Friday, September 30, 2011

Funny Girls

It's not new, but I'm newly obsessed with comedian Marc Maron's WTF Podcast. Marc's like a comedian's comedian, who does one-on-one interviews about life in comedy with funny folks in his garage. They are rambling and informative and often definitive and inspiring. I got sucked into listening to Amy Poehler's, and it made me think a lot about how inspired I am by her and Tina Fey.

It is my fervent hope that if I ever have a little girl, she has a great sense of humor. I hope she'll crave other people's laughter more than attention for looks, you know? I hope more little girls will be like Tina and Amy.

From Amy's speech at Harvard:
"Try to keep your mind open to possibilities and your mouth closed on matters that you don't know about. Limit your 'always' and your 'nevers.' Continue to share your heart with people even if it has been broken. Don't treat your heart like an action figure wrapped in plastic and never used. And don't try to give me that nerd argument that your heart is a Batman with a limited-edition silver bat-erang and therefore if it stays in its original packing it increases in value."

And, Tina's mothers prayer (which totally makes me cry, btw) from Bossypants:
First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.
May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the the Beauty.
When the Crystal Meth is offered,
May she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half
And stick with Beer.
Guide her, protect her
When crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the nearby subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock N’ Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.
Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance.
Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes
And not have to wear high heels.
What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.
May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.
Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen.
Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long,
For Childhood is short — a Tiger Flower blooming
Magenta for one day –
And Adulthood is long and Dry-Humping in Cars will wait.
O Lord, break the Internet forever,
That she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers
And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.
And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister,
Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends,
For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.
And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord,
That I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 a.m., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back.
“My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck.
“My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental note to call me. And she will forget.
But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.
Happy Friday guys! Next week, I'll be doing a little reminiscing on my wedding last year and looking forward to friends' weddings in the future!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Things I learned to love during my Appalachian childhood: Bluegrass, drive-ins, high school football, Dollywood and mountain roads.

Things I didn't love during my Appalachian childhood: Southern food.

I'm proud to say that slowly but surely, my palate is expanding to make room for some Southern foods. I still have a whole slew of foods that don't make my list of faves, but I like the new spins that a lot of contemporary Southern-inspired restaurants are doing. That inspiration is part of what I loved about the menu at Public House in Norfolk.

Public House is supposed to be a British-inspired gastropub, but it was menu items like "blue collar mac and cheese," pulled pork and moon pies that got me.

I started with a Ginger Snap: Vodka, dark rum, fresh ginger, honey, apple juice and lime juice. It was sweet and sour and pretty great.

I pushed past my fear and ordered waffle-battered chicken breast with blueberry sauce. CRAZY, but crazy awesome. It was kind of similar to a monte cristo, and the asparagus was perfectly grilled. It was all delicious together, and I seriously cleaned my plate.

I finished the night with homemade gourmand moon pies (too much, I ended up taking more than half of it home). They were great, but I have to admit: I sorta prefer the preservatives-packed kind I grew up eating. These were very rich.

All in all, it was a great eating-out experience; I can't wait to take Sean so he can sample their shepard's pie!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Monique Lhuillier Bridesmaids

It's been a while since I've posted any wedding-related ideas, but I was hunting for fall dresses, and came across the Monique Lhuillier Bridesmaids line at Nordstrom. I had no idea she had a line like that, and it's seriously really great. The dresses are simple, but elegant and could easily work as party dresses and are almost all under $200! Here are some of my favorites:

Double-strap Chiffon Dress, $198

Monday, September 26, 2011

Home, Let Me Go Home

I took a weekend to go home and get some sweet friend time in with my BFF Jamie. I thought I'd share some snapshots of my trip, if you're interested:

On the way to my hometown, I stopped at the Shenandoah Valley Arts Center to check out my friend Pat Jarrett's photo exhibit. It's about manhood in modern times, and has amazing portraits of men, from Boy Scouts to gangstas to grandpas.

On Saturday, Jamie and I made a stop by the Powell Valley Overlook, a spot I took for granted my entire childhood. This was our view on the regular, y'all.

I painted it once in college, and it was sorta crappy. Maybe I'll try again.

We made sure to eat at Robo's Drive-In in Pound, Va. For like six years, Jamie and I had a tradition: at the beginning and end of every summer, we went to Robo's. I would get a Reese's Cup milkshake, Jamie would get a peanut butter shake. And for my money, it's one of the best cheeseburgers in the universe, as good as Five Guys, if not better.

And a parting shot — the kudzu enveloping the mountainside. Such a common sight in my childhood, I didn't even know it wasn't the norm.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pretzel Chicken with Honey Mustard

So I saw this recipe for mustard-baked chicken encrusted with pretzels on Dinner: A Love Story, who found it here on Food and Wine.

My first instinct was "Mmmmm" and my second instinct was, "Wait a sec, is that potentially gross?"

I am happy to report my first instinct was right, but let me give you a disclaimer: this is one dish that will NEVER look pretty. No chance.

The dish starts with the obvious: pretzels. But it's crucial (according to the recipe, natch) you use big sourdough pretzels. Smash those pretzels up with a mallet. Probably do a better job than I did (you can also use a food processor).

Now's probably a good time to preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Once the pretzels are sufficiently pulverized, it's time to mix the sauce that will both coat the chicken and serve as a dip.

In a bowl, mix 1/2 cup of Canola oil,  1/2 cup of whole-grain mustard (I didn't have any, so I used brown mustard), 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard, 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 1/4 cup of water and salt and pepper.

Stir vigorously until it's smooth. Now do what I forgot to do and separate out enough of the sauce to use as a dip BEFORE you dredge raw chicken in the mix. I forgot to do that, so I had to go dip-less.

Set up your dipping station. You'll dredge chicken breast(s) in the mustard dip, then do your best to cover in pretzels. This is tricky business, but do your best.

Place on a foil-lined pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Et voila! Mine didn't look nearly as pretty as the one in Food and Wine's picture (of course), but I'll tell you what: it was good. Spicy and salty and sweet, all at the same time. The pretzels slide off real easy, which is pretty annoying, but when you can get them to stay on, they lend a great crunch!

I will probably be trying this one again. Someday I'll do a post of all the best chicken breast recipes I've tried. Do you guys have any favorites?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I Spy: Williamsburg Antique Mall (WHERE ELSE?)

Yeah, you know the drill. I'm hoping to make it to an antique store or thrift shop soon that ISN'T the Williamsburg Antique Mall, but you have to understand, it's the best place to kill time before my meetings. So, if you're not totally tired of seeing shots of items from my trusty Antique Mall, come virtual shopping with me!

So, is a glass hand creepy or no? This pink depression glass hand is a perfect ring holder, if you aren't weirded out by it. $35.

I loved this pretty 1920s lady. I think she cost $89, which is a bit much for a stranger but she'd lend some great stature to any home. One of the antique stores I've shopped at always puts a sign beside random photos/portraits that says, "Adopt a relative!" I love that.

Behold! An amazing art deco schoolhouse-style pendant light with copper trim for $65. You can't even buy a copycat for that cost. Wouldn't it look so beautiful in an entry hall, with rustic woods and this Hygge and West wallpaper.

Geodes and gems are SO IN right now, but also so classic. This gorgeous set of bookends were $65, which is a pretty sweet price and would bring so much snazz to a bookshelf/mantle.

Geometric prints, especially 80s-inspired ones, are so so so hot right now, and this already framed lithograph is a serious find. It's by artist Niels Nedergard, who actually popped up when I google searched it, so it's got a little street cred, too. Now, get this, the price was $35! That's literally what you'd pay for a much tinier, derivative print on Etsy + another $35 for framing. God, maybe I've talked myself into buying it!

It's a good reminder, though, that thrift store/antique store art doesn't always have to be weak florals and paint-by-numbers. For every family who treasures everything they inherit, there's one who looks at a pile of art and says, "ugh, this is junk." So keep your eyes peeled for quality and intrigue!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Emmys 2011: What I Would Wear

For the Oscars, I shared some ideas of what I would wear. Obviously, I loved lots of the Emmy dresses and would love to get my grubby little hands on them, but here are some other gowns that I think deserve some screen time. All pictures of gowns are from

If I Were ... A Cast Member for Nominated Show

This Monique Lhuillier gown is a gorgeous color for fall, with an interesting neckline. It's perfect for someone who wants to get noticed, but understands it's not her spotlight just yet. Imagine the beautiful bronzed makeup that could go with it!

I'd pair it with these delicate gold Etruscan Revival earrings from Doyle and Doyle. Otherwise, I'd keep it minimal. 

If I Were ... a Presenter

This is like a great Marlene Dietrich/Jessica Rabbit type of dress. Very va-va-va-voom, so I'd pair it with classic Veronica Lake wavy hair, red lips and dramatic eyelashes. Black can be boring, but not in this cut, which is so sexy.

These lovely Victorian Malachite earrings from Doyle and Doyle would swing and dance from the lobes, catching the eye but not distracting from a pretty face. 

It's a little different and edgy, but I love this leather and silk chiffon Derek Lam dress. It's kind of southwest glamourous, and I love the idea of leather for a fall ceremony (although I heard all the celebs saying it was HOT). I can imagine this being perfect on Claire Danes or Anna Paquin.

Slide on an antique turquoise Snake cuff from 1st Dibs and I'd be ready to go.

If I Were ... A Nominee

The blue might get a little lost on camera, but I love the idea of shining like the night sky on my big night. This Elie Saab is romantic, flattering and classic...I can imagine it looking amazing on some of the curvier girls, like Christina Hendricks, Sofia Vergara or Kate Winslet.

For something a little less expected, I'd pair my night sky dress with this moonstone and diamond necklace, found on 1st Dibs.

What do you think? Would I still end up on your worst dressed list? What's something you'd like to see on the red carpet that never seems to end up there?

Emmys 2012: Fashion Review

This year's Emmy cast marks one of the first years when no one's dress had me gasping and no one TRULY horrified me. I mean, yes, there were some obvious missteps, but not the horrific, fireworks kind I prefer. If anything, there were a lot of "Most improved" and "on the fence" ones. You'll have to help me work out my feelings in the comments, ya'll!

Best Dressed

It's hard for me to explain why I like Julie Bowen's Oscar de la Renta dress so much. It's sparkly and it fits well and it was nice for a winner and it's a little bit Zelda Fitzgerald and a little bit 1980s. It's just a great dress, right?

I love that Sofia Vergara sees that she is the modern day Rita Hayworth and milks it for everything she's got. This coral Vera Wang couldn't suit her coloring better, her blingy earrings pack a punch without being ridiculous and her lightened tresses just add to the sun-kissed effect.

Evan Rachel Wood looks every bit the movie star in this Elie Saab dress, which is fitting considering she was nominated for her role in HBO's remake of "Mildred Pearce." She really does have a classic look, and the sculptural quality of the shoulders is really elegant.

Martha Plimpton is on this list simply for blowing my mind in this burgundy Zac Posen dress. I was like, "Holy crap, she looks AH-MAZING." She just isn't usually Mrs. Glamourpuss, you know? I love when people decide they aren't afraid to be fabulous.

Anna Faris wins for not appearing once on camera (at least not that I saw) and yet still bringing the bling. This Reem Acra dress looks like a cloth version of the Empire State Building and I loooove it. I would, however, love to see her tone down the brassiness of her hair a little for fall. Her hairstyle doesn't sell the dress the way it should.

I looked right at this picture and thought, "Hm, why was Marion Cotillard there?" and then I realized it was Aubrey Plaza a.k.a April from "Parks and Rec." WHAT? She looks seriously breathtaking in this Juan Carlos Obando dress, which I consider a star-maker turn. The hair is perfect, the accessories understated and the makeup artist did a great job making her look less dour than she always looks on the show.

Amber Riley's dress is so incredibly flattering and a testament to the fact that fashion designers ARE capable of making dresses for real women. Melissa McCarthy  needs Amber's stylist, stat.

I really don't want to like Katie Holmes' Calvin Klein sheath but, you know, it's really perfect American sportswear. I think I'd like it even better if the blue were slightly more electric, but it is a really great color already.

At first, I wasn't really blown away by Nina Dobrev's Donna Karan gown, partially because I didn't see the bottom on TV. Also, she's so tan, and I'm really biased against super-tan people these days. But every time I've looked at this dress since, it's grown on me for its simplicity, yet complicated construction. And her body! That is an hourglass, people. I bet girl had to be lowered into her seats all night!

Most Improved

Christina Hendricks' Johanna Johnson dress is a HUGE improvement over her previous outings on the red carpet. I wish her boobs weren't quite so pushed up (it looks hard to breathe, seriously), but I love the  beading and her hair/makeup are perfect.

My only criticism of Lea Michele in the past is that she was dressing a little too old and a little over blingy when she first started attending these awards shows. I liked this Marchesa dress because it was intriguing, a fun color and didn't seem too adult for her. I wish I had a picture of the back, which draped very elegantly.

People, this is Mayim Bialik. Blossom, you guys. She looked TERRIBLE not two years ago, and now, look at her! She's all sexified! I love it.

Not Quite Sold
 To me, the biggest faux pas is to be boring, or worse, to look like your dress came from a prom catalog. Adrianne Palicki's dress is kind of wrinkly, looks super prom, and the black strappy shoes look very Payless to me. She is a hot girl; she can do better!

This dress is perfectly lovely. The problem with it is that it's being worn by 13-year-old Ariel Winter, who looks almost like Ali Landry in it. Way, way, way, way too mature. She should be wearing a fun, short, youthful dress and some awesome fancy braid.

Elisabeth Moss is sort of stuck in the land of frump. There's nothing obviously wrong with this Marchesa dress, but her hair looks basically like Lady Bird Johnson's. This girl is 29, people. 29! And skinny! I want to see her in purple sequins with a smoky eye or something!

On one hand, Claire Danes' Oscar de la Renta dress is like a fashion interpretation of Picasso's blue period. On the other hand, I hate patchwork, in general, and with sleeves, this would be the most 80s redux dress ever.

 Kaley Cuoco also seems to have been shopping from the same prom catalog as Adrienne Palicki. There's nothing wrong with this; it's just a little too played out, a little too been there, done that.

 I saw Kerry Washington's Zuhair Murad dress and immediately loved it. My friend Ashleigh proclaimed it "YUCK." The bottom is kind of whack, isn't it? I would almost like it better if it was straight up fringe. Let's agree everything from the hips up is awesome.

Shouldn't it be obvious to me that Gwyneth Paltrow's Emilio Pucci dress is a bad idea? Yes, but somehow it's not. She is literally the only person who could pull that off. I like the beading, and her body is, of course, great. But am I going to be kicking myself for even considering liking this? 

This is obviously a great dress and Kate Winslet looked smokin' in it. She is a hot piece, I'll tell you that, so why wasn't I jumping up and down for this Elie Saab? I think it was because of this memory which came surging back: an incredibly comparable blue dress she wore a few years ago. Not really fair of me to pull that out, considering I buy 5 identical striped shirts a year.

Straight Up Bad

 I feel like the Twitterverse collectively gasped in horror when Julianna Margulies appeared in this Armani Prive gown. She has just been making so many weird choices in fashion lately, and this looked like it had chandelier crystals, or paperweights, or mirror eggs glued to it.

 I thought the moment when Melissa McCarthy won was the best of the entire night, and it was so great to see her relish the spotlight. I wish, however, it had been in something better fitting, more flattering and more deserving of a winner than this dress that she apparently designed herself. It's just really really frumpy, and mother-of-the-bride and not worthy of her, because she's awesome!

 I'm not a huge Olivia Munn fan to start with, but poor girl looked clueless. She's as orange as Snooki, her Carolina Herrera dress looks like it was just unfolded, and her posture is terrible. The dress manages to make a skinny girl look like she just ate at Cici's Pizza and has a food baby.

What would we do with Paz de la Huerta? Her dress isn't even bad, comparably. But it's her make-up and stare that makes me think she is angling for a guest part on the next season of "The Walking Dead."

EDIT: I had to add this picture of my jam, Zooey Deschanel, in this very sad Monique Lhuillier dress. I tweeted that it looked like a weak Project Runway project, and I really do still feel that way the morning after. The earrings looked cutesy, the ribbon looked sad, her hair looked too big...I love her girlish style usually, but I would have liked to see her glam it up.

So, am I way off-base? Did you have a favorite I left out (believe me, I had more, but tried to rein myself in)? Duke it out in the comments!