Athena Magazine

Fashion, lifestyle, passions

Disco Diva: My newest vintage purchase! September 30, 2008

By Catwalk Creative

I sell vintage clothing and part of my work is to research and see what’s available on the world-wide web.  It’s a way of keeping abreast of my competitors and gives me the opportunity to get first pickings if I stumble upon a little vintage gem. I really did gasp with delight when I clapped eyes on my latest find! Here’s a photograph of the gorgeous blouse which I’ll be wearing with a pair of black, cropped trousers and black patent boots.  I’m a disco diva!

Through networking and meeting other sellers of vintage, I’ve met some fabulous people; one of those being the lovely Tara of The Dusty Dog Vintage Clothing Boutique. She really is fantastic! I was so delighted to find this fabulous butterfly disco blouse which was being sold by Tara—I’d been looking for one just like it for ages!

What I love about Tara is her attention to detail. Not only are her descriptions and photographs lovely but my blouse arrived beautifully tissue wrapped and tied in a pink organza ribbon with card attached. My whole shopping experience was so delightful. I’ve purchased hundreds of things over the internet and, trust me, not everyone takes such care in posting items.

You can click on the link above which will take you to Tara’s Etsy store, or you can take a look at her blog right here.  There’s some brilliant video clips of the divine Bette Davis along with a clip of some rather outrageous dancing girls from the 1920s.  It’s well worth a look, and if you purchase something from the lovely Tara, do tell her I sent you!

(This blog post excerpted from Catwalk Creative’s wonderful vintage blog. For more great posts by Catwalk, click here.)


Where’s Frida? September 29, 2008

Filed under: The Artists,The Real Stuff,Worldly women — rebmas03 @ 3:46 am
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A major exhibit tour celebrating the 100-year anniversary of Frida Kahlo’s birth just closed today after stops in Minneapolis, Philadelphia and finally San Francisco, but you can still get your Frida fix, by checking this site that compiles all things Frida, including new books and shows around the world. Iceland, anyone?


Marni World September 27, 2008

It may have been partially panned in the grouchy New York Times, but Marni Spring ’09, shown in Milan this past week, has been the most wonderful so far, if only for the fact that collection marched so resolutely to its own drummer. Oblivious to the chaos, fear, and financial crumblings and rumblings of the world, designer Consuelo Castiglioni paraded a cheerful pastiche of wildly mixed prints, colors and transparent layers down the runway. Throw in some black kneesocks and beyond-chunky platforms, and you’ve got a look that sparkles in a season that so far seems to be bland, at best. Thank you, Consuelo, for reminding us that fashion is fun. Take a look here.


Cooking 101: Getting Started

Filed under: Domestic Goddess,Food is Good — rebmas03 @ 2:22 am
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By Julia Pantoga

Except for grating, I love everything about preparing food: from looking for recipes in my cookbooks to setting the table. Hopefully, I’ll be a good teacher for you because I relish every step—although I do run the risk of nauseating you with my enthusiasm. And because I am so detailed about it, I also run the risk of making cooking sound much more complicated than it is.

Many steps
Contrary to what you see on cooking shows, where all they do is cook, there are many steps to preparing a meal. There’s planning, researching, shopping,  getting the kitchen ready, prep cooking, cleaning up after prep cooking, cooking, cleaning up after cooking, serving the meal and cleaning up after the meal. Although not always possible, cooking is at its most “magic” when you can isolate that one step from the others.


The more you serve meals, the better you will be at this. I am sure that those of you who prepare meals several times a week for a family are better at this than I am; and I am sure that I am better at this than an 18-year-old living in a college dorm. Make a puzzle game of it.

First, think about the general composition of the meal in terms of nutrition.  Also, if one dish you are serving is particularly high in fat, try to have raw fruits or vegetables as a balance. Usually color is a good guide for nutrition. If you serve several different colors or foods in your meal, you will likely have a nutritionally balanced meal (isn’t that cool?).

Another thing to consider is what ingredients you have on hand. Be sure that you use those green beans that are about to go bad. One more thing to consider is preparation. Think through which pans you’ll use for each dish and try to avoid having to wash a pan in the middle of cooking. These are the things that take time. You’re buzzing along in the kitchen and you realize that you need the pan you just used to make a sauce for the vegetables to make the rice. You have to stop what you are doing, find a container to store the sauce in and wash and dry the pan, before you can start the rice.

Another component of planning is to never plan more than one dish that you’ve never made in a given meal. You really never know where the trouble of a certain dish is going to show up until you make it.  Finally, plan no more than one item that has to be cooked precisely right before it is served. Cooking shows make it look easy to talk while you are cooking and do several things in the kitchen at once. It is not.  The people on those shows are either professional cooks or professional actors or both. What they do is highly scripted. Don’t hold yourself to that unrealistic standard.

To many, the mark of a “good” cook is that he or she doesn’t use recipes. I’ll agree that the Italian grandmother who has been cooking for her extended family for fifty years probably doesn’t use recipes. But the truth of the matter is that, in America, at least, most of us just aren’t that good at cooking. We don’t have the same “feel” for food that the Italian grandmother does.

Also, we are used to a much wider variety than you would expect in an Italian kitchen. We expect to make an Indian feast one week and a pasta casserole the next. I use recipes for such common foods as deviled eggs, sloppy joes and chicken salad because I don’t have an instinctive feel for how to make them. The only reason I don’t use a recipe for vinaigrette salad dressing is that I memorized it a long time ago.  The really good cooks in America, the ones who really have a “feel” for food, are mostly found in professional cooking jobs, like cookbook writing.  By tapping into that expertise, my sloppy joes that taste the way I expect sloppy joes to taste.

Something else that is great about using recipes from cookbooks is that, usually, the recipes have been tested and are consistently notated. One method that is popular for finding recipes these days is to search the internet. Be careful about this, as the recipe may or may not be accurately recorded. The internet is a great source for ideas, but not a reliable source for precise recipes. The major exception I make to this is when I see preparation of a dish demonstrated on a cooking show and I go to the website of that cooking show to get that recipe. I print it out; make notes on it while I cook; and if it works well, I put it in my “recipes that work” file.

Getting the Kitchen Ready
I assume that you’ve been doing your daily housework tasks, so your kitchen is reasonably clean and your counters are clear. The first thing to do is get all the recipes you intend to use in the kitchen. Read them over and over again. Think about what utensils you are going to use and make sure that they are all clean. Like many people, I have favorite knives. When I am about to cook, the first thing I check is that I know where those knives are and that they are clean.

The next step I learned from Rachel Ray. (By the way, what she (supposedly) can do in 30 minutes, takes me at least an hour—she never has to wash vegetables!) Put a bowl for garbage on the counter where you will be working. If you go to stores that stock Rachel Ray cookware, there will be large plastic bowls for sale called, “garbage bowls.” That’s crazy. You don’t need to buy a special bowl for your garbage! Any large lightweight bowl will do. In my kitchen, the garbage pail is less than two steps away from the counter where I do most of my food prep work. You would not think it would make much of a difference for me to have a garbage bowl on my counter, but I was shocked at what a HUGE difference it made. I use my garbage bowl for all of my garbage, including packaging. If you compost, you will probably want two bowls: one for compostables and one for other garbage.

Next week we will talk about prep cooking, which includes chopping and preparing ingredients.  But there is one last step to getting your kitchen ready, and that is getting out the containers where you will store the things you chop until you are ready to use them. That way you can really get a rhythm going when you start to chop. Chop, chop, chop. Throw the ends in the garbage bowl. Put the chopped celery in the plastic container to use later.


A Girl with Real Soul September 26, 2008

Angel McKenzie isn’t your average Roots-Rock and Soul singer. She has a mission in her music, specifically to use her songs as a vehicle to spotlight poverty and hunger with her AMcK Initiative. Musical activities include staging benefit concerts/food drives, where the audience comes out to enjoy great music in exchange for food donations. After each show the collected food is turned over to a local food rescue agency for distribution to the needy. That officially makes Angela a beautiful person inside and out. Check out her soulful music here.


Suzie Kondi: Designer Vintage + Sample Sale = Bliss September 25, 2008

Girl Alert! Super-talented Aussie designer Suzie Kondi is cleaning house and having one amazing sample sale. Her entire collection, including bags, belts and ready-to-wear will be available, plus her complete vintage collection, a masterpiece wardrobe accrued over 20 years and global travels. As Suzie says, “There is soooooooo much and loads of designer vintage. Really beautiful stuff.” The sale will be held in Brooklyn’s hip DUMBO area at 66 Water Street, Loft 2D on Saturday, September 27, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more info, call 917-415-6613. To see Suzie’s gorgeous ’60s- and ’70s-inspired designs, click here.


Jewelry At Sea September 24, 2008

Filed under: Baubles,Worldly women — rebmas03 @ 2:29 am
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If you want to see wire crochet jewelry taken to a whole new level, check out the creations on Miriam Grafer’s blog. Even more amazing is that fact that Grafer runs her business from a boat! “We bought a boat about 6 years ago and spent 2 1/2 years working on it. It is big enough to live on and we have been doing that for the last 2 1/2 years. We travel on the eastern seacoast, in the south in the winter, and we go back home to New York in the summer.” What a life, right? And that joy is certainly reflected in her intricate jewelry. To see more, click here.


Bangs?!!! September 23, 2008

Filed under: Fashionista Files,Now Looky Here — rebmas03 @ 2:12 am
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I am constantly changing my hair. I view hair as a sort of accessory, a great way to accent a new look. So it’s often that people don’t recognize me from one time to the next—I’m a chameleon that way. Recently, I wrote about entering a new hair dimension by finding a fabulous set of sister salons: Public and Woodley & Bunny.

Well, my mother flew in to see me and get a second haircut with me for my birthday. It just tickles me pink that my 60-something mom loves this hipster salon (the stylists all remind her of her ’70s heyday). My mother has her hair cut by Ginger, and I had finally secured an appointment with the artistic Andy.

When I sat down in the chair, he asked what I wanted. I said that I was up for anything. And he suggested bangs. Bangs!!! I have not had bangs since I was sixteen and wearing braces on my teeth and back. I have this picture that is so completely ridiculous from my high school album. I am wearing a really cute cadet-blue, plaid, bow-tie dress that I wish I still had, and my face is half-braces and half-bangs. Then before that I was five and slightly cuter, but still, I was five. Now I’m in my forties.

I winced at the memories. “Bangs,” I said weakly. “I don’t look so good in bangs. They are just so … irrevocable.” It was hard to turn down an artist’s inspiration, but I just couldn’t see it.

“Really,” he said. “I think that you’ll look like Louise Brooks.”

Well, that was a different story, but …. no. He shrugged and set to patiently cutting my hair just as it has been for the past year.

Since he had been working for Fashion Week, I asked, “Are bangs big on the runway?”

“No, just really, really long hair.”

Well, really long hair was definitely out of the question. But here was a man who created the looks for Fashion Week. Couldn’t I just be a little flexible? I pondered this as he trimmed away. Soon, he would be finished, and my chance for change would be gone. I always say no to change at first, but I always reconsider.

“It’s not too late for the bangs, is it?”

And there you have it. For the third time in my life, I have bangs. But, oh what a difference this time. Where they had once made me squinty-eyed and cute, I’m suddenly youthfully glam. Boys at Starbucks no longer call me ma’am when I order my iced Americanos. I’m a “miss.” People love my new look, or if they can’t figure out what’s new, just say that I looked terrific. (How anyone could miss anything as obvious as bangs is beyond me.)

But the best comment was from a work friend: “Lulu,” he beamed, upon first seeing me. “That is the best look on women over 40. Women in their 20s just don’t look that good in bangs.” Now that definitely put a spring in my step.

And if I put on dark eyeliner and tilt my head just so, to my left profile, and squint, I really do look like Lulu.


Beads, Glorious Beads September 22, 2008

Anastasia of Anastasia Beads does the most extraordinary glasswork, whether it’s her fabulous focals, her gorgeous jewelery sets or her amazing beads. Each piece, no matter how large or small, is like an intricate, glass-spun universe unto itself. Although I’m a creative person myself (I design clothes and sew), I simply can’t imagine fashioning glass into these objets d’art. See it for yourself.


It’s a mod, mod dress September 21, 2008

Filed under: Fashionista Files — rebmas03 @ 2:44 am
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I was out in Sag Harbor, L.I., today and while it’s very charming in a seafaring sort of way, it isn’t exactly a fashion mecca. But then I stumbled onto the Lisa Perry store, a mod, mod flower blooming in a style desert. The impeccably-made, ’60s-inspired, knit wool shifts with graphic inserts are some of the freshest dresses I’ve seen around, so I wasn’t at all surprised to find out they also have a store in NYC’s SoHo. At $1000 per, they are a pretty penny indeed, but are they ever pretty. See more dresses here.