the casual red lip

On May 23, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

I never get tired of jeans and a t-shirt. High-waisted or low-rise, v-neck, scoop, or crew, it’s the quintessential casual combo.

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The great thing about the unobtrusiveness of jeans and a t-shirt is the influence the other elements of the outfit suddenly gain. You can look slovenly or ultra-stylish; it’s all down to the accessories and peripherals. How could anyone who loves accessories pass up such a chance to let them shine? I dressed up the simple base with beige d’orsay pumps, pearls, and a belt. Belts can be so effective.

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And a casual red lip like this is so great, so throwaway. Even better with sneakers and tousled hair. An ultra glam red lip is all well and good, but the unexpected, tossed-on red lip is this delightful surprise. Lisa Eldridge recently did a tutorial on this kind of casual glam lip (all red lips are a little bit glam, no?), which I recommend along with the rest of her channel.

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Tom Ford Love Lust blush layered over Chanel cream blush in Affinité with the phenomenal Josie Maran Argan Enlightenment Illuminizer, a stunning, metallic gold cream highlighter, on the cheekbones. Geisha Ink Silk Mascara, which is excellent, a densely bristled wand makes it easy to coat lashes in one or two swipes (I take some of the product off on a tissue before applying to keep the lashes natural). This small Canadian brand does wonderful eye makeup, I would also recommend their liquid liner.

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Don’t usually go for graphic tees but love this one.

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Sole Society d’orsay pumps, Express high-waisted jeans, J Crew tee, Madewell leather belt, Pearl Paradise lavender metallic freshwater studs, Skagen watch, Michael Kors pavé open arrow ring, Ray-Ban aviators. On the lips: Tatcha Kyoto Red Silk lipstick and NYX lip pencil in Hot Red.

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How great is this cocktail ring? Gold molded into coral with jade stones nestled in. Thrifted.

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on the menu: whole roasted branzino

On May 22, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

I’ve been wanting try new fish, and new methods of cooking fish. Whole roasted branzino is easy with great presentation value.

roasting branzino

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I started roasting some fingerling potatoes about 30 minutes in advance as the fish cooks quickly, especially in a hot oven. There is a range of roasting approaches, ranging from ~20+ minutes at 350° to 10 minutes at 500°. I went for a happy medium, around 16 minutes in a 425° oven. I jumbled together a few recipes, mainly this one and this one.

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Pillivuyt Eden porcelain oval baking dish

I was really pleased with the flavor and texture of this branzino, a.k.a. Greek sea bass. There is the appeal, too, of the fish being fresher and less expensive when purchased whole (I didn’t gut it myself, though this would be pretty badass to be able to do, and I aspire). The cavity can be stuffed with any number of herbs and accents, I used lemon, basil, garlic, thyme, and salt.

branzino

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pencil it in

On May 18, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

I cannot get enough of midi length skirts and dresses right now, especially in a pencil silhouette. There is a retro ambiance to this length, hemmed somewhere around the calf, that is conservative while still feeling chic.

asos midi jersey pencil skirt

I find this length revealing in all the best ways, much more universally flattering than something that reveals the knee, and drawing attention to the calves and ankles in a way I find particularly feminine. I think this holds for a full or a fitted skirt, it’s all about that length.IMG_9281

The slinky jersey accentuates the pencil silhouette here, creating that fertile tapered curve from the width of the hips to the narrow point of the knees. Clothes that reveal more or less everything but do so with plenty of fabric nearly always come across as sophisticated to me. I positioned the skirt fairly high up on the waist as well, and do I only imagine that I seem taller?

The curvier you are, the better this silhouette looks.

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And white. Of course.

One can imagine this look with a black skirt but…white is definitely the bold, conspicuous way to go. Somehow white skirts are exponentially more appealing to me than white pants. Why is that? I’ll have to think more on that.

I can imagine it with a teal skirt or something along those lines as well, or a bright shoe, but I wanted to keep it duochromatic.

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Remember this necklace?

I like a natural look like this, a peachy/bronzy look with no eyeliner. This is the Charlotte Tilbury Beach Stick in Formentera as bronzer/highlighter, NARS Gilda blush, a beautiful matte burnt coral, and Charlotte Tilbury lipstick in Penelope Pink with a little Korres lip glaze over top to pink it up (Penelope Pink is not that pink, despite the name, it’s a really nice nude). The Beach Sticks are lovely, by the way, remind me of the Kjaer Weis cheek creams, and a bit like a NARS multiple upon initial application but with more of a cream-to-powder formula as you blend. Very easy to blend with fingers.

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Try putting a touch of your blush (or bronzer) just above your crease with a loose blending brush to tie everything together. It doesn’t really matter what other colors you may or may not have going on on the lid (I have gold here, incidentally, loving my Lorac PRO palette), it works with anything.

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asos white midi jersey pencil skirt

J Crew silk blouse, asos jersey midi pencil skirt, Zara suede d’orsay pumps, thrifted jewelry.

J Crew polka dot silk blouse

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on the menu: eggs en cocotte

On May 17, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

Eggs en cocotte are a surprisingly quick and simple breakfast, all you need is the ambition to pre-heat the oven.

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A cocotte is formally a covered casserole or Dutch oven (any size) but is also often used as a synonym for ramekin. A cover isn’t at all necessary, so any ramekin or oven-proof teacup is fine here, 6-8oz is ideal. Even a muffin pan will work, though I prefer the ease of serving and the uniform heating of either porcelain or ceramic. Great for brunch as you can put them together in an assembly line, and your serving capacity is only limited by the number of cute little oven-safe dishes you have. It’s convenient if they are all more or less the same size, so they will cook uniformly.

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Adorable 8oz mini cocotte from Le Creuset in Caribbean

Add-ons will improve the situation, but eggs, butter and cream alone will do just fine. I like to include any combination of the following: bacon, ham, parsley, cilantro, asiago, gruyere, cheddar, parmesan, chives, scapes, dill, basil, scallions, caramelized onions, sauteed vegetables…anything you would put in an omelet, really.

What you do:

Pre-heat oven to 375°

Heat water in a kettle

Liberally butter (unsalted) the base and sides of cocotte(s), leave a little pat of butter in the bottom.

Layer add-ons into the cocotte as desired. Here I’ve layered scallions, garlic scapes, cooked bacon lardons (+ dash of bacon fat), cheddar, asiago.

Add one or two eggs, depending on the size of your cocotte and hunger levels. Add salt, pepper, and a grating of nutmeg. Pour in a dash (anywhere from 1 tsp to 1 Tbsp) of cream (cream on the bottom also popular). Add a little more cheese on top (this is non-traditional, but I like a lot of cheese).

Place cocottes in a casserole dish (I add a paper towel to the bottom so they don’t slide around) and pour hot (not quite boiling) water around such that the water level comes half-way up the sides of the cocotte. The water bath/bain marie helps keep the eggs tender and evenly cooked.

Cook 10-15 minutes, depending on your taste and the size of your ramekins. I like to cook for about 10-12 minutes and then broil for 1 to brown that cheese but still have the yolk soft. The broiler business is non-traditional and an easy way to overcook the egg, so be careful with this if you try it.

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Very little trial and error is required to figure out what the best cooking time is for your favorite kind of egg. It’s never too late to add more garnish at the end, either, herbs especially. I’ve been putting garlic scapes on everything to great effect lately.

Don’t forget the coffee.

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loving: Oi oil

On May 12, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

I’ve been using Davine’s Oi Oil for about 4 months or so, and I think it’s been long enough to be able to say with confidence: it’s love.

IMG_9172This is what I would call a serum oil, a slightly viscous liquid that has an oil-like effect on hair in terms of providing gloss and moisture while being extremely lightweight and unobtrusive on the hair. Really liking this serum oil tech across the board, from skincare to haircare. It tends to absorb quickly and lacks the grease factor that straight oil has. I don’t actually mind the grease factor, my hair is dry enough that it can take an astonishing amount of oil without appearing greasy, and I still enjoy many oils…but still, the texture is really nice, and the shine factor is subtly brighter and superior to that which oil provides. I use it both on the ends of the curls and to tame frizz in the front. Curly folks, I recommend this to you especially.

It was recommended to me after I complimented a friend on her very long and glossy, slightly wavy hair, the health and shine of which she largely attributed to Oi oil. This is lightweight enough to be suitable for all but perhaps the most delicate, fine hair types. Even then I think it could be OK on the ends.

All this, though, is nothing compared to how fantastic this stuff smells. Davine’s, well done. Evidently the active ingredient here is Roucou oil, also known as anatto, derived from the seeds of the Brazilian achiote tree. Wikipedia describes the scent as ‘slightly peppery with a hint of nutmeg,’ which I think is a good beginning. I would add that there is a nutty richness, the aroma of an exotic (unfamiliar) nut, and an intensity of fragrance I associate with proper parfums. A gourmand scent but not in an explicitly edible way. I don’t experience it as a strong scent at all in practice, you use such a tiny quantity of the product that the effect is much softer than sniffing the bottle, but honestly either way, gentle or full-on, this smells incredible. Quite unisex, too. Maybe especially good on men. Full marks.

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Here, too, is a fittingly beautiful comb, the Mason Pearson Rake Comb. Handcut teeth, made in Switzerland, high quality celluloid, etc. Not a bad price point, and basically just a wide-tooth comb…but such a lovely one. My hair is always getting presents. Totally worth it.

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