Monday, September 27, 2010


My diet is about as Mediterranean as they come. On any given day, a survey of my fridge is likely to include Greek yogurt, feta cheese, olives, pita bread, Roman tuna salad, stuffed grape leaves and, most importantly, a wide array of hummus. Sun-dried tomato hummus? Check. Spinach and artichoke hummus? Check. Man-repelling garlic lovers' hummus? Unfortunate check. My hummus addiction is a running joke amongst my friends and roommates, due largely to the dip's inclusion as #112 on the all-too-real Stuff White People Like. This hummus fever came to a head in June, when I attended - wait for it - a hummus release party for my internship. Literally an event designed to celebrate chickpea puree. There was a string quartet and free-flowing white wine and many, many WASPs in business casual attire. It was the whitest thing I have ever been a part of, and I have been to several Northwestern sporting events.

As a former member of the James Madison High School step team (yep) (that happened) (ah, memories), I can no longer allow the tantalizing draw of tahini to interfere with my street cred. Pro-chickpea though I am, I have been known to cheat on my beloved with that other notoriously faux-healthy (well, healthy in small doses), quasi-ethnic dipping sauce: guacamole. Guac can serve as a respectable replacement in both dressing up boring veggies and adding satiety to empty carbohydrate calories. But how to reconcile this new dietary direction with my need to ensure that my veins are pumping at least 50% olive oil at all times?

Holy Greekamole!

(Not as photogenic as the cake truffles.)

1 avocado, halved
1/4 cup fresh tomato, seeded and diced
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
5 kalamata olives, pitted and diced
5 large pepperoncini, seeded and diced (these are kind of emotional, so have a sharp knife at the ready)
Half a lemon

1. Mash avocado in a bowl with a fork.
2. Add tomato, onion, olives and pepperoncini.
3. Squeeze the lemon over top (very important! Keeps the avocado from browning too quickly) and season with salt and pepper to taste (but remember that olives are salty/pepperoncini are spicy and restrain yourself accordingly). Makes about 3-4 servings. Double the recipe for a trendy fusion party snack.

Opa! Olé! Eyeball the mix-ins and alter the amounts to suit your preference. My recipe makes for a very chunky, tomato-and-onion-heavy guacamole, which I prefer both for texture's sake and to limit the healthy fat in the avocado per serving. I enjoyed a scoop over romaine for lunch today, with a generous sprinkle of feta on top (I considered adding feta to the guac itself, but was worried about how it would keep).

But don't forget the best part of the salad:

Mmm! Tiny, tasty ladybugs in my lettuce leaves. Thanks for that one, Whole Foods. At least I can say with 100% certainty that that romaine was pesticide-free.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Orange you glad it's fall?

Okay. I get it. You're sick of my nude bandage booties. I have heard your cries, and I have responded by purchasing:

A practical pair of knee-high orange suede moccasins. One of the perks of working at a resale store? First dibs on every outrageously cool item that rolls through the door (plus a discount on prices that are already way below sea level).

The neutral parade from last spring and summer marches on, as does my infatuation with henleys. It's like Animal Farm up in here: yes buttons good, no buttons bad. The chiffon side stripe and neck trim on this one had me at hello. Also, bike shorts are a thing now, but I'd recommend performing my leggings test before wearing them out of the house. I was going to say "taking them out for a spin," but here, the opposite is true; if you don't pass the leggings test, you should only take bike shorts out for a literal spin. As in spin class.

I prefer to spice up a blandly hued ensemble with some kind of a statement in the accessories department, be it a pair of out-there footwear or a tangle of bangles. In this case, I went for both. No watch (shocker!), but I did include a "coins of the world" bracelet that functions about the same as wearing jingle bells. No surprise tickle attacks for me.

Shirt: Jpark.
Shorts: Sketchy whore store in Astoria, Queens.
Boots: Minnetonka.
Earrings, rings, cuff and bracelets: Gifted or inherited.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Modeling debut.

This one time, at band camp/in the Condé Nast digital studios, I didn't have to set my camera timer and sprint into a cheesecakey pose. There was a real live photographer. And a makeup artist hired to make me look like I was wearing no makeup.


I think I look particularly fetching with a Carrie Underwood flip and bright orange lipstick. But hey, that's just me.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Light coverage.

I feel like Taio Cruz and I would really hit it off, because I, too, throw my hands up in the air sometimes.

Presumably unlike Taio, I also attack my hair with craft scissors sometimes. I think my bangs look better a little shorter than most professional hairdressers are willing to believe, so I do minor touch-ups on my own. Fortunately, this trim went largely according to plan.

Leopard ring with a zebra shirt. Mixed animal prints is one of my favorite runway takeaways of the past year or so. The texture on this tank also makes the fact that it's basically see-through far less intimidating.

I already sang the praises of sheers in my Wang sweatshirt diatribe, and I think this outfit evidences my theory that semi-transparency is an excellent trend for those of us in the shapely-but-not-skinny club. If you disagree, I'm sorry to have offended your eyes. I also apologize for my highly primitive decor at the moment; I just moved into a new apartment a few days ago and furniture is about as far as I've gotten. Stay tuned for the surely epic transformation.

Shirt: Rock Revolution.
Bra: Jezebel.
Leggings: American Apparel.
Shoes: Deena & Ozzy.
Watch: Timex.
Ring: Street vendor in Astoria, Queens.
Earrings and necklace: Inherited.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Kitchens aren't just for making messes.

I've always relished being a sort of anti-domestic diva. I blame Sex and the City. There's a charm to the way Carrie Bradshaw squeals, "I keep sweaters in my stove!" (on second thought, what? That bitch has a closet the size of Texas) that I assumed would carry over to my crippling inability to so much as microwave popcorn. I approached my culinary ineptitude with as much conviction as I could muster, happily spouting tales of botched grilled cheeses and refusing to pay serious attention when I was forced to help out in the kitchen at home.

Well, turns out there's something more charming than keeping sweaters in your stove: being able to whip up delicious food for yourself and others. It was like a switch flipped overnight. I woke up one morning this summer and decided I felt like scrambled eggs for breakfast. I eHow-ed "how to cook scrambled eggs." I threw in some feta and rosemary. Surprisingly tasty! And ready in minutes! I felt invincible. The world was my oyster. Hate oysters. The world was my cupcake. I made myself pancakes for dinner that night (breakfast foods are a gateway drug). I was hooked.

Since I'm incapable of doing anything halfway, I've since expanded my repertoire to include everything from starters to salads to sweets. I'm a much better dessert chef than savory chef - I do better with the precision of baking than the more instinctual nature of cooking - but all things considered, my kitchen experimentation has been pretty darn successful (and thoroughly enjoyable to boot). I get much more excited about quirky flavor combos and aesthetically pleasing pastries than I do about honing a gourmet-level palate, so don't expect anything too refined, but I thought it might be fun to start posting a few La Vie en Recipes for my non-lethal creations.

Matchmaker Truffles (Where Cake Meets Candy)

Warning: These are incredibly rich. They're almost too much for me, and I have, like, the sweetest sweet tooth that ever sweeted. Enjoy in small doses.

1 box cake mix (any flavor) and whatever ingredients it calls for (usually oil and eggs)
1 jar store-bought frosting (again, flavor of your choice)
1 package semisweet baking morsels or confectioner's coating

1. Bake cake as directed. Allow to cool for 30 minutes.
2. Crumble warm cake into a large mixing bowl, being sure to discard any well-done edges. Mash in jar of frosting. Mix until consistent (you can use a hand mixer or go old-school with a fork). Cover and refrigerate cake/frosting "dough" for at least three hours (or overnight).
3. Roll into bite-size balls, handling as quickly as possible. Freeze for at least an hour.
4. Melt semisweet baking morsels or confectioner's coating on stove or in microwave (see package or Google for directions). Using a toothpick, roll balls in molten coating for as short a time as possible (while still covering completely) and place on wax paper. Sprinkle immediately (one by one), as coating will harden fast. Makes about six dozen. Store in freezer.

Mine are funfetti cake with vanilla frosting and they are wickedly scrumptious little sugar bombs. Next up: red velvet cake and cream cheese frosting in white chocolate. I've also caught wind of an alcoholic version that substitutes Bailey's Irish Cream for frosting. That might have to happen for this year's holiday parties. Just saying.

Your melted chocolate or confectioner's coating will start to get pretty gross after about three dozen, so you might want to do a couple of batches. Unless you want cake truffles that look like this:

Instead of this:

Equally yummy, but not nearly as giftable. And trust won't want to eat all six dozen of these yourself.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Squared away.

Ah, Times Square: feared by natives, revered by tourists, thoroughly indescribable to anyone who has never experienced the madness. After spending five days a week in New York's legendary hub of overpriced sandwiches and overzealous humans wearing cardboard sandwiches (I'm going to make a t-shirt that says "I hate stand-up comedy" on one side and "bus tours are for quadriplegics" on the other), I've mastered the navigational tips that any NFT pamphlet will eagerly regale. But far above the impromptu subway concerts and the student rush lines towers a sleek skyscraper that challenges the carb-gobbling, sneaker-wearing culture of the area in which it stands. It is the Condé Nast building: home of Vogue and countless other internationally respected publications, and home of me for the last ten weeks.

(Embarrassing that I took these photos. In my defense, I did it before I was an employee.)

You've seen Ugly Betty and The Devil Wears Prada. You've heard urban myths of what goes on beyond the high-security turnstiles. And to be honest, Nasties are a lot like their fictional counterparts: a slender, well-dressed, workaholic bunch who have cultivated the kind of attitude that allows them to hold their own in a highly competitive and (to an extent) superficial industry like magazine journalism. Personally, I love it. I thrive on it. It's the pinnacle of New York's survival-of-the-fittest mentality; you don't come to this city expecting (or even wanting) to be coddled.

What Condé Nast employees aren't: soulless airheads only interested in prying their skim lattes from your quivering, worshipful fingers. These women (mostly) are ambitious, yes, but they are also fiercely intelligent and generous toward those who are willing to work hard. Sure, I did my share of prime time-worthy bitchwork (I'm too scared to post stories here, but ask me if you're curious. There are some winners), but I've always understood that you have to pay your dues when you're first starting out. And at Condé Nast, those dues come with some pretty sweet perks: fancy parties, free haircuts (with Bobbi Brown and Salma Hayek's stylist, no big deal), free food, free gym memberships, free reign on the beauty closet. Oh, and I guess, like, knowledge, or something. I got more out of the experience than I could have possibly imagined, and probably realize even now.

I chose to intern at a lifestyle magazine rather than a fashion magazine this summer, which was, quite honestly, the best decision I could have made. I enjoy fashion (I mean, kind of) (whatever) (wink, wink), but I've often questioned whether or not I could be satisfied by it as a career. After all, even this blog, which I suppose would be most accurately billed as a "fashion blog," is framed by my personal life and very much a product of my agenda. Writing for a magazine - adopting their voice, targeting their audience, pleasing their advertisers, adhering strictly to their views and purposes - is a whole different animal. It involves another set of skills that I'm equally interested in developing, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the glib, cyclical, business-oriented aspects of fashion journalism would drive me crazy after a while. Anyway, I'm not ruling it out, but I wanted to understand how the editorial process applies to other departments: fitness, nutrition, beauty, health, entertainment, sex. Fortunately, my internship confirmed my suspicions that writing is my first love. I'll be able to dress how I want no matter what I do; finding a way to make a living off of words is my first priority.

Anyway, I'm sure this is all very fascinating. My original plan for this post was to provide the dish on the "uniform" of each of Condé's magazines, a categorical distinction I gradually picked up on through stealthy observation of who pressed which buttons on the elevators. But here's the SparkNotes: Vogue girls do not wear skirts. They wear pants. Only pants. All pants, all the time. It's Pantsville. It's a veritable pants party. Preferably cropped. Sometimes pleated. But always of the pants-y variety.

I may be back in Evanston, Illinois (Chicago, let's go with Chicago), but I'm doing my best to bring a little Vogue to the Midwest. I used to abhor pants with every fiber of my being, but what can I say? They've grown on me. I love the laid-back flavor these green wool trousers bring to this crazy, shoulder-pad-inclusive floral bolero, which was a thrift store find in my even more obscure hometown of Vienna, Virginia.

This is how you know I'm an amateur fashion blogger. An expert would have made sure the clasp on her necklace was in back for the detail shot. Fail.

Jacket: Thrifted.
Tank: American Apparel.
Pants: Vintage Lord & Taylor.
Purse: Oroton.
Belt: Thrifted.
Shoes: Thrifted.
Earrings, necklace and watch: Inherited.