Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A few Octavias above the rest.

For today's installment of "things Natalie finds to her liking": Octavia Spencer.

This lady ROCKED IT on the red carpet. Her Tadashi Shoji was so gorgeous, and it fit her perfectly. She's not Hollywood skinny by any means, and she proves that doesn't make a bit of difference when it comes to glamming up. Not that being nominated doesn't help, but she absolutely glowed:

It's figure flattering, and I can't get enough of the simple cut paired with the exquisite beading. Shoji should be her exclusive designer, if I do say so myself. Plus I appreciate that she wore a more consumer-friendly brand; it adds to her "we love to relate to her" vibe. She went the same route earlier this year at the Palm Springs Film Festival, where she wore David Meister:


Navy AND sparkly. *sighs lovingly and jealously*

And just for fun, look at this picture:

Woman looks and feels amazing, and you can't help but be thrilled for her.

Agreements? Arguments? Juicy details about Ms. Spencer?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tuesdays with Mara.

My blog's theme this week:

oh how I love someecards

So up now: Rooney Mara!

Rooney wore a custom Givenchy made for her by Tisci, and I think she looked absolutely spectacular.


The Fug Girls noted that the bust detailing makes it look like eyelids over her boobs, and while I definitely keep seeing that now, it doesn't make me love the dress less. It's so glorious on her; the delicacy of the color and material juxtaposes beautifully with the modernity of the gown, and I'm so glad she resisted the strapless or sweetheart neckline.

Back view:


I find the straps a bit...ace bandage...but I'm still on board.

And major kudos to her hair and makeup team:

Her beauty is almost a little unsettling, and the polished 'do and makeup reinforce it. I'd hate to see a stylist try to "girl next door" her. She's embracing being a new brand of gorgeous, and I'm investing in the IPO.

Monday, February 27, 2012


All I want to do is look at pictures of beautiful people and pretend like I'm rich and famous.

So join me! To hopefully add a little bright spot to your Monday, I present to you...Penelope Cruz's Oscars looks from recent years. If you weren't aware, Penelope Cruz is my personal favorite celebrity (looks-wise, at least. She is tied with various others for the acting-wise award), and I'm quite smitten with the woman. She rarely blunders on the red carpet, although being stupidly gorgeous helps right a lot of wrongs, of course.

Her Armani Privé this year was beautiful:

The color is divine and the cut is classy and glamorous. Do I love her hair? I do not. I think it makes her look matronly, and I would've much preferred a sleek ponytail or bun with this for some nice contrast. Otherwise, though, j'adore.

Speaking of matronly, she had JUST had a baby before last year's Oscars, and still completely rocked it in a burgundy L'wren Scott:

Why hello there cleavage, sparkly, and Javier! I wouldn't say no to jumping in their limo, if you know what I mean.

2010's Donna Karan was a big dose of 'meh' to me:

Taffeta, curtain, awkward, etc. Lady still has that face, though, so again: not unforgivable.

Her 2009 vintage Balmain takes the Best Dress award, hands down, for me:

How do you even describe how perfect that is?

Although I did also love her 2008 Chanel Haute Couture, slightly strange crotchal draping be damned:


And I can't not include her most famous look, her Atelier Versace from 2007:

all pictures from all over the internet when you Google "Penelope Cruz Oscars"

I like but don't love this one, although the craftsmanship and wow factors are definitely notable.

And thus, my rankings:

1) 2009's Balmain
2) 2008's Chanel
3) 2012's Armani Privé
4) 2011's L'wren Scott
5) 2007's Atelier Versace
6) 2010's Donna Karan

Et vous, readers?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A little perfection, or: Pina.

One of the loveliest ladies in the land, Katie, and I went to see Pina last night at the Violet Crown. First of all, if you haven't been to the Violet Crown, get yourself over there! Reserved seating, reasonably priced drinks and snacks, small theaters with great acoustics and no bad seats, and validated parking! Yes, please.

But more importantly, go see Pina. There is so much I want to say about this movie, but I'll be as succinct as I can. Wim Wenders directed the film as a tribute to renowned choreographer Pina Bausch who died in 2009 and whose works are simply stunning. The film showcases pieces of some of her major works, most of which are informed by the physical characteristics of the spaces in which they are danced: Cafe Müller necessitates a stage covered in chairs and tables, Le Sacre du Printemps calls for the stage to be completely covered in soil, and Vollmond requires a giant rock and torrents of rain. However, beyond and eclipsing the physicalities of the dances is the dancers' presenting themselves as absolutely basic human emotions (if you can argue that something like yearning is basic, that is). The choreography is so intricate, varied, and new that it's dreamlike and surreal while also feeling completely natural. I found myself wondering alternately "how in the world did this woman craft something so intense and exotic" and "why hasn't this been done before? Of course that's how you spell despair." One dancer remarks that they were inside of Pina as much as she was in them, and that much is very obviously true. Oh, and the entire score is perfect, too, although the dances would be equally effective without paired music. Then there's the remarkable editing, spot-on lighting, impressive use of get the idea. Obsession is...

Do you remember the first time you really listened to and were moved by a Bjork song? It's like that, but more, and for 100 minutes. That's the easiest way I can summarize it.

Score example:

Film trailer:

If you can't tell, I really want to see this movie again in the theatre. It's playing until next Thursday; speak up if you want to go with me! Even if you aren't a "dance enthusiast" (whatever that means) I feel confident saying that you'll love it. And if you don't, well...I might judge you. But then I'll get over it. Most likely.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

An ode to Balsamic vinegar.

I feel a bit like a hypocrite, because it drives me crazy when people post pictures on Facebook of very normal food that they cooked or ate, and yet I do this all the time on my blog.

I just needed to get that off my chest. I realize it's hypocritical, but here I am again, telling you about some tasty but completely unremarkable dish that I whipped up, and hoping you'll be excited to have the recipe. If everyone's sick of my recipe posting, please let me know and I'll tone it down.

That being said, BALSAMIC VINEGAR. Whoever invented this tasty, tangy ambrosia is at the top of my list of people to thank, so this post goes out to you, Monsieur Balsamic! Here are things I recommend you do with said liquid:

Balsamic Chicken


boneless skinless chicken breasts
Balsamic vinegar
about 1/4 c. olive oil
salt, pepper, garlic powder

Cut the chicken breasts into serving-size pieces (about 4-6 ounces per piece), poke holes in them with a fork. Season with salt, pepper, fresh rosemary, and garlic powder. In a large ziploc bag, combine olive oil, vinegar, and honey to taste. I never measure this out, but you don't need a whole lot, just taste as you go and adjust based on how vinegary/sweet you like it. Toss the chicken breasts in the ziploc and marinate in the fridge for 1-3 hours. Very lightly grease a glass baking dish, and bake chicken at 350° for about 30 minutes or until no longer pink in the center. I put a bit of the marinade in the dish with the chicken before cooking, but not so much that it'll splatter.

About 300 calories per piece. Joseph eats 2 :)

I love my iPad, but the camera on it is not-so-good. Must find my real camera.

Pair with:

Balsamic Sweet Potatoes w/ Wilted Spinach


2 medium sweet potatoes (or yams, I never remember the difference, and I think what Texans call sweet potatoes may actually be yams. Semantics!)
1 sweet onion
1 TBSP. olive oil
cooking spray
1/2 - 1 TBSP. balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
couple of large handfuls baby spinach

Slice the sweet potatoes into about 1/4" thick pieces. Cut the onion into medium-sized chunks. Toss together in a glass baking dish with olive oil, salt and pepper, rosemary, and a bit of cooking spray (or just use a little more oil). Bake at 350° or 400° for 25-35 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender to your liking. Let cool for about 5 minutes, then toss with spinach and balsamic vinegar. 

about 500 cals in that whole dish


I love things I can just throw in the oven because I get other things done while they cook. Last night I did this workout video (oh wow, how 1999 did THAT sound?) while everything cooked, paused it to chug water and take everything out of the oven, then finished the video while the food cooled. By the way, if you're into workout videos, I highly recommend this one. It's amazing, super hard, and I'm already sore from it. It's cardio and weight-training without any equipment (besides your body).


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The grass is always...pinker?

I remember the good ole days...the days when I could happily blog away instead of actually working the whole time I'm at work...

Sadly, those days are long gone. But rather than mourn the loss of what once was and not blog yet again, today I bring a short but sweet post to de-blue us all! Behold: pretty pink things!

Like this incredibly adorable little pretty pink cupcake trailer!

via Style Me Pretty

That is so cute I don't know what to do with myself.

Along the same lines, pretty pink cakes! Ombre, to boot!

also Style Me Pretty

and speaking of boots, shiny pretty pink pumps!

via Piperlime

I feel oh so much better now. Don't you?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Call a spade a spade.

Last night I told my good friend Stephanie (or 'S to the Dailey', as she's known in certain circles) that the only reason I want an iPhone is so I can get a Kate Spade case for it. I mean, I have a Kindle and an iPad, so I have absolutely no use for an iPhone, but still! Maybe I'll just buy a case and make a fake iPhone out of cardboard. Because that isn't sad and wrong at all.

Anywhoozits, this all came about because Kate Spade introduced their newest pattern for Spring and Summer, and I feel like it hasn't gotten much love. The Japanese floral, seen on the Melinda bag here:

has been all over the place. And rightly so! It's gorgeous and goes with everything. But I want to shine a light on its little sister, the super punchy Octagonal print, because it's a gloomy day out and we could all use a dose of bright.

Kate put it on everything, including:

The Wrap Dress!

The Shirtdress!

The Silk Button-Up!

The iPhone case that brought this whole discussion about!

And the absolutely adorable, trés Kate Spade Flared Pleated Skirt.

It's! And everyone likes fun. I think I'll also take it in a shower curtain and a set of dish towels, please and thank you.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love and peppers.

It's Valentine's Day! Happy anniversary of the beheading of a civil liberties champion, and happy day after Washington State signed their gay marriage bill into law! A good couple of days all around, methinks. Seven states down, 43 to go. I try to focus on the positive- seven states! Rather than the negative- 43 still to go? Seriously? Isn't it 2012?

But anyhow, this post isn't about passing common-sense bills come on people seriously, it's about stuffed peppers! Which are similar to marriage in that they intertwine wonderful things to make a unified whole. Or, um, something. It's a stretch, I'll give you that, but my normally non-dairy self just had some chocolate, so I'm a little hyped up.

ANYHOW, even if you aren't a huge fan of bell peppers, these are really tasty! Plus the bell pepper cooks so that it turns fairly soft, so if it's the big watery crunch that you dislike you don't have to worry about that with these. Note that this recipe makes a lot, so half it if you need to.


8 green bell peppers, cored and emptied of seeds and such, like so:

cooking spray
1 20 oz. package lean ground Italian turkey
1-2 TBSPs. olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 sweet yellow onion, diced
1 cup cooked rice (I cook mine in chicken broth instead of water)
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes (Italian or sweet onion)
1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1-2 tsps. chili powder
Italian seasoning
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425°. Lightly coat a baking pan or glass baking dish in cooking spray; set aside.

Boil a large pot of water, throw cored and mostly cleaned out bell peppers in the boiling water for 7-10 minutes until soft but not soggy. When done, remove and invert on a plate lined with paper towels to drain.

While the peppers are cooking, heat 1 TBSP. olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Sauté the onion for about 2 minutes, then add the garlic and cook 30 more seconds. Add the ground turkey, and cook until no longer pink, about 5 or so minutes. Add the tomatoes, rice, Italian seasoning, chili powder, and salt and pepper, stir, bring to a boil, and then let simmer on low-medium 5-10 minutes. The liquid should reduce some.

Stand the bell peppers up in the baking dish and stuff with turkey mixture, about 3 big spoonfuls per pepper. Sprinkle peppers with breadcrumbs, then spritz with olive oil. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

Each pepper will end up having about 230 calories, so it's perfectly acceptable to eat 2 of them!

I will say that Joseph and I agreed that there was a little something missing from the peppers, so next time I make them I'll mix some pepperjack cheese in with the ones I make for him. I put a little ketchup on mine and it was perfecto, so that's the ticket if you're a ketchup fellow like myself. I'm pretty sure that using a higher fat ground beef would probably do the trick as well.

Oh! And if you don't have an olive oil spritzer, get one! My vonderful seester recommended I buy one, and I use it all the time now. I have this inexpensive little guy: Misto Gourmet Spritzer. It's so much easier to control than attempting to drizzle the oil, and it is especially useful on salads.

So there you have it! Stuff your heart with love and your peppers with tomato-y turkey goodness, and we'll rendezvous tomorrow. I adore you all!

Monday, February 13, 2012


It has come to my attention that we need to talk about a few things. Namely, Prada's Spring collection. I got a glimpse of it a while ago and found it a little "meh", although there were a few pieces that had I the body and the funds I would at least try on.

I'm loving the modern retro feel of these accordion pleats:

It's like your awesome rich aunt's Easter Sunday dress. Why make pastel eggs when you can just be one? Then your hands don't get all stained and vinegar-y smelling, too. Bonus!

I also think this look completely works, both on and off the runway:

Flattering and versatile. What more do you want? I'll take the handbag, too, while we're at it.

Miuccia also showed a few romper/bathing suit looks (I'm not going to lie, I'm really not sure if they are bathing suits or just fancy-arse onesies), and I especially adored this little lady:

Photos from NYMag

Beautiful! I've always loved grey and yellow together, and the combo is especially stunning here, even if I have no idea how one wears that in daily life.

So then...I took a closer look at the whole feet situation going on, and did a double take. A bad one. Because there is a WHOLE lot of WTF happening.

I hope you aren't eating while reading this. Be warned.

Behold, the Jewel-Toe Flame Sandal:


The Rose-Toe Flame Sandal:


Oh, you say wanted understated? How about this lovely pump with a TAILPIPE ON IT?


That revs my engine in all the wrong ways.

Lastly, and the (arguably) most heinous, the Flame Wedge Sandal:


What the heck is going on here?? I just keep thinking of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde saying, "I'm sorry. I just hallucinated. What?" It's like they let Jesse James and Kat Von D loose with a box of Crayolas and some quality ecstasy, and I do NOT support that.

Friday, February 10, 2012


Happy Friday! Finally; am I right or am I right? As I suspected.

It got chilly again this week in the lovely ole Austin, Tejas, so I sought out a tasty new soup recipe to try. My coworker, Abby, directed me to a blog called The Pioneer Woman, and lo and behold I found a recipe that perfectly fit the bill. Except for the fact that you have to open quite a few cans, which I hate doing. I frequently pawn the can opening duties off on Joseph, but he was at soccer.

And so, Tuscan Bean Soup with Shrimp! I didn't vary it much from the original except to make it dairy-free, but here you go nonetheless:


6 cloves garlic
1 sweet yellow onion, diced
2 19 oz. cans Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1.5 TBSPs. olive oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dried oregano
5 TBSP. tomato paste
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes (I actually used 2 14.5 oz. cans, one "sweet onion" flavored and one "Italian seasoning" flavored)
3 cans chicken broth
3-4 huge handfuls spinach
lots o' torn basil (like 7 leaves or so)
1 lb. shrimp (I got the already cooked, tails off from the seafood deli)
1/4 c. chopped parsley
salt and pepper
garlic powder
fresh Parmesan, if you're allowed
tasty bread

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add the onion and garlic and sauté about 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir, cooking about 1 more minute. Add red pepper flakes and oregano, stir and cook for about 30 seconds. 
Add wine and stir quickly, being sure to get all the good stuff there nicely mixified. Allow to bubble and reduce by 1/4 - 1/2 for about 3-5 minutes.
While this is reducing, toss the shrimp with 1/2 TBSP. olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and parsley. Let it sit in that deliciousness and jam out to Fiona Apple while you proceed to the next step.
To the pot, add canned tomatoes, drained and rinsed Cannellini beans, chicken broth, and salt and pepper. Cover, turn up heat to bring to a boil, then uncover and let simmer for 15 minutes. 
Add the spinach, tearing it once before throwing in the pot. Add the torn basil, stir, and simmer for 3-5 minutes. 
Add the shrimp to the pot, stir, let simmer for 5 more minutes, and: voila! Delicious soup for your enjoyment. If you aren't dairy-free, top your individual bowls of it with fresh parmesan.
Serve with some scrumptious bread, unless you're like me and forgot to buy any.

Pot of soup- 2630 calories; makes about 11 cups worth, and a nice serving is 2 cups.

I didn't take any pictures of my soup, but there are plenty on The Pioneer Woman link above if you need a visual :)

Hm.... I'm thinking I should really have named my blog "Lady Mostly Cooks One Pot Recipes". Oh well, maybe for my next foray.

Happy weekend! Yay!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Boy. I wish it were Friday.

But since it's not, let's frolic with Boy. by Band of Outsiders and Michelle Williams. Williams, as you may or may not know, is up for an Oscar for her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in "My Week with Marilyn", and while I can't comment on her performance yet, I am loving her Spring 2012 shoot for the aforementioned brand.

Check her out while she oh-so-stylishly wanders around a Hollywood graveyard. I sifted through all the images and bring you my 10 favorites:

Gorgeous, no? A little trippy and idyllic at once. See the whole shoot at Fashionista!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Testosterone and toe shoes.

Joseph and I are going to see Les Ballets Trockadero tomorrow evening, and I'm so excited. They are one of my favorite artistic troupes; it's a group of all male dancers that play both the male and female roles, and they are insanely talented dancers and satirists (although they do parody more than satire, one could argue. Let's not fight, though, ok? Good. Agree to disagree.). I haven't seen them since college!

One of their most loved pieces is their rendition of the famous Act II pas de quatre from Swan Lake. When done by traditional ballet companies as originally choreographed, the segment is a study in perfection. The four ballerinas dance as one, melding their personalities and making synchronized swimmers jealous of their identical coupes and entrechats. As it's a pas de quatre, you would expect corps members to play the roles, but because of the skill level needed to ace the timing and angles of the moves the foursome is almost always comprised of soloists. Par exemple, see the Paris Opera Ballet nail it.

And the Trocks:

Sure, it's base humor if you're a purist, but I personally love the high skill level juxtaposed with the hamminess. 

Have you seen them perform? Did they do it for you? Or do you prefer your ballerinas with less...ahem...junk in the tutu?