi:

Image by Ciaffi via Etsy.

I love the metafictional aspect of the whole thing: you could be writing a book in a notebook made from a book! That might be hard to process, I know. But just imagine the fun of it all!

Buy through Etsy for $14.50.


PS If you're up for a laugh, check out this totally skeevy David Lee Roth notebook. And the completely awesome Pop-Tarts notebook!

PPS There's good news, and there's bad news, and there's more good news. Good: The Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale for Women and Kids is on now! Bad: I'm broke. Good: If you're interested, some of the items I've discussed are available, including the following:

- Frye Joy Sandals, on sale for $129.90, but not in the orange I showed you originally.

- Halston Heritage Alice Stingray Embossed Pleated Leather Clutch, on sale for $163.90, but only in red.

- See by Chloe Monster Tote, on sale for $54.90.

- MICHAEL Michael Kors Sycamore Clog, on sale for $59.90, but only in size 10.

Happy shopping!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fried Shrimp, Grilled Shrimp, Teriyaki Shrimp--That's About It

I have four employees to my name along with a few surrogates, and I have committed to making dinner for them once a month. Sometimes it's a challenge, figuring out what to make. I try to consult with them before planning a meal so that I don't run into any problems with allergies or preferences. This time around, it was pretty easy: they wanted teriyaki shrimp, and they wanted it now.

Actually, that's not exactly how it went. We sat down with some cookbooks and brainstormed a little bit, and then came to a conclusion. And the result was pretty delicious, really. 

First, I thawed some pre-cooked, deveined shrimp. Then I steamed up some frozen broccoli. Once everything was good and ready, I threw it into a frying pan with some Kikkoman teriyaki sauce (which is simple, yet very tasty) and topped it off with sesame seeds, like this:

The end result is not particularly complex, but it is certainly satisfying. I paired it with my own fried rice (the recipe for which I'll be sharing with you next week). I highly recommend this as an easy way to bring some fun to the table!


PS I wrote about a set of dishes over at What We Covet today. Please check it out! You might find that they're good for serving some of this food I've been cooking up!

Sans Blague?

Some of you out there may not know anything about today's items, and thus have no appreciation whatsoever for them, but give something new a try; in this case, I think you'll find it's a good idea. The products in question are these Asterix melamine plates from Black Ink:

(Asterix is the blond one; Obelix is the redhead with the cute dog, whose name is Dogmatix--or Idéfix, in the original.)

All I really know about Asterix and Obelix is that they are Gauls. Also, they speak French, and therefore I do not understand them. However, having watched several of their cartoons in my high school French class (an entire decade ago), I can say with some certainty that they are funny guys. The basic gist is this: they are fighting against the Roman soldiers trying to invade their land. I'm not entirely sure how that turns into comedy, but who am I to argue with Francophone cartoons? 

If you're interested in following their adventures, there's good news: Asterix originated as a comic book series, which is far easier to follow than the show, since you can sit down and translate as you read, rather than trying to keep up with the fast pace of native French speakers as you watch.

In the meantime, check out these plates, which are both bright and fun. Plus, bonus? Melamine is pretty durable, which means that even if you're hard on your dishes, these will probably last you awhile. (The only down side is that they're not microwaveable, but still--they're pretty fantastic.)

Visit the official Asterix website here (in English, with options for French, Spanish, German, and Dutch).


PS I'd like to wish my friend Maria over at I Don't Care for Your Fairy Tale a happy birthday!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Art Attack

Every once in awhile, I come across a cute little piece that fits my personality so well I just have to share it with someone. This time around, it's the Pop Art Pin from the Museum Company Store.

This pin was inspired by Roy Lichtenstein's early-middle, comic book-influenced work (his early pieces were very solidly in the cubist camp; his late-middle pieces fused the comic book ideal with the cubist influences, surrealism, and maybe some art deco; his early-late work moved more into the realm of abstract art; and there was, in the last decade of his life, an interesting turn toward take-offs on his own "Girl" works as well as interior design-like pieces, including a riff on van Gogh's "Bedroom at Arles" paintings). It consists of a splatter shape with a white background and blue polka dots, black edging, and the word "Art!" flying out of it toward the viewer.

It's cute, it's clever, and I think it's the perfect piece for a museum director--a self-referential and yet very fun addition to a business suit. Or it might make a great gift for a college student studying art, something he could pin to his backpack and display with pride!

How would you wear this?


Monday, November 1, 2010

It Gets Better

Today marks the beginning of observation of the Day of the Dead, a Latin American tradition  that seeks to honor loved ones lost. November 1st is designated for children and November 2nd is designated for adults. Consequently, I wanted to take this day to discuss the recent spate of teen suicides.

There have been several highly-publicized stories of LGBTQ youth taking their own lives after enduring years of bullying from peers. The two youngest of these were just 13 years old. Already life had proven to be unbearable for these children, and they each decided to take the most extreme step to solve their problems. This is unacceptable.

Usually, I'm pretty big on keeping my private life private. Part of that is due to my job, which involves mentoring young adults. But sometimes being a good influence means opening up so that your life may affect others in a positive way, so I'd like to post a letter I recently submitted to the It Gets Better Project, a massive undertaking that brings stories of hope and courage to youngsters who have been bullied because of their sexual orientation.


I don't discuss my bisexuality often because I don't feel it's anyone's business who or how I love. However, it is a very important part of who I am, and so I'm happy to share myself with you today to say that it gets better. No matter what kind of bullying you face--whether it's due to your orientation, your size, your nationality, your religion, your choice of clothing, some of the above, or all of the above--it's important to remember that you are special. Everyone has a place in this world, especially those who are somehow outside the arbitrary circle of normality drawn by society. After all, you are the ones who enrich the lives of others by bringing something new to the discussion. Be proud of who you are and please don't let anyone bring you down so much that you want to die.

Your family needs you. Your friends need you. I need you, although we've never met.

If you're looking for support, don't worry--it's out there. Talk to your parents, your teachers, or even me. If you feel you need something more, seek out professional help.

Most importantly, please remember: it gets better.


It's a big risk to take, making this information known on a blog that is open to the public. However, if it means that I've helped just one person, that risk will have paid off. Please take the time to lend your voice to this great cause or reach out to someone in need. You won't regret it.

Visit the It Gets Better Project website.

For help or information, please visit the following websites:

Suicide Prevention

Resources for LGBTQ Youth, Families, and Allies