Friday, September 28, 2012

7 Quick Takes

I decided to try my hand at "7 Quick Takes." For those who don't know, 7 Quick Takes is literally that (is it cheating to count this as number one?).

My sister is spending the weekend in one of my favorite places in the world, Poland.  In honor of that I'm going to give a weekend beer suggestion. Okocim (oh-ko-cheem) Porter, a perfect rich, dark beer to enjoy as temperatures start to drop. Sip one after dinner as you cosy up to your special someone. Make sure your bed is near, because it weighs in at a luxurious 8% ABV.

And a quote from my favorite Pole, "Not all are called to be artists in the specific sense of the term. Yet, as Genesis has it, all men and women are entrusted with the task of crafting their own life: in a certain sense, they are to make of it a work of art, a masterpiece" (Pope John Paul II, Letter to artists, 4 April 1999). Is your life going to be a masterpiece?

If you enjoy seeing what other people in other places are wearing (I do), check out The Sartorialist and The Urban Spotter

If you haven't entered the giveaway yet... Scroll down to the bottom of this page and get it done!

If you like sushi, a good documentary, or both I suggest that you check out Jiro Dreams of Sushi. This new film is about a Japanese sushi chef named Jiro, a living legend to those in the [sushi] know. It documents his rise to culinary stardom, his philosophy on life, work, and family, and the unique restaurant he continues to run at 85. A fascinating example of the application of human intelligence to material reality, with an aim at perfection. Watch it and you'll know what I mean. Here's the trailer:

Thanks for reading! Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

From the Library

Before delving into today's topic, I'd like to issue an internet acknowledgement and thanks to little H for helping with yesterday's pictures (I usually give her a credit shot at the end but I was short on time). She  has come a long way in her three weeks of picture taking. I'm glad because I really want to keep her on staff. There are certain benefits to having a three foot tall three year old taking your photo, not the least of which is a great angle that makes one look super tall and the fact that she works for marshmallows.

On to more relevant things... In keeping with the idea that I am sharing things with you good readers that I enjoyed and think my sisters would enjoy, I have a couple casual reads to throw out there. I'm not saying that you should hop over to Amazon at once and purchase these, just check them out (pun) at your local library. In preface I say that these aren't among the great literary works of all time; they are, however, fun, a bit practical, and a good way to spend a lazy afternoon or evening. So, if you are all caught up on the latest First Things, check these out!

Parisian Chic: A Style Guide by Ines de la Fressange (2011). Ines, the face of Chanel in the 80's, is now a business woman, designer, and still occasional haute couture model (yes, you did your math correctly, she is in her fifties). This fun little read is peppered with Ines' own illustrations and fashion, beauty, and lifestyle tips on how French women achieve that je ne sais que.  There is also a section on where to go in Paris (a girl can dream, right?). 

Style A to Zoe: The Art of Fashion, Beauty, & Everything Glamour (2007), by Rachel Zoe. Rachel Zoe is an American stylist to the stars and consultant for Piperlime and Gap, Inc. In her book, Rachel conveys her personal philosophy on how to live glamorously via biographical stories, contributing experts and her own [for the most part] practical advice on everything from how to pose for flattering pics to how to pack a suitcase.

Ines and Rachel couldn't differ more in their backgrounds or appearance, but they both put forth a philosophy that any woman can be glamorous and chic, and that it doesn't have to cost tons of money. With a little ingenuity, attention to detail, and confidence, any woman can bring more beauty and joy into the everyday.

All this talk of a Frenchwoman and a Californian reminds me, don't forget to enter the Frenchy of California Giveaway. Six days left!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Frenchy of California Giveaway

When I was pondering the topic of today's post I realized that it has been twenty days since I started this endeavor, and I have had almost 2,000 visitors. This fact is just a coincidence, of course, yet a bit fun. In George W. Rutler's book Coincidentally, he says that coincidences were long held to be divine puns. I had never heard that before, but I love it. Wrap your mind around it...

In celebration of this completely meaningless anniversary I thought a giveaway would be in order. I know that many other blogs do giveaways, and I find them rather fun (though I have never won anything). I also love giving this or that great find away to this or that sister, so I invite all of you good readers (including you internationals) to enter the with my sisters Frenchy of California handbag giveaway.

This vintage Frenchy of California handbag is made of luxurious cream colored leather. The over the should strap is removable. I actually was a bit hesitant about it at first, but I couldn't get over how gorgeous the leather is. This size and style of bag is also really on trend and convenient when you don't need to carry the world. After playing around with it a bit, I really do love it. In case you share my initial hesitation, I have included some ideas on how to style it for casual, semi-casual, and with a LBD. I paired it with grey, white, and black because I have cool coloring, but it would look awesome with creams and browns. I also kept the lower body silhouettes slim  (no wide leg jeans) because the bag hits at the widest point of my hips.

The accessories for these three looks:

The looks:

Grey V-neck, dark straight jeans, low burgundy heels

Same outfit, except the jeans are cuffed at the hem for a different feel.

A bit dressier, same jeans and heels, with a white button down, and camel boatneck sweater.
The LBD.
So there you have it! Get your entries in and there will be a winner in one week!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I Love Your Shapes... [KNOW YOURSELF]

Tactfully said a husband to his wife as she bemoaned pregnancy weight gain. I assure you that it was not my husband (because if he did I wouldn't proclaim it publicly, even under false auspices.) Those of you who know who I am talking about, please don't post it in the comment section unless you are the said party and want to go public.

That was my humorous intro into the touchy topic that I actually want to talk about today: body shape, or type.  I would venture to say that most of us ladies have body issues; we don't like how big, small, uneven, short, tall, etc, etc, this or that part of us is. Too fat. Too thin. You name it, if someone has it, someone has a "problem" with it. I know we are very hard on ourselves for a variety of reasons, the images we are barraged with daily not being the least of these, but ladies, let's get over it. Let's be honest with ourselves, when you meet someone new do you take them in as a whole, or do you think, "What a pretty picture, except for those hips!"?  No, we don't deal with others in the latter way, so we need to stop doing that to ourselves.

I have a concept about how we perceive others; its called "critical mass." I didn't invent the idea of critical mass, but the physicists who did were probably too busy doing more important things than to think about applying it to personal appearance. According to my version of this idea, one's overall presence is the total of all physical aspects and one's attitude. If a majority portion of these elements are positive, the world at large will find you attractive and appealing, despite the elements you consider your flaws. It is empowering to realize that this is how others perceive us as well. We can control our attitude, we all have positive physical aspects to work with, and the intelligence to minimize (or maximize) those that we consider less than ideal. You may not make a career as a runway model, but you will be beautiful. We have already talked about using our best colors, now on to the more sensitive subject of body shape.  Let's figure out what we are working with, love it (or at least accept it), and look great in it.

Like color analysis, body type determination can be more or less complicated, as can the clothing / style recommendations for this or that body type. Now, I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel - there are a lot of resources out there. Primarily, I want to give you the basic facts about body type, the basic measurement method to determine your body type, and the impetus to pursue further knowledge on how to look your best based on this reality.

So here is the rundown on body type. Most sources agree that the basic body types can be described using the terms Hourglass, Box (or Rectangle), Pear, and Apple.  Body type is not based on size, but on proportionality of bust, waist, and hip, and patterns of weight loss and gain.  Once a person passes through puberty, body type is basically set for life, though pregnant and post-partem women may find themselves temporarily in a different category. A quick summary:

Hourglass: This body type has bust and hip measurements that are equal or nearly so, with a defined waist. Those of this type tend to gain and lose weigh proportionally throughout the body.

Box (or Rectangle): This body type has bust, waist and hip measurements that are nearly equal, giving the appearance of no clearly defined waist. Weight gain may occur first in the torso or the lower body.

Pear: This body type is usually characterized by a slender upper body and the hips measure greater than the waist and bust. Weight is gained first and lost last in the bottom, hips and thighs.

Apple: This body type is characterized by broad shoulders and larger chest, with a smaller measurement in the hips. Weight is gained first and lost last above the waist.

You may be able to determine your body type just by looking in the mirror, or it may be hard to be objective so there is a scientific formula. All you need is a tape measure. Follow these steps:

Measure your bust at the widest point, going around your back and not drawing the tape too tightly.

Measure your waist at its most narrow point.

Measure your hips at the widest point, again not drawing the tape too tightly.

Enter your measurements into this calculator

This "calculator" will give a name to your measurements. There are multiple such calculators on the web, and they may have slightly different parameters for each body shape (e.g. some require a difference of 9 inches or less between hip and waist measurements to qualify as a Rectangle, on others it's 8 inches). Keep in mind the weight gain/loss patterns and how your shape appears in the mirror. All these things taken together should give you a good idea of your basic shape. Now that you know your body type, look here, and here, and here for tips on how to dress your particular type. As you might discover, some suggestions seem contradictory, so I suggest to not follow them dogmatically, but use them as a starting point to find your best looks. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Friday for Fifteen

Some weeks seem to fly by, while others couldn't go any slower.  Though busy, this week is crawling. I find that such a week deserves a little special something at the end, a little celebration, a little homage to the fact that it is Friday, and one's work is well done. Now, I know that many of you good readers are students, and you indulge in something of the sort on Thursday. I also know that some of you are busy with work and children, and Saturday night is more the night of celebration. Whatever your week end, here's a suggestion to make it a bit special - a theme.

I'm a sucker for a theme. I don't mean that I had a Star Trek wedding or that Thanksgiving at my house this year will be the Hunger Games, not that at all. What I mean is using overlapping and complementary elements to create a specific ambiance, a sense of specialness and occasion. So, the idea is to pair a food, a drink, and a movie to create a cosy and pleasurable evening for two. Could be your husband (as in my case), your boyfriend, or your best friend. Whatever the case,  the food, drink, and movie should be something special, either because they are old favorites, long awaited, or off the beaten path. Furthermore .... I suggest that this is possible to do with only $15 for food and drink. Here is my drink, food, movie combo for your weekend pleasure:

The Drink: Lindemans Framboise lambic style beer (around $10 for 750ml bottle), served in a champagne flute, if you have it. This raspberry beer is from a farmhouse brewery in Belgium. Unlike most beer styles, a lambic is created using wild yeast. The windows are thrown open and the fermenting liquid is exposed to the wild yeast and bacteria in the air, which is said to give the lambic its characteristic sour bite. The effervescence, sweetness, and acidity provide a nice complement and balance to the richness of...

The Food: Flourless Chocolate Cake (around $4 for the chocolate, you probably already have the other ingredients). This flourless chocolate cake is decadent and has a surprising depth of flavor for such a simple, easy dessert. I usually use a Ghirardelli Bittersweet Baking Bar, which is available in most grocery stores and is good flavor/value combination. I hear that Callebaut baking chocolate is also a good choice. Find the cake recipe here. The chocolate ties into this movie...

The Movie: Les √©motifs anonymes (Romantics Anonymous). This romantic comedy is about chocolate, awkward people, and love (just when you thought my movie descriptions couldn't get any more vague). And, for your viewing pleasure I have included the movie trailer. This movie is not graphic or obscene in the least, but before you write a letter to the editor (it won't do any good, one woman staff here), I give the disclaimer that I do not approve of or encourage premarital relations. Enough said. One more thing, this movie is available on Netflix instant view if you have a subscription. If you don't, you can try the free one month trial by clicking here. Enjoy!

P.S. Lindemans is widely available wherever beer is sold. The label looks like this:

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Thrifter's Apologia

Part I: The Apologia

Some of you may know that I love to go to thrift store shopping, just as I know that some of you love it as well (I won't mention any names). I also know that some of you have yet to be won over to this particular sport of skill and instinct (again, I won't mention any names). What started as a necessity - my sense of creativity and style couldn't be accommodated by the mall and my high school income - has really blossomed into an enjoyable adventure. For some, the term thrift store conjures up images of dirty spaces filled with heaping, disorganized piles of stained and tattered clothing, a faint whiff of smelly feet and armpits in the air. Though such places do exist, they are few and far between. Most "chain" thrift stores (Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc), sit pretty high on the spectrum of cleanliness and organization, and many carry overstock goods from large retailers (such as Target). That being said, here are a few of my strongest arguments for becoming a "thrifter."

You try brands you might not otherwise, and are often pleasantly surprised. I recently found a pair of jeans from The Limited that I love. The Limited is not a place I regularly shop, I just don't, but now I know that their size... fits me perfectly.

You find styles that aren't widely available. Sometimes trends that just don't work for your body can really take hold, reducing other options, or an item that you love isn't trendy at the moment so it disappears. Two examples. One, when low rise jeans reached their zenith, many retailers reduced their other pant styles to accomodate the trend. This style is not the most flattering pant for people with a pear body type, though many attempted it. Two, the turtleneck. Turtlenecks are making a comeback this season, but I have never fallen out of love with them, even when nobody sold them because they weren't cool. Go ahead. Judge me.

You can get more clothes and better quality on a tight budget. This is one aspect that really got me from the start. I would often find special occasion dresses (often from Banana Republic or Gap) that were of much better quality than what was available for teenagers in "teenage" stores, at a fraction of the price.

You can create a unique look that isn't strangled by trend, but is "pre- trend." When I thrift, I might try on fifteen things and take home just one. I try to select things that are in colors that I know look good on me, but are styles that aren't currently ubiquitous. Some are flops, and they go back to the rack, but others just feel right even though not alot of people are wearing it. For example, before dolman sleeves were all the rage, I found a really unique sweater with this type of sleeve in its most dramatic form. It was in excellent condition, was a color that flattered, fit perfectly, and just felt like it "worked." The style seemed a bit iffy at the time, but for $2 I could take the risk. It turned out to be a real winner, and people alway ask where I got it. Consider my secret revealed.

And finally, you do the earth a favor when you reuse, well, most things.

Part II: A [Plaid] Practicum

On a recent visit to the local Goodwill, I ran across this red and blue flannel button down shirt. Which, as you can see, I bought. Not so adventurous, you say, but I have a thing about plaid flannel. I just can't seem to wear it and feel pulled together. Maybe its because I'm from the country and I associate flannel with farmers and cozy pajamas, or because I wore a bit too much of it in the grungy days of the 90's. Whatever the reason, this is the first plaid and/or flannel shirt I have bought in years. Well, the colors were flattering, the fit was good, and the price was right, so I took the plunge despite my fear of looking sloppy. After some playing around, this is how I styled it for the transition into fall. I include this gratuitous Part II because I know you people like pictures.

And a special thanks to my photographer.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Let's Talk About Love: La Tigre e La Neve

Fuad: He was a real poet. He was young, fell in love with a woman and married her. A few years later, while he was fighting in some war, he heard his wife had contracted smallpox and had been disfigured. So Al-Giumeili said, "My eyes hurt." And then: "I've gone blind." When his wife died, 12 years later, he opened his eyes again. 
Attilio de Giovanni: So as not to upset his wife, he pretended to be blind for 12 years? 
Fuad: Every person is a chasm. It makes you dizzy to look down. (La Tigre e La NeveThe Tiger and the Snow)

My intention for this blog is to curate topics, inspiration, and ideas that I am interested in personally, and that I think my sisters would find both fun and practical. I also want to share what moves me, what causes me to pause, to transcend the daily grind and think of things deeper and higher.  You know that sweet ache in the deep recesses of the soul that awakes unexpectedly in the face of some truth, of some goodness, of some beauty? The ache that reminds you that you (and every other person) want more, need more, than daily bread or that new pair of shoes.  The catalysts for such moments make life beautiful and should be shared. Without further ado (and narrowly avoiding a maudlin spectacle), I would like to introduce you to one of my favorite movies of all time, Roberto Benigni's The Tiger and the Snow. To avoid spoiling the plot, I will just say that it is a love story in the truest sense of the word and should not be missed. Okay, maybe I will also say that it takes place in Rome and Baghdad, circa 2003, and involves a passionate poet, unrequited love, and second chances. It is currently available on Netflix instant view (if you are a subscriber), Blockbuster On Demand rental, and I originally viewed it from the public library, so get out there and find this flick!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Color Me Confused [KNOW YOURSELF]

First, I'd like to give a nod to my unexpected, yet quite welcome, male readership. Now on to business...

What if I told you that there was a way to look healthier, less fatigued, and generally more attractive today? What if I told you that there was no weight loss necessary, no magic creams or treatments, no visit to the salon? Just click here to go on over to the HSN, where, for six easy payments of $13.95 (plus S&H, of course), you can have all this and more. STOP! I'm just kidding. Don't click that [fake] link. Or do, nothing will happen.

All kidding aside, there really is a way to achieve the aforementioned benefits immediately, with a little (not so miraculous) miracle known as "color analysis." I would venture to say that many women of my age and younger haven't heard much about this topic. We missed its wave of popularity that spanned the late 70's into the late 80's.  I vaguely remember seeing a book called Color Me Beautiful (published in 1987) as a teenager, but the 80's styling and my youthful attention span ensured that I didn't gain anything useful from it. Current discussions on color in relation to clothing and fashion tend to focus exclusively on color as trend. So what is color analysis?

Color analysis, also referred to as seasonal color analysis, or skin tone matching, is the practice of determining a person's underlying skin tones and the colors that look most flattering against these tones. Color analysis operates under the (true) principle that all people, regardless of hair, eye, or skin color have either blue or yellow undertones as the foundation of skin color. These undertones dictate if a person has cool or warm coloring, respectively, and indicate which color palette (i.e. cool or warm) is most flattering to the wearer. Some methods move from the cool / warm distinction to as many as twelve different sub-groups. If you do a Google search of "color analysis" you will garner a wealth of information, much of it confusing,  and some of it contradictory. You will also find contact information for people who are color analysis specialists. You pay them, and they take you through a series of quizzes regarding appearance and visual exercises involving swathes of color held against your skin. Most of us don't have the time or resources to engage such a professional, so I would like to offer a few suggestions to clear the color confusion and help you wear what best enhances your natural coloring.

As a novice to color analysis, set aside all complicated versions involving multiple sub-groups and determine if you are warm or cool.

The easiest way to determine your coloring is to look at the veins on the inside of your wrist. A bluish cast means cool, greenish means warm (if you are having difficulty distinguishing here, jump below to the epilogue).

If you are warm, choose colors that have have a yellow base - orange, coral, peach, olive green, khaki, and warmer reds.  If you are cool, choose colors with a blue base - purples, pink, mint, and greens such as turquoise and emerald. 

White, black, navy and grey are the best neutrals for cool coloring. Cream, brown, and tan look best for warm coloring.

Silver and white gold are more flattering on those with cool coloring. Yellow gold looks best with warm  coloring.

Over time you will notice which shades, tints, and tones are not just good, but great, for your individual coloring.

If you love colors that aren't in your palette, wear them away from your face.

This information truly is power, power to immediately improve your appearance, not by altering it, but by respecting it. Now that is a beautiful thing.

For more info on how to determine your coloring and what to do with that knowledge, check out this easy to read article, or leave me a comment below and I will answer any and all questions that I'm able. I also highly recommend the book It's So You (by Mary Sheehan Warren) for a more in depth, yet un-confusing, look at color analysis (available here) and how to use it to your advantage in clothing and cosmetics.

EPILOGUE: Since posting this article yesterday, I have received some feedback that there may be those of you out there who can't distinguish the bluish or greenish cast that is the crux of the method given above. Have no fear, it could be one of two things. One, you could have coloring that is considered neutral. Like my husband, you are one of the few who looks good in both warm and cool colors (though you may lean more toward one of the palettes). Or, you just need to do a bit more "analysis." Find two somethings (an article of clothing, some other fabric, or even a piece of construction paper), one pink and one orange. With no makeup on, stand in an area with good natural lighting and alternate holding the swatches up to your face. It should be clear which is more flattering. If you still can't tell (it can be so difficult to be objective about one's own appearance), ask a friend for his or her opinion. If the pink looks great, you are cool. If the orange looks best, you are warm.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Trust Me, I Look Really Good On the Inside...

I know that all of us ladies want to be beautiful, and yes, I mean truly physically beautiful (not, "Wow, honey, that Christmas ornament you made in preschool is sooo beautiful" type beautiful). We may tell ourselves that we don't care what is on the outside because we're working on the inside (by the way, its an error to think that the two are mutually exclusive).  We may find solace in the fact that we're smart, funny, athletic [insert any other positive attribute here], and that its okay that we aren't blessed with good looks. But deep down, we do care. Well, the truth is..... (you're wondering if this is about to be the most depressing "lighthearted" blog post you've ever read), drum roll, please, each one of us has our own unique physical beauty.

Just suspend your disbelief, and hear me out.  There are two ways to grasp that you have your own unique physical beauty. One is iffy; it may work, or it may chew you up and spit you out. The other is less dangerous, more effective, and more fruitful, because it results in concrete opportunities to use your intelligence and creativity to enhance your beauty. Let's take a look at the first, more dangerous method. I call it "finding a paradigm of beauty." 

This method often begins with the following thought, "I don't look like anybody else.  I look strange. Therefore, I am uncomfortable with the way I look."  From there, we either rest on the images of other beautiful women that we look nothing like (consciously or unconsciously concluding that we are ugly) or we try to find a "paradigm of beauty." A paradigm of beauty is a woman we recognize as beautiful and that we can relate some aspect of ourself to, or our general "look", thereby legitimizing our own appearance as a woman. Does this make any sense? Let me further clarify. This phenomenon often centers around a particular feature. For example, let's say that you have a pronounced nose. No other woman in your immediate experience does, except for the time your sister dressed up as the Wicked Witch of the West for Halloween. Then you see a picture of young Barbara Streisand (like here) and realize that big nose doesn't equal ugly. Now, this exercise can be a positive experience, one where you come out the other end feeling better about yourself. It can also be crushing, if you can't find a paradigm for your particular look.   

The second method is to know yourself. Yes, it is that simple. Instead of looking at others, then looking back at yourself, then looking at others (for some reason the natural go to method for 99.9% of women), just look at yourself. What is your coloring? Is it warm or cool? What is your face shape? What is your body type? What is your style personality? I guarantee that once you go through this process you will have a greater appreciation of what is truly beautiful about you, and the comfort of knowing that you belong to certain categories that millions of women past and present occupy. Also, by identifying your best features you will be able to highlight them to their best advantage.

So, that is why I would like to introduce to you a coming series on With My Sisters called "Know Yourself." Each week I will cover the basics of one aspect of knowing yourself, and also how to use this knowledge to be your most beautiful you. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Reading the Runway

charcoal grey,black, white fall combo

As New York Fashion Week 2012 kicked off yesterday, I thought it might be timely to say a few words about reading the runway. By reading the runway, I mean seeing the current collections and interpreting them in relation to real life and your personal sense of style. No. I'm not kidding. When viewing these shows it is easy to be distracted by the costume like character of the garments and the mannequin like figures of the models, but there is inspiration to be had for the eye that sees. And here is how to see.

Take note of the colors and patterns. Within a group of collections you will often notice that a particular color recurs in its various shades and hues. For the upcoming season some such colors are burgundy, blush, and grey.

Take note of the fabrics. The Fall collections include many of the cozier fabrics associated with cooler weather. This year there is a particular emphasis on non-synthetic fabrics such as fur and most especially, leather.

Take note of cuts, lines, and silhouettes. Is there a particular something, such as a sleeve style, that is ubiquitous? This fall there seems to be a focus on the cropped pant  as well as a return to a wider, more trouser like pant.

Look at the shoes. Pointy toes, enough said.

Those pointers (pun intended) ought to be enough to get you started. Sit down at your computer with a few minutes to spare and a cup of coffee and do a little exploring of the Fall collections here (the collections previewing in NYC this week are for Spring 2013). And don't forget, the woman that is truly chic is one who owns the trends; she takes what resonates with her coloring, her body type, and her personal sense of style, and she rocks it.

Post script (again, pun intended): Upon rereading this post, it dawned on me that you might be asking why you should even care what is in the designer collections. The fashion world works in such a way that elements from the couture and pret-a-porter shows gradually filter down into the mainstream market, even unto its lowest levels. For example, certain patterns take hold so firmly that three years after they show on the runway they are available on everything, even an umbrella at the dollar store. It's nice to have the chance to interpret a trend on your own terms and while it's still fresh. Also, you are going to be drawing inspiration consciously or unconsciously for what you choose to wear, why not make it an intentional process that allows you to express your own creative genius?

A special thanks to my guest photographer

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Shaken, Not Stirred

I am of the firm belief that every lady (yes, I said lady) should have a cocktail that she can call her own, for several reasons. First, let's paint a picture with words. You are at your work Christmas party or your best friend's wedding reception. The bartender asks, "What'll it be?"  While standing next to your boss and future husband (respectively, not necessarily the same man), you awkwardly stutter, "Hmm, I don't know, let me just think here, hmm... I'll have [insert name of some drink you've never had, potentially will hate, turns out to be the size of a kiddie pool, you name the possible flubs that could occur under such pressure]."  I'm all for trying new things, but I like to do it on my terms. Second, there  is just something empowering about ordering without skipping a beat, something that conveys poise and confidence. And finally, some days just call for a stiff drink. You will know it when it happens.

So what is my signature drink, you say? It is the Dirty Martini, vodka, shaken, not stirred, olive, no onion (the onion is old school, that's the way Grandpa Donovan drinks his).  For those of you (who are over 21, of course, or are studying in Europe) who would like to try it, here is the recipe.

Dirty Martini

Fill your martini glass with a bit of ice and some water, set in freezer. 

In a shaker filled with ice, pour 1 part dry vermouth and 2 parts vodka. Shake. 

Empty ice and water from martini glass. Strain cocktail into chilled glass. Add olive juice to taste, and garnish with green olives. Voila.

As a side note, if you aren't drinking alcohol, but find yourself in a cocktail setting, just order a lime and soda. It looks like a mixed drink with 100% less calories and inebriating effect. And as one final side note, which I probably don't even need to mention but will anyway... Do not, ever, under any circumstances make your signature drink Sex on the Beach, no matter how much you like the flavor of said drink. Just don't.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Audrey Inspired Every Day Eyes

The other night I watched the 1954 classic Sabrina, starring Audrey Hepburn.  I have always been drawn to Audrey's seemingly effortless grace and beauty.  I think the reason that Audrey captivated the world (and still holds it captive), is that she embraced simplicity and enhanced her best features.  She didn't try to be Marilyn Monroe or Elizabeth Taylor. Her aesthetic choices (clothes, makeup, hairstyle, etc.) highlighted her best physical features, and the simplicity of these choices made room for her unique personal vibrancy.  Though most of us don't have the benefit of a working relationship with the likes of Hubert de Givenchy, or a 20" waist, I'd like to think that as women, as a sort of birthright, we all have some share in this mysterious allure. So let's not fret that we don't have the best features of this or that person, but find our best features and celebrate them in a way that allows our inner and outer beauty to shine.

Now, must of us ladies have uniquely gorgeous eyes. In Sabrina, Audrey wears very simple eye makeup that really accentuates and emphasizes her eyes. Lately I have been using a version of this look as my go to "everyday eye." The application only takes about two minutes.

1. Eyeliner: Draw a line from the inner corner of the eye to the outer edge, beginning thin and getting slightly wider gradually to the outer edge. I use Maybelline's Define-a-Line in ebony black.

2. Mascara: Apply two coats to the upper lashes. I use Lash Blast very black.

3. Apply under eye concealer, if necessary. I always have under eye circles (everyone has blood vessels around their eyes, but some of us have thinner skin than others, hence the area appearing darker perpetually), so I use Cover Girl Smoothers Concealer Stick. Just smooth under the eye, and blend a bit with your ring finger (because it applies less pressure). I keep my CG concealer in the refrigerator; it seems to provide greater coverage for a longer period of time when applied at a lower temp, plus it feels nice!

And there you have it, the Audrey inspired every day eye! This post doesn't seem complete without some eye candy (pun intended) of Audrey herself: