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Sunday, April 29, 2007

My new favorite everything

Since it's about time that everybody's New Year's resolutions have become complete wastes of time, I have decided to embark upon a rejuvenation program. Seriously. My life is, just like the American economy, suffering from stagflation--nothing new is happening (stagnating), but life still costs more money and I'm getting kinda chubby (inflation...?). I need an injection of exciting newness before I collapse of boredom. What's better than making lists in this kind of situation? Let me share with you my new favorite...well, everything! It never hurts to try something new, isn't that like the spice of life? Variety, right?

BAND/ARTIST: Hello Saferide, from Sweden. Not only is her voice completely adorable but street-smart and a little world-weary in the manner of Emily Haines' (of Metric) solo albums, El Perro del Mar, or Rilo Kiley/Jenny Lewis, if you will, her website and blog are adorable. I like to think that I am getting in touch with my Swedish ancestry by listening to all this new Swedish music (didn't you know that Scandinavia is WHERE IT'S AT? remember Saraha Hotnights?), but my Swedish-Japanese heart just cannot resist a great music-y blog with lines like this: Advice for all other songwriters: try to include a multi-instrumentalist with Japanese heritage in your band. It really comes in handy when you go to Tokyo and need someone to order food, and weird drinks in karaoke bars. "The Quiz" (Would You Let Me Play This EP Ten Tmes A Day?) is perhaps the greatest song about a budding romance that I have heard in years, and is pretty much the story of my life. "Get Sick Soon" is also close to saccharine but gloriously simple in its expression of adoration. "Highschool Stalker" is, unfortunately, rife with lines that exemplify many of my pretend relationships with boys I've had crushes on. OH, MY GOD. HELLO SAFERIDE IS GREAT. Her friend, the equally adorable and amazing Maia Hirasawa, came in a close second--check out her video for "And then I found this boy" on MySpace.

ALBUM: Stars' Nightsongs is by no means a new album--in fact, it was their debut, but I didn't get my hot little hands on it until now due to some loser stealing the radio station's copy way back when. Thanks to my friend Step, who happens to be Stars' number one fan in the whole wide world, I rediscovered Nightsongs in full and let me tell you, it makes my life...just like that time I was in the Shibuya GAP store feeling sad because anything above a size ten doesn't exist in Japan, and Stellastarr* came on over the PA system. As Step says, Stars has a lyric that is fitting for every moment of every day, like my favorite kinda-sappy-but-awfully-touching stanza from "Tonight":
when the night descends upon us
take a shower, dry your hair by the furnace
i'll watch you from the corner
telephones and old typewriters
words of love along the wires
let's make it work tonight
telegraphs and birds that fly
through air so still you hear me sigh

I am in no way sappy or romantic or anything, but listening to Nightsongs makes me want a sweeping, epic romance...in France. In my pants.

TV SHOW: The BBC's Life On Mars, made by Kudos Productions (the folks who brought you my other two favorite BBC shows, Spooks and Hustle) in Manchester, UK. Not only is Manchester home of some of the greatest New Wave (hello, Joy Division) music and the club scene, but Life on Mars is like television MAGIC. DCI Sam Tyler gets in a car accident on his way to a crime scene and wakes up in a car...in 1973. He's still a police officer, demoted now to DI and mysteriously just transferred from Hyde to Manchester. John Simm as Sam Tyler (the lead character is, in fact, named after Rose Tyler of the previous two Doctor Who seasons) is all frustrated, confused, and morally upstanding despite his comatose status in the "real" world. John Simm is a great actor (you may remember him from 24 Hour Party People, ahhh Joy Division again!), but what really shines in this series is 1) the music, 2) the 1970s-era reproduction of mise-en-scene, and 3) the supporting cast. Much has been made of Philip Glenister's performance as the liquor-swilling, dirty-fighting, womanizing DCI Gene Hunt, and it's all true. The man is STUPENDOUS to watch, even as he beats the living daylights out of a perp. Lucky for the DCI Hunt fans, he's getting his own series come Fall 2007. My description does not suffice to explain how great this show is, I'm so, so sorry.

OUTFIT: I really don't wear dresses. They are not flattering to my long-legged-but-wide-waisted figure. Praise be, I have finally found the world's most perfect dress. You will clearly see that this just screams "KAREN" once you lay eyes on it. Thanks to Vendima Vintage in San Francisco's Noe Valley, I am the proud owner of this lovely 1940's (by far, my favorite era) style bepocketed polka-dot wrap dress, and it makes me feel like I can swing dance, fly, and/or do anything I damn well please, because I am one sassy broad. Sweet baby Jesus, it is a miracle dress! I will wear it with a vengeance, and my real vintage blue leather open-toe pumps.

RECIPE: This is an easy one, inspired by a Japanese recipe site that is just chock full of goodness. It's become my go-to site when I am confronted with my favorite Japanese ingredients like black sesame, nashi, mizuna, sweet potato, and this time, kabocha. Kabocha are small, sweet pumpkins with green rinds and bright orange flesh, you can find them at farmers' markets and Asian grocery stores. My grandmother told us stories growing up about how during World War II, when she and her family escaped a burning Kobe to live on her uncle's farm, all they had to eat was unripe kabocha and thin rice gruel because they had to pick the vegetables before people would steal them. That's the gist of it. Sixty years later, she's grown to love kabocha again as I have always loved it, so I like to buy a kabocha or two once in a while and try new recipes out. This is so simple, and can be used as a soup, a healthy alfredo-like pasta sauce, or pudding-y dessert depending on how you vary the ingredients.
I started out with 1/2 of a kabocha, seeded and chopped into 1-inch cubes, with most of the green rind cut off. After throwing the cubes into a pot with about 2 cups of milk to 1 cup of chicken broth (or water and sugar, if you are making a dessert), simmer on low for about twenty minutes or so until the kabocha is softened and the milk starts to get a little thick. Puree in a blender until smooth. Freeze in baggies if you wish. I just had some tonight thinned out with about a cup of chicken broth and cooked spinach tortellini in it. Yum! Spice with curry or saffron for a little more ethnic flair.

INDULGENCES: I just discovered that adding frozen semisweet chocolate chips to my favorite Honey Nut O's cereal is, well, MIND-BOGGLINGLY DELICIOUS. A little plebeian, a little decadent, it just makes a great late-night snack and has kept me from baking cookies with wild abandon as I am wont to do when it comes to finals time. Another new inferno of delicious pleasure is a spoonful of lemon curd with fresh (local-grown) strawberries and a bit of powdered sugar. Those Brits really know how to make a good curd.

Image from hitparade.ch.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

And there was a girl at school- music to study to:

As most people (pretty much everyone ever) know, I am writing my thesis right now. This makes blogging a bit tough, since a) I write all the time, so writing in my free time? not the most appealing thing ever, and b) I basically have no life outside of women travelers, and definitely no life that exists after 1868. This does not make for the best blog fodder! (unless you guys want to know more about Edo period Japanese Lit. I have plenty of fodder there.)

One thing I am up to date on though: music. Girl, at least not this girl, cannot write without fun music in the background. It's no surprise to anyone that the O.C. is my favorite show ever, and this has a lot to do with one person (one besides Adam Brody:) Alexandra Patsavas. She's been the music supervisor on some of my favorite shows (Grey's Anatomy and Roswell!) but her best work has to be on the O.C., where the music really helped the show come alive. When it wasn't on screen, you missed it, and when they used the cheesy stock music ("The Night Moves," when Summer and Taylor find the skeleton in the attic, anyone?) it cheapened the rest of the episode.

Obviously I am a big supporter of the right music at the right time. It's a critical thing that can make or break any endeavor, so picking out writing music can be tough. What's going to motivate you and keep you in the groove, without making you want to get up and go running or put you to sleep?

A couple of my favorite albums that you might not have heard of are below:

Hot Chip- "The Warning"
Great Beats that still manage to be mellow. The real standout song on the album is "And I Was a Boy From School," which manages to be haunting and melancholy without being sleep-inducing. This has been one of my favorite driving/studying albums for over six months, along with fellow U.K. indie techno pop:

Metronomy- "Pip Paine, Pay the Piper the 5000 Pounds You Owe."
While Metronomy definitely has some similarities to Hot Chip, where Hot Chip has a faux-gangster air about them, Metronomy takes it to a slightly grittier, less poppy place. Less words, more awesome. Not that the whole thing is instrumental, or needs to be, as "Trick or Treatz" proves. Perfect perfect background music- I want this album to be a soundtrack to a film- it is that good.

Also check out the Tyler Fedchuk mashup with "sexyback-" This one keeps me moving on the Elliptical long after the original stopped working.

Matt Pond PA, "Emblems"
You probably have heard of Matt Pond PA by now, but if you haven't, AWESOME. This isn't necessarily my favorite album of theirs, but somehow it managed to become my go-to album of theirs when I am writing.

Stereolab, "Emperor Tomato Ketchup"
The ex-boyfriend approved album! My ex-boyfriend used to always (and still does, to be honest) complain that everything I chose to listen to just about EVER, but especially when we were studying, was too mellow. Stereolab was the first thing to meet with his approval- so much so that he asked me to burn him a copy. Check out "Les-Ypers Sound" for a bouncy fun track.

And last but totally not least is
The O.C. Mix 6.

Because you didn't know there were SIX O.C. soundtracks, did you! Honestly, I didn't know either until fairly recently when I received a copy of this album. It's all covers, which normally is a huge turn off for me, but somehow works perfectly and creates a really seamless and tight mix cd. It also helps that they left off some of the covers that did not work for me on the show- Imogen Heap's cover of Hallelujah and Matt Pond PA's cover of Champagne Supernova are two that come to mind.* I don't like most cover albums by single artists because they tend to fall flat, and most compilation cover cds I've listened too end up being too disjointed. Somehow, this one makes it WORK.

*Although I think the Champagne Supernova cover is on an earlier album. It just did not work for me on Rainy Day Women, and that really taints the poor cover for me. And what is up with the freaking love affair with Imogen Heap? Yes, "Hide and Seek" made a GREAT end to season two, but seriously, mix it up for the season three finale! Into Dust would've worked SO much better there, either the original or the cover.

What are you guys listening to when you're writing a paper or studying? What keeps you going?

images: http://www.leavemethewhite.com/caps/index.php

Friday, April 20, 2007

Au revoir until May!

Earlier this year, my mother and I went to a double-feature of An American in Paris and Singin' in the Rain. She leaned over to me at the beginning of An American in Paris, during the stock footage of Paris, and said, "Just think, you're going to be there!" I whispered back, "I think it's filmed on a soundstage!" Which it was, of course, but that didn't make the reality that I'd be in Paris any less true. (And just look at Leslie Caron's New Look outfit!)

Tomorrow I'm finally heading off on my two-week trip to Paris, Antwerp, and London. I've got a brand-new big suitcase, my Brooklyn-bought blue trenchcoat, black eyeliner (Urban Decay's 24/7, naturally, in Zero), red lipgloss/balm (Lancome Juicy Tubes in "Cherry Burst" and C.O. Bigelow Mentha Lip Tint in 1138), and French lessons on my iPod Nano. I haven't packed a thing, but I've certainly got a list of what will go in that new big suitcase for the way there. I'm definitely planning on having more things in it on the way back.

Thanks to Susie at Style Bubble, I am set for London shopping for days, especially as I arrive in London the same day Kate Moss' Topshop collection launches. I may have an inside peek at Prada while I am in Paris (it's all about connections!), and I am definitely planning on a trip to Versailles as well as to the Champs-Elysees Sephora.

I'm leaving the laptop behind in America, as there is just too much goodness in Europe for me to distract myself with the internets. I leave the blog to Mlles Kati and Karen, and I will be back in May with pictures, stories, and finds!

Au revoir!

image from filmreference.com

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Chopped Nicoise Salad for Summer

My two days on the South Beach Diet were a bust, mostly because the half-dozen giant pluots I bought last week were just dying to be eaten and the thought of not eating fruit for more than three days is absolutely unbearable. I live in California, after all--strawberries year-round, yummy apples, fresh citrus of all kinds, all that good stuff--unbearable, I tell you! Breakfast for me has been a sliced sweet-tart yellow-purple pluot with a pan-fried salt-and-peppered egg on a slice of whole wheat toast, dry. If that isn't totally virtuous, I don't know what is!

As it turns out, salad for breakfast is a much better option, or so says my mother. Her tried-and-true method of jump-starting a diet is basically that, salad or oatmeal for breakfast every day and try to eat less rice for dinner. I'm much more of a salad-for-dinner girl, since the thought of waking up to salad is entirely too depressing to even consider. The best salad I ever tasted was at a small bistro (I'm not trying to be facetious, you guys, this is a true story) in Manhattan after wandering out of the Bowery Ballroom around ten o'clock at night with my college roommate. It was bitterly cold, we were hungry college students in need of a drink and a quiet minute to process what the hell we were doing in New York City, and we found ourselves in front of one of those places staffed by handsome but heavily tattooed artiste types who play Edith Piaf on vinyl by the kitchen and have wine parties in the back of the restaurant. Needless to say, I wanted to live in that bistro for the rest of my life when they brought my salad nicoise, it was so perfect.

I've tried desperately for the past two years to recreate the perfect salad nicoise, and I think I've come up with an easy, stylish alternative to the real thing. All you'll need is a trip to the grocery store, a sharp chopping knife, and a sense of satisfaction without the potatoes or green beans. Those are just a hassle. The canned tuna packed in oil does, in fact, have more calories than regular canned tuna or a tuna steak, but the flavor and ease of having that oil already infused with tuna-ness keeps down the calorie count--you're making a light dressing in the bowl, not to drench the entire salad with. I even drained off most of the oil sitting in the can before using the tuna.

Here's my recipe:
1/2 head green leaf or other crisp lettuce, cold
2 Belgian endives and/or other salad-y veggies like sliced bell peppers, cucumber, or tomato
1 can chunk tuna packed in olive oil (I found garlic-olive-oil packed tuna, it adds so much flavor and goodness)
2 handfuls pitted black kalamata olives (if you have nicoise olives handy, use those to be authentic)
minced basil leaves, dried or fresh
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

1. Chop your salad vegetables into a desired size and shape. Wash the leafy greens in a colander after they're cut, it's easier to chop them dry. Chop the olives into thirds-ish chunks.
2. Toss the veggies and olives with the canned tuna, basil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, flaking the tuna with a fork as you toss.
3. Eat it like a champ. Feel healthy and utterly sophisticated.

All I need now is a baguette and a beret, or maybe some tattoos and an Edith Piaf record. There was that one boy with the clear plastic glasses frames on the subway in New York, all those years ago...ah, soulmates at first sight.

Image from inmagine.com.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Recipe: Spiced Island Carrots

If there is anything that takes a lot of style and grace, it's cooking for more than one. Cooking for one, on the other hand, is more like standing at the stove in an old t-shirt and your most comfortable pair of cotton panties (you know the ones) wondering if frozen chicken breasts carry salmonella. It sounds sad and lonely, but hey, at least you aren't subjecting anyone else to your various culinary hits and misses (or salmonella, as the case may be). I've been reading Amy Sedaris' book on "hospitality under the influence," I Like You, and it is awe-inspiringly hilarious, much like she is--the problem is, I don't entertain. There are no fancy dinner parties in this one-bedroom basement apartment, just a single girl with an ugly yellow kitchen and an old gas stove (it's bad news).

I refuse to be defeated by this, however, and like to experiment with crazy spices and herbs or whatever's on hand from the farmers' market, so most of the delicious, piquant dishes I come up with are on one-time-only offer. Like the following recipe for what I created tonight, dubbed "spiced island carrots" for now--partly inspired by Amy Sedaris' recipe for carrot medallions and partly by the mushy orange-juice glazed carrots I first had in my college dining halls. Really, carrots deserve better. This recipe makes about a cup and a half of carrots; I used half carrots and half zucchini (the zucchini was a bit of a failure, stick to carrots please) and had this as a side with teriyaki chicken.

1 tbsp olive oil
pinch saffron threads, lightly crushed between your thumb and forefinger
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp curry powder
3 large carrots, scrubbed or peeled and then chopped into "medallions"
juice of one lime
salt and pepper to taste

Hardware: 1 frying or sautee pan, stirring utensil

1. Heat the oil, saffron, garam masala, and curry powder over medium-high heat until fragrant, and the oil is smoky.
2. Add the sliced carrots and sautee until covered with spice and oil and warmed through. Pour in your lime juice and toss in a pinch of salt now. Sautee until the carrots are still crunchy but hot (does that make sense?)--you can keep going until they're soggy just like old times, your choice.
3. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

The resulting carrots are crunchy with a kick and pleasant tang. God, now I desperately want some white rice and macaroni salad--I had to choose tonight to start trying out this South Beach Diet nonsense! Why isn't there a Hawaiian beach diet, all Spam musubi, poi, teriyaki chicken and mac salad? What, I can't lose this spare tire eating like that?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Science Time with Jeanne: Get Gorgeous Tea

I am not a big coffee drinker. I will often opt for tea, whether it's a chai latte, a green tea latte at Starbucks (helpful hint: tell the barista "no melon" to get a real matcha flavor), unsweetened iced tea, or just a regular tea bag.

I'm also always on the look out for the miracle product that'll improve my skin. After lapsing in caring for it in my teenage years, I've got a lot of catching up to do before it's too late. My collection of skincare products keeps growing and growing, yet I think I've found a fairly happy balance for now. Still, the pursuit continues.

So when I saw that the Republic of Tea was offering a tea called "Get Gorgeous" that claimed to help improve skin, I had to give it a try for science's sake. What precisely is in "Get Gorgeous"? There are three main ingredients that I'm going to be focusing on: rooibos (also known as "red tea"), chamomile, and pomegranate.

Rooibos and pomegranate are both well-known antioxidants, which fight what's called a "free radical". A free radical is a molecule or atom that's missing at least one electron and is thus unbalanced. These can come from normal processes in your body, like breaking down sugars, certain medications, or from pollution such as cigarette smoke.

If you remember high school chemistry, an unbalanced molecule/atom will attach to another molecule/atom in order to balance itself out and make itself "happy", as my teacher would have said. Unfortunately, to make itself "happy", a free radical can interfere with or damage its new partner in your body, and that can make your body unhappy. Antioxidants jump in to balance out these free radicals before they can make friends with something you don't want them to. Thus, antioxidants are basically your drinking buddy who makes sure you don't give that sketchy free radical guy at the bar your real name, or worse, your number.

There's still debate, of course, as to the real effects of antioxidants and if they're really as effective as the supplement and food industries want you to believe. Research is still ongoing, but for now, there's nothing wrong with seeking out the naturally-occuring antioxidants in fruits and vegetables.

And what about chamomile? Chamomile is a known anti-inflammatory, both inside and out. It calms upset stomachs and inflamed skin -- chamomile tea bags are a well-known remedy for reducing puffy eyes.

So what does it all mean for "Get Gorgeous" tea in reality? All the hypotheticals sure are great, but does it work? So far, it's too early for me to tell. But I did think up some benefits that aren't on the label. Rooibos is naturally caffeine-free, so if you're drinking tea all through the day, you won't be tossing and turning all night. In addition, chamomile helps to relax you, so with the combination of relaxing chamomile and caffeine-free rooibos, you should be able to breathe a little easier and sleep better, which is always good for your body.

While I'm a little apprehensive about the label's recommendation of drinking three to four cups of "Get Gorgeous" tea every day (at 36 bags a tin, that's anywhere from 9 to 12 days' worth of tea), I do recognize that staying hydrated, and staying away from sugary sodas, is also good for your skin.

However, it is indeed tasty, which is probably the most important consideration of all. Because, really, what's the point of drinking tea to "get gorgeous" if you can't bear the taste?

image from republicoftea.com

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Promenade

It must be prom time soon for all those lucky high-schoolers, because Yahoo! just popped up with a list of the twenty strangest "prom dress" searches they've seen via their search engine. I have to say that my favorites so far are "camo prom dress" (what a way to show support for our troops, or perhaps your premature decision to join the armed forces, where everyone wears spaghetti straps and fake eyelashes?) and "plus size Gothic prom dress." I have to admit, and Jeanne can fully confirm this, that I was a big ol' wallflower in high school and in fact, was only asked to prom once, fewer than twenty-four hours before. Finding this to be rather declasse on the part of the male friend kind enough to think of me on a Thursday night, I gently refused. The main reason for that, I suppose, was because I had nothing to wear.

Really. Nothing to wear. Who keeps prom dresses in their closet at age seventeen, just in case someone asks them? Still, I think about it sometimes, considering that prom seems to be a pivotal moment in many young women's lives. If I were magically transported into the past and had a beautiful man on whose arm I could prance into prom (hello), what would I wear? Underwear, probably. And my glasses, of course.

This is a cute, classic little number, although red has never been my color--even when I was a teenager.

This pinstriped halter dress could be cutely rockabilly with green velvet pumps, and I DID have awesome tiger-striped cat's-eye glasses in senior year...

Seventeen-year-old me probably would have chosen something like the relatively demure black Vera Wang or this sailor-collared black silk dress, then stood in a corner and thought about the literary influences and convergences between the work of Vladimir Nabokov and Mishima Yukio. Ah, youth.

Nowadays, I'd probably choose something like this from Behnaz Serafpour, clean-lined, sharp and jewel-toned. Oh, my goodness! I will just have to leave the reformation of teenagers' dignity and style today to designers like her, Marc Jacobs, and a GLORIOUS new line I just discovered (a year late for their Spring 2006 line), Abaete.

Sigh. You know the only reason my mind is wandering and thinking about prom dresses is that tonight's Law & Order: SVU is a rerun.

images from anthropologie.com, bluefly.com and nymag.com.

Eat your greens, yuppie style

Take a moment to think about dark, leafy greens. Do it right now. When was the last time you ate something leafy that wasn't spinach or bok choy? Chard, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, arugula, brussels sprouts, rocket? All of these lovely, bitter greens are in full swing from the winter through the spring and are packed full of vitamins A, E, K, potassium, folic acid (especially important for us ladies, more on that issue later) and FIBER, people. You may think the only way to subdue these leafy green bastards is to cook the crap out of them with a giant hunk of animal meat, but I'm here to say there is an alternative. Yes, it's true, a perfectly yuppified alternative to the delicious Southern-style collard greens--it may not come with pot liquor, but it's fancy, simple, and shockingly healthy.

I've made this recipe several times since discovering it at the Waitrose (apparently a British specialty foods shop) website, with a combination of lacinato kale/leeks/sweet onion the first time, and tonight with onion, rainbow and Swiss chard. DELICIOUS EVERY TIME. Liven up the filling mixture with crumbled bacon, fresh or dried herbs, garlic, spices, or flavored olive , strong flavors to balance the stronger flavor of the greens--what seems to work best are flavorings that stick with the Mediterranean feel of this yogurt tart.

Yogurt tart, you say? Is that not a strange type of quiche? Unlike the heavy, eggy filling of quiches, the filling for this tart is velvety, light, and holds its shape both hot and cold. No goopy custard-y filling here! The cornmeal crust included in the recipe is the perfect foil for a slightly salty, entirely savory and smooth. I'll use it for all savory tarts, just because the mouthfeel and crunch is incredibly satisfying and if you make it my way, marginally better for you than a traditional pastry crust with fourteen sticks of butter. Click on the photo above to see the original recipe, in British measurements. Below is my version, for a nine-inch tart.

Cornmeal Crust:
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal (aka polenta)
1/2 cup whole wheat or white whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt (I like things salty)
4 tbsp chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
just less than 3 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
1-2 tbsp ice water

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the cornmeal, flour, and salt in a food processor and pulse about ten times.
2. Add the butter and applesauce and pulse again, no more than twenty times, until the mixture is sandy in texture. Pour in the ice water, one tablespoon at a time, and pulse several times until the "dough" pulls together in large clumps, or a ball if you're patient.
3. Refrigerate the crust mixture until cold to touch, then pat out evenly all over the bottom and sides of a nine-inch tart pan. Using a fork, prick the bottom of the crust a few times to prevent it from bubbling up in the oven. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes until firmed and barely browned.

Wild Greens and Yogurt Filling:
1 tsp olive oil
1 leek (white and light green parts only) or onion, sliced into thin strips (or use both if you like the oniony flavor)
2 bunchs leafy greens like chard, kale, arugula, spinach, etc. washed, chopped, and dried
salt and pepper, plus your chosen herbs or spices
1/3 to 1/2 cup Parmesan, Romano, and/or Pecorino cheese, grated fine
1 egg
1 cup thick nonfat plain yogurt (by thick, I mean Greek-style or "French village" yogurt you can find nowadays)

1. In your largest frying or sautee pan (or a wok, if you have one), heat the olive oil and add the onion/leek. Add in your minced garlic and herbs if you want now. Cook over medium heat until soft and translucent.
2. Pile all of your greens into the pan, sprinkle salt and pepper LIBERALLY over it. Don't skimp on the salt, even if you're watching your sodium intake, the salt helps the veggies cook (or something) and makes it yummy. That's my justification. Stir-fry the greens until soft and cooked down. There will be liquid in the pan.
3. Drain the greens mixture in a colander for ten minutes and periodically take a bunch of paper towels to squeeze out extra moisture.
4. Mix the cheese, egg, and yogurt in a bowl until smooth. Stir in the drained greens until incorporated, and pour into the crust. Bake at 400 degrees for fifteen to twenty minutes until the top is just browned and the filling is set. The filling might puff up a bit--just think of it like what quiche does in the oven.

I had a piece tonight with a quarter of a barbequed chicken (from the BBQ guys at the local farmers' market), YUMMY. If I were ever invited to a swanky dinner party, this would be my go-to dish...and those blue open-toe vintage stilettos might be my go-to shoes, if I ever learn how to walk in them.

Bonjour, darlings!

I am now less than two weeks away from jetting off to Paris and London, and so the beauty buying has (regrettably!) stopped until I hit international shores. I already have a full shopping cart at Beauty.com waiting for my return, when I am allowing myself to start buying things again.

But ah, one must prepare one's self for a trip abroad! And for a trip to France, what better than French perfume? Crazylibellule and the Poppies is an excellent little brand of solid perfumes that easily fit in your purse, your pocket, or your carry-on bag -- they're no bigger than a lipstick or lipgloss. I've brought them to work and out dancing.

Because they're solid, there's no worry of spilling liquid or breaking glass in your bag. My purse still smells like the Bond no. 9 sample cards I got in New York -- and I didn't even put the cards in this purse! (The scent was absorbed by my calendar and Moleskine notebook, and so when I transferred those to my new purse, they transferred the scent too.) And, with luggage restrictions on liquids as well as general packing space, it's great to have something portable and non-fragile. On my return from New York, I dreaded the thought that my perfumes would be smashed on my checked luggage, yet knew I couldn't carry them on either.

In addition, they stay close to your skin -- perfect for when you want someone close up to you to smell you, instead of overwhelming the entire office or dance floor with perfume. As someone who's very sensitive to other people's perfume, I try to keep my coworkers in mind when I do decide to wear fragrance to work. I had a close call at the San Francisco ballet when an already-strong perfume offender felt the need to touch up (and by touch up, I mean "take a bath in") her perfume at intermission. Nobody likes that.

So what scents do I recommend? There are three collections, and I own two scents from two of the collections. From Shanghaijava, the first collection, I have Blue Orchidee and Ananas Imperial -- Blue Orchidee is a great go-to scent for me, while Ananas Imperial is a juicy tropical one I'm hanging onto for this summer. From the newer collection, Les Divines Alcoves, I have Amoureuse and Aux Anges; today I'm wearing Amoureuse, a warm spicy rose, while Aux Anges is very similar to Blue Orchidee, but in a sweeter, more floral way for spring.

For more reviews besides "it smells pretty and doesn't break!!", check out the reviews at Now Smell This and Bois de Jasmin for the Les Divines Alcoves perfumes (the entries also contain links to their Shanghaijava reviews).

I've ordered my fragrances from La Creme Beauty, which is based in Seattle (and gives out free samples with your order!), but you can also purchase Crazylibellule and the Poppies at b-glowing.com and BeautyHabit.com. In addition, you can find the Shanghaijava collection at Anthropologie.

Ooh la la!

images from b-glowing.com

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Celebrities: They're just like us!

It's no secret that when it comes to The Office, I'm on Team Karen. (Actually, I'm on Team Jim-Doesn't-Deserve-Either-Girl. But they don't make a t-shirt for my team. ...Yet.)

But really, who can resist Jenna Fischer, especially when she's on the red carpet? Since everyone is used to seeing her as "plain Pam Beesly", it seems like everyone's surprised that, hello, she's gorgeous. I don't make an effort to be glamorous at work either, and that's why it's all the more effective to really turn it out on special occasions.

I will admit it: occasionally I am a sucker for a celebrity-endorsed product, especially if it's a celebrity I know and like. Paris Hilton? I don't think so. (Although she does have MAC lipglass in Prrr. Possibly the only thing we have in common, besides both being naturally brunette. And female.) But Jenna Fischer? You bet I'll be looking into, if not buying, something she recommends.

If you're a reader of her MySpace blog, you know that Jenna works with a stylist for her major events, but in her everyday life, she is a devoted fan of Target, as are we all. And, judging by her make-up bag's appearance in US Weekly magazine this week (as well as being featured as USmagazine.com's Look of the Day), she's also a fan of Sephora.

What does Jenna keep in her make-up bag, according to US Weekly? She's got beauty blog staples like Nars' Orgasm blush, Stila foundation, Becca concealer, and Benefit Cosmetics' Big Beautiful Eyes palette. Even on the red carpet, she's wearing Pop Beauty, Lorac, and Lancome, all Sephora-carried brands. See, even more reason to like her: she makes things easy on those of us who are easily suggestible. No frantic Googling to find the one store that carries it. No 300-dollar-an-ounce beauty potions. Just good old Sephora, where I already spend too much money anyway.

In other words? Well-played, Miss Beesly. You deserve bigger and better things than Scranton can give you.

images from usmagazine.com/wireimage.com and sephora.com

Monday, April 02, 2007

The icons you haven't met yet

Anyone who's watched America's Next Top Model for the past four "cycles" knows these words well: "You're getting the Mia Farrow in 'Rosemary's Baby' haircut". They said it to Cassandra in Cycle 5, Mollie Sue in Cycle 6, Megan in Cycle 7, and, most recently, to Jael in Cycle 8.

But really, don't we all know that that's really Jean Seberg in 1960's "Breathless", eight years before "Rosemary's Baby"? No? Maybe the reference would be lost on the ANTM girls, but not here at Periodic Style.

When asking someone about their fashion inspiration, inevitably there are a few names that automatically come up: Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Onassis, Katharine Hepburn. An entire challenge of Project Runway last season was based on the concept of designing and modernizing these icons.

But what if you want to dig deeper? I found Style.com's extensive list of beauty icons and have been spending my morning clicking through the slideshows. Here you can find Jean Seberg and Peggy Lipton listed alongside FloJo, Gemma Ward, and Louise Brooks. Style's been running their beauty icons since November of 2002, starting with Frida Kahlo, and it took them until July '06 to feature Marilyn Monroe -- to this day, Audrey, Jackie, Twiggy, Coco, and Mia have yet to make an appearance.

So take a look and see who you haven't found just yet. It's great to have someone to look up to in regards to style, and even better to have someone that won't automatically be referenced on a reality show.

images from style.com

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