Monday, June 30, 2008

Sazerac: the cocktail of New Orleans

Sazerac, the official cocktail of New Orleans, as voted by the Louisiana House of Representatives, is a famed mix of rye whiskey, bitters and absinthe that originated in the bayou.

The drink's origins date back to the 1830s, when a Creole apothecary named Antoine Peychaud concocted a potent recipe at his pharmacy in the French Quarter. Peychaud combined his family's secret recipe for bitters with cognac and began serving the drink to friends.

Although the Sazerac can be found across New Orleans' drinking establishments, Peychaud's bitters remain the key to creating this iconic cocktail.

"Do have just one, as you won't be nearly as attractive as you think you are after two."

— Ti Adelaide Martin

Makes 1 cocktail

1 tablespoon absinthe or Herbsaint
1 1/2 ounces rye whiskey, preferably Old Overholt or Sazerac rye
1/2 teaspoon simple syrup
4 to 5 dashes Peychaud's bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 lemon twist with the white pith removed, for garnish

Pour the absinthe into a rocks glass and swirl to coat the inside. Discard any excess absinthe. Fill the glass with ice to chill.

Combine the rye, simple syrup and Peychaud's and Angostura bitters in a cocktail shaker with ice. Cover and stir vigorously to chill.

Discard the ice from the glass and strain the shaker mixture into the glass. Rub the rim of the glass with the lemon twist, add to the drink and serve immediately.



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Sunday, June 29, 2008

couture cookies

Check out the Gumdrop Cookie Shop! They make beautiful made-to-order vanilla sugar cookies topped with a signature design. You can also have cookies custom made with your own image (or in your own image - they'll put photos on the cookies as well!)

I think these would be perfect as (expensive!) party favors or a decadent afternoon tea.

They're almost too pretty to eat!

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Fanciful with a Twist!

A Fanciful Twist is hosting a tea party today, so deck yourself out in your virtual finest! I always wanted an excuse to wear a pair of angel wings!

sipping liquid gold from fine bone china teacups imported

spiced vintage glass truffles
silver dipped strawberries
Swarovski crystal scones
plum wine poached pearls

the sunlight streaming in through tall French windows

or is it all in my head?

Thank you so much for hosting!


Hostess Gift: orchids and chocolates!

Some gorgeous white orchids by Martha Stewart, and Vosges champagne and gold leaf chocolates for our fanciful hostess!


Friday, June 27, 2008

Poetic Licence London

Looking for something bright and cheerful to match your favorite summer dress? Poetic Licence carries a line of fun, funky shoes just for you! I love the ones with polka dot interior and silly little bows. Coquette writes about a cute pair she picked up at Nordstrom, but you can also get them on Zappos and piperlime!Images lifted from

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Whittard of Chelsea

One of my favorite pastimes in the world is afternoon tea.

Too bad these days most people get their afternoon caffeine fix on the go - usually a quick pit-stop at the nearest Starbucks. Tall iced vanilla lattes have their time and place, but nothing can replicate the feeling of sitting down in the middle of your afternoon to a carefully brewed pot of tea and a nice crumbly scone. And I'm not the only one:

Whittard of Chelsea recently opened up shop in Boston. Now you can peruse the latest in Victoria Chintz and British loose leaf varieties. The best part about this Newbury Street shop? The free tastings! There is generally some delicious hot or cold brew for sampling along with a bit of something sweet and delicious. Granted, I can only afford things if they are on sale (mind you: the sales here can be HUGE), but I love to go a-browsing even if it's just for window shopping and sampling.

Do you take cream and sugar?


Whittard of Chelsea
70 Newbury Street
Boston, MA

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Inspired by Klimt

I especially love this Klimt shield necklace!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Polyvore: design your own

I've only just discovered the miraculous time-wasting addition that is Polyvore. Design your own outfits, complete with accessories and save it as your own wishful thinking. The best (or worst?) part about this fun activity is that every item in your set will be listed with a link for purchasing.

I may just pick out my virtual tea outfit on this site! Stay tuned...


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Imaginary Tea Party hosted by Fanciful Twist!

An Imaginary Tea Party...with hats, cakes, crowns, gowns, striped socks, masks, birds, treats galore, old photos, costumes & imagination abound...

I'll be there...will you?


Tuesday, June 17, 2008


The President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR/Emergency Plan) is a commitment of $15 billion over five years (2003–2008) by United States President George W. Bush to fight the global HIV/AIDS pandemic. As the largest international health initiative ever initiated by one nation to address a single disease, the program aimed to provide antiretroviral treatment (ART) to 2 million HIV-infected people in resource-limited settings, to prevent 7 million new infections, and to support care for 10 million people.

Sound too good to be true?

With this money came a number of caveats.

1. "Emergency Plan funds will not support needle or syringe exchange".

Many people have objected to this because needle exchange programs have been proven to help reduce the spread of blood-borne HIV by providing injecting drug users with sterile syringes, without encouraging drug use. In some areas, this may be part of a wider harm reduction strategy, whereby users are given a safe, monitored place to inject and/or pure uncontaminated drugs to reduce the risk of overdose. However, the U.S. government is opposed to such measures as it believes they make drug use seem more acceptable, and facilitate continued drug use.

2. "No funds made available to carry out this Act, or any amendment made by this Act, may be used to provide assistance to any group or organization that does not have a policy explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking."

This condition, also called the "Prostitution Loyalty Oath," led to Brazil refusing $40 million of PEPFAR funds in May 2005. The director of Brazil's HIV/AIDS program explained, "Brazil has taken this decision in order to preserve its autonomy on issues related to HIV/AIDS as well as ethical and human rights principles". The Brazilian government and many organizations believed that adopting the PEPFAR condition would be a serious barrier to helping sex workers protect themselves and their clients from HIV.

3. Congress required that 1/3 of prevention funds be spent on abstinence-until-marriage programs.

As a percentage of money spent specifically on prevention of sexual transmission, close to two-thirds is spent on abstinence-only education. This ideological requirement has been shown to divert funds away from other methods of HIV-transmission prevention, such as prevention of maternal-to-child transmission and prevention targeting injecting drug users.

Talking to people who work on HIV education, prevention and control in Africa have said that PEPFAR funding is virtually useless to them. Funding required them to sign an oath not to acknowledge the sex industry. In other words, they would not be able to distribute condoms or assist infected sex workers, unless those workers agreed on abstinence. Not only would PEPFAR funded projects have to follow this requirement, but the entire foundation would have had to adapt this oath. Fortunately, since the initiation of PEPFAR, a bill was introduced that would remove the 33 percent abstinence-until-marriage earmark from HIV prevention programs.

Elizabeth Pisani, an epidemiologist with years of experience working on HIV/AIDS, and author of the book, The Wisdom of Whores: bureaucrats, brothels, and the business of AIDS, has said she has mixed feelings about PEPFAR. On one hand, the money going into treatment has undoubtedly saved the lives of hundreds of thousands. On the other, without adequate prevention strategies, the spread of HIV will continue to grow exponentially. As the number of people living with HIV increases, so does the risk of spreading the disease.

With earmarks and other restrictions, PEPFAR really isn't doing everything it can to bring the spread of HIV/AIDS under control. It makes me kind of angry that our government would impose it's own ideological point of view when there are far greater issues at stake. I suppose I should be glad that the U.S. is at least doing something to improve the global problem of HIV/AIDS. I can only hope that in the coming years this trend will continue. Perhaps a new government will be better at listening to what needs to be done and allowing the funding to go where it needs to go.

One can hope.


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Sunday, June 15, 2008

The MBTA: aka the commute from hell

A recent article described how the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) services is looking increasingly attractive as gas prices soar. The Authorities on Transportation used this opportunity to launch a campaign promoting the use of public transportation in Boston.

As an ex-hippie, and non-car-owner, I'm all in favor of public transportation. In an ill-planned, one-way befuddled city like Boston, the "T" is often the best way to get around. That is, unless there is a breakdown in the system.

This weekend, unbenownst to me, the train from Kendall Square to Park Street was rerouted through a series of shuttles.

Day 1: Despite the lack of signage and knowledgeable individuals to direct us, the masses emerged from the Kendall Street stop and boarded (crammed) into the waiting shuttle buses. At Park Street station we were required to pay the fare again in order to get back on the train. There is nothing I love more than a delay in my morning commute other than double paying for it.

The way back home got even better. Park Street was a mass of confusion: tourists wandering in every direction, and no obvious sign to the shuttle stop to be found. After much searching I managed to find one MBTA officer who INDIVIDUALLY directed people down the street to South Station. SEVEN hot blocks later I reached South Station only to find even more mass confusion. After much searching I managed to find another single MBTA officer who INDIVIDUALLY directed people around the corner and across the street to the shuttles, where we were crammed, hip to hip, armpit to armpit, for the ride back to Kendall Square.

Day 2: See Day 1.

There are a couple of issues here:

1. Why not ANNOUNCE ahead of time that the MBTA is not in working order. A simple sign or something over the station loudspeakers would do.

2. Have some WELL-LABELED employees around to direct the thousands of people. Give them a loudspeaker or a large sign. FYI: Informing people one at a time of where to go is one of the most inefficient means of conveying information.

3. Add SIGNS that direct people to where they are supposed to pick up the shuttle. If the shuttle stop is a freaking 10 minute walk away, why not inform people of this fact BEFORE they exit the station. I can only imagine how handicapped people got around the city this weekend.

4. If you know that there are going to be delays, why not POST this on the front page of your WEBSITE rather than have people find out in the middle of their commute. If, for example, someone has a wedding to attend that evening, this sort of information would have come in handy ahead of time.

5. I understand that things happen and the trains will break down from time-to-time. These acts of god, however, are not MY FAULT. Do not make the good riders of the MBTA pay twice after rerouting by shuttle. If I were truly an ex-hippie I probably would not insist that the MBTA ought to pay ME for time lost. As things stand, I'm tempted to make that claim.

As I am a pseudo-ex-hippie without a car, I will continue to ride the MBTA. In fact, on Day 2, I took the "T" and double paid for the trip AGAIN. If only I could be assured that the extra income would do some good in this world. At least blogging about it makes me feel slightly better about myself.


p.s. To the right is an image of the Park Street station. Imagine this place overrun by thousands of baffled tourists and commuters. You get the picture.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert: Farewell to a political icon

When I heard today that American political journalist, Tim Russert, had died suddenly of a heart attack, I was overcome by a wave of sadness and loss. It felt as though I had just heard of a favorite distant uncle passing on. "Meet the Press" is something I look forward to watching every single weekend. Except for the occasional perusal of the New York Times online, it's really my only source of political commentary. How will I know what's going on with the campaign without Russert's astute interviews? How will I entertain myself on the Monday morning commute without the podcast of Russert's biting and pointed questions? Where will I find a replacement Tim Russert on "Meet the Press"?

Sadly, there is no replacement.

Tim Russert, as far as I'm concerned, was the leading political journalist of our time. He was warm and friendly, with a wonderful sense of humor, yet he had no problem asking the hard questions of even the most powerful politician. He could hold his own among any well-informed political analyst or newscaster. The political world seems a lesser place in his absence.

We'll always remember,

If it's Sunday, it's "Meet the Press."


Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Chin Family Revisited

I generally assume that the only people reading my blog are my mother and a handful of friends. So every now and then I'm surprised to find that there are other readers as well. A recent posting on the "Chin Family" collection designed for Alessi by Stefano Giovannoni with the collaboration of Rumiko Takeda, got a response from "Matteo Alessi."

Although I feel slightly guilty for badmouthing the brand (I really do love most of the Alessi products!) as a friend of mine pointed out, I expressed a legitimate point of view. Out of curiosity, I did a google search to see if others feel the same way. Both JustHungry and yumsugar bring up similar issues about the racial connotations of "Chin Family" products, so at least I'm not alone in my concerns! According to my friend, just because it's legitimized by an Asian government, does not mean there isn't a lot of social baggage associated with the images used in the "Chin Family" design.

Whether the collection is truly "inspired" by "shape and figure" of other cultures or by the recent wave of adoration for all things "oriental," the end product remains somewhat insensitive to the racial associations with the Asian 'slit eyed' image. I would also like to add that the 'slit eye' representation only came into being after the Western world made contact with Asia. Let's turn that concept over in our heads...just because this is old racism, does that make it ok?


p.s. Interestingly, one of my favorite blogs, Hostess with the Mostest just published on these funny looking kitchen oddities!

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Who let the dogs out?

My boyfriend owns the most hideous T-shirt known to man. To give you a sense of what this looks like, imagine a blow-up image of a pair of heavy duty headphones with the heads of large, teeth and gum bearing, slobbering dogs barking at one another from the ear pieces. Then add a big stamp that states, "BEWARE MY DOGS." He bought it at Tello's for Halloween one year and, bafflingly enough, continues to wear it.

I came close to taking this shirt to the Red Cross clothing drive box, but was caught in the act.

That's my nightshirt! He exclaimed as he tugged it out of the bag.

I guess I should be glad he doesn't wear the shirt in public. I have to admit, when I'm home trying to read a book or we're having dinner, and I look across the table at that T-shirt, it kind of makes me cringe.

In any case, one morning, this shirt sparked a conversation about a particularly painful quote by Mitt Romney:


What was Mitt thinking? Now, if he had been wearing a T-shirt that says, BEWARE MY DOGS, I might have understood where he's coming from.

woof! woof!


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A good egg

Check out these tops by Maked:

I love the high neck and delicate cinching work. Paired with the black knit sweater, it looks rather neo-Victorian. Simple, unique and quite flattering! This look would be great paired with jeans for a night out or even with trousers for an up-to-date work attire.

Designer, Carla Thomas, makes knitwear, clothing, accessories, and sometimes furniture. If only I had the budget to afford such adorable, handmade clothing!

Find items by Maked at the Good Egg Shop.

Read more about the Good Egg Shop on Modish!

Ciao Ciao!

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Racist bottle stoppers

Although I admit they're cute, these bottle stoppers strike me as somewhat racist:
They are part of the "Chin Family" collection created by Stefano Giovanni for Alessi (one of my favorite homegoods designers.) It's all part of a joint project between Alessi and the National Palace Museum in Taiwan. Maybe it can't really be racist if the production was given the nod by the NPM, but I still find it a bit unsettling to have funny, slit-eyed Asian dolls on my wine bottle.



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Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Now that the democratic primary has finally settled its stubborn heels, we can start focusing on the new candidate. With every election there come a plethora of websites, shopping opportunities and donation options. For example, check out the Barack Obama "Change" purse at FancyThatBoutique:

Made from sturdy vinyl with a durable snap closure, the Barack Obama "Change" Purse is hand sewn and lined with white felt with an additional layer of vinyl added for strength and reinforcement. The Obama for "Change" Purses are created with the works of several various artists and all images are created using high resolution Obama artwork.

Profits are donated to the Obama for America 2008 campaign.

Another, less useful (but no less entertaining) website is the Barack Obama is your new bicycle site.

Find out what Barack Obama has done for YOU (he gave me a puppy!)


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Friday, June 6, 2008

flutterbyblue: Anime character

Last month I was informed that the source of my eyestrain problems was in fact quite common among graduate students. At twenty-something years old, I needed reading glasses. With (blurry) visions of plastic granny glasses on fake gold chain in my head I reluctantly trekked over to the nearest For Eyes to pick out a pair.
The trauma did not end there. I was also informed that people with vision as poor as mine are at risk for detached retinas. That sounded almost as horrible as the preventative measures I would have to take.

Dilating eye drops: or how to turn morph into an Anime character

The doctor called me into his office and administered three sets of eye drops. I was then told to sit out in the waiting room for 20 minutes. I'm not sure what's in those atropine drops, but some of them dripped down onto my tongue during the rather messy application process. As I sat in the increasingly blurry waiting room, I noted the increasing numbness of the tip of my tongue. Weird. Following a not entirely pleasant series of lights and prodding, my left eye was declared to have a "weak spot" and it was then suggested that I avoid "blunt trauma" to my face. The doctor suggested I refrain from taking up boxing as a hobby. Thanks.

As I don't actually own a pair of prescription sunglasses, I made my way home, blind, and very light-sensitive. Pitifully I looked in the mirror only to discover that my pupil had dilated so much I looked like an Anime character. Very freaky.


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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Design Shimmer: German ceramics

Design Shimmer always finds the most unique glamor-vintage images of household items and modern Norwegian style furniture. Looking for a shabby chic inspiration for your apartment? Look no further! I am especially enamored by a particularly fabulous "bouquet" chair by Tokujin Yoshioka.

In terms of housewares, here's one German artist who caught my eye:

Kuehn Keramik produces some gorgeous, funky ceramic pieces with vintage prints. Pieces have been featured in Vanity Fair Germany and Italy. I love the vintage stamped prints and quirky words. The napkin rings are especially fun and unique. Check it out and find a unique bowl or mug to call your own!


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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Top 10 reasons to go to Vegas... no particular order:

1. Walking down the strip at night.
You can't miss the Bellagio fountains as they go off every 15 minutes, and there is also the tacky outdoor Sirens performance at Treasure Island. Go to gamble, see a show, or for a convention, but be sure to check out the surrealistic lights and architecture along Las Vegas Boulevard. The sparkling neon signs are a veritable Vegas art form. You may as well grab a free drink card along the way.

2. Window shopping at Caesars Palace.
Sure, you may not be able to afford anything, but it can't hurt to look!

3. The pastries.
Where do I begin? Try Bouchon for a fabulous breakfast at the Venezia. Sit by the bay windows and look out on the garden terrace, complete with elegant swimming pool. You would never know you are actually 10 stories up! No time for breakfast between slot pulls? Stop by the Bouchon bakery on the bottom floor of the Venician. They have delicious pastries to go.
Also, see previous posting on Jean-Philippe.

4. The attractive people.
I am, of course, talking about the people in the hotel and entertainment industry. If you are people-watching on the strip it will become painfully obvious that visitors of Vegas are mainly overweight Americans. Ugh. However, the cocktail waitresses and showgirls are worth viewing. The bartenders are also very talented (think Tom Cruise in Cocktail!)

5. The FOOD.

While I did mention pastries as a separate category, the food itself is generally delicious and very affordable. Check out one of the fantastic buffet dinners. Most will offer an extensive selection of roasted meats, king crab legs, pastas, sushi, salads, fresh fruit, desserts...and because competition is fierce, you can be sure it will be pretty damn good (and not too expensive!) As for restaurants, see previous postings on Austins Steakhouse, Rosemary's, and Todd's. But really, there's no shortage of choices.

6. The hotels.
If you are smart, you'll gamble a little while in Vegas and be offered a tempting discount for your return visit. While the strip is most convenient for the main sites, some of the complexes further out are worth a visit. At Green Valley Ranch one can relax by a gorgeous pool (complete with misting palm trees and over-sized day beds) or take in a spa treatment. There is also a full-sized movie theater and a cute shopping district, along with the requisite in-house casino.

7. The shows.
There's no shortage of shows to see in the evenings. See Danny Gans
imitate any famous singer or movie star. He does an impressive selection ranging from Louis Armstrong (trumpet playing included) to Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole (in the same song); Johnny Carson in the Tonight Show to Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman. Or catch one of the many Cirque du Soleil shows or a classic Jubilee show. If you stop by a Tix4Tonight booth ahead of time, discounts are available for day-of shows.

8. Madame Tussauds.
Cheesy, yet still a lot of fun. Have your photo taken with Cameron Diaz or George Clooney. The best part about this place is that you are allowed to touch, lean up against or hug any of the wax models. So cozy up to your favorite star and savor the moment: this may be the closest you get to the real deal. Buy tickets the day of at one of the Tix4Tonight kiosks and get a discount.

9. The gambling.
I don't actually gamble, but figured I should put it on this list.

10. Just to say you went.
Incidentally, Vegas is home to the World's Largest Gift Shop. Just so you know.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Rosemary's Restaurant

While in Vegas we stopped by a place called Rosemary's Restaurant. Despite being located in the back of a tacky strip mall, Rosemary's was quite an elegant place to dine. The waiters brought by a black napkin to match my black pants (and refolded the napkins every time one of us got up from our chairs.) The lunch special included a choice of appetizer, main and dessert.

Everything was delicious. For appetizers we tried the Texas BBQ Shrimp with Maytag blue cheese coleslaw: a healthy serving of shrimp with a tasty BBQ sauce. The blue cheese coleslaw was fresh and went perfectly with the shrimp (think buffalo chicken gone gourmet.) The salads were also excellent, the mixed baby greens tossed in a champagne vinaigrette with smoked salmon, quail egg, capers, house-made cucumbers, and drizzles of saffron aioli, was delicious as well as the arugula, endive and radicchio salad with Maytag blue cheese, Riesling poached pear, toasted hazelnuts and port wine syrup. I highly recommend both options.

The vegetarian main of fresh mozzarella and slow roasted tomato stuffed eggplant “packages” with roasted red bell peppers, green olive relish, and smoked tomato butter sauce was a little disappointing. The eggplant hadn't been cooked long enough and was a bit tough and bitter. Still, the smoked tomato flavor was really delicious. The creole seasoned shrimp with Anson Mills Carolina cheesy quick grits, Andouille red bean sauce, and grilled green onion was amazing. The smokiness of the Andouille went really well with the dish. All the portions were large and it was difficult to conceive of dessert.

Even so, we finished our meal with the rustic apple tart with caramel sauce, candied walnuts and cinnamon ice cream, as well as a selection of sorbet (made in-house.) All were very good, with the apple tart being particularly delicious.

Rosemary's is on the pricey side, so I would recommend getting the lunch deal (and arriving hungry!)


Rosemary's Restaurant
8125 W. Sahara
Las Vegas, NV 89117

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Monday, June 2, 2008

Todd's Unique Dining: cooking perfection

Before our red-eye flight home, we stopped at a small restaurant off-strip called, Todd's.

For appetizers, we tried the Malaysian BBQ Shrimp, cucumber salad and johnny cakes, and the Asian dumpling pan fried soy dipping sauce. Both were relatively unimpressive. The shrimp were tasty and perfectly cooked, but the flavors did not meld well with the slightly chilled corn cakes (dry and not particularly flavorful.) The dumplings were good but nothing special.

The real surprise came with the main courses. The South African Sea Bass with artichokes and caper butter was PERFECTLY cooked, delicate, delicious and amazing enough to stand alone (I actually think the artichoke caper sauce was a bit too overpowering for such a fantastic filet of fish!) The salmon dish was phenomenal, perfectly cooked and served on a bed of sticky rice. The pan seared day boat scallops with pistachio and brown butter were also amazing, perfectly cooked, tender and sweet. The fire-grilled Kobe Skirt steak with spicy black bean and chili sauce was AMAZING. The steak was juicy, tender and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The chili fries were a nice pairing, and the Chinese black beans added a salty twist to this fantastic dish.

Todd's: go for the mains and you can't go wrong.


Steak, Seafood, Unique Dining
4350 East Sunset Road
Henderson, NV 89014

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