Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wardrobe: a Wicked Night in Washington

Dress, Shoes, Clutch, Necklace, Nail Polish

Jacqueline and I started our Wicked Saturday night by having an assortment of cheese, bread, and wine as we did hair and make-up and listened to our Pitbull station on Pandora.

We indulged in a pasta filled dinner at Filomena's with more bread this time with oil and wine with each course. Can I just say, I love carbs! As we are always trying to watch our figures we felt so naughty having a dinner of starches and cream sauce.

In a food coma we sat in amazement while we watched Wicked. Then met friends for dessert and more wine at Kramerbooks & Afterwords.

This little number was inspired by our night of Wickedness. Wouldn't it be lovely for dinner and a show? I need that necklace in my life.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Destination: Washington, D.C.

Kennedy Center

Federalist architecture in Georgetown

My best friend from childhood, Jacqueline, came up to visit two weeks ago to see Wicked for her birthday. She used to live here and fell in love with DC through and through. We spent most of the weekend sampling food and libations from many neighborhoods in the city. As well as shopping in Georgetown and Eastern Market.


After a night of celebrating her return to the city at Ping Pong Dim Sum and The Passenger, Saturday brunch was a must. We headed to Dupont Circle to have granola, scones, chicken sausages, and chai tea at Teaism. We wasted no time going upstairs to our first destination, Secondi, known for its high-end consignment. It is located above Teaism, Starbucks, and a nail salon, Mimosa. Most Saturdays I browse in Secondi, get my nails done (while sipping free champagne), then grab coffee or tea to go. I like to call this the Saturday Morning Trifecta.

I always look at my food like that...

Shopping in Georgetown was also necessary. We both saved up our money in anticipation of a shopping extravaganza as we neither have self-control when around each other. Georgetown was hot, loud, and crowded. We soldiered on, determined to get all the shopping crossed off our list in less than 3 hours. I was disappointed that many of the clothes I saw in person were not nearly as beautiful as portrayed online and most of it didn’t fit either, including JCrew (eep!). I settled for chocolate covered gummy bears from Dean and Deluca.

Sunday we hit up Eastern Market for some shopping and had some homemade poptarts at Ted Bulletins. Then we spent a few hours watching trashy TV and flipping through fashion magazines before she had to fly home.

Although I clearly enjoy eating and shopping, the highlight of the weekend was getting to see Wicked at the Kennedy Center. I am usually cynical when it comes to musicals. I’m not the all singing, all dancing type and find some musicals to be just plain cheesy. However, as soon as Dee Roscioli, who played the lead as the Wicked Witch of the West (Elphaba), opened her mouth and started to sing, I got chills. I ended up getting completely sucked in; laughing and crying with the characters. I found the play to be a critical commentary on society and the age old nature vs nurture argument. Is someone born wicked? I suggest you book your ticket and go see it to find out.

Wicked faces
{photos courtesy of the fab. Jacqueline}

Monday, August 29, 2011

Exploring Wine: Verdejo

Naia, Verdejo, 2009 $14.99
My rating for this bottle? I would drink the bottle.

Unfortunately I don't know too much about the history of varietal from the Rueda region in Spain. However, I do know that it is my absolute favorite summer picnic wine. I drink this one over and over throughout the hot weather and it's my go-to for a hostess gift. I must confess that I had no idea what type of grape this was for the longest time and still I would search for it at the wine store. 

It has notes of citrus and pear in the nose and in the taste. It's smooth, although I find it to be slightly complex. Sometimes I taste a bit of a smokey flavor (but nothing heavy). I also smell hints of flowers but have not refined my nose deeply enough quite yet to determine which flowers I smell.

Weekend Recap: We survived.

moved these to higher ground...

Happy Monday all! I am actually going into the office well rested for a change after being forced to relax indoors all weekend. Luckily Hurricane Irene was no big deal for the DC area and although it was windy and rainy we did not loose power, etc. I was able to happily watch five hours of Mad Men season two and catch up on all my favorite blogs. Sunday I ventured out to the farmer's market and Whole Foods. Only later to thwart my healthy eating ambitions by devouring handfuls of sweet potatoe fries for dinner. #fail.

It was also nice to spend time with Gman after being separated for over a month! We are planning a trip to Seattle for Labor Day weekend and on Sunday distracted ourselves researching and creating our itenerary. I'm also plotting my wardrobe too... bwahahaha.

What did you do to entertain yourselves this weekend? Were you stuck indoors?

The hurricane aftermath in our front yard.

PS - If you haven't already I would be so grateful if you checked out my submission to the the Lucky Magazine Lifestyle Contributor contest! You have to register for the website to vote but its totally worth it - for me and you. Lucky Mag is known for finding you great shopping deals. You might spot some fabulous hot pink, suede, pointed toe pumps on sale that you just can't live without!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Lucky Lifestyle Contributor

Dear readers,

A friend of mine turned me on to this awesome writing opportunity at Lucky Magazine as a lifestyle contributor. I excitedly wrote some quick tips for adding glamor to your everyday life and submitted it to the competition. Please check out my submission and vote for me. I would be so grateful!! I promise to host the best happy hour every with some of the prize money (it would be leopard shoe themed, duh). 

Thank you for your continued support. This would really take my writing to the next level!

Vote here!

yours always,

Friday, August 26, 2011

Shoe Love: the long commute

Steven by Steve Madden loafers and Kate Spade pumps

One of the biggest fashion challenges with city working is the commuting shoe. I often see women wearing white sneakers with white socks paired with their power suits. Although it might be comfortable it really looks silly. The walk to work is still in a public space. So what does a fashionable, ambitious woman wear on her journey to and from the office? I often wear my mocs but fantasize about wearing a flat that can be interchanged with my heels. Wouldn't it be nice to look put together as soon as you leave the house? I love this gray wool look for the fall and winter.

Well I don't know about you but that week just flew by! Not only are things getting busy at work, but there was an earthquake on Tuesday, and Gman came home on Wednesday. It was my first earthquake experience and I'm glad to know that not every earthquake is as dire as the ones you hear about in the news. And of course now we have Hurricane Irene to look forward to this weekend. I plan on being cozied up on the couch watching a Mad Men season two marathon. What do you have planned?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Exploring Art: Looking at art, the basics

Hans Hofmann, American
B. 1880 Weissenburg, Bavaria
D. 1966 New York, NY
Golden Blaze, 1958, oil on canvas

Before we can even begin to understand art and art history we must first start with the very basic idea of looking. I mentioned last week (here) that most people look at a piece of art for 5 seconds. So for our first foray into becoming art historians let's learn to actually look when we are browsing a gallery space. In a second post, I will give you a little art history lesson to enhance your looking experience. I will use the same piece for both posts.

The piece I am using in this exercise lives at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. As it is my place of employment, the gallery is steps from my office and I get to look at it every day. (I'm spoiled!) I love Hans Hofmann's work. I’ve been known to spend 30 minutes looking at just one of his paintings. I also find this type of modern painting to be under appreciated by the average vacation museum goer (*Art collectors consider his work important. One of his paintings, Gloria in Excelsis, sold for $4,297,000 at Sotheby’s in 2008).

Here is my usual exercise for looking at a work of art. I encourage you to do this next time you find yourself in a gallery (go now!). This is not a thinking exercise, though at first you will have to ask yourself a lot of questions about what you see. Trust your instincts and do not try to interpret the piece, just look at it.

To learn to look at art begin by looking at the gallery space itself. This will give context and meaning to the works of art in the space. Pay attention to how art is displayed. Is it high on the wall? Eye level? What works are around it? Are they similar in style or color? Do they tell a story as a group?

Curators strategically place works of art next to each other and in specific spaces. There is usually a theme, for instance in this gallery at the Corcoran these three paintings are all mid-century American color field, oil on canvas paintings. You don't need an art historical background to know that - I read the cards next to each painting and noticed the pattern. I also noticed that all the paintings in this space are blocks of color; 'color field' is an art historical term used to describe this type of painting. This will give me context for the interpretation phase of looking but I’m noting it here in order to focus my thoughts while in the gallery.

Once in the gallery, stand about 15 feet in front of the painting. Look at the work overall as a whole picture. What seems to stick out to you? This is what is important to the artist.

In this piece, Hofmann seems to be investigating color and how the paint itself is worked on the canvas. The painting is a large scale (around 6 feet tall) and placed so that the center is about eye level. I see from the two paintings next to it that those artists are exploring similar subjects too.

Now stand about 5 feet in front of the painting. How big does the painting feel? Can you see a lot of detail from this distance? From here, the Hofmann canvas is taller than me. I am fully consumed by color. It is striking. Hofmann uses vibrant, saturated hues and places contrasting colors next to each other. The blues are electric, the yellows, deep golden mustard, the orange and red ground the painting towards the middle. Although the color is layered it isn’t muddy or washed out. Knowing that oil paint takes a while to dry, it tells me that this took a lot of time and patience to create.

Lastly, stand as close to the painting as the guard will let you (usually 2 feet). Now what do you see? Has the subject matter fallen apart? Or are the brushstrokes so tight that the subject still looks like a photograph?

Standing this close to my beloved Hofmann painting I’m overwhelmed by the intensity of color and texture. I can see the minutia of the brushstrokes. In the top right hand corner the paint is looser, mixed with water then applied with a brush to create a wash. I see the canvas through some of the paint. In other places the paint looks like it was globbed onto the canvas straight out of the paint tube, several inches thick. You can see where wet paint was lifted from itself, perhaps with a rag, which gives the paint a rough surface. The layers of color undulate between large areas of smooth, washed paint and smaller blocks of paint smeared on with a palate knife or rag.

Go Gators (10 days until kick off!)

At this point I’m 15 minutes into the looking experience and I have stopped thinking. I’m fully consumed by the rhythmically changing textures and colors. Rough painted over smooth and smooth painted over rough. It becomes complicated and messy at points, simple and clean in others. As I keep looking I discover new places where Hofmann investigates the application of the paint. My mind wanders as I scan the canvas and stare at nuanced layers. I imagine the artist putting the paint on the canvas as a conductor directs musicians to join a symphony. At first a violin plays solo then cellos, drums, horns, and flutes are added. The sound builds up to a crescendo then drops off leaving the listener breathless, wanting more.

After I lose track of time, I finally drag myself away from my new obsession and leave the museum. That’s it for today. No need to browse through the galleries looking for other lovers. This one will stay with me for a while.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Exploring Wine: Montepulciano D'Abruzzo

I don't know about you but I'm already in need of a little vino this morning...

Quatro Mani, Montepulciano D'Aruzzo, 2009, $9.99
My rating for this bottle? I would drink a glass.

Montepulciano D'Aruzzo hails from central Italy. This is the most popular [plentiful] grape in the region and it does well grown and harvested in large quantities. As with many American style wines, it is made with a single type grape (*there is a small percentage of mixing allowed for it to still be considered a single grape). It's easy to drink and rather affordable. You can imagine drinking this in a street cafe on a hot Roman afternoon in between a visit to the Villa Farnesina and the Colosseum.

To taste wine it is important to pay attention to first what you see, then what you smell, and lastly what you taste.
See: Hold the wine up to a white background to see the color. This looks like a deep, dark red cherry.

Smell: Do not swirl your glass. Swirling the glass exposes the wine to more oxygen and "opens it up". This might be necessary for a big robust wine but for something like this Montepulciano, it is not. (*Swirling will change the smell of the wine so since we are investigating, after you taste it, swirl then repeat the exercise to see if you can tell a difference.) Tilt the glass so the wine is almost at the edge. Then stick your nose in and take a deep breath. This one smelled like juicy summer cherries, very simple. Hmm, do you see a pattern here? Perhaps a preview of what it will taste like...

Taste: Light tannins, light to medium body, juicy, tart fruitiness like cherries or strawberries. To imagine the flavor of this wine, pretend it is a hot summer day and you are biting into a strawberry, peach or cherry. It is so perfectly ripe that the juice runs down your hand to your elbow. You don't mind as you bite into it again more quickly this time to try and catch some of the liquid. The tartness makes you smack your lips and it dries your mouth a bit. Then the sweet juices make your mouth water again in anticipation for the next bite.

I mention "light tannins" in the taste. What the heck are tannins anyways? They are released through the skin (mostly), seeds, and stems of the grapes. When you are tasting something that is tannic it makes your mouth dry and you want to smack your lips. The drier your mouth feels the more tannins are in the wine. Generally speaking, the skin, seeds, and stems are only added to red wines during their creation, also giving it the red color. This is why white wines don't have that same lip-smacking dryness.

Here are some fun little exercises you can try to help hone your wine drinking skills:

1. How to taste the tannins: While at the store purchase a deliciously ripe peach. When you get home, cut the skin off, then cut up the fruit. Eat the skin first. Note the texture and how it makes your mouth feel. In my experience you get (even if slightly) that same dryness just from the raw skin of the fruit that you do with the wine. What do you experience?

2. How to tell which fruit the wine smells like: Next time you are in the grocery store, go to the produce section. Then pick up a few different fruits and smell them. What does a strawberry smell like? A plum? What about a peach? Being able to recognize the scent of fruit will help you better dissect and describe what you are tasting and smelling in your next glass of wine.

I mention this because I struggled with taste when learning to drink wine. I knew that I liked something or thought it was good. However, I would read the description on the bottle or review and not quite connect what the words said and what my mouth tasted. It wasn't until I was at the farmer's market walking through prefectly fresh peaches this summer that my senses were awakened. So while it seems obvious to smell the fruit, I had not previously paid attention to each individual scent and I found this to be helpful. I hope you do too!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Shoe Love: Miu Miu

photo courtesy of the fab. Katherine Siboni
This is weekend #4 of my girl's weekend extravaganza. As I mentioned here, I love any excuse for a girl's weekend and with that any excuse to don a bit of glitter. One of my best friend's EVER is flying into town tonight and we have a weekend full of cocktails, food, shopping, giggling, and dancing planned. I love my MiuMiu glitter t-strap heels for precisely weekends like this. I bought them when I was in Nuremberg, Germany a few years ago. I love pick up shoes and fashion magazines as souvenirs.

What will you be up to this weekend? What souvenirs do you like to get, if any, when you travel?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Art and Art History; A New Blog Series

detail Claude Monet, Waterlilies, at the Metropolitian Museum of Art

When was the last time you went to an art museum? Is it something you regularly do? For most people going to an art museum is a box they tick when going on vacation to a big city. They drag their partner and/or children to the MOMA and walk around for hours browsing multi-million dollar works of art and say to themselves “my child could paint that”.

When I was in undergraduate school studying art history, one of my professors said that the average person spends 5 seconds looking at a painting. It was unbelievable to me until one day I realized that I, myself, was doing it. I spent hours of walking around the Louvre, then got burned out looking at painting after painting and after a while I did not see what I was looking at, I just rushed through the galleries so I could say I was there (cardinal sin for an art historian, I know).

It’s easy to appreciate an ancient Greek sculpture, like the Venus de Milo, as even by today’s measures a significant amount of skill was required to carve it just so; not to mention its 2,000 years old. That is impressive to most people. But what about Contemporary Art? What about abstract painting? What about that mammoth piece of steel winding through the city park? What about everything in between? How can you possibly expect to understand it if you only take 5 seconds to look?

3 above, ancient Greek sculptures at the Metropolitian Museum of Art

If you want to dig deeper and really know a culture, a history, a time, a place, a person, a people, than you need to firstly look at a work of art for more than 5 seconds. The process of looking at art and then interpreting it isn’t a lofty academic activity only for the special few. It is something that everyone can understand and relate to.

I would like to introduce you to art and art history in a way that is digestible and stimulating. My worst nightmare is someone going into an art museum and saying that it is boring, then disregard it. There is a lot more to it than a 5 second glance. Wouldn’t you like to know what you are looking at? Wouldn’t it be nice to connect with the art next time you are walking through a gallery? What if it tells you something about the history of the city and its cultural identity? As a high heeled traveler with a wanderlusty soul, don’t you want to become part of the social thread of your destination? This is possible through art. It is emotionally and mentally and sometimes physically possible to connect with the historical thread of humanity through art.

I hope this series enables you to gain a bit of context and insight into the history of art in order to better understand any work of art you stand in front of. I am especially talking about Contemporary Art which is baffling sometimes to even the academics. We will take baby steps. Each post will feature a new work of art and a brief discussion on how to look at it and what to take away from the gallery. In addition, I will talk about the art market and the roles of museum, dealer, and auction house. Perhaps the next time you are on vacation and tick off that art museum box you will be able to say that you appreciate what insight it offers to humanity and it will enrich your travels.

Henri Toulouse Lautrec, Metropolitian Museum of Art

At Storm King Art Center

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wardrobe: Montauk Chic

Swim suit top, brief, tunic dress, sandals, tote, sunglasses, bangles

I had a little too much fun browsing the JCrew final sale items, so this week's wardrobe is a bit JCrew heavy... 

Although Montauk is laid-back and beach-y, keep in mind you are still relaxing with fellow Manhattanites. This gives you the excuse to wear those heels to the beach with your tunic cover up instead of flip-flots and jorts for a change. Heck, if you are feeling really fabulous throw on that wide brim hat! Where else are you going to wear it?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Destination: Montauk

It was windy and slightly foggy as we drove up to the fourth oldest working lighthouse in the U.S.A. in Montauk. When I was a little girl my family would visit the Jupiter lighthouse in Jupiter, Florida every summer. One of my relatives was the first attendant to the lighthouse generations ago. As soon as we approached the lighthouse our genetic memory started to vividly recall his experiences there and we felt connected to the sand, the bricks, the paint, the view, the salty air. I was drawn to the calmness of being on the inlet watching the water lap the shore and boats putt through the canals. Since then I like to visit lighthouses as they all seem to evoke that same sense of peaceful familial nostalgia.

This is what prompted my parents, Gman and I to set off on a day trip to The Hamptons. Not only was there a lighthouse in Montauk but The Hamptons is a beach destination that Manhattanites have flocked to for generations. The Hamptons is a term used to refer to the towns of Westhampton, Northampton, Easthampton, Southampton, and Montauk, which are all located on the Eastern tip of Long Island. One can reach The Hamptons from Manhattan in a number of ways. Most take the Hampton Jitney, some take the train, a few fly, and we rented a car.

my parents being playful

On our way to Montauk we stopped in East Hampton for a coffee and bathroom break. The streets were perfectly tidy, tree lined, and historical homes were converted into fancy shops including Hermes and Tiffany’s. It felt like Disneyland for wealthy grownups. Perfectly manicured 20 foot tall shrubs lined the perimeter of each home so any voyeuristic ambition was sadly not happening so we moved on.

Just up the road about 45 minutes from East Hampton is Montauk. The vibe was relaxed and less manicured. I felt more at ease. We met a young man at the beach who was on his way home after fishing. Barefoot with rolled up jeans, sweatshirt, and baseball cap, he epitomized the laid back local vibe found here.

After a successful trip to the lighthouse we had lunch at Gosman's Restaurant as recommended by the locals. With full bellies, we people watching at the beach then we browsed the oodles of interior decorating and touristy shops while attempting to practice self-restraint. The afternoon passed slowly as we walked the streets and let the breezy air pass over us. Gman and my dad bought Fireballs in a quarter slot gumball dispenser and I fell in love with these vintage signs.

After a long day of playing tourist it was time to head back into the City. Although it was our first visit to Montauk I felt as though we had been there before. The air and people seemed familiar. As I looked out the window at the passing homes and trees (and massive shrubberies) that peaceful nostalgia fell over me. Perhaps that feeling is why people don’t just go to visit places like this but instead why they built communities (yearly or seasonal) around it.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Weekend Recap: Surprise bachelorette bash


This weekend I secretly flew down to Florida for a surprise luau themed bachelorette bash for my dear friend Natalie. It was the college roommate reunion complete with belly laughing reminiscing. I love being with my old roommates because even though we grow and change over the years, only our families know us better. Many a life lesson was sorted out with these ladies and I wouldn't trade those moments for even a stockpile of Louboutins. ;)

Our surprise bachelorette/bridal shower was a raving success. Thanks to all for working together to pull it off! It refueled my soul to spend time with you and can't wait to see you during the upcoming nuptials.

 *Warning: some of the following images are for mature audiences only... and these are the tame ones.

"Ah! Where is my umbrella?!" Brandy questioned in a total panic as she searched for the paper drink umbrella she was using as a hair accessory, "I don't want my hair to get wet..."

"Please can we buy this [huge inflatable penis]?!" Kate begged at the adult entertainment store, "I'll buy it with my own money!"

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