Other Musings

Missed it in the Theater? Check out West End Cinema!

Me: Gosh, I really can’t wait to see (insert movie name here)! It comes out next week!

countless months later…

Me: Gosh, I can’t believe I missed (insert movie name here) in theaters! It will be forever until it comes out on DVD, Netflix, On Demand, etc.

Well, I recently took a trip to West End Cinema and now I have a solution for catching popular flicks that have outlived their moments in popular theaters, but aren’t quite ready to come to a TV set near you. West End Cinema is a small movie theater that was established by some DC movie lovers. West End Cinema, or WEC, “shows independent, foreign, and documentary films, especially ones that we feel offer new intellectual and cultural perspectives to our audience.”

West End Cinema is located in the lower level of an office building at 2301 M Street, NW

WEC itself is tiny, and each individual theater only has around 50 seats (let’s call it intimate), but you get the feel of a good old-fashioned theater, popcorn and all, along with the added bonus of a full bar, gourmet sandwiches and other treats. Plus, you get to see films that are stuck in movie purgatory!

This week you can catch:

Oka!
My Week with Marilyn
Young Adult
Norwegian Wood
Le Havre
Melancholia

West End’s site offers previews for each of the movies – check them out here. I for one can’t wait to see My Week with Marilyn and Norwegian Wood!

 

National Compliment Day?

What? There is such a thing? I have to admit, I have never heard of it but was intrigued when I found that today was National Peanut Butter Day, National Compliment Day and National Belly Laugh Day. This is quite the trifecta. My mind is already teeming with interesting combinations for participating in these three “holidays”! I am an avid peanut butter lover and can’t resist a good, gut-wrenching, tear-inducing belly laugh, but I am most interested in making today National Compliment Day.

While I’d like to make the point that every day should be a day of complimenting, I also realize that life can sometimes get in the way of people being nice. Perhaps we are too focused on that morning meeting to notice that Sally in HR got a haircut. We could just be too busy to notice that our significant other whipped up a culinary treat that even Gordon Ramsay couldn’t be upset at.

However, I also believe that sometimes our attitude and our own demons can prevent us from making others feel good about themselves. Maybe we are too self conscious about our own weight to mention to our sister that she looks fantastic sans that 10 pounds she’s been working so hard to lose. Jealousy can rear its ugly head and render us speechless when we see our best friend rocking that expensive pair of shoes we wish we could afford.

I am sure women everywhere can relate. For some reason, women often feel the need to take each other down just as quickly as we can build each other up. As a disclaimer, please understand I know this is a generalization, but it is not unfounded. Just watch Mean Girls if you don’t believe me.

So, in honor of this new holiday discovery (and the fact that I haven’t really set up too many New Year’s Resolutions for myself), I am going to set out to make every day a little smidge of a compliment day. You never know what a large impact a simple compliment can make on someone’s day, so why not test it out! By the way, did I tell you that you look just fabulous today? ūüôā

 

Gloomy Monday

The weather outside is positively, downright dreary and borderline¬†depressing. While spring will come soon, we still have a month or so left of potentially hazardous weather. Want to make sure your feet stay cozy and warm? Check out a pair of¬†Hunter boots! They come in an array of colors, heights, styles and you can even add on extra layers of warmth with a variety of “welly socks.”

I am loving the bright green color! Tell me a pair of these babies wouldn’t cheer you up on a day like today?

Hunter Original Tall Gloss Boots - $125.00
 

Wedding Day Hair and Makeup

I’m on a bit of a wedding kick after yesterday’s post, so I thought what better way to let the wedding wisdom flow than to review some of the vendors from my own wedding day! During the next few weeks, I’ll discuss each of my vendors, my experience with them and some lessons I learned (some the hard way!) during my bride-to-be experience.

One of the most important, and also fun, decisions to make is the one about your “beauty team.” When I was going through the process of choosing a hair and makeup team, I can’t deny that I felt a bit egotistical doing so much research and putting so much effort into my appearance. However, after seeing pictures, ladies ¬†you have full license to be a diva. This is your Oscars; your Grammys; your fifteen minutes of fame! Go for it – spare NO expense to feel good and look perfect.

So, where do you begin your search for the team of beauty geniuses that are going to make you rival Heidi Klum? First, make a few decisions:

  1. Do you want to travel to a salon or have your services on-site?
  2. Do you want hair and makeup or just one of these services?
  3. Are you going to offer hair and makeup services to your bridesmaids? Your mother? Your soon-to-be Mother in law?
  4. What kind of look do you want for your bridesmaids? Hair up or down? Heavy makeup or a more natural look?
  5. Are you going to pay for any or all of these services for your bridesmaids?
  6. What is your budget? *Be sure to account for gratuity.
A snapshot of my wedding day hair.

Once you know what you want from your hair and makeup services, you can begin deciding where you should look. Start with what you know:

  1. Do you have any recently married friends who can provide you with some recommendations?
  2. Does your venue have any recommendations?
  3. What vendors are local to the area in which you are getting married?

Due to my desire to have hair and makeup on-site, I immediately eliminated a majority of the vendors because they required brides to come to the salon for services. I further limited my choices given that my venue, Rosemont Manor, was more than an hour outside of the DC-Metro area in Berryville, VA. I finally decided, after hours upon hours of researching options, to check out my venue’s recommendation, ¬†The Special Event Salon at the Cottage in Stephenson, VA. Looking back, I should have saved myself the headache and trusted my venue, not my hopes of finding a hidden gem! The Special Event Salon was my hidden gem. After meeting with their salon manager¬†to address my questions, as well as pricing, I scheduled the all important hair and makeup trial – which is an entirely different topic and post related to choosing your hair and makeup vendor, and arguably the most important aspect.

However, you can’t get to the trial without narrowing your choices, so start out by exploring the questions above!

 

Wedding Showcase: January 22!

During wedding planning, my favorite magazine was always Washingtonian Bride & Groom. The editorial style allowed my imagination to dream up new ideas and concepts while the “Real Weddings” section helped me believe I could pull off the same class and elegance of my fellow DC brides. Of course, I can’t overlook the novelty that came with viewing all things wedding featured solely in the DC Metro area.

Naturally, I have to shamelessly plug the Washingtonian Bridge & Groom Unveiled wedding showcase on Sunday. The magazine’s unfaltering understanding of class, elegance and whimsy makes them the perfect choice to host an event for a bride-to-be.

Every wedding planning “event” promises a one stop shop for everything you need for your special day. However, very few deliver successfully. Most leave you for target practice, trudging past booth after booth, sales pitch after sales pitch, many from vendors who are not the top in their industry.

Washingtonian’s upcoming event is at the Mandarin Oriental, one of DC’s top hotel venues and hosts some of the DC area’s top vendors¬†– no, really, they are the cream of the crop! My favorite highlight, a fashion show and appearance from designer Reem Acra¬†– absolutely gorgeous! Here are the details:

Sunday, January 22nd from 11:30 am – 3:30 pm

at the

Mandarin Oriental Hotel 1330 Maryland Avenue Southwest Washington DC, District of Columbia 20024 (202) 554 8588

Tickets are $65.00

Wedding Show Tip: Don’t overdo the bridal showcases and don’t steer away from one because of the price tag. I went to one that was just $10, which allowed me to cover the costs for my bridesmaids who were attending to provide me their support. I ended up just wasting $60 because the show was so low quality that I didn’t get any value out of it. I’d have been much better off forking over the money for my own ticket to a higher quality show and using it to find some key vendors.

 

Is Your Wardrobe Pants-tastic?

Glamour just released a list of the Ten Pants Every Woman Should Own. Now, as the elude to in the feature, I am not a pants girl and not in the ultra-cool Lady Gaga or RiRi kind of way. More in the “my body issues and I prefer to conceal our thighs under a cute skirt or dress kind of way.” I found this list particularly enticing, as I was hoping for some inspiration. Here are the “looks” that made the cut according to Glamour…and the ones I don’t necessarily agree with:

“Fit-You-to-a-TDark Jeans”
A Joe’s Jeans skinny fit dark wash option
We all have our favorite pair of jeans that make us feel like we can rival Giselle and they typically happen to be a dark wash, since it is by far the most flattering. This is one area where I say splurge! Designer jeans just FIT and FEEL better – after you get them hemmed, that is. My favorite brands are Paige and Joe’s. Designer jeans come with a pretty price tag, but you can always find them for a steal if you have the patience for it. The first place I always check for discount designer jeans is Nordstrom Rack. If you are on the shorter side, give the petite sizes a try! 
NiceLeggings
I’ve already posted about my favorite leggings from Lucky Brand that I unfortunately can’t seem to find anywhere this season. A nice pair of thick, stretchy leggings are your BEST friend. They go with anything you have in your wardrobe, can be dressed up or down and are just plain comfortable! I’m still on the search for another “golden” pair, but you can try Lu Lu Lemon for some high quality leggings that can do double duty as workout gear!
RuggedPants (Fit for a Lady)
I don’t necessarily agree with this suggestion. I think the “rugged” trend has come and gone back to the mountain, safari, hiking trail from which it came. Your money can be better spent elsewhere and cargo pockets really are not a girl’s best friend (unless you resemble Kate Bosworth). Take some inspiration from this look, perhaps an army green or rich khaki colored pant but this doesn’t necessarily need to be a staple for every woman. 
Colored Legging-Jeans from Gap
Pantsin a Bold or Bright Color
Grab your shades, kids! This spring is going to popping with bright colors – neons, bolds, jewel tones – they’re all there! I just picked up a pair of red cords and cobalt blue capris to do my part. I wouldn’t recommend splurging on this item. Look for a steal, but don’t sacrifice fit or color for the price tag. Pick a color that will work with what you already have in your wardrobe and that can act as a neutral; cobalt or royal blue, red or coral, magenta and mustard yellow are some great options to begin your journey into the world of color. Check out J Crew’s cords and Matchstick colored jeans, or Ann Taylor Loft for some suggestions. 
Cocktail-PartyPants
So, we all need some fancy pants, huh? I see the need for having a fun, go-to, dressy pair of pants in your closet for when your LBD is just too tuckered out to make another appearance. However, this doesn’t necessarily have to be it’s own category. If you’re on a budget, as most twenty-somethings, your cocktail-party pants can be your favorite pair of black pants or your bold, bright colored pants. Let’s be resourceful, ladies! It is a recession, after all! 
BoyfriendJeans
If a slouchy style looks good on you, then by all means, find a great boyfriend jean for your wardrobe. I’m not hating on the boyfriend jean, I just don’t think it is something every woman needs in her closet. What ever happened to a great, classic trouser or boot cut jean? 
Office-AppropriateTrousers
Always necessary, although not always fun! Many stores are showing a much slimmer, ankle-length version pants which are great for the office. Just make sure they aren’t too tight! 
Leave it to Kimmy K to make
the wide-leg jean look chic
Printedor Patterned Pants
Couple these “statement” pants with your color pants – again, work with what you have to put together a great outfit! Pants with prints and patterns can be adorable, but they are not a necessity. However, if you insist, J Crew can usually offer you some nice, preppy options!
Wide-LegPants
If you can pull the wide-leg look off, then they are a must. A long hem helps to elongate the leg, yes, even for us short girls, but you have to be careful to stay away from anything too high-waisted or too 70’s. Go for inspiration, not expiration. A nice button up shirt or fitted top pairs well with wide-leg pants. 
Persona-AlteringPants

Leather, pleather, skinny, wide-leg, printed, colored -whatever it may be. Keep a secret weapon in your closet to punch up your wardrobe whenever you need a fashion boost. If you’re preppy, purchase some liquid leggings. If you’re a rocker chic, go for something unexpected in a color other than black.

Addition: The LBP
The Little Black Pant is just as essential to a woman’s wardrobe as the LBD. You can wear them to work, to play, to party, to church – wherever and whenever. Go for a flattering fit that is long enough to work with flats or heels so they are universally workable. 

 

New York, New York!

I was lucky enough to make it to New York before Christmas with some of my best friends. New York is always one of my favorite places to visit, but at Christmas time, there is nothing that compares! 
The tree at Rockefeller Center, the window decorations at Macy’s, the feeling in the air! I just love it and can’t wait to go back! 
Here are a few of my favorite shots from my time there!
Kyle, Amanda and I at Rockefeller Center

Walking through Bryant Park!

Watching the ice skaters at Central Park

Bryant Park from across the street. 

I’ll share more pictures soon!

 

What’s Your Resolution?

With the end of 2011, as with the end of most years, comes the beginning of new resolutions. Everyone is promising to change something about their lives. I resolve to lose ten pounds (the same ten pounds I’ve resolved to lose for the last five years). I resolve to save more money…I resolve to travel more…I resolve to read more…more, more, more! I have to wonder, does the uncanny similarity between so many Americans’ resolutions say something greater about us as a society?

I’ll let that marinate while you take a gander at these very creative, quite poignant and pretty comical suggestions for twenty-somethings’ new year’s resolutions:

Borrow some New Year’s Resolutions from the Thought Catalog!

 

Wedding Wisdom: Tis the season!

Have you always imagined a winter wedding wonderland for your I do’s? Well, then you are one smart lady and you didn’t even know it did ya?

Venues are typically discounted up to 50% during winter and late summer months. Not to mention, hotel rates can be cheaper (as long as you aren’t looking in late December) and you can save MAJOR bucks on decor! Churches, hotels, banquet halls and virtually any other type of wedding location will already be dressed to the nines in holiday decor, so why not use this to your advantage? Here are a few tips:

  1. Before you book a winter wedding, make sure you visit your venue while it is decorated. Plastic Santas and reindeer not your style? Better to find out before you sign on the dotted line!
  2. Once you have an idea of what decorations you are working with, find your inspiration. Choose your colors based off your surroundings; if your venue’s decorations are mostly gold and white, incorporate these colors into your wedding palette. If there is a lot of greenery, go with a complementary earth tones. 
  3. Candles, candles and more candles. Winter nuptials mean you will likely be saying your vows inside and it will either be dark outside or you’ll have to have an early ceremony. Dim the lights and decorate your aisle and tables with candles of all sizes. You will set a romantic ambiance and save some cash on flowers!
  4. Mother nature makes it look pretty, you can too! Look to nature for some inspiration: pine cones, branches and holly can look absolutely gorgeous with a little design work. 
  5. Last but not least, if you are a January bride, get yourself to the craft stores after Christmas! Prices for all types of holiday decoration will be cut in half! Know what you want before you go and scope out the merchandise before Christmas to see what is left. You can even try to make friends with an employee so they can keep a lookout for you. Most importantly, be creative with these items. Packages of clear plastic ornaments are so cheap you can’t resist? Find a way to use them for seating cards or fill them with candy and use them for favors! 
Look at this bouquet and boutonniere combo!
And this centerpiece option:
The possibilities are endless! Happy decorating!
 

Donning the Apron: Christmas Edition!

Christmas dinner at the McFadden house is a feast of epic proportions. My brother fancies himself a food connoisseur and my dad watches the Top Chef food challenges to get “inspiration” for new recipes. My mom is more of a traditional cook, relying on family recipes passed down through the years and making some small tweaks. I usually stay out of the kitchen around holidays because my mom gets a bit sensitive about anyone messing with her ovens. However, this year I suggested making some appetizers so I could be WELL out of her way before dinnertime. I decided on a flatbread recipe I had made at our festivus party a week ago and my mom decided I should make spinach artichoke dip. The only problem was, I hadn’t made spinach artichoke dip in a few years and I didn’t fully remember the recipe! I had to do the best I could to make it up as I went! I didn’t get a chance to get any pictures, but both dishes turned out really well! Here is the recipe for the flatbread – I’ve got to try to make the spinach dip again to get the recipe straight!

Ingredients
1 Granny Smith Apple
10 slices of prosciutto
1 block (8 ounces) of a sharp white cheddar cheese – Vermont white cheddar if you can find it!
Olive oil

1 package of Pillsbury thin crust pizza dough



Prep Work
Preheat the oven to 400
Grate the cheese and put it aside
Cut the proscuitto into strips that are about an inch thick; proscuitto is hard to cut, so use a sharp knife and don’t worry about it being perfect
Slice the apple very thin, use a mandolin if possible. Do this last as apple browns quickly.

Get down to the cookin!
Unroll the pizza crust on a greased baking sheet (I used tin foil to line the pan)
Brush the crust with a light layer of olive oil
Sprinkle a thin layer of cheese on the crust
Line the apple slices in rows on the crust. It is ok to let the slices touch, but try not to overlap them.
Sprinkle another thin layer of cheese on top of the apple slices
Arrange the proscuitto on top of the layer of cheese. You don’t need to be exact with the placement, but make sure you’ll get a taste with each bite.
Sprinkle another layer of cheese; this can be thicker than the others, but shouldn’t be too thick.
Put the flatbread in the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and the crust is a light golden brown.
Slice and serve!

 

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