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.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Fashion For and By the Masses

What do you think of fashion bloggers? Are you inspired by them or do you find them revolting? Do you think fashion should be left to the "experts" of the magazine or retail world or should bloggers dictate what's coming down the pike?

I definitely have mixed feelings about the subject. I think about the "credentials" of these bloggers -- who are they? What have they contributed to the world of fashion that makes them a credible source? Why should I listen to them? Why should I care?

But then I really think about who the "credible" fashion journalists are and why they are the ones who get to dictate trends and tell us what's in and what's out. Is there some pedigree of knowledge that these "journalists" have that the bloggers don't? Looking inward, what special "degree" did I have that allowed me to be at the fore front of fashion for so many years?

I'm glad I left the "regulated" fashion industry when I did. I'm not sure if I'd be super annoyed by these bloggers being at every fashion show, every industry event, being touted as "icons" of the style world. It sounds quite curmudgeonly of me, I know. Would it be jealousy? Perhaps. Or is it more about "let us do our jobs and you go back to what you do...and what is it again that you do for a living?"

I think, plain and simple, that there are some great master marketers out there in the blogosphere. Some have style, some don't. Some are great writers, some aren't. Some are legitimate, some are poseurs. And it's up to each person to decide whether you want to spend time on their site(s).

Which brings me to my subject which made me think about all this. Rumi Neely. She is a slender, pretty part-Asian style blogger who started Fashion Toast a few years ago. Now it is part of a larger blog called NowManifest which incorporates the more popular individual blogs of a few folks onto one shiny site.

I am not a style blogger follower. I just logged onto Fashion Toast for the first time a couple days ago. I had never heard of this Rumi person but quickly learned about her by looking through her blogs and reading up on her background. The thing I was drawn to was just how these fashion bloggers create such "editorialized" shoots of themselves. It's rather conceited, no? But it sure does work. And boy, what I love is how she markets it all. I'm impressed that she sells the clothes she has worn on her ShopToast site (such as the Topshop harness blazer pictured above). Or how about these Chloe Sevigny-Opening Ceremony sandals pictured on the right. If you're a size 6.5/7.

So what do you think? Are style bloggers the wave of the future? Do we care what the magazines say anymore? I've got to admit, I know a lot of the real fashion editors out there and many have the style quotient of do I say this nicely....

source of both photos

Friday, November 11, 2011

Easy as 1-2-3

I'm all about the sweets. Snack worthy, easy, pop one in your mouth after dinner treats. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to whip up a buttercream frosted cake, or a made from scratch cherry pie, (which I have done ONCE, believe it or not) but, it's time consuming and I'm not Betty Crocker. Nor would I want to be...I don't think.

So let me present to you perhaps one of the easiest things you may ever make.

Here is the extremely long list of ingredients you will need:
Waffle pretzels

Sounds awful doesn't it?
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees
2. Grab a baking sheet and line it with waxed paper for easy clean up
3. Line the pretzels up on the baking sheet
4. Place one Rolo on top of each pretzel
5. Toss the pan in the oven for roughly 4 minutes, enough to soften, but not enough to melt!
6. Lastly, press a pecan down over the Rolo and you're golden!

I personally enjoy the melty goodness directly off the pan, but you of course have the option to let them set up for a bit in the fridge. Whatever your little chocolate loving heart desires.

Simple and delicious. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Trend: How to Wear Printed Pants

I adore how prints can just amp up your look without really trying. I'm also a huge fan of print on print but I have been eyeballing these printed pajama style pants popping up all over the place and wondering how they can look good on the average person and not just a super model. So I practiced styling some and wanted to share examples of the best ways to wear them for different body types.

There are three main types of the printed pant that's hot now, the tried and true legging style, retro wide leg style and then the trickier harem style pant that is baggy at the top and tends to accentuate the hips and butt area that most people do not want to show off particularly.

Harem Pant: Best on slim to willowy body types.

Best styled with a simple, solid color top that is flattering and can accent the waist. Silk wrap harem pants by Willow $597. Styled here with chunky necklace by my new favorite jewelry designer Assad Mounser (who I will be featuring a lot), DV suede pump and MZ Wallace Bianca bag (both available at Trocadero). photo credit via

Printed leggings (of the knit or jean variety): best on slim, average to pear shaped body types

How to style: use the print as a pop of color and interest peeking out from below a drapey tunic or flattering dress. They will accent the slimmest part of your legs at the calf. You can also have some fun with prints and layer a print skirt over leggings. For chilly weather pair with a chunky cardigan like this Missoni one, it's okay to have more bulk on the top if the legs are slim! Styled here with earrings by Assad Mounser, Seychelles black ankle boot 165- (available at Trocadero). Some cute prints can be found at Miss Selfridge UK

Wide Leg Pant: best on slim to full figures to balance out a larger torso. Plus I love the retro look with a semi masculine appeal of a collared oxford shirt.

Watercolor print silk by Fnubbu, 'Dead Flowers long necklace' by Assad Mounser, MZ Wallace Ava tote and DV by Dolce Vita suede pump (both available at Trocadero). Photo cred

Ooh La La! Chocolate Croissants to Die For

Yesterday I decided to make pancakes for breakfast as I had a little extra time in the morning. With baby Annabel starting to try finger foods (in the form of halved Cheerios), it frees me up to work in the kitchen for about 15 minutes before I have to sit down with her and spoon feed her usual oatmeal with pureed fruit. Breakfast was a hit and I went on with my day, later making homemade (and delicious) "Momofuku compost cookies" that afternoon.

Being single for so long...well, I didn't really spend so much time in the kitchen. I certainly didn't make cookies (I wasn't about to eat dozens of cookies myself!) and I never made pancakes for breakfast, that's for sure!

I find cooking and baking really creative and I rarely follow a recipe verbatim. I usually like to use it as a guide and then add my own take on ingredients. I often use Mark Bittman's book How To Cook Everything. It really is the one and only cookbook you need on your shelf. I love cookbooks but I find that I've pretty much stopped looking at any of them and only pull out the Bittman book.

But this morning, I kind of cheated. I love pain au chocolat, otherwise known as chocolate croissants! And the other day I was at Trader Joe's and saw these frozen packaged ones. For $3.99, you got 4 of them (a deal when you think at a bakery they charge anywhere from $2.50 and up). But I wondered how they would taste. I was pretty pleased with most things from Trader Joe's so I wasn't thinking that these would be far off.


First of all, these Trader Joe's pain au chocolats need to be prepared 9 hours in advance. Yes, NINE HOURS. Or basically the night before. They are tiny little dough packages that you place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet that you leave overnight. They expand at room temperature (seriously they get huge!) and by the time you wake up, you see a four times as large dough mass -- times 4!

I decided to put an egg wash on the top of them to give them that authentic, glossy top finish. Then off they went into the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

I've eaten some amazing pain au chocolats in my lifetime and I must say that these Trader Joe FROZEN(!!) ones are some of the best I've ever had. Seriously people, they were flaky, buttery, crispy, chocolatey goodness that a chocolate croissant should be. For a buck each, I won't be getting chocolate croissants anywhere else in Omaha! I just want to have a brunch at my house so I can whip up a bunch of these to serve friends. They'll think they died and went to a patisserie in St. Germain de Prés!

Looks like I'm not alone. One google search of "Trader Joe's chocolate croissants" yielded pages upon pages of people singing these confections' praises, including this one. I'm starting to think I might have to stock up the next time I'm there...which makes me think: Should I really be sharing this information?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Can't Live Without: Catherine Malandrino for Repetto ballet flat

Do you have something in your closet that is your absolute "go-to" item? You know, something that is comfortable, suitable for any occasion, a cinch to throw on and go out the door. Have you parted with something else in your closet that just was worn down, ripped, permanently stained or doesn't fit anymore?

I've noticed that in a closet full of clothes and shoes, I have my favorites that I truly cannot live without them. Ok, yes, I could live without them but let's face it, I really would be pretty bummed if I didn't have them.

The other day when I was slipping on my shoes, I thought: "Seriously, these are the most comfortable shoes I own. I don't know what I would do without them!"

This inspired me to start an ongoing series called: "Can't Live Without" and it will highlight certain items in my wardrobe that have proven to be indispensable (and sadly, many are irreplaceable). 

My first Can't Live Without items are my limited edition Catherine Malandrino designed Repetto bolshoi ballet flat. I cannot tell you how many pairs of shoes landed in my offices at In Style. Because I was a sample size 6.5/7 (37), there was never a shortage of shoes, boots, slippers, sneakers and the like. Often times designers would even send me the "never produced" samples -- these were the prototype designs that were shown to buyers and never got enough orders so they were never made. Yes, I own multiple "one of a kind" shoes but these were put into production (from what I remember). These ballet flats were designed by Catherine Malandrino and had this wonderful distressed star pattern in white on gray (I wrote lovingly about them in a past Troc Talk series called Two For The Road). I love the square toed Repetto "bolshoi" style instead of the more traditional pointed versions. This pair of shoes are so worn in that I really don't know what I'm going to do when they finally "die." I'll be sure to take them to Sam DiMauro at Andy's Shoe Repair (he's the genius shoemaker in Omaha that we've written about that works miracles on all shoes) and see if he can work his magic. Otherwise, I will have to settle for regular Repetto bolshoi ballet flats (but even here, they're sold out and not available in my size!).

So you might ask why I don't stock Repetto ballet flats at the Troc? I wrote up an order a couple years ago but realized that it's a price point that doesn't work well here in Omaha. Believe me, of all the 200+ shoes in my closet, these Repetto ballet flats are the ones I wear the most of all. I would gladly pay retail to purchase another pair when these beloved beauties finally bite the dust. But hopefully, as mentioned before, our guy Sam can do his thing and get me another few years!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Female Rap Star from Nebraska?

I'm known amongst my friends for my uncanny ability to find random yet fascinating YouTube videos. Despite the fact that I'm well-versed in the land of viral videos, even I was blown away by the musical duo Karmin, a now-engaged couple whose top 40 covers quite literally leave my jaw on the floor.

This is mostly due in part to singer Amy Heidemann's unbelievable rapping abilities, which make hit songs by Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne look easy. Even more astonishing is the fact that she grew up in Seward, Nebraska, a little town with a population of around 7000 that lies about an hour west of Omaha.

Together with her fiance, Nick Noonan, Amy has captured the attention of everyone from Ryan Seacrest to Ellen DeGeneres, ultimately winding up as the soundtrack to NBA commercials and even signing a deal with Epic Records.

For your viewing pleasure, I give you the video that first captured the world's attention - and with 44 million views, it's hard to argue with their talent.

Karmin released their first official single, "Crash Your Party," a just a couple of weeks ago. While I have to say that their abilities have definitely been edited and made "radio-friendly" in this track, I can't wait to see what else they have coming down the pipeline. I particularly like the video below, where they hear their song for the first time on the radio - it's their humility and true passion that makes them so endearing!

Share any of your current favorite covers and YouTube videos below!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Gifts That Give Back

One of the hugest perks about being a fashion editor in New York was all the presents we used to get! Not only during Christmas but also just throughout the year. A most favorite annual gift were the hand painted and embroidered pillows from Manolo Blahnik. I love that they're very limited edition and dated for each holiday year. It looks like I received 6 in total (there is one not pictured that has a green background and is sitting on a chair) and I cherish each one. As you may be able to see, the one of the far right has American flags on it; this one was 2001, the first Christmas after 9/11. On the side of the pillow is written: U.S.A. We Love You.

I love how the small square pillow looks like Annabel is wearing her first pair of Manolo Blahniks! Perhaps I should try to shoot that photo again with the pillow sitting lower towards her feet!

Creating a wonderful backdrop to the pillows on the back of our couch is a wonderful Sari Bari blanket that was a gift from our dear friends C+P. What is Sari Bari? It's an amazing charitable organization that restores the lives of women and children who have been rescued from the sex trade in India. Each blanket is handmade from vintage saris by these women and children so that they can lead a life off the streets and have a safe, place of employment.

Who knew that the Manolo Blahnik's Christmas pillows would set the stage for this Sari Bari blanket and inspire some holiday gift giving? As I snapped away at Annabel, I realized that the perfect Christmas gifts would be anything from the Sari Bari site! They have all sorts of items from jewelry rolls to baby changing mats, handbags to scarves and of course these great throws. So as you start your holiday gift giving list, think about those gifts that give back. Happy Shopping!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Big Bang Belt

Yesterday on my personal blog Postcards From Omaha, I wrote about how I was in need of some new clothes and ended up purchasing almost a dozen pieces at Ann Taylor. Yes, that Ann Taylor. I am surprised by how many great staple pieces I bought both this past weekend as well as another trip I made there fairly recently. On my blog I spoke about how I'm a good editor: how I can spot the good items from the bad (read: dowdy, corporate 80s looks that Ann Taylor kind of has the bad reputation for) and quickly edit through a whole store's merchandise. But what I forgot to mention is that once you have these key pieces, it's all about the styling.

When I opened Trocadero, I wanted to concentrate on all my favorite things. Those included accessories, shoes and gifts. And within the category of accessories, I really focused mainly on handbags, jewelry and some scarves. Some people have wandered in the shop looking for belts. We don't sell belts. And there's a reason: I don't really like them. I am not a fan of wide, garish belts with buckle ornamentation. I don't like the belt as "a trend." If anything, I like belts very sparingly. And perhaps that's why I like vintage belts and not so much new ones that are "new to the scene."

On one recent shopping excursion to Ann Taylor, I happened to purchase this top to the left. It didn't seem to be very popular as many sizes were still available and it was on sale like 4 times. I think it was "take an additional 50% off the sale price" sort of thing. I think I might have paid between $25-$35 for this top (originally $88). I liked the gray neutral of the top with the daytime shimmer of matte sequins in a bronzy gold.

I also happened to snag a great gold lurex cardigan from the super sale racks and thought it would pair nicely with the gray top.

I'm still a bit top heavy to date and my waist line has seen slimmer days so with those two in combination, I I find that most shirts fall on me in an unflattering boxy way. Add the cardigan and it just looked really flat and boxy.

Lo and behold, what did I learn? I discovered that the one accessory that would really put the whole look together was a skinny belt! And thankfully for me, Ann Taylor had one in a great gold lizard. I couldn't have picked out a better match for what I needed.

I still don't think I'll be stocking belts anytime soon at the Troc. Instead I recommend you head over to Ann Taylor and check out their wide assortment of skinny belts. This is one item that you'll want to own in different colors and it's just the right accessory to create a waistline and break up a head-to-toe color look.

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