Monday, March 30, 2009

CFW weekend: rain and fashion and wine, oh my!

There was so much to talk about in Charleston this weekend!  Hopefully you kept up with me on Twitter as I posted photos and observations from the finale night of Charleston Fashion Week.  Mr. M ended up tagging along with me to the Holy City, which made the trip extra nice, especially since we had to stay on the Ashley River instead of downtown this time around, which meant driving a car, which is something that I try to get out of whenever possible.  One of the many roles my dear husband often plays for me is that of chauffeur.  He does it gladly... I'm not the best driver in the world.

Anyhow, I was apparently in the minority of attendees who looked at the weather report before heading to the tents on Saturday evening and saw the big red, orange, and green blob headed for the city on the weather map.  I donned the cute and comfortable dress I had chosen and then proceeded to make the rest of my outfit weather-appropriate.  The result: I was one of two people who were dressed appropriately.

The line to get into the tents crossed the length of Marion Square and was a silken bouquet of pretty cocktail dresses... and nary an umbrella in sight.  When PR extraordinaire Jackie of Leapfrog shoved me into the tents as the sky opened up, I looked over my shoulder to see a herd that made the videos of Black Friday at Walmart look positively civil.  Once again, I thanked God for VIP seating because it looked as if some punches were about to be thrown over getting into the dry tent and to the available seats.  A black eye may have matched my outfit, but it still wouldn't have been attractive or pleasant.

Once I was comfortably in my seat I immediately scanned the room looking for Mr. Wayne Newton.  I know that he had been in the tents the previous two nights and was rumored to have been assigned the seat across from me.  I'm not generally a celebrity stalker. When I was a child James Brown was a pall bearer at my godfather's funeral, and crazed fans were jumping into the aisles trying to shake his hand and touch him.  Ever since I've had a general distaste celebrity ogling.  However, I tend to find Mr. Wayne's makeup job to be a fascinating study when I see him on television, and I was curious to see it in person.  Unfortunately, he didn't show, but I sat across from some very friendly folks such as Cynthia Rowley, Charleston Magazine style editor (and creator of CFW) Ayoka Lucas, and Project Runway's Mychael Knight.  And Mychael Knight's publicist, who felt it necessary to dress up like an R&B artist.  He kind of stuck out like a sore thumb.  I wish I had gotten a picture of him for kicks and giggles.

It was the night of the Emerging Designer Competition finalist shows.  Alena Fursova's clothing was smokily sultry (and revealing).  She even did a model stomp onto the runway, and could have easily passed (actually surpassed) as one of the gorgeous models.  Lindsay Carter's black palette popped with neon yellows and grapey purples that had a punk edge.  The competition's winner was Marysia, whose brightly colored swim line put a smile on all faces with it's pretty hues and vintage touch.  Keep an eye on this one.  You'll be seeing her clothing all over South Beach before long.

I left the tents to head to one of my favorite haunts, 39 Rue de Jean, to meet Mr. M. and some friends including Anne Postic (aka "The Shop Tart") and Christina and Susan from Van Jean.  Mr. M told us of his encounter with a young reveler who had apparently just had his 21st birthday.  Apparently the  young man had sauntered up to the bar with a pretty young thing on his arm and engaged in the following exchange: 

Young Man: I'll have a Reisling and a Sav.
Mr. M.: <<>>>
Bartender: A what?
Young Man: You know, a Reisling and a Sav or something.
PYT: (to Young Man) Um, that's a sauvignon blanc.
Bartender: Let me see  your ID, kid.

He passed the test and proceeded to get very drunk throughout the evening.  By the time we left the establishment he appeared to be going back and forth to the bathroom to get sick.  If you've ever been to 39 Rue de Jean, you know that it's a pretty sophisticated French-style place where the staff know their wines well and you can get a French meal (or sushi, too) that will leave all four senses relaxed and satisfied.  So obviously, this kid was making a general ass of himself all night.

The next day we drove downtown and parked on a side street to take Junior for a stroll and grab some lunch at Caviar and Bananas.  When we headed to our car, we saw a sluggish looking guy shuffling toward us on the street.  As we came closer, he blushed and murmured hello before going into the house we had parked in front of.  It was none other than our good buddy Sav!  I thought it was a perfect way to end a fun weekend.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Every fashion show should have a puppy

Unexpectedly, I went down to Charleston yesterday to check out Charleston Fashion week a little earlier than planned.  It was a fantastic day.  I arrived at the Charleston Place, dashed off to a meeting, and then came back to the Charleston Grill to have a chat with my old buddy Teresa, who tends bar.  She suggested that I try the scallop ceviche, which was unlike anything I had ever tasted.  Have you ever tried mixing lime, vanilla, mint, and sea salt?  That's essentially what this did.  Teresa also mentioned that they've been working on a signature drink with those ingredients (minus the scallops, of course).  I'm just thinking about how I'm going to marinate a grouper in it and put it on the grill one weekend.  Maybe with a dash of white wine, too.  If you try it before I do, let me know how it turns out.

Next, I headed down to the tents.  There were beautiful people everywhere.  Really.  I think there may have been a contest to weed out who was aesthetically pleasing enough to be there.  I felt short and stocky next to this crowd!  It probably didn't help that I was wearing flat boots instead of 5-inch heels.  They were cute boots, though, so I felt a little better.

Champagne and margaritas were flowing freely and it was exactly what I envision when I think of Charleston.  Talk of politics (the good kind) and marriages and restaurants, and the
re was one man who was apparently very unhappy with his seat, as he treated everyone as if the had a growth on them.  There's one of those in every crowd these days, isn't there?

During my time at the tents I had two favorite moments.  The first was during the Boutique NV show.  The clothes looked comfortable and great for running town this spring.  But the highlight was when this beautiful blonde model stalked her way down the runway with the most edibly adorable escort I have ever seen.  She had golden retriever puppy on her arm.  He was plump and roly-poly and perfectly fuzzy.  Even Emerging Designer Competition judge Dana Campbell was oohing and aahhing.

My other favorite moment was the end of the Mary Porter show. Her theme was so glamourously old-Hollywood that one of her dresses will send a whole new vibe and conversation topic coursing through a room.  At the end of her show was a wedding gown that made me want to get married all over again.  To Mr. M, not someone else, in case you were wondering! Not that my own wedding dress was too shabby.  There is just no humanly possible way that I will fit into it ever again.

So, if you are in SC and have time to make it down to Charleston, I highly recommend that you go to the Charleston Fashion Week site and see what tickets are left for the tents.  The people are fun and gorgeous and you won't be disappointed!  More to come tomorrow!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Recyclable Chic

I'm stuck inside on this gorgeous day with what I like to call "pollen sickness".  It's as bad as a cold, and I was so lucky to have Mr. M volunteer to watch Jr. this morning while I lay in bed and read while I sniffled.   Amongst my pile of books and magazines was the latest issue of Town & Country.  As I thumbed through it, I had to double check the cover after I came to a section about buying on EBay.  I mean, we've all done it.  I think I know of only one person who probably hasn't, because she is my fabulous friend who is helping cure the recession by purchasing all of her clothes and accessories when they are first presented.  She also had a spare bedroom converted into a second closet.  I may go move in with her. Her husband would so appreciate that. 

You know that the recession has hit an all time low when the bastion of all things stylish and sophisticated dedicates a section to buying second hand.  Granted, it was billed as "buying green", which is every bit as admirable (and necessary) these days as saving coin.

I think that if Town & Country is going this route, they ought to check out the Columbia (SC) Design League's 4th Runaway Runway on April 19th at 701 CCA on Whaley. Read a blurb about last year's from the blog Leonardo's Notebook. It is a fashion show where the model's costumes are made entirely of recycled materials.  It is a fun and chic event, and yes, you'll be able to come back here and read about it, too! :) Now, as far as I've seen before, these are not outfits that one would actually want to wear out and about, but the show presents fantastic ideas and a message of reusable chic that I think we all need to hear (and act on) these days.

Alright now.  Jr. is napping and Mr. M has headed off to do some more work, so I'm headed back to my haven of blankets and books.  Have a beautiful day, all!

PS- Be sure to tune in March 28th and 29th, when I'll be posting from Charleston Fashion Week!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Soup for a rainy, cold day

If you're going to have a day when you are sleep deprived and allergy-ridden, this is the day to do it.  I had a really hard time sleeping last night.  No real reason why, I just think too much.  You know how that is.  You go to bed at a decent hour, exhausted from running around town all day.  You put on your favorite pjs, shimmy under the warm covers, and promptly start thinking about travel arrangements, party menus, committee to do lists, and on and on and on and on and on...  I did this until about 3:30am.  Blech.  Then I woke up feel like someone had stuffed cotton up my nose and glued my eyes shut and thanked God I had nowhere to be today.

Mr. M finished his work pretty early and snuggled under the covers to watch Thomas and Friends Carnival Capers with Jr.  He's such  good man.  He has endured that movie at least 15,769 times in the last three months alone.

Tired of sitting on the sofa in an oxygen reduced stupor, I got up and threw some things onto the stove and came up with a delicious soup.  I thought I'd share it with you.  It's the kind of soup that is relaxing to prepare, chopping vegetables at the kitchen table while talking with your spouse or an old friend.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
7 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
4 cups chicken stock*
2 sprigs of rosemary, plus more for garnish
Kosher sea salt, to taste
ground black pepper, to taste

Add potatoes to pot of boiling salted water, cook until soft, about 20 minutes, then drain.

Meanwhile, drizzle olive oil in sauté pan over medium-low heat.  Add garlic, onion, carrot, salt, pepper, and 2 sprigs of rosemary and let simmer while preparing other ingredients. When it is ready to be added to other ingredients the mixture should be translucent and soft.  

While the other two sections are cooking, warm chicken stock over medium heat.

When ingredients are done, add then to a food processor, add milk, and blend until smooth.  Add to large pot (the one you cooked the potatoes in is just fine!), add any more salt and pepper desired to taste.  Let cool for 10 minutes and transfer to bowls.  Add a dollop of crème fraîche (sour cream works, too, but just a little!) and a sprig of rosemary for garnish. Enjoy!

*Today I used Kitchen Basics chicken stock, one of my favorite go-to's, but had I been feeling more industrious (like, a day or two before hand)I would have used Ina Garten's fabulouso chicken stock recipe.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Reading the WSJ-- they're wearing mittens in hell

With my political leanings being left to left-of-center, I've always considered the Wall Street Journal to be a cesspool of uptight propaganda.  To be perfectly honest, I don't quite remember when or how I formed this opinion, but yesterday when I discovered that Mr. M had subscribed to the dreaded publication, I was aghast.  

"What the hell is that doing in my house?" I growled at him from across the patio table.  The nerve.  I had just made him a fabulous lunch and we were taking a break from our respective projects while Jr. was napping.  How could he disrupt our sunny quiet time with such trash?

"It's a better source for keeping up with what's happening in the market," he said dismissively.

I huffed and continued reading my issue of Martha Stewart Living for a few minutes before realizing that I had already been through most of the articles.  I had a real dilemma.  I was sitting on my patio, feet propped up, on a gorgeous 75 degree day (yes, in March).  School hadn't let out yet, so the only sounds were those of the yard.  The birds calling to each other, the wind tickling the neighbors trees... we don't have trees anymore.  Two years ago my Japanese maple died suddenly and then the rest of our trees had followed suit by the end of the season.  Anyway, it was a perfect scene from which I was loathe to move.  

I sighed and picked up the WSJ that was leering at me from the table.  I opened it, and the first article I saw was an opinion piece (Oh no, what horrible things was this person going to say?) entitled, "Obama is Free Trade's Best Hope."  Wait a minute, what?  I shut the paper and looked at the masthead.  Yes, this was the Wall Street Journal.  I opened it again and started reading.  Whether or not you are a fan of free trade, this was a fantastic piece.  Well thought out, well written, extremely well argued.  You should read it.  Yes, that's what I said!  

Later that evening, I was sitting in front of my computer trying to think of a topic to write about.  I found myself (as Hell was starting to get a bit of a frost) on the newspaper's website.  I almost fell on the floor when I found an article from a couple if days ago entitled, "The Big Interview: Being Bernard Arnault: How do  you predict global good taste in a time of economic downturn?"  After reading the article and then launching a full-on assault on my keyboard as I brainstormed my next project, I realized I had a problem.  I've spent years bashing WSJ.  Years.  Now I'm going to have to take at least some of it back!  While I don't have any plans to hop on over to the other side of the party line, I may be inspired to buy a briefcase or something.  At least this will become a daily read.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sweet Cosmo

I can't believe I posted about Cosmo's birthday party without posting a picture of the dear boy!  Look at my beautiful doggie... he is such a wonderful beast!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Strawberries, enhanced

Today the birds are yakking at each other spritefully and there is a brilliant red cardinal sitting in an as yet unbudded tree in the yard that is begging to have it's photo taken. It's gorgeous out, and we have had every meal on the patio! 

This is the kind of day that puts me in the mood for ripe, juicy fruit.  When I was a teenager I started marinating strawberries.  I would  wash them, cut the tops off, slice the strawberries in half, place them in a lidded container then sprinkle sugar and balsamic vinegar over them.  Yes, you read correctly... balsamic vinegar.  I think I got it from a Martha Stewart article or something, but it was 15 years ago, at least, so I'm not sure.  Anyway, leave the container of strawberries in the refrigerator overnight.  If you are impatient like me, they still taste wonderful after a couple of  hours, but once they have sat over night it is as if they have taken an fGh (flavor growth hormone).  It's as if you can taste their deep red color.  Try it, you'll love it!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Friday was a dog's day

Both of our dogs are rescues.  Our prissy, high maintenance Pomeranian was literally rescued out of the street in the middle of rush hour traffic one day when I was driving home from work.  I found her owners the next day, who claimed that hadn't realized that she had gotten out of the apartment.  They said I could keep her if I wanted, and there was no way I was going to subject her to a smoke-filled, overcrowded (5 roommates, 2 bedrooms) apartment, so I obliged.  Our other dog, Cosmo, is our best friend.  Not that Nina isn't fabulous... she earns her keep well by keeping my feet warm at night and by being a pleasure to look at in her cute little bows and sweaters while perched on the sofa.  But Cosmo has been with us through it all.  He was our first "joint purchase" in college and then stayed with me while Mr. Maurice spent time studying in Europe.  We got him from one of those slightly icky nonprofit rescue organizations who have all of the best intentions but little organizational skills to back it up. It has since closed, and our German Shepherd/golden retriever mix has gone from being a clone of the Tazmanian Devil (tornado and all) to the lovely, laid back watcher of the house that he is today. 

Well, yesterday morning we woke up and realized that it was somewhere around Cosmo's tenth birthday.  We aren't entirely sure when his birthday is, but we've been able to guesstimate because we know he was around 12 weeks old when we brought him home.  Of course we had to throw a party for him!  We called Dr. and Mrs. R (my parents) and our good friend H, who is always ready for some fab wine as long is there is fab (and often unfiltered) conversation to go along with it.  Everyone needs someone like H in their lives.  If you don't have an H, go find her right now.  She will make your life infinitely more interesting.

We decided that all of the meat served would have the bone in, in honor of Cosmo.  Of course he didn't get to have any of the bones because we would like him to stick around for a while.  So, Mr. M whipped up one of his famous grilled feasts, which included a bbq chicken recipe that was completely new to me and I can't begin to tell you what was in it, but the table was completely silent while we ate, if that is any indication of the quality.

I set to work on my first ever doggie birthday cake.  After doing a little research, I combined:

1 cup of flour
1/3 cup of honey
1 peeled and shredded carrot
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup vegetable oil

I put it in a round cake pan, baked it at 350 for 30 minutes, and "frosted" it with sour cream and dog food sprinkles.  Cosmo was in heaven (poor Nina couldn't have any because she has a very sensitive digestive system and can only eat a very specific brand of holistic dog food.  Like I said, high maintenance).  Yes, I may have lost my mind.  And no, it didn't look very professional.  And yes, it gave us a great excuse to have a toast with friends and spend the evening catching up on what's new in town!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Why I hate the Kindle

The other evening Mr. Maurice turned the channel to "Star Trek, the Next Generation" and we had a good laugh at how antiquated all of the equipment was.  Their little hip-computer-thingies looked like oversized Gameboys and the flat screen computer monitors were oh-so-thick.  Did the writers really think that we weren't yet on the fast track to smaller, faster equipment in the early '90s?

There was one scene in which Captain Picard was reading a book on... gasp... a Kindle!  Seriously!  I get that in the future our society will be so environmentally friendly that we wouldn't dare kill trees for reasons such as manufacturing books.  It is a logical hope, but doesn't that take away from the overall reading experience?  In this case, for me, reading would fall into one of two categories:

1) It's been a long week.  Your two-year-old has been undulating through series of curling up in your lap and stroking your hair and ten minutes later shrieking and crumbling to the floor at the very sound of your voice.  All. Week. Long. You've had a line of carpet cleaners, exterminators and cable guys trapsing through the house all week, doubling the amount of times the rug has needed vacuuming.  If you look at your inbox one more time you may swear off all communication with the outside world.  You've also had 1800 parties and events to go to because everyone in town feels the need to throw their parties at the same damn time.  Saturday morning, your darling husband offers to take your adorable imp to the park, so you prepare a cup of tea, cuddle under a blanket and lazily drift into the pages of a book.  The smell of the pages mingle with the aroma of the tea and you feel as though you are being hugged the entire time that you are on that sofa.  Relaxation ensues.

2) It's been a long week.  Your two-year-old has decided that not even candy is worth sitting on that potty.  Your mother has been calling you every five minutes with the details of her latest country club drama (would you believe who had too much gin and was caught regurgitating in the bushes... again?).  The lawn guy managed to kill your supposedly unkillable jasmine, which was your favorite plant on the patio.  Your inbox is full of questions you don't know how to answer.  The power steering hose on your car exploded in the garage, you have no idea how to clean up the mess and the thought of the ensuing maintenance bill has you wondering if you will want the car back.  Your lovely spouse has agreed to whisk your precocious boy off to the zoo.  You make a cup of tea, cuddle up under that blanket, and start reading your Kindle... and your thoughts periodically drift to your unanswered emails and what else might be up on the computer across the room.

I like scenario #1 much better.  The last thing I want to be looking at is yet another screen.  I've spent the week typing, watching the news, watching yet another episode of Thomas the Tank Engine, checking my iPhone, etc. etc. etc.

Environmentally friendly, yes.  But have we reached a point in our lives where everything we do has to be so technologically involved?