Arts, Entertainment, Living

How to get the Nautical Look

Friday, 28 January 2011 12:00 AM Written by


When I think about the nautical look, I think of stripes, the colors of navy, white and red, with accents in gold. For this coming Spring, stores like Ann Taylor, LOFT and J.Crew already have hints of the nautical look in their collections.

To get this look, check out some of my following tips:

Pattern: Stripes are a key element to achieving the nautical look. Look for horizontal striped shirts, skirts and/or blazers. If you dare, you can even look for pieces with anchor details on them.

Colors: Stay true to the traditional color palette of navy, white, red, khaki, and dark denim. Look for accents and accessories in gold.

Nontraditional: If you want to have a nautical-themed outfit, but in a nontraditional way, you can try incorporating other colors of stripes into the mix. And, you can even try mixing different widths of stripes in the traditional color pallet. Think a small navy and white blue stripe shirt with a larger navy and white stripe jacket over top.

As you can see in the photo, this is one of my go-to nautical looks.

Have a great weekend everyone and be sure to check back on Monday for another Clutch post!

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A quick look at Willie Dixon

Friday, 28 January 2011 12:00 AM Written by


That's an unusual video of Willie Dixon, playing guitar -- I'd never seen it before. Dixon was an unusual bluesman -- not just a successful musician, but a songwriter, producer and nurturer of talent. He wrote many great blues songs for many great performers, and had his own successful performing career.

You might know that Dixon was a professional boxer before he became a professional bluesman, but did you know that he spent 10 months in jail in World War II because he was a conscientious objector? You can pick up on that feeling from some of his songs, like "It don't Make Sense, You Can't Make Peace."

And his musical legacy lives on in the Blues Heaven Foundation, which he founded to promote the blues and blues artists.

I bring this all up just to point out that there's a new website focusing on Dixon's life and music, and it's worth a look.   

There are two shows this weekend that should interest blues lovers:

-- Leon Russell is at the Altar Bar in the Strip tonight - he plays a little bit of everything, but he's always seemed to be reaching deep into pools of soulful blues for his inspiration.

-- Joe Louis Walker, a tough blues original, will be at Moondog's tomorrow night.

Here's a video of Walker -- he should be worth the trip.

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Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup

Thursday, 27 January 2011 02:18 PM Written by

Creamy-Tortilla-SoupIt is cold and snowy outside. The perfect day for a nice bowl of soup to warm you up. How about Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup. This version of Tortilla Soup is very close to the Tortilla Soup found at Max and Erma's. So if you are a fan of their soup you must try this.

I just made this and it took less than an hour. This included cooking the cut up chicken in the stock-pot prior to tossing in all of the ingredients. I love eating soup on days like this! And I love that it is ready to eat! When making soup, you can easily make it the day ahead of time - or on the weekend! Soup easily reheats for a quick a weeknight dinner. I hope you enjoy this. There are so many wonderful flavors!

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John Steinbeck's Fall of Discontent

Thursday, 27 January 2011 12:33 PM Written by
John Steinbeck, who 50 years ago was about to begin the daunting job of writing “Travels With Charley” without notes or a theme, wasn’t too thrilled with the America he saw during his trip or the traits and values of the everyday Americans he found living in it.

In his 1995 book “John Steinbeck, a Biography,” Jay Parini described Steinbeck as becoming  “demoralized and angry” as he traveled from east to west in the fall of 1960.ist2_4371390-steinbeck-stamp_copy_copy_copy_copy_copy

When “Charley” came out in 1962, however, it contained little of that anger.

Steinbeck worried in his nonfiction bestseller about the destructive suburban sprawl, the polluted rivers and the rings of trashed cars he saw around cities, which to this day earns him green stars as a pioneer environmentalist.

And he noted that on his 10,000-mile road trip he had not met many “real men” of conviction or found many people with strong opinions about anything except sports.

But if you read some of the letters Steinbeck wrote while on the road and afterwards, you find the truth: He was very disappointed by the country he found.

Steinbeck was amazed at the burgeoning mobile home culture he “discovered” and described the people who lived in trailer courts at length in “Charley” with a kind of amazement.

But he mocked them in a letter to his wife Elaine. He didn’t call them “trailer trash” or anything.

But he told Elaine that these trailer people – who he said were in love with their cheap aluminum mobile homes and unanchored life styles -- were “like Martians.” He joked that he felt like asking them to take him to their leader.

Steinbeck was much more critical in an often-quoted letter he sent in July of 1961 to his editor Pat Covici, which can be found in part in Parini’s bio and in full in “Steinbeck: A Life in Letters.” Bill Barich quotes from the quote in his Steinbeck-inspired travel book, "Long Way Home."

Steinbeck tells Covici he was struggling to give birth to “Charley.”  What he had written so far, he said, was a “formless, shapeless, aimless” even “pointless” thing.

Yet, Steinbeck said, what he was writing may have been a realistic representation of the aimlessness and pointlessness he saw around him on his lap around the USA – what he called “ant-hill activity.”

Steinbeck thought the country was in a state of decay and complained that its people were against a lot of things but not in favor of anything of substance. Plus, everyone hated each other -- whites hated blacks, blacks hated whites, Republicans hated Democrats and vice versa.

Concluding this overly pessimistic assessment, Steinbeck tells Covici:

 “In all my travels I saw very little real poverty, I mean the grinding terrifying poorness of the Thirties. That at least was real and tangible. No, it was a sickness, a kind of wasting disease. There were wishes but no wants. And underneath it all the building energy like gasses in a corpse. When that explodes, I tremble to think what will be the result. Over and over I thought we lack the pressures that make men strong and the anguish that makes men great. The pressures are debts, the desires for more material toys and anguish is boredom. Through time, the nation has become a discontented land.”


But how accurate or fair was Steinbeck's grim assessment of America?

Steinbeck is often lauded today for being in touch with America and the hearts and minds of working people.

That was certainly true in his early days, when he was a strapping young man in California observing and living and working among the ranch hands and migrant farm workers of the Salinas Valley and the sardine packers and fishermen of Cannery Row.

But by the time he went on his “Charley” trip, in 1960, he was a different John Steinbeck.

He was a rich and famous and parochial 58-year-old New Yorker who hung out on a cultural and political “island” with celebrities, artists and politicians and traveled for months at a time in Europe.

In 1960 he had little in common anymore with the common American, whose values and tastes he didn’t share. He knew it, too. Getting back in touch with America was one reason he wanted to circumnavigate it alone and anonymously.travels_cove_copy_copy_copy_copy_copy_copy

But how much of the country did Steinbeck actually see as he drove at high speed on a narrow ribbon of highway? Not much, as I know from doing my own high-speed sprint along what’s left of his route.

The more you know about Steinbeck’s route, the more you realize how little of America he could have seen.

He dodged most of the big cities. He skipped most of the South. He didn’t linger anywhere for longer than overnight, except during his lavish rest stops in Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Monterey and Texas, where he was either with his wife Elaine, socializing with his friends and relatives or relaxing at his family cottage.

On the road and behind the wheel of Rocinante, he wasted no time on research or side trips.

He sprinted from Chicago to Seattle in seven or eight days.

He sprinted from Monterey to Amarillo in four or five days, admitting in "Charley" that for hundreds of miles he drove without really seeing anything. He sprinted straight home from the South, seeing little and stopping only for gas, food and naps in his camper.

Steinbeck himself expressed worries in the first draft of “Charley” that he was missing important segments of “monster” America and only seeing the fringes of society. That was edited out of the final version, but he was right.

America is too big. No one could have seen all of it, or even a representative slice of it, on a trip like his or mine or William Least Heat-Moon's or Tocqueville's.

Steinbeck didn’t try to pretend otherwise. He didn’t claim to have discovered any great new or definitive truths about America. Just the opposite.

He issued disclaimers and caveats all over the place in “Charley” about the limits of what he saw or learned.

More than once he cautioned the reader to remember the obvious but rarely stated truth:

The country he saw through his windshield was his reality alone, not anyone else’s. And what he described in "Travels With Charley" was 100 percent subjective.

What he wrote about was filtered through his novelist’s eyes, ears and brain and shaped by his mental state and moral, cultural and political values. Whether it was the true parts or the stuff he made up.

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CNBC visits Giant Eagle for 'Supermarkets Inc."

Thursday, 27 January 2011 12:00 AM Written by

blog_5_Tyler_Mathisen__Laura_Karet_at_Giant_EagleMy guess is no one showed CNBC the undistinguished Squirrel Hill Giant Eagle before the cable network came to town to film at a Market District store (it looks like the Robinson Town Center store, but is never identified as such) for "Supermarkets Inc.: Inside a $500 Billion Money Machine" (9 tonight). Because if anyone from CNBC got a look inside one of the lesser Giant Eagle stores, my guess is they would have steered clear and visited a superior local chain like Wegmans, based in Rochester, N.Y.

In the one-hour docuementary, reported by Tyler Mathisen, much time is devoted to wandering the aisles of the Market District store, including some time spent chatting with Giant Eagle execs, including Laura Karet (pictured with Mathisen at left).

Read more after the jump. ...

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Greek Pita Pockets with Fattoush

Wednesday, 26 January 2011 01:24 PM Written by

Greek_Pita_Pockets_and_FattoushOK - everyone loves tacos right? Well tonight's dinner - Greek Pita Pockets - is the Mediterranean version of the taco. At least that is what my kids will tell me. They call these "Greek Tacos." And they LOVE them!!! Not only do my kids love them, but so do their friends!!! The last time we had these I served these to 5 kids and they ate them up!!!

My husband preferse to eat them without the pita. He will pile all of the meat in a bowl and top it with the cucumber yogurt sauce. The sauce can be made ahead of time - even the day before! The kids and I like ours stuffed in a whole wheat pita - although not all of the kids are hip to the yogurt sauce.

And let's talk salad - Fattoush!!!! I am not sure what I love more about the salad - the fresh mint or the simple dressing made of equal parts of lemon juice and olive oil with a bit of fresh garlic. It is fresh, delicious and so healthy!!! You could add some crumbled feta for an extra zing.

I also wanted to share with you that the butcher at Giant Eagle Market District in the South Hills told me that lots of people came in to order ground lamb after I placed my order. He asked "What show did you all watch?" I responded - "Oh - it wasn't a show ... it might be the recipe I included in this little blog I write for the Post-Gazette." HeeHee - so THANKS!!!!! To all those shopping and purchasing ground lamb this week!!! Enjoy dinner!!!

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'Southland' surprise

Wednesday, 26 January 2011 12:00 AM Written by


Read more recent TV news and views headlines.

Last night's "Southland" on TNT packed quite an emotional punch.

To learn why -- spoilers if you haven't watched it yet -- read more after the jump below. ...


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Cool Site: Pink Clouds

Wednesday, 26 January 2011 12:00 AM Written by


This week in my Daily Candy Weekend Guide, I discovered a cool new vintage shopping site,

What I like about this site is that all of the vintage and designer wears are repaired and cleaned before posted online for sale. I think one of reasons why I'm not a huge vintage shopper is because I have this stigma in my head that vintage means smelly clothing in need of repair. So, I'm glad I found this site that squashes my way of thinking about vintage clothing.

I also like the selection of high-end designers, including Chanel, McQueen, DVF, Gucci, etc. When shopping on this site, you can search by the type of piece you are looking for (clothing, accessories, jewelry, handbags, etc) or by your size. In addition, each piece has the measurements listed, so you can measure yourself to see if you might be able to fit into a piece. As you know, sizes have changed tremendously over the years so even though you might be a large, something in a medium might fit you just as well.

In addition to this site, you can digs your hands into some vintage and consignment shops around the city at some of the following places:

Also, you can visit these two online vintage sites run by some local gals: CrazyHotClothes and Daffodil Vintage.

If vintage clothing isn't your thing, you can always get fantastic vintage-inspired clothing at ModCloth!

Did I forget to mention one of your favorite local vintage shops? Please leave me a comment and let my readers know where you like to shop for vintage clothing.

Be sure to check back on Friday for another Clutch post!

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