Monday, October 31, 2011

Car of my Dreams

Every Halloween there is something called 'Trunk or Treat' where parents park their cars in the church parking lot and decorate their trunks and then kids go from car to car asking for candy. Some people try to make their cars look spooky but not my sister.

She had one thing on her mind:

She turned her car into a Missoni for Target display.
I'm glad to see Nephew got good use out of the Christmas gift I gave him last year. I was worried he'd only wear it during our traditional English bobby Christmas dinner.

If You Want a Dreamy Costume . . .

. . . Just head to Deseret Industries,
a magical thrift store located all over The West
(it's also a nonprofit, vocational rehabilitation facility, which means there's good karma all over.)

I've had really good luck here with various dresses/costumes.
(Here I am last December when I needed
a classic holiday gown.)

And look who was parked in front the last time I went:
The most awesome car ever born.

For Halloween this year I went to the D.I.
in downtown Los Angeles hoping to recreate this:

I found this dress for $6 that originally had a white belt sewn on. I unstitched the belt and gathered the hem for volume.

I added tulle and lace sleeves for an 80's touch and borrowed my sister's crinoline.

Don't worry, I had a Beetlejuice with me so people wouldn't mistake me for PJ Harvey or Amy Winehouse.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dream Cake - Chocolate Edition

One of my aunties had a birthday and we got to celebrate it in the ultimate Halloween house.
(Here my Missoni-addicted sister and I got into a spooky mood, with Auntie Shotz enjoying her birthday cake.)

Our friend Barbara goes all out for every holiday but her Halloween decor is beyond genius.

Barbara also introduced us to the most insane chocolate cake recipe you will ever encounter.

I don't want to be a tease so I'm sharing the recipe (it's actually from Ina Garten's book Barefoot Contessa at Home):

Beatty’s Chocolate Cake

Ingredients (Note: Barbara insists on special brands for some of these ingredients and the cake is so perfect I am not going to argue against her suggestions.)

Butter, for greasing the pans

1 3/4 cups all-purpose 'King Arthur' flour - plus more for pans

2 cups sugar

3/4 cups 'Droste' cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup buttermilk, shaken

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon Madagascar Vanilla extract

1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee (also works great with decaf)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Chocolate Frosting:

6 ounces Scharffen Berger semisweet chocolate

1 teaspoon Madagascar Vanilla extract

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature

1 tablespoon instant coffee powder (again, Barbara uses decaf)

Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don't whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.

* In case I haven't made it clear how phenomenal this cake it I'll tell you this: there are very few cakes that I like and I cannot stop thinking about this one. Plus it is so rich - all you need is a tiny slice and you're good for the day.*

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What I Wore . . .

I was in a Russian-figure-skater kind of mood on Sunday.
Which means there was only one outfit for me.

My Nehru collar, flared skirt, vintage dress bought at the Annex Flea Market (now located in Hell's Kitchen):

With my golden LaROK swing coat (so sparkly):

Paired with these wonderfully-tall-but-
so-comfortable Steve Madden wedge boots:

And where did I wear this Slavic ensemble?
Oh just to The Beauty Social. And what pray tell is that? It's an 'event bringing together beauty and online social media,' sponsored by Beautylish.

I went with my Missoni-clad niece and sister.

We all sat in one of the upstairs ballrooms
at the Loews hotel in Santa Monica
and listened to some brilliant speakers.

My favorite was Claire Wineland, an exceptional girl who set up a charity for families who are affected by cystic fibrosis. She spoke (sans notes) about inner beauty and appreciating our bodies and in the end received a standing ovation.

Fresh set up a booth and I wanted to buy everything there. Sadly nothing was for sale but, I did get to try the new Sugar Passion Tinted Lip Treatment.
I use these lip balms every night before I go to bed and when I want to look like I'm not wearing any make-up (but I secretly am). My next trip to Sephora I am buying a Mini Sugar Kissing Trio. Did I mention these taste delicious as well? Not that anyone should substitute lip gloss for a meal.

Of course I had to take advantage of
every beauty-related service offered.

I had my brows 'done' at benefit, which was a first for me since they are so overwhelming to begin with. Not the most practical choice but I'm a sucker for someone applying make-up on me.

Then I had my face sprayed with foundation at Temptu.
It felt like gusts of air on my face
and I didn't want it to stop.
Notice a difference? Trust me, there is one.

I finished it off with a visit to the Goody booth.

She did a good job, right?
Isn't the lobby at Loews, great?
Too many questions?

Before I left I had to do an 'After' shot
by the step-and-repeat.

Look, I didn't go just for the gift bag, but it did warm my heart to walk away with so many goodies. Especially one with Kate Somerville's ExfoliKate (jackpot!).

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Ah, Remembering Dreamy Memories. . .

Do you know what these photos have in common?
None of them were taken in the month of October.

This last photo was taken at a Tom Cruise-themed party.

My friend lives in his old apartment, so a party where people came dressed as his movie characters was a natural fit. The following films were represented that night: Eyes Wide Shut, Valkyrie, The Last Samurai, Risky Business, Magnolia, and Interview With a Vampire.

A good time was had by all.
Who knew Tom Cruise was so much fun?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Dream Vampire

No! I'm Not talking about
the Robert Pattinson Twilight Vampire.

Nor am I referring to the CW-sexy-licious Vampire Diaries Vampires.

I'm talking about the 90's Francis Ford Coppola Vampire, Dracula.
You remember, that quasi-disastrous, maybe-awesome movie with British Heart-Throb Gary Oldman and original Indie-Darling Winona Ryder? I loved and was disappointed with that movie at the same time.

But the editorials they did to promote the film were perfect,
and so hot, that I had no choice but to forgive
Dracula and all its faults. This shoot was for the cover of the now-closed Premiere magazine and was the start of a massive crush on Mr. Oldman.

I remember Winona wore Alaia to the premiere
and I wanted to swoon
(come on, it was the early 90s and this is what people wore to be cool). Alaia is such an enfant terrible, he makes movie stars pay full price for his clothes and doesn't have a website.

Back then Gary Oldman was the perfect 90s leading man. He was British, had a temper, could be both ugly and handsome, and married a teenage Uma Thurman. Everything you could ever want in a vampire.