- Chantez et vous trouverez votre chanson -

Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.
     -George Bernard Shaw

It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves- in finding themselves.
      -Andre Gide

Monday, April 28, 2008

Gossip Girl is kind of, very addicting.

Umm...so I love Gossip Girl.  Not originally, however.  I admit, I was a convert.

As a loyal fan of The O.C. (rest in peace), I wasn't really into the idea of a show that seemed like the sequel set on the East Coast (such as this article seemed to be saying on People.com last October).  

But, I stand corrected.  I caught up on the first half of the season over the writer's strike, and I love it.  It's not a sequel in any way shape or form, but there definitely are similarities and parallels between my beloved O.C. and my new crush, Gossip Girl.

Dan, for instance (played by Penn Badgley), I see as a blend of "Ryan" and "Seth."  He seems to be the focal point of the show, as we see the culture of the U.E.S. kings and queens through his outsider (read: Brooklyn) eyes, and that screams Ryan to me.  Yet, he has always been at this school, never fit in, and pined for the most popular girl at school, Serena (Blake Lively) for years while she had no idea who he was, and at last she realizes how wonderful and perfect the dorky kid can be (hello...Seth and Summer, without a doubt).

But, on Gossip Girl, the cattiness is full blown, and I can't get enough.  These girls are entitled...this is not "new money" Newport Beach anymore.  These are WASP trust fund babies with extravagant lifestyles you must be born into.  On The O.C., we saw the guys fight often, but on Gossip Girl, the ladies have the upper hand.  They are cunning and manipulative, and even little Jenny Humphrey is learning!

There is one thing I miss from my transition to Gossip Girl from The O.C., though-- Seth Cohen's humor. Gossip Girl is all about the dramz, but the side dish of self-depreciating sarcasm is left out.  Seth was my favorite character on The O.C., and I've yet to find a character I like as much as I liked him.  Bring on the laughs, even a little.  Does that say something about our culture on the East Coast?  Are we more uptight and less funny than our Western counterparts?  Or maybe I just like Adam Brody a little too much...hmm. 

For more "conspiracy theories" and analysis of the show, New York Magazine wrote an excellent article in last week's issue.  The writers bring up some very interesting points: how the show is changing the way this generation watches television, how life imitates art imitates life through the cast and their on-screen personas, and why it's the greatest teen drama ever (better than 90210?! haha).  It's a good read, and I definitely recommend checking it out : The Genius of Gossip Girl.

Besides how addicting the show is, I think everyone in New York is just happy to have another show focused in and around New York City.  Not since Sex & the City has the city's backdrop mattered so much to the plot and feel of a show.  Though their lifestyles are far far from my own, I still feel a sense of pride, community and understanding when I see places on the show that I pass everyday, and stereotypes portrayed that I know all too well here.

All in all, it's a great show.  And if you're one of the 5 people out there not watching yet, you should start tuning in.  

Gossip Girl
Monday nights
9pm, CW

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Press 195

Spring is here and the weather is finallyyy getting warm-- time to eat outdoors!  

Between barbeques and al fresco dining, I love this time of year.  A restaurant I can't wait to hit up is Press 195 on Bell Blvd.  Named the "Sandwich Kings of Brooklyn" by the Food Network, this trendy little panini and sandwich shack recently opened an outpost in Queens on restaurant row, Bell Blvd.

A slim little storefront squeezed in between restaurants, bars and clothing shops, you might have trouble finding Press 195, but it's definitely worth a trip inside.  An extensive menu of every imaginable sandwich made with the freshest ingredients combined with yummy white or red sangria and unique beer selections make this a standout year round in my book, but the backyard garden makes this place irresistible once the sun arrives for Spring and Summer. 

Everything on the menu at Press 195 has a unique touch.  The maple pesto spread uses maple syrup from Ashland Farms in Prattsville, NY and their honey jalapeno sauce is made with honey from Traphagen's Honey Farm in Hunter, NY.  I love their use of local produce and I feel I can taste the freshness.

Start off with either the Asparagus Appetizer or the Hummus Plate...both are delicious.  The former is a slightly sweet plate of the grilled asparagus, tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella in a maple pesto sauce.  The latter, a heaping plate of black bean hummus, grilled portobello mushrooms, roasted red peppers, calamata olives and spicy bread rounds for dipping.  The only appetizer I've had here that disappointed was the Veggie Salsa-- it tasted just like any other store bought salsa, and there wasn't nearly enough given with the chips.

As for the sandwiches, there so many to choose from-- it all depends on what you like.  There are 30 numbered hot pressed sandwich varieties, ranging from grilled vegetable and goat cheese variations to meaty prosciutta and sliced steak combos.  Most sandwiches are served on ciabatta bread with yummy spreads and sauces...fruit chutneys, garlic and olive spreads, homemade horseradish sauces, etc.  Every time I go, deciding on a sandwich takes forever because everything sounds so tasty!  The last time I was there, I had the #14: grilled zucchini, yellow squash and red pepper with fresh spinach and roasted garlic and black olive spread.  I'm hungry just thinking about it.

Though they are known as a sandwich shop, they have many other choices including fresh soups and salads.  They also offer pick-your-filling stromboli style pizzas, and knish sandwiches, with toppings pressed between two potato knishes.  I haven't tried either, but they do sound intriguing.

Imagine sitting in their backyard garden at a picnic table eating all this deliciousness...it's the perfect way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon.

Press 195
40-11 Bell Blvd. (1 block from the LIRR station)

Press 195 in Queens

Sunday, April 13, 2008

French Beauty, Oo La La

Have I mentioned how much I adore all things French?  Well, I do...French major in college, love French food and fashion, and dream of heading back to Paris.  Along with that comes a love and admiration for French beauty products.

Two of my fav Frenchie brands are L'Occitane en Provence and Institut Esthederm.  One hails from the countryside of Provence, the latter, the haute skincare labs of Paris.  Here are a couple of their products I can't do without:

Lavender Vinegar, L'Occitane - this little tin bottle packs a powerful punch when it comes to pimples.  Dab it on over trouble spots, and let the natural properties of lavender dry out and heal the area.  Love it!  $14 www.loccitane.com

Cellular Water Gel, Institut Esthederm - This cooling moisturizer has the texture of pudding, and feels amazing going on.  It's super hydrating, and I have the softest, smoothest skin when I use it. $58 www.spacenk.com

Green Tea Solid Perfume, L'Occitane - Solid perfume is ingenious.  It's perfect to keep in your bag for touch-ups during the day, and great for traveling and getting through airport security. Not only is it convenient, the scent is beautiful...light, airy and a bit watery. $9 www.loccitane.com 

These beauty products are my little way of feeling French each and every day.  :)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I should work for Lucky...

As I was reading my favorite mag, Lucky this month, I realized on page 103, "Yo!  I own those shoes!!"  

Is that not the bestttt feeling in the world?!  Lucky is my fashion and shopping magazine of choice, and when I see a type of clothing in there that I've already been sporting (been there, wore that), I feel so good inside.  It makes me totally reassured in my fashion sense.  Says inside head: "Yes, I am on the mark when it comes to style, and I'm even spotting the trends before the magazine, haha!"  

It may be in my advantage that I don't have a 6 month lead time, but I like to ignore that fact and give myself more credit.  :)

This time, not only am I excited that I already own and have been wearing around these adorable wedges (when the weather permits)...but they only cost me $20 at Target!!  Yes, a pair of hot wedges featured in Lucky came from Target.

Who says fashion has to cost an arm and a leg?

'70's fabulous Xhilaration Tonia Wedges with wooden heel cut-out, celery green - $19.99 in stores, $17.99 on www.target.com.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Erno Laszlo and the "Splashing" technique

Once upon a time, during my college days, I coulda shoulda woulda interned at the Erno Laszlo U.S. office in Soho.

Erno Laszlo is a skincare company with a history.  Dr. Erno Laszlo was a renowned Hungarian dermatologist and over 75 years ago, he created the world's first dermatological skincare line. During World War II, he came to America and opened his flagship center on Fifth Ave., the Erno Laszlo Institute, where he treated the rich, glamorous, and famous of the era, including Greta Garbo, Truman Capote, Audrey Hepburn, and Jackie Kennedy Onassis.

He held strong and defined principles on skincare, and created stream-lined, no frill skincare products.  One of my favorite products from his line (not really his line anymore, per se, as he died in 1973) is the Sea Mud Soap.

A simple charcoal chalky soap made up of concentrated dead sea minerals, I feel it really gets all the gook off, and leaves my skin feeling taut and clean.  More than the actual product, I like the ritual one is supposed to follow when using it.

Called the Splashing technique, you fill a small bowl with warm/hot water, dip the soap in, and rub the bar over your face, so it looks kind of sooty.  Dip the soap again and work up a little lather on your face and lightly massage it in.  Then, splash your face 20 times with the "treatment" water, and 10 more times with hot running water.  According to the doc, this is the way to properly cleanse the skin.  It's kind of refreshing to splash your face with water that many times, and I like it, although this is not the routine for a lazy, rushed person, haha.

The Dead Sea Soap and "splashing" are to be followed by toner and moisturizer according to skin type, and as a girl who read somewhere in 7th grade of the optimal "cleanser, toner, moisturizer" skincare routine (and have followed it to this day!), I couldn't agree more, and I really enjoy (although can't quite afford) his straight-forward line of products and ways of taking care of skin.

Regardless of the facial soap you use...why not try the Splashing technique?  I think you'll be pleasantly surprised-- your skin will feel so...clean!

Erno Laszlo counters and products can be found at select Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Nordstrom, as well as online at www.ernolaszlo.com.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Let Beauty Week Begin...

It's a new week, and with the help of constant perusals of Beauty Blogging Junkie and Lucky magazine, I have decided to crawl out of my recent beauty and fashion rut.

In honor of my renewed desire to be awake, alert, and fashionably-attired for work each morning, I'm going to post about all the beauty products I know and love this week. 

First up: Garnier Fructis Style Smoothing Milk.  

I'm not typically a "branded" girl when it comes to haircare; over the years, I've found that most shampoos/conditioners/stylers do a fine job on my hair, regardless of price or brand. 

Then about 3 years ago, I was turned on to Garnier Fructis Style Smoothing Milk by a friend.  I literally do not straighten my hair without it anymore.  

My hair is sort of frumpy-half wavy by nature, the only benefit being that with a little styling, I can have either bedhead waves or slick straight hair.  Straight and smooth hair seems to look less messy and more "done" so it tends to be my hair texture of choice.  But, detangling, combing, blowdrying, waiting for the straightener to heat up, and gliding the iron over my thick head of hair takes a bit longer than my "always running late" self would like, and most rushed mornings, I stick with the easy to manage wavy look.

By combing a dime-size drop of the smoothing milk through the ends of damp/wet hair, achieving the straight hair look becomes just as simple.  The hair lotion reallyyy helps with detangling, and I swear blowdrying my hair is 10 times faster when I use it. The hairbrush glides through my un-tangled hair like a dream I tell you, and I only need a light once-over with the straightener (if anything), to get the smoothest, sleekest straight hair I so badly want.

The first time I used Garnier Fructis Style Smoothing Milk, I was so impressed, I couldn't stop running my fingers through my hair.  I was in love and I never turned back.  I bet you won't either. 

Garnier Fructis Style Smoothing Milk is available at most drugstores, including Rite Aid, Duane Reade, and Walgreens.  It can also be found on www.drugstore.com for $3.48.  Not a bad deal.