Monthly Archives: January 2010

An Outfit Fit for a Potato

It seems like the folks at Project Runway should have come up with the theme of episode 2 ages ago. The challenge: turn a potato sack into a dress suitable for their models to wear to an upscale “industry event.” And boy, did the designers live up to the task! The vast majority of the bunch showed fabulous mixes of innovation and taste on last week’s runway.

Miss Mojito has a confession to make. When I was just a tiny mojito, dreaming of what I wanted to be when I grew up, I spent several months convinced that I was destined to be a fashion designer. I’d sketch out designs of intricate, multi-layered dresses. Inevitably, one of those layers was always burlap. A particular favorite design when I was nine years old was a three-layer gown: a floor-length, satin, 0ne-shouldered dress, layered under a knee-length burlap dress layered under a burgundy velvet mini-dress. It might sound like a confusing nightmare now, but to my nine-year-old mind it was fashion heaven.

Needless to say I was delighted to see burlap make its way into the equation for this Project Runway episode. And I was pretty floored by the results! Here are some highlights and lowlights.

  • Several designers dyed their burlap with fantastic results. This is a technique we don’t get to see too often on PR, so it was fun to see the results.
  • I was surprised at how burlap can be at once fluid and structured. The runner-up winner, Amy, showcased an impressive mix of both, in an outfit that played up the organic side of the fabric. I love the burned look of the hemline.
  • The episodes are always more satisfying to me when there’s an actual client to please, not just the judges. A client with demands and preferences adds a small touch of reality to the challenges.
  • Lauren Hutton is a sophisticated treat of a judge. What an icon!

Designer Jay Nicolas is the winner, and you could have seen it coming from a mile away. While his design isn’t necessarily innovative in terms of color or silhouette, it’s a supremely chic creation that looks much more expensive than it actually is.

For a shoe pairing, I’d play up the mini-nature of the dress with a pair of sky-high heels. And since this design is a safe black, it might be fun to play with some color in the shoes.

These electric yellow suede platform pumps by Elizabeth and James (a brand of the Olsen twin fame) would be my first choice.

But, $350 not being in the mojito shoe budget, a vibrant blue in a more reasonable price range would be an excellent alternative. I like these Steve Madden’s with floral detail.

Posted by Miss Mojito.

A Little Leggy

Miss Mojito would be lost without a wide and varied collection of tights and leggings to get her through the winter months. Some tights are perfect for work and some are better suited for fun; some leggings pair well with heels and some are perfect for boots. And believe me, it’s taken loads of trial and error to identify my personal faves.

Basic Black: I’ve been circulating two pairs of my Asset brand black opaque footed tights for over two seasons now without so much as a snag or tear. These are the frugal girl’s version of Spanx, available at Target for $14. They’re heavy weight, totally opaque and do a great job at smoothing and shaping.

For footless leggings, I’m partial to a pair from Express. They’re a great length and weight.

Fun with Colors: For on-trend, jewel-toned tights, Hue is my go-to brand. They’re available at a few local stores here in Richmond (Need Supply is where I buy mine), and also online. I love the way the vibrant colors pop against a great pair of shoes, like this turquoise-purple combination I tried out.

Shades of Ombre: Sister Mojito and I both flipped when we spotted this pair of ombre shaded tights. They start as black at the waist band and fade to a pale gray at the toe. Perfect when you want to insert a bit of drama in your leg-wear!

80s Flashback: I bought my black velvet stirrup leggings from American Apparel with a very specific purpose in mind. I was looking for a warm, heavy weight legging—something a bit sturdier than footless cotton spandex leggings—that would tuck smoothly into ankle and mid-calf boots. The stirrup seemed to be the perfect option, and somehow American Apparel convinced me that a velvet finish was the way to go. I’ve had tons of fun pairing these leggings with black lace-up boots and floaty dresses.

In Search of Some Texture: I love textured tights paired with an above-the-knee skirt and suede boots. The combo of different shades and textures can be so striking. My favorite mixes include a loden green, textured diamond tight partnered with a slouchy, beige suede wedge boot, and a pair of charcoal, chevron patterned tights with some pointy-toed, rust-toned boots.

Time for Bed: Due to a drafty old apartment, I often rely on my polartec fleece leggings to keep me warm at night. I highly recommend investing in a pair! My version came from JCrew in the mid-90s, but a quick tour of Google should point you in the right direction.

Miss Mojito wants to know: What role do tights and leggings play in your cold-weather wardrobe? And PS – if anyone has recommendations on how to take photos of your own feet without contorting your body most uncomfortably, Miss Mojito is all ears!

Posted by Miss Mojito.

Project Runway is back home

Season seven of Project Runway has begun, and the show is back in New York, where it belongs. That concrete jungle where dreams are made of. The place where there’s nothing you can’t do. The streets will make you feel brand new. Big lights will inspire you. Let’s hear it for New York (and Jay-Z and Alicia Keys).

Project Runway is back, and so is the S&C recap and shoe pairing series.

Project Runway’s first episode takes the designers to Central Park where they choose fabrics for a creation that expresses them as a designer. This challenge means that they have the freedom to make whatever they want. Everyone should nail this, unless they can’t really sew (that means you, Christiane).

Things to mention, but not spend a lot of time on — new this season is a gimmicky digital sketch book (guess there’s a new sponsor). Guest judge for this round is Nicole Richie (though she’s more L.A. than New York). Michael Kors and Nina Garcia are still in classic form, describing Jesus’ so-called glamorous gown, “a crocodile trunk that exploded on an evening gown,” and something that “looks like a Hershey chocolate bar.” God love ’em.

Emilo wins the first challenge with a fine, flirty, full-skirted dress with lots of texture. It was my personal favorite, but I think Seth Aaron‘s youthful punk dress, and Ping‘s wacky layered look do a better job of representing them as designers.

For the shoe pairing, I really like the style Emilo chose for his dress. They’re a bit of a surprise. The cut-out bootie sandal adds another textured element, and the greenish color is a refreshing choice. I found a pair of cut-out slingbacks, from Lanvin over at Barney’s. The wooden platform sandal matches the fun flirtiness of the dress, and the bright green color is perfect for warmer weather. They could be yours for a jaw-dropping $1,005.00. That’s Paris luxury for you.

posted by Ms. S&C

S&C Dinner Party: Nouveau Southwestern

The S&C family enjoy a good dinner party. We also enjoy cocktail parties,  holiday parties, a supper club, a book club, happy hours — pretty much any occasion when friends gather for a drink.

Sharing our so-called Nouveau Southwestern-style dinner party is actually long overdo. But, having fixed a batch of agave nectar margaritas over the weekend, Ms. S&C resurrected the blog post.

The Occasion: At last year’s Super Bowl party, friends LC (also known as Sister Mojito) & CA were the recipients of a door prize — Dinner with the S&C’s. Funny enough, this lucky couple also won the prize the year before.

The Menu: Typically, there is one ingredient or item that Ms. S&C likes to build a menu around. For this meal, pork belly was the inspiration. We called it nouveau because we used pork belly, agave, and because it sounds fancy. Southwestern because of accompanying ingredients of roasted corn, black beans and poblanos.

  • First course: Bacon wrapped shrimp with crispy basil
    Wrap bacon around shrimp, drop in a deep-fryer. Fry whole pieces of basil for a few seconds. Serve all on a plate garnished lightly with Sriracha hot chili sauce.
  • Second course: Southwestern-inspired chopped salad
    Prepare a salad of mixed greens, roasted corn, black beans, tomatoes, red onion, jalapeno. Serve with a simple vinaigrette.
  • Main course: Pork belly, stuffed poblanos, refried black beans
    Pork belly cooked for hours, poblanos stuffed with all kinds of good southwestern ingredients, served atop refried beans.
  • Dessert course: Fried ice cream
    Cinnamon ice cream served alongside cinnamon and sugar-dusted deep-fried tortillas.

The Drink: Eager to get a handle on a much-talked about ingredient, agave nectar, Ms. S&C decided margaritas would be the featured cocktail.


Similar to honey, agave nectar is becoming the preferred sweetener of the health conscious and natural food cooks. Extracted from the blue agave plant, the nectar has a lower glycemic index than sugar but still the same sweetness. Glycemic index relates to that “sugar rush” you hear about, and foods with a high glycemic index raises blood sugar quickly. And why do you need to know this? Well, you may not, but Ms. S&C has loved ones with diabetes, so she tries to pay attention to these things. More on the health benefits of agave nectar.

Agave Nectar Margaritas

Margaritas are one of Ms. S&C’s favorite drinks. Both tart and sweet, they are super easy to make, require only a few ingredients, and the proportions are easy to remember. Because Ms. S&C has tried a few variations using agave nectar, she strongly recommends the following: 1. use tequila blanco (the white, silver, unaged tequila), 2. do not use salt in this version, 3. as always, use only fresh juice.

Ingredients (serves one):

  • 1 and 1/2 oz tequila blanco
  • 1 oz lime juice (approximately the juice of one lime)
  • 1/2 oz agave nectar
  • 1/2 oz water
  • crushed ice
  • lime wedge


Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Pour into a glass filled with ice (crushed ice works best). Garnish with lime wedge.

posted by Ms. S&C

Cocktails Savoy!

“Herein after learn all that is known about COCKTAILS.” And so starts Harry Craddock’s 1930 compilation of “cocktails, rickeys, daisies, slings, shrubs, smashes, fizzes, juleps, cobblers, fixes and other drinks.” As head barman at the famous Savoy Hotel in London in the 1920s and 1930s, Mr. Craddock translated his expertise into a true treasure trove for today’s cocktail connoisseur. And Miss Mojito couldn’t have been happier to be gifted with this beautifully illustrated book from a good pal with a similar penchant for all-things-cocktail.

The book contains upwards of 750 recipes presented in a simple style. In most recipes, the ingredients are listed in proportions (1/2 of this to 1/2 of that), although you will find scattered about a few vague references (add “a glass” of gin, for example). In addition to cocktail recipes, the reader also receives a brief education in wine and wine drinking.

Mr. Craddock’s collection is not all business, as witnessed by the quips and remarks found throughout the recipes. The Rattlesnake Cocktail (whiskey, egg shite, sweetened lemon juice and absinthe) is so named, he writes, “because it will either cure rattlesnake bite, or kill rattlesnakes, or make you see them.” And the Jabberwock Cocktail (orange bitters, gin, sherry, caperitif), he warns, is sure to make you “gyre and gimble in the wabe until brillig all right, all right.”  The man’s a hoot!

But humor certainly takes second place to usefulness in this guide. I certainly appreciate “A Few Hints for the Young Mixer,” namely:

  1. Ice is nearly always an absolute essential for any Cocktail.
  2. Never use the same ice twice. (I’m totally guilty of this cocktail sin.)
  3. Remember that ingredients mix better in a shaker rather larger than is necessary to contain them. (I learned this one the hard way.)
  4. Shake the shaker as hard as you can: don’t just rock it: you are trying to wake it up, not send it to sleep!
  5. If possible, ice your glasses before using them.
  6. Drink your Cocktail as soon as possible. Henry Craddock was once asked what was the best way to drink a Cocktail: “Quickly,” replied that great man, “while it’s laughing at you!”

Here are just a couple examples of Savoy cocktails that Miss Mojito is eager to try. I’ll be reporting back after I’ve done a bit more experimentation and exploration!

Mississippi Mule Cocktail

  • 2/3 dry gin
  • 1/6 lemon juice
  • 1/6 Creme de Cassis

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

Mr. Manhattan Cocktail

  • One lump sugar
  • 1 dash lemon juice
  • 4 dashes orange juice
  • 1 glass gin
  • 4 mint leaves

Crush the lump of sugar in a little water. Then crush four leaves of green mint, and add remaining ingredients. Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

Posted by Miss Mojito.

Favorite flats

Ms. S&C has been busy, busy, busy getting ready for her biggest work event of the year. It is one of those all-consuming — yet somewhat exhilarating — work periods. I’m reminding myself about work things in the shower. I’m thinking about new ideas walking home from work. I’m working late. And working more means blogging less.

Ms. S&C has made time for a few other activities to help keep her sanity. Yes, there’s a weekly yoga class. But there’s, of course, the no-fail retail therapy. One recent purchase (100% work-related) included a new pair of flats. Plain black flats. Exciting shoes, right? They’ll compliment my black rolling suitcase nicely.

Except. I am excited. I think fashionable flats are so hard to come by (and I’m  not the only one). These plain black flats from BCBGeneration, found over at Zappos, may be my favorite flats yet. The pointy style is dressy, the off-center rosette is whimsical, the short heel is comfortable. And they’re perfect shoes for my upcoming (work) occasion.P.S. It is New York City I’m going to. Even for work, even when it’s cold, New York City is New York City, and it’s something to look forward to.

posted by Ms. S&C

Getting Experimental

Miss Mojito isn’t big on New Year’s resolutions, but for cocktail concocting, she’ll make an exception. Over the next 12 months, I’m resolved to live out a new goal in my personal mixology: get experimental. I love following a good recipe for sure-fire results, but 2010 is the year I get creative in my home bar. Afterall, I ad-lib in the kitchen on a regular basis, so why not apply the same principles of improvisation to my drink mixing?

To make this resolution a reality, I think a three-pronged approach is in order.

1. Mix different alcohols together. Back in 2009 I was pleased as punch to discover that tequila and bourbon could make a pleasing cocktail marriage when paired with grenadine, lime juice and agave nectar in the Lady Astor. The combo possibilities are endless! Who knows what kind flavor surprises await when I start mixing gin with vodka, rum with tequila or brandy with cognac? Sure, the results might be questionable, but I’ll never know until I give it a shot.

2. Try new spirits. Too often, I limit myself to my favorite staples and mixers: gin, bourbon, lime, grapefruit. Where’s the excitement in that? I’m determined to integrate new-to-me flavor profiles into my bar. This might include some new liqueurs–I’ve been itching to try the herb-infused Benedictine–or even just upgrading the brands of some of my regular go-to spirits.

3. Adopt a truly fearless resolve in my mixology. Everyone knows that the key to success is being unafraid to fail a few times. I must be steadfast in my experimentation. Cocktail making can be a delicate art and a time-consuming task when done right – but it’s certainly one part of my resolution that I’ll enjoy.

For additional inspiration in 2010, I’m turning to the experts for some recommendations. Jason Wilson, spirits guru for the Washington Post, predicts pisco, cachaca and rum will be big players on the cocktail horizon, in addition to the party-friendly punch. Over at the Atlantic Food Channel, Derek Brown had identified cocktail and food pairings, monk-made liqueurs, a plethora of vermouths and ice as key trends in this year’s cocktail forecast.

Miss Mojito wants to know: What trends and resolutions do you predict will make their way into your cocktail repertoire this year?