Speakers Table

Oscar Prep

February 6, 2012

I am a shameless red carpet watcher and the Academy Awards is no exception.  This is my Super Bowl, baby!  In fact, I usually settle in for the evening with a couple of girl friends, champagne and Oscar Popcorn* among other delicacies.  One year, I hand-delivered “Oscar” envelopes—really an invitation to my black tie party, complete with a red carpet and life-size Oscar.  Everyone came dressed for the red carpet or as their favorite nominated character.  The winning costume was awarded with—what else?  A chocolate Oscar!

Charlize Theron at 2012 Golden Globe Awards (Photo by: goldenglobes.org) Charlize Theron at 2012 Golden Globe Awards

So, you can see I take this very seriously.  In anticipation of the BIG SHOW on February 26, I’ve assessed the fashions from the 2012 Golden Globes and SAG Awards.  The real standouts—aside from the disastrous Sarah Michelle Gellar in a blue and white tie-died strapless Monique L'huillier—are Charlize Theron in a soft pink Dior dress, Angelina Jolie in a white strapless Atelier Versace and Emma Stone in an Alexander McQueen black strapless tea-length stunner.  An honorable mention goes out to Octavia Spencer who did the plus size gals proud in Tadashi Shoji at both shows.

Don’t get me wrong!  There were scores of gorgeous dresses on perfect bodies—just nothing original, creative or fun.  We saw the same tired body hugging, breast oozing strapless gowns with a variety of textures and trains to set them apart.  They’re the uniform of the Hollywood red carpet.  Yawn.

I want to see new and daring!  Let’s have fun with fashion, people!  That’s what it’s all about in case you’ve forgotten.  I am not suggesting that stars should make their entrance in a golden egg ala 2011 Gaga Grammy style.  Nor, do I recommend a swan dress such as Björk wore to the 2001 Oscars.  But, perhaps we could bring back glamour, sophistication and originality as did our three fashionistas from above.  Their dresses were about structure, femininity and timeless looks.  The lines were simple and classic.  There’s no question that all three of these women looked sexy, beautiful and comfortable—and raised the bar doing so.

Ah, but this is all just a warm up for the big night.  What will they wear?  Will they get it right?  Who will be a train wreck due to some tragically trendy stylist?  We can only wait and see.  This year I am watching with my BFF from college.  I will also be texting with my 22-year old daughter, toasting and trashing gowns as the stars appear.  Oddly enough, despite our age difference, she and I always agree on the winners and losers. Must be that good taste and good fashion never go out of style. 


*Speaking of good taste, here’s the recipe for 

Oscar Pop Corn

1 bag popped microwave buttered pop corn (10 to 12 cups)

1 cup salted mixed nuts

½ cup dried cranberries

1 12 oz package white chocolate

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Edible gold powder (optional)


Pop corn and pour into large bowl.

Add nuts and cranberries; stir well.

Melt white chocolate in double boiler or microwave, then pour over pop corn mixture till evenly coated.

Spread onto large rimmed baking sheet; sprinkle with cinnamon, stirring to distribute evenly.  Cool completely. 

Sprinkle with gold powder if desired.

Store in air-tight container.

Serve in martini glasses.


Written by Robin Jones

Robin is a fashion stylist with Style for Hire, a Stacey London Company and co-owner of www.refreshyourdress.net.


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Pandering on Taxes

January 31, 2012


Though it is nothing new, I am still amazed at the pandering politicians do when it comes to taxes.

On Monday the District announced its best audit results in years. It was confirmation that we once again have an administration that is focused on bringing long-term financial stability to the City. This is the kind of financial oversight that people say they want and that we haven’t had since Mayor Tony Williams’ administration.

So instead of discussing the importance of this audit result to the District, what do the Council chair and the chair of the Council’s Finance Committee do?

They immediately begin talking about potential new tax cuts and lamenting recent tax increases. They do this without any real review of where the potential future problems will be within the city’s budget based on the impact of a continuing slow economy and the real danger of less federal funding coming into the District.

What is interesting is that this pandering seems unnecessary. There hasn’t been any great outcry from District residents about D.C. income taxes. Many of the approximately 6,000 people that were impacted by the .4% rate increase in their income taxes, from 8.5% to 8.9%, most likely didn’t notice any difference in their lives. In addition, the impact of the increase was actually less than the .4% as they could take that small increase and deduct it from their federally taxed income.

One of the biggest benefits of the District once again being able to rebuild its reserve fund is that it will put us in good stead with the bond rating agencies, keeping our credit ratings high and thereby potentially lowering our long-term debt costs.

Instead of talking about lowering taxes it would be better for the Council to focus first on continuing to comb the budget for more cost savings. Then it would serve all residents well if they reviewed all the programs where additional spending could make a real difference in the long term for all the people of the District. Among those programs could be infrastructure, public safety, education, and job training.

Another area that could use some increase in funding in the District is the arts. We often forget that a strong and vibrant arts community often brings much more revenue into the District than the contribution that we make from public funds.

In the coming years there will most likely be cuts in various programs that we count on from the federal government. These include healthcare, public transportation, education and housing programs to name a few. We should begin planning for that eventuality, not just cut taxes today and find we have to raise them again a year from now. When government is efficient and watches our money carefully, the public is generally much more accepting of paying taxes.

I suggest all of our politicians have a conversation about efficiency, productivity and producing the best possible services for the people of the District instead of immediately making the easy call and suggesting lowering taxes because they think it makes them more popular.

By Peter D. Rosenstein 

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Alice Waters at the Sunday Market

January 22, 2012

I get so many benefits from visiting my local Farmers’ Market. First, are the people: Today, I bumped into my good friend, Ann Yonkers, the Co-Founder of Fresh Farm Markets, and with her, Alice Waters, Chef, Author, and Pioneer for a “Fresh, Clean, and Fair” Food Economy. Ms. Waters is in Washington, D.C. for several events benefiting Martha's Table and D.C. Central Kitchen.

When Fresh Farm Market opened about 11 years ago, it improved the quality of life for me and everyone who visits. The Dupont Circle Farmers’ Market is one of the few in the area open year-round.

Every Sunday morning in Fall and Winter, I’m there tasting which apple and pear variety is the best that week. Today “Pink Lady” got first prize. To me, it’s the epitome of a perfect apple: the ideal combination of crispiness, sweetness and tartness. But other weeks, I may prefer another variety.

I will be eating an apple-a-day this week with just a tad of Pimento Cheese Spread, bought from Keswick Creamery.

Today, I also picked up some carrots and parsnips, surprisingly tender and sweet right now. I love to puree them together to create "Mashed Carrots and Parsnips with Nutmeg."

I couldn’t resist  Toigo Orchard's Bourbon Peaches, picked perfectly ripe from their own orchards and flavored with, um, bourbon. DARN GOOD! I have many jars set aside to give as gifts to my grateful friends who don’t have access to my market. But I always have one set aside pour moi!

Tasting is one of my favorite parts of visiting the market; and that’s true for adults and children alike. When I teach children at the Capital Harvest on the Plaza (C.H.O.P.) Farmers' Market, it opens a whole new taste experience for them. It’s amazing how children can enjoy the differences in the apples: some are sweeter, others more tart, some are crunchier, others softer, there are even different colors outside and in! Children are very observant. One week, a child blurted out that the butternut squash looked like a peanut. Well, I had to agree… a giant peanut, anyway! After a visit to the market, I can confidently say those children go back to school and their homes begging for fruits and vegetables. Studies verify all it takes is positive exposure for children to prefer healthy food.

From my last market visit, I’m already stocked with onions, garlic, greens, and orchids. So I’m pleased to be able to enjoy another week of delicious, locally-grown fruits and vegetables. Nothing makes it easier – and better for you – than buying locally. The fruits and vegetables are picked at peak ripeness, ensuring maximum flavor and nutritional value. You’re helping save the environment too!

By Katherine Tallmadge

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