Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Lemon Thyme Pancakes

Four years is a long time to have a craving. But that's how long it's been since I had lemon thyme french toast in Winston Salem and it's popped into my mind every time I've thought about breakfast. Something about snowy weather has triggered a primal need for pancakes in my husband. Last week, I tried to sate his pancake yen but failed a little miserably because my pancake mix was slightly out of date and I didn't realize it. So when we made a venture out to the store during our second snow day last week, I realized it was the perfect chance to transfer that lemon thyme flavor to pancakes. I grabbed a new box of Aunt Jemima mix, two lemons, fresh thyme and some lemon curd.

You'll need:

  • Your pancake mix of choice (or make your own)
  • An egg
  • Milk
  • Olive oil 
  • 2 lemons (to zest)
  • Fresh thyme
  • Lemon curd

First, we added all your standard pancake mix ingredients (mix, milk, an egg) to a bowl and then zested two lemons. Instead of vegetable oil, I opted for Extra Virgin Olive Oil because I thought it would give it a slightly savory flavor that would offset the thyme very well. I whisked the mixture together until the big lumps were gone, and using a 1/4 measuring cup, I poured the batter onto a skillet spritzed with cooking spray.

We've all ruined pancakes before, right? The trick is to only flip once bubbles start to form on top and the edges start to look a little brown. I have a HUGE pancake spatula that works great (except when I still inevitably mess some up...it happens).

See? Bubbles. Let's flip!

Sean ate his stack with maple syrup, but I wanted all the zingy lemon flavor I could get, so I melted a few spoonfuls of lemon curd in the microwave for about 15-20 seconds and just poured it on top and it was perfection. 

I looked up a lot of recipes before attempting this and ALL of them were way more complicated and required way more ingredients that I frankly don't think were necessary. These were perfect zesty, fresh, savory, fluffy pancakes and nary a cup of buttermilk was needed! Now I'm wanting to get way more experimental with my pancakes. My previous favorite was banana chocolate chip...I'm thinking we might need to make chocolate bacon next.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Fashion Review: Oscars 2015

The big joke was that this was the whitest Oscars in years (at least in the acting/directing categories), and I feel like some of the Hollywood stylists misheard that and decided every actress of note had to wear white. We had some hits, some losers and quite a few that were just disappointingly not hits OR losses. But first, let's start with those delicious hits.

Best Dressed

Oops, Lupita did it again! She wasn't nominated for a damn thing and she still stepped onto that red carpet dripping in 6,000 pearls like she was walking straight down from heaven and just gracing us with her glowing beauty. I saw her step onto the red carpet in her custom Calvin Klein gown and immediately tweeted, "That's the dress I want to be buried in." It was luminous, sexy, intriguing and elegant. Instant classic.

I think some of the subtlety of the color of Emma Stone's Elie Saab gown was lost with the flashes, but it was still one of my favorites of the night. I have a weakness for Saab's flashy runway confections and I had actually hoped someone might wear one of his acidic gold gowns. The bateau neckline is super flattering, the matching shoe feels both old-school and daring at the same time and her hair and make-up were ON POINT. She looks like she's glowing. It's her first nomination and it will just be more fun to watch her rack up more as the years go by.

Cate Blanchett is a true original, knowing just how and when to break some rules. Who else would pair winter-perfect velvet by Maison Margiela with summer staple turquoise and look like perfection? She also stuck to her role of previous winner and presenter perfectly. No stealing the spotlight, unless you consider matching a necklace perfectly to your water-blue eyes a distraction (and it's a welcome one). I also want to give her extra special kudos for not being one of these actresses who wears only one designer ever because they've gotten locked into some kind of crazy sponsorship deal that forces them to wear iffy gowns everywhere.

Most of us spent the weekend becoming very intimately acquainted with Dakota Johnson, so I'd say there was a little pressure to make sure her outfit delivered on the promise of her new stardom. Success! Her sleek Saint Laurent gown's bejeweled strap is such a lovely detail, her dark nails and messy hair are a great counterpoint and she just generally looked like the newly minted star she is. Now, if we can just improve her red carpet banter...maybe less time spent with her mom next time?

The moment I saw Julianne Moore I knew she had made sure to dress like a winner. Her sparkly Chanel couture was lovely, and looked VERY Chanel, which I appreciate. It's not my favorite dress she's ever worn by a long shot, but she won't be embarrassed by it 15 years from now. It's classic and elegant. Also, her earrings were beautiful and I was so touched by how emotional she seemed to be all night. Precious!

Rosamund Pike has had many missteps during this particular awards season cycle, so it was a delight to see her turn up in this perfectly tailored Givenchy red dress. It's just barely eked its way into my best dressed though; I do feel like I've seen it before, and the styling was lacking. Magpie me would always like to see a little more jewelry or a more daring makeup/hair look. Still, she looked amazing.

Jennifer Hudson's sunflower yellow Romona Keveza gown is amazing with her complexion, beautifully tailored and architecturally interesting. I didn't see her on the red carpet, but when I saw this picture, I thought the accessorizing was brilliant. She looks radiant and I bet she wishes she was wearing this when she won her Oscar.

This might be a little bit of a controversial choice, but in the battle of the sparkly tulle confections, I preferred the one worn by Luciana Pedraza (wife of Robert Duvall) over that of Jennifer Lopez. J.Lo looked great, don't get me wrong; I just get tired of nude frou frous and was pumped to see pretty coral. Also, this is a GREAT showing by the date of a nominee who happens to be a legend who might end up on camera a lot. Shrewd move, Luciana.

I flip flopped a few times on this one, but the more I looked at it, the more I liked it. At first, this Saint Laurent gown seemed a little like something Morticia Adams would wear to a disco, but then I started to really appreciate what the necklace was doing for the look as a whole and I do love a Halston-inspired disco moment. Also, I want to give Margot Robbie my most improved award; this is vastly better than her red carpet turn last year.

Good, But Not Ah-mazing

Reese is all about sweet simplicity these days, and though I can appreciate that, I'm also finding it sorta blah. This reminded me of a twinsie of her 2011 dress, which I also thought was a little boring bridesmaid. She looks very elegant in her Tom Ford, which seemed to be a subtle blue on camera, but it didn't feel Oscar-worthy (or particularly like something I'd expect from Tom Ford, king of sex).

Khloe Kardashian, of all people, was saying on E! that this color didn't strike her as "Oscars" and that this dress seemed like something you'd wear to a summer wedding. For the record, I love this color and Khloe is an idiot. BUT this Thakoon gown is missing a certain something that elevates it past your regular prom gown or sexy wedding guest outfit. Still, I appreciate Anna's efforts to play with color.

Jennifer Aniston's cream beaded Atelier Versace was va va va voom and had one of the best boob-area situations I've ever seen on a strapless gown. She looked super hot...just not quite enough going on here to land in my best dressed. 

I was REALLY close to bumping Laura Dern into my Best Dressed list. Her sparkly pewter Alberta Ferretti is art deco and futuristic all in one, and she had fun with jewelry, which I love. I just couldn't decide if it was really special enough to be an Oscar gown, you know? Maybe I'm being picky. She's great.

My girl Oprah looked fabulous in her Vera Wang. I was feeling a little unimpressed with the color, though, but the fit is praise-worthy. 

Kerry Washington also deserves some kind of award for reminding me why I used to love her on the red carpet before she started dressing like a crazy schizophrenic person. Her Miu Miu gown is packed with interesting details, from the embroidery and beading on the peplum, reminding me of a kimono, to the beading on the skirt. Her jewelry was also killer. The only thing keeping it off my Best Dressed list is that it still doesn't strike me as very special; just a vast improvement for HER.

Patricia Arquette has had a successful red carpet run, which is awesome. In the past, she's worn a lot of dresses that made her look either very busty or very stumpy, but this Rosetta Getty gown was elegant, made her look lean and classic, and was a much more interesting take on black and white than any of Reese's various gowns on that theme.

I'm On the Fence

I love Felicity Jones and I had really high hopes for her scoring a slam dunk on the red carpet, but I just couldn't fall in love with her oyster gray Alexander McQueen. It's not bad, per se, but it does feel like two separate dresses that would have been gorgeous individually. Imagine it as just a beaded sheath continuation of the top dress, or with an elegant satin top to the bottom. Don't those imaginary dresses look better? I'm a little pre-disposed to not like necklines like this, generally. It looks like it's choking her.

I have to always give Gwyneth kudos for wearing the unexpected and pushing the fashion game that much more out of its boring zone. Her delicate pink Ralph & Russo gown was a modern take on an 80's vibe and the rose sleeve is constructed very well. But on camera, the fluffiness of the sleeve + her blue eyeshadow + her giant earrings felt like a LOT of look.

Kelly Osbourne was gushing on E! that we'll see everyone wearing dresses like Marion Cotillard's Dior gown in the next year. I'm not really sure why. From the front, it's elegant enough and very French. The cutouts feel sporty and mod at the same time. But I also can't get the image of a laundry hamper out of my head and when she turned around...

Oof. That looks like someone used gaffer tape to create a diaper out of a shower curtain. I can't imagine it cast a very elegant silhouette.

I inexplicably didn't hate Naomi Watts' super sporty Armani Prive look, even though my friend Bret said it looked like overalls on top of a sports bra. That it did, and maybe even looks like something from a line of TLC-inspired couture designed by T-Boz. But it was weirdly working for me! I like that she takes calculated risks and she's very good at selling a vibe, like slightly goth girl at the prom. 

Jessica Chastain's navy Givenchy gown was super meh. The cut and fit are great, and I can't entirely fault it, but it just reminds me of something you'd see on Raquel Welch or Sophia Loren...it feels a little mature.

Worst Dressed

Poor Gina Rodriguez got roped into wearing this year's "green dress" by designer Manon Gabard. These fashion challenges always sound so nice in theory, but always seem to be completed by designers who maybe aren't really ready for prime time glory. The color is super unremarkable, the cut is loose and unflattering and the fabric looks cheap. I hate to even compare it to a David's Bridal bridesmaid gown because their dresses are much prettier than this. Her hair also seems super formal and low-key at the same time. This girl is having a breakout year and unfortunately, this dress isn't going to make her a household name. 

My first reaction is that this is the most understated Zoe Saldana has ever been, and thank God for that. Then my friend Bret reminded me that this blush Atelier Versace gown truly looks like formal Spanx and I couldn't unsee it. Change the color and we might have had a slam dunk.

Selma director Ava DuVernay seems to be giving the stank face here, and I can't tell if it's because her movie got practically shut out or because her Prada gown looks like a nun's habit redesigned for Vegas, as if the plot of Sister Act were told in reverse. That cut around her chest area is just so weird.

If this were based on dress alone, Gaga might actually be in my BEST dressed. Her sparkly Alaia was high fashion AND glamour and the skirt looked gorgeous from every angle. But her dishwashing gloves, as pointed out by the Twittersphere, are just too much to take. It's amazing how just that one accessorizing choice completely distracts from the construction of the gown. If the gloves were even just normal tight gloves the look would be 100% better. The glittery coral sticks in her hair, too...ugh.

Shut up, this is so ugly and stupid. I have a weird dislike for plucky old Chloe Grace Moretz anyway, so seeing her show up in a frumpy gown made from everyone's grandma's couch pattern in the 70s was just further validation. I LOVE pockets on a gown, but her insistence on keeping her hands in her pockets the entire time seemed insane. What does she have in there that's so much more delightful than being free to walk like a normal person? Is she sneaking candy? Is she squeezing some kind of stress ball? Is she making sure she still has all the junk that she apparently didn't want to put in a clutch? Totally weird. Kerry Washington must be so glad she wasn't sent this Miu Miu dress.

Oh Keira. This is a classic example of a runway yes that's a red carpet no. What looked romantic and pretty and fit perfectly in Valentino's Shakespeare and Dante-themed couture show just seemed like a twee wedding Pinterest board come to life on the red carpet. It feels more appropriate for her future baby shower than the Oscars.

Director Richard Linklater's daughter Lorelai has been serving April Ludgate realness on every red carpet. Everything about her body language seems to say she is profoundly uncomfortable and possibly uninterested in this experience. It's funny to me, then, that she would choose to wear such a sexy (and frankly trampy) Gabriela Cadena gown, when she seems completely uncomfortable in it. This feels like what the high school tramp wears to the dance right before she gets kicked out for smoking pot.

JK Simmons and his wife Michelle Schumacher are adorable, but neither of them were looking particularly great. His hat, while practical on a rainy day, seemed way too informal and her dress looks like a recycled formal gown she wore to a fireman's ball in the 80s.

When I first saw Nicole Kidman on TV, I asked Ashleigh if I liked this. She said NO. And in the light of day, when I can see that it appears her dog took a piss all over her Louis Vuitton disco ball dress, I see she was right. The red sash is frankly incongruous with the rest of the design and the raggedy hem is maybe supposed to be artful but just looks like a bloody mess. Her haircut was kinda cute, but skewed a little toward The Good Wife and even Alicia Florrick does fancy hair when she goes to a ball.

Octavia Spencer was famously well-tailored during her winning Oscar season by Tadashi, but I thought this Icecapades gown was an unfortunate case of ruching gone wrong. If a woman is amply blessed in the chestal region, you do NOT, I repeat DO NOT, add ruching across the chest on the horizontal. That's just rude. The sleeves also look tight and uncomfortable and my girl Octavia deserves better, especially after being forced to be Neil Patrick Harris' accomplice in one of the least funny Oscar gags I've ever seen.

Scarlett Johansson's entire Versace look seems to be a fashion representation and tribute to Ellen Ripley in Alien, combining the style and sheen of the alien itself with the tough girl haircut of my least favorite Aliens character, Private Vasquez. Her neckline literally reminds me of mold. Kudos on the fit, though.

Sienna Miller's dress is ostensibly not that bad but it's also far from Oscar-worthy. This Oscar de la Renta gown feels like one of the throwaway extra dresses you see in his runway shows right BEFORE the good stuff comes out. The tight bodice makes her look squished and gives her bad posture, and the bows came off as constricting rather than demure. It all around felt somber and not celebratory and she should sure as hell be celebrating because she was in danger of being forgotten and just crawled her way back into the spotlight in one of the highest-grossing movies of the year.

Solange wore a Christian Siriano parachute fit for a modern dance tribute to Martha Graham and you almost have to love her for it until you look at the terrible things it's doing to her chest and just have to shake your head. SMH, Solange. SMH.

SOOO, do you agree? Do you disagree? Who did I leave out that you loved or hated?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Best v.234

Are you ready for the Oscars tonight? I'm prepping my ballot by watching the trailers for the short films...I think this one looks adorable! Here are some links I enjoyed this week:
  • A look at where U.S. presidents lived in DC before the White House.
  • Why movies still use fake babies.
  • An incredibly touching remembrance of comedian Harris Wittels by his friend Aziz Ansari.
  • A Birdman spoof starring our favorite Big Bird.
  • What's up with the people who run in the snow?!
  • Historically accurate Disney princesses.
  • Little delights in the lives of women.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

What I Would Wear to the Oscars 2015

It's time for one of my favorite posts to do every year! Since I love to critique the fashions of the Oscars, I like to also play stylist and imagine how I would dress if I attended the big event. Here's what I'm thinking I would wear if I were...

A Nominee's Date

Being a nominee's date is a tricky fashion situation...you know you'll be photographed a ton, but it's also not about you. You don't want to attract an undue amount of attention for being the worst dressed, but you shouldn't be the focus either. So the answer, to me, is a simple shape with pretty details like this beautifully beaded Armani Prive gown. The bow could be a bit much; it might work on the runway, but I'm not totally sure how great it would look on the red carpet. Still, I can't get over how lovely the dress's movement seems to be.

I'd take a styling cue from the runway and wear long earrings, like these diamond dagger drops. They're a little bit edgy and disco. 

Nominated for a Non-Acting Award

Every year some lady producer or documentarian or costume designer gets her 10 minutes in the sun when she wins one of the non-acting awards and every year, there's a lady who clearly had no idea what to wear or how to dress for one of these things. I would go with an elegant cut in a fetching color, like this canary yellow Monique Lhuillier gown. I think the shape would be flattering for many body types and if you can't get Chanel couture, I feel like you'd have a shot at borrowing from Monique Lhuillier.

But if you're going simple on the dress, why not have a little fun with the jewelry? I love the diamond, turquoise and ruby serpent cuff, which would lend just the right amount of interest and give the entire ensemble an exotic vibe.

An Ingenue Presenting an Award

Many an ingenue has stolen the red carpet in a golden-toned gown. Dress like Oscar and you might be taking one home someday! If I were a hot young ingenue, I would turn up the sexy factor, but also be sure my outfit is event-appropriate. Since they often invite the hottest young things to present some of the awards, it's important to make sure the dress has great movement on TV, is memorable, but also not trying to steal the spotlight from the actual nominees. I think this gold Sophie Theallet gown could be the ticket.

I would keep the jewelry minimal, except for maybe a Chanel comet ring. This young ingenue will need a lucky star!

Previous Nominee Likely to Win

If you've been to the show a few times and just never seem to win, like poor Julianne Moore or Kate Winslet for all those years before "The Reader," you know to dress like a winner when it seems like your time has come. This beautiful Zuhair Murad gown would be a great choice for a person like that. It's got a touch of Grace Kelly in the Hitchcock years, but the sparkle makes its wearer seem heaven-sent. The extra fabric to the back would look so elegant going up the steps to accept the award!

A seriously sparkly dress like that demands some seriously sparkly earrings. I like these Old European diamond drop earrings.

Likely to Win Best Supporting Actress

If the awards show sweep continues, odds are high that Patricia Arquette will take home this award. She's looked great for the awards season, but historically she's been pretty hit and miss with her fashions. She has a real woman's body, and that always seems to keep designers guessing! I think a dress like this Elie Saab would be ideal: a little covered up, but still giving some sex appeal and a regal quality that fits a winner. Also, it would look amazing with her blue eyes!

For a dress like that, there's no choice to me but sapphire earrings. These art deco drops would be just the thing.

First-Time Nominee

I think my favorite Oscar fashion moments always come from the first-time nominees. Usually they're ladies who always look amazing, but have a chance to go really over the top and dominate the red carpet. There are a few I'm excited about this year: Emma Stone, Felicity Jones and Rosamund Pike. If I were in their shoes, I'd love to don this kind of rock-n-roll meets Marie Antoinette ruby gown by Zac Posen. It would look good from every angle, and especially good during an acceptance speech.

I'd pair it with this Edwardian fringe diamond necklace from 1stDibs...something delicate but sparkly. It's your chance to be a princess!

Alternatively, I couldn't pass up this gorgeous coral gown by Elie Saab. It would look so lovely on a British rose like Felicity Jones. The pockets and little belt give it a nice modern vibe, and the neckline is very elegant.

I'd wear my hair in a pretty romantic chignon to show off pretty conch pearl drop earrings like these

So there you have it! The fun is always seeing if any of my pics make it to the show; they usually don't, because these girls have the ability to get custom or vintage gowns we've never seen on a runway. Would I end up on your worst-dressed or best-dressed lists?