Archive for March, 2014

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March 31, 2014

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This week, outraged magazine readers fought back and opted to unsubscribe from their favorite monthlies over a disagreement with the editor in chief’s choices.

First it was Vogue. People love to hate Kim Kardashian, and when Anna Wintour put her and fiancé Kanye West on the cover of this month’s issue, the backlash was strong and swift. Many readers began campaigns to cancel their subscriptions, citing that Ms. Kardashian had no right to earn the highly coveted spot. She is not a model, reached fame through a homemade porn video,and has displayed questionable fashion sense in the past. She is not only one of the most “disliked” people in the business, she is also one of the most talked about.
It is always mind boggling to me, that every time a website posts a story about Kim Kardashian, a plethora of people take the time to log in, and post a derogatory comment. First of all, websites measure click throughs and comments to gauge the popularity of a post. Each of those people clicked through, presumably read the article, and then logged in, often to tell the site that they don’t care about her and that they should stop featuring her. Those click throughs and comments all add up, and send the editor and cyber bean counters a very different message.

While we are here, let me ask you another question? When was the last time a model graced the cover of your favorite fashion bible?
Uh-huh. Not recently. Celebrities, i.e. actresses and musicians sell more magazines at the newsstand than models. Models all want to be actresses anyways (and then they get their cover stories!) actresses all want to be fashion designers, and who knows what designers want to be anymore. Kim Kardashian and Vogue just experienced a huge PR boon, thanks to all the articles, interviews and Facebook posts that came about from people expressing dismay over her cover story.

A few days later, Self magazine came under fire. They featured a photo of 2 women running a marathon in tutus, and ridiculed the look. When readers discovered that one of those women was a cancer victim and made the tutus to raise money to fight the disease, they were outraged. Self’s editor in chief, Lucy Danziger issued a quick apology, which riled up her readership even more. She subsequently spoke to the women personally, and wrote a very positive article about her. Tutu sales jumped to the point that they cannot accept anymore orders. Readers responded with threats to cancel their subscriptions.

Had this women not been a cancer patient, and her choice of running attire not been philanthropic, would the outcry have been so strong? This is a magazine about women embracing their bodies and pursuing good health through diet and fitness. Is making fun of women running in tutus keeping true to the message the magazine hopes to convey? Anyone who trains for and completes a marathon is a role model. If doing so in a tutu provides motivation, we say “go for it!” Ms. Danziger not only apologized for the faux pas, but offered to work closely with the women to support her cause. She also brought great awareness to tutu project, which in turn brought them more orders. We all make mistakes, and this was a big one. It was also resolved to the best of the magazine’s ability. Isn’t that enough?

We are living in a world where we are so spoiled, that if a magazine features something that doesn’t suit us, we retaliate. How different is this to packing up our dolls and dishes and going home when we were 5 years old and our friend didn’t want to play the way we did?

We have a right to our opinions and a thanks to the internet, a forum to express them whether anyone wants to hear them or not.

Only time will tell if the magazines in question had any significant decline to subscriptions, or if the additional press served to sell more ad pages.

Now that that is cleared up, feel free to go back to postulateing  about Gwyneth Paltrow’s “conscious uncoupling,” until someone else does something you can complian about.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Functional Style

March 27, 2014

Big name designers are looking at the practical side, taking utilitarian details and interpreting them into accessories of all kinds.

Alexander Wang takes the construction worker’s tool belt to a new level with his version in lemon yellow leather, replete with

storage for everything from coins to keys.

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Christopher Kane uses straps and plastic clips to secure his sleek, and modern take on the clutch.

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This “charming” brooch by Marc Jacobs holds everything from safety pins to guitar picks.

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Coach gets functional with their latest riff on the work boot. The thick rubber sole is ribbed for traction, and the fur lining and hardware add a chic touch.

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Backpacks are back with a vengeance, and House Of Holland adds heavy gauged zippers for extra functionality.

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Giuseppe Zanotti lets you protect your back and store your stuff, with his zip around corset style belt.

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The Skinny On Full Fat Dairy

March 26, 2014

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I only eat fat free dairy products.  I use skim milk in my coffee, and eat 0% Greek yogurt for breakfast. I do this mainly because I always do. I have been conditioned to think that fat is bad for you, and the reduction in calories from fat free products is a good thing. Also, I am perfectly satisfied with the taste and consistency, so I don’t even think to try a richer, higher fat version.

Until now. A recent study at Washington State University analyzed 400 samples of organic and conventional milk over an 18 month period and found that the organic milk contained significantly more heart healthy omega-3s than it’s conventional counterpart. It also found that whole milk had an even higher amount of omega-3s than reduced fat versions. Hmmm.

The vitamins in milk, especially vitamins A and D are fat soluble, which means they require fat to be absorbed into the body. Omega 3s are a fatty acid, so it should come as no surprise that more of them would appear in full fat milk. According to the study, the whole milk contained 50% more omega-3s than 2% milk, and 66% more than 1% milk.

The other interesting fact is the levels of omega-6 fatty acids in conventional milk were extremely high, due to the corn and grain intensive diet fed to conventional cows, vs. the mostly grass fed diet of organic cows.

Omega-6 acids promote cell rigidity and help our blood to clot by triggering an inflammatory reaction in our bodies. They are also involved in fat storage.  Omega-3 acids help calm inflammation, promote cell permeability, and metabolize glucose. While we need to have both of these in our diets, the ratio of omega -3 to omega-6 should be about 1 to 1. Due to the amount of corn and soybean oils found in many commercial products consumed in the United States, the amount of inflammatory omega-6s are much higher.

While the Department of Agriculture and other food and nutrition experts have yet to change their tune on fat in dairy products, researchers hope that this information will trigger new ways of thinking about fats in general.

photo:Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Sprouted Garlic

March 25, 2014

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We were always under the impression that once  garlic had sprouted, it was on its way out. Those green shoots were a supposed indication that the garlic had passed its prime, accompanied by the ominous warning that sprouted garlic was the cause of nasty morning-after garlic breath.

A recent study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry suggests that those green sprouts may be actually be filled with heart healthy antioxidants.

After researchers in Korea (a country that knows their garlic!) observed the growth in old heads of garlic for five days, they concluded that the seedlings contained new compounds to protect the plant against pathogens. These compounds also increased the antioxidant levels in the older bulbs.

No word on whether or not the age of the garlic has any effects on the breath issue.

Sprouting carrots, onions, chickpeas, beans and wheat may also be safe to eat, as long as they are not beginning to soften. Potatoes however, are considered poisonous once they begin to sprout, or form “eyes,” and should be avoided.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Double Denim

March 24, 2014

It seems nearly every fashion faux pas has its moment in the sun. What has long been deemed a don’t, somehow becomes a do. Take for example, the idea of wearing denim on denim.
Often referred to as the “Kentucky tuxedo,” wearing denim on the top and bottom has been seen as something worn by farmhands, and those who lack sartorial savvy. Over the last few seasons, we have been seeing it sneak up on us, and this spring, its reached a fever pitch!

There are of course rules involved in breaking this strict rule of denim wearing.
Mix the shades, don’t match them. Mixing of textures and tones make the look a bit less matchy-matchy, and adds an air of “I don’t care” chic to the look.

Keep it simple, and keep it casual. This isn’t about a denim suit, ( although we saw lots of them on the runways for men!)

When in doubt, let the experts do the mixing. Denim mixology can be a fine art, and brands like Paige Denim and Citizens of Humanity took the guesswork out of it, by making items that already mix the shades of indigo to perfection.

Here are just a few of the looks we love.

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Sneezing On The Truth

March 20, 2014

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It’s here. A runny nose, sneezing, and a dry throat. It’s clearly a cold, and it’s not fun. As I sit, blowing my nose and sneezing in duplicate, I am wondering what really happens when you sneeze. I mean, it’s a really weird feeling, and the anticipation of an oncoming sneeze is even more annoying than the sneeze itself. Some say a sneeze is the closest thing to death, and that the heart actually stops beating. Others claim a sneeze travels at the speed of 100 miles per hour. Inquiring minds want to know, so I set out to seek the truth about sneezes.

Apparently the Myth Busters were intrigued by this concept too. They clocked their sneezes using an ultra high speed camera, and found that they traveled close to 35 mph, a far cry from the 100 mph. we hear about. As for the distance that the snot traveled, neither one of them flung the phlegm farther (say that fast 5 times!) than 17 feet.

Regardless of how fast and furious our body fluids travel during a sneeze, it’s important to cover your mouth, ideally with your arm. If you use your hand to cover your mouth, please wash it immediately, because that’s how the germs get spread. (Duh.)

Scientists attribute the sneeze as the nose’s way of “rebooting. ” The pressure caused by the sneeze resets the environment in the nasal passages, allowing the bad particles we breathe in,to be trapped.

The heart does not stop during a sneeze, but it does slow down. While this could cause you to miss a beat, it is generally unnoticeable.

A sneeze starts in your nerves, which explains why you never sneeze in your sleep. Those sneeze triggering nerves go to sleep too. And just like the involuntary kick induced by tapping on the knee with a tiny mallet, our eyes close when we sneeze.

It’s common to sneeze in multiples. It often takes a few tries to get those bad particles out, making us ah-choo in twos.

Sneezes are a nuisance, but they have their place. Trying to stop them is unhealthy, and can lead to ruptured blood vessels and ear drums. If you wish to quiet a sneeze, try pressing on the area just above the upper lip, taking a deep breath, or rubbing your nose.

By the way, Gesundheit, a German phrase often uttered after someone sneezes means “good health.”

photo: Glasshouse Images

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Filling a Pastry Bag

March 18, 2014

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Somehow, every time I pull out the pastry bag, I am soon up to my elbows in icing. When I saw this genius tip, I knew I had to try it. Place the pasty bag, with the piping tips affixed, into a tall drinking glass. Fold a few inches of the bag over the edge of the glass, and place the icing, or whatever you are piping, into the bag, using the edge of the glass to scrape the excess off spatula. Once it is filled, remove the bag from the glass, gather up the sides, and pipe away!

Why didn’t I think of that?

photo: glasshouse images

Food Additives Found In Industrial Products

March 17, 2014

Riddle of the day:

What does your yoga mat have in common with your lunch?

Answer: If your lunch includes commercially baked bread, the answer just might be azodicarbonamide.

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This compound, often used to improve the texture of dough, has been shown to cause respiratory issues in factory workers who were exposed to high levels of azodicarbonamide. There is no indication that small amounts, like the amount found in bread, is actually harmful to ingest.

The fact that it is used in rubber products from yoga mats to flip flops was the red flag for many health advocates. The compound makes the rubber lighter and more flexible.

Many food products benefit from the same type of aeration, such as pastries, pizza, bread products and tortillas.

Subway was the first of many companies to be called out on the use of azodicarbonamide, and urged to find an alternative.

While we fully support taking any chemicals out of our foods, there are far more potentially lethal additives, such as BPA and potassium bromate to contend with.

The best line of defense in protecting yourself and your family from harmful food additives is to eat fresh foods, and avoid processed and packaged foods wherever possible.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Salt of the Earth

March 13, 2014

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Salt often gets a bad rap these days, taking the blame for many of our health woes. The fact is, that salt is an essential mineral that our bodies need to properly function. It also adds flavor to food, and can be a natural preservative.

There are many types of salt on the market, each with it’s own distinct flavor and texture. Before you settle for that cardboard cylinder, learn a bit about the different varieties, and how to use each one.

Table salt: Refined from underground mills, this is the most common salt. It is often found in salt shakers, and those cardboard cylinders in the supermarket. Most table salt also contains anticaking agents and iodine, which is an essential  nutrient. The flavor is non distinct and can even be a bit on the bitter side. It is higher in sodium chloride than many other salts, and because of it’s pourable texture and bland taste, it is easily over used.

Kosher salt: The most all- purpose of the bunch, and the one used most frequently by chefs. It’s larger crystals dissolve easily, disperse flavor evenly, and it’s coarse texture works well for sprinkling.

Sea salt: Similar to kosher salt, it has a coarse crystal which dissolves easily, and can also be found finely ground. Sea salt can have a slightly tinged hue, depending on it’s origin, and the minerals it contains. Pink salt, for instance, is iron rich which causes it’s rosy color.
Expect sea salt to have a slightly briny, or even sweet flavor.

Flaked sea salt, or Maldon sea salt: This quick dissolving salt from England is considered a finishing salt.  It’s soft white flakes add a brininess to already cooked foods.

Fleur de Sel: This is the cream of the salt crop. Harvested by hand in France under perfect conditions which allows it to “bloom” on the surface of the water, fleur de sel is slow dissolving, allowing the eater to savor it’s delicate flavor. Crush it in your fingers, and sprinkle it on salads, vegetables and cooked foods.

Himalayan Sea Salt: Hand mined in Pakistan, this ancient salt is thought to be the purest possible. Often used in spa treatments, or as a slab to serve food, it is also useful as both a cooking or a finishing salt.

When using flakier salts, it’s best to add them at the end, and a little can go a long way. Given the coarse or flakier texture, and the increased flavor, you may find you use less than you would when using traditional table salt. Before you just pour the salt on your food, be sure to taste it, and decide if more is really necessary.

photo: Glasshouse Images

A Sprig of Spring

March 12, 2014

Oversized corsages showed up on the runway for Fall 2015, adding a retro element to coats and suits. Why wait for next year, when you can bring a bit of much needed spring into your wardrobe, while you impatiently anticipate the change of seasons?

Dries Van Noten added orchids to the shoulder of his not so basic black dress.

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Fendi pinned a corsage on his fur shrug worn over a simple zip front coat.

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Celine added a floral touch to contrast buttoned outerwear.

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