Friday, September 30, 2011

A military vest for all seasons: 8-way remix

Hello lovelies! Today marks my last post before my trip, but also the beginning of a remix series I'm really excited about. I've lined up eight fantastic guest posters who have agreed to feature different ways of styling an item of clothing which they self-selected from their own closet. The items range from blazers and dresses, to blouses and vests. My hope is that this series will help you see your own closet with a fresh set of eyes. Personally, I was very inspired by what they came up with, and I can't wait to share their results with you. I'm going to kick things off with my own remix. I picked a Calvin Klein military-style vest I bought at Winners over the summer. With a nod to Canada's four seasons, I thought it would be fun to show how you could style it year-round. Enjoy!

 For an edgy, downtown look, try:
Distressed white jeans + neutral knit tank + neutral booties + statement necklace + neutral bag

jeans – Dynamite; white tank – RW & Co.; knit tank – Dynamite (also here and here); booties – Old Navy; necklace – Aakriti Designs; bag – thifted (Tignanello)

Welcome spring with a garden-inspired outfit. Try:
Floral skirt + fuchsia tee + coordinating belt + dark green pumps + colourful bag and accessories
skirt – thrifted (Joseph A.) (also here and here); tee – Jacob Lingerie; belt – Anne Klein; shoes – thrifted (Naturalizer); bag – thrifted (Chloe); earrings - Le Chateau; bracelets - Aakriti Designs


For a funky wildcard pairing, try:
Sequined skirt + graphic tee + wide belt + peep-toes + motorcycle bag + fedora + scarf

skirt – Reitmans (also here); tee – Calvin Klein via Winners; belt - ?; shoes – Guess via Winners; bag – Thailand markets; hat – thrifted (also here and here); scarf (on hat) – thrifted (Garage); bracelets - thrifted

Summer's too hot for layers so use the vest on its own as a top. Try:
Voluminous skirt + wide belt + coordinating wedges

skirt – Jus d’orange (also here); belt – swapped (Salena's Collection) (also here and here); wedges – Anne Klein; bracelets – Gifted; ring - Diva; earrings – Ardene


For a safari-inspired look, try:
Animal print skirt + neutral silk button-down + animal print belt + coral necklace + gold accessories

skirt – thrifted (Joseph Ribkoff) (also here); shirt – thrifted with tags (Jalouzie) (also here); belt – thrifted ([ixi:z]; necklace - Dynamite; shoes - Elie Tahari via Winners (also here and here); watch - hand-me-down from Dad 

Bring a sundress into fall. Try:
Strapless sundress + coral cardigan + flat brown boots + coordinating belt

dress - Speechless via Winners; cardigan – thrifted (Cleo) (also here); belt - thrifted (Nygard); boots – Geox (also here and here); necklace – thrifted (Jones New York)

For a streamlined look, try:
Black turtleneck + black leggings + skinny black scarf as belt + tall black boots + oversized earrings

turtleneck – Jacob; leggings – Winners; belt – thrifted (Garage); boots – on loan from Mom; bag - Danier Leather; earrings - handmade and gifted; bracelets - thrifted; ring - Le Chateau

Warm up to winter with cozy layers. Try:
Sweater cardigan + animal print tank + green skinny trousers + shearling-style booties + vintage big cat brooch + layered bracelets

tank - Trendyland via Winners (also here); cardigan – swapped (Xhiliration); pants – Mexx (also here); booties - Sirens; brooch - vintage (Jonette Jewellery); bracelets - Le Chateau and gifted

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

All business

In an earlier outfit post, I talked about finding some good sales recently when I went to the mall to use a couple of gift cards. At Mexx, this pencil skirt was marked down from $90 to $15 and the slim cropped green trousers I'm wearing in this post were on sale for $30 from $90. In that same post, I'm wearing a pair of Old Navy booties that were originally about $32. My gift card had about $27 left on it. When I got the cash to pay for the shoes, the sales associate said they looked like they'd been worn and returned to the store. She said she could offer me a discount. I figured she'd knock 5% or 10% off. She proceeded to give me a 50% discount!! I hadn't mentioned anything to her and other than the shoes missing a price tag, I couldn't tell there was anything different about them. So I got my shoes and some socks for B as well. Don't you love when unexpectedly nice things like that happen? Equally nice was realizing how perfectly the skirt went with my big vintage stone belt when I got home!

In other updates-from-earlier-posts, thanks for the kind comments on the work situation. It was cathartic to write about it. Not that I'll be thinking much about work come Friday - B and I are going on holiday to Eastern Europe for two weeks!! 

But don't worry, I've got you covered with a series of guest posters. I gave them a remix theme so each will be showing you the versatile ways they've worn a (self-selected) item from their wardrobe. I can't wait for you all to see the results and hope you find their style as inspiring as I do!

Skirt - Mexx
Shirt - Thrifted with tags (Jalouzie) (also seen here)
Belt - Swapped (Salena's 1990) (also seen here and here)
Shoes - Guess
Bag - Dooney and Burke
Earrings - Le Chateau
Ring - Coach
Sunglasses - Boathouse

Monday, September 26, 2011

Spicy pineapple-corn salsa with shrimp

This salsa was a Southwestern-inspired mashup of what we had in the fridge, but it turned out well. I'm not sure I'd use the bean sprouts again but it could just been that I've never much liked them anyway.

 This sweet juiciness of the grilled pineapple combines well with the smoky flavour of the corn and occasional hits of searing heat from the Scotch bonnet peppers. This dish would be a nice accompaniment for barbecued meat if you omitted the shrimp.

3 corn on the cob, grilled and cut off the cob
5-6 thick slices of pineapple, grilled
12-15 shrimp, grilled
1 avocado, diced
Handful bean sprouts
2 green onions, finely chopped
 1/4 Scotch bonnet pepper, finely chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime

Gently combine ingredients in a mixing bowl. Serve at room temperature.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Easy baked artichoke dip

Unexpected guests? Last-minute potluck? Fussy eaters? No matter your awkward social scene of choice, this warm and creamy dish comes to the rescue.

Drain 2 cans of artichoke hearts, setting aside 1-2 T liquid. Roughly chop artichoke and place the in the bottom of a shallow baking dish. Add about 1 cup of grated Parmesan, 1/2 cup mayo and 1/2 cup light sour cream for every 1 cup of artichoke. Add reserved artichoke liquid. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes, until starting to bubble and turn golden. Broil for several minutes more, then cool slightly.
Serve with toasted pita points or toasted pumpernickel (as shown).

Before cooking,
Add chopped spinach.
Add roasted garlic.
Add chopped green onion. 
Add 1 seeded and finely chopped jalapeno.
After cooking,
Sprinkle with lemon juice.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Indian-spiced vegetarian burgers

You may have noticed some changes at a second glance. Let me draw your attention to the new Google Friend Connect and Bloglovin' widgets. I'm still figuring things as I go along, so please bear with me...
Today's recipe, like my sticky sweet-and-spicy wings, is adapted from the LCBO's BBQ Central guide. These burgers take time to prepare so I suggest making an extra-big batch (I doubled the recipe below) and freezing any extras.

Step 1
Wash and drain 1/2 cup dried lentils; place in a pot with 1/2 lb cubed potatoes (skin on) and one bay leaf. Cover with cold, salted water and bring to a boil. Cook until lentils and potatoes are soft. Once soft, drain, mash and cool.

Step 2
Peel and cube 1/2 cup carrots to pea-size. (Seriously, pea-size, otherwise the burgers won't hold together.) Cube 1/2 cup cauliflower to pea-size.  Bring a pot of water to a boil, add carrots and cauliflower pieces and cook until tender. Drain.

Step 3
Very finely chop 1/2 cup onion. Heat a frying pan with 3 T olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, 1 tsp each of minced ginger, dried ginger, cumin, garam masala and coriander seed, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/4 tsp ground red pepper, 6 crushed whole cardamom pods and 1 clove. Cook until dark golden brown and crispy.

Step 4
Combine the mixtures from the three steps above. Form into 4-6 patties. If it's falling apart, add a whisked egg to the mixture. Dip then patties in a bowl with 2 whisked eggs, then in a bowl with Panko breadcrumbs. Refrigerate for an hour to firm up the patties.

Step 5
Brush a large piece of foil with olive oil and place patties on top. BBQ or broil over med-high heat until nicely browned, turning once. Mine needed about 10 minutes per side. I served the patties in a toasted bun with lettuce, sliced tomato, cilantro, mayonnaise and mango chutney.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Another neutral sundress, remixed for fall

TGIF! I'm looking forward to this weekend more than most; my job's been on my mind a lot lately. Our team's working on a major, all-hands-on-deck project, so things have been really busy at the office. It's been great experience professionally and I'm not complaining. On the other hand, I got some unfortunate news this week. It turns out the promotion I qualified for will probably not happen for reasons that are completely out of my and my boss's control (to my boss's credit, she's been trying to move mountains for me and I have a sliver of optimism). Anyways, that bummed me out. Those who know me well would agree that when I set a goal for myself, I'm very driven. Reaching this particular step in my career was something I set out to achieve a couple of years ago and I wanted to make it happen by my birthday this year.

After an evening of moping, I gave myself a reality check. I have a steady, interesting and intellectually stimulating job. I really like the people I work with. There are millions of people who find themselves unemployed. I had an opportunity to act in the position for close to a year and earned the higher salary for a while. I'll probably continue to have the same level of responsibility, if not the pay, and that's good for my CV. Most importantly, I proved to MYSELF that I could do the work by qualifying for the promotion, even if it I don't end up getting it.

Sorry for the major digression and foray into my personal life. For the most part, I'm trying to stick to what I started this blog for - fashion and food! Unless you want to hear more; I'm a pretty open book! So without further ado, here's my thrifted, neutral knit top (seen in this post), worn over a sundress in a similar hue, with a dark blazer and belt (thrifted and swapped, respectively) for a transition into fall.

Dress - H&M (also seen here)
Top - Thrifted (Carolyn Taylor) (also seen here)
Blazer - Thrifted (Femme de Carriere)
Belt - Swapped (Salena's Collection) (also seen here)
Wedges - Anne Klein (also seen here)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Loaded chicken nachos

Chicken nachos make an easy weeknight meal that requires virtually no cooking or cleanup. To make them as healthy as I can, I use whole wheat tortilla chips and a high vegetable and chicken to cheese ratio. The herbs and lime impart fresh flavour.

I lined a large cookie sheet with foil and covered it with a single layer of tortilla chips. I added: 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken, 1 chopped yellow and 1 chopped red pepper, 1 cup diced fresh tomatoes, 15-20 slices of pickled jalapenos and 5-6 tablespoons of medium spicy salsa from a can. I sprinkled mozzarella cheese over top and broiled for just a couple of minutes until the cheese started to brown and bubble. After removing from the oven, I added a couple of spoonfuls of Greek yogurt mixed with an equal portion of light sour cream, and guacamole made with bit of lime juice, cumin and cayenne.  Finally, I sprinkled with chopped chives and cilantro and a good squirt of lime juice. 

Add black beans
Add chopped red onion
Substitute chives for green onion
Substitute mozzarella cheese for Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
Substitute blue corn chips

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

DIY studded jacket and coloured pants

I rarely let clothes languish in my closet, but this jacket hasn't made too many public appearances in the past couple of years. I always felt it was a little...plain, so last weekend I decided to do something about it.  I picked up some studs at fabric store and turned it into my first DIY project. The store sold a tool you're meant to use with the studs, but I just hacked away with a small kitchen knife. There are probably a million ways why you shouldn't do it like this, but I'm just saying it can be done. I haven't washed it yet but I'll probably put it the delicate cycle in a mesh bag, in case the studs come apart. 

I got the pants and shoes recently using gift cards left over from my birthday and Christmas 2010 (I'm still on my self-imposed spending freeze), with both items massively marked down. More on that in another post, I've rambled enough!

Tank - twenty-fifty b. via Winners
Jacket- Mexx
Pants - Mexx
Shoes - Old Navy
Hat - Thrifted (also here)
Scarf (on hat) - Thrifted (Garage)
Bracelets - Thrifted
Earrings - Gifted

Everybody, Everywear | Colored Pants

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Spinach-stuffed Portobello mushrooms

Emily at Tinfoils Tiaras - this one's for you ;)
Preheat oven to 375. Clean 6 portobellos, then remove and reserve stems. Scrape out black gills with a spoon and discard (I accidentally left these in and thought it still tasted fine). Lightly brush the outside of the mushrooms with extra virgin olive oil.

Either pulse-blend or hand chop 10 oz of spinach, mushroom stems, 2 oz Parmesan, ¼ cup pine nuts, 1 clove garlic, and 1 shallot (I used an equivalent amount of regular onion). Put all of these in a small mixing bowl and add 2 T low fat sour cream and 1 tsp Dijon mustard.

Divide the spinach filling among the portobellos and cook on a baking sheet for 25 minutes.

 I, along with so many others, am taking time today to reflect on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones in this tragedy, and well as to those in all countries who devote their time to building a more peaceful and just world. 

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Channelling Alexa Chung?

I know, I'm giving myself too much credit; Alexa Chung's style is oft-copied but unparalleled. But I had her eclectic, slightly tomboyish style in mind when I threw this outfit together. 

My watch is the ultimate fashion accessory in that it serves no purpose other than an aesthetic one. Even after a battery replacement, it still doesn't tell the time. I just hope no one ever asks me for it (the time, not the watch).

Skirt - Reitmans Petites (also seen here)
Top - H&M (also seen here)
Cardigan - Talbots via Winners (also seen here, here, and here)
Brogues - Libby Edelman
Tights - ?
Watch - from my Dad's closet

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Sticky sweet-and-spicy chicken wings with blue cheese dressing

Do you want the good news or the bad news first? The good news is these chicken wings are smack-your-lips and lick-your-fingers good. Oh man did I miss chicken wings in Australia (Fact: Chicken wings are not standard pub fare around the world. I learned this once I took my head out of the proverbial Canadian sand.) The bad news is, they're made with a bunch of things that aren't good for you. BUT they're not deep-fried or fried in any sense so they're better than restaurant versions. Anyways, I decided we needed a mid-week treat and made a batch from a recipe adapted from the LCBO's (that's Liquor Control Board of Ontario) free BBQ guide. Apparently the wings are best paired with Alexander Keith's dark ale. Their words, not mine.
To start, marinate 4 lbs of chicken wings/drumsticks in 1/2 cup cream, 1/2 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 T salt and 1 T chopped thyme.
Marinate for about 2 hours, then drain the chicken from the marinade. 

Mix 1/2 cup maple syrup, 1/2 cup Russian mustard, 3 T soy sauce, 6 cloves of garlic and 1 tsp chile powder. The original recipe called for 3 T lemon juice and 2 T olive oil as well, but I omitted both. In retrospect, I would have upped the chile powder a little or added some Frank's Red Hot.

Cover the chicken with the sauce, reserved some for basting. BBQ over low to medium heat, turning frequently and basting occasionally for 20-30 minutes.

Blue cheese dressing
I followed this recipe, or use a commercial version.

I served with carrot and cucumber sticks and new potatoes roasted with olive oil, thyme and garlic.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

An Hermès dress

I've been meaning to show this dress on the blog all summer, as it's one of my favourites. When I was living in Sydney, I discovered an amazing, shoebox-sized boutique in my neighbourhood called Devela. It was full of high-end designer samples, end-of-the-line items, and vintage pieces, with most of the stock priced under $50!! Heaven! Especially since the shopping scene in Sydney is incredibly expensive compared to North America.

I think I paid about $40 for this Hermès dress. Being a grad student at the time, I couldn't afford to shop much but I'd stop in every two months or so to browse, usually managing to find something special (and light enough to bring home!). The store is also where I got my Gorman sundress and my Chanel top, both of which can be seen in this post. It was great retail therapy when one of my papers was driving me up the wall or just when I was missing B, my family and friends.

I asked B to get a shot of 'the back of my dress'. Now I know he meant well but this photo makes me laugh every time.
I've worn this dress to a couple of summer weddings.  Here's a shot of B and me at one of them:

 And here's another shot of my handsome fella wearing one of my favourite shirts of his. He hates being in photos so I'm taking advantage of what I've got!

Dress - Hermès
Yellow Cardigan - Talbots via Winners (also seen here and here)
Salmon cardigan - Thrifted (Coupé) (also seen here)
Shoes - Guess
Necklace - unclaimed from lost and found box
Bracelet - Diva
Earrings - Gifted