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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bridier Baubles jewelry

I know a lot of us have blogged about Kerry's brand, Bridier Baubles, already... But I guess we all just want to support our friend! That's what friends do, right?
I have waited because I did not want to be too redundant and write about her when other people were posting, but I really love this costume jewelry! Everything she brings in is thoughtfully selected and she is always asking her customers for feedback.
Wahoo-wa! Here is my Boca Grande Bib necklace ($30) when it first arrived in its colorful Bridier Baubles packaging!
This bracelet is great with anything simple (black, white eyelet, grey work shifts) or whatever colorful Lilly Pulitzer shift I put on that day with pink in it. The hinge closure is really helpful as well (I always have my hands full). It has 3 shades of pink and fun clear rhinestones throughout.
I always get compliments with these Octopus earrings, which are still available on her website for $20 in cream and yellow! You should definitely get them if you are doing a beach vacation this summer.
The Lulu cuff in green and white - one of the earliest pieces she sold! I always am wearing both!

Here are some of my more recent Bridier Baubles favorites (photo credit for the below goes to KGB/Bridier Baubles):

Sea Glass Necklace, $30

Crab earrings, $20 (perfect for Maryland girls and astrological Cancer sign birthday babies!)

Snake cuff, $24

Campbell Chandelier Earrings in Turquoise, $23

Have you ordered from Bridier Baubles? Be sure to check her out! While KGB is in Europe for her one year anniversary, she has helpers fulfilling orders while she is gone. Restocking will happen shortly after she returns on June 7th at the earliest.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Great Gatsby trailer

Finally, after a very long wait, Baz Luhrmann released The Great Gatsby trailer last night:

Who else is excited about another stunning film production from Bazmark Films? I know he often is criticized for how he kicks established stories (see Romeo + Juliet) up a notch, but I have always loved his sets, his costuming (done by his wife Catherine Martin), and that he continues to make films that have you leave the theater exhilarated (with a side of tears, a la Moulin Rouge). I agree that Luhrmann often creates trailers that are what ADHD cases can only dream of, and his soundtrack can frequently leave something to be desired... but didn't we feel that way about Romeo + Juliet when it first came out? And now it is considered a classic adaptation? Also, if you notice in the trailer, he (or his crew) misspelled Ziegfeld Follies. WHOOPS.

Photo credit: Bazmark Films

The Great Gatsby stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Isla Fisher, and Tobey Maguire. Here is a short sketch of some of the main cast in the story:

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby
Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan
Isla Fisher as Myrtle Wilson
Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway
Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan
Callan McAuliffe as Young Jay Gatsby
Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker
Amitabh Bachchan as Meyer Wolfsheim
Jason Clarke as George Wilson

...The estimated budget for the film is at $127,000,000. We have had a lot of records broken in the past few years (hello Avengers!), and I would assume that the cast and Luhrmann will be a box office draw. Especially us ladies!

Here is my bottom line for The Great Gatsby. I will likely go, not to see if the film follows the story, but if he really captures the essence of the period - excess. What is so timely, is that so many Spring trends touch on looks of that period: Art Deco decor, blush+beige worn together, pastels, florals, lace, pleats, over-the-top decorative accessories... The Ralph Lauren Spring 2012 collection was all about the Art Deco trend... as were portions of Etro's collection.

Ralph Lauren show:

Etro show (two looks):

Look 23

Photo credit: Imaxtree/NY Mag

Look 34

Photo credit: Imaxtree/NY Mag

Are you going to go see The Great Gatsby?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Roast chicken and mushrooms en papillote

In late April, Muffy Martini's BFF Patrick sent me his 'Mushrooms en papillote' recipe. That night I was planning to fix my Poulet roti a la Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and I knew the mushroom dish would be a perfect side.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 lb of mushrooms (I always get a mix... chanterelle, shiitake, cremini are great for this)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons of chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Preheat oven to 375F
2. Cut an 18"x11" sheet of parchment paper. Fold it in half.
3. Open the paper, and coat one side with 1 tablespoon of butter. Use softened butter and just rub it around the whole side... it's okay if you have small chunks, it doesn't need to be even.

4. Tear/cut the mushrooms into medium-ish chunks. To give you a sense of the size, a cremini mushroom could be cut in half - but it's not terribly important to be precise. If the stems of the mushrooms aren't super soft, take those parts off because they don't cook well.
5. Add the salt, pepper, parsley, lemon juice (I usually add just a tiny bit more than the recipe calls for). Add 1 tablespoon of butter, cut into small pieces. Toss it pretty thoroughly.
6. Spread everything onto the buttered half of the parchment paper. Put the other half over it, and roll the edges of the two halves together, making sure there aren't any big openings.
7. Place it on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes (I usually do 17).

Here is how they came out:

And holy mother were they delicious. Seriously. I love lemon and parsley and these were savory and a bit tart and herbal... heaven. Enjoyed it SO much. Even M got on board.

At the same time, I was working on my whole roasted chicken. I enjoy getting the fresh whole chickens from Whole Foods - if they are on sale - but if I am getting one or two to freeze, I tend to buy the Kroger Private Selection organic chicken. They freeze well and I sometimes even get a coupon via my Kroger Plus card.

(ignore the soiled bottom of my oven!!)

When I roast a chicken, I normally do it in my cast iron skillet and place in the bottom of the skillet carrots and fingerling potatoes. They protect the chicken from burning and the fat and drippings turn into this luscious pan sauce.

When I roast a whole chicken, I truss it so the legs and wings are held in place during cooking. While traditionalists use a trussing needle, I have found that clean, natural twine can work fine with just some simple and convenient knife cuts into the bird. However, when you do these cuts be sure to protect your hands and use a knife that is freshly sharpened.

The first cut should be done on either side of the lower part of the poultry carcass, by the neck skin/flap. Bring the twine over one drumstick, through tip of breastbone, and over the other drumstick.

The second cut should be where the second joint and drumstick join, coming out at the other side. Flip the chicken onto the breast, folding the chicken wings and go through each wing. Pull the string or twine tightly and then tie it.

Basting sauce: at least 2 Tablespoons of butter, 1 Tablespoon of cooking oil and a basting brush. To flavor the basting sauce, sliced carrot and onion. Gently kiss the bird every 8-10 minutes with the basting sauce, and when the sauce runs out, use the fat in the bottom of the cooking pan to keep the bird moist.

When roasting a 3 pound chicken, cook about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Preheat oven at 425 degrees. When oven is ready, prepare the pan. When I am roasting, I use my cast iron and scatter the vegetables evenly across the bottom. Sprinkle the trussed chicken's interior with salt and smear in 1 Tablespoon of butter. Dry skin of chicken with paper towels, and use remaining Tablespoon of butter to rub over all of chicken.

Place chicken in your cooking pan, breast side up. Cook chicken until skin starts to turn brown, about 15 minutes. Turn chicken on one side for 5 minutes, baste it, then on the opposite side for for 5 minutes, basting it again. Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees.

40 minutes in to overall cooking time, turn chicken on its other side, salting if you want. I use salted butter so I did not add more salt. Continue basting schedule every 10 minutes. 60 minutes in to cooking time, turn chicken breast up. To check for chicken doneness, prick thick portion of drumstick and juices should be clear yellow.


Adapted from: Child, Julia, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck. Mastering the Art of French Cooking. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1961. pp 236-242.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Orchid plant care

Are you an indoor plant lover? One of my favorite indoor plants is the orchid. I know all of my Deep South and West Coast friends are thinking, orchids inside? Say whaaa? But in all honesty Virginia has bipolar weather and keeping them inside 80% of the year helps them last! I like having orchids on small tables throughout our home as part of the interior decor. [although, I'll be honest, we lost FIVE in last years earthquake as they toppled from their dainty tables. Still in process of finding sturdy tables and new orchids :( ]

So, how do you care for orchids? Well, Virginia Living magazine recently had a write-up about "How to care for orchids without loving them to death" by Shelby Giles as well as Arthur E. Chadwick of Chadwick and Son Orchids. Arthur's greenhouses offer a orchid boarding program for Richmond area families, and he still owns orchids from the 1940s that his father cared for!

I agree with many of his tips here, seeing as he is a professional, but I will also give you my personal tips as well (in italics)!

Don't give your orchid too much attention by over-watering.

Do water your orchid once a week. I use an ice cube or two, depending on the size of the plant. Also, depending on the area you live in you may need to use a different water, but mine is well-water so it has no added "stuff"!

Don't repot too often. I was always taught not to repot unless the roots are shooting out and it is not actively blooming. That means you might only do it once every 3 years or so if it is monitored well.

Don't plant in tightly packed soil.

Do plant in bark/cork/moss so roots can breathe. I personally find bark and moss much easier to work with.

Don't place in direct heat or light. It will wilt. I learned this the hard way with M and my first orchid. I kept it in the laundry room of our new house, not knowing it got direct afternoon light! Sad day.

Place your orchid outside from May to September as long as you don't have late frosts.

Don't fertilize in the winter.

Do fertilize your orchid every other time you water it in the spring.

Do you have any tips for orchid care? What is your favorite kind of orchid?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Moore and Giles Meehan collection

The company's mission:
The mission of Moore & Giles, Inc., is to be the leading designer and supplier of the world’s most unique and innovative leathers and accessories with a commitment to excellence in both quality and customer service, guided by the simple principles of honesty, fairness, integrity and common courtesy.

A new pretty item is on my lust list: the Meehan Utility Bag and the Bar Rollup from Moore & Giles, which is a Virginia-based company only about 40 minutes from my parents home. Moore & Giles was founded in 1933 and still have family at the helm!

As listed on the Moore & Giles website:
Designed in partnership with celebrated mixologist Jim Meehan, this stylish yet functional utility bag and bar roll-up feature a myriad of organizational compartments and elasticized pockets for the professional bartender or bar enthusiast to transport tools essential to the craft. Chefs and culinary enthusiasts can also use it as a roll-up for transporting knives and other tools.

I am always proud to support Virginia businesses, especially luxury goods! Read about their incredible selection of leathers, here. The set is for $740, or you could get the Meehan for $660 and the Bar Rollup for $150.

These remind me of a classic male accessory, the beautiful leather and broken-in canvas satchel. However, these pieces are on another level in terms of their fine construction and how functional they are for travel. Perfect for picnics, weekend trips, or horse races.

To contact Moore & Giles:

Corporate Offices:
1081 Tannery Row
Forest, VA 24551

T 434.846.5281
F 434.846.1404
Toll Free 800.737.0169

[all photos property of Moore & Giles]

A real car and a real lady

My Mom just sent me this story from the New York Times, which I missed when it was published last summer (July 8, 2011 article by Mary M. Chapman).

When she was 12 her father died, and his Model T Ford became hers.

Once her politically connected mother, who had arthritic feet and could not drive cars, finagled a driver’s license for the 12-year-old Margaret, she drove her mother everywhere. Her mother drove the farm’s four teams of horses.

“If you had just a little knowledge and some baling wire and bob pins, you could keep the thing going,” she said of the Model T. “It was the little car that made America

...and Henry Ford himself was a neighbor and family friend. Can you imagine just sitting on the stoop talking to Henry Ford as a kid, eating some pie in the afternoon? Unreal!

Isn't that video incredible? She is 101, and her car is 81! Both are beautiful. I honestly would think that Margaret Dunning was only in her 80s, as she looks wonderfully mobile and healthy for 101. She lives in the same house she and her mother lived in from age 13 on in Plymouth, Michigan. Good for her. (I love how at the end she places a red towel on the running board so she keeps it in good shape, and takes it with her for when she gets out!) She does admit in the article that she only takes this Packard out 3-4 times a year and that she enjoys entering it into shows.

Her love affair with vehicles never waned. She drove a truck as a Red Cross volunteer and has owned a parade of classic and antique cars. At her home, she also keeps a 1931 Ford Model A, a 1966 Cadillac DeVille that she often drives to car meets, a 1975 Cadillac Eldorado convertible and her everyday car, a 2003 DeVille. A battered Model T steering wheel is her garage doorstop*.

But her real love is a cream-color 1930 Packard 740 roadster, which she has owned since 1949. She plans to show the Packard at the Concours d’Élégance of America in Plymouth on July 31.

...she did not win at Concours but she had a wonderful time, as seen in this follow-up story.

*she also has a 1906 Model N and a 1930 convertible Cadillac DeVille at a museum not far from her home, as well.

Here is the link for the story again.

Anyone else here love Packards?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My life at work

Some Twitter friends and blog friends have asked me what I do at my new job (where I have been since January). Well, I would like to stay slightly anonymous, so I will just say I work for the Commonwealth of Virginia as a state employee. However, the daily routine is kind-of fun as it is never the same everyday.

I work in the legal field so I have attorneys with whom I work as their assistant. I do the generic secretarial stuff but I also do paralegal work. In a perfect world, I would be an attorney by now, but I am not and the legal field is a sketchy place here in the U.S. sooooo I am happy where I am. It gives me my legal dose and I still have a life outside of work.

I get to see the beautiful Virginia State Capitol everyday which is one of the prettiest sites in Virginia!

One of the benefits of my job (there are many) is that I can ask to be placed on FlexTime. I did this in February after a month of employment and keeping track - daily - of my gas, mileage, and time on the road. Being granted FlexTime means everyday I am in my office at 9:30am and I leave at 6:00pm. For my commute to and from Goochland, this schedule is wonderful. Yes, I do get out late, but I do not sit in traffic and I do not have to get stuck behind a bunch of cars when heading into (or out of) our parking garages. It is great. I am more efficient with my time by being on FlexTime!

Another benefit of my job is that I have my own office (and a door, apparently many friends of mine have offices with NO DOOR). I am free to listen to any music I want, watch TV during my lunch breaks as long as I do not disturb other offices near me. Well, my office is against a conference room so yay! I don't get much in the complaint department. It is nice because I get distracted by lots of talkers and all I have to do is close my door, turn up my music and I get my work done twice as fast.
I love that I can once again wear grown-up clothes to work. For a while I was wearing officewear to my jobs when I was PT-working while in school and I had to give that up. Clothes that sat in my closet since I had left the DOJ and returned to college full time were so pretty and sad but I never used them except for when I had an oral presentation or a reception at the President's House that I needed to look appropriate for. That being said, I did have fun dressing in fun short(er) skirts and casual dress. But I just feel more motivated if I look the way I want to be treated. Proper, appropriate, on-trend.

I am one of the youngest permanent employees in the office. There are some law clerks who just left (and we will get more this summer, I am sure) that are a little bit younger than me, and there are 2-3 attorneys who are a year or two older than me. We don't hang out or associate with one another, but I am sure we would if I did not live in rural Goochland. We have a good banter going and they are great to be around.

So yes this post is text-heavy, but I hope it helped sketch out some more finite details of what I do!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Everyday Paleo Pulled Pork recipe

M has been big on the Paleo diet since Christmas and I use the meals as a supplement for some of the more unhealthy meals I enjoy. I do not go all out with the Paleo diet as I am anemic, have a heart condition, and they are concerned that I may end up with fibromyalgea and osteoperosis like my grandmother and other people on the maternal side of my family. That being said, if you do not have conditions which require you to have a diet with grains, legumes and/or dairy, you definitely should check out the Paleo diet!

One meal that he has recently introduced to me was Everyday Paleo's "Beyond Easy Pulled Pork" recipe.

The photo above was taken from our kitchen after about 12 hours of cooktime in our slow cooker (so about 7:30pm). The onions had caramelized, the seasoning gives a good kick to a dish that has NO SALT ADDED. The original recipe includes it, but we find it is not needed so we go without it. This recipe is great. We are big fans of dry rubs when we cook meat and this dish was no exception. Here is what this recipe's author looks like before Paleo (after 3rd baby was born) and after Paleo and CrossFit! Please find the recipe below:

Beyond Easy Pulled Pork

4-5 lb pork butt roast
2 yellow onions, sliced

Dry Rub:
3 tbsps chili powder
1 tsp coriander
2 tsps cumin
2 tsps onion powder
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder

Mix all dry rub ingredients together. Rub the entire roast with the dry rub (you should use it all.) Place a layer of onions on the bottom of your slow cooker. Place the roast on top. Put the rest of the sliced onions on top of the slow cooker. NO LIQUID NECESSARY! Cook the roast on high for 5-6 hours and then turn down to low for another 3-4 hours or until the roast is literally falling apart and easy to shred.

It really does fall apart. I ate mine with some pasta the other night (as Italians would with Pappardelle al Ragu Di Cinghiale) and it was wonderful. I used carrots as a side as it helps clean my palate (and teeth) after all of the meat. I often have a spinach salad with it, too.

Being on Paleo is perfect for M. Due to his profession, he needs to be in top physical shape everyday and he burns about 2000 calories a day. He is 9% bodyfat and has to maintain that physique. For him, a book called The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet by Robb Wolf is what helped motivate him and really impress him with the Paleo system.

M and I may post other recipes from other sources as we come across them. If you are interested in more Paleo diet recipes, check out Everyday Paleo!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Summer movies 2012

What movies are you the most excited about this summer?

The following are trailers for movies I am looking forward to screening or seeing with the masses this summer. They are not in chronological order!

The Dark Knight Rises - July 20:

I am a huge fan of this entire franchise... and grew up on the other three (I still say Michael Keaton was the best Batman...).

Men in Black III - May 25:

My Dad and I have seen every single major Will Smith action movie in theaters, it is kind-of a must-see even if the reviews aren't so kind. This might be the first film I would be willing to pay IMAX for, seeing as it has such great sequences with jumps and crazy characters.

The Amazing Spiderman - July 3:

Here is my argument for this film: I always thought that Tobey Maguire was too dopey and soft for the role - even when he had worked out to get the Spiderman build he was too petite for the role. I think this new casting may do better.

Dark Shadows - May 11:

I have to see this movie for reasons similar to Men in Black. I have seen 14 Tim Burton (Directed or Produced) films with my father. I would hate to not see one just because it is a little bit campy. Apparently this was the first film with a true love scene that Tim Burton has done. Crazy, right?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Recycling in new forms

Recycling comes in many different forms, here is the story about one man who took a massive pile of lemons and turned them into lemonade!

(Source, $49.95)

David Bird of Maine, a commercial rope-maker, had quite a shakeup when in 2008 a National Marine Fisheries Service regulation was passed which recalled a specific rope used by lobstermen. (Source) The rope was recalled specifically due to the North Atlantic right whales (highly endangered species), which were getting caught on the floating rope (also called cordage due to its composition). Lobstermen are now required to use rope that sinks. However, millions of feet of rope - Virginia Living estimated it to be a "12-foot-tall, 85-yard-deep, 750,000-pound mountain" - are now being repurposed into beautiful, colorful woven mats. (Source)

(Source, $39.95)

These mats, Down East Doormats, are woven from the lobstermen's ropes. David Bird, who had a jig in his possession, made the first mats as gifts, which then became a small second job with festivals and fairs, and has now become a new brand added to his already-exiting retail/wholesale business, Custom Cordage. (Source) The ropes still have the brine and barnacles embedded into their threading. The brine makes these doormats naturally mildew-proof. The ropes are still hand-woven so the dimensions are not always exact. Prices range from $49.95 - 129.95.

The wonderful thing is all of these mats come from 100% recycled materials. The Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation "has collected almost 1.9 million pounds of floating groundline from over a thousand Maine lobstermen, giving them over $2.6 million in federal fund vouchers toward purchasing new sinking rope." And while I am featuring one company that sells these mats, there are many other artisans who produce them in the Northeast as well.

Retailers include:

Maine Float-Rope Co. (online) 18x30" doormat = suggested retail $49.95; 24x36" doormat = $79.95.

GAIAM. 33x20½" doormat = $58.00.

The New England Trading Company, LTD. Small, medium, large doormats; medium and large rope baskets; dog leash.

Tweed of Richmond. 4035 Lauderdale Drive, Richmond. 804-249-3900.

Fraîche at Libby and Grove. 304 Libbie Avenue, Richmond. 804-282-4282.

Strawberry Fields Flowers & Finds. 423 Strawberry Street, Richmond. 804-213-0232

Would you buy one of these mats? Which color?