Saturday, January 10, 2015

Not another detox post!

Yes, sorry about this one! This time of year internet and other media is bursting with body- and food-shaming masquerading as health advice, and quick fixes and sales on activewear are thick on the ground. This is not what this post is.

Look, your liver, kidneys, and intestines are all doing a fine job eliminating toxins. You cannot make your body more alkaline by eating certain foods. However, there are foods that help with digestion as well as peristalsis, and seasonal eating makes perfect sense at least in the temperate zone: temperatures and day length do affect metabolism as well as local food availability, and our bodies do respond to both. 

So with that in mind, I want to offer a few of my favorite kitchen things to do in the colder months. Most of them are vegetable-based, and thus are basically healthy and good for you. They are also seasonally appropriate in terms of either availability or fitting in with winter cravings for hearty fare. They make me happy in winter; I hope they'll make you happy too!

1. Fermented vegetables. Not quite pickles, since most pickling methods involve vinegar. These only need Lactobacillus to kick off lactic fermentation - lactic acid keeps the pH low and thus prevents harmful bacteria (Clostridium botulinum being the deadly one) from growing. On the pic above, there are two jars of cauliflower and one of beets, but pretty much anything can be fermented - carrots, cabbage, peppers, tomatoes etc.

Cut up the veggies in bite-sized pieces, fill the jars 3/4 way to the top. Prepare brine: 1-2 liters of water, 3-4 tablespoons  of sea salt, and spices of choice. I used bay leaf, dill and cumin seeds, coriander, and black tea for tannins. You can heat the brine but let it cool before adding to the veggies. You can let the nature take its course, or you can add Lactobacillus with some brine from a previous batch, or a spoonful of juice from store-bought kimchi or sauerkraut, or whey from Greek yogurt. Close the lids and let ferment at room temp. Open the jar once a day to taste the pickles and let out the gas. 3-5 days is usually plenty. After the pickles are done, move them to the fridge. Enjoy for the taste, probiotics, and seasonality -- they keep for a few months in the fridge!

2. Winter smoothies. I tend to make them without ice or frozen bananas, and add cold-weather spices, such as ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, and cloves. The bright-green one pictured above is made with two cups of spinach, one cup of almond milk, one whole pear cut into pieces, a sprig of mint, two dashes of turmeric and ginger each (use fresh ginger if available), one tablespoon of flaxseed meal, sweetener to taste -I used a teaspoon of honey and a tablespoon of sea buckthorn berries pureed with sugar, because I am Russian and we feel strongly about health benefits of sea buckthorn.

3. Homemade kefir. Another Russian thing, but also probiotics and deliciousness. If you consume dairy, this is the stuff: sugar has been eaten by Lactobacillus so it's all low sugar, great protein, and probiotics. You can buy kefir grains (sometimes called Tibetan milk fungus) online. 

4. Root vegetables. They are the seasonal staple of temperate zone and national food of all cold European countries (along with fish!) Beets are a given, and sweet potatoes are always nice. I usually convert my salads to root-veggie based in the winter, as they feel heartier that usual summer greens. Here's the one I made today: daikon radish and carrots grated on the largest holes of a standard box grater, seasoned with sea salt and sea buckthorn oil. You may prefer any other vegetable oil, such as sunflower or olive.

The red color is due to the oil as well as the carrots. 

I like these foods because they are delicious yet healthy, filling but not excessively so. And they make me like winter just a little bit more!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Moscow Shopping 2

After another trip, more shopping recommendations. First, if you can go to SV MOSCOW, do: amazing beautifully designed space with a well-curated selection of Russian and otherwise avant-garde designers, from Comme des Garcons to A.F. Vandervorst to KTZ, to more obscure labels such as Gosha Rubchinskiy. This is where I scored these amazing quilted CdG pants (posed with a sweater by The Row).

I also bought this CdG sweater and AF Vandervorst booties. Yes, heavier than usual shopping, bit the selection was too good to resist.

Here're a few more pics of the space and the merch;

I have to give props to the staff as well, always attentive and helpful. I mention it since as a middle-aged woman who doesn't look like the usual fashion person, I have encountered complete indifference as well as borderline disdain in many edgy boutiques. Always nice to encounter an exception!

PRIMEROVA was having an open house in their new space right off Nikolskaya St. Sadly, I wasn't able to meet the designer. I did however met the store cat!

Stopped by Traffik+. Nothing bought, but nice browsing and lovely selection by Rodebjer and Humanoid!

As always, Winzavod is lovely and inspiring, and the graffiti there is as good as shopping!

Here're some pictures of pre-New Year Moscow streets, because most of the point in downtown shopping is wandering through the streets and gawking, and of course warming up with hot chocolate from Shokoladnitsa and pastries from kiosks.

And once I got home, there was a package from Totokaelo waiting for me under the tree! Check out the lovely packaging:

The dress is Issey Miyake's PLEATS PLEASE number in navy and purple. For truly, Japanese avant-garde is a great joy, and I'm so glad I can find it on both sides of the Atlantic!

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Zoran and Union&Fifth

So the #BlackoutBlackFriday is over, and I am not much for promoting sales. However, today is Giving Tuesday, and I wanted to draw your attention to a new charity shop on the e-block, Union&Fifth. It is a charity shop in the original sense: you donate your (designer, gently used or new) clothes, and they sell them, with all proceeds going to charity. However, there are a few unique things about this site, which are worth mentioning.

First, when you donate, you can select which organization you want the benefits to go to from the list of charities on the site -- currently, U Mass Boston, Year Up, Wonder Dog Rescue, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, etc etc. You can even start your own campaign! They price and photograph things for you, with 75% of the sales going to the charity of your choice, with the rest being used for the operating costs of Union&Fifth (also a registered non-profit). 

Second, when you shop, you can sort everything by charity or in a more traditional way -- into tops, bottoms, dresses, etc. They have curated selections of sweaters and Chanel. You can search by the label or designer -- so the website basically functions like any other high-end consignment store, similar to TheRealReal, say, except that all proceeds go to good causes. None of that a nickel per lid bullshit! The pricing is comparable to TheRealReal as well.

This seems like a really new and interesting thing, and I hope it does well. I have a vested interest: among the resale sites I've seen, this one has the most comprehensive selection of Zoran pieces. Yes, I've been obsessed with Zoran lately, as witnessed by these pics from a recent NYC trip. Here, I am wearing his quilted jacket and a cashmere sweater. The skirt is from Viktor Luna's sample sale, the bag is Cuyana

Here's the closeup of the jacket and the sweater, so you can get the feel of the texture (and the closeup of the admissions stamp from The Met, because we went to see Death Becomes Her.)

Both are wonderful pieces, quintessentially Zoran: timeless, simply cut, in luxe natural fabrics. They are almost always made in one size, and I love the drape and the weight of the sweater, as well as the sculptural simplicity of the jacket.

So yes, I was quite happy to discover that Union&Fifth carries a fantastic selection, that gives me a chance to snag a few more pieces at really good prices. I am going to Moscow again in a few days, and I usually travel with a single carry-on bag. These clothes tend to pack in small spaces (after all, they were created for a jet-pack), and travel well. Cashmere sweaters, wool pants, and silk tops are perfect for travel, and warm enough for my destination. And hey, since they are single size, there is a good chance that my mom will appropriate a piece or two. Not that I mind. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Blackout Black Friday

#boycottblackfriday i know the hoarders gonna buy junk anyways

A photo posted by REGEND DOT COM (@regend762) on

I am very much in support of economic boycotts, and if the events of Ferguson is not a reason to participate in one, I don't know what is. I also feel that it is important to recognize that corporate economic exploitation does disproportionately affect Black consumers, for a complex variety of socioeconomic reasons I would rather not go into here. However, I did want to offer for your attention two roundups of black-owned businesses to patronize year round. Social activism may and should be supported by economic actions, so please check out these lists by Fly Girl Blog and Afrobella:

Fly Girl Blog: Black-out Friday: 50+ Shops to Support
Afrobella: 101 Independent Black Businesses to Support for Blackout Friday 

Please feel free to add more in comments! And please consider refraining from shopping this weekend, because this has to stop.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Exciting Writing News

(Sam Koji Hale and handmade puppets) 

Finally, it can be announced! I have co-written the screenplay for YAMASONG: March of the Hollows, the new feature length puppet film by Sam Koji Hale. It is currently in pre-production with Dark Dunes Productions. It is a sequel to Sam's award-winning short YAMASONG. So yes, pretty thrilled about this one!

(with Sam Koji Hale)
It was announced last Saturday during the Handmade Puppet Dreams Filmmaking Symposium, held at Brooklyn Academy of Music. Here are some pictures from the event, including the puppet of Nani, one of the main characters in Yamasong. 
 (with Chris and Nani)

(with Mallory O'Meara, producer with Dark Dunes, and Sam)

(With Mallory)

(Meeting Nani for the first time!)

(Clothes notes: I am wearing a sweater by LAKE -- formerly KamenskaKononova, and pants by Ksenia Shnaider. I intend to wear Ukranian designers to all public events this year.)

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Black and White

(A favorite black and white look, fall-appropriate! Pants by Ksenia Schnaider, vintage Ann Demeulemeester coat, Phillip Lim sweatshirt, Cheap Monday boots, pashmina from Cyprus, and a bag from Hier Apparel.)

"Black and white for work? Revolutionary!" to very loosely paraphrase Miranda Priestly. And it's true, black and white can be quite boring -- white shirt, black pants are the mainstay of waiters and office workers the world over, and it is difficult to be excited about this combo.

Yet, black and white on the runway can be quite striking and anything but soul-killing. Runway of course doesn't always translate to workplace, but there are many ways of making black and white work for most office environments, never tipping too far into either high-fashion territory or the yawn-land. Personally, I love those looks. Not that those tricks are new, but they are effective, and work for minimalists and not.

Adding texture immediately makes a garment more interesting. I love this top by JW Anderson:

It has a beautiful floral embroidery and a draped neckline that elevate its simple shape from a t-shirt into sublime. Here it is worn with Vince wool tuxedo pants and black slingbacks:

Simple? Yes. Work appropriate? Absolutely. Interesting? I'd like to think so.

Things could be punched up further with embellishments, like this Robert Rodriguez top worn with Theyskens' Theory textured pants:

I opted for black and white Tibi sandals here, and I think that their simple shape and clean design work well with the more elaborate detailing of the blouse.

Here's another look with textured and patterned pants (Ksenia Schnaider again), worn with Razu.Mikhina blouse. The shoes are basic Carven oxfords. Here's another shot of the blouse, in Razu.Mikhina's store I visited this summer:

As you can see, the detailing is intricate although subtle, and I think works well with the polka-dot pants.

And of course, if the clothes are simple, shoes can be turned up to eleven, like here:

The streamlined Protagonist silk t-shirt (not technically white, but pale enough peach to count) and Tibi skirt allow for some kicky Marie Antoinette action from these H&M Conscious Exclusive Collection beauties:

So yeah, I don't foresee ever being tired of black and white! And if I do, there is always grey, camel, and ivory.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Links a la Mode

And once again, my post is being featured on Links a la Mode by Independent Fashion Bloggers!


The Politics of Fashion

Emma Watson made waves last week when she launched the #heforshe campaign. Chanel channeled a feminist protest for their runway show this season. Chantelle Brown-Young broke through a barrier redefining beauty. No matter what you believe, the fact is we can not ignore that ideas are changing, and we're ready.

Links à la Mode: October 2nd

SPONSOR: East Dane Natori, Phat Buddha, Saylor, Miista, MCM, Cushnie Ochs, BWGH, Stella McCartney, Kimem, Ash Shoes & Evening Dresses