Friday, July 26, 2013

Fashionable Friday: How Marshall's Screwed Me Over

A couple months ago, I started searching for a pink dress to match a necklace my friend Caleigh made. I found a bunch of inspiration on Modcloth, and fell in love with a pink peplum one. Well wound't you know, I found a similar one at Marshall's.

I also found someone who wouldn't get out of frame.
But this one had a sexy lace back!


I was thrilled! I marched to the checkout line and waited patiently for my turn at the register, but when I glanced down I noticed something on the dress. To my horror, I realized it was the number 18 written in orange highlighter on the skirt. I flew into a desperate rage, then left it with the cashier. I wasn't about to spend $18 for a dress that might have been permanently damaged. 

So the search continues. If you see a sweet pink dress, could you pick it up for me?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Thrifty Thursday: Look Like a Million Bucks When You Only Paid Five

There are risks to shopping exclusively at thrift stores - namely, someone noticing. If someone asks if you got something at Goodwill, it means one of two things:
  1. You often shop secondhand, are vocal about it, and this individual wants to know if your ensemble is part of that historic lineage
  2. You look like a pile of garbage
No judgies, here - remember what I said about pulling it off? Style is whatever makes you feel comfortable. If you like hobo-chic (or just hobo), then go for it. But if you want people to think you buy everything brand new, you'll need to be a touch more selective. 

First off, only buy items that are in great condition. If the hem is frayed, the fabric is pilled, or the collar is warped, you should let it lie. Any signs of wear make the garment off-limits. If you want to fool the public, you'll need to be discerning. I tend to see everything as a fixer-upper - "I'll replace the buttons/add a belt/take it in." All those tactics are great, but not when you want to look like a J Crew model. 

Also, pay close attention to fabrics. There's a huge difference between real silk and a polyester blend, and someone who wears the real thing everyday will spot an imitation in a heartbeat. If you want to trick someone into thinking you spend a lot of money on your clothes, avoid blends as much as you can. It can be hard to find nice cotton and silk, but the difference is noticeable. Also, check the washing instructions on the things you find; if a dress is labeled dry-clean only, make sure that the fabric looks brand new. When dry-clean only fabrics go through the dryer, they can lose the slight shininess that makes the fabric so lush. Take this Ann Taylor dress:

Thrift Trip 6-11

Thrift Trip 6-11

Thrift Trip 6-11

Thrift Trip 6-11

Thrift Trip 6-11

I gasped aloud when I found it - I didn't notice a single flaw. The fabric is still soft and shiny, and there are no frays, stains, or pills. While I wouldn't wear this dress to, say, a night at the theatre, it's perfect for a job interview. This dress would probably have cost me  more than $50 from the store, but I found it for a tenth of that price.

I love my funky style, but it doesn't scream, "adult who knows what a 401k is." Just don't think you have to abandon your thrifty roots in order to dress like a future CEO.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Poached Egg and Asparagus with Dijon Yogurt Sauce

This summer has been strange - aside from the bizarre weather, I've made some life changes that I really didn't see coming. For better or worse, here I am, waking-up every morning and living my days to their fullest. "Hair" opens this week, Stone Mountain is nearing the end of the season, and in a few weeks I'll start a new job teaching music classes to preschoolers. Sometimes I want to slam on the brakes and enjoy each moment to its full capacity, and this summer is the epitome of that feeling.

(Note: I don't feel like revising, so I apologize if the above paragraph is poorly written. Will you let it slide?)

When I feel overwhelmed, the last thing I want to do is cook. I like being in the kitchen, but it can eat up a lot of time, so I'd just as soon buy my meals from someone else. Sadly, I am poor, and must cook for myself, weather I want to or not. This dish has quickly become one of my favorites for its absolute ease. It takes only a modicum of attention, and requires no planning. Here's what you do:

  • Coat 10-15 asparagus spears with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast them in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until desired softness.
  • Make a sauce using a quarter cup Greek yogurt and a tablespoon of Dijon mustard. 
  • Crack an egg into a bowl of water; make sure the egg is submerged. Microwave the bowl for a minute, then wait 30 seconds and microwave again for another 30 seconds. Congrats, the egg is poached!
  • Plate the asparagus and drizzle with the sauce. Spoon the egg on top. 
That's IT. It's simple, delicious, and quick. You can do 30 things while this meal cooks, because it requires no attention to detail. 

If you don't think this is filling enough, slap some Cajun spices on a tilapia filet and bake it in the oven for 25 minutes. It pairs perfectly with the rest.

Egg and Asparagus with Tilapia
This is the worst picture of all time, but I just don't have the energy to worry about it.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Brussel Sprouts with Bacon REDUX

I've made brussel sprouts with bacon before, but they weren't like this. I'd like you to forget that last post even happened, because this version is way better. One of my readers (hey Becky!) sent it my way, and I am now forever in her debt. 

Girl's Night

Brussel sprouts are good; so is bacon, and bacon fat. But when you add caramelized onions and balsamic glaze, this side dish goes from "yummy" to "OHHOLYMOTHER, GET IN MY MOUTH!" I have to admit, I didn't follow the instructions to the letter; I didn't remove the onions and bacon - instead, I sauteed everything together on low for about 45 minutes. By the time we were ready to eat, the onions and bacon were black. I was worried they were over cooked - I needn't have been.

Girl's Night

Pair this dish like I did - with some red wine, a pita pizza, and a good friend. You won't be sorry.

Girl's Night

Friday, July 12, 2013

Fashionable Friday: Flower Child

I'm wearing my new jeans in honor of my tribe of flower children. Nothing like reducing a social protest movement to a simple fashion statement, eh?

Flowered jeans 

Flowered jeans

Along those lines, I made the bracelet in the summer of '08 at a store called Yucandu (think Color Me Mine, but not just for pottery). It's decoupaged with pictures of the Kent State Massacre, and Vietnam protesters standing in the Reflecting Pool in Washington. I wear it as a reminder to care, deeply, about the world around me. 

Flowered jeans
shirt: Marshall's /  jeans: Thrifted (Free People) /  sandals: Target /  earrings: Forever 21
bracelet: DIY
Flowered jeans
Attack of the five-foot hippie!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thrifty Thursday: The Best (and Worst) of Pants

You probably noticed that I love to buy dresses. It's the easiest form of shopping – one garment, no fuss. I also tend to buy a lot of blouses and tops (generally bright colored, increasingly sheer). But like so many other women, I hate shopping for pants. I never know which size to look at, because construction varies so widely from brand to brand. So when I decided to try on some pants at Goodwill, I felt I was being very brave.

I am so courageous. 

I swear to God, these were taffeta.

These leather pants from the Gap don't look half bad...

But they were the stiffest thing I've ever had on my body (THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID!)

The tragedy of a small waistband.

But I also found some really great stuff. Take these flowered jeans by Free People. They're the perfect height for me to wear during the summer – they hit just above the ankle straps on my favorite sandals. They'll also work great in the fall with boots.

Love getting Free People for three bucks.

I also found this great pair of burgundy corduroys. They're very soft and (if I do say so myself) they make my butt look fantastic.

Just singing along to some James Brown.

Gratuitous Picture of my Bottom.

But my absolute favorite find (and the one I was most nervous about) are these high-waisted shorts from Old Navy.

I smell another pin-up shoot!

When I was a kid, all of my clothes were Old Navy – I was a walking catalog. But by the time I got to college, I'd stopped shopping there altogether. I think the last time I went near one was to find a pair of jeans, and that didn't end so well. Still, I've always loved their denim, and these shorts are the best of my old and new style philosophies; they're comfortable as all get out, and they have a vintage flair that I can't resist.

Yet another Gratuitous Picture of my Bottom.

Normally, I'm a little allergic to shorts. They scare me, in away. Or rather, my bright white thighs scare me. But when it comes to my insecurities, I like to confront them head on and then ignore them. I like the shorts, so I'll wear them. And if anyone has a problem with my bright white thighs, they shove it up their shorts.

Theirs won't be as cute as mine, though.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: WeGo to Figo (When We Want Pasta)

There's a great little chain called "Figo" that has seven locations in Atlanta, and you should probably go there the next time you're craving Italian.

When you walk in the door, the first thing you'll see is a giant menu - careful, it's easy to get overwhelmed. You'll probably stand there for twenty minutes trying to make the right choice. Then someone will point out that the chalkboard on the opposite wall lists the specials and you'll have a nervous breakdown. Relax - there's no need to worry. You could pick something at random and it would be delicious. In fact, just do that; live outside the box.

When you order at the counter, you'll be given a decorated pepper grinder. It's your table number, so don't lose or trade it!

They knew I was coming.

Once seated, you'll order your drinks (and any food you forgot to ask for up front). You'll get bread from the waitstaff, and if I'm not mistaken, the dipping oil is infused with roasted red peppers. I can't say how long you'll wait for your food, but once it arrives I can guarantee that you'll devour it.

Linguine with broccolini and roasted red peppers.

Lobster ravioli - delicious, but ridiculously decadent. Split it with a friend.

*Protip: keep an eye out for the coupon books at the front counter. Their monthly specials are just enough of a reason to go by, no matter how large the electric bill was.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Fashionable Friday: The Jumpsuit Debut

I said I'd tell you when it has its coming-out party, didn't I?

Jumpsuit Debut

I wore this outfit to the opening night party for Joseph, and I couldn't have been happier with it. The shoes (wedges) are really easy to walk in, the belts are a nice weight, and the jumpsuit itself is airy. I was so confortable all night - no small feat in the Georgia swelter. I can't wait to repeat this look again and again in the coming months.

Jumpsuit Debut

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Whatever Wednesdays: Thoughts for the Start of HAIR

Last night I had my first rehearsal for HAIR at Serenbe Playhouse. Now, a meditation on nostalgia, hypocrisy, and hope.


My mother was a hippie who left college for six months to live on a commune in California with her boyfriend. That makes her the coolest mom ever. When I was little, I would ask her to regale me with stories of her wild youth, but she could never remember much. Or, the things she did remember seemed so unremarkable that she told them with great nonchalance. "Oh, I don't know - we lived in tents and grew our own food." I lived in the suburbs; it sounded magical. 


When I was a teenager, I believed that I belonged to an era decades gone; I would go to sleep wishing that I would wake-up in 1968 - or at least that the present world would transform.

I would watch the news and get mad. Ann Coulter would spew her hate all over the airwaves and I would seethe. I knew other people were upset - I could hear it from the people at my church, some friends, and a teacher or two - but no one was doing anything about it. Not even me. I was a middle-class girl doing her homework on her bed while listening to Room For Squares.


My freshman year of college, I heard there was going to be an Iraq War protest in front of the student center. I was thrilled - finally, I was among like-minded peers! My 10 AM class ended and I ran to the quad. I raced up the steps and stopped cold on the grass. Before me were five people holding sloppy posterboard signs. Two were sitting down; they all looked bored. No one even glanced their way. I silently walked into the student center and bought a pizza pretzel.

How embarrassing, to stage a protest in an echo chamber. 


I seriously considered going back to New York when Occupy Wall Street started. For the first time in my life, I saw a group of people I agreed with who were angry enough to beat their chests. I wanted so badly to abandon my comfortable life and spend my days and nights on the streets - to get arrested and yell until I was hoarse. But I was doing a show at the Alliance; I couldn't walk away from that. I felt like a fraud for choosing career over cause. Which dream is greater: the one where I'm an actress, or the one where I'm a force for good in the world? 


Historians argue about the effectiveness of protests. Some will tell you that all the hippies did was piss people off - that they undermined the causes they supported by scaring people. Considering the backlash against both the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, I'll concede that's a good point. Most people don't go for extremes. 

I do. 

I am easily swayed by the romance of 60s counterculture. I want to believe in the magic of people standing-up and demanding change - I want to believe that our leaders will listen when we cry for justice and equality.


I no longer want to live in the past. All I want is to shape the future. Sounds simple enough.

HAIR at The Little Theatre on the Square (2010)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Baked Ranchero Eggs

I can be a bit of a procrastinator. Okay - a lot of a procrastinator. Take beauty samples from Sephora: I don't want to use them all up at once. I'd rather wait until I need a little extra pampering and treat myself. The same principle holds for coupons to Einstein Brother Bagels, the odd can of Red Bull, and fresh fruit. The problem with that is coupons and beauty samples expire. Not to mention fruit. I don't know how many times I've had to scarf down three nectarines in one sitting because I saved them too long. Worse, sometimes I have to throw them away.

Thank goodness that cookbooks don't expire. I've had the smitten kitchen cookbook since Christmas, but I'd yet to use it as anything other than a coffee table book. It's lovely that way (Deb is a wonderful photographer), but I think if she came over she'd scold me. After all, she wrote the book so I (and others, I guess) would have good things to eat. And here I am, munching on Cliff Bars instead. 

If I'm honest with myself, I know I'd been putting it off because I was afraid of ruining the dishes. When the Queen of Home Cooking metaphorically hands you a tome of hallowed instructions, you really don't want to eff them up. 

Luckily, I have a Very Excellent Boyfriend who can take charge of a sorry situation. He finally used the smitten kitchen cookbook for its intended purpose.

Fritatta ala Smitten Kitchen

We couldn't decide what to have for dinner, so he thumbed through the pages and settled on the Baked Ranchero Eggs with Blistered Jack Cheese and Lime Crema.

We eliminated a couple ingredients, which was a huge disservice to the dish. If you make this yourself, please include the jalapeƱos and use only fire-roasted tomatoesAlso, use corn tortillas to make the strips; we didn't, and we should have. While the dish we made was fine, I think the omitted ingredients would make it excellent, and that's really how you deserve to eat it.

So, I've been inspired. The results weren't perfect, but the world didn't end. Maybe there's no "right time" to enjoy something. I'm making a pledge to enjoy my little luxuries, rather than saving them endlessly. I have a gift card to Massage Envy that I've been hoarding for over a year - I think this week I'll dust it off.