Friday, May 30, 2008

Are Tutus Too Much?


I'm a huge fan of ballerina chic. I absolutely love the look and feel of leggings, ballet flats, off the shoulder tops and leg warmers. Anything a dancer would wear, I've attempted to pull off. But there's one style feat I'd still like to attempt, the Everest of fashion...the tutu. There's something so feminine and delicate about the precious, puffy skirts, but are they reserved for a select few: little girls and Carrie Bradshaw?

Sarah Jessica Parker immortalized the flirty skirt in the opening credits of Sex and the City. The choice of the now famous outfit was actually a topic of controversy on the set, but Sarah Jessica Parker and costume designer Patricia Field were adamant about its use. The $5 tutu from Parker's personal collection encapsulates the fashion risks that were so prevalent during the show's run, and the quirky, little skirt makes a reappearance in the movie.

So can we mere mortals pull off the same look? Thanks to Ouma Clothing, there's a chance. The Phoenix-based designer sells her ballerina-inspired looks on Etsy. The designs are romantic, sweet and just practical enough. I'm currently in love with this party dress and might just get up the nerve to order one, provided I don't get splashed by a bus when wearing it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Summer Sips: Cosmopolitan Slushy


In honor of the Sex and the City movie, I had to make a cosmo this week. Here's a summery twist on the classic cocktail.

Cosmopolitan Slushy
Recipe courtesy of Real Simple

10 ounce (1 1/4 cups) citrus-flavored vodka
1/2 cup Rose's lime juice
2 cups cranberry juice
2 cups water
4 ice cube trays

Combine vodka, lime juice, and cranberry juice in a pitcher with 2 cups water and stir to blend. Divide between ice cube trays and freeze at least 4 hours or overnight (the drink cubes will freeze only partially). Just before serving, empty trays into a large bowl and using a fork, break up cubes to loosen ice crystals (the ice will be slushlike). Spoon slush into tall stemmed glasses and serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.


Have a summer drink recipe that you love? Send it my way.

Brilliant Blogs: A Sweet Find


Sweet Paul is a blog that simply begs to be looked at. It's my current haven for my calorie-free obsession with food photography. Paul is Paul Lowe, a food and interior stylist who makes dishes seem irresistible. If you're not dying to make these chocolate and coconut cupcakes after seeing this photo, check your pulse. Paul recently worked as the stylist for Slurp: Drinks and Light Fare, All Day, All Night. This gorgeous cookbook features over 100 recipes for all kinds of drinks and complementary appetizers. One look should have you thirsting for more.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Savor Some of Ice Cream's Newest Flavors


A new haven for ice cream lovers called Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream Shop opened in Seattle just two weeks ago. After hearing about their unique and intriguing flavors, I paid the shop a visit. The interior is simple and natural putting all the focus on the complex tastes that reside within. With flavors like balsamic
strawberry, honey lavender, salted caramel and Thai iced tea, it's safe to say, this isn't your run-of-the-mill ice cream shop. So far I've sampled their "scout" mint (a fine representation of America's favorite Girl Scout cookie), salted caramel (a bit too salty for my taste) and Vivace coffee (my favorite so far). If you're not in the mood for funky flavors, Molly Moon also sells the three classics. I have tasted the strawberry, and I'm a big fan of its natural and subtle sweetness.


If you're salivating, but you're not in Seattle, I've come across a few unconventional flavors that are worth exploring:

  • Ben and Jerry have teamed up with Willie Nelson to create Country Peach Cobbler. Peach ice cream is blended with cinnamon-sugar shortbread and a peach swirl. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Farm Aid.

  • Haagen-Daz has also introduced a flavor for a cause. Their Vanilla Honey Bee ice cream blends basic vanilla with a hint of honey, and proceeds fund research on protecting the honey bee population. Bee-autiful!

  • If you're looking for something a little smoother than ice cream, try Ciao Bella's Maple Ginger Snap Gelato. The flavor combines hints of maple syrup, caramel and toffee with bits of gingersnap thrown in to spice things up.

  • Every southern girl's favorite ice cream brand, Blue Bell, has created a new flavor based on the winning entry from their Taste of the Country Flavor Contest. The winning combo features chunks of pineapple, roasted pecans and a strawberry sauce swirl blended throughout their homemade vanilla. The inviting flavor is called Southern Hospitality.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend, and if you haven't gotten the hint, go eat some ice cream!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Manicure Cure


There's nothing like a French manicure to make you feel put together, but who has the time or money for mani/pedis on a regular basis? I've recently found a solution that makes going French a lot easier. Sally Hansen has created a French manicure kit meant to give your hands and feet a salon-worthy look in just minutes. It contains two bottles of polish and a deal-sealing white tip pen, which is crucial for getting those clean French tips. If you've never managed to work well with those guideline stickers or if you lack ambidextrous skills like I do, this kit is a beauty lifesaver. And when chipping occurs, the pen is perfect for touch-ups.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bag Lady


The age old question at the grocery store -- "paper or plastic?" -- has a new answer. Reusable grocery bags are not only a popular and easy way to help the environment, they're also a much more fashionable method for transporting produce. Artist Melissa Vest has created an adorable line of bags, available for sale on Etsy. Melissa's designs are printed on large cotton tote bags that are perfect for hauling groceries or anything else you can think of. Her designs are simple, clever and cute, and Melissa donates $1 of every tote bag sold to local food banks. The bags are a great way to make a stylish and significant statement.

Check out Melissa's blog and all her Etsy shop has to offer.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Summer Sips: Lemon-Mint Cooler


I've begun my search for the perfect summer drink. My journey started with Real Simple as their fine folks have compiled a list of 22 summer drink recipes. For my first attempt at capturing summer in a glass, I chose their lemon-mint cooler. Overall, I'm happy with the drink. While I'm inclined to add an additional cup of sugar to the recipe, it has a clean, refreshing taste, and a pitcher of these will fit right in with a saucy summer meal like jerk chicken.

Lemon-Mint Cooler
Recipe courtesy of Real Simple

1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 12 lemons)
1/2 cup sugar
6 cups water
Lemon slices (to garnish)
1 cup torn fresh mint leaves
Ice
2 12-ounce cans club soda

Place the lemon juice, the sugar, and 1 cup water in a large pitcher. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then add 5 more cups water, the mint leaves, the club soda, a few slices of lemon to garnish, and plenty of ice.


Have a summer drink recipe that you love? Send it my way.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

How Mini Burgers Does It Take?


I can't think of a more appealing form of protein than the mini burger. My favorite chef, also known as Dad, has recently perfected the art form. The secret? Hanger steak. Hanger steak is a cut of meat known for it's flavor. It's sometimes referred to as the "butcher's steak" because butchers are known to keep the cut for themselves. While it's more popular in Europe, hanger steak is slowly infiltrating American cuisine, and what better display of this than the hamburger? So get to know your butcher and discover the cure for your carnivorous hankerings. Serve them up with fries and a root beer, and you've got perfection.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Natural Beauty


Warm weather means exposed limbs, which in my case means it's time to moisturize. After keeping my legs hidden under jeans all winter, it's time for the grand reveal, and Green by Nature is the perfect aid in my beauty preparation. The New York-based company makes all of their products with at least 90 percent natural ingredients, and they donate one percent of annual sales to environmental groups. Aside from all the eco-friendly perks, the products are affordable and smell wonderful (almond cocoa is my favorite). With scrubs, lotions, body butters and creams, you'll be ready to show off those gams again. Green by Nature products are available for sale at Urban Outfitters and online.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A Style Gap


I'll admit it. I shop at the Gap way too often. I know their clothes aren't particularly fashion forward or distinct, but whenever I'm bored with my wardrobe, I can always walk into Gap and find something I like. And by the look of their latest styles, it's time for another visit. From this bold knit top to this flirty, tropical dress, throw in a tote and a pair of sandals, and I'll be set for summer. Of course, what would it all amount to without a pair of jeans? Am I right, Neil Diamond?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Lovin' Spoonful


When it comes to eating ice cream, I have long held the belief that the cold treat is best enjoyed with a plastic spoon. I once heard that metal spoons conduct cold which can numb your taste buds, thereby dulling the flavor of your ice cream. To be honest I have no idea if this is true, but it sounds true, right? Regardless of taste bud science, these spoons are adorable.
The utensils, made from melamine, are creations from Zak! Designs and are available for sale online. They're fun, they fit hands perfectly, and they're dishwasher safe. Zak! Designs has created all kinds of durable and brightly-colored products, including bowls, cups, plates, colanders and more. The cheery designs are a perfect dinnerware solution for picnics and outdoor parties, and they just might help you enjoy that next bowl of ice cream.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Something's Brewing


Every southerner knows how to stir up a batch of sweet tea. It's easy stuff, basic brewing with Luzianne or Lipton and a lot, I do mean a lot, of sugar. It's brilliant in its simplicity. But if you're looking for something a little more exotic, check out this iced tea collection from Harney & Sons. A colorful tote comes packed with two tumblers, two silver stirring spoons, a tube of Key lime cookies and four iced tea blends, including herbal raspberry, passion fruit, organic green and organic peach. It's a summery solution for tea fans and another gift idea for Mom's Day.

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Pie That Must Not Be Named


This Saturday marks the 134th Kentucky Derby. If you think you don't care, just remember, the event is about much more than horses. For me, the draw is all the classic southernness, ranging from mint juleps to wild hats. There's also a pie associated with the event ...a very controversial pie.

You see, I was raised on what has always been referred to in my family as Derby Pie, but apparently we have been eating dangerously close to the edge. The name Derby Pie is trademarked by Kern's Kitchen, the company/family who created the "secret" recipe. No one else, not even Bon App├ętit magazine who lost a court battle to Kern's Kitchen, is authorized to label a recipe as Derby Pie.

Today, there are all sorts of variations of the dessert, some with walnuts, some with pecans, some with bourbon, some with butterscotch. Whatever you want to call it, this pie is simple, deadly sweet and ooey-gooey good. It's best served warm with a glass of milk or next to a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Chocolate and Pecan (Not Derby) Pie

1 stick of butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup flour
1 cup sugar (combine flour with sugar)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup of chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients. Pour mixture into unbaked pie crust and bake for 40-45 minutes.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme


There's something about people who have herb gardens that really impresses me. It just seems so industrious. If you happen to be so inclined, there's a slew of merchandise to make the whole process easier. For a start, this iron caddy and set of pots from Crate and Barrel can house your plants either indoors or out. Crate and Barrel even sells kits that contain everything you need to grow your own basil, mini tomatoes or oregano. Of course, you'll need herb snips to harvest your tiny crops and my new favorite gadget, a rolling mincer, to chop up all the leafy goodness before cooking. I'm actually quite motivated to give it a try, but for now I'll just eat from these herb-inspired bowls ...and listen to Simon and Garfunkel.

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