Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Met Gala 2015 Favorites

"People will stare. Make it worth their while."
~Harry Winston

I promise this is not turning into a fashion blog. It's simply that I want to spend more time blogging on the other things and then, I just continue to procrastinate the good blog posts. So... I will try to rectify that. Slowly but surely. In the meantime, here is more fashion fluff.

The Met Gala (do you even know what that is?) lured out of hiding many funky fashion choices just waiting for their opportunity to shock and surprise. Many of the truly fashion-headline-worthy shockers will not be posted here because let's face it... there were quite a few that were meant to dazzle that just really weren't my thing. See-through gowns seemed to be a trend this year (Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian, Donatella Versace, to name a few, none of which will be posted because... well, I didn't like them).

Apparently, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit (The Met Gala) is the event the whole fashion industry looks forward to the most. Imagine your senior prom, New Year’s, Halloween, and your wedding celebration all rolled into one, and I think we can imagine the anticipation most feel about what they'll be wearing and what other people will wear to this event.

This year's theme, "China: Through the Looking Glass," elicited red, red, and more red with a touch of gold.

Some of my favorite gowns in no particular order... (by the way, all these pictures came from Yahoo.)

Let's start with Helen Mirren because you can't go wrong with starting with Helen Mirren. She continues to prove she can do no wrong on the red carpet. The 69-year old actress is stunning in the one see-through dress I liked from this year's Gala. The red bra was a must. Very subtle and made the see-through cut-outs very classy.

Helen Mirren at the 2015 Met Gala in Dolce & Gabbana

And then we have Madonna. Her skin caught my eye long before her dress. That skin is awfully radiant and wrinkle-free for her 56 years. Don't you think? She looks 26 maybe and has a bit of Drew Barrymore in her in this shot. And let's be honest, the dress doesn't do anything for me; I included her because of that skin. Or that nose. Or those cheekbones. Is this even really Madonna?

Madonna at the 2015 Met Gala in Moschino by Jeremy Scott

This red number worn on Hailee Steinfeld is a classic look.

Hailee Steinfeld at the 2015 Met Gala in Michael Kors

Then we have Allison Williams. I don't even know who she is, but that's okay. I don't know Hailee Steinfeld or a couple of the following women either. This dress intrigued me with the black sequined accents. The tulle is interesting, but it adds some nice flair.

Allison Williams at the 2015 Met Gala in Giambattista Valli

Behati Prinsloo, another one I don't know, looks radiant in this see-through piece. I thought it was tasteful and elegant. The fabric looks black to me, but the edges make it seem like navy blue maybe. Possibly a blue-black velvet? I like it.

Behati Prinsloo at the 2015 Met Gala in Tommy Hilfiger

And you know that I couldn't NOT include Amal Alamuddin and George Clooney. Although Amal is not my fashion icon, I do think most everything she wears is quite elegant. This dress is elegant but fun with the layers and ruffles and sequins. Good choice.

Amal Alamuddin (with husband, George Clooney) at the 2015 Met Gala
in John Galliano for Maison Margiela

And let's show you a couple of the out there numbers I can appreciate. Sarah Jessica Parker and her headpiece, which is meant to be based on traditional Chinese bridal design. That's an eye-catcher, all right.

Sarah Jessica Parker at the 2015 Met Gala in H&M gown and Philip Treacy headpiece

And here's another interesting piece. Zendaya. I feel like I should know who that is. Anyone whose is only known by one name and it starts with a Z? Yeah, feel like I should know her. Oh, but I don't.

Zendaya at the 2015 Met Gala in Fausto Puglisi

Marissa Mayer, Yahoo! President and CEO, wore an understated but lovely red gown. I thought she looked great.

Marissa Mayer at the 2015 Met Gala in Oscar de la Renta

Anne Hathaway knocked my socks off with her stance, the look on her face, and that hood! She's got presence.

Anne Hathaway at the 2015 Met Gala in Ralph Lauren

And lastly, Bee Shaffer (who's she?) in a lovely gown covered in beautiful cherry blossoms. Lovely.

Bee Shaffer at the 2015 Met Gala in Alexander McQueen

There you have it. Just what you always wanted: my red carpet opinions. Until next time...

And next time, I promise I'll come up with something a little more substantial.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Not so impressed with this year's Golden Globes red carpet showings

"Don’t be into trends.
Don’t make fashion own you, but you decide what you are,
what you want to express by the way you dress and the way you live."
~Gianni Versace

The Golden Globes aired on Sunday and though I didn't watch them, I certainly checked out the red carpet photos on Monday morning. To be honest, I was not that impressed. It was rather disappointing, actually. There were very few that I liked, even a little bit.

Even so, I've selected a handful to share with you in no particular order, but I'm still not even sure how much I like them.

Helen Mirren can be counted on to deliver a classy red carpet photo. I love the color, the neck, the sparkles, and look at that smile. She seems delightful.

Helen Mirren at the 2015 Golden Globes in Dolce & Gabbana

Diane Kruger had a sparkly number, but I couldn't find a picture of her smiling or looking remotely pleasant, so this one will have to do. The sparkles were sparkly enough but not to overpowering.

Diane Kruger at the 2015 Golden Globes at the 2015 in Emilia Wickstead

Yellow is typically not my favorite clothing color. Well, I suppose it's not ever MY choice, but I really love the color on other people. Jenna Dewan Tatum pulled this shade of yellow off quite well.

Jenna Dewan Tatum at the 2015 Golden Globes in Carolina Herrera

Next up is Emma Stone. I appreciated the comfort that pants must afford on at an event when you're constantly surrounded by cameras. No long train to trip over. Beautiful sparkly top. But what is the drape she is carrying? I would have liked to see that on.

Emma Stone at the 2015 Golden Globes in Lanvin

This teal-colored gown worn by Felicity Jones leaves me with mixed feelings. But I thought it earned a spot on my I-guess-I-sorta-liked-it list. The color is beautiful.

Felicity Jones at the 2015 Golden Globes in Dior

How could I not include Amal Alamuddin Clooney on this list, no matter what she ended up wearing? As we've been hearing she quickly joined the rank of fashion icon this year due in part, I'm sure, to her widely-publicized marriage to George Clooney. She'll be photographed all the time now. She does make good fashion selections, but still this ensemble was only okay in my book. Elegant touch added with the gloves.

Amal Alamuddin at the 2015 Golden Globes in Dior
And finally, this red number. I certainly like the shade of red. It complements Catherine's skin and hair well. The fabric drape on the top adds some alluring interest.

Catherine Zeta-Jones at the 2015 Golden Globes in Angel Sanchez
Well, that's it. Not bad. But not any that will top my list of all-time favorites. Nevertheless, they all looked lovely. I hope they had a good time.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Christmas in Salt Lake

"Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second."
~Marc Riboud

Christmas at the LDS Conference Center

Christmas lasted quite awhile for me this year since I started thinking about putting up my tree and listening to music on November 1st. I refrained from putting up all my decorations until the day after Thanksgiving, but I was certainly listening to and rehearsing Christmas music at the beginning of November.

What follows is a few pictures to remind me of what went on this Christmas: concerts both attended and performed, a play, dinners, a wedding, warm weather in early December, cold weather just after Christmas, daily walks downtown, and loads of pleasant days.

A beautiful December day in Salt Lake City

Mom and I saw "Peter and the Starcatcher" at Pioneer Theatre.

Emery, Amber, Mom

Stephen, Mom, me, Amber, Claire, Emma, and Grant

After my concert in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square

Terra and Bryce got married


Saturday, November 29, 2014

First time hosting Thanksgiving dinner and a turkey brine recipe.

"We can choose to be grateful, no matter what. "This type of gratitude transcends whatever is happening around us. It surpasses disappointment, discouragement and despair. It blooms just as beautifully in the icy landscape of winter as it does in the pleasant warmth of summer."
~President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Grateful in Any Circumstances"

Thanksgiving 2014 Sunrise

Just about every year for the past 40 years my mother has hosted Thanksgiving dinner to which usually upwards of 30 people come. This year, I offered to change to course of history. With Thanksgiving dinner at my house, only a handful of guests were invited. I just don't own that many chairs. Plus it was my first time hosting and making a turkey, so I didn't want to overwhelm myself.

Speaking of turkey, I read all kinds of recipes and tips online before I decided to brine my turkey. Everything I'd head and read convinced me that my turkey HAD to be brined to be juicy and moist. So the night before, I got started with my preparation of both the turkey and the veggies.

After two and a half years living in my new house and being SO careful, this guy finally attacked me. I was surprisingly amused at myself. Laughing sure is good for the soul.

So the brine. There are endless recipes for turkey brine on the internet, but all of them seem clear about the basic salt and water ingredients and ratio. The salt must be coarse kosher salt. And you must have one cup of salt per gallon of water. Also, use two oven bags (Reynolds makes these) one inside of the other to avoid any leakage. As for a recipe and instructions, this is what I came up with:

1 cup coarse kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
16 cups water (split in half during the process)
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
5 fresh sage leaves
1-2 Tbsp of peppercorns (crushed)
a few random celery sticks and leaves
Combine salt, sugar, and half the water (8 cups) in a large saucepan and stir on stove. Add all the fresh herbs and bring to a boil. Let boil for a minute or two and then turn the burner off. Let the saucepan sit for as long as it takes for the liquid to cool.
While brine is cooling, take turkey out of it's plastic and rinse off. Remove the neck and the giblet and set aside for later. Place the oven bags in a large stock pot or bucket or casserole dish that can fit in your fridge and fit the turkey. Place the turkey, breast side down (this is important since you want it to get the most access to the brine, since it will cook breast side up and the juice will drain down to the back), in the two oven bags. Add remaining 8 cups of water (cold) to turkey bag.
When the rest of the brine is cooled, add it to the turkey. At this point, be very careful that you have a good hold on the edges of the bags so that the brine doesn't spill right out as you're pouring it in. Make sure all the herbs go into the bag. 
Now you will take the inner bag and wind up the top as tight as you can, pressing out as much air as possible so your turkey is completely immersed in the brine. Secure it with a twist tie. (Reynolds oven bags come with a handy tie.) Then do the same for the out bag. Next place the container in the fridge. If your container with the turkey in it doesn't fit on a shelf  (like mine) then you should have planned better to start, but just transfer it to carefully to another container.
Leave turkey in the fridge in the brine for 8-10 hours. In the morning, place the bag in a freshly scrubbed and disinfected sink, undo the bags, and pour out the brine. You will want to rinse turkey to get any excess salt or wilted herbs off and dry it thoroughly, inside and out, before placing it the roasting pan.

Then just prepare your turkey as you like. I put onion quarters, celery and carrots in the cavity, along with some other aromatics (more rosemary and thyme) and then slathered the outside with melted butter, crushed fresh rosemary and thyme, and pepper. Then I cooked it for 3 1/2 hours until it was perfect. And it was perfect.

I have to admit, I'm pretty proud of myself. That turkey tasted so yummy, I'm ready to roast another. Apparently, even the white meat was tasty. I'm not a big fan of white meat; I much prefer the dark and juicy thigh meat, myself. Everyone's offerings made for a beautiful plate.

And, I've been enjoying leftovers for last two days. Yum! First Thanksgiving dinner as host was a success! I think I'll go make myself another plate.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Utah Opera: Madame Butterfly and Why You Should Care to Go to The Opera, My Dear.

"An opera begins long before the curtain goes up and ends long after it has come down. It starts in my imagination, it becomes my life, and it stays part of my life long after I've left the opera house."
~Maria Callas

Capitol Theatre in Salt Lake City, Utah

As a kid, I can clearly remember my brother quoting, Laverne and Shirley, "Would you care to go to the opera my dear, and you'll say..." and then there was a lot of spitting. Probably I remember most the recording he made of himself quoting them. (Note to self: we've GOT to get those tapes digitized.) Here, watch the original for yourself.

Shirley was quoted (and still is) over and over again in my family, spitting and all.

Every once in awhile it's nice to play dress-up and go to the opera. I really do love the opera and it's simply fabulous to have a night out on the town and a reason to wear all your jewels. This year, I decided to treat myself to season tickets to Utah Opera. So in October, I took my mom to see Madame Butterfly for her birthday. So tragic and so beautiful.

Some of you may be rolling your eyes by now or maybe you've stopped reading, but pause one moment while I tell you the opera is mahvelous and addicting, and why I just can't get enough.

1. The drama. Oh, the drama! Every opera has it and frankly, it always makes my own life's drama pale in comparison. It's like a full season of Days of Our Lives rolled up into one night.

2. It's architecturally beautiful. The lighting, the costumes, the sets are all absolutely stunning (when done well, and Utah Opera always does opera well). The elaborate layers of color, dimension, and fabric give your senses something to write home about.

3. The music. Now, this is a debatable point, since some operas I simply like more than others. But, typically, Puccini (composer of Madame Butterfly) never disappoints.

4. People watching. Come on now, everyone donning their best for a night out on the town certainly means there will be some entertainment off-stage also. Also, the half who certainly don't don their best also provide interesting people watching. Watching those who think they have donned their best is always, well, eye-opening. There are often some handsome men who have clearly been coerced into coming by their girlfriends, wives, mothers, and grandmothers, but suit up or tux up for the event. And let's face it, a man in a tux is a nice sight.

5. It's glamorous. It just is.

6. The voices. I mean really. Half the time they aren't even miked and if have never experienced an operatic voice and the power it has, just try Renée Fleming's  soprano on for size, the only performance of our national anthem

Now, if you're just having a hard time getting into opera, but want to dabble in it, might I suggest one of the top ten most popular operas:

La bohème by Puccini
Carmen by Bizet
Madama Butterfly by Puccini
Tosca by Puccini
La traviata by Verdi
Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) by Mozart
Rigoletto by Verdi
Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) by Mozart
Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) by Rossini
Aida by Verdi

They’re popular for a reason: they all mix music and drama and emotion in a particularly gripping way. All are typically considered good starting points for beginners and you can find great recordings of all these works to help ease you into your opera journey. I've also, conveniently, linked videos to scenes from each one. Enjoy!

And maybe I'll see you at the opera next time!