Merch

September 26, 2016

Fashion is going through a phase right now, with business leaders trying to figure out when and how is the best time to release new products. As fashion month progresses, more and more designers are showing “see now, buy now, and wear now” collections. Department and specialty stores alike, are struggling with seasonality and mark downs, effectively taking place before anyone can even wear the product. While retailers struggle to find the next big thing to drive sales, there is one item that is having a major resurgence; the concert tee shirt. The category has become so strong, that it has been coined with it’s own name: merch.
Merch wasn’t intended to be fashion. It was created to mark an event, and show support for your favorite artist. Until now. Merch has taken on a life of it’s own, and old concert tees have become chic collectibles. Artists from Justin Bieber, to Kanye West, are selling lines of tour inspired merchandise in  pop up stores, (Saint Pablo tour) and boutiques. Bieber has placed his Purpose Tour items at Urban Outfitters, and had an exclusive collaboration with uber high-end retailer, Barneys New York. Even Zayn Malik got into the act, with a line of “Mind of Mine” merch available exclusively on zaynmalik.com, where a 21 piece collection of items “he would like to wear”, is on sale.
But don’t think you can toss any old concert tee on with just a pair of jeans and go. Merch has been elevated to a whole new level, with street style stars making the look their own. Below are a few of our favorites:

@FILET instagram

@FILET instagram

Vetements

Vetements

graciemercedes.com

graciemercedes.com

Gigi Hadid via Harper's Bazaar

Gigi Hadid via Harper’s Bazaar

street style via Fashionista

street style via Fashionista

via Fashion Coolture

via Fashion Coolture

Coach Spring '17

Coach Spring ’17

kanye west

kanye west

Justin Bieber Purpose Tour

Justin Bieber Purpose Tour

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Crappy Dinner Parties

September 21, 2016

The other day, I saw a post on one of my favorite websites, The Kitchn, entitled “Five Rules for Hosting a Crappy Dinner Party, and Seeing Your Friends More Often.” It definitely grabbed my attention. The author’s premise was that she had stopped hosting dinner parties because they had become too overwhelming with a fulltime job, and small children. She wore herself out and became someone she didn’t want to be, trying to make sure her home was clean, the food was perfect and the kids were on thier best behavior. Through a friend she learned about the concept of the impromtu “crappy dinner party”, where people just stopped by and the party happened organically.  This version allowed the house to be in a disarray, and the food to be simple. So simple in fact,that  it could be takeout. The kids could run around and the evening would be stress free. All you need are some really close friends who wouldn’t judge to be your guests. Because this became so carefree, the author began to host more and more “crappy ” parties, and got to spend more quality time with those she loved.

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This got me thinking. Could I do it? I have gone so far as to host Sunday dinners that had a “come as you are” dress code. No shoes, no makeup, no problem. I do however tend to go all out on the food. Even when it is a simple menu, I still prepare everything with care, and rarely skip a homemade dessert. Lately, I have avoided having frequent dinner parties because I have been too busy, or so exhausted from cooking and baking all week that I would rather be antisocial than do another dish. That begged the question: Would my friends rather come over to a pile of old newspapers and dirty gym hair, than not see me at all?

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I suddenly recalled a night many years ago when we had a power failure in New York City. Some friends came over and we lit candles in the fancy silver candelabras, opened our finest champagne, and made tuna fish sandwiches. It took the edge off of an unpleasant situation, and made for a fun, memorable experience. One that was completely judgement free under the circumstances.

Maybe it is time to throw caution to the wind, and relax my standards of entertaining enough to actually RELAX and enjoy the company. So, who wants to come to my crappy dinner party?

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: “Cleaner” Cookies

September 20, 2016
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double chocolate chip with sea salt

Lately, I’ve dipped my toe into the wholesale side of my little baking enterprise which is forcing me to expand my repertoire of sweets to keep the variety fresh for my clients. Last week, I came across a tip from the esteemed chef Thomas Keller when he spoke about his version of chocolate chip cookies. In the last few days, I have employed this technique multiple times.

Keller chops his own chocolate for his cookies, rather than buying pre-made chips. Although regular old chocolate chips are great for many things, sometimes chopping up a higher quality, or different cacao percentage makes a difference. I sometimes mix the two, to get even more complexity to the cookie. But, that’s not today’s tip, although it is a great one!

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“Kitchen sink cookies” have chocolate, butterscotch, coconut, pecan and oatmeal in them, among other things!

When chopping chocolate, or nuts for cookies, place them in a fine mesh strainer to allow the dusty particles to slip through. This keeps it out of the batter, allowing you to have a more perfect definition between chocolate, nut and cookie dough.

We have three new cookies to be added to our website, Etsy, Gourmly, Echohabitude, and Chocolate.org, where we are indigo jones eats. For now, stop by Pintail coffee on the LES or Red Hook, or order from Umi Kitchen’s convenient app ( Shari’s Healthy Eats) where each meal comes with the freshly baked treat of the day.

Explosion in Chelsea

September 19, 2016

I live in the Chelsea area of New York City, just south of where the explosion occurred. There has been much speculation about the incident, mostly coming from those who don’t live here.

 

via ABCLOCAL

via ABCLOCAL

Here are some of the facts; dispute them if you wish.

The New York City emergency response teams are incredible. Within minutes, police, and fire fighters were on the scene, and in the surrounding areas. As the sirens grew louder and more insistent, it became apparent that something major was going on. Emergency vehicles sped north up Seventh Avenue, a southbound street, to get to the scene more quickly. Several blocks away, Union Square Park was closed and police searched trashcans and foliage for explosives. Subway stations across 23rd Street were shut down, and eventually an area from 14th Street to 32nd Street was also cordoned off.

After contacting a friend who lives right at the scene, I was informed that they were told to stay inside until further notice, but to be ready to evacuate if necessary. The gas company checked for possible leaks that could have triggered an explosion, while the counterterrorism units and bomb squad descended on the area as well.

Most injuries were treated at the scene, and all 29 people injured have been released from the hospital. Yes, that is 29 too many injuries, but compared to similar incidents, to have had so few injured, most of them minor, and no fatalities is not nearly as bad as it could have been. I ‘d almost call it lucky, given the circumstances.

When the second device was found, a police robot took it away. Yo! We have POLICE ROBOTS!!

Sadly, New York City’s emergency services have the most experience in matters of potential terrorism, and it was comforting to see how quickly and bravely our teams responded.

Social media is the quickest, most unfiltered way to get information. When the explosion hit and the sirens began, it was impossible to find out what was going on at first. While frantically Google-ing breaking news outlets and finding nothing, Twitter was a wealth of on the spot reports and videos. Partially because it is easy to type 140 characters from the scene, and partially because they didn’t need to confirm anything before posting, as the regular news outlets needed to.

Facebook activated its emergency system, and I received a message from them asking me to check off a box stating that I was either OK, or not in the area. Kudos to them for using the personal info they have access to for good when it is necessary.

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The emergency alert system was activated. It was a little late, but activated just the same. At 12:37, a loud alarm went off on my phone and a push notification  asked people in the area to stay away from their windows due to a suspicious package on 27th Street. At 2:35 a.m.it scared the living daylights out of me when sent out an alert that the bomb squad had removed the device safely. (BY A ROBOT YOU GUYS!!!!) If you don’t have emergency alerts activated on your phone, do it now. You never know when something could happen that you will want emergency information.

via Connor Ryan twitter

via Connor Ryan twitter

We don’t see and feel tragedy the same when we are not actually there. We cluck our tongues, we send “thoughts and prayers,” and we sometimes even text some money to the Red Cross, but unless you are living it, it’s just not the same.

We all experienced 9/11, but unless you lived in NYC, and more specifically lower Manhattan, you didn’t see the smoke, smell the burning debris, see the walking wounded, and the grief ravaged loved ones wandering around, looking for traces of those they lost. When Hurricane Sandy hit, we were without power for almost a week. Yet walk a little way uptown, and it was like nothing happened. When a woman at the gym referred the “refugees” from lower Manhattan clubs with disdain, it was truly offensive. We were grateful to have a place to charge phones and shower, but for her, it was an situation of which she had no concept. And yet those of us lucky enough to only be inconvenienced by a power outage had no real sense of what it was like for those who lost everything.
Lots of tragedy has occurred in other places, from terrorist attacks to natural disasters, and I have to admit that although I feel fear and sadness, it dissipates more quickly when the “out of sight out of mind “philosophy starts to kick in.

New Yorkers are strong and resilient. Ironically, most of us are going about their business today as if nothing out of the norm has happened.

The bulk of the public conversation, and accusations are coming from those who aren’t here to experience it firsthand.

We seem to be hesitant to call it what it is: terrorism. By definition, terrorism is “the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.” This is clearly a case of intentional violence and intimidation. Just because no Islamic group has taken responsibility, it doesn’t mean it isn’t a terrorist act. A lone, white, American, Christian with a gun, intentionally intimidating through violence fits this definition, just as well as if another race or ethnicity was involved. We don’t need to know who did it to know what to call it.

The conservative right wants to use this incident to promote Donald Trump’s agendas. Donald Trump wants this to be an act of Islamic terror so badly he can’t stand it, and he is already gloating about it. This has nothing to do with the election. As much as I relied on Twitter last night, today’s tweets on the subject are full of negative anti-Hilary rhetoric and hate. In my humble opinion, if you didn’t set the bombs yourself, or instruct your teams to do it, then it isn’t  about you. Whichever candidate you are. Our misfortune, not felt in the golden tower on Fifth Avenue, should not be a coup for a candidate, or a black mark for another.

What happened last night is a tragedy. The way the media has handled it is also tragic. Some suspect it may have been a test for bigger things to come. Some think it may have been a disgruntled voter, trying to help their candidate win some votes. Others attribute it to a homophobic incident. The reality is that it may have been anyone with any hate filled agenda. Please don’t make it worse by shifting the focus to someone or something else, just to sensationalize the story.

UPDATE: Alerts went out this morning regarding suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami, a 28 year old male, who is a naturalized American citizen.

 

Beauty Blender

September 14, 2016

I’m not a makeup expert, or a beauty blogger. In fact, there are many days where I don’t put any makeup on at all. Don’t even ask about my almost non-existant skincare ritual. But on other days, I want to look like an enhanced version of myself; one that is more polished and perfected without looking over-done.

via cultbeauty.com

via cultbeauty.com

To achieve this look, my tools of choice were mostly my fingers. Smear it on, and smooth it out were my mottos. Every beauty blogger, Youtuber, and editor swears by the Beauty Blender, but until I read a post from it’s makeup artist | creator, I didn’t give it a second glance. Now that I’ve tried it, I’m a convert. If you’re looking for a finish that is natural and flawless (or as flawless as you can get given the face beneath the makeup) then this tool is a must have.

Shaped like a bright fucshia egg, the pointy end is able to get into those hard to reach spots around your nose, and at the inner corners of the eyes. The sides are perfect for blending broader areas, such as the cheeks and forehead. You simply get it wet, squeeze the excess water out, and pat it gently around your face to blend foundation, concealer, and even blush, for a seamless look.

The patting motion keeps the makeup from being rubbed off, but blurs the edges so that they are invisable. The dampness keeps the sponge supple and absorbs less product than a dry sponge. Once you are done, there is no obvious beginning and end to your makeup; just a smooth and natural finish that makes your skin look healthier and smoother than ever before. You can even skip using foundation all over your face, and use the tool to blend concealer with your own, bare skin for a more natural effect.

Tapping takes a moment longer than smearing, but the results are well worth the time.

Have you tried the Beauty Blender yet?

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Unrecipe Of The Week: Tomato and Roasted Chickpea Salad

September 13, 2016

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It’s hard to believe that summer is officially over. The weather in New York is hovering in the 90’s, the sun is shining, and the heirloom tomatoes are still readily available at the farm stands in Union Square. Before we have to go back to tomatoes that are vagely reminiscent of styrofoam, I’ll be eating as many of these as possible. One way I’ll be doing that is with this tomato and chickpea salad. The chickpeas get pan roasted and infused with flavor, thanks to a little cumin. Add a little parsley, some salt and pepper and a quick shallot vinaigrette and toss it all with the freshest, ripest little tomatoes you can find. It doesn’t get much simpler, or tastier than this.

Tomato and Pan Roasted Chickpea Salad:

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For the chickpeas:
Heat olive oil in a pan until glistening. Add a can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed to the pan and spread them out so that they are flat and all of them make contact with surface of the pan.
Cook over medium to meduim low heat for several minutes without touching them until the bottoms are browned and they are starting to blister. Add a healthy dose of salt, and shake the pan to allow the chickpeas to cook on all sides. Be careful not to burn them. Remove the pan from the heat, and add a couple of teaspoons of ground cumin, to taste. ( These are a great high protien snack, so consider making extra to munch on !)

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For the salad:

Mix the chickpeas with a pint or two of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half, or several large tomatoes, cut into chunks. We used heirloom cherry tomatoes which come in  beautiful range of colors and shapes. Add a big handful of minced parsley, and season with salt and pepper.
Toss with olive oil, red wine vinegar and a finely minced shallot and enjoy!

We made ours in advance, and kept the shallot vinaigrette separate until just before serving, to avoid having the tomatoes marinate, but you can also mix it up in advance if you prefer.

 

Kanye Shows Us His Dystopian Future, and It Ain’t Pretty

September 12, 2016
via Allure

via Allure

I am a few days late and several dollars short on this one, but I can’t help but throw my opinion out on the Yeezy Season 4 fashion show, and everything it represented.

First of all, for those who don’t follow this type of thing, ( kudos to you for that!) Kanye West showed his Yeezy Season 4 collection last Wednesday, the first day of New York Fashion Week.

Although the clothes have been critically panned since the inception of Kanye-as-fashion designer a few years ago, the hype surrounding his shows is palpable. Last season’s spectacle at Madison Square Garden, where he debuted his much anticipated new album while having his stable of “not models” dressed in his latest collection standing on the stage was one of the most talked about shows of the season.

If we step away from the clothes for a moment, we can dwell on this season’s show itself, summing up much that is wrong with the (fashion) world in the process.

Kanye refuses to work with the fashion calendar, which painstakingly documents all of the shows, avoiding overlaps, or impossible transitions, especially for the big players. The newbies generally show at the beginning of the week. When Kanye blows through and announces his shows at the last minute, when they suit him, not the schedule, he negates the possibility of anyone with clout showing up for the newcomers premier shows, which occur at the same time. His shows are spectacles. One does not book the Garden the night before and coordinate a full on show | album release over night. He does this because he can, and that is terribly wrong on many levels. Adidas, who funds the collection, is also at fault, for allowing this disrespectful behavior to happen. The chairman of Adidas was quoted last year, stating that he would rather the company be polarizing than boring. Enter Kanye West, the master of polarizing, to save the day.

This season, he sent out the invitiations at the last minute and did not announce the location until the morning of the show. Editors, buyers and fashion press all flocked to the extreme west side at 1:30 sharp, to board busses to take them to Roosevelt Island, a spot in the East River that is not easily accessible. After being caught in horrendous traffic for 1 1/2 hours, the busses finally arrived at the island. The entire trip was well documented on social media, as the fashion flock complained of traffic, lack of water and snacks and the general horrors of riding a bus. Once there, they were subjected to being held in a waiting area in the blazing sun. The 3:00 show was rescheduled to 4:00, leaving everyone waiting even longer than anticipated. NO worries though: although there still was no water offered, there was in fact MERCH! An array of $75 tee shirts marking the occasion. The actual show began closer to 4:30, with a large group of “civilian” models standing in formation, a la Vanessa Beecroft style yet again. At least they started out that way. A few slumped to the ground, and at least one passed out. Nobody from Team Yeezy did anything about it. The clothes, once again looked like Spanx, in varying shades of nude. The audience sat wriggling in discomfort, virtually held hostage to the scene. A few enterprising editors hoofed it to the tram, or an area where waiting Ubers could pick them up for the rush hour trek back to the city. Was this all part of West’s master plan? He essentially highjacked fashion week, took the cream of the fashion crop out to a remote location, and forced them to sit in the hot sun, watching scantilly clad young women suffer to stay standing? Was this yet another turn on dystopian fiction, ala the Hunger Games or Divergent? While the fashion world disses his talent on the design front, who else could have pulled off a caper like this? Even half the Kardashians opted out of this debacle.

Later, he sent a group of well known models down the runway, bundled up in heavy outerwear, and thigh high boots, most of which were losing their heels. One model teetered to the point that one of the guests jumped up to help her walk. Another simply stopped mid- saunter and pulled hers off.

Commentary on the show blew up the Twitterverse, Snapchat and Instagram. None of it was positive. Those who didn’t make the trek were able to watch it unfold on Tidal, and a few other live streams. It was horrifying. Every publication and blog had a story on it the next morning.

As Stella Bugbee from New York Magazine’ s The Cut put it, the best thing everyone could do would be to not write about it. Yet she, and all of her colleagues did. Who really won here? Certainly not the press, the models or the public. Kanye, however, was the most talked about show of the current season. Whoever said all press is good press might be onto something.

The part that sickens me the most, is the sense of entitlement that comes with being so very entitled. With literally no regard for the comfort or treatment of his models or of his guests, he not only fed his ego by watching everyone suffer for his “art,” he also took away the opportunity to be seen from a group of young designers who have worked so hard for their craft, and struggled to get to the point that could show at fashion week. The money spent of showing to an empty room, might be the end for some of these start ups. How dare Kanye for so blithely stealing their moment, but more importantly, how dare the fashion squad for allowing him to.

While writers are criticizing him for his poorly exectuted show, bad treatment of models, and a rerun of the same items from past seasons that they panned the first time, we all know come February they will get sucked in to doing it again.

As one writer at Women’s Wear Daily summed it best,“This has become an abusive relationship. To a great extent, fashion and the press have only ourselves to blame. We’ve been world-class enablers of Kanye West, allowing him to put us at his mercy.”

The only way to stop this behavior is to boycott it. Next season, put your FOMO aside, and when that invite arrives at the last minute, JUST. SAY. NO.

Unrecipe of the Week: Grilled Peach and Burrata Salad

September 8, 2016

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We were in California recently, and had the opportunity to dine at AOC, one of the restaurants from award winning chef, Suzanne Goin. The menu is filled with an amazing array of small plates, meant to be shared. Good thing, since I don’t know how I could have narrowed in on just one or two of the seasonal and flavorful dishes on the list.

One of the first thing to come out of the kitchen was a salad made of grilled peaches and burrata, the soft, runny cousin of mozzarella. Sometimes, the simplest of dishes are the best, when the ingredients are fresh, and skillfully prepared.
The next evening, we were at a wedding, where the meal began with a green salad, topped with burrata, candied walnuts and a grilled peach.

I’ve been dreaming of it since we returned, so this weekend, I made my own version, and I’m pretty sure it will be on heavy rotation around here, until the peaches go out of season.

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Grilled Peach and Burrata Salad:

For the peaches:

Rinse and halve the peaches, and remove the pit. Cut into quarters and brush the flesh with pure maple syrup. Melt butter on a grill pan, and grill each side until you see grill marks. At this point, they will be slightly caramelized. Remove from the pan, and brush them with the maple syrup again.

For the salad:

Toss baby arugula with a little olive oil and a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar. Lay the peaches and chunks of burrata on top. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper and a drizzle of the oil and vinegar, and enjoy!

For a little added crunch, toss some shelled pistachios on top.

*If you don’t have a good, aged balsamic, make a reduction with the kind you have, to create a more mellow flavor, and an almost syrupy consistancy to drizzle. Simply cook a small amount of balsamic vinegar in a pan until it starts to reduce.

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Naked Cakes

September 6, 2016

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Naked cakes, or those which have icing on the top and between the layers but are bare on the sides have become a trend over the last few years. They have a rustic sensibility about them, and let the beauty of the cake shine through, unencumbered by too much, often cloying frosting. Not to mention the fact that they are easier to make, and to keep in the hot weather.

Earlier in the season, I had an epic cake fail. I was bringing a birthday cake to a catering gig just across town. The extreme temperatures made the cake difficult to ice, but a short stint in the fridge after the crumb coat took care of the problem, and I was able to get the it frosted and decorated without a hitch.

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As the cake sat on my lap in an Uber for the 15 minute ride, I could feel it melting. When I got it upstairs to the client, I discovered that a hunk had literally fallen off in my lap. If McGyver was a baker, he would have been proud of me. I had a thought ahead and brought a container of extra frosting along, and the tools to make repairs in case it smudged in the car. Well, this was a pretty big smudge.We’re talking a large handful of cake that plopped off! I used the icing to “glue” everything back together, and turned the cake so that the repairs were on the back. I went to wash my hands, and when I came back, I realized that the border of rosettes that I had piped along the top edge of the cake were gone. There was no icing thief, who snuck in and ate all the rosettes. They had melted, to the point that the entire cake was now dome shaped. I was scrolling through the phone trying to find the number for Billy’s Bakery, a local bakery who does cakes that start out looking very similar to this one, to see if I could just go and buy one, and add a few proprietary touches, when the group walked in for the party. At that moment, I vowed not to make another layer cake until the fall. (p.s. They were wonderful about it, and said it was delicious!)

Making a naked cake is not only the answer to my problems, but also brings the bonus of discovering that they look, and taste better than a traditional fully frosted layer cake. They also look amazing with a topping of edible flowers and fruit, rather than the standard piped decorations. Something that is simpler, tastier and and more chic than your basic run of the mill birthday cake? Count. Us. In!!!!

To make a naked cake, bake the layers as the recipe indicates. Any cake that can be made in layer cake pans, can be a naked cake.

Prepare your favorite frosting, or if you are serving it immediately, freshly whipped cream will do.

Place the first layer on the serving platter and spread a layer of frosting evenly on top. I like to use a pastry bag with a very large tip to pipe the frosting along the edge of the cake, and inside, so that when it is spread, there will be a perfect rim between the layers, and the frosting will be level. Smooth it with an offset spatula, and place the next layer carefully on top,making sure it is even. Repeat for subsequent layers. Ice the top of the cake, using the same method of piping the rim to ensure a perfect edge. If you like the look of smeared frosting on the sides, spread a thin coat of frosting on the sides and smear it along, keeping it transparent enough to allow the cake to show through. You can also accomplish this by over-filling the layers and smearing that excess along the sides.

If you would like to add fruit between the layers, place the cut fruit flat in concentric circles, paying special attention to the outer edge. You can also spread a layer of cooked fruit or preserves onto the cake before adding the frosting.

Decorate the cake as desired.I love the natural look of edible flowers, which I buy from Windfall Farms at the Union Square Greenmarket. You can also use fresh fruits and berries.
I tuck few sprigs of flowers into the sides of cake between the layers, and scatter some fruit and flowers on the plate, giving it a less contrived look than one would get with piped flowers and borders.

If it is hot, you can refrigerate the cake, pulling it out before you sit down to dinner, so that it is back to room temperature before you serve it.

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Laundry Symbols

September 1, 2016

With all of the new technology in fabrics, it’s no longer intuitive as to how to care for our clothing. A peek inside the garment reveals a tag that is often written in something akin to hieroglyphics. Just what do those symbols mean?

Fear not, help is on the way! Here is a definative guide to deciphering laundry symbols, thanks to Tide!

These symbols which look like a bucket of water represent: 1. Machine wash 2. Hand wash 3. Never wash

Tide_Desktop_ADP_PictureGuide-LaundryChecklist_washtype

The dots indicate water temperature. 1. Cold 2. Warm 3. Hot

Tide_Desktop_ADP_PictureGuide-LaundryChecklist_washtemp

The triangle is for bleach options. 1. Bleach permitted 2. Do not bleach 3. Color safe bleach only

Tide_Desktop_ADP_PictureGuide-LaundryChecklist_bleach-1

 

The circle and square icons refer to drying and dry cleaning. 1. Tumble dry 2. Do not tumble dry 3.Dry clean only 4. Do not dry clean

Tide_Desktop_ADP_PictureGuide-LaundryChecklist_tumbledry

This icon is about ironing. The same dot system applies here. 1. Iron cool 2. Iron medium 3. Iron hot 4. Do not iron

Tide_Desktop_ADP_PictureGuide-LaundryChecklist_iron

Knowing these symbols will help you take care of your clothing and prolong the life of your garments.

info via: Tide

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