Archive for February, 2011

February 25, 2011

Happy Friday!

by Crystal Cook

It’s official – we have a book cover!

The dream is one step closer to reality. More details coming soon.

February 24, 2011

Vintage Cinema with Miss Amelia Lockwood

by Crystal Cook

In honor of Oscar week and our love of all things vintage, check out this movie review of the 1939 version of The Women – compliments of our talented actor friend, Amelia Lockwood (and yes, that is an alias!).

The Women, Hey, I’m one of those!

The 1939 version of The Women directed by George Cukor is one of my favorite films. Part of that is due to the fact that I was in a stage production of it that ran for three months when I lived in Los Angeles and it’s a very fond memory. I played Peggy (Mrs. John O’Day). She’s a small role in the play and an even smaller role in the film. I haven’t seen the most recent version, but I hear she was left out completely. Poor Peggy. ANYWAY. I wore an ill-fitting wig and a skirt with a 23″ waist. Ouch, on both counts. We know all the historical stuff about the film: it features an entire cast of women, the plot is about a backstabbing group of “friends,” all the actresses in it were the powerhouses of their day, and Joan Crawford, already 34 at the time, needed a hit and so took the smaller but pivotal role of Crystal Allen even though (in my opinion, at least) she is miscast. I think of Crystal as being manipulative but stupid (sort of a malicious version of Lena Lamont) and there is no denying the fact that Joan Crawford radiates competency and intelligence.

There are a lot of things that I like about the film, but Rosalind Russell’s Sylvia (Mrs. Howard Fowler) has to be the top of the list. Her quick delivery, while difficult to decipher on occasion, is absolutely modern and hilarious. The way she carries herself physically is self-consciously feminine and effortless all at once.  That is tough to accomplish. I find Norma Shearer’s Mary Haines (Mrs. Stephen Haines) lovely to look at but she never grabs my heart the way Sylvia does.  Sylvia’s story is the one I’m most invested in. I’d sure like to know Mrs. Howard Fowler in real life. I think we’d be fast friends. She’d share a Manhattan with me at noon and we’d never run out of conversation. The first things we would talk about would be her GLORIOUS hats. And when I could borrow them. Of course, there are things about the film that I don’t love: mainly, the message that you must be married to be Someone (the single women in the film are either home wreckers, vague-ish lesbians or VERY annoying 9-year olds who call their mothers “darling.”) Also, Mary Haines’ mother (Mrs. Mary’s Father’s Name) tells her not to confide in her girlfriends because they will gossip about her. That’s bad advice as far as I’m concerned. OF COURSE, my girlfriends are going to talk about me. I would expect nothing less. I hope they gossip about me a lot! Every crisis I have ever gotten though successfully is due to my friends hashing it out and telling me what they may have figured out while I was not around.

There is something so quaint about the way that Mary Haines finds out her husband is cheating on her. She goes to the manicurist who has a big mouth and spills the beans! Today, the manicurist is basically Twitter. Crystal (the other woman) would post some photos of herself in a bikini that she took while standing in front of a mirror in a bathroom and Stephen would be taking a shower in a glass stall behind her unaware of her shenanigans. Scandalous. And oh, so calculated. Also, the broads all go to Reno on a train to get divorced. I have no idea what the equivalent is of that today. Maybe while the divorce is happening all the girls go to Morocco and stay in a really expensive hotel while traveling around in matching Maybachs? Oh wait, that’s Sex and the City 2. Hang on, hang on, maybe those Sex and the City girls are just amalgams of The Women women! For instance, Carrie = Mary Haines/Sylvia, Samantha = Crystal/Sylvia, Miranda= Sylvia/Edith/Nancy(the masculine writer), and, stay with me, Charlotte = Peggy. Oh, look. Peggy is back! Hot Damn. AND both Joan Crawford and Sarah Jessica Parker wear lamé turbans. I think that proves it.  Listen, I’m really on to something. I gotta call my girlfriends and run this theory by them. You know, see if they like it. They’ll tell me the truth, right?

February 22, 2011

Everyone likes a good Oscar party!

by Casserole Queens

Don’t believe us? Just check out this hilarious post on  “Stuff White People Like” . Oscar parties makes the list at #74! With the Oscars quickly approaching (Feb. 27th) and wanting  to do the Oscar party justice, Casserole Queen intern Gretchen and her Mom show us how it is done! Simply follow their informative 5-step plan to impress your guests this awards season. Take it away Gretchen!

In order to host The. Best. Academy. Awards. Party. Of. The. Century. one must follow these simple steps:

Step One: Buy Entertainment Weekly’s Oscar Edition Magazine.  Not only because it houses tons of photos of ridiculously good-looking actors, but also because it will give you the nominee inside scoop (i.e. you can pretend you’ve seen the movie and look sophisticatedly chic in front of your pals.)

Step Two: Print out the nominee list.  But go a little crazy; choose a color other than Automatic Black and a font other than Times New Roman.  It’s the little things that count, eh?

Party Idea! Make a copy for each guest and tell them to highlight who they think will win. Its like fantasy football, but better.

Step Three: Put on a fancy schmancy outfit.  (When in Rome, right?)

*Warning* Even though “Black Swan” is nominee, wearing this little number will only get you a phone call from Joan Rivers.

Oh, and this one too:

Step Four: Menu + Drinks.  All of which must be  appropriately movie nominee themed, naturally.  And titled in French, because (duh) it sounds more chic.


  • Salt – Vodka Martini (Za vashe zdorovie)
  • The Fighter – Boston Beer (calm ya liwa)


  • The King’s Speech – Bass Beer (Spiffing)
  • Inception – Mind Eraser (because let’s face it, if you leave that movie with your mind intact, you’re one in a bajillion)
  • 127 hours – Water (funny eh?)


  • Biutiful – Manchego Cheese, Jamón and Olives

Hors d’oeuvre

  • How to Train Your Dragon – Wings


  • Toy Story 3 – Mac and Cheese Soup
  • True Grit – Cheese Biscuits
  • Rabbit Hole – Salad


  • Alice in Wonderland – Pavlova Heart
  • Black Swan – White Russian (white swan) Black Russian (black swan)

Step Five: What’s a party without games?  Here’s a drinking game for my lovely lushes:

  • If anyone forgets to thank their significant other while they sit there anxiously waiting the call of their name, take a drink.
  • If anyone thanks his or her mom last, take a sip of someone else’s drink.
  • If anyone says he or she is “humbled” or “blessed,” take a drink.
  • If the winner says, “I was just happy to be nominated,” take a drink.
  • If anyone cries, take a drink.
  • If a winner says, “I wasn’t expecting this and I don’t have anything prepared,” only to launch into a long acceptance speech, finish your drink.

Step Six: Ah ha!  Caught Red Handed.  You skipped Step Five.  How do I know that?  Because one bullet in step five is like, a million lush-ious sips.

Nevertheless, my cheaters and sleepers, time to roll up the red carpet and go home…with these recipes:

Mind Eraser

  • 2 oz vodka (we like vanilla vodka)
  • 2 oz coffee liqueur (we used Kahlua)
  • 2 oz tonic water

Pour vodka, kahlua and tonic water into a rocks or old-fashioned glass (but a mule glass is pretty fun, eh?). Serve with a straw.

Vodka Martini

  • 1 ½ oz vodka (Russian, if you want to get picky)
  • ¾ oz dry vermouth

Shake vodka and vermouth together with several ice cubes in a shaker. Strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with an olive and serve.

White (Swan) Russian

  • 2 oz vodka (we like vanilla best)
  • 1 oz coffee liqueur (we used Kahlua)
  • light cream

Pour vodka and coffee liqueur over ice cubes in a fancy glass. Fill with light cream and serve.

Black (Swan) Russian

  • 2 oz vodka (we like vanilla best)
  • 1 oz coffee liqueur (We used Kahlua)

Pour ingredients over ice cubes in fancy glass and serve.

Mac and Cheese Soup

  • Kosher salt
  • 4 ounces elbow macaroni (1 cup)
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 plum tomatoes, sliced ½-inch thick
  • 4 ½-inch-thick slices baguette
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 3 shallots
  • 1 carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 stalk celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 ¾ cups fat-free low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 ¼ cups 2% milk
  • 6 ounces shredded cheddar cheese (about 1 ½ cups)
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees F. Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook as the label directs; drain.

Mist a baking sheet with cooking spray and arrange the tomato and baguette slices on it in a single layer; season with salt and pepper. Bake until the bread is golden brown, about 7 minutes.

Mince the shallots, carrot and celery in a food processor. Mist a saucepan with cooking spray. Add the vegetables and cook over medium-high heat until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Gradually stir in the broth and bring to a boil; cook, stirring, until thickened, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Add the milk, cheeses and macaroni and stir until the cheeses melt. Season with pepper. Top the toasts with tomatoes; serve on the soup.

Mac and Cheese Soup online

Pavlova (Alice in Wonderland)

  • Simple meringue
  • 2 pints total of fresh fruits, such as red currants, raspberries, strawberries and a few pomegranate seeds
  • ¼ cup kirsch or Grand Marnier
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ pint heavy cream
  • Fresh mint sprigs, for garnish
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  • Meringue (makes 7-8 cups): 6 large egg whites @ room temperature, 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 1 ½ cups superfine sugar, 1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

Combine egg whites, lemon juice and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip, first on low-speed, then slowly progressing to high-speed, until soft peaks form, about 1 ½ minutes.

Slowly sprinkle the sugar a little at a time over the egg-white mixture, and whip until glossy peaks are formed, about 3 minutes.

Sift the cornstarch over the meringue and fold in.

Using a rubber spatula, spoon 3 to 4 one-cup blobs of meringue onto each prepared baking sheet, leaving 3 inches of space between each blob. Lift up sides of each blob with a small offset spatula and flip meringue back across the top, creating 6 to 8 smoothly folded pillowlike squares.

Reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees. Place baking sheet in oven; bake until meringues are crisp on outside but have a marshmallow consistency on inside, about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Check consistency by poking into the bottom of one meringue pillow. If meringues start to brown, reduce temperature to 175 degrees. Remove from oven, and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, combine fruit, kirsch and granulated sugar in a mixing bowl. Let stand, gently stirring once or twice, until soft and juicy, about 1 hour or longer, depending on the fruits.

Pour cream into chilled bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip, on medium speed, until cream is just stiff. Break meringue pillows open, and place on dessert plates. Top with whipped cream and berries. Garnish with fresh mint and a dusting of confectioners’ sugar.

Simple Meringue and Pavlova online

Corn Muffins with Green Onions and Sour Cream:

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled
  • 1 ½ cups frozen corn kernels, thawed and drained
  • 1 cup chopped green onions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Line twelve 1/3 cup muffin cups with paper liners.

Combine first 7 ingredients in large bowl

Whisk sour cream, eggs and melted butter in another bowl.

Add sour cream mixture to dry ingredients and stir just until moistened (do not overmix).

Fold in corn kernels and green onions

Divide batter equally among muffin cups.

Bake until golden, about 20 minutes.  Cool on rack.

(Can be prepared 8 hours ahead.  Cover and let stand at room temperature).

Corn muffins online

February 19, 2011

So Wrong? So Right?

by Crystal Cook

From serving as a trusty side-kick to your toaster, to elegant serve ware for your table, who wouldn’t want this amazing vintage toast rack? Chances are you probably already have one, unknowingly re-purposing it for a way to organize mail or bills. Silly rabbit, toast holders are for toast–not post!

But what do you think? Is this toast holder so wrong or so right?

Oh and PS. Ignore that adorable condiment jar the jelly is in…that, my friends, is an entirely different post!

February 16, 2011

Shrimply Elegant

by Crystal Cook

So maybe they are a little unnecessary, but I’m so in love my new shrimp cocktail servers! They are just one of the MANY milk glass items I own. If you’re a fellow collector of milk glass, show me what you’ve got! Email me your pics and I’ll share with everyone next week!

February 11, 2011

Can you feel the love?

by Sandy Pollock

My dashing man of 12 years and I don’t do Valentine’s Day. We never really have. We typically try to find a place to grab some dinner and drinks that would normally be packed if it weren’t for it being Valentine’s Day.

When February popped up on the calendar, and isles at the grocery store started to look like cans of red paint threw up everywhere, I thought I should try to embrace the holiday and post something Valentiney! So, in my attempt to be more valentine-focused, I rocked out some love cookies. They are crazy easy to make, super yummy and all around awesome.

Here’s how it went down:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

1 cup butter (softened)

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups flour

Cream together butter and sugar

Add the egg and vanilla and mix

Sift together the baking powder and flour

Add flour a cup at a time. The dough will be stiff, but if it is too stiff and does not hold together in a ball just add some water (a teaspoon at a time).

That’s what you’re looking for.

Form a ball with the dough and turn it out on a lightly floured surface.

Roll the dough out. You are looking for 1/4-inch thick cookies (they will rise in the oven a little)

Using your favorite cookie cutter, start stamping out your shapes. I was being kinda nutty and went with a heart shape. I know it’s out of the ordinary, but I’m an artist.

Time to make the icing:

2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons water

Food coloring

Stir confectioners’ sugar, corn syrup, vanilla and water together. Stir in food coloring if desired. This glaze must be stirred each time you use it. If it is not stirred before each use it will dry with a mottled look instead of a solid color.

It’s true.

I had some sprinkles so I rolled the uncooked dough in the sprinkles and into the oven they went. I think they are simple and pretty (and yummy).

The end.

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