Left: Olsenboye ($24.99) - I actually own this dress and wear it around the house constantly with big hoop earrings. It’s just as comfortable as shorts and a tee…and wayyy more impressive when friends/FedEx dudes randomly stop in.
Right: Eden Maxi Dress ($24.80) - Love the ’70s feel, love the belt, love the straplessness (maybe less so on me lately, but I still love it for you).
Last night we were laying in bed, and I felt a weird little popping sensation on the right side of my midsection. I figured it was either more ligament-stretching (whoa, does that ever hurt) or the enormous amount of pizza I’d just had for dinner settling in for the evening, but then remembered that I’m just about at 16 weeks, and that’s when you’re supposed to start feeling kicks…and early kicks feel a lot like digestion/hunger gurgles. But not exactly.
Which is what this felt like.
I told Kendrick to put his hand on my tummy, and he…OK, it was adorable, so I need to give you a visual. It went like this:
"YEAHYEAHYEAHYEAHYEAHYEAHYEAH!!!!" Plus a launch into the air and a few jumps on the bed. And the biggest smile I’ve ever seen, and the guy has quite the smile on a regular day.
I am going to be in a wedding next January in Texas. Each bridesmaid is responsible for finding her own dress as long is it is a light/bright blue. She wants the dresses to be near our knees, and seeing as I am 5’10” and fashion “backward” I was going to see if you could help me! Where would you suggest looking for a dress? I want something that is affordable (below $200 if possible).
A. Hey Michelle!
Happy to help. You can always check out the bridesmaids’ dress sections of major retailers like Ann Taylor and J.Crew - they have lots of options specifically geared towards taller bridesmaids, and the dresses come in tons of different colors. And lots of them aren’t bridesmaid-y at all - J. Crew in particular has beautiful options that I’m sure you’ll wear again. Since it’s a winter wedding, go for silver heels and jewelry, and remember a soft cream or white wrap (unless she has something specific in mind for your accessories).
One thing that you should consider: how traditional is the bride? If she’s fairly conservative, you’ll probably want to go for a simple cut with some coverage, like the first three looks, below. If she’s a bit more fashion-y, feel free to add embellishments (like ruffles) or go for something a little sexier or more modern (like the bottom row). In fact, if this is the case I’d highly recommend going for something incredible off of Rent the Runway (more info on the pros/cons here).
I remember you wrote about NYC apartment hunting on a budget awhile back. I passed on the useful info to my boyfriend and his two friends, who are moving to NYC in July. I vaguely remember that you also wrote about different cheap moving options, but I can’t seem to find it on your blog. I’d be so grateful if you can let me know how I can find that post or if you have any recommendations.
Thank you so much,
A. Hey Serena!
I think the apartment-hunting on a budget post you’re referring to is this one - most of my tips were pretty UES-centric, since that’s what I’ve had the most experience with, but there’s lots of great info in the comments if you scroll down.
I don’t recall that I did a post on cheap moving options specifically, unfortunately (“unfortunately” because that’s information I’d really like to have, given that we’re thinking of moving at some point in the next year or so). What I did was hire someone off Craigslist who turned out to be a total rip-off (the Men With A Moving Van turned out to be Man With A Hatchback), so Kendrick and I more or less moved ourselves, with my parents’ help. It was MISERABLE (3 floors down, cross town, then 4 floors up is no fun) - I chatted more about our disastrous moving day (that’s a post-move photo, above) here, if you’re interested.
One thing I did that ended up being a good idea: there were some pieces that simply weren’t going to get up the stairs without help (like a ten zillion pound and highly breakable china cabinet), and at some point I just couldn’t lift one more thing, so towards the end I ended up going into the diner next door and offering a bunch of guys who were just getting off work money to help us. They finished the job in about thirty seconds, which was equal parts embarrassing and fantastic.
In sum: I refuse to move again until I have some extra cash laying around to bribe friends (because pizza doesn’t cut it when you’re talking about that many flights of stairs) and/or hire for-real movers. In NYC, unfortunately, no one has a car and people are so desperate for moving help that those Man With A Van dudes can basically name their price.
But I’m sure that there are some great ideas out there, which is why I’m posting your question here - does anyone have suggestions for how to move in NYC on the cheap?
Once, when I was working as an administrator, I managed to up and lose the health insurance policy for the entire company. And by “lose” I don’t mean “oh jeez, where’d I put that booklet?”…I mean gone. Cancelled. Over. Because I had given the premium check to someone to mail without mentioning that it had to be sent via FedEx, and there was no return receipt…and…anyway, long story. But my point is this: I was never particularly worried. Sort of hysterical, yes…but not worried.
Because even though this was pretty much the worst thing I could possibly do in my capacity as an administrator, I had faith that everything would work out. Because it simply had to; there was no alternative. I got the health insurance company on the phone and told them, in essence, that we could either take a long time sorting out the issue and end up with it fixed, or we could go straight to getting it fixed…but either way, it was getting fixed, so it was just up to them how many hours they wanted to spend on the phone with an increasingly un-fun girl. And you know what they did? Fixed it.
There is nothing that cannot be made better; it is always just about finding a solution to the problem and making it happen, no matter what.
And this same philosophy applies nicely to cakes.
How pretty does that look? It might surprise you to learn that five minutes before this shot was taken, the cake looked like this:
Not so pretty.
On Sunday, while fussing around online in search of a great Easter-ish dessert to bring over to Mom and Dad’s, I came across a beautiful Martha Stewart recipe and thought I’d give it a shot, with a little twist or two. As you can see, things didn’t exactly go smoothly, but the cake turned out so delicious that it was completely gone within 24 hours (Francesca and I finished off the leftovers straight out of the Tupperware, forks in hand, the next afternoon).
What I did wrong with this cake was that I didn’t have parchment paper, so when I tried to turn out the cakes after they were baked, I discovered that they were cemented to the pan despite the fact that I had greased and floured them within an inch of their life. I ended up using a spatula to free them from their little prisons, and then patched up the sad spots with some extra whipped cream and heavy-handed strawberry-decorating. (Alternative fix: use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes and then top each with whipped cream and a whole strawberry, making little cakelets.)
So: if you make this cake, just go ahead and use that parchment paper. Martha sometimes (usually) does know best.
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
1 pound strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (from a 1/4-ounce envelope)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
What you do:
1. First, preheat the oven to 350F. Then butter the bottom of an 8” pan and - this is key - line it with parchment paper. (I actually used two 8” pans and divided the batter between them so I didn’t have to slice the cake in half later; that’s up to you, but adjust your baking time accordingly). Butter and flour the sides.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. In another bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the butter and 1/2 cup sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and yolks one at a time, beating thoroughly between each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
4. With the mixer on low, slowly incorporate the flour mixture and the milk, alternating between the two but beginning and ending with the flour. (I folded in a little lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice at this point, as well.) Spread the batter into the prepared pan (or pans) and bake 30-35 minutes (less if using two pans; use the toothpick test to check for doneness).
5. Let the cakes cool 10 min, then turn out onto a plate and let cool thoroughly before slicing the cake in half horizontally if you just used one pan. Place one half, cut side up, on a cake plate.
6. Now, the topping. In a small bowl, combine your thinly sliced strawberries and 1/4 cup sugar (I also added a little squeeze of lemon). Set aside.
7. Place 2 tbsp cold water in a small saucepan. Add the gelatin and let sit to soften 5 minutes, then turn the heat to low and stir until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool.
8. Use an electric mixer to beat together the heavy cream and remaining 1/4 cup sugar until very soft peaks form. Gradually add the gelatin and beat until very soft peaks form.
9. Arrange half of the strawberries over the bottom cake layer (I put a thin layer of whipped cream on first to fill in the patchy bits), and then spread whipped cream over the top, leaving a 1” border. Top with second cake, cut side down, and spread over the rest of the whipped cream, leaving a 1” border. At this point, you can either top with the rest the strawberries and serve right away, or refrigerate for a bit sans strawberries on top and then spoon them over just before you’re ready to eat.
P.S. Can you tell that I’m slowly turning into a strawberry?
I don’t know what it is; I just can’t get enough of them.
“There are beautiful and great works in the so-called literary canon, but I don’t believe reading every one of them is crucial. What is important is falling in love with writers. Those writers will lead you backward or forward to other ones, and you just keep going. You can’t write if you don’t read. There is no noble savage in literature.”—Siri Hustvedt (via oliveryeh)
Where I am now with the pregnancy, body-wise, is just a touch awkward: basically, I don’t look that pregnant yet (you can really only tell if I’m wearing a tight top, which I rarely am)…I just feel sorta not-myself and like my clothes aren’t fitting particularly well. And even though I also feel pretty sexy what with my new curvy bits and all, I’m still in a phase where I’d like to keep the “is she or isn’t she” looks to a minimum.
On the subway, for example. That gets extremely uncomfortable.
So lately I’m all about flowy, relaxed silhouettes like the outfit pictured above, which is very much “Oh, don’t worry about me, I’m just wandering through the market picking up daffodils on a lovely spring afternoon.”
It’s the blouse* here that’s obviously the showstopper: I’ve partnered up with Foley & Corinna to spend the next few months exploring some pretty ways to dress a changing shape, and we thought that this floaty, romantic wrap would be perfect for the stage I’m at right now. Like I said, what feels right at the moment is a little bit of concealment, but I suspect that as things progress I’ll be more interested in letting my tummy show with clingy (yet still comfortable) fabrics.
I think when it comes to a light-as-air outfit like this one, it’s nice to ground it with a few darker pieces in natural colors and materials, like my vintage sunglasses (50 cents!), dollar-store beaded necklace (paired with a pink Forever 21 necklace), and DIY and Anzie bracelets. I also wrapped a rope belt around my waist to give that Calypso skirt a bit more shape.
As you can tell, I was feeling so very Cover Girl ad (easy, breezy, etc). That blouse is just too gorgeous: I like to think of it as Earth Mama-With-An-Edge.
And speaking of Foley & Corinna: I’m also a huge, huge (huge) fan of their handbags, which is why I’m so excited to announce an upcoming Ramshackle Glam/Foley & Corinna giveaway of one of their classic pieces (the contest opens May 16; I’ll post a reminder here). You have got to enter this one; it’s just incredible.
(Here I am realizing that the entire time I’ve been running around on the roof taking photographs there has been a young gentleman sitting one rooftop over, watching the whole thing.)
My Chandelier Obsession Has Found A New Focal Point
Last weekend Mom and I stopped into Home Depot so I could pick up a shelf for the kitchen and scout paints (all part of the Baby-Is-Semi-Imminent Apartment Renovation Project)…and even though we’re obviously trying to save these days, I pretty much had to hand my wallet over to Mom to stop myself from buying this:
Mother’s Day is coming up on May 8, so here are some suggestions from $0 to $400 to inspire your shopping!
An adorable umbrella, like these from Dav Rain ($30/each). April showers, May flowers, etc etc…
For a new mom: Serena & Lily Market Sling ($79-$129). This is the one I’m personally planning on picking up once the baby is out of the newborn stage - I love the color, the embroidery, the breeziness…everything. The Beaba Babycook also sounds like it would make an excellent gift for that first Mother’s Day.
Cisco ūmi: This thing is expensive (about $399 plus a monthly fee), but absolutely the perfect gift for families that are far apart. Basically, what it does it allow you to video-chat, but via the TV, so you get a great, clear image without crowding the entire family around a computer screen. Best news: we have a giveaway of two (!!) sets plus a year-long subscription coming up on RG, so keep an eye out.
Anything from Rain Africa (click through for my top picks).
Donatella Cooks ($17.90 on Amazon): I’ve shot a couple of Better segments with Donatella Arpaia (above is last spring’s cocktail segment), and she is 100% as fun as she sounds in her books. Like, I-want-to-be-her-new-best-friend fun. This cookbook is great because the focus is on entertaining - she even includes outfit and decorating ideas for seasonal parties.
NARS Illuminator in Super-Orgasm* ($29): If it doesn’t make you blush to give something called “Super-Orgasm” to your Mom (and it shouldn’t; everyone’s a fan of NARS Orgasm blush by now), this is such a fun, summery little gift - it’s a shimmer lotion that you can apply anywhere to enhance your tan and give your skin a little glow.
Laughter Jour: I tried a sample of this floral, fruity new perfume (available May 2 on SpaceNK), and it’s beautiful, light, and perfect for spring.
I’m hoping you can help me… I am searching for a cute, snap-front denim shirt, specifically to wear with a pair of shorts I bought from Ann Taylor Loft. I would love to find one for less than $50-$60…any suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated!!
My favorites are the Madewell (I’ve actually been meaning to pick one up for awhile) and the Rachel Roy (…which I think just replaced Madewell as my favorite, even though it’s a bit pricier than you were looking for - plus, it’s longer in back so would be good to wear with leggings if you want a bit more coverage).
And finally, this one isn’t denim, but it’s really inexpensive ($22) and would look adorable with khaki shorts:
Giveaway: Conair Infiniti Pro Hairdryer & You Style 2-In-1 Brush
Who couldn’t use a new hairdryer and round brush? I’ve had mine for…oh…I don’t know, since college anyway (we won’t talk about how long ago that was), and it was definitely time for an upgrade. Enter: these new products, both of which Conair would like to give away to one RG reader.
Infiniti Pro Model 270 (Retail value: $40): It’s the first AC motor (in a nutshell: powerful and quiet) with a fold-away handle for easy storage. It also includes neutralizing ions to reduce frizz and enhance shine, 2/heat-2/speed switches, and a travel tote.
You Style 2-In-1 Brush (Retail value: $9.99, available in stores now): I used this like crazy on my Caymans vacation (it saved me from having to bring both a round brush and a flat brush, whee). It’s now my go-to brush for everyday: it doesn’t snarl up my hair like products of this type usually do, and the mechanism that turns it from flat brush into round brush is simple and painless.
To win both of the products pictured above, just comment below with your #1 hair-care concern.
Contest open to US and Canada residents only. Contest closes Friday, April 29, 2011.
Morgan just sent me this A Cup Of Jo post about baby names…and I had so much fun scrolling through the comments and reading everyone’s favorite names that it got me thinking: I’d really love to hear yours!
I am never spending money on restaurant crepes again.
So you may know that one of my favorite brunch spots is Yorkville Creperie…but while their enormous mimosas are worth the trip, I’m always a little annoyed at the prospect of spending ten bucks on something that consists of little more than flour and milk. Plus, I always want crepes to be a touch bigger than they are, and contain about twice as much Nutella as they do.
Solution: make them myself.
When I woke up Sunday morning, quite literally the first thought that passed through my bleary little head was “CREPES.” Followed shortly by “NUTELLA.”
I happen to have a crepe pan that I’ve never before used laying around, but a frying pan works just as well. Other than that, all you need to make these beauties are the following things:
And the very basic ingredients - nothing you don’t already have in your cupboards - that go into this.
1. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together flour and eggs (it’ll obviously be very thick and paste-y).
2. Slowly mix in the milk and water, whisking constantly.
3. Add salt and butter; beat until smooth.
4. Heat your crepe pan or frying pan and oil lightly (you need to start working with the batter right away, or the butter will begin to congeal and make it lumpy).
5. Scoop about 1/4 cup batter into the center and then tilt the pan in a circular motion until the batter spreads out evenly. Important: do not walk away from the stove at any point during this process - it’s very speedy, and you need to monitor it closely.
6. Cook the crepe for 1-2 minutes, or until the first side is lightly golden, then loosen with a spatula, flip, and cook the other side.
I was able to get 5 crepes out of this - I filled two with Nutella, bananas, and strawberries, and sprinkled the other three with lemon juice and superfine sugar. Amaaaazing.
Like I said: never going out for these things again.
The long weekend started out with a shoot for SheSpeaks at the L’Oreal Professional Academy down on Hudson (Morgan came along to help out and ended up scoring a spectacular cut from Beauty Director Daniel). See that guy in the background? That’s reader Kristin’s very sweet boyfriend, who - in a total coincidence - was the on-set cameraman. Small world, etc.
Above, the products featured during the shoot: Biolage Hydratherapie Hydrating Shampoo, Conditioning Balm, Softening Mist, and Creme Masque. We’ll be featuring a giveaway of all these products when the video airs on SheSpeaks and Ramshackle Glam, so keep an eye out.
On the way back from set, I had an ice cream emergency. Fortunately, Kendrick had the day off and was more than willing to meet me at Emack & Bolio’s for my very favorite thing. (Oh, dear. Just noticed the rather extreme difference in our cone sizes. This is something that couldn’t be helped.)
OK, Buy Buy Baby? Muuuuch better experience than Babies ‘R’ Us. The customer service was absolutely impeccable, and I left excited rather than panicky.
And: they sell Aerosmith lullaby CDs.
Maybe you need to see a close-up to understand the importance of this discovery:
THEY SELL AEROSMITH LULLABY CDS.
This is obviously the best news we’ve had in quite some time.
After Buy Buy Baby, Mom and I stopped into Cafeteria (one of my favorite spots in the city) for lunch. I had their famous macaroni and cheese; she had…that thing. (Those are fried chicken and waffle sliders, and I think they’re awfully intimidating-looking, but Mom said they were fantastic.)
So we had brunch outside at Cascabel Taqueria. The service was eh (it was their first day with outdoor tables and they were still working it out)…but the food is pretty spectacular. Not really a brunch place - there were only a couple of sorta halfhearted egg dishes - but the tacossssss. Ooh.
Recommended: the Carnitas (soft tacos filled with slow-roasted pork butt with pickled red onion).
Kendrick also had a very handsome-looking watermelon/basil margarita. One other rec, if you go: their grilled corn is some of the best I have ever had. You have to get it.
I spent the rest of Sunday puttering around the kitchen making a Strawberry Cream Cake for Easter dinner with my parents and some homemade dog treats for the kids.
I’ve said it before: there is no better dog toy than an empty peanut butter container (Lucy snagged the lid).
And finally, here we are headed over to Mom and Dad’s with a very precariously balanced cake. To say that it arrived in one piece would be false, but that was my fault - I took care of the whole “falling apart” thing while turning the cakes out of the pans, so by the time we got into a moving vehicle the damage had already been done.
But: there are few things that can’t be fixed with a little extra whipped cream.
Like Mudslides, the Rum Punches in the Caymans are nothing short of spectacular. Even without alcohol, they’re just exactly what you want to be drinking on a hot day at the beach. I watched the bartender on our boat trip make one, and it looked like 3 parts orange juice, 1 part pineapple juice, a squeeze of fresh lime, and a splash of grenadine for color (let it float on top for a pretty sunset effect).
If you’re adding alcohol (which unless you’re pregnant or underage you really should), go for a generous shot of either light or dark rum - whichever’s your preference. And of course garnish with a cherry and/or paper umbrella.
P.S. This guy recommends adding a little Hawaiian Punch to the mixture, which I think sounds fantastic.
Because despite the fact that I was a whiny pain last night (I decided that everything in my life was crashing down around my ears, when in fact nothing was particularly wrong - tons of fun, that was me), he spent the evening putting together my new Ikea cabinet.
1 very ripe banana (reserve a few thin slices from one end)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of chili powder
Pinch of salt
Handful of chocolate chips
What you do:
1. In a blender, combine together cooled pudding and banana (reserving banana slices). You can make this as chunky or as smooth as you like - I went for chunky.
2. Pour mixture into bowl and fold in cinnamon, chili powder, salt, and chocolate chips.
3. Pour pudding into small paper cups (about halfway up; see note below) and insert popsicle sticks (I didn’t have any, so I used the ends of plastic spoons). Top with a few banana slices (or you can put the banana slices into the cup before the pudding, so they’re at the top of the popsicle).
4. Freeze until firm, then peel off paper cup and serve.
Note: I made the pops pictured here wayyyy big; about half this size would be ideal, because they get a little unwieldy. I only got 3 pops out of the recipe, but you should get more like 6.