Monday, January 31, 2011

Fashion Review: Screen Actors Guild Awards

Believe it or not, I think last night was the first time I ever watched the SAG Awards. They're kind of boring in comparison to the other, glitzier awards, but given the choice between an awards show and anything else, I'll always choose the former. The fashion at the SAG awards can sort of swing like a pendulum between haute couture and just pretty clothes, but if I were going, I think I'd try to wear something off the runway that's a little less princessy than an Oscar-type dress. For me, the best dressed folks struck exactly the right balance.

Best Dressed

Mila Kunis in Alexander McQueen looked easy and breezy, and I heard her also say it was an incredibly comfortable dress. I love the photo print and the effortless look of the draping, but it was the styling that really killed it; her hair and make-up were perfect for that dress. She also wore a very fabulous Cartier leopard cuff, which I would die for.

Natalie Portman looked like the sleekest pregnant woman on the block in her Azzaro gown. I'll admit, this isn't my favorite pregnant lady look; it's a bit of a snooze. But she looked so radiant, and her yellow diamond earrings from Tiffany's were just right.

I love when someone random knocks it out of the park. I thought Rosario Dawson's J.Mendel gown was perfectly draped, looked comfy yet sexy, and she rocked a color that few can. Also, the earrings were gorgeous and complemented the simplicity of the gown perfectly.

Claire Danes' Louis Vuitton gown kind of embodied what I think about the SAG awards. It was gorgeous high fashion, but had a fun print and seemed less glitzy than the other award show gowns. I'm sure some people will hate it, but I thought she rocked it.

I'm not sure Tina's Oscar de la Renta was trailblazing, but I thought it was the best she's looked in a LOOOOONNNGGG time. Maybe she finally broke down and got a new stylist?

Some nitpicky British woman on E! didn't like the belt on Jennifer Lawrence's Oscar de La Renta dress, but I quite liked it. I loved the dress because a week ago no one knew who she was, and now she's like, "HELLOOOOO...Oscar nominee over here!" She definitely stood out!

Literally no one else could wear this Prada dress and look as cute and fresh and perfect as Hailee Stanfield does. It's so age-appropriate and such a perfect fit. I also love how she's been able to dance along the line of showing skin in an innocent way.

Sofia Vergara, in this Roberto Cavalli, is so classic va-va-va-voom. She's like a modern-day Sophia Loren, and she knows it, and I love that. She told E! that she just looks like a Cavalli girl, and she's exactly right. This dress looks like she was born in it; the fit is that good.

Close But Not Quite

Theoretically, Amy Adams' Herve LeRoux dress should be a home run, but it was SO tight on her chest. You can't tell in this picture, but in every interview, she looked like she had taped her boobs down like Gwyneth Paltrow in "Shakespeare in Love."

I die for vintage Chanel haute couture, and Dianna Argon is a beautiful girl, but I HATE her shoe choice. My eyes went straight to the clunky clodhoppers just below the hem. Even she looks like she's thinking, "Yeah, I know...totally wrong shoes, I know."

Everything about January Jones' Carolina Herrera gown should work...and I know I would have loved it on the runway. But for some reason, it seemed like a polar opposite reaction dress to her oversexed Versace dress at the Golden seemed like the dress Susan Sarandon should have been wearing. Just a little fusty.

Melissa Leo totally almost made my best dressed list in this Randi Rahm gown, but I think the fit is just a touch tight, and I'm not sold on the shoes. I am sold, however, on whoever her brilliant hair/make-up team has been the past couple weeks.

I can't even articulate what I didn't like about Nicole Kidman's Nina Ricci gown. It just felt like a bit much...the lace, with the low back, with the trim at the neck, with the cross over her eye just didn't know where to go.

Worst Dressed didn't seem to know who the designer of Amy Poehler's dress was, so I'm going to venture to guess it was Banana Republic. Literally, I've worn a variation of this to meetings.

Angie Harmon looked like a pretty pretty princess in her Monique Lhuillier, which to me, seemed just wrong because a) she's not nominated at all and b) it's the SAG awards. Also, it looked like one of those horrible gowns everyone always wants on "Say Yes to the Dress."

When I first caught a glimpse of Christina Hendricks' L'Wren Scott gown, I thought it definitely had promise. It had a sort of Jessica Rabbit quality, which is perfect for her, but then she told E! that it reminded her of a smoking jacket and there it was...forever cemented in my mind as something she stole from the Playboy mansion. Designers of America: This is a real woman. This is your modern Marilyn Monroe. DESIGN SOMETHING WONDERFUL FOR HER! I command you!!!

Oh Edie Falco, I too love a beautiful wallpaper. But that doesn't mean I ask Carolina Herrera to make me a dress version of a Victorian drawing room sofa.

I'm not sure there's anything terribly wrong with Winona Ryder's Alberta Ferretti dress. But between her rather boring vintage bag, her wild-looking hair and the generally sourpuss look on her face, it seems like a coming-out dress that was forced on the goth girl at school by her social-climbing parents. 

So? What say you? I'm getting anxious for some gasp-worthy, blow-me-away Oscar fashion!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday Best v. 47

I find myself often thinking about this fashion editor, Mary Kate Steinmiller, and her adorable shrunken sweaters + circle skirts. I've been hunting for a great circle skirt, but I think that's one trend that hasn't quite trickled down to the mall yet. Still, loving the look! On to the links:

Friday, January 28, 2011

Mod Wedding Dress

I spotted this adorable lace mini dress on Lily Pulitzer's site for a sweet $368. Would it not be the cutest courthouse wedding dress, or even rehearsal dinner dress? I picture it with simple gold bangles and a pixie haircut, or a really great Mary Tyler Moore flip!

Today I Like ... Mamma Mia's Bright Colors

I know I'm only, oh, three years behind on this one, but did you know "Mamma Mia" is surprisingly stylish? I happened to catch it on TV this week and although the movie itself was only so-so, I was swooning over the mix of textiles in the Greek villa owned by Meryl Streep's character. Embroidery aplenty, fun painted furniture, crazy upholstery, flat-weave rugs...sigh.

I loved the milky blue walls and the electric painted sofa, with candy striped upholstery.

The best part? Meryl Streep's character has a fantasy sequence in which she collapses on a pile of gorgeous Josef Frank botanical prints. I have the same fantasy sequences, too, Meryl!

Get the Look...

1) Antique iron headboard, $975 at American Iron Bed Company.
2) Josef Frank "Aralia" pillow, $198 at Just Scandinavian.
3) Thonet ebonized bentwood rocker, from Christies, BUT they pop up all over Craigslist and at antique malls.
4) Benjamin Moore's Rocky Mountain Sky
5) Red Otomi fabric, $265 from Jacaranda Home.
6) Red Stripe Dhurrie, $159 to $499 from Jaipur Home.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Butterscotch Bourbon Bars

My husband has a coworker who apparently delighted in the Jack-and-Coke cupcakes I made earlier this year. This coworker had a birthday earlier this week, and being a glutton for compliments, I decided again to make something that adds a little rock 'n roll edge to the humble baked good.

I did a little Googling around, and stumbled upon this recipe for Butterscotch Bourbon Bars. It sounds like a spin on a Blondie, and the unique combination of flavors seemed perfect. Even better? This is a really, really easy recipe. Like, crazy easy.

Some tips before I go any further: I didn't make any changes to the recipe in the link EXCEPT I doubled the recipe to fit my 13 X 9 baking pan. I do, however, wish these had come out a little more dense and less cakey, so if any of you has a suggestion on how to make that happen, I'm open to it.

Preheat the oven to 350, then mix your dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt and light brown sugar. This is where my "easy peasy quick" dessert took a bad turn; my brown sugar was as hard as a brick. I used a trick recommended on the box: put the brick in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with two damp paper towels, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and nuke it for 30-second intervals. I did two intervals, and it worked just fine.

The problem, however, was that it started to revert to clump form again almost immediately, so I ended up panning for nuggets of brown sugar with a slotted spoon. It was ridiculous, but I got through it.

Next, mix your wet ingredients (EXCEPT BOURBON): milk, melted butter, vanilla extract and eggs. Just whisk them together, no mixer necessary!

Pour the wet in with the dry and give it a few good stirs to mix it.

Then add your bourbon, and stir that together.

Fold in the butterscotch morsels, and pour the batter into a pan, either lined with parchment paper or buttered.

Pop the mixture into the oven for about 20 minutes, then insert a toothpick to see if it's done.

I was surprised how cakey mine came out, but it was still delicious. The bourbon will mostly cook out, but leaves a hint of flavor and mixes fabulously with the butterscotch.

The coworker, by the way, loved them, so I'm basking in my baking success!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Books Little Amber Would Have Wanted

Katie at The Neo-Traditionalist recently posted about a couple of illustrated books that I would have died over when I was a little girl obsessed with bygone eras.

The top one is Mrs. Kennedy Goes Abroad, which features illustrations of Jackie Kennedy's travels as a First Lady. They were painted, and offered as gifts, by French artist Jacqueline Duheme in 1961. The book came out in 1998, and I apparently just missed it! If I were decorating a nursery for a little girl, I'd totally buy a two copies, one to frame the images and one to read! (I'm NOT decorating a nurseries any time soon.)

The bottom one is a new release called Just Being Audrey. It's a children's book about Audrey Hepburn (of course!) that focuses on how her childhood trials and tribulations (growing up in wartime Holland; big feet; a long neck) made her the celebrated beauty she became. Super cute!

Monday, January 24, 2011

New Artwork!

In the past couple weeks, Sean and I really took our domestication to the next level. We got an original piece of art framed! Believe it or not, I had never had something professionally framed. When I was an art student, we cut our own mats and that was just fine for the purposes of displaying around the art building. But this...this had to be done by a professional.

The piece is a GIANT print of a hippo, gifted to us for a wedding present by Daniel Burke, the younger brother of my wedding photographer. We had gone to his senior show, and I had said how much I liked the hippo, and Daniel very sweetly left it on our doorstep the day before our wedding! We were stunned by this generosity, and then put it away and wondered what to do with it.

Ultimately, we went and got a couple quotes and ended up using Hampton Roads Art Wholesalers, who are true pros. (It's also where I bought all my sable watercolor brushes in college!) I chose the silver frame because I wanted something to lighten the heaviness of the black ink, and I also thought it would give it a '70s feel. 

For now, it lives above our sofa, but I think it would be super cool in a kid's room (if it wasn't too scary) or a man cave. I was so energized by the experience of getting something framed (it took 3 days!), that I sat down and measured ALL of our unframed paintings, prints, drawings, etc. and prioritized what to frame next. At the end of this week, we're going to pick up a painting by Sean's cousin, so by next week, we'll have another big piece to hang!

P.S. If you're curious, we hung the print using big picture hooks nailed into studs that can hold up to 100 pounds.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday Best v.46

Kate Spade just added these PERFECT newspaper-themed accessories...I have my eye on the rolled up newspaper clutch, which costs $125. Loving everything from Kate Spade in the past couple years!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hearty Irish Stew

So, this weekend I committed a pretty grave blogger error. I failed to take a picture of the finished dish. I know! Crazy. So you're going to have to imagine the best-looking Irish stew you ever did see.

I decided to suck up to my husband and make one of his favorites, his grandmother's Irish stew. It's classic, hearty fare; no fancy ingredients, just good slow cookin'. FAIR WARNING: We're talking 3 hours of cooking. It's easy, because it's just stirring every once in a while, but you're not going to be eating this within minutes.

First things first, you get your husband to return to his Irish roots and peel some potatoes.

Finally got to use the Le Creuset!!!! Sizzle 3 tablespoons of cooking oil on a high're going to be doing some searing.

Place the freshly peeled and quartered potatoes in a bowl filled with water, to prevent browning.

Chop up some carrots and onions. I like to keep the onion pieces pretty large.

Salt and pepper your meat chunks; you can use beef or lamb.

I tossed the meat pieces in flour, then dropped them into the sizzling oil. Watch out! It is gonna splash, and be generally nasty.

Work quickly to brown, but not burn, the meat pieces.

Once they're browned, turn the heat down to a simmer and add 3 cups of beef broth. Cover and let simmer for an hour.

Add your veggies, and let the whole mixture simmer for another hour or hour and a half. Add salt/pepper/Worcestershire sauce to taste.

Then serve, and watch it vanish into thin air. Seriously. We had friends over for dinner, and this stew was devoured within minutes. Everyone complimented the tender beef, and I have to say, it was definitely tasty. Perfect Sunday cooking!