Friday, December 30, 2011

Bonne année!

Enjoy a French 75 cocktail to start your New Year's party off with a bang!  This potent cocktail was said to have such a kick that it was aptly named after the French 75mm field gun.  Simple, strong and bubbly, this classic champagne cocktail is the perfect drink to toast the New Year. Cheers!
-3 ounces gin
-3 ounces fresh lemon juice
-4 tsp granulated sugar
-1 1/2 cups ice 
-1 cup chilled champagne (Any kind works, but I prefer extra dry)
-lemon twists for garnish

1. In a cocktail shaker, combine gin, lemon juice, sugar and ice and shake
2. Strain cocktails into 2 champagne flutes and top off with champagne
3. Garnish with a lemon twist and enjoy!

Makes 2

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Perfect Gift for...Jewelry Addicts!

Lately, it seems that I am all about the latest in online shopping crazes - the subscription service. Working a 50+ hour work week, catching up with friends, sneaking in odd freelance jobs, and spending time with family all takes its toll on my time. With such a busy schedule, I often don't have the luxury of treating myself to a few hours of retail therapy. With subscription services, I ensure that once a month I will update my wardrobe and invest a bit of my hard-earned money in myself.

While I will forever be a fan of Birchbox, a $10/month beauty sampling program, I am equally as enamored with JewelMint. This particular subscription service sends you a pretty piece of jewelry for $29.99/month.

Upon signing up for JewelMint, you are asked to take a "style quiz" which determines which pieces will best suit your style. Each month, your "showroom" fills up with stunning selections that are tailored to your tastes - and if you aren't happy with their picks, you can flip through all the options on your own as well. Short on cash, or don't see anything you like? You can skip a month within the first 5 days and you won't be charged. 

Much of JewelMint's appeal comes from celebrity spokeswoman Kate Bosworth. I have forever been a fan of her personal style, and you can truly sense her investments in the company - she's rarely spotted these days without wearing at least piece. Together with her partner-in-crime, celebrity stylist Cher Coulter, JewelMint has become a bonafide success story, launching spin-offs like StyleMint with the Olsen twins and ShoeMint with Rachel Bilson.

I have personally ordered four pieces from JewelMint and have been truly impressed with the style, quality and attention to detail. I've been known to frequent Forever21 for their fast-fashion accessories, but my JewelMint pieces have left those in the dust. 

 Click here to learn more about JewelMint and take the style quiz!

Friday, December 16, 2011

One Stop Holiday Shopping at the Troc

We're a bit biased. But we think that you can do the majority of your holiday shopping under one roof. No, not Target! (Ok, we know that this is also a convenient place to do one-stop shopping but try to give us independent boutiques a fighting chance!)

So with TWO "Shopping" SATURDAYS left before Christmas, I leave you with a few ideas...

PERFECT STOCKING STUFFERSTocca candles ($38), travel hand creams ($8)  and lip glosses ($14)
Roost sea urchin votive holder ($38)

LOTS OF PLACES TO CHOOSE FROM!Cat Studio pillows ($156 in stock, $165 special order)
FOR ANYONE ON YOUR LIST!Recchiuti fleur de sel caramels ($28)

EVERYONE'S FAVORITE ITEM!Archipelago Botanicals Pomegranate items ($28-$42)

FOR THE FASHIONISTA ON YOUR LISTSecrets of Stylists book ($24.95) 
FOR THE NEW BABY!Danish rattles and teething toys ($20)

FOR THE MIXOLOGIST!Absinthe cocktail set (spoons, $18 each; set of 6 glasses, $60; book,  $19.95)

FOR THE NYC LOVERThe iconic New York City deli cup in ceramic ($15)

We have lots of wonderful items under $30 for everyone on your list. Great items for babysitters to children's teachers, your favorite aunt to your brand new nephew. Don't forget about your local shopping vendors like us. We at Trocadero strive to provide Omaha with beautiful, unique items perfect for gift giving. Please email us at or give us a ring at 402-934-8389 and we can help you put together any type of gift package for anyone on your list.

Happy Shopping!

Friday, December 9, 2011

America the Beautiful

I decided to do things a little bit different this time around, so here is a documentary review, let me know what you guys think!

I watched the documentary, America the Beautiful (written, produced and directed by Darryl Roberts in 2007) on Hulu a little over a week ago, and I’ve been trying to figure out what route to take so I could share it with you all. The truth is, it’s one of those films you’ll have to check out for yourself. Sure, I can share the general outline of the story and pop a few alarming quotes in here, which I already planned on doing, but, you can see how realistic it is when you actually watch it. Do I think you should clear your schedule for it? Not necessarily. I believe we are all aware of the issue at hand; this documentary just brings it to the forefront of our minds. However, if you have time to spare, I do recommend checking it out.

The first few minutes of the film had males of different ages and types expressing their personal views on women. What they want in a women. “Thank God for cloning. If you like your Pam Andersons you can just run ‘em off in a manufacturer and eliminate nasty chicks,” was one male view.

The focus of the film is on a 12-year-old African American model, Gerren Taylor. She took the runway head-on and was more or less thrown into an adult world. Throughout the film you can see how she rises to the top, grows up, gains a few curves and it suddenly became increasingly harder for her to find work.

Another girl, 15-year-old Maggie, has dedicated her whole life to modeling and acting. We’re talkin’ modeling and acting classes and home schooling. Maggie does however, have a slight “belly” as her mother calls it. She so kindly mentions liposuction as an option if Maggie can’t get rid of it. “If that’s what we need to do, then we’ll do it,” says Maggie’s mother.

Her daughter responds with: Plastic surgery is a women’s best friend.

Speaking of plastic surgery, I’m sure some of you have taken part in the guilty pleasure of watching Dr. 90210, yeah? Or are familiar with a few popular faces of plastic surgery? Did you know that some of these so called plastic surgeons were not board certified with the American Board of Plastic Surgery during the time when this was filmed? You can call the board yourself and find out who really has the skills and who is sliding under the radar.

One of my close friends, might I add… she’s got curves, is black and beautiful and embraces every second of it…thought it was just plain sad. In the beginning portion flashed Victoria’s Secret ads across the screen, saying how unrealistic advertising makes expectations on women. The question was then asked: who benefits from it? “No one benefits from women feeling inferior,” said CG, “we’ve got a long way to come and I doubt we will make any progress because the damage has already been done.

Towards the end of the film, Darryl Roberts is talking with Gerren again and she chimes in and pronounces: I’m ugly. Period. Point Blank. Before Roberts can get a word in she cuts him off again and forcefully says: “Period.”

By the end it showed how self conscious she really was, which I felt showed that the more beauty centered you are, the more self conscious you are, thus showing how much more unnecessarily critical you are. Especially of yourself,” said CG.

Would you ever get your dog testicular implants? Or how about revamp the look of your own hoo-ha?

Shocking? Perhaps.

Unheard of? Nope.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Holiday Craft Time, a Good Way to Spread the Cheer

Last weekend a couple friends and I hosted an afternoon of cider, cheesy chili and plenty of silly holiday craft making. Before that my feet were dragging into the inevitable season changes and the holiday spirit. It so happened this ended up on the first snow day of the year and spending it warm indoors with happy people sparking creativity everywhere was just what I needed to flow into the season.

If you are thinking of having a holiday get together, try your own craft time on a lazy weekend afternoon. You can do anything simple from collaging holiday cards, baking cookies, gluing things on ornaments or more complex like sewing a stocking or painting a picture.

It's such a great way to get into the spirit, spending quality time with friends old and new. Here are some great websites to get you inspired!

She does step by step projects for everything from food to clothes and so many of them are really simple to do. I love the sweater stocking project!
Their website has an easy to search DIY tab that you can pick your material and/or level of difficulty.
Craft Gossip
Involve the whole family with this handmade rolling stamp wrapping paper, cute!

Try this easy stacked felt circle wreath by Kojo Designs. You could also try torn newspaper spray painted gold with some red ribbon. I have also done one with torn fabric just tied on a hanger.

Have fun, get creative and share any other great ideas. Happy crafting!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Shin Scissorhands

A few years ago, my friend Shin An was featured in VOGUE as one of New York City's best "underground" hair stylists. At the time she worked either for Mark Garrison or Paul Labrecque, two of the best salons in the city. The VOGUE story focused on those stylists that had a "cult-like" following that weren't exactly the "marquee" names on the door. (I remember that Harry Josh was another stylist featured in the story...but for some reason I cannot find the article online.)

Flash forward to now.

Shin has opened up her very own eponymous salon in Santa Monica. Yup, that's right. She's traded in the concrete jungle streets of NYC for the Palm trees and sandy beaches of sunny southern California.

As featured on, Shin is making waves in her Asian-inspired, beachy bungalow on Montana Avenue.

There are people who cut hair and then there's Shin. She is, without-a-doubt, a genius when it comes to knowing hair and what style, shape and cut is best on each particular person. I can't count how many people I have referred to Shin's effortless way of creating magic with a pair of scissors. My college roommate lives in Eastern Connecticut and would make trips to NYC for a Shin hair cut. A good friend from NYC who now lives in Philadelphia also schlepped to New York for Shin to wield her Edward Scissorhands talent. I even converted two friends from Omaha to go to Shin when they went to NYC. Yes, she's that good. The best part of her cuts? No, not the price. You have to pay for a good hair cut. But what makes it worth it is how the cut gets better with time. The hair cut grows out beautifully.

If you want a hair cut of a lifetime, go see Shin. And tell her Alice from Omaha sent you. It wouldn't be the first time!

Shin Salon is located at 1025 Montana Avenue in Santa Monica, CA. Phone #: 310-310-3128 or go to

source of photo:

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things

I absolutely love this time of year! All because of holiday gift giving, that is. Those who know me may not believe it, but I actually enjoy giving gifts far more than receiving them. Finding something that a friend or loved will adore just makes me happy. All throughout the year I'm constantly jotting down notes of items I think would make great gifts. I just couldn't help but to share my ideas, so here is a list of just a few of my favorite items to give this holiday season.

Piggy Power Bank by Neon Green

This solar power bank and USB charger is eco-friendly and really comes in handy. It can be used with iPhones, iPods, Blackberry, as well as most other mobile phones and MP3 players. It is fully charged when left in the sun for 15-16 hours and can also be charged by USB power. The perfect gift for any techie on your list. The Piggy Power Bank also comes in "Big" and "Lil' Piggy Power" versions to suit your energy needs.

Goldsmith Silversmith

I am such a fan of buying locally and hand made items, and when they look as spectacular as the work from Goldsmith Silversmith, you really can't beat it! In the heart of the Old Market, Goldsmith is located on Howard street and houses the work of several talented jewelry artists. From sterling silver, to gold and pearls to diamonds, Goldsmith really covers all of the bases. And there is no better gift than custom made jewelry. The staff is welcoming and works with customers to create the piece of their dreams within their budget.

Schmidt Brothers Cutlery

After reading about Schmidt Brothers in Food & Wine Magazine I fell in love with their concept of high-quality knives without the high-quality price tag. Their range of knives includes an exclusive Acacia and stainless steel collection for West Elm and even titanium and ceramic a lines in their regular collection. With prices starting at $10, there's something for everyone, from the casual cook to the master chef.

Images courtesy of:

Goldsmith Silversmith
Schmidt Brothers Cutlery

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Make Your Trendy Summer Staples Work in Your Winter Wardrobe!

from summer to winter

all bags and shoes available at Trocadero!

With the first major snowfall of the season falling outside my window, it's time I've come to terms with my closet. Every year, I struggle to switch out its contents with the passing of spring, summer, fall and winter. In all honesty, I'm a true believer in "seasonless" dressing - for the most part, I only purchase pieces that I can wear all year round.

To prove this philosophy, I've taken three of last summers' trendiest pieces and demonstrated how to transition them into a perfectly wearable winter ensemble.

The Maxi Skirt

The floor-length skirt was one of my favorite pieces from this past summer. There's something so effortless and easy about tossing on a maxi skirt with a white tee and a great necklace and heading for the door. Mine is so well-loved that I couldn't bear to pack it up, so instead I'll be pairing it with a cropped sweater. I am obsessed with these suede wedges, but I also like the idea of swapping those out for a pair of rugged boots for running errands.

The Lace Tee

A great lace tee is a must-have for me. It's the simplest item to dress up or down for any occasion. Throw on a pair of great colored corduroy trousers and a rugged black boot and you're ready for just about anything!

The Romper

Most people would say that a romper is a summer-only option, but I dare to disagree. I sport all my shorts with tights during the winter - in fact, so much so that my friends like to joke that I "never wear pants," because I'm always in shorts, skirts and dresses no matter what the season. With a thick pair of tights, chunky sweater, and riding boots, this lightweight romper is winter-ready.

What summer item will you be wearing this winter? 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Can't Live Without: Fendi Bag

I own a lot of handbags. A lot. I'm talking M-A-N-Y. With a capital M. All joking aside, I really have so many purses, totes and handbags that I'm amused by the ones that I always turn to, no matter what. I find it surprising that the ones I turn to are not always the most roomy, or the most expensive, or the most interesting design-wise. They're often the "unsung heroes" so-to-speak, of my closet full of bags. Sometimes a bag I (aghast!) purchased, sometimes a sample sale bargain, sometimes a freebie.

Here is another item in my closet that I Can't Live Without. Welcome, brown leather Fendi bag!

I don't remember the year when I purchased this bag at the Fendi sample sale, but I do remember I got it for the bargain basement price of $50. This must have been around 1998-2000 because it was all about the Fendi baguettes -- made famous by Sex and the City -- which made the bag a household name in 1997.

I have some "Mama" baguettes from that same era and while they're absolute works of art, I always find myself going to this bag. It's pretty small but it seems to hold all the basics and then some. I often use this bag as my "home base" and then place it inside a larger tote that holds diapers, make up, my first-aid "kit" (of bandages, Neosporin and ibuprofen),  and lots of other things that just weigh down my bag.

The leather on this bag is seriously "like buttah." I love the chocolate brown with the vibrant purple satin lining as well as the buckle. The bag's insides are also what makes it so special: it is a "framed" bag with three separate compartments. The center section has a clasp so you can put more serious items in there that you don't want to "accidentally" spill out of the bag. Then on either side are spacious sections that are very easy-access for a phone, lipstick, etc.

I never used this bag when I lived in New York. It just wasn't functional enough for me. I dragged it out on some occasions...quick brunches with friends or a dinner out on a weekend night. But during the week I needed a workhorse that could haul all my work papers and the stuff that usually came at press appointments (very heavy lookbooks).

In the past couple years, I've probably used this bag at least 100 times. If I don't have Annabel in tow, I take this little baby to the supermarket, to lunch, to run errands. It's definitely earned a Top 5 Favorite Bag in my closet. Yes, a Top 5! I almost can't believe it myself!

Eco-friendly Gifts that keep on Giving

Some of the ways we waste our money on a daily basis, according to, also happen to be many of the ways that we do the most damage to the environment. Take a new direction this year and find eco-friendly gifts that will keep on giving.

1) Re-usable water bottles
Sigg water bottles are some that are certified as free of harmful chemicals, BPA and VOC free and come in a multitude of colors and patterns that can suit anybody's style.
2) Coffee to go
Let's face it, most of us like to drag our coffee to work with us as we are dragging ourselves. These are some great reusable coffee mugs that you can keep handy at home and leave one at work too! Keep cup has a range of sizes including an espresso size.
Cat print mug $18, Keep Cup $10-15, NYC Greek Mug, available at Trocadero $13
3) Driving cars
It's no secret owning a car is a definite money sucker and a lot of times a necessity but do we need to drive two blocks to the grocery store when we forgot milk? A quick trip down the street on a bike is a great way to incorporate more exercise, refresh your mind and save money. Just add a basket!

4) Low-quality product
My friend quotes "I'm not rich enough to buy cheap shoes". We think we can get more for less but what is the real cost to us? When that cheap appliance breaks that you have to replace once a year, that pair of shoes that lasts for 3 months before falling apart. Not only does more go into the landfill but the amount of money we spend replacing cheap items that fall apart on us is shockingly more that the really nice item we actually wanted. Try a cute piggy bank for kids so they can decide where their money goes.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Perfect Gift for....Beauty Junkies!

Over the past year or so, I have become what can only be characterized as a beauty hoarder. The fastest-growing area of my closet shifted from shoes to a clear cube organizer that is now overflowing with nail polish, lipstick, and skin care products.

This all-consuming love of everything beauty came hand-in-hand with my purchase of Birchbox, a genius  monthly subscription service. For $10 a month, Birchbox sends you a beautifully-wrapped package with four to five deluxe beauty samples from top brands in the industry. Since the samples are "secret," it's like opening up a gift to yourself every month!

Over the past six months, I've received everything from a gorgeous metallic Zoya polish to the infamous Smashbox Photo Finish Primer.  Because Birchbox asks you to fill out a beauty survey at the start of your subscription, your boxes are actually tailored to what you'll use the most, in addition to your skin and hair type. I've unwrapped the pretty pink paper to find perfume, hand cream, hair oil, lip balm, even chocolate - and I'm rarely, if ever, disappointed. If something doesn't quite intrigue me, I've given the small samples to friends or family to enjoy.

All of the full-size products are available to purchase on the Birchbox site, making it easy to buy if you're impressed. Out of my six Birchboxes, I've only purchased three full-size products, but there are some others I'd love to pick up when my beauty budget allows for it. I adored the June Jacobs Papaya Purifying Enzyme Masque, Jouer Moisturizing Lip Gloss, and Orofluido Elixir enough to buy.

I've enjoyed my Birchbox experience so much that I plan on gifting the subscription service to my closest friends. You can purchase a gift subscription in 3-, 6-, or 12-month increments, so they can give the service a fair shake before they jump into the monthly commitment. Birchbox has also introduced a limited edition Birchbox Man option, a $45 box with a dozen choice grooming samples. 

photos from

Purchase Birchbox and find more information here

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fashion Books to Give and to Receive

The other day my copy of my former colleague at In Style Hal Rubenstein's book 100 Unforgettable Dresses arrived on my doorstep. I loved that the title really tells it all...that they're unforgettable and not-so-much the subjective "best of" dresses. Flipping through the book, there was dress after dress that were absolutely the ones that you'd be hard pressed not to remember.

I like that it was a mixture of red carpet dresses as well as ones from films, runways and daily life. Mixed with the storytelling that is uniquely Hal at his best, this is definitely a great coffee table book to give and to get. We don't have it at the Troc quite yet so you'll just have to order it from like I did.

One dress that was not included was the Shalom Harlow modeled Alexander McQueen one from his Spring/Summer 1999 collection. Hal included the very memorable Kate Moss hologram dress (one that I saw live at his Fall/Winter 2006 show). This was truly mesmerizing and gives me chills watching it again.

There are some obvious dresses in the book and some surprising ones. Can you guess some of the dresses that made the cut?

If you're looking for another book that is great for that fashionista in your life, Sasha Charnin Morrison from US Weekly's (and prior to that at Allure and Harper's Bazaar) book Secrets of Stylists is a fun "guide" of the fashion industry with lots of stories and advice from insiders. I highly recommend it and it's available at the Troc. Just give us a ring (402-934-8389) or shoot us an email and we can put a copy on hold for you!

source 100 Unforgettable Dresses book cover
source McQueen-Shalom Harlow
source McQueen-Kate Moss
source Secrets of Stylists book cover

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Adventures in Chicken Pt. Deux

Last week I posted about my chicken roasting adventures. I was inspired to turn my chicken meal into a week full of meals after watching an episode of the Nate Berkus Show about making leftovers stretch. Since I only cook for one to two people (myself and a friend), I figured I would at least get a few wraps and a salad or two out of it, something different each day. What actually transpired was the chicken sitting in the fridge the rest of the week. As I was determined to use it for something, I decided to use a recipe I had saved from Giada De Laurentiis for a California Turkey Chili, only replacing the turkey with chicken. Warm, perfect-for-winter spices, hearty chicken and cannellini beans just seemed too enticing to not try. A simple recipe made for a delicious dish rich with flavor.

After making this dish a couple of times, I realized that hand chopping the fresh ingredients
yields a better result than a food processor (which dices too small and the vegetables get lost).

I also found that (at least for my personal preference) tossing cooked and shredded chicken in the pot with the onions, peppers, garlic and celery as opposed to adding chunks of raw chicken to cook with them makes for a better texture of the overall chili.

The end result was an excellent blend of flavors. The poblano peppers and chili powder added heat, while the cinnamon, cloves, and brown sugar added warmth and slight sweetness to round out the heat and then the creaminess of the beans bringing it all together. I served it over rice pilaf, but this chili can also stand on its own.

Dishes like this are so perfect for the holiday season. With all of the turkey, chicken and other various meats and vegetables, making the items stretch after the family tires of the first couple nights of Thanksgiving or Christmas leftovers is a wonderful option to prolong the enjoyment and reduce waste.

What are some of your favorite leftover transformation meals?

Friday, November 18, 2011

To eat that or not? That is the question.

I can be one of two things:

1. Health freak

2. Junk food freak

It usually goes in spurts, you know, where you all of a sudden one day up and decide to rid your body of anything greasy, sweet or savory. I can manage for a short period of extremely short period that is. I'm 21 so I usually go out on the weekends, (if I'm not too busy cramming for an exam of course) and well, the 2:00a.m. dinner bell chimes in my head saying it's time for some extreme carb loaded, greased up something or other. Who wants to eat a piece of whole grain bread to soak up alcohol? Not I.

Around spring time last year I decided to embark on an exercise mission. Not attempted alone, because let’s face it, that doesn't work either. My workout at the gym before my exercise mission consisted of a light run, a few ab workouts and some arm curls if I was lucky. Weak sauce compared what I was about to experience.

One of my good friends told me about a bootcamp she had been doing at a small gym and how it basically was kicking her ass. There's no other way to describe it. So I thought, meh, why not? I could use it.

Do you know what it feels like to not be able to straighten out your arm after lifting weights? Well, I do and it’s painful, yet so worth it.

The bootcamp lasted for six weeks, and I went three times a week. I felt so much better about myself when it ended, it was almost a tad bit addicting. Right before summer hit was when the first session ended, and I took about seven weeks off from working out. I turned legal if that tells you anything.

So, right before this school year started I decided to drag myself back. I needed to kick it into high gear, seeing as how summer took a toll on my eating habits and beer gut. Eight weeks of bootcamp, five days a week. Riiiiight.

I'm writing this in my sweaty sports bra actually because I took a break from writing and went to one of the classes. Kickboxing was on tonight’s menu! This is, believe it or not, my third round of doing the bootcamp, and I still hover over my knees and pant like it’s my first time. The feeling of being pushed to your limit and feeling like you honestly can’t bear another second, but somehow manage to throw one more punch, or do one more squat is the best feeling. I promise you. Just don’t ask me how I manage to get up the next day and do it again.

I’ll be completely honest; the biggest struggle for me isn't working out, it’s the eating portion. Basically right now, I’m working out to maintain what I have. So therefore I can have my moments of weakness and not be too worried. I question if that’s me taking the easy way out though, and since I have to ask myself, I’m assuming that’s my answer.

Today I was on iVillage and found an article about why even the “lose 1-lb a week” diets don’t work. The hilarious thing is I just recently downloaded an app where you can choose how much you want to lose by counting calories, and I chose 1-lb a week. I literally logged what I ate for 1.5 days. Epic fail. IT’S THE DAMN WEEKEND I’M TELLIN’ YOU! On a side note, the app is MyFitnessPal and if you have self control I highly recommend it.

Click on the picture below!

The very last paragraph is what spoke to me the most. I’m almost thinking about printing it off and taping it to my mirror.

I figured out there really is no need to obsess with weight loss and food. I’ve discovered from experience that by depriving myself of want I really wanted, only made me go out of control on the weekends. Which obviously isn’t rocket science, but sometimes you need to be reminded.

I do however; highly recommend the gym I attend. Scape is more of an intimate setting, vs. most gyms you see these days are jam packed with people. You have the option of one on one personal training sessions, or participating in the bootcamp. Even though the bootcamp is done in groups, the number is small and you still get personal help.

The phrase “group workout,” usually doesn’t appeal to people, but truth be told…nobody is looking at you. Unless they’re checking you out. Otherwise, they really aren’t concerned with how much you’re panting or how little you’re lifting.

The last thing I want is for this to sound like an advertisement, but you will feel better about yourself.

Also on ivillage, I stumbled upon an article reviewing the movie American the Beautiful and America the Beautiful 2: The Thin Commandments. Focusing on the always wanted, never attainable skinny model waistline, and why the average, beautiful woman should be looked at as exactly that. Beautiful. I have yet to see either flick, but I have my Hulu up and ready with part one.

Click on the picture below!

Stay posted for my review! If you’ve seen part one, I want your guys’ thoughts and opinions for the next post.

For now, let me hear some tips on how you stay healthy. Share anything! We can all benefit from each other.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

TOP THREE: My Common Scents

I think my love of candles, perfume and similarly scented items came with both age and maturity. A decade ago, a list of my favorite smells on earth would have contained fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies, Bath & Body Works' Cucumber Melon body lotion, and the $5 cinnamon apple candle my mom burned during the holidays.

While I still love these nostalgic fragrances (although they recently discontinued Cucumber Melon at Bath & Body Works), I've grown quite fond of more sophisticated scents. I've already mentioned my favorite Bond perfumes, but I've come to love filling my home with luxurious candles and sweet-smelling diffusers just as much. Below, find my three most-utilized candles.

1.) Diptyque Violette , $65.00

I would have been the first person to tell you that there was no way I was ever going to spend $65 on a candle, but this was long before my nose knew about the existence of Diptyque's Violette.

When I first started at the Troc, I made sure to research the store's products thoroughly, which included smelling every scent that made its way onto our shelves. Since then, not a work day goes by that I don't close my eyes and inhale this unbelievable floral fragrance (available at Trocadero). The subtle, sweet scent of violets is completely irresistible -I  only wish that it came in a room spray so I could wear it on a day-to-day basis.

2.) Voluspa Vervaine Olive Leaf, $18.00

I came home a few weeks ago to find my new roommate burning this Voluspa Vervaine Olive Leaf candle, and I was immediately hooked. Something about the combination of apricot and coconut wax with lemon verbena and crushed olive leaf combines to form a perfectly complex candle that is fruity yet sultry. Plus, it doesn't hurt that the Voluspa tins are so delightfully decorated!

3.) Slatkin & Co. Frosted Cupcake, $19.50
Okay, so perhaps my "sophisticated scents" theory should be revisited - but if you haven't experienced the sweet-smelling glory that lies in this candle, then I suggest you make your way to the nearest Bath and Body Works and pick up as many as possible. It's exactly what it sounds like - a delectable fragrance that manages to mix cake batter and buttercream frosting without being overwhelmingly sweet. These readily available candles often go on sale for 2 for $20, so I'd suggest you wait if possible and purchase them at a discount.

What is YOUR favorite candle? Share below!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Le Freak c'est Magnifique!

Does the song "Let's Dance" by David Bowie make you want to hit the dance floor immediately? Or are you more into 70s disco pop like "Good Times" by the band Chic? Perhaps you're like me and listened to Duran Duran's "The Reflex" over and over again and taped it when it was on Friday Night Videos? If you answered "yes" to any or all of these questions, then you're a big fan of Nile Rodgers' work, the music producer on all three songs (and member of the band for the second).

Nile Rodgers has produced some of the most recognizable songs from the 70s and 80s including "We Are Family," by Sister Sledge, "Like a Virgin," by Madonna, "Original Sin," by INXS, "Love Shack," by the B-52s and "Notorious" by Duran Duran.

When I read that he had written Le Freak, a very colorful memoir filled with stories from his chaotic and unsupervised youth to his days as a multi-platinum recording music producer, I knew I needed to download it immediately onto my Kindle for iPad. Le Freak is as enjoyable and addictive to read just like his music. If you're looking for a great page-turner, this is the book for you. What a fantastic holiday present for anyone who grew up in the 70s or 80s.

Coincidentally, I love that Duran Duran has just issued a new video for their song "Girl Panic" that is so retro-80s. It kind of has a Nile Rodgers feel to it. What do you think?

Sopa de Ajo

While traveling abroad this past summer, I had the opportunity to taste lots of tasty dishes, one of which was this amazingly delicious and simple Spanish soup, sopa de ajo. As the weather grows increasingly colder here in Omaha, my boyfriend and I have been making this soup quite often as we almost always have all of the ingredients on hand and a hot dinner is on the table in under an hour. Also, the immune-stimulating properties in garlic make this my go-to dish when I'm feeling under the weather. Here's my recipe:

(Serves 2)

olive oil

2-3 bulbs of garlic (dependent on your personal preference; for me it typically depends on how much I have on hand)

1/2 of a baguette cut into 1/2" slices (the Spaniards typically make this soup to get rid of stale bread; if you have some on hand, throw it in! If not, toast the bread in the oven for a bit until golden brown)

2 tsp of pimenton (Spanish smoked paprika - this spice is essential, as normal paprika will not taste the same. Again, if you would like to add more of this spice to your soup, be my guest)

dash of cumin

2-3 cups of vegetable or chicken broth

4 eggs

salt and black pepper to taste (be careful not to over salt -- most broths have more than enough. With that said, this is a saltier soup!)

1. Saute garlic until soft but not brown, about three minutes.
2. Add the broth, pimenton, cumin, salt & pepper and bring to a boil.
3. Reduce heat to a simmer, add the bread & push around to make four wells in the soup to hold the eggs. Break an egg into each well and use a spoon to scoop hot soup over each egg until the eggs are cooked to your preference.

el fin! Enjoy your delicious, immune-building dinner!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Should Project Accessory Hang Up Its Hat?

I've just watched two back-to-back episodes of Project Accessory...Are any of you guys watching it? Because I'd love to know what you think. Because my 10 year old 5th grader viewing partner and I keep likening it to a train wreck. You know you gotta rethink when even a 10 year old (who loves and breathes fashion) doesn't like it.

We actually both just started to watch the latest season of Project Runway together on Lifetime. I had seen prior seasons when it was on Bravo but then missed probably the past few years worth, both when it was on Bravo and when it debuted on Lifetime. We really had a great time watching this last season of P.R. with Anya and the gang. At the beginning of the season, we'd even sketch alongside the contestants and create our own looks. It was the perfect before-bed ritual on Monday nights (courtesy of the DVR).

When we saw ads for Project Accessory, we were kinda doubtful off the bat. For some reason the ads with INXS's "The Devil Inside" just didn't provoke in the right way. And you're talking to an ex-accessories director...of In Style no less! After I heard that In Style was going to be the magazine connection (like Elle was and now Marie Claire is for P.R.), I definitely knew I'd have to watch just to see Ariel Foxman, the current editor of In Style (he wasn't while I was working there though he and I did work together at In Style when he was an associate editor and then a senior editor). And of course the guest judges (let me guess, perhaps Brian Atwood will be one?).

There are a whole lot of things that just don't work on this accessory rendition of P.R. First of all, the medium just screams crafty-Holly Hobby. When on the first episode they had to go through and scavenge  through a storage unit in New Jersey and people were fashioning things out of lamp shades, springs on a mattress and ice skates....well, I just kind of cringed. To have accessories as a back drop to 1. Jeans and a white t-shirt, 2. A black dress, and 3. A bodysuit: it's just way too gimmicky.  And it's so difficult to see the accessories on the runway (especially when they have that God awful Project Accessory logo thing in the bottom right hand corner which blocks seeing the close up shots of the accessories!!!). The producers really need to rethink the branding of the show that covers up the shots of the accessories. Really? Has no one seen or commented or tweaked this yet?

And the "foursome" just isn't the same. Really. Not. The. Same. Molly Sims just shows you how simply radiant, natural, gorgeous, personable and charismatic Heidi Klum is. I have met Heidi on numerous occasions and she is all that and a bag of chips. And I love that is translates so well on TV...she really has great television presence. And every week we used to comment on how beautiful she looked in her different outfits, her various hairstyles, her radiant makeup. Every week she was polished and sophisticated and looked terrific. And then there's Molly. Oh, no she didn't. Who is styling her? More importantly, who is styling Heidi and can Lifetime get Molly some of that? She is also stiff as a board and does not offer anything constructive. I am at a loss for words. (Or not, clearly, as I've just gone on and on about her.)

I LOVE and Eva JeanBart-Lorenzotti is a true pioneer and genius in the internet, luxury goods business. But I don't think she translates well on TV. She seems a little stiff...well, her hair is definitely hair sprayed to an awkward stiffness. I want to root for her on this show but every time she walks in the work room, I feel like she is sauntering seductively and it just seems off. She is definitely not warm and cuddly like Tim Gunn (who, to Eva's credit, also at the beginning of the series seemed a bit stiff himself). I don't know about her as a mentor...I actually think the guest judge of Nadja Swarovski was very good...maybe a thought for future seasons (if there are any?).

Kenneth Cole isn't Michael Kors. If it was me, I would have put Richard Sinnott, the head of accessories for Michael Kors in that role. Yeah, maybe they need a bona fide accessories designer but I think Richard would be hilarious and very knowledgable as he's worked both as an accessories editor and now at a fashion house running accessories.

The best judge hands down is Ariel. He makes the show worth watching just for his one liners. His Xanadu comment, his quick, "Ok, you can design," or whatever he says very matter-of-factly to the designers. I wondered whether he would be able to convey constructive criticism as he hasn't spent that many years studying the accessories market as a Fashion Director or Accessories Director does. But then I realized that you really don't need the fashion knowledge background to be able to know what's ok and what's crap going down the Project Accessory runway! I think it's safe to say that most people watching from their couches can figure that out.

Like this "Aspen snow bunny" outfit whose designer was booted from the competition last week. Though I really tend to scratch my head when Kelly Osbourne and the rest of the gang thought the winning look (all black with turban) was "sophisticated" and that you could see all ages wearing that look. What? I was not a fan. Frankly, it's just hard to take the show seriously when they ask the "designers" to create looks for a bodysuit? This is not constructive. This is like amateur hour.

Anyone else feeling the same as me? Or am I being too highly critical? Is it worth blocking space on my DVR or should I leave more space for HGTV's House Hunters? Seems like I'm not the only one who is questioning NY Magazine, they asked, "Did You Give Project Accessory a Second Shot Last Night?"

source all photos

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Adventures in Chicken Pt. 1

I have always had an obsession with roast chicken. I don't know if it's the cute, newborn-like appearance of a young chicken or the warm, Americana comfort food appeal of a roast chicken dinner, but it has been on my list of meals to perfect for a while now. This past week I finally embarked on my recent planned attempt at it. At the grocery store that day I gathered up some basic roasting items: lemon, thyme, rosemary, garlic, red potatoes, carrots, and celery and LOTs of butter!

I wasn't actually planning to follow a recipe, as I had basic knowledge of cooking a chicken as well as countless tips and methods gathered from years of watching the Food Network and reading magazines and cookbooks. Plus, I always just cook with my gut and nose! I did, however, stumble upon a recipe from The Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten that was similar to what I had planned on doing, so I used it for reassurance.

After a long day of running errands, I didn't get home until 8, which meant a VERY late dinner. But I was determined. So, off I went chopping vegetables, rinsing and seasoning the chicken. My biggest concern was achieving rich flavor and a crisp, golden skin. I decided to use a trick I picked up a while back of using an herb butter mixture to slather under the skin and on top, to ensure both rich flavor and a buttery crisp skin.

I stuffed the cavity with a half of the lemon, a bunch of thyme and a few sprigs of rosemary, a chunk of onion, a few garlic cloves and ...of course, a hunk of butter (is this starting to sound like a Paula Dean recipe?). I tied up the legs (with some decorative gold floral wire, since I didn't have any kitchen string), placed the cute little bird on top of the seasoned vegetables in my ceramic baking dish, and in the preheated oven it went for about an hour and a half. After letting the chicken rest, dinner was served at about 11:30. A very late dinner indeed!

The results: a moist chicken with good flavor and a gorgeous crisp skin! And the vegetables, soft and buttery and fresh with lemon and herbs yet still retaining some of their crispness and natural flavor.

Stay tuned to TrocTalk to read about how I used the leftover chicken later in the week! Truly a dish that keeps on giving.