Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My New Favorite Salad

My New Most Favorite Salad

This is how to make the best salad to eat at your desk while at work (or wherever you eat salads). You will need:
  • Spring Mix salad 
  • Sliced strawberries
  • Feta Cheese
  • Glazed Walnuts
  • Champagne Vinaigrette
I like to put all of it in a rubbermaid container, then add the dressing and shake it vigorously. It's delicious and the walnuts totally make it. Better people than I might candy their own walnuts, but conveniently, the fine folks at Diamond Nuts make these:

These are so good, I end up practically chasing them around the container with my fork. 

So, there you have it. Not fancy, or revolutionary, but every bit delicious.

Monday, January 30, 2012

SAG Awards Fashion 2012

I think the SAG Awards are kind of the also-ran of awards shows. They're a brief and tight two hours, considerably less glamourous than the rest and, c'mon, they're broadcast on TBS. But for an awards show junkie like me, it's just another fun Sunday night and another opportunity to ooh and aah over the fashions! Here are my favorites and, ahem, least favorites:

Best Dressed
 I really couldn't be more surprised by my own girl crush on Michelle Williams. She's Jen Lindley, for chrissakes, a character I devoted a disproportionate amount of time to hating. But she's also become this demure individualist, with grace to spare. So I was won over by her interesting red lace Valentino, with a gorgeous neckline and hem.

 I've said it before and I'll say it again: these people are not aging. They just look better! Pact with the devil, I tell you. Anyway, Kyra Sedgewick always kills it, and I thought her Pucci red-orange dress was awesome.

 Miss Viola looked regal in her fluttery white Marchesa...perfect for a winner. My only concern was that her boobs were going to pop out at any moment, but other than that, lovely.

 I love that Tilda Swinton so much. This Lanvin dress is very old Hollywood, but on Tilda, it looks like it's from the future. I love that.

 Julie Bowen is almost chameleonlike on the red carpet, and I like that she's always experimenting with color, wearing different designers and trying new silhouettes. I thought this beautiful fuschia Temperley dress was a great choice, especially for the occasion.

 Emma Stone is so cute, and I thought it was a nice reference to the 1960s-set The Help to wear this full-skirted Alexander McQueen with a red lip.

 I thought Dianna Agron looked better than ever last night in her Carolina Herrera. The styling came together perfectly, the color is magnificent and she looks completely confident.

 You know I hate this broad, but how many people can pull off a dress that looks like liquid mercury? Angelina wins again, this time in Jenny Packham.

On the Fence
 For all intents and purposes, Lea Michele looked bangin in her silver Versace. But I'm giving her a couple demerits for her overt "I'm Sexy" red carpet tour as of late. I mean, check her out, literally pulling the dress back so we see more of her leg!

 I know I shouldn't even consider liking a pantsuit on principle, but Rose Byrne really looks pretty Studio 54 fabulous in this Elie Saab suit. And her hair! So good! But...it's a pantsuit.

 Zoe Saldana's Givenchy Haute Couture was intricate and detailed and the neckline looked gorgeous on TV, but I just thought it was a little aging, and also thought the tank top-style neckline of the underdress ended up looking like a wifebeater on camera.

 Jessica Chastain is getting a little closer to a better bit, here, but this Calvin Klein dress is such a snoozer. I just want her to whip out some sparkles or draping or JEWELS or something. It almost looks like a very formal bathing suit.

I'm not even skewering Octavia for this Tadashi gown, which is perfectly fine. I'm just fed up with designers only being able to clothe full-figured women in mother-of-the-bride matronly clothes. 

 I actually flip flopped a little on Glenn Close's Zac Posen because I am a sucker for sheer black fabric. And then I snapped out of it and realized this gown looks like it's from Maleficent's couture line. Too much.

 Jane Krasinski's Antonio Berardi dress just seemed like an unfinished thought. It's like one dress is shedding like a snakeskin to reveal another...but not in an artful way.

 I feel like Kristen Wiig needs a little help defining her red carpet style. So far this season, it's been dominated by band aid-colored dresses with strange accessories. Who wears a choker with a high neckline? Who wears a peach-ish clutch with a putty-colored dress? Girl is nominated for an Oscar, people! Let's get this together by Feb. 26!

 Wiig's costar, Maya Rudolph, also needs help. Her clothes are chronically bad fitting. I love that she has an ample bosom, something I relate to, but she also has the power of Hollywood at her disposal, something I can't relate to. Her Naeem Khan gown was too tight in the boob area, then too loose at the waist and is also just boring.

 I thought Meryl's Vivienne Westwood gown was perfect for her audition to play Obi-Wan Kenobi's heretofore unheard-of wife.

And last but not least, I wanted to give Shailene Woodley kudos for daring to wear a print, especially because it conjures the hibiscus flowers in her movie's posters. BUT I thought her L'Wren Scott managed to make a very skinny girl look a little wide; the neckline is awkwardly low and maybe even off-center; her hair and lack of accessories seemed like after-thoughts and it just didn't look great on TV. Nice try, better luck next time.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Best v.86

A gorgeous close-up of paper flower "specimens," mounted by artist Anne Ten Donkelaar.

I hope you've had a lovely weekend. Sean and I have; we've been playing Words with Friends (my new obsession), watching the British TV show "Sherlock," going to the movies and even walked the five-mile Noland Trail. Lovely!
  • How to tell the difference between Portland and Brooklyn.
  • An interesting article about prolonged adolescence.
  • Taylor Swift looks supermodel gorgeous in her Vogue shoot.
  • Joanna has the best advice on what to say to friends after they go through break-ups.
  • Ever frustrated when someone doesn't get your pop culture reference? Watch this clip of Billy Eichner's new show.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Perfect Downton Abbey Pout

Remember a couple weeks ago, when I was talking about how I was digging the no-makeup make-up look on Downton Abbey?

Well, I picked up one of Burt's Bees' tinted lip balms, in Hibiscus, for $7.99 at Target. It's the perfect peach-pink, supplies plenty of color and moisture and is perfect to combat dry winter air. I'm hoping to pick up the "rose" shade as well. The colors are subtle enough to reflect the "Downton Abbey" glow, but long-lasting. Officially Amber-approved!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Diane Keaton, I Like Your Style

 I'm finishing up Diane Keaton's autobiography, Then Again. It's a sweet, confessional, heartfelt biography of her family, most especially her mother, who dreamed of recognition.

In the book, Diane is constantly talking about how she was never the prettiest, and didn't know how to dress. Liar!

 In the 70s, she defined quirky style, with minimal makeup and bedhead long strands.

 She made menswear her own, like a modern-era Coco Chanel.

 And on a tall, skinny frame, menswear suited her!

 I'm a huge fan of her perfect hair in "Something's Gotta Give." And also her perfect house, of course.

Annie Liebovitz shot this gorgeous picture for Vogue this past year. Just as chic as ever! She's a testament to the power of adopting a signature look.

Get Her Look

Diane Keaton

It's not a look that would work for all of us, but in pieces, you can get some of that Annie Hall je ne sais quoi. Pick up some tweeds, ties, scarves, big glasses, a bowler hat and peachy lip gloss. Comedian partner not included.

Monday, January 23, 2012

How to Sew a Pillow, the Inexperienced Way

As you know, I recently tackled my first sewing project — a lumbar pillow. Now, I want to take you, my reader, with me on this journey of sewing, but I want to be clear: I don't know what the hell I'm doing. So me giving advice is pretty silly, but hey, maybe one of you has no clue where to start and the other 5,000 online tutorials were no help! Join me on my sewing odyssey...

 So first off, I laid out the fabric and placed my pillow on top of it, just to get an idea of what part of the pattern I wanted to be on the front of the pillow. Once I chose a section, I measured an inch around the edge of where my pillow had been. I don't think this is the way people normally do it, but I had no idea what to do.

Using that piece as a template, I cut out a second identical piece, making sure that piece would make a nice backside.

 The zipper I bought was too long and I had no idea how to rectify that, but I looked on the Internets and they told me to sew a whipstitch (youtube it if you don't know what that is...I did the same thing) to create a new stop. Once the stitch was in place, I just snipped off the rest of the zipper.

 On each piece of fabric, I ironed about an inch of the top of the fabric, then sat down to sew my first stitches.

 I set the machine to straight stitch, and went for it. I sewed slow and steady, but I still wavered enough that my lines were not straight. Story of my life.

 Once I had sewed the ironed sides, I pinned one side of my zipper to the hemmed part, with the zipper facing the good side of the fabric. I then sewed another line to attach the zipper, and then did the same to the other side.

 Once one side was done, it looked like this. Those hemmed sides help hide the zipper a bit, and make it look more finished.

And this is how the zipper looked when it was done. So, sew each side inside out. After I sewed each side, I would put the pillow in to see how I was doing and whether any sides of the fabric needed to be trimmed.

I was very excited to sew the last side and then — oops — realized I had sewed all four sides without leaving an opening for my pillow! Rookie mistake! Thank god for the zipper...I was able to shimmy it down enough to open that side of the pillowcase and stick in the pillow form.

All told, the supplies cost:
Fabric: $35
Pillow form + zipper: $17
Total: $52, compared to this one, which goes for $100. To be fair, it has cording and a different backside. But STILL.

And in time, it probably took 3 hours of work, and that was a lot of scratching my head and pondering things. Hopefully my next pillow goes even quicker!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Mini Living Room Makeover!

This chair has been in Sean's family longer than he has. It has the dents to prove it! It came into our possession three years ago, when we first moved in together and had hardly any furniture. His parents donated it to the cause, and we were happy. It was like Sean's throne.

I hardly ever sat in it, but when I did, I could help but notice the seat almost sank to the ground and the left arm wobbled. It made me nervous, and seemed like something that would be a bigger fix than the chair is worth. I also noticed the welt was beginning to come undone. I started doing what all women do: Harping about getting a new chair. 

So, it is with regret that we bid the old buddy adieu. 

 Coinciding with the chair replacement hunt, I also purchased fabric for the previously mentioned lumbar pillow project! Last night, I finished the pillow and we only got the chair on Wednesday, so the living room has had a mini makeover in the past two days!

The chair is a surprisingly comfortable and embarrassingly cheap armchair from World Market. It is the Luxe chair with Charcoal slipcover. With shipping, the whole shebang cost $245. INSANE.

 I will not lie, the chair is not quite as comfortable as the old chair, which was as well-worn as the chair Frasier's dad always wanted to keep. But it'll get there. Also, I LOVE that it's slipcovered, because it makes for easy clean-up, possible options to purchase a different color if I want to OR attempt to sew my own someday, using that one as a guide.

 I sewed the pillow last night...I would say it took me about three hours, start-to-finish, but a lot of that was spent doubting myself, pinning and repinning. I will include more information about the sewing of it on Monday, but for now, I'll let you know I used Thomas Paul's Perch fabric in Seaglass, from Calico Corners. It was $32 for a yard — a bit pricey, but really good quality.

And last but certainly not least, we've also been enjoying our new Celestial coasters from Anthropologie. My coworker Desiree did the most amazing gift-giving. She went to my Pinterest, looked at the board I have labeled "Covet," saw the coasters and gave them to me for Christmas. I was blown. away. They are gorgeous and have incredible depth; the geode effect comes from firing the glaze.

So that's our new and improved living room! Next on my agenda is a new rug...the zebra print has seen better days, and I always thought of it as my single-girl apartment rug. But next on my DIY agenda: finally making a headboard. My newfound sewing experience has me feeling invincible.