Saturday, September 20, 2008

Recapturing the old fashioned sex appeal...Ralph Lauren Notorious!

The other day as I was leaving to work, I opened the door to find the classiest looking box sitting on my doorstep. As the gusts of fall have settled in, I have started to look to more complex scents - heavier and darker. Nestled in chic bronze tissue was a luscious dark chocolate colored box with crocodile leather texture and glossy gold lettering that read, Ralph Lauren Notorious. The perfume box alone takes your breath away because it is so sexy and luxurious. The bottle is simple, square with thickly curved lines and a black button top with the RL initials in gold. In it's simplicity, this has to be one of the more beautiful bottles sitting on my dresser now. Art Deco in design, I love smooth lines, simple balanced geometry. This bottle takes you back to the 30's and 40's, reminiscent of architecture. I have one other bottle that I can compare it to and that is Estee Lauder Private Selection which is also one of my favorite bottles. But I am skeptical about appearances when it comes to perfume. There are plenty of times that I have tested a beautiful bottle only to find the juice inside to be sub-par. Not so in this case. This scent takes me back to the old 40's perfumes without the highly alcohol smell. It is peppery, floral without being flowery, and chocolatey. It is familiar without being tired or an exact copy of other perfumes. It has more body than most of the current Ralph Lauren perfumes (I have not tried Pure Turquoise.). Notorious is like film noire -reminding me of something that Katherine Hepburn would wear. It is intelligent and mysterious. It is dark and sassy, like the fall line released by Ralph Lauren. But it isn't harsh and that's what makes it a favorite with me. I wear perfume around all sorts of people - twenty or thirty at a time and my husband has asthma so I am careful. With Notorious, I get a strong perfume (like my personality) without the risk factor that I encounter with others. By far this is my favorite Ralph Lauren perfume! Thanks so much, Arianne - this one is beautiful, sexy, and accomplished.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Revlon - Tried, true but potentially tired!

There are a few mainstream grocery cosmetics brands that I enjoy and feel have high standards in their reasonable products. Revlon is one of those brands. My mother worked at Revlon back in the 60's. She always carried a positive view of the company so when I first started using cosmetics Revlon was one of my primary products upon her encouragement. I have been a huge fan of the lipsticks and nail polish colors, finding the variety and quality superior to other brands. But recently, the Revlon displays have seemed tired and old - as if they are from a distant past - one that I am not willing to revisit. On my last excursion a few weeks ago to look for eye shadows, the selection presented did little to tantalize. Is it the packaging? Does Revlon have an image problem? Or is the actually the product? There seems to have very little effort to revitalize the basic staples - brown is just brown. Eyeshadow quads are just that...standardized and unglamorous. Granted, there are probably strong sellers and popular colors that stay true over the years but even the "new" colors look tried and not innovative. Instead, Revlon introduces limited edition products that upon trying (and overpaying I might add) are not exciting. At Christmas, I purchased a holiday lipstick looking for the sparkle and strong color that it might bring to my wardrobe. Instead, I received true red....which I can get from about a dozen lipsticks. The color tester looked like a shimmery, glitter version of a mocha. My hopes were dashed. I've used the lipstick twice and felt cheated both times. While perusing one of my many beauty/style websites, I clicked on the advertisement for Revlon that shows the Gucci stylist going through tutorials on application and the latest color looks. I am a huge FAN of Gucci as well. My hope was that Revlon would introduce new products or unveil a dramatic energizing palette but was disappointed yet again. While the tutorials are informative to someone who hasn't had a background in makeup, I found the model and colors to be off kilter. The lipstick tutorial had a beautiful model with lovely shaped full lips. She was then used to demonstrate two colors of lipstick that do not suit her skin or hair color. While the season may have dramatic reds, the ones picked for her warm tones were not applicable - being more cool in nature. The video did a great job of showing the different lip products in the line from pencil to lip stains. But I was bored. Please, Revlon, I am longing for you to come back into my good graces. I have been so disappointed! With incredible innovations and color technology emerging in the cosmetic marketplace, it is shocking that Revlon is stuck in old territory!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Looking forward to my Sephora Order

When the OPI/Sephora colors hit the market at the beginning of this month, I was hyped up. While shopping last weekend, I planned to grab a few hot colors to jazz up my fall look. I had a list in mind but was thwarted by EMPTY shelves. So I hopped online to place an order. Here are a few of my goodies that are in transit. Can't wait to see how they look!

Of course, I had to pick up this one, Brunette on the Internet!

And then, just because I'd been to New York city and was still feeling the vibe, Cab Fare!

Waiting for the Dark Smoke color called Metro Chic to come back in, it was out of stock! But what a great fall color....a steely gray like all the rain clouds that I know will roll in during the month of October!

Coming nails on OPI....or vice versa!

Live Beauty!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Color of the Week

On my toes only (and looking adorable I might add).

OPI Kangarooby - and oldie but a goodie!

Living Beautifully and Cleanly with Bath and Body Works

Sometimes I am overly simplistic whether it is for reasons that are really simple or just laziness, who knows? But for years I used dish soap to wash my hands. Since I was already at the sink doing the dishes or cooking dinner, it was just easier. But dish soaps takes a toll on hands and doesn't always cut into odors such as that garlic you just minced to bits. Frustrated and tired of smelling garlic (onion or whatever stinky ingredient I'd been handling that meal), I did some research on hand soaps in the kitchen. Needing the ease of dish soap but also an odor busting power tool of a soap, I landed on the Bath and Body Works website. Their Anti-Bacterial Deep Cleansing line of hand soaps is probably one of their tops sellers. Massage built in tough scrubbers to your skin for an end of chore treat for tired hands. It takes care of any odors. I haven't smelled chopped garlic for months! If you struggle with dry skin, try the moisturizing hand soap. I buy all the types of soaps now, especially when they have stock-up sales. Like most Bath and Body Works products, these come in a variety of scents from Kitchen Lemon to Japanese Cherry Blossom.

Recently, I also purchased the foaming hand soaps for my bathrooms. They are a favorite with both my children and are a bit more dressed up so they fit well into a guest bathroom. We currently have Midnight Pomegranate, Sensual Amber (my daughter fought me for this one), and Tropical Passionfruit in our bathrooms. Don't forget on the go germ protection. As a part of this line, Bath and Body Works has created a waterless hand gel. There are several sizes for your purse, locker, or office. Their friendly look fits into most decors without bringing in a doctor's office feel.

I honestly couldn't tell you which scent is my favorite. Here's my list of the ones that I've purchased;
Rainkissed Leaves
Kitchen Lemon
Tropical Passionfruit
Coconut Lime Verbena - more coconut and less verbena which was slightly disappointing.
Midnight Pomegranate
Sensual Amber (sexy, perfect for formal bathrooms)
Sea Island Cotton (a favorite)
Sweet Pea - delicate and girly
Dancing Waters - (a favorite)

Right now, Bath and Body Works is running a special - 5 for $15! Get ready for the fall with a clean heart and hands!

Spaghetti Carbonara

Just a note that eggs are used in this dish and while they may get hot, it will not be enough to cook them to a safe temperature. It is best not to serve this dish to children, elderly, and immune system compromised adults.

This recipe makes two adult sized portions (covers the plate) or four side portions.

1/2 package spaghetti (I use Trader Joe's organic pasta OR Barilla Multi-grain pasta - not sure exactly what the label says but it is their health/heart conscious pasta and it has delicious flavor - it is even great with just some salt and olive oil thrown on )
Five slices of thick bacon
3/4 cup peas (you can add more and it doesn't detract from dish).
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup Parmesan cheese - finely grated
2 egg yolks
Garlic salt (I prefer the kind with parsley but if you don't have that kind - add parsley separately)

Chop bacon into very small strips - Fry in pan - leave in oil and keep warm. I sometimes add a bit of pepper while frying.
Boil water for pasta - add sea salt to water. Add pasta - cook until al-dente. Reserve some of the cooking water. Do not let spaghetti sit or drain.
Steam peas in microwave by placing in a bowl with a few tablespoons of water. Cover with tightly with plastic wrap and cook for two to three minutes until hot.
Mix together cream, cheese, egg yolks, garlic salt, and pepper in a bowl until creamy.
A pasta bowl works best for mixing this dish. Add peas first, spaghetti second (add right from pot with tongs or spaghetti fork), and sauce. Mix well with pasta fork - add some reserve water if it is too dry. Add bacon with a bit of the warm grease....about half. Since it is still hot, it (combined with hot pasta) will cook sauce. Toss and serve. Do not let it sit. Eat immediately.

For some variations on this recipe, sometimes I add other types of bacon, like prosciutto. Also, one of my favorite ways to eat this dish is with blanched asparagus tips. And for a more tangy treat, slice cherry tomatoes and mound on top - the cool burst of flavor along with the creamy sauce is yummy!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Required Movie Viewing for Fashionistas

It occurred to me the other day that I should keep a list of movies that fashionistas would enjoy. I don't mean the obvious ones that are necessarily about the fashion world (although I do plan to add a category for those). There are so many movies that have fantastic costume design, gorgeous sets, style that is just eye candy for a fashionista. Never mind plot when you can drool over fabulous accessories, delicious fabrics, and delightful scenes. So sit back in your velvet tufted chair and prepare to be dazzled.

Diamonds (and other assorted jewelry themes)

1. She Done Him Wrong - An oldie and with a plot with holes that are larger than the Cullinan diamond, Mae West has plenty of spunk and sexed up lines but is also dripping with sparkle and fantastic costuming.
2. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes - A classic Marilyn Monroe flick, along with the sassy Jane Russell, we get the blonde goddess in her signature role (unfortunately, perhaps not her best acting role - for that I prefer Niagara where she plays a scheming wife - and it's Hitchcock so it is doubly devilish). - they both appear in some glamorous costumes as showgirls. Even their everyday wear is fantastic!
3. Breakfast at Tiffany's - fewer jewels than should be in a movie with an acclaimed jeweler's name attached but worth every minute of the beautiful Audrey Hepburn.
4. Jewels - Really a television mini series but takes the effort of a movie to watch, and overall attention to costumes, sets (a chateau in France - every fashionista's dream home of course!), and the cornerstone of the movie, the jewels.
5. To Catch a Thief - Intelligent, witty, and Hitchcock - even if you weren't a fashionista, this would be a great flick to watch. But Grace Kelly is every girl's dream in this one with her polished blonde locks and her incredible wardrobe. The plot is about a jewel thief and honestly, you can't blame the thief for wanting these sparklies!


1. Gone With The Wind - Idealized for ages because of the masterpiece written by Margaret Mitchell (an incredible read too). Featuring a southern girl (and her savvy maid) who can design a dress from draperies - How can any fashionista resist? Not to mention romance, drama, and war.
2. Attack of the Clones - Strangely enough (if you can get past the Star Wars label) the costumes are well-done -excellent use of form, fabrics, and a nice balance of traditional with futuristic.
3. Meet Me n St. Louis - Despite the fact that it has it's own value as a musical and Judy Garland's bangs are shameful, the costumes are well-composed with tons of detail, including a gorgeous beaded scarf that Ms. Garland uses over her hair.
4. Pretty Woman - Not all costume flicks have to be period pieces (although that is a great place to show off skill and detail). Upon re-watching Pretty Woman a few weeks ago (after not seeing it for years), I was struck by how timeless Julia Roberts looks and it really has to do with her clothes. Once she is beyond the horrifying street walker outfit, there is class abounding from the brown and white dress on the polo field to the red evening gown, these clothes are first rate.

Movies about Fashion

1. Prêt-à-Porter - Can't say that it was that great in regards to plot but it is a wonderful historic look at 80's fashion. Featuring designers such as Thierry Mugler and Sonya Rykiel, and famous models like Naomi Campbell and Claudia Schiffer, the movie highlights the fashion doings of Paris.
2. The Devil Wears Prada - A harsh look at life in the fashion conscious media - focused on the delivery of fashion to the masses, it is elitist but a treat to the eyes. Our lovely heroine has to reconcile her preconceived notions about intelligence and fashion. Will she see that beautiful girls can be smart too?

This is just the tip of the iceberg....

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Constructing ELLE

If you haven't yet seen the September edition of ELLE, you are in for a treat. In fact, I felt as thought I'd been sucked into the black hole labeled "Job Site". Jessica Simpson graces the front cover in what can only be termed a Lumberjack shirt. She has been poured into jeans that are probably at least a size too small (not to mention the shirt which has to be at least two sizes too small). Her giant cowboy belt buckle draws the eye down past her open shirt with a peekaboo look at her bra. There are so many things that bother me about this cover. The neon orange lettering surrounding her just screams "Construction Crew". If this is the new fall fashion, my garage is the place to shop. You can find me in there digging around for my husband's old vests and hardhats. The shirt could be cute according to my daughter if it had another layer under it. When did showing our bras come back into style and why wasn't I notified? If it is back in...I really need to update my negligee drawer! Of course, I probably need to do this anyway. The disturbing thing about the cover is not that it's Jessica Simpson (I have no grudge against bleach blond actresses/singers/whatever she is), or that it is rather hick/redneck - no, in fact, the worst part about the cover is that it's Ralph Lauren's label being grossly misrepresented. It does not look classy in the American Western way that most of his fashions do. It looks crass. The horrible shame about the whole affair is that the photo shoot is beautiful. There are some gorgeous pictures that could have been used on the cover. My favorite is actually the Ralph Lauren dress with the silver belt. It looks as if Ralph was on the set and directing the placement of the flowing skirt. And with a different font color, there wouldn't be visions of Constructicons dancing in my head. Elle, this cover was a miss.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Fantastically easy bean soup!

This bean soup is great with croutons floating in the top. And it is so easy, it's hard to believe that it tastes this great.

1 can of ready cut Italian tomatoes (drained in a sieve)
2 cans of white beans (drained in a sieve)
1 container (I buy the large soft sided ones) of chicken broth (I use Trader Joes, Wolfgang Puck, or any other quality broth)
1 packet of thinly sliced prosciutto or other Italian ham. Sometimes I also use a packet of sage sausage.
1 chopped onion
2 + cloves of garlic chopped finely
1 TBSP crushed Italian herb blend
Salt and Pepper to taste
Olive Oil (a good amount of high quality, cold pressed extra virgin)
2 or 3 Chunks of Parmesan cheese. I just knife a few off of the block. It helps to have a very dry crumbly Parmesan. The moist versions just turn into blobs but the dry ones crumble and mix in with the soup.

Slice into ribbons prosciutto and put into hot olive oil in bottom of soup pan. Cook until slightly not make crisp. Add onion, garlic, herbs, and pepper. Will be very aromatic (may drive family nuts!) Cook until onion is translucent. Add beans, tomatoes and then pour chicken broth over top. Stir until well mixed. When boiling add chunks of cheese. Turn head down and simmer for about 15 minutes. Salt to taste but you won't need much. The meat tends to salt it quite a bit and so be careful. I sometimes serve this with shredded Parmesan on top.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A shout out to NYPD

While vacationing in New York this last week, we had many opportunities to be in unfamiliar streets, looking for landmarks, addresses, or stores. In the 90+ degree heat, it was exhausting and most often frustrating. New York has this capacity for hiding things. As I would walk down the street from door to door, I would look for any marker to give me a clue as to what I was looking for but often to no avail. I traveled one block around and around and never did find the store. Often, you would see the window of the store and not the entrance which was deceptive. My first impulse is usually to ask store clerks. After the first day, where my husband asked about three store clerks where something was and got either treated rudely or just told that they didn't live there and had no experience with the area, we gave up that plan for the most part. However, in New York it is incredibly easy to find a police officer. Where I live, you rarely see a police officer outside of their cars, unless you are in the very small downtown area where they are on bicycles. You don't generally talk to them unless you have business with them. Since street officers were so readily available, my husband and I took to asking them if they knew where things were. We were never treated rudely. They always had a ready smile and open manner. Often, they talked to us and gave us an impression of whether or not they thought we were on the right track. For example, the officer by Trinity Church thought we were better off just walking around the World Trade center instead of taking a tour. He and I talked a bit even though he was taking a moment from making an accident report. In the end, I bought an NYPD shirt for my son...not only because it was cool. Mostly, I bought it because they had been our guardian angels for so much of our trip. So just a note of thanks to all the New York City Police do your city proud and indeed your nation.