Saturday, January 19, 2013

How to Dress Like an Italian: Part Two

Italian fashion icon Sophia Loren, early 1960s
So, for the past year, I've tried to dress more femininely at work - a nod to Italian women always putting their best Ferragamo foot forward. 

What this ended up meaning for me was dresses.  Lots and lots of dresses.  Paired with low pumps or flat boots or sandals.  What I found is that everyone thought I looked smashing (many more compliments than say pant suits) and that it's a whole lot cheaper and easier.  Here's why:

1.  Dresses are one piece, so you don't have to buy separates that match or get home and realize that the blouse you just bought doesn't match the skirt you already had
2.  Dresses immediately say "put together"and create a single flattering line
3. Dresses are inherently feminine
4. Dresses are cheaper (if you hit the sale racks) since you are only buying one clothing item
5. Dresses are more forgiving - pants need to fit really well to look good
6.  Dresses generally don't care about your height.  If you are tall, it's nice not to have to put yourself through the agony of shopping for pants that are never quite long enough
7.  Dresses are board room appropriate with the right structure or jacket
8.  Dresses enable you to focus on interesting jewelry, shoes, and purses with the money you save from buying fewer tops and bottoms
9. Dresses that match either black shoes or brown shoes make your morning routine easy
10.  Dresses show a touch of leg, which is acceptable at work

Start wearing more dresses and you'll see what I mean.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Prickly Pear Syrup

Prickly pear fruit
Prickly pear cacti is native to the Americas.  While not exactly Italian, I share this in the spirit of slow food. 

In the Southern Californian winter, prickly pear cactus fruit become ripe.  On a recent hike, we decided to harvest about 2 pounds of fruit.  Picking this stuff is tricky, especially with kids.  We used a couple of sticks but there must be some better implement.

Skinned prickly pear fruit
Then comes the laborious task of skinning them!  Some recipes call for skinning while others say to throw the whole fruit in the blender and then just strain through an old t-shirt or cheese cloth.  I decided to skin them.

Prickly pear syrup simmering
All that work is worth it.  After adding some water, sugar, mint, cinnamon, and vanilla, it becomes a deeply raspberry colored thick liquid that you boil for 20 minutes or so.  It's absolutely delicious over pancakes, fruit, or, even better, added to margaritas. 

If you are able to refrain from eating the whole batch at once, you can pour the syrup into ice cube trays and freeze it for future use.

I cannot attest to the freezing method...