27 December 2006

Christmas Progress

I’m in Houston, Texas visiting my aunt and uncle and two cousins in a food-filled, happy house, on a street lined with some of the trees of which Houston must be famous. Tale after tale of our childhood; my cousin Ryan’s amazing ability to file information away and if asked to recall a conversation in 1984 he can quote us verbatim; stories of my precocious ways—once being told to tell the flight attendant that I was two so that I could fly for free and insisting that I could not do that for I was “three”—an honesty I must have inherited, but much to my mother’s dismay; and fable of my now very svelte cousin Lauren’s inability to control her eating habits as a child resulted in pockets of cookies, doughnuts, and pies gathering around her midriff.

This year I was invited to join in on a tradition that was developed 10 years ago in this family; a progressive dinner with friends.

It’s really a great concept—it not only gather’s friends together, but it also takes the pressure off of each family, as it is much easier to cook one course rather than three! The idea is that three families decided who will cook what: course one, appetizers; course two, main; course three, dessert. Each course is to happen at each family’s house. This results in more food and drink than should be consumed by one human being—but that results in much happiness.

This year they were disappointed to inform me that one of their beloved has moved away from Houston and so now there were only two houses, which complicated things a bit.

I found the tradition most brilliant, and intend on starting a progressive meal as soon as I arrive back on dry land (this humidity is doing wonders for my hair by the way).

I will leave you today with the menu of our Christmas; I hope yours was as happy and full as mine.

First course prepared by Patty (with cocktails provided by Neal, her husband):

Champagne with a splash of Cranberry Juice for color

Emeril Lagasse’s Crab Dip
Southwestern Cheese Dip

Second Course prepared by my aunt, Andrea (wine chosen by my uncle, Bill—a.k.a. “Billy-the-Kid” :

2003 Pavillion Rouge du Chateau Margaux

Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish Crème Fraiche
Jalapeno Potatoes au Gratin
Ina Garten’s Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots
Green Salad with Candied Pecans, Blue Cheese, Green Onions and Champagne Vinaigrette

Dessert Course also prepared by Patty and her daughter Virginia:

Peppermint Brownies
Chocolate Biscotti


Labels: , ,

24 December 2006

Boys: This Will Bore You.

Usually, I think that high-end fashion gods (see Vogue, Miuccia Prada, etc.) have a keen eye for condemning nasty style trends (think Juicy tracksuits, Uggs, and those nasty backless handkerchief tops). However, this fall and early winter, I think they've been struck by some sort of plague of gross misjudgement. Why? Because all over the fashion press we see not only pictures, but endorsements of these horrid new BOOTIES. Cut off at the ankle, pointy, often either weirdly reflective or else sueded, booties seem like an okay idea but are rarely okay in practice.

Case in point (made for me by the geniuses at GoFugYourself):
Birdie Bell here (yes, really, Birdie Bell) has a mildly pretty dress on. Not great, obviously not real vintage but wishes it were, and looks like it got creases ironed into it, but nothing overtly offensive. However, quick shoe check reveals these bizarre shining jelly beans of shoes that neither flatter the foot, flatter the leg, nor even match the dress AT ALL, for god's sake. They emphasize her feet in a really unfortunate way and I'm certain that she only wore them, even though they couldn't be less appropriate for the dress, because she'd just paid 8,384 dollars for them and KNEW they were stylish to the MAX because she read about them in "W." And you know what, she probably got accolades for them in some press or other the next morning. Ew.
More cases in point:
These looks from the Fall '06 runways of designers Freja something-or-other and Bahati something-else aren't that awful, but just think how much better another shoe--any other shoe--would look here. Especially on the young madam on the right--she's wearing a PARTY dress! She should have some nice party shoes! Not weird clodhoppers! She's a model, not a goat! (Note: I can't find photos of the nasty grey suede booties I've seen on everyone from Mischa to Hilary this season, but hopefully these will still convince you of the innate bootie [booty?] evil.)
But let's not give the impression that I'm utterly prejudiced and hate-filled on this lovely Christmas Eve, though. I did just eat a peanut-butter kiss left out for Santa by my kid sister (Tough job, someone's gotta do it. I'm a people-pleaser is all.) and I'm in a generous mood. I HAVE, to be fair, seen one pair of booties I liked. They're by Seychelles, and they're pretty cute. I like the heels, and I especially commend them on their fetching foldover top. These babies won't cling to the ankle, and there's enough detailing on them to make them look more like actual boots and not latex foot guards.
Still, just to be on the safe side, I'd highly recommend staying far away from the entire bootie genre. Why risk disaster when you could go with something fabulous you already own that doubtless looks better anyway?
Or if you must buy booties, please make them these:

> r r <


14 December 2006

Holiday Veers.

It's not that I don't care. It's not that you aren't my favorite people in the world. It's that I care more about money than you.

I've been away, caring for my catering company. As it is the hap, hap, happiest time of the year--I'm spreading my Christmas cheer (see that? It's called "Dr Seussing it Up" in the business. It's how we make excuses, but use rhyme to seem charming and friendly--this way you'll want to be my friend even though I'm just jerking you around). Hey no jeers...

Anywhoo, I'm busy. Isn't that queer?

Food For Thought:

Menu For Hope Fundraiser


Labels: ,

Things re: Some People Who Are On TV

I should apologize. I realize that I've been slacking on the celeb reporting quite gravely. I think I was concerned that I'd look a) like a namedropper and b) sort of pathetic. As if I'd been totally suckered into the media hype surrounding people just like you and me, who happen to be featured on the big or small screen(s). ME, care about Hollywood hype? NEVER! Errr...as if. I read US Weekly in the checkout line, I IM my friends when Kirsten Dunst browses in my store, and I even switched around my schedule so I could be in Nick-from-Project-Runway's fashion sketching class. So as an apology, I give to you a star-focused, name-dripping post.

For my last sketching class, I had to choose a famous person and create an 8-piece wardrobe for them, then sketch each piece and present the line with inspiration boards and everything. I chose Padma Lakshmi, the smokin'-hot-but-perpetually-heinously-dressed host of Top Chef (one time she was an American Apparel ad, with wifebeater and teensy shorts--as an outfit in which to judge!--and last night she had on some elaborate lace kaftan dress. WTF, Bravo?), and I designed a line of British-schoolteacher-tweed-chic stuff to classy her right up (tight jacket, high-waist skirt, high-neck blouse, cashmere sweaterdress...& some sexay satin shorts).
When I got up to present in class (with MTV cameras rolling, thanks to the presence of good ole LC), I thought I'd done okay until Nick critiqued me. "Don't reveal that you don't know what 'covered buttons' are called." Whoops. "Don't mention the Dita von Teese shoot in Vogue if you don't have it with you." Whoops. "I could barely concentrate on your second sheet there..."--what? please, not more mistakes--"...because I was too distracted by how cute your outfit is." What? No way. NO WAY. I love him and he loves my outfit. Close enough. Thank you, Cynthia Vincent (for my skirt, above, also basis for Padma collection) and H&M (for my checked military-pocket blouse. Great name-dropping there huh.). Then LC got up to present the collection she'd done for Sienna Miller. Cameras were going crazy, getting each angle of her frayed hair and rather sloppy illustrations. The collection, well, was not good. Sorry. The unifying element was little rosettes (or fleurchons)...anyone who saw Project Runway last season knows what a terrible idea that is. Nick even said, "Did you use Angela as your inspiration?" Ahaha.
Finally, after a series of great and not-so-great presentations (condolences to the girl who created a line for Kimora Lee Simmons and priced a coat, trimmed in mink and diamantes, at $12 wholesale), we all lined up to get our final grades and leave. I was last, and while I was muttering something embarassedly about how much fun I'd had in his class (and feeling sad that I'd probably never chat with him again, because I do really like him a lot), Nick wouldn't stop staring at me. I'm thinking, oh god, I've got rubber cement on my blouse (from gluing pictures) or something, when he looks back up and asks me if I'd "consider" being a fit model for him. He hurried to assure me that I'd get trade (free clothes) and pay--as if I'd need convincing. Eff yes! If it comes through, I'll like totally blog all about it. SWEET.

That night, at a going-away party for a friend, first I found out that Lindsay Lohan actually admitted in private that she'd had implants (I KNOW I DIDN'T BELIEVE IT EITHER. I stuck up for that girl's ta-tas for months. and now look. the truth is dead in the modern world, I tell you.), and then I found out that my friend had been tapped to be on The Hills with LC. She'd actually been old friends with her from before high school, and the MTV folk wanted her to be the co-star. They'd pay her full tuition and more in return. But oh, my, god--not nearly as cool as you'd think even if you'd think it was really, really uncool. I knew MTV was bad behind the scenes, and that reality shows are staged, but jesus h: MTV wanted my friend to change her major to fashion design so that she'd be in all the classes with LC; to dump her boyfriend, so that she could be "on the prowl" and compete over boys; to have a total punk-rock-grrl image (hi hot topic), rather than her normal more high-end style, and have to acquire a social circle to match; and to not be friends with LC anymore, but instead be her arch rival. So basically MTV wanted her soul in exchange for a few Ks. I remember now sitting at a bar a year ago with a guy who was describing his past weekend, which had been the worst weekend of his life thanks to MTV. He was on a dating show (the ex-factor or something) and they literally locked all the contestants into small rooms in a house and wouldn't let them out and forced them to comply with their assigned roles and scripts. This is scandal fodder, I say. Anyone want to sell the story to US Weekly? We can throw a party with the proceeds.

> r r <

Labels: ,

09 December 2006

Sexy Sexy Pumpkin Pie

I just got back from a long walk round the 'hood and had to sit down immediately to write this down. I always listen to podcasts on the ole iPod when I walk (makes time fly and you have an excuse for not looking anyone in the eye), and one of my faves is KCRW's Good Food. So this evening, strolling around in my old college lacrosse hoodie, I listened to a fascinating segment in which some scientist fellow, an expert on people with disordered senses of smell, talked about studies he's done on scent and sexual arousal.


Turns out that the scents causing the most arousal (i.e. penile blood flow) in men were lavender, pumpkin pie, donuts, and black licorice. Seriously.

This made some sense to me--okay, baking smells make you think of mama, then the old Oedipus complex comes in, and lavender maybe is like the essence of girl or something--and I started predicting what we ladies would respond to: Old Spice, steak, whiskey, etc. Ha--I couldn't have been more wrong. For womenfolk, the top arousal triggers were: cucumbers, Good 'N' Plentys, and (in some cases) banana nut bread.

Then Mr. Expert went on to describe a study he'd done on kissing and scent. Apparently, both single and married women like their kissing partners' mouths to smell "fresh and clean"--basically a light eau d'toothpaste. Married men also liked their wives to be spearminty. However, single men swerved from the path: they like their ladies smellin' of alcohol.

Now I'll leave you to work out the psychology of that one while my boyfriend and I head to the home of T.T. herself, who catered a big party today. I'll leave it to her to describe the mouth-watering menu whose leftovers we'll be devouring. Good thing I took that walk and worked up an appetite.

P.S. No one even THANKED me for that ice-cream sundae coupon I gave y'all last week. JERKS.

> r r <

Labels: ,

04 December 2006

Sugar, Spice, et. al.

So it seems that as soon as the clock ticked over to 12:01 on December first, I switched into hyper-holiday mode. I'm pretty far along on my Christmas shopping (for reals! I know, right?), I broke out the sweaters (thanks, LA cold spell), and most importantly, I've suddenly gotten a violent hankering for making holiday foods. Just due to the onslaught of Christmas cookie displays in Rite Aid, you think? No, I bet it really is because of cliche nostalgia and memories of cooking, baking and present-wrapping with my domestic-goddess stepmom each year. For those who think food isn't a big deal and there's too much fuss about it, true, but: just consider what most holidays would be without any of their accompanying traditional foods/meals. Weirdly empty and lacking in meaning, no? Hm, what does THAT say about the real meaning of Christmas? Sociology aside, though, I'm racking up blizzard-season goodies to report:

New discovery--The Elegant Mess, a super sweet new boutique on Fairfax across from Canter's (thanks to Ana for the tip). Dieu and I went to the opening party just for the pink-champagne fountain, but were pleasantly surprised at the wide range of neat clothes & jewels, many at (gasp) affordable prices. Babydoll dresses, sweaters, party frocks (and what better than the holiday season to give us the justification that "well, surely there will be parties I'll need this for...") and some really cool pendants, earrings, charms, etc. We didn't buy (too busy stuffing ourselves with fresh strawberries--where did Alyx get them this time of year??--and watching darling hipster children twirl away at the cotton candy machine), but I'll be back. [See the goods.]

Perhaps it was the berries and pink champagne that kick-started my jones for any and all holiday goodies. At Trader Joe's yesterday I walked into an overwhelming wave of warm panettone smell (better smelling than tasting, to be frank), then proceeded to go goggle-eyed at all the stuff popping into my field of vision, and from there into my overblown mental plans of things to cook and bake and EAT until New Year's. I'm talking holiday feast: stuffed dates, spice cake, Swedish gingersnaps, winter squash, those delicious junky Danish butter cookies that come in the blue tin...I love those things. Anyway, I passed up all that for my humble container of yogurt and a new orchid ($12.99--love it) and moved on. By the time I got down to Sunset Blvd., though, I couldn't resist the cheap shot Baskin-Robbins took at me: "Naughty or Nice?" the poster in the window inquired, with corresponding options (the "Lumps of Coal Sundae" or the "Merry Mint Sundae"). I have no delusions regarding my personal virtue, so obviously I marched in and ordered Lumps of Coal. I realized as I sat at the bus stop, digging in with that iconic pink plastic spoon, that I had no clear idea of what exactly was in the chocolatey mess. But to be perfectly honest, despite the trashiness of it (chocolate syrup, not fudge; whipped cream from a can, not done lovingly and fatteningly by hand; plastic jar-like cup, not sundae glass), it was pretty damn delicious. I have to give props to B-R for good junky merriment (as I have been for years, for carrying my fave flavor ever, chocolate peanut butter). Whether you've been naughty or nice, here's your present from me, a little early:

> r r <

Labels: , , ,

Fizzle My Nizzle

Champagne is the theme for the day. All things Champange, sparkling wine, and Prosecco are in my head--or rather go to my head. Many of you know that I love Champane; I've dined on Champange with celebrities, with friends, and with family (okay, so she's not real family--but we are "scorpio sisters" after all)--but mostly I've dined on Champane alone, in my bathtub with a good book. I've even been known to finish the half drunk glass of Champagne of those that I just met (apparently she is also a celebrity--though she could learn a thing or two about the celebrity bit where one drinks too much and trashes the bathroom, as her predecessor most certainly has done--she didn't even finish her first glass! Where's the celebrity in that?)

I could bore you with the details of Champange, but I'll let
Wikipedia do that for you.

I'm here to fill your senses with the good stuff.

A good book with 16 Champagne recipes :

A nice modern flute:

For the person that has everything:

To the good life!

"Salut, bon vivant!"


Labels: , ,

01 December 2006

Calorie Counting Chocolate

This is brill for my new diet--as the holidays have arrived, and pecan pie is my weakness--I've started counting calories, a preemptive strike, if you will.

From Italian, ADF.

Via Swissmiss.



Roller Toaster

This is going in my kitchen,mos def(I mean when I can put it on my amazon.com wish list).