Prize-winning contest-entering ability

Behold, my latest prize!  (Before I go any further, you should know that I enter contests – a lot.) On that note, getting a notification that I have won something – anything – is truly one of my life’s little thrills. I saw the e-mail from Fashion magazine in my inbox and my heart leapt – I won, I really, really won! This Olay Regenerist prize pack is not the first thing I have ever won – if memory serves me correctly, I think that honour goes to one of those “fashionable” mini backpacks that were all the rage circa 1994. I entered the contest for it at my local IDA drugstore, and, believe you me, I was the height of urbanity with it on. Um, no, probably not. A few years later, at about the same age I was when I won the backpack, my brother won a $500 stereo from Radio Shack. Mini backpack, stereo. You say potato, I say pototoe. Yeah.

All right, moving on, I do admit that I have won some great things throughout the years: Anna Sui sunglasses, a Rimmel makeup prize pack, movie passes, a Roots prize pack…but none of that compares to the big win my mom had a few years ago: a full appliance set of a stove, dishwasher, refrigerator, and microwave! My family likes contests.

And so, it is with a flourish that I present to you, sweet ladies and fine gentlemen, innocent children and beasts of burden under the Big Top, my $110 Olay Regenerist prize pack. The products featured above, from left to right, are:

Olay Regenerist Daily Regenerating Cleanser

Olay Regenerist  Micro-Sculpting Cream

Olay Regenerist Eye Lifting Serum (they gave me two of these!)

Olay Regenerist Eye Anti-Aging Roller

Has anyone else out there tried these products? I used the “Micro-Sculpting Cream” this morning and while it’s much too early to tell if it makes me look like a young girl of five years old, I have to say I like the smell of it. Now, what does an actual pro have to say about these products? As taken directly from Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me, 7th Edition, by Paula Begoun (this link brings you to the 8th Edition):

Olay Regenerist Daily Regenerating Cleanser is a cleanser/scrub hybrid, and the lotion base allows the polethylene beads to exfoliate without being too abrasive. It’s an OK cleansing scrub for normal to dry skin, but no product can detoxify skin (exactly what toxins are we talking about anyway? and how is this measured?), especially one that is rinsed off shortly after application.

Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream purports to be the result of 50 years of Olay research, so you’d expect this to be a breathtakingly unique formula. It’s not, and in fact it’s very similar to all of the other Regenerist moisturizers and serums (I can’t imagine what Olay was doing for 50 years, because if this is all they came up with, that would not be something to brag about). Increasing hydration can make skin cells plump, but that doesn’t restore volume to a face that is sagging due to the complex process of aging. In other words, despite the name, this is not a face-lift in a jar. Actually, the jar packaging does a disservice to the range of antioxidants in this product (it does contain more antioxidants than many Olay products). That leaves you with a decent lightweight moisturizer for normal to slightly dry skin.

Olay Regenerist Eye Lifting Serum is every bit as state-of-the-art as Olay’s other Regenerist products. In fact, Eye Lifting Serum differs little from Olay’s Regenerist Daily Regenerating Serum, Fragrance Free, which provides three times as much product for the same price. Both of these products contain silicones, glycerin, niacinamide (which can increase skin’s ceramide and free fatty acid content, among other benefits), several water-binding agents, antioxidants, and anti-irritants. You really can’t go wrong with most of the Regenerist serums or moisturizers as long as you keep your expectations realistic. In other words, Olay’s claim that these products are able to provide “dramatically younger-looking skin without surgery” is stretching the truth – plastic surgeons have not seen a decrease in new patients since the Regenerist line came on the beauty scene. But the fact remains that this fragrance-free moisturizer is an excellent option for use around the eyes or anywhere on the face. In contrast to the Daily Regenerating Serum mentioned above, this product contains mineral pigments (including mica) that impart a soft, reflective shimmer to skin. To a slight degree, this can help make dark circles under the eye look less obvious, but the effect is strictly cosmetic.

Olay Regenerist Eye Anti-Aging Roller: *no review on this product in the 7th Edition. Does anyone out there have the 8th Edition yet, who can weigh in on this? I really need to get that 8th Edition!!*

And there we have it. Based on those reviews, is there any doubt left as to why you need to buy Paula’s book? Fair, honest, informative. Even if you have the most basic skincare/makeup routine, there is going to be something in her book that will prove helpful to you. I trust her advice so much that if she would have given a completely negative review to one of the Olay products I won, I wouldn’t have used it, even though it was free. And, as you know by now, for me that’s saying a lot.

Two for the price of one

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Shoes, Madeline via Winners; tights, Secret; dress, H&M; bracelet, necklaces, brooch, and screw-in earrings, vintage.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Shoe-booties, Payless; tights, Secret; dress and belt, Le Chateau; brooch and clip-on earrings, vintage.

Yes, you have seen the blue dress before, and you can see how I wore it here. You don’t really expect me to wear something once and throw it out, do you? Do you?! Besides, the look above is not the same as the first: brighter colours, different accessories…; my hair, however, is still looking extremely squirrelly! I swear, though, my discovery of pinning brooches onto my necklace(s) has been one of the greatest things to hit my jewelry-selecting repertoire since, well, I started collecting jewelry! I suddenly have so many more necklaces with vintage-y “pendants” that can be placed anywhere on the string of beads, etc. Go back through my Fashion and Me archives and you will see many of my necklace recreations!

Have you discovered any other crafty ways to repurpose your jewelry?

P.S. Upcoming this week is Part 2 of Dear Sex and the City… If you missed Part 1, click on the hyperlink, or on the “Sex and the City” category on the right and let me know what you think!

The It Girl

Shoes, Guess via The Bay; tights, Secret; skirt, Suzy Shier; belt, Le Chateau; T-shirt, Mango; watch, bracelet, and earrings, vintage.

Five notes (plus one more) about this outfit (and one more thing):

1. You can’t tell in these pictures, but my tights are actually fishnets. For some reason, the camera wouldn’t photograph them clearly. Oh, well. You get the idea! (And, many thanks to the boyfriend’s mom, who just sent me six new pairs of tights, including these ones!!)

2. I absolutely love this T-shirt, and the fact that I got it at a discounted rate because I was an employee of Mango during my last year of school makes the whole transaction just that much more sweet. I got two compliments on it yesterday, so therefore I consider it a worthy purchase!

3. Aren’t these earrings fabulous?! They were part of my vintage haul at Christmas, and I love them!

4. I bought this skirt when I was 18 years old, i.e. 10 years ago, and there is a picture of me wearing it in one of my high school yearbooks, under the title Most Likely to Appear in Cosmopolitan. That hasn’t happened yet.

5. This red lipstick from MAC is an amazing shade for my skin and hair colour, and it’s perfectly creamy yet matte at the same time. It also stays in place forever! The shade is Amplified, if you’re curious and looking for a reason (any reason!) to go into a MAC store near you.

6. This has nothing to do with my outfit, but I went shopping for two friends’ birthday presents on Monday, and…came home with something for myself. (Dear friends, you know who are, and I didn’t buy anything for you because nothing was worthy of you! I swear!) Back to my purchase. I mentioned on my blog a while ago that I was looking for the perfect one-piece catsuit/pantsuit/jumper, and I finally found it! I was e-mailing with a friend recently about Anthropologie, so I decided to go in and check things out despite my earlier experiences with Anthropologie sticker-shock. I looked at few things in the regular-priced sections, but quickly knew there was no possible way I was going to pay what was being asked, so I half-heartedly made my way to the sale section, not really thinking the pricing would be reduced to my liking. But what’s this? A one-piece pantsuit, with a black bottom, black belt that cinches really tight at the waist, and a very pale pinkish-grey tank-style top with similar-coloured flower appliques on it? Sold to the redhead in front row with the overly excited face! Now, what did I pay? $52.45, a total that friends who know me will balk at – “SHE paid that? Amazing!” But yes, I did, and that brings my Tally It Up Experiment total to $109.23.

From my description of the pantsuit, you might have cringed and thought, “What the eff did she buy?!” but I plan to wear the famed one-piecer to an event next Friday, so I will be sure to get a shot so you can see my lover in all its glory! Now you’ll have to excuse me; I simply must clutch my pantsuit to my chest and dance with it, with rapturous, sweeping steps, to When a Man Loves a Woman.

Voyagers!

Top left, clockwise: Aren’t these the cutest salt and pepper shakers you’ve ever seen?; Lefse, lefse, everywhere lefse!; Have to have the right implements for grilling!; The Lefse House beacon.

Last Friday, the boyfriend and I decided to go for a drive out in the rambling Alberta country, and our roving spirits took us to Camrose. Those from Alberta might laugh at the fact that we consciously made the decision to make the hour-ish drive from Edmonton to Camrose, but those who scoff really have no idea what they’re missing in terms of what the boyfriend and I discovered in this small city of 15,000. Admittedly, the drive wasn’t overly exciting – a lot of flat, rolling farmland – but our intent was to lunch at The Lefse House, and lunch we did. This Scandinavian lunch and dessert bakery/cafe was amazing! The folks at Lefse House definitely don’t fool around when it comes to using the real Scandinavian food names on the menu, and, as the waitress explained to us, in their old-world methods for baking their famous lefse bread. The boyfriend had the Swedish Meatballs plate, and I had a hearty, homemade, piping-hot bowl of bacon-tortellini soup, accompanied on the side by about five pieces of lefse bread. I had never heard of lefse until last week, and now it’s all I can think about. It’s a thin, tortilla-like bread that has a very distinct sweet flavour. The waitress recommended spreading butter on it, along with sprinkling white and/or brown sugar over top, and knowing this combination was pretty much fail-safe, I downed my lefse bread in a hurry. It was SO GOOD. I don’t really like to use caps to explain it, but there’s not a lot more I can say other than that blunt, try-it-NOW phrase.

The boyfriend and I, feeling extremely satisfied, were ready to leave after our meatballs, soup, and lefse, but then, what’s this?! Dessert is included in the meal?! Jackpot! I honestly can’t remember what I had because the name was so unfamiliar to me, but know this: it was a crusty, deep–fried doughnut-like pastry covered in icing sugar. Does it matter what it was called when that’s its description? Yum! The boyfriend opted for a lemon-tart pastry, of which he was extremely complimentary as well.

Now, time to pay the bill – $8.95 each! Lefse House, I doth love you.

Onward into more Camrose territory, we stopped at Liquidation World. Why this store is in Camrose, I have no idea, but no matter – I found something to buy! Going into the 2010 Tally It Up Experiment are two chunky bangles at 2 for $10. ($10.50 for the bracelets; total spent so far in 2010: $56.78.) I also lucked out with Schick Intuition razor cartridges priced at $6.98 for a three-pack, and the boyfriend found a pair of American Eagle sunglasses for $7. Go, Liquidation World, go!

Next and last stop, Tim Hortons. I mean, come on – what Canadian road trip, no matter the length, would be complete without eating or drinking something from Tim Hortons?! Halfway through the boyfriend’s coffee and my tea, and thus, halfway home, we made one more stop where – ahem – someone got into a little altercation:

Giant Pete vs. The Boyfriend: Locked in a battle of wills.

Outmatched and outsized, the boyfriend was practically done for until Giant Pete decided to take pity on him and let him go free. It was ugly for a while, and Giant Pete looked pretty scary when he heaved that hay bale over his head, but the boyfriend, through sheer tenacity and wit, got the best of Giant Pete’s tin brain.

Food! Drink! Sales! Perilous adventures! I can’t wait for more spring-day excursions into a largely unexplored Alberta!

[Carla is leaving out the best (worst?) part of the story. Let me preface it by saying I like soup. A lot. Carla knows this.

So, we sit down, order our drinks and begin to peruse the foreign menu. The server returns slightly early, but since the menu was small we felt ready to place the order. Ever the gentleman, I let Carla order first. Carla inquires about the soup and the waitress describes a beautiful homemade bacon tortellini concoction. We look at each other, “Mmm…sounds great!” The waitress makes an astute observation that there’s two of us and says, “We have enough left for two small bowls, or one big bowl.” To which Carla replies, without hesitation, “I’ll take the big bowl.” Doesn’t even ASK if I wanted some.

Now I’m a bit irritated. Fortunately, I know her well enough that I quickly concoct a plan to return the favour. When the waitress arrives with our food I snatch her soup spoon right away and scoop up a bit of broth and as many of the hearty chunks as the utensil can handle. I then pour the contents into my mouth before she can react, proceeding to obtain 3rd degree burns on the inside of my left cheek. It’s almost been a week and I still can’t touch the wound with my tongue.

Now I owe her two.

-D ]

Just try and name a better combination…

Can’t be glamorous all the time.

…than peanut butter and chocolate. It’s the ultimate in decadent, delicious desserts, and I thank my mom for reminding me about this amazing peanut butter/chocolate square recipe. I haven’t made these squares for a couple of years and after whipping up a batch of them the other day, I was left dumbstruck as to WHY?!! How could I have forgotten how GOOD they were? It was apparent my taste buds remembered these squares quite well, though, because after I ate almost the whole pan myself within the span of a few days the boyfriend was not shy to point out “You’re having another one?” “You ate almost all of those, you know.”  Yes, I know – and I don’t care. And now you, too, can throw sensible nutrition into the wind:

Peanut Butter Squares

BASE

1 1/3 cup peanut butter (you can trick yourself into feeling good by using low-calorie PB)

1/2 cup margarine

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups Rice Krispies

2 cups icing sugar

Melt peanut butter and margarine together (you can do this in the microwave – no stove-top heating necessary! Microwaves will vary, of course, but remember to stir halfway through your melting  time). Add vanilla, Rice Krispies, and icing sugar. Press into ungreased 9 x 13″ pan.

TOPPING

1 cup chocolate chips (I used about 1 1/2 – 2 cups for a thicker chocolate layer)

4 tsp margarine

Melt chocolate chips and margarine (can also be done in microwave, just make sure to take out partway through and stir). Spread chocolate topping over base of squares. Refrigerate.

NOTES: This recipe is super-simple and there isn’t really much for me to comment on. But, if your mouth is watering for a taste of what these squares will taste like once hardened, stick the pan in the freezer for about half an hour or so and they will be ready for mass consumption much faster than if you place the pan in the fridge. This is what I did and here is the result:

Craving alert! Craving alert! These just might be getting baked two times in a row…

Let’s gossip!

At long last, Gossip Girl is back! How many of my readers are fans of the show? I know you exist, so don’t bother denying it. I’m admitting it to the world, so you can, too. I’ll be the first to say that many of the plot lines are ridiculous and soap-opera to the nth degree, but I’ve always been a big follower of scandals and animals and all their lovers, so when the women in question are as fabulously dressed as Serena and Blair, well, what do hope do I have, really, of avoiding such a salacious sensation?

No need to recap the episode – if you’re a fan you’re a fan and you’ll know what I’m talking about. And if you’re not a fan, you can look forward to my next post, which will most likely be based around a peanut butter/chocolate dessert.

Let’s get into the nitty gritty!

First, I have to comment on Serena’s over-the-knee boots in the opening scene on the street. And by comment I mean AHHHHHHH!!! Does a non-word, caps, and triple exclamation points sufficiently explain my absolute and undying love for these boots? I would sleep with them at night and pet them a la “pretty bird, pretty bird.”

The boots of my bliss.

And what a choice quote we have in the next scene from Jenny McBitch Humphries: (To Lily) “If we wanted to have sex, we would go to a hotel.” Oh, OK. Nothing to fuel the passion like a teenage tryst over a shared interest in drug smuggling. Drug mule!

While I’m on the subject, what has happened to Jenny? I have a pretty strong dislike going for her now and want to see her fall. I wish Eric would try and exact some more revenge on her. And don’t you think that drug-coat she made was cheap-looking and bordering on hideous? I can’t understand why Serena would agree to wear it after planning her entire outfit around, well, not wearing something that sounded like reindeer’s bells wishing you a Merry Christmas every time you moved. Honestly, did you hear that thing clanking and clinking whenever someone touched it? Serena, you had an OUTFIT planned – who cares if Damien gave you the bolero from hell. The drug-coat totally ruined Serena’s amazingly hot dress at the French ambassador’s ball. Black. Plunging neckline. High slit. Long sleeves. Backless. Need I say more?

Those aren’t your grandmother’s jewelled embellishments…

Blair also looked fantastic at the ball – her sparkly coat, sleek dress, braided hair, and chunky earrings were the complete package of the glamour only Blair can pull off (and maybe me too. If I was American. And crazy-rich. And lived on the Upper East Side. And had a famous fashion designer for a mother. And dated Chuck Bass. And…).

In another rip on Jenny, I thought her lipstick at the ball was too pink. The rest of her makeup looked great, and her eyes looked particularly amazing, but the lipstick…negative. Other thoughts on that?

So as not to dismiss the men of GG, has anyone else noticed Chuck’s more eccentric style of dress has gone the way of the dodo? I, like, um, like, totally get that he’s a super-high-powered business magnate…at 21 years old…but I miss his prepped-out country-club pant, shirt, and vest combos. They were so smug and languid with a very exact air of snob. I loved them.

Aaaaaand, back to Jenny again. Toward the end of the episode when Damien’s balloon-ego gets popped by Serena’s flouncy, well-manicured finger, Jenny swoops in for the kill and says coldly, “Maybe next time you won’t be so quick to dismiss me.” Who does Jenny think she is? Blair can pull off this line, Jenny can’t. No matter. Jenny’s in for more drug-smuggling high jinx in upcoming episodes, so let’s just sit back and watch until all of this inevitably blows up in Jenny’s pouty little face.

So, let’s go GG aficionados – let’s gossip! “XOXO…”

Oscar night!

Did you watch the Oscars last night? I did! Lucky for me, they were over at 10 MST time, rather than midnight for all of my eastern timezone friends. I totally missed the Golden Globes because of the whole timezone thing, so I made sure I was well aware of what was on when this time, as well as who was wearing what! I noticed that many of the dresses at this year’s Oscars were muted – lots of whiteish, goldish, silverish, nudish tones that at first glance washed some of the stars out, but upon closer scrutiny produced an overall look that I thought was glamorous and polished. Some of my favourite looks were:

Elizabeth Banks in Versace. I think she looks so elegant and poised!

Helen Mirren in Badgley Mischka. I wouldn’t wear this gown myself, but that’s because it’s meant for a striking older woman such as this!

Kristen Stewart in Monique Lhullier. She always looks so sullen and disinterested in everything, including her presenter’s speech, but I have to admit I love her dress and it’s one of the gowns from last night that I can see myself in.

Meryl Streep in Chris March. Yay for Project Runway alum Chris March! His dress isn’t one I would wear, but Meryl looks fabulous and I can’t deny her fresh and natural beauty. I think she looks lovely!

Miley Cyrus in Jenny Packham. I’m not a huge fan of Miley Cyrus (or her perpetually horrible posture on Oscar night) but I am a fan of her dress. This is another one I can see myself in. So pretty!

Sandra Bullock in Marchesa. Best actress winner Sandra wins my favourite look of the night. The total package of her dress, hair, and makeup are just so damn fabulous! I could gush about and dissect this look for a long time…

Tina Fey in Michael Kors. As soon as I saw Tina on the red carpet, I knew this was a dress I would wear, and after seeing everything else the stars had to offer, Tina’s gown is still the one dress I can most see myself in. The cut, the print, the colour, the subtle gathering on the thigh…I love, love, love it! And Tina looks great, too, of course…

Amanda Seyfried in Armani Prive. How classically beautiful does Amanda look in this picture?!

Queen Latifah in Badgley Mischka. The dress isn’t what I think is remarkable here – that would Queen Latifah herself!  I think her makeup looks simple and natural with that special touch of glamour that seems to be her signature look at red-carpet events. I do have to say, though, that’s an unfortunate shot of the woman in blue behind The Queen.

Penelope Cruz in Donna Karan. The colour and style of this dress is a combination I would never choose for myself, but I think Penelope looks gorgeous! I didn’t see her in the red carpet show, but when she came out onstage, I said “wow!” Her makeup looks perfect against her skin and the wine/burgundy shade of her dress.

Vera Farmiga in Marchesa. I didn’t think I liked Vera’s dress, but that’s because I didn’t see it from the front in a shot like this! The position of her arm and the curve and structure of the ruffles against her open hip make this dress (and her!) look amazing!

So, those are my favourite looks, for one reason or another, and while I definitely have my least favourite looks, too, I want to showcase some of my “I can’t decide if I like it or not” looks from last night. What do you think:

Deborah Ann Woll in Nicole Miller. I like the colour, the detail at the waist, the plunging neckline, and the fact that she has red hair and looks gorgeous. But do I like everything together? I just don’t know.

Rachel McAdams in Elie Saab. I am in love with the wrapping on the upper half of the dress, and the actual cut is great, too, but I think it might be the colours that are throwing me off. Too pale for her, perhaps?

Anna Kendrick in Elie Saab. In her defence, the original gown she was supposed to wear was blue and she hated it so she ended up with this one. I think it’s a pretty dress, but too close to the colour of her skin tone.

Demi Moore in Versace. Again, I think this dress is beautiful, just too close to Demi’s skin colour!

Cameron Diaz in Oscar de la Renta. OK, you can’t say that this dress is any way unattractive. The sparkles! The trim! The icy colour! I think the problem is that it just doesn’t seem Cameron to me. Her hairstyle doesn’t really suit her, either. Too stuffy…or something.

Here she is at the Vanity Fair party – doesn’t this seem so much more Cameron?

Maggie Gyllenhaal in Dries Van Noten. I feel like I should like this dress, but at the same time I can’t convince myself that I do. So I guess I don’t. Or do I? What I do know is that Maggie looks gorgeous!

So now that I’ve hmmmmed and hawed over those looks, here are the ones I saw and said to myself “No!!”

Charlize Theron in Dior. I saw someone Tweet that the patterns around her breasts looked like Cinnabons, and now that’s all I can see when I look at this dress.

Sarah Jessica Parker in Chanel. Oh, woe to one of the women whose look I was most anticipating. What is that strap across her neck? I do not like this dress at all, and when I saw her interviewed on the red carpet, she looked too tanned. Did anyone else notice that?

Zoe Saldana in Riccardo Tischi. Do I really need to say anything about this?

Carey Mulligan in Prada. I am really turned off by the cut of the front of this dress. And, Carey’s shoes look too chunky and are too strappy for such a dress as this. There’s just too much going on and you don’t know where to look!

Molly Ringwald. Her dress is actually fine, and so is her makeup; it was her blank fembot recitation of her presenter speech that bothered me. Her eyes were so wide and staring and vacant! Sorry, fellow redhead.

Mariah Carey in Valentino. I’ll say it plain: she looks stuffed into this. Also, I think her heels are too high and clash with her clutch and white dress-applique.

Now that I have gone over the whole fashion thing, I just want to make a few honorable mentions/general observations from last night:

Does best actor winner Jeff Bridges not seem like the friendliest, most easygoing man ever?!

Why did George Clooney looked pissed off every time the camera panned to him? He usually cracks a smile!

Funny line #1: Steve Martin on Meryl Streep – Anyone who works with her knows two things. “Can that woman act, and what’s up with all that Hitler memorabilia?”

Funny line #2: Robert Downey Jr. to Tina Fey on the relationship between actors and writers – It’s “a collaboration between handsome, beautiful people and you sickly mole-people.”

Haha!

What were your favourite Oscar looks and moments?


Dear Sex and the City…

Carrie: “Everything that he ever said that I interpreted as sincere is subject to interpretation, and in that case what I perceive as his feelings for me may only be reflected projections of my feelings for him.”

Miranda: “What?”

And, here we have Sex and the City. This particular scene is from Season 1, Episode 7, The Monogamists, and Carrie and Miranda are sitting at an outdoor restaurant while Carrie dissects what is going on in the early days of her burgeoning relationship with Big. In anticipation of the second SATC movie coming out in the spring, I have decided to write about, in the coming weeks, one episode, chosen at random, from each of the six seasons. Each synopsis/review will include my observations as well as the opinions of my closest SATC buddies (who very graciously agreed to help me out with this project!), in this case SM and EM.

First of all, I should describe a little bit of what’s going on in this episode. As I mentioned, Carrie is trying to figure out where she is in her relationship with Big – i.e. are they exclusive or not? This is the central storyline, and not much happens with Samantha, Charlotte, or Miranda, other than Samantha is looking for a new apartment and gets caught in flagrante but somehow still manages to pull off being haughty, not embarrassed, at being intruded upon, Charlotte is dating a man who has a rather annoying, um, oral fixation, and Miranda runs into Skipper with another woman and is suddenly interested in him – again. (By the way, what ever happened to Skipper? He seemed like Carrie’s good friend in the early episodes, but then after a while we just never see him again…).

Besides Skipper, there are actually quite a few things that happen in this episode that you never see later on when the series becomes more sophisticated and, obviously, popular. Case (s) in point: (1) Carrie and Big walking down the street arm in arm, with their arms around each other, kissing, etc. That would never happen in Season 6 or the first movie, and seems almost tacky here. Their relationship has obviously always been passionate, but to the point of being lovey-dovey on the street? So not Carrie and Big! (2) Near the beginning of the episode, to switch between scenes, a heart-shape explodes on the screen. Do I need to say any more about that?! (3) Carrie is still talking to the camera. I think that disappears either after Season 1 or sometime into Season 2. It’s just not needed as the series goes on because we know the characters by then and don’t need their actions explained to us. (4) The interviews with Carrie’s research subjects. Are these to make clear the job Carrie has? I think these also completely disappear after the first season, and I’m glad they do! (5) Samantha’s hair has way too much contrast between her dark roots and the blonde that her hair is supposed to be. Eek! (6) Charlotte’s makeup is too dark. And her hair is too short for her face shape – it looks like a half-moon! In later episodes, Charlotte’s makeup and hair always look perfect and nothing like they do in this episode. (7) Miranda is dressed in such a manly way. In the first season, her short hair and bona fide masculine look (ties, suits, baggy pants, etc.) are unflattering, but, again, I think this is a character reinforcement thing to portray Miranda’s personality.

SM actually didn’t have anything flattering to say about the fashion in this episode, and commented, “What the hell are they all wearing?” “There isn’t even a nice bag in this episode,” “I love how both Skipper and Jared’s clothes bring me back to high school. Skipper looks like he’s been shopping at Bluenotes or Randy River!” and “I have nothing good to say about a single thing anyone was wearing head-to-toe in this episode.” EM agreed for the most part, and said, “I didn’t find the fashion to be particularly striking in this episode, but I did love the yellow vintage dress Carrie had on when she met up with Stanford. So yellow, so vintage, so want!” I also want the yellow vintage dress, as well as the colour-blocked red, yellow, and black oversized clutch Carrie has when she meets up with the girls after ignoring them for weeks in favour of spending time with Big.

Which brings up my next point. When Miranda calls Carrie at the beginning of the episode to rib her for being so unavailable, Carrie realizes her friendship faux pas and remarks, “I’ve become one of those women we hate.” I agree that she has, but yet, when you have a boyfriend or husband, how does anyone not, at one point or another, become “one of those women we hate”? I think it’s inevitable, no matter how much your girlfriends grumble about you behind your back! I suppose the key is to not be a “woman we hate” for your entire relationship life. That, as SM says, “is beyond annoying.” EM makes a good point, though, when she chose to mention the power of female friendship in this instance by saying, “Isn’t it great when you have friends who you have forsaken for weeks for your new boyfriend and your ‘vows of friendship’ can be renewed after a single dinner?”

Those very vows of friendship are demonstrated even more strongly after the girls are finished their reunification dinner and on the way out of the restaurant notice Big at a table with another woman. The immediate outrage of Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte is hilarious and so true to life! I love the look Samantha gives the two other girls as they hear Carrie ask to speak to Big privately. It’s something like, “Oh, here we go. What could he possibly say to get out of this one?” And then, when Carrie finally says a rather angry goodbye to Big, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte mutter among themselves, “Here we go” as Carrie approaches them with an exasperated “I can’t believe he’s seeing other women.” Samantha’s response is a classic and loyal female friend response: “Prick.” SM identified with that part as well, saying, “I love Samantha’s dedication to her friends, when she says ‘Prick!” without even really knowing a full story, just immediate support and loathing!”

And this brings us back to the opening quote of this post, with Carrie trying to analyze with Miranda where her relationship with Big stands. Apparently they’re not monogamous, so what are they? Does he like her as much as she likes him? To take from an episode much later in the series: “And here come the questions!” Here is Carrie’s quote again:

Carrie: “Everything that he ever said that I interpreted as sincere is subject to interpretation, and in that case what I perceive as his feelings for me may only be reflected projections of my feelings for him.”

Miranda: “What?”

Haha! We women recognize what we’re doing when we say things like this, but yet we go over them again and again. As EM said, “I loved how Carrie opted to talk to Miranda rather than Big and their conversation where Carrie comes to the conclusion that everything Big has ever said that she had interpreted as sincere was open to interpretation and would have to be reanalyzed. Classic female behaviour, both talking to your friends rather than your partner and overanalyzing with said friends! Why do women do this? It can never result in anything good. It makes our female brains go berserk with our emotions and throw logic out the window so we’re storming out of parties, flirting with obnoxious men, and drunk-dialing our boyfriends, fishing for a bold gesture of undying, jealous devotion.” SM agrees, saying, “Why do we do that to ourselves? Try to figure out the underlying possible meaning of every little thing men say…turns out most of the time there really is no underlying meaning!”

Does this sound familiar to any of you? Haha!

Another typical female reaction is observed in the outdoor dinner scene with Carrie and Miranda, when Skipper walks by with another woman on his arm. Of course, Miranda had broken up with Skipper a few episodes earlier, but as soon as Skipper and his new woman (who, by the way, works at Vogue, just another little knife-in-the-heart, irritating detail) walk away, Miranda exclaims, “Who was that self-important bitch? I didn’t think that was his type.” I have a variation on this loving sentiment from many a girlfriend who saw or found out something about an ex and his new girlfriend. Women!

Carrying on (no pun intended), Carrie and Big later go to a party together, where Big’s apparent disloyalty to Carrie is rather brutally shoved in her face. A sexy, slinky woman lingers on Big’s arm as she says, “You still have my passport,” one of Big’s friends mistakes Carrie for a past date of Big’s, Julia – and from there it just gets worse and worse until Carrie leaves alone and goes to meet Stanford at party for the “3o most fabulous people under 30″ in the city. Angry and disillusioned, Carrie is acting indifferent and reckless, and when Stanford asks what went wrong with Big, Carrie answers, “He became predictable,” to which Stanford replies, “How predictable.”

Carrie then spends the rest of her time at the party with an author named Jared, who was introduced earlier in the episode as an acquaintance of Stanford’s. He’s really into Carrie, and seems even more so when Carrie calls him an “utter asshole” to which SM points out, “Why is it that some men love it when women are bitches to them? Is it because they know that usually women are only bitchy, even if it’s just slightly being a smart ass, when they aren’t all that interested?  Do they see it as an extra challenge?” I don’t know. Men, what say you?

Carrie’s blase behaviour continues, and turns ugly, as after Jared asks her to go home with him, she steps away to phone Big and says the following:

Carrie: “I just want to let you know I’m at this very cool party for very cool people under 30 and this very cool novelist wants to take me home…his name’s Jared and he’s really cute and really successful and he just put his arms around me. Here, say ‘hello,’ Jared.”

Jared (into phone): “Hello, Jared.”

Carrie: “That was Jared.”

Pretty reprehensible, don’t you think? I think most men would just hang up after that exchange and to hell with Carrie and Jared! But, Big doesn’t hang up and says he will come and meet Carrie. She agrees, and ends up waiting for him for 45 minutes because of more miscommunication between them in determining what was the street entrance and what was the front entrance of the bar Carrie was at. When Big finally discovers where Carrie is waiting for him, he argues that the street entrance is the front entrance. Carrie, not willing to concede defeat, decides to still be contrary and replies, “Depending on where you’re coming from.” More strange yet familiar female habits abound – passive-aggressive, vague answers whose only purpose is to be annoying and to irritate the men who are irritating us women!

Big has an inhuman amount of patience, however, and hears Carrie out about why she has been going crazy since the discovery that he was dating other women while still seeing (and sleeping with) her. Carrie explains that she’s sick of the runaround and just wants “someone to stand still with.” In other words, Carrie wants to be a “monagamist.” The episode ends without Big saying anything back, but instead putting his arm around Carrie as they stand still together. Carrie looks happy when he does this, which I suppose means his gesture was symbolic in terms of what she wanted. But, as we later find out, his lack of words spoke volumes because Carrie breaks up with him at the end of Season 1 due to what she feels is a lack of true intimacy between them. Big just won’t “let her in.”

EM’s opinion on the problem is summed up as such: “Ultimately, monogamy is a broad concept and everyone seems to have their own definition of what it means to them…the cardinal rule of a healthy relationship is communication, and it certainly applies to our individual definitions of monogamy. Whether it be Carrie’s “standing still for a while” or Charlotte’s “the one,” communicating with your partner about what monogamy means to you is a healthy step everyone should take early in a relationship.”

And thus, the conclusion of the first instalment of Dear Sex and the City… Next up, Season 2, Episode 15, Shortcomings.

Donning the denim

Spring is coming! Spring is coming! Besides the temperature being above zero every day, how I can tell this exclamation is true? By the simple and glorious fact that the jean jacket has been reinstated into the wardrobe, that’s how!

(Jean jacket, Roots; scarf, Ardene.)

Boots, Aldo; tights, Fruit of the Loom via Zellers; black tube-dress, Spoof; flowered top, Smart Set; necklace, street vendor in Toronto; earrings, vintage; bracelets, Claire’s.

Who else out there is excited for spring and summer? In answer to that, I picture a roomful of kids screaming “MEEEEEE!” Obviously I’m happy to have my jean jacket back in rotation, and I’m also looking forward to no gloves, not plugging the car in and waiting for it to warm up, driving with the windows down, Edmonton’s long nights when the sun doesn’t completely disappear until after 10 p.m., sandals, skirts, dresses, peep-toes sans tights, shorts, Starbucks’ Tazo Shaken Iced Passion Tea Lemonade on a hot day…and the list goes on and on!

But back to the jean jacket. Head-to-toe denim is a trend for this spring, and while I will wear my jean jacket with black, white or grey-dyed denim, I’m definitely leery about riding into the sunset as the blue-denim cowgirl. Despite my skepticism, though, after taking a look at these runway shots from D&G, I have to say I’m little bit in love with the first model’s outfit (blue denim shirt, brown belt, blue jeans, brown boots). It’s just so…modelly. Unfortunately with my 5’4″ frame, I think my chances of achieving her effortless cool and runway stomp are slim to nil.

One thing I will definitely be staying away from, however, is denim leggings. Who can wear these but the tallest, willowiest model there is? I am just imagining how stout my body would look in these, with nothing covering the key upper thigh area. Scary!

The baking beat

Two things you should know about this look: 1) I cleaned the bathroom about an hour before I started baking; 2) I took this picture myself and had three seconds to get into position. Enough said.

Baking is back! My sweet tooth never went away, just the effort that went into baking anything new and as-yet-untested. Since January, I have made the Best Brownies Ever a couple times, despite the boyfriend’s urging to make Darcy’s Squares (he loves them, I’m sick of baking them), but that’s about it. I was chatting with a friend last week, though, and he said he liked the baking posts. Hand to my ear – what?! – a male fan! So, in giving my readers what they want (SG!) – and casting out a new idea for everyone else who enjoys the labour pains (of baking) and then the satisfied feeling of flopping down on the couch in front the of TV with your baked goods, a glass of milk, a clean kitchen, and a great-smelling house, I present Butterscotch Brownies from Company’s Coming 150 Delicious Squares!

Butterscotch Brownies – described in the cookbook as “a chewy brownie with a caramel flavour.”

BASE

Butter or margarine – 1/4 cup

Brown sugar, packed – 1 cup

Egg – 1

Vanilla – 1/2 tsp

All-purpose flour – 3/4 cup

Baking powder – 1 tsp

Salt – 1/4 tsp

Chopped walnuts – 1/2 cup

Melt butter in saucepan and add it to sugar in bowl. Stir. Add egg and vanilla and stir. Measure in flour, baking powder, salt, and nuts. Mix well. Spread in greased 8 x 8″ pan. Bake in 350 F oven for 30 minutes until sides show signs of pulling away from the pan.

ICING

Butter or margarine – 2 Tbsp

Brown sugar, packed – 1/4 cup

Milk – 2 Tbsp

Icing (confectioner’s) sugar – 1 cup

Combine first three ingredients in saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool. Add icing sugar and stir well. Add more icing sugar or milk as needed to make a smooth-spreading icing. Frost brownies. Cut into squares.

MY NOTES: This is my first go at these, and in my oven, they were ready to come out after about 26 minutes, maybe even a bit less. The most annoying part of this entire process was waiting for the icing mixture to cool so I could put the icing sugar in. The actual mixing of the icing is kind of irritating, too, because you definitely need more icing sugar than the called-for 1 cup plus “maybe” more. I probably used about 1/4 cup-ish extra of milk and at least a 1 cup and a half extra of icing sugar (it was probably even more than that, so be prepared with lots of icing sugar if these squares sound appealing to you).

Right: pre-icing; Left: post-icing. Which looks more appetizing?

THE VERDICT: Because of the insane amount of icing sugar I had to use, the Butterscotch Brownie turned out very sweet and settled nicely into any cavities I might have, but so do Sour Patch Kids, and I can’t resist those – ever – so the sweetness factor isn’t really an issue for me. I digress…The icing kind of overpowers the taste of the brownie, but I will eat them anyway because they’re here, I made them, and they do taste pretty good with a cold glass of milk, but the bordering-on-maple flavour isn’t for me and I probably won’t bake them again. But that’s just my preference for chocolate overload (does anyone remember the Triple Chocolate Utopia from Dairy Queen? Heaven! And then an upset stomach for hours afterward. That’s more my dessert style.).

User comment last night from the boyfriend: “These are unbelievably sweet, but good with a glass of milk.”

Final user comment today from the boyfriend: “My teeth ache thinking of eating one of those again.”

So, will you be trying out the Butterscotch Brownies?