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Every time I walk through Barneys designer floor I cannot help but delicately & lovingly caress the juxtaposed fabrics & fibers that are interwoven, draped, embellished & disheveled that compile the always extraordinary Rodarte collection.  The way the dresses act as an entity engulfing it’s owner in such a strangely beautiful way….the way the looped & woven sweaters hang upon its’ owner like a blanket that has been passed down through the generations…all in all the pieces exude love, creativity, art.

It is no wonder that the 2 sisters that comprise Rodarte, Kate & Laura Mulleavy, have become an immediate success.  Originally from Pasadena, CA the sisters studied art history & literature, which makes perfect sense because every piece of their collection tells a story & is a piece of art.  The designer line gave birth to its first collection in 2005 & from there exploded into NY Fashion Week, Vogue, WWD & every high-end store around the world from Bergdorfs to Jeffrey to Colette.  Every on trend celebrity from Kirsten Dunst to Natalie Portman adorns herself in their magnificent dresses, sweaters & legging pants.

Needless to say while I am obsessed with Rodarte the $1000+ price tag is a bit of a hindrance, thus when I read in Vogue that the Mulleavy sisters were designing a capsule collection for Target I literally screamed & danced about my room! Literally. 

December 20th, 2009 Rodarte for Target hit stores.  The collection is to die for!  Let’s just put it this way I was hoarding sizes & styles in the Target dressing room, haha you can only imagine the strange looks I was receiving from my fellow Alabamian Target shoppers that had no idea what I was so freakin’ excited about!  Here are my favorite purchases…now venture to your closest Target store & be in awe for yourself!

Rodarte for Target Leopard Print Lace Dress in Yellow/Black This dress is unbelievable.  A fitted long sleeve minidress with bows decorating the back (picture to the right) it is absolute perfection for a night out!

 

Rodarte for Target crepe slip lace dress in oxford tan/ochre This dress is very reminiscent of their designer collections with the layering of fabrics.  Let me just say this dress is not only fabulous & comes in 3 different colors but also is so comfortable!

Every Christmas season, my friends & I count down the days ’til the Goodwyn family Christmas party…amazingly delicious food, gorgeous & festive decorations & wonderful company make this event a highlight of the holidays!  I spotted 2 good friends sporting fabulous ensembles & I couldn’t resist snapping a few pictures in front of the illuminated tree.

Who: Glenn Halcomb, student at U. of Alabama & Bea Fowlkes, teacher in Athens, GA

What: Bea always wears an amazing mix of eclectic pieces & this look is no exception!  Her green top is Old Navy which she threw a vintage Ralph Lauren sweater vest over, complemented by the fabulous Free People black tiered & ruffled mini skirt.  Lastly she accessorized her outfit with gray opaque Donna Karan tights & Old Navy peep toe heels. 

If Glenn lived in NYC, The Sartorialist would constantly be vying to photograph him as he always looks so on trend while maintaining his own personal style.  His navy blue scarf is from Zara & his vest is Urban Renewal, both which perfectly accent his chambray H&M button down.  His high-waisted skinny khakis are BDG.  And lastly his shoes are Mocs from Lands End.

If being a pastry chef for the world renowned Frank Stitt (chef/owner of Highlands, Chez Fon Fon, Bottega & Bottega Cafe) weren’t enough, my good friend Callie has now taken on a the role as caterer extraordinaire for her very own company, Sweet Cakes Patisserie!  Indulge yourself in holiday treats such as gingerbread cheesecake, cinnamon pear & frangipane tart, or even a Buche de Noel…c’est délicieux!  She is also offering cooking classes on everything from challenging French recipes like genoise to more classic recipes like chocolate chip cookies.  Want to impress your friends, family & coworkers at your holiday party?? Order something delectable from Sweet Cakes Patisserie & while you wait for Callie to deliver fresh homemade goodies to your home, try her recipe for peppermint brownies, mmmm…….

                     Image courtesy of health.com

No flavor says “Christmas” to me like peppermint does.  And when paired with chocolate, you have a match made in heaven.  So, I typically use the holidays as an excuse to exploit this flavor combination in as many ways as possible – in cake, cookies, pies, hot chocolate – you name it.  Not everyone enjoys the coolness of peppermint with the richness of chocolate, but I find it hard not to like these Peppermint Brownies.  The brownie layer is dense and chewy, while the peppermint subtly flavors the layer of smooth white chocolate ganache, and the bars are finished with a bittersweet chocolate glaze. My mouth is watering as I write…

I found a recipe in Gourmet magazine several years ago called Grasshopper Squares, from which this recipe is derived.  The Grasshopper Squares were flavored with Crème de Menthe, which is also delicious, but I find peppermint to be more festive.  As of November, Gourmet is no longer in print, and the magazine will be missed by many, including myself.  Fortunately, all of the old recipes can be found at Epicurious.com, which is my go-to website for recipe searches. 

 These brownies are very versatile – cut them into bite-sized squares and give as a gift, or cut them into triangles and sprinkle with crushed peppermint candy to serve at a party.

 Peppermint Brownies

For brownie layer

        1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter

        10 1/2 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not extra-bitter or unsweetened and no more than 60% cacao if marked), finely chopped

        1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar

        3 large eggs, lightly beaten

        1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla

        3/4 cup all-purpose flour

        1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

        3/4 teaspoon salt

For mint ganache

        1/2 cup heavy cream

        10 oz fine-quality white chocolate, chopped

        2 tablespoons peppermint schnapps

        1 teaspoon peppermint extract

For chocolate ganache

        1 cup heavy cream

   10 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), finely chopped

Make brownie layer:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly butter a 13- by 9-inch baking pan and line with 2 crisscrossed sheets of foil, leaving a 2 inch overhang on all sides. Butter foil.

Melt butter and chocolate with brown sugar in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove from heat. Whisk in eggs and vanilla until combined. Whisk in flour, cocoa, and salt until just combined.

Spread batter evenly in baking pan and bake until set and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs adhering, about 20 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a rack, about 1 1/2 hours.

Make mint ganache:
Bring cream to a simmer in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan and remove from heat. Pour over white chocolate in a bowl. Let stand 1 minute, then whisk until smooth. Stir in peppermint schnapps and extract and chill, covered, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 1 hour.

Make chocolate ganache:
Bring cream to a simmer in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan and remove from heat. Pour over bittersweet chocolate in a bowl. Let stand 1 minute, then whisk until smooth. Chill, covered, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 30 minutes.

Assemble layers:
Spread mint ganache over top of cooled brownie in a thin even layer using offset spatula, then chill until firm but still slightly sticky, about 30 minutes.

Spread chocolate ganache over mint and chill until firm, about 2 hours.

Lift dessert out of pan using foil overhang. Run a heavy knife under hot water and wipe dry, then trim edges of dessert (1/4 inch off each side). Cut dessert into squares and peel from foil.

The holidays are near & that means family gatherings, last minute present shopping, insane traffic, ok I swear I’m not the Grinch I actually ADORE Christmas & everything that surrounds it….decorating the house with festive flair, looking at Christmas lights, holiday parties, delicious food & drinks…AND ROCK THE HALLS EVENT FOR CHARITY!!!!

What better way to unwind from the hustle & bustle of the malls & the office than to listen to some great music with good friends all while supporting a local charity?!

Everyone come out to Workplay tonight, bring an unwrapped toy for First Light, a center for homeless women & children in Birmingham, & ‘Rock the Halls’ to some bad ass musicians!

Who: Jon Vogel & the Southside Community Band 8 pm

           Hugh Mitchells & the Illegals 9 pm

           Hunter Barrow & the Gary Buseys 10 pm

 What: Bring $5 & an unwrapped toy-all proceeds & toys go to First Light Shelter!

Where: Workplay

When: Thursday December 17th 8pm

Who would have ever thought a muddy bike ride in Alabama would inspire a phenomenal & innovative sustainable clothing company…oh the wondrous ways the universe works!  Earth Creations is the brainchild of Joy & Martin Ledvina that began over 10 years ago after Joy realized the mud from her bike ride was NOT coming out of her shirt.  From there the wheels started turning & with the combination of Martin’s chemical engineering skills & Joy’s business skills & vision, Earth Creations’ sustainable clothing line was formed!  A humble beginning, the Bessemer, Alabama based company began selling their shirts in malls across the state & the positive feedback from customers was so immense expansion was definitely in order!

Now over 10 years later, the company has completely exploded & produced a full clothing line made from natural fibers such as organic cotton, hemp & bamboo in an array of beautiful clay-dyed colors.  All of their production is completely local, even their sewing facilities are located in Alabama, a rarity now a days with most production going overseas.  I loved the fact that the graphics that adorn their amazingly comfortable shirts are bought straight from artists, supporting creative minds across the United States. 

Meeting with Joy in their Bessemer facilities was such an incredible experience… being able to walk from room to room witnessing the entire production process, as well as seeing the way she & her husband run a sustainable company was completely mind blowing.  Support Earth Creations, a local & sustainable clothing company that not only is progressive environmentally but also fashion forward!

HERE ARE MY TOP HOLIDAY GIFT IDEAS FROM EARTH CREATIONS…  Check out their extensive online store, as well as any Whole Foods store to purchase a gift or just something for yourself that will really make a difference!

ONE. JUNEAU JACKET & SYRACUSE SKIRT COME IN AMBER, BLACK, CINNABAR, MUD, PATINA & TOPAZ

 

 

TWO. MOD HOODIE TUNIC/DRESS COMES IN AMBER, BLACK, CINNABAR, MUD, PATINA & TOPAZ & LUCIOUS LEGGINGS COME IN BLACK, MUD & TOPAZ

 

THREE.  COMFORTABLE & FABULOUS YOGA CLOTHES, LIKE THE DEL RIO TOP & THE DHARMA PANT THAT COME IN BLACK, CELADON, CITRINE, MOONSTONE, TOPAZ & WHITE….THESE 2 ITEMS ARE FROM THE UPCOMING SPRING 2010 COLLECTION OUT JANUARY 2010!  CHECK OUT THEIR INCREDIBLE FALL YOGA OPTIONS ON THE EARTH CREATIONS ONLINE SHOP.

 

 

FOUR. CHILDREN’S GRAPHIC TEES

 

AND LASTLY HERE ARE EARTH CREATIONS TOP GREEN TIPS FOR THE HOLIDAYS:
1. Wrap it up. Think outside the wrapping paper aisle!  Reuse old paper or make your own keepsake pieces with stamps and other art supplies.  Borrow from Japanese culture and create a furoshiki, or traditional Japanese wrapping cloth – a beautiful scarf or embroidered towel can make a stunning and reusable gift-wrap.
2. Season’s greetings.  Send tree-free holiday cards, such as those made from hemp or rag, or e-cards.
3. Hold a zero-waste holiday party.  It’s easy – put the word out via an online invitation site; use washable table linens, cutlery and plates; decorate with found nature items; and dim the lights.
4. Travel green.  No, you don’t have to go over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house in a horse-drawn sleigh.  But do pack lightly; less weight equals less fuel, whether it’s a plane or a car.  If flying, coordinate flight times with other relatives to save trips to the airport.  And remember the train where possible.
5. Buy greener gifts. Shop for gifts that make you feel good about giving and please your loved ones.  From earth creations, check out the cozy Whoppie Cap and the multipurpose, works-on-anyone Shiver Scarf!

Who: Jen Rotenstreich, freelance stylist extraordinaire!

Where: Styling the informal modeling at the Birmingham Magazine ‘Best Doctors in Birmingham’ party at Park Lane

What: Jen’s tonal gray look is accented with her on trend statement coat, all in all the perfect holiday party outfit!  Her dress is European culture, boots are Apepazza & the amazing leopard faux fur coat is Forever Twentyone.  I adore her use of accessories, particularly the heather gray textured tights that create a beautiful line between her fabulous tall boots and her spliced dress.  Add a few silver cuffs et volia!

MY FALL OBSESSIONS

Over a delicious lunch at Urban Standard in downtown Birmingham, my friend Kelly & I decided a collaboration is in order!  What kind of collaboration you ask?? Well Kelly is a phenomenal photographer & I adore styling, especially when I get to display my own clothing & accessories….thus we decided a photo shoot should be next on our to do list!  Here are the results, enjoy!

Photography by Kelly Merrill Cummings of Spindle Photography, click above for a closer look!

While I am in no way a model, I am quite obsessed with showing off my new fall finds…the first one being my new leather dress by Gestuz from one of my favorite boutiques, Swank 35223.  I’ve decided this dress is the perfect ULBD (updated little black dress).  For a more casual day look, I’ve worn my leather dress with oxford shoes & a cozy Pashmina.  Above Kelly photographed me in a more dressy look complete with an H&M lace top, Topshop over the knee boots, a statement pearl ring & an oversize pink clutch-all important trends this season.  This leather dress is the perfect addition to your fall wardrobe as it is extremely versatile.

Photography by Kelly Merrill Cummings of Spindle Photography, click above for a closer look!

My second favorite fall item is my cranberry one-piece jumper by Black Halo from one of my fashion secrets….Gilt Groupe– an online shopping experience complete with discounted designer pieces!  I paired it with my vintage navy Yves Saint Laurent blazer, Topshop gray & pink suede platform heels & statement chandelier earrings-again all important fall trends.  It is perfect for a night out with the girls, a holiday party or a trendy day look!  I even made a new friend in my cranberry jumper…she was quite stylish herself in her pink Coach collar!

Photography by Kelly Merrill Cummings of Spindle Photography, click above for a closer look!

My last fall obsession is my Mackage leather & fur jacket from Swank 35223.  Owner of Swank, Emily Dees Boulden got me hooked on this outerwear label a few years ago & I’ve been a dedicated fan ever since; 3 jackets down many more to come!  Paired above with fuchsia (shades of purple are the most important color palette this season) leggings by Splendid (highly recommend this brand, they are insanely comfortable!), a gray Vince turtleneck, brown ballet flats & vintage onyx & pearl earrings.


LOVE THE PHOTOGRAPHY?? Contact Kelly at tachee@gmail.com

LOVE THE STYLING?? Contact Megan at megan@southernfemme.com

LOOK OUT FOR MORE COLLABORATIONS TO COME!!