Model Citizen

 

MCLV is here to share with you some background on a stunning and inspirational woman whom I am a big fan of for a number of reasons.

Lonneke Engel is a Dutch fashion model who has been a mainstay in the industry since she was 13 years old. She has worked with legendary photographers like Mario Testino, Bruce Weber and Patrick Demarchelier, been the face of Cover Girl, Ralph Lauren & Kate Spade’s Twirl, walked the runway for dozens of world-renowned design houses (including her first show for Chanel where she walked hand-in-hand with Kate Moss) and has graced the covers of magazines like Elle, Marie Claire, Glamour, L’Officiel, Sports Illustrated and Vogue.

And while the above are indeed brilliant accomplishments, they are not what brought Lonneke to my attention a few years ago. In my mind what marks Lonneke as a sympathetic and generous woman who deserves accolades are her ideals, her website, and what she and her colleagues are trying to accomplish through Organice Your Life.

I discovered this website after watching Lonneke shop at a farmers market in New York and cook a small feast for the Modelinia viewers in the following clip (Modelinia link). My curiosity piqued, I moseyed over to her website to check it out.

It was love at first sight.

The mission statement on the website’s home page really says it all:  “We want to inspire you to make good changes in your life, be of meaning to others, and do good in the World. Every day is a new day. A day to start fresh! ” What OYL is promoting is living your life with your eyes open. To be aware of what you’re putting in your body, what products you’re bringing into your life, what the brands and practices your purchases are supporting and how you’re living your life. Lonneke is a Certified Health Counselor and initially began this website to share advice and tips on living a healthy life, but over time OYL has become home to a number of interesting and knowledgeable individuals from around the world, all with different interests, backgrounds and specializations.

Marathon & triathlon training, vintage clothing, organic beauty products, traveling tips, cooking & recipes, free trade brands, current events, book & movie reviews, sustainable farming, dinner parties and eco-conscious shopping are just a few of the topics I’ve read articles about over the years.

The site has expanded to its current form and launched an online magazine in recent months, and I couldn’t be more thrilled about their success. To me this shows that people are willing to listen to this very important message.

And so, MCLV is honored to name Lonneke Engel our first Model Citizen. She is a shining example of how someone in a seat of influence can put a great message out there and truly use their fame to make the world a better and more well-educated place.

Please check out the OYL website when you have some time and enjoy!

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Vegan Macaroni & Cheese

 

I have a confession to make.

Vegan cooking scares me.

Well, maybe I should say that it intimidates me. Yes, that sounds better. Less cowardly. I’m not sure exactly what it is (the blenders, long lists of unusual ingredients, food processors, raw cashews…), but something about a gourmet vegan recipe fills me with childlike terror.

Then, miracle of miracles, I saw the following recipe on Oh She Glows and to be honest, it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. Not only had I been craving mac n’ cheese for DAYS (and couldn’t stop talking about it – sorry Sean), but I also had a butternut squash sitting in my produce bowl, lonely and desperate to feel useful in life.

So in an uncharacteristically brave move, I put on my big-girl pants, shooed the cat off the counter and dove right in.

Below are the ingredients as recommended by Angela on her lovely website, Oh She Glows:

  • 1/2 Butternut squash (peeled & chopped)
  • 3/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup of non-dairy milk (and as needed for getting your desired consistency)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (or as needed)
  • 6-7 tbsp nooch (nutritional yeast)
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp or more Italian seasonings
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp Turmeric (optional)
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp Paprika (or as needed)
  • Pasta of choice

I made a few small tweaks to the above list, based on my personal preferences and what I had available in my pantry. I used unsweetened almond milk rather than soy milk, and I must say that I was really thrilled with the end result consistency-wise. I also skipped the pepper, used Spike rather than Italian seasoning and added quite a bit of turmeric.

* Side Note: The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin (this is what gives turmeric its bright hue) and this highly beneficial spice has been shown to be a natural anti-inflamatory, a good source of antioxidants and has been found useful in the treatment of a host of diseases and ailments, including Alzheimer’s, arthritis, cancer, colds, the flu and diabetes. I really enjoy cooking with turmeric and include it whenever possible, so if you haven’t given this beautiful spice a chance I highly suggest that you do!

I added a little bite to the dish with ground chili pepper and cayenne powder, and finally, in order to make this delicious dish gluten-free as well as vegan, I used brown rice pasta in lieu of whole wheat.

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet.  In a bowl, season chopped squash with some oil (I used coconut) and kosher salt, lay on baking sheet and roast in oven for 40 minutes, flipping after 20 minutes.

2. Assemble the ingredients for the cheese sauce (cashews, non-dairy milk, garlic, lemon, salt, nutritional yeast, pepper, mustard, seasonings). Add the cashews to food processor & blend until fine. Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth (I added the almond milk slowly throughout the blending process). Leave the sauce in the processor as you will be adding the squash.

3. Cook your pasta according to package directions.

4. After 40 minutes of roasting add the squash to the food processor and blend until smooth. Adjust spices to taste and add additional almond milk to get desired thickness.

5. Drain and rinse pasta with cold water and mix pasta with cheese sauce.

 

The sauce is gooey, cheese-y and has a great consistency, thickening as it cools. As someone who lives alone and frequently cooks for one, my leftovers are very important to me, and I must say this tasted even better the next day!

If vegan cooking intimidates you as well or if the idea of vegan “cheese” is off-putting, I highly recommend giving this recipe a try and expanding your culinary horizons as I did.

I found that this was something of a therapy session for me and I can genuinely say that I’m less daunted by vegan cooking than I was a week ago. So hopefully this will be just the first of many recipes that I’ll be trying out and sharing with you.

Bon Appétit!

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The King is Gone

 

In a shocking upheaval in the state of fashionable affairs, Christian Dior fired its head designer of 14 years last week following a highly publicized antisemitic rant by the designer. If you Google John Galliano or Christian Dior you will find hundreds of blogs and news pieces discussing everything from JG’s intoxication during the video, to the state of the runway shows that were less than a week away, to who will replace him at the helm of Dior. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if there was a Lifetime movie or mini series in the works and I am confident that more than one biography depicting the rise and oh so dramatic fall of John Galliano will hit the shelves this year.

And while it is tragic to me that an individual in such an influential position has chosen to use his power to cause such devastation, especially in a day and age when his words were disseminated around the world in a matter of hours, I would like to focus on the fallout rather than the event itself. While JG’s publicist picked him up, dusted him off and spirited him away to rehab, as we all know is the protocol for celebrities these days, there were various results in the City of Lights.

Christian Dior immediately and unceremoniously fired JG. No second chances. No demotion. The CEO of Christian Dior has issued several public statements, including the following one moments before the Christian Dior Fall 2011 runway show on 7 March: “Such statements are intolerable because of our collective duty to never forget the Holocaust and its victims, and because of the respect for human dignity that is owed to each person and to all peoples. These statements have deeply shocked and saddened all at Dior who give body and soul to their work, and it is particularly painful that they came from someone so admired for his remarkable creative talent.”

The new face of Christian Dior’s Miss Dior fragrance, recent Oscar winner Natalie Portman, issued the following statement mere hours after the video was made public: “I am deeply shocked and disgusted by the video of John Galliano’s comments that surfaced today. In light of this video, and as an individual who is proud to be Jewish, I will not be associated with Mr. Galliano in any way.”

In the end, both the Christian Dior and John Galliano Fall 2011 runway shows continued as scheduled, a decision which was reached at the last-minute if the concern and panicked debate swirling around the internet in preceding days is any indication. An intimate salon showing of the John Galliano collection held an interesting surprise, though whether it was planned or inadvertent I doubt we’ll ever know, one of the models displaying the 20 looks proudly sported a Star of David tattoo on her slim arm.

There are opinions galore available on this subject and while I am interested in hearing yours, I don’t want to turn this site into a soapbox, so I will not be lecturing you on my beliefs.

What I wish to say on this topic is that despite the appalling statements that were made and the tumultuous circumstances resulting from them, I found at least some solace in the reactions of the public figures involved. No, I’m not so naive as to believe that PR played no role in the aftermath, but despite that factor I thought that the public generally reacted with the appropriate dismay. The front row at the Christian Dior and John Galliano shows were notably sparse, the Paris police are pressing criminal charges for racist comments, Christian Dior & Natalie Portman immediately condemned the designer’s views and extricated themselves from business dealings with him and every media outlet I have had access to has covered the story with, at the very least, a neutral stance. In fact, the only person that I heard loudly defend JG was stylist Patricia Fields, who brushed his words off as merely being theatrical (Daily Mail link). 

That is not to say that there weren’t those who mourned this loss to the fashion world, like the young man in the first picture who carried a sign lamenting JG’s departure from the industry. But from what I read and heard, those who threw their support behind JG were very clear that they supported his creative genius, not his ideals or his actions.

In your opinion, did Christian Dior handle this situation well? What else could the house have done?

If you’re interested in a review and photographs of the two shows, please see the links below:

http://www.style.com/fashionshows/review/F2011RTW-JNGALLNO/

http://www.style.com/fashionshows/review/F2011RTW-CDIOR/

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Community Sponsored Agriculture – CSA

Today I would like to discuss a topic with you that is very close to my heart – And my refrigerator – Community Sponsored Agriculture (CSAs).

If you’re anything like me, you enjoy having a variety of fruits and vegetables in your fridge at any given time so that you can make quick and healthy meals. Trips to Whole Foods and other specialty shops can be hard on the pocketbook, especially if you need to restock your cupboards with multiple trips a week.

Enter the CSA…

CSAs are programs that provide you with direct access to food produced by local farmers. Fresh, seasonal, high quality food. Essentially it’s a mini farmer’s market delivered directly to your front door, or a nearby pick-up location, for a fraction of the price that you’d pay at a large chain grocery store.

Why did I choose to join a CSA?

First, I was intrigued by the idea of giving my money to local farmers directly without a big corporation acting as the middle man. Second, I live car-free in San Francisco and rely on my own two feet for most of my errands. Finding a CSA with a drop-off three blocks away saves me time, energy and effort, all good things when you don’t want to run to the grocery store after spending all day at the office. Third, I was interested in learning to eat a more seasonal diet. True, I virtually always crave spinach and sweet potatoes, but I began to wonder if I was missing out when I purchased the same things each week. I quickly learned that I’d been missing out on a lot.

What is the biggest benefit of joining a CSA?

You don’t get to pick and choose what you receive through these programs, you are given a box/basket/bag containing a variety of produce that was picked at the farm that week. The result is that you’ll frequently get the opportunity to try things you wouldn’t normally buy for yourself. You get to plan your meals around what’s in season and what the farmers in/near your city are harvesting, rather than what’s being flow in from out-of-state or South America. In addition to getting the chance to eat seasonal, local produce and support smaller farmers, you’re reducing the pollution created when foods are transported long distances.

How expensive are CSAs?

They’re not! Without packaging and the shipping costs to send the food around the country, all you’re paying for are the fruits and vegetables themselves. Each CSA is going to charge slightly different fees and the cost will depend on how often you receive deliveries and whether you request any special additions to your basket. That being said, most of the programs that I researched when I was making my choice were less than $30 per delivery. I don’t know about you, but I can do quite a bit more damage than that given half an hour at Whole Foods!

Did anything surprise you when you first signed up?

If you’re used to the beautiful displays and waxed fruit at grocery stores, your deliveries may initially come as a shock to you. When I say that everything is harvested that week, I’m not exaggerating. The food will be unwashed, with dirt and leaves still clinging to it. Recycled and reusable containers will be utilized whenever possible, so there wont be pristine packaging and sterile plastic wrappings. A good word to keep in mind when you prepare yourself for your first delivery is rustic. It is coming straight from the field to you, with no stops for beautification.

What’s an example of the contents of a shipment?

My most recent delivery contained the following: a bag full of small navel oranges, a large grapefruit, a big bag of spinach, a large bag of pre-mixed stir fry greens, a head of lettuce, onions & garlic, a head of green cabbage, collard greens (yum!), half a dozen small apples and a large bunch of carrots. The variety and types of produce you receive will vary depending on the region you’re in, the season and the CSA you choose.

There are a variety of CSAs currently available and with a little research you can determine the one that suits your needs best. You’ll find that there are some farms that offer you additional supplements to the standard fruit & vegetable boxes, like eggs, milk, cheeses and meats. There are both certified organic farms and traditional farms offering CSAs and you can get deliveries weekly, twice a month, monthly… Whatever will work best for you.

If you’re interested, Google CSAs in your area to try to find one that is perfect for you, or check out the LocalHarvet website to help you narrow down the choices available to you.

The Bay Area has some amazing options and I will admit that it was a hard decision to pick which CSA I wanted to support. I finally made my choice based on the following criteria that were important to me: (1) certified organic, (2) close-by to cut down on shipping cost and pollution from transportation, and (3) a pick-up location walking distance from my apartment. In the end, I went with Eatwell Farm. I had previously seen them at the Ferry Building’s Saturday morning farmer’s market and was impressed by their selection of beautiful produce. I’ve been a proud member since October 2009 and they’ve been very easy to deal with and consistently produce excellent fruits and vegetables.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this post and that if you haven’t looked into signing up for a CSA prior to this that you’ll consider it now and keep in mind the benefits to the environment, local farmers and your refrigerator!

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J’adore Paris!

Bonjour MCLV readers

Paris fashion week was dark and elegantly gothic this season, and I don’t just mean the clothes. At Dries Van Noten the models slunk through a cavernous cathedral-like space that brought out the opulence of the collection. At Mugler the models (including Lady Gaga) were barely visible through a dim forest of columns erected for them to snake through. Even Chanel presented its dark hued collection against a gloomy and evocative postapocalyptic background. In Paris I felt that, even more than in New York, London or Milan, you were truly transported to another time or place for the duration of the show. There is really no question why Paris remains one of the reigning fashion capitals.

Mugler: Photo from http://www.garancedore.fr/en

 

As you know the line-up in Paris has increased dramatically over the years, especially with British heavy hitters like Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen (RIP!) and Gareth Pugh moving their shows to Paris. As such, I will not be providing a review of each and every show, rather my goal will be to present to you some of the major trends and themes present throughout.

Gareth Pugh's futuristic black body armor inspired designs and strappy stiletto combat boots showcased beautiful stitching, especially through the upper body, and an overall flattering line.

The Dries Van Noten show was a whirlwind of colors, patterns and fabrics. Rich gold embellishments, billowing silks and a unique mixture of cuts really made this collection stand out.

Zac Posen was uncharacteristically restrained with his second Paris collection and the results were streamlined and beautiful clothes, most of which could easily have walked right off the runway and onto the streets of Paris.

The Nina Ricci show was unabashedly romantic. A predominately black palette was mixed with splashes of creamy pastels, floral headbands adorned the heads of the fresh-faced models and the skirts boasted nipped waists and slim cuts.

No one does rock n' roll chic quite like Balmain. Citing Ziggy Stardust as an inspiration - as did Dries Van Noten - you could see Mr. Bowie's glitz, glitter and glamour sprinkled throughout the collection.

The Givenchy show was a testament to the dualities inherent to both life & fashion: a traditional pencil skirt was presented in sheer black fabric, cheerleader-style mini skirts were done in black leather and pretty printed pieces were edged in bold black patent leather.

Phoebe Philo presented another very wearable collection for Celine, filled with slim fitting trousers and beautiful outerwear, including cropped bombers, swing coats and ankle-length driving coats.

In addition to the ubiquitous draping gowns in exquisite fabrics, I thought the Lanvin collection boasted some truly eye-catching accessories: wide-brimmed hats, saddle shoes, riding boots, structured handbags and ornate collar-style necklaces.

I thought that the Akris show was gracefully minimalist while simultaneously luxurious. This camel colored, drop-waisted, aviator inspired look was gorgeous, especially the buckle and collar details.

The YSL show was spectacular, the clothes prim and buttoned up, but oh so sexy. Traditionally conservative fabrics and patterns played against short skirts, knee-high boots and cheeky sheer blouses.

Valentino was similarly right on trend showing ladylike silhouettes deconstructed into something sexier and edgier with sheer panels, lace insets, high boots, leather trim, studs and feathers, among other adornments.

Against a backdrop of scorched rocks, steam and dramatic music, Chanel presented a collection that touched on the boy/girl trend, as well as showing beautiful cocktail frocks, gowns and pantsuits, all seemingly aimed at a younger demographic. I adored this look with the cropped, jewel-toned knit jacket over a button-down boyfriend cardigan with pockets.

Miu Miu showed great outerwear and dresses, but what really caught the eye were the prints. Dandelions, wildflowers and birds adorned the flattering dresses, worn with armored Mary Janes.

Louis Vuitton was all about military-inspired attire and showing off miles of leg in short shorts, minis, coat-dresses and sheer skirts. And don't forget the patent leather Mary Janes!

Things to look for in stores or drag out of the depths of your closet for fall? High-neck blouses, outerwear in bold hues, camel & white basics, cocktail dresses with interesting details (think lace, sheer fabrics & (faux) leather embellishments), structured handbags and Mary Janes.
 
If you make one purchase for this fall I would suggest a pair of Mary Janes, both Milan and Paris proved that this style will be pervasive. Basic black or navy, patent leather, stilettos, exotic skins, bright colors, chunky heels… They all made an appearance!

Valentino

As you may have noticed neither the Christian Dior nor the John Galliano show were reviewed/discussed above. Given the media frenzy surrounding both lines, as well as Mr. Galliano himself, I would like to devote an entire post to these shows. So please keep an eye out if that is of interest to you.
Au revoir!
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