Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How To Style: Smoking Slippers

Not just for Hugh Hefner anymore. Image source
Smoking slippers have popped up all over the place lately and with good reason; they're the newest, chicest thing to hit footwear since the red sole. We all have a million pairs of ballet slippers so I'm excited to try something new this fall.

I mentioned these leopard print slippers from Target last week and Lani at Mon Petit Chou Chou put together an impressive selection on her blog last Friday. I wandered into DSW last week just to kill some time (and to look at the sale shoes - got these for $17) and I was faced with a plethora of these guys.

One pair immediately stood out to me - the Tahari Clementine flat - A) because they're green; 2) because they're loud; and D) because of the AMAZING leaf print. My fashion radar has been pinging for anything with a leaf print since seeing this post on Elements of Style way back in March. So chic! So vintagey! So green! They will be mine.

With a print so bold these could indeed pose a styling conundrum. It would be easy to just default to pairing them with neutrals or just jeans and a t-shirt. That's fine, but I think you can do so much more with these! The key is to treat the colors as solids and ignore the print. Does that make sense? So instead of wearing leaf print flats you're wearing green flats with a little black in them.

Since these are borrowed from menswear, the first outfit I thought of was a clean pair of cropped skinny jeans with a classic collared shirt. These polka dots had me at hello. If J.Crew has anything to do with it (which, OBVIOUSLY they do), polka dots will be in for fall in a big way as a carryover from last fall. But polka dots with leaf print flats? Am I mad? No! Just look at the colors and worry about the print later. This works!

Some fun accessories (omg vintage owl necklace) and a colorful bag make that a perfect outfit. Change out the jeans for a pair of black or royal blue trousers and you've got a work outfit. 

I also want to be able to pair these with dresses and as the roulette wheel of options went around in my head it landed on chambray, as it so often does. Chambray is a light-weight denim-like fabric and it goes with virtually everything. When in doubt, go with chambray. I'll get this stitched on a pillow some day. This chambray shirt dress is so versatile - wear it by itself, with a striped sweater over it (as I've imagined here) or over leggings or skinny jeans as a tunic. I thought the leaf print scarf (told you I was obsessed) is a fun way to bring green into the look to further connect it to the shoes. All of the things on this board are interchangeable - the striped sweater can go with the jeans and the polka dot popover can easily go over the dress. Just make sure you belt it so you still have a shape with that little bit of extra bulk.

I can't wait to wear these outfits! The acquisition of the flats would, er, be helpful first and as soon my employer bestows the funding on me at it's regularly scheduled time (next week), they will become a member of my fleet of shoes.

I haven't decided whether or not I want to do style posts myself. I don't have a good camera and I'm not sure if my self esteem is prepared for the judgement that comes with doing something like that. But what good are my styling tips if I don't show you how I execute them myself? Someone twist my arm.

So how do you feel about smoking slippers? Is this a trend you can get behind?

Also, I'd much rather use Polyvore for styling sets, but not everything is available there. While I don't like the layout ShopStyle has, they have a lot more to choose from. So excuse the slightly wonky look that ShopStyle boards have.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Hot Looks Of The Week & My Faves

Image via Jason Merritt/Getty Images North America
Zoe Saldana In Jonathan Saunders & Christian Louboutin

I don't think Zoe Saldana gets a whole lot wrong when it comes to fashion. She's styled by Petra Flannery and they obviously make a great team because both are major risk takers. Even this bizarre Givenchy Couture dress she wore to the Oscars a few years ago had redeeming qualities (purple is a nice color and the sparkly part is nice). 

Zoe wore this lovely Jonathan Saunders Pre-Fall 2012 look to the Teen Choice Awards last Sunday night and I am a big fan. In a sea of tweens wearing sparkly mini dresses, this really stood out for me. Even though the color palette is on the drab side it's still fresh and stylish. 

I LURVE her Louboutins as well. They're not the exact blue-green as the skirt and top, but they still work.

Yay Zoe. Sorry you broke up with Bradley Cooper, but I bet that was fun for a while.

Her boy toy doesn't look half bad either. Image via FameFlynet Pictures
  Jennifer Lopez In Tom Ford & Christian Louboutin

Jennifer Lopez is forty friggin three and she looks like this. I am impressed. She celebrated her birthday earlier this week with her son boyfriend on a yacht in NYC and wore the reddest hottest dress possible from Tom Ford's Fall 2012 collection. Tom Ford is a sexy man who makes sexy clothes and J. Lo has the perfect body for them. 

I have been lusting after her Louboutin Bis Un Bout heels since I first spotted them (in neon yellow, natch) and I can't think of a better shoe for this dress. The ankle strap and the PVC are so hot. If you're going to wear a red dress with red shoes, it's best that at least one has a break in the color somehow or else it could be a little much. 

Her cougar prey is pulling off those nerd glasses too, isn't he? I also love the little boy hiding behind the tree there all "Dios Mio!" style. 

My Faves

I am a nail polish junkie, but I won't buy the color unless I really REALLY love it. I really REALLY love these shades from Trina Turk for Julep Nail Color. I want them all. Especially that yellow!

I've never really been a DIY-er even though I think crafty stuff is fun and I've always been pretty good at it. I saw a link to this Lizzie Fortunado inspired fish scale bracelet DIY this week and I'm a little obsessed. I promise myself that I will make this soon! 

I saw this recipe for a raspberry-almond crumble from Whole Foods (Boston is getting another WF woohoo!) and pinned it immediately. Fruit crumbles are one of my favorite desserts and as soon as I can justify spending money on almond flour and coconut flour, or at least figure out other ways to use them, I'll be making this. 

This flamingo dress from Paul & Joe Sister is calling my name. But not my wallet. Luckily, I bought a flamingo dress from Target about a month ago and it was only $25!

Lastly, I had the pleasure of attending a super fun Stella & Dot shopping party last night hosted by my lovely friend Kristen a/k/a The Boston Fashionista. A portion of the proceeds from the sales are going to the Animal Rescue League of Boston. I don't need an excuse to shop, but the thought of helping cute furry animals made it a little easier to splash some cash. I picked this rose gold pave bar bracelet and I'm mega excited to get it. 

The night also included gazing at my dream necklace, birthday cake for the lovely Michele, and some AMAZING octopus from Sel de la Terre. I LOVE octopus and this was some of the best I've ever had. 

I'm very ready for the weekend and SO EXCITED about the Olympics! I'm most looking forward to the gymnastics, swimming (hey Ryan Lochte), track, and soccer. Do you have a favorite event? Happy weekend!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Grub Report: Park

I'm sure we're all fans of Groupon/Gilt City/LivingSocial, ect., yes? If you're not, then you best get familiar because you're missing out on some good stuff. Stuff like an amazing three course dinner at a new Cambridge hot spot at a very reduced price.

Image via Facebook

Park has been brought to us by the same folks behind Harvard Square's Russell House Tavern and Grafton Street. If you're familiar with those two spots, then you're right to assume that Park is awesome. The restaurant is located on ground level so it doesn't get much natural light, but the darkness makes it feel cozy and warm.

My roommate Ashley joined me and since I was late the T was late she got a beer at the bar. According to Ashley, the bartender made a perfect suggestion for her after she told him what she was in the mood for. Park's craft beer selection is extensive and exciting. Unfortunately for me I was nursing a little migraine and opted to skip a hoppy treat so it wouldn't get any worse. I went with a headache friendly (for me at least) glass of South African Sauvignon Blanc, which happens to be my favorite. 

Mmmmmm beer. Image via Facebook

We settled into a cozy little table and began scrutinizing the menu. In lieu of a bread basket Park gives you cheese and crackers. This is GENIUS. Any time free cheese is available is a good time. We each changed our minds at least three separate times because everything on their new American cuisine menu looked amazing. I settled on the crispy mussels with preserved lemon and horseradish dipping sauce and holy crap were they delicious. I had never even heard of fried mussels before let alone eaten them. The batter was a sourdough batter so it was super light and fluffy and had a sweet finish. And I would buy the horseradish dipping sauce and put it on every sandwich ever again if that were an option. Ashley got the salt and pepper shrimp, which I tried a bit of, and it was equally delicious. 

 Crispy mussels. And how cute is the box?!

I should add that before we got our starters the general manager Nicki (forgive me if I'm spelling that wrong) came over and talked with us about Ashley's nut allergy, which she obviously has to address with every restaurant she goes to because she doesn't want to die. Nicki talked us through the whole menu and their cooking practices and told Ashley what would be okay and not okay for her. I've eaten out with Ash a fair amount of times and this is the first time a manager has ever come over to the table to talk about food allergies while I've been with her. Ashley said that other restaurants have done this with her, but it left a great impression on me!

Since I was obviously going to be eating dessert I wanted something a little lighter for my main course and went with the seared scallops with corn puree, shaved asparagus and house-cured bacon vinaigrette. Anything involving scallops and bacon is a winner for me and this did not disappoint. The scallops were perfect.

I am very much a dessert person, but don't order them very often. I think I should change this. I love chocolate, but after a meal out I usually favor something fruity. Something chocolate based just seems too heavy most of the time. Park does a seasonal fruit pie as one of their dessert options and when our server informed us that the day's seasonal pie was a raspberry and peach tart with vanilla ice cream I was SOLD. The crust was perfectly toasted for me (I don't mind a well done pie crust) and it was just the right size so as not to make me feel like I needed to lay on my stomach as soon as the meal was over (usually reserved for Thanksgiving and/or Christmas). The ice cream Park uses is from Christina's Homemade Ice Cream in Inman Square and is some of the best ever. 

 I was so excited about this that I ate some before photographing it. Oops. 

Park gets two very enthusiastic thumbs up from me. The food, the drinks, and the service were stellar and I will definitely be back to sample the rest of their menu! 

What's the best new restaurant you've been too recently?   

Monday, July 23, 2012

Zucchini Nut Bread Cookie Sandwiches

I was browsing Pinterest (follow my boards here) last week, as you do, and amongst the pretty things and yumminess I saw these cookies pinned by Martha Stewart. They immediately reminded me of those Little Debbie oatmeal cream pies, which I haven't had since I was a kid and remember to have been delicious, and I knew I had to make them. Plus, they have zucchini and oats in them so they're maybe a little healthy? Maybe not.

For the cookies:

1 cup flour
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup finely grated zucchini
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts

The first thing I did was grate my zucchini. It only took about one and a quarter of those little ones pictured. It wasn't part of the recipe, but I put my zucchini in a colander and left it in the sink for a while just to get rid of a little of the water. I'm not sure if this made a difference because this is the first time I've made these, but it couldn't have hurt. Next, I chopped and toasted the walnuts. I put them in a dry skillet on low heat and let them toast until they became fragrant, about 2 or 3 minutes.

Add the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to a bowl and whisk to combine. I'm not a sifter because I think it takes too much time. A good whisking will get out any lumps. Beat the butter and sugars in a stand mixer until they're pale and fluffy, as Martha says. Then beat in the egg and vanilla. 

Beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Make sure you turn your mixer back on low while doing this and add the dry ingredients a little at a time. Not doing this can result in a kitchen covered in flour dust. I speak from experience. Stop the mixer and stir in the zucchini, oats, and walnuts until they're well incorporated and the dough looks like this. Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.  

When the dough has set, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Martha wants you to scoop the dough using a 1 1/2 inch ice cream scoop, which she says is about 2 tablespoons. I do not own said ice cream scoop and I found 2 tablespoons to be a little too big so I went with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough and it was perfect.

Bake until the edges are golden, about 17 minutes. My oven is a little wonky and gets hotter than advertised so mine took only about 15 minutes. Online recipes are great, especially those from Martha Stewart, but don't always take them at face value. Things are often left out or written wrong or you may have an oven with issues so it's okay to change the recipe to make it work for you. I always find it really helpful to read the comments that other cooks and bakers have left too. There are usually helpful tips about the recipe there.

Once my cookies were baked and cooled I got to work on the filling. Now, these cookies would have been fine and dandy without the filling, but in this case I wanted to stay true to Martha's vision of a delicious cream cheese frosting filling.

For the filling:

1/2 stick on unsalted butter, room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar

Cream cheese frosting is ridiculously easy. It's just these three ingredients beaten together until smooth and glossy. Martha's recipe calls for 1 cup of confectioner's sugar, but I like a thicker frosting so I added another half cup.

Once the frosting is done, slather one cookie with a heaping tablespoon of it and make a sandwich. I went with Martha's measurements for the frosting, but this creates about twice as much as you need so I just stuck the rest in the freezer for another baking project, a rainy day, or a stress eating episode. 

These are SO GOOD. The cinnamon really makes the cookies. They're perfectly chewy and no, you can't taste the zucchini. But it's there providing nutrients and color. I'm afraid these may have ruined me in a way because now I'm going to want to make all cookies sandwich cookies. Which isn't exactly the worst thing in the world. I suggest keeping these in the fridge since it's so warm out and they'll be a little better if the frosting is firmer. They got many thumbs up from my co-workers this morning so I know I done good. There is one left in my fridge that I'm already excited to eat after dinner tonight. You can come over to fight me for it, but I guarantee you will lose.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Hot Looks Of The Week & My Faves

Anne Hathaway in Gucci (Images via Bauer Griffin)  

I think only those living under rocks or those who don't own a television because they think it's some sort of statement are unaware that The Dark Knight Rises is out today. Obviously I'm excited for the movie (but probably won't see it until it's On Demand... that's how I roll), but I was most excited to see Anne Hathaway's premiere looks!

I was totally underwhelmed by the Prabal Gurung dress she wore for the NYC premiere - great dress, wrong girl, bad styling. Those twisted sleeves are driving me crazy. Anne and her stylist, Rachel Zoe redeemed themselves with this gorgeous gold Gucci dress at the London premiere, however. Gucci's Resort 2013 collection was one of my favorites of the season. This dress wasn't shown in their presentation, but the same amazing floral collar detail is on Anne's dress here and I am obsessed. Well done, Team Zoe!

Miley Cyrus in Elevenses (From Anthropologie) (Image via Splash) 

Yes, I know what you're thinking. Miley Cyrus is a tacky hillbilly and should probably never grace a style page. But I love this jumpsuit and I am not ashamed to say it! Even Miley looks confused there.

I love everything about 1970s style and this jumpsuit looks like it just wandered out of Studio 54. This is what I think Stephanie Mangano would have worn to Coney Island with Tony Manero if there had been such a scene in Saturday Night Fever (why was there no such scene, I wonder?). The only obvious issue here is Miley's choice of footwear. I love Chucks, but not with this. Such an epic jumpsuit calls for sky high wedges much like these Paloma Barcelo beauties. She was probably just coming back from getting her nose pierced or eating BBQ or something so perhaps that why she went for casual sneakers. Do better next time.You can buy Miley's jumpsuit here

My Faves

Tonight the Fug Girls, a/k/a Jessica Morgan and Heather Cocks, the originators of the brilliant Go Fug Yourself are doing a book signing at the Brookline Booksmith and I am pee-my-pants-excited for it. They have been game changers for female writers and bloggers and I'm happy to get to thank them in person for that. 

They're a neutral!
I've decided that I need some leopard flats. I have a million pairs (that really means about 5) of ballet flats so I think I want to try out a loafer much like these from Target. Yay or nay? 

The 10th season of Project Runway started last night and I, for one, am happy. I still love the show. Even though the past few seasons have been very meh I still like to get my fill of the quippy Tim Gunn and Michael Kors. 

Tweet Dreams - A HILARIOUS tumblr that I discovered through Man Repeller where a genius artist draws out dreams that people tweet. I rarely remember my dreams, but this makes me want to try harder!

Another thing I'm in the market for is a new chambray shirt. I'm sure I'll extol the virtues of chambray in a post soon enough, but it's the most versatile light denim fabric and one can never have enough of it.

That's it from me. Happy weekend!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Obsession: BaubleBar & How To Style A Big Ol' Necklace

My fashion obsessions are many. Some are fleeting and some stick around for a long time. BaubleBar will be one that stick around as long as it stays in existence.

I've never considered myself to be much of a jewelry person. I usually wear earrings and a couple of little gold rings. I've recently gotten into bracelets, thanks in large part to The Man Repeller and her advent of the arm party, but that's it. I certainly don't own anything that could be considered "fine." Most of my costume jewelry comes from H&M, Forever 21, or the occasional on-sale piece from Anthropologie. They're inexpensive, break sometimes, and turn parts of me green. Enter BaubleBar.

I believe I was first turned on to BaubleBar while admiring Blair Eadie's (Atlantic-Pacific a/k/a the mother of all personal style blogs) monogram necklace. I immediately snapped one up for myself (above right) and got an adorable little I.D. bracelet in my favorite color (green) as well

What makes BaubleBar so fantastic is that they sell their jewelry at wholesale prices, which means there's no retail mark up. I've seen some of the exact same pieces at stores (one of which may or may not have been mentioned previously) selling for between two and three times the price at which BaubleBar offers. This is a major score as far as I'm concerned!

Other perks of BaubleBar include $10 off your first order, the ability to gain "vault points" which works out to $1 in credit for every $10 spent, and the super fun Buried Bauble feature every Friday. BB sends out an e-mail with a clue and if you can find the piece they're talking about, then it's yours for just $10. Oh and they have free shipping and returns! Now, let's talk about the goods.

The statement necklace has become my most favorite piece of jewelry to wear because it's so much fun to style. Statement necklaces are typically big, bold pieces that are the focal point of an outfit. Above are some of my favorites that BaubleBar offers - (L-R) the Fruitbowl Fringe (HELLO this is mine as soon as my furniture budget allows it), the Maritime, and the Clash Chain Links - and all are under $60.

The easiest way to style necklaces like this is with a plain t-shirt or blouse and jeans or trousers for work. But what fun would that be?! I love giving statement necklaces an equally bold canvas so they really standout. Just because the necklace screams "Look at me!!", doesn't mean the rest of the outfit has to be a snooze!

I chose BB's Tribal Coral Bib to style as an example. Coral, and every other shade of orange, is big right now so matching it is not a problem. A black and white striped dress makes a perfect backing for this necklace. Horizontal stripes are one of the most versatile patterns out there and no, they will not make you look wider. That is a myth. Really.

I also love this necklace against a floral top with the same basic colors. I made that a very "mix-n-match" board because everything is interchangeable. And yes, duh, shorts can't be worn with a dress, but if that dress were to magically become a t-shirt then it would be a fab outfit. Imagination, my friends!

Do check out BaubleBar because I think you'll like it as much as I do! Use my invitation code - 3551933 - because I'll get points and I may even let you borrow some of my purchases.

I'd love to know how you style your favorite statement necklaces or any of your other favorite jewelry!

No, this is not a sponsored post. I just really love BaubleBar!