Pack a Bag: Hotel Congress, Part I

The sixth night of our cross country road trip brought my husband and me to Tucson, Arizona, specifically the Hotel Congress. The Hotel Congress is not only listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but is also a Historic Hotel of America. It was nominated for two of the categories of the Historic Hotels of America 2018 Awards of Excellence: Sustainability Champion and Legendary Family Historic Hoteliers of the Year for the Oseran family, the third owners of the property, who were instrumental in the revitalization of downtown Tucson.

The Applicable National Register Criteria for this property is both the first, or A, and the third, or C. The former being Property is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history and the latter being Property embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction or represents the work of a master, or possesses high artistic values, or represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose components lack individual distinction.

The Congress Realty Company, the ownership team, leveraged the selected parcel as it was close to the Southern Pacific Railroad Depot. The National Register application interprets this to tie into criteria A, as the site selection influenced the urban planning, design, and development of Tucson.

Contributing to criteria C, the Hotel Congress was designed in the Spanish Colonial Revival style by William Curlett and Sons Architects in 1919. A 1934 fire by the Dillinger Gang damaged a portion of the third floor which was never rebuilt, effectively eliminating twenty guest rooms.

In addition to the historic designations of Hotel Congress, the street for which it is named was selected as one of the American Planning Association’s fifteen Great Places in 2017 in the Streets category.

Sincerest thanks to Hotel Congress for sponsoring our stay.

Sartorial Sustainability Sunday: Lindsey Kyle, @CozyStylist

last week…

I have noticed an uptick in bloggers being more environmentally and socially conscious and thank goodness for that. Lindsey Kyle of Cozy Stylist is one of these bloggers and after I read her take on sustainably shopping for spring, she and I discussed our responsibility as bloggers, thrift shopping, and sartorial sustainability documentaries.

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Credit: Cozy Stylist’s Shop Sustainably for Spring Fashion

Lu – Is there a particular moment or event that brought your attention to sustainability?

Lindsey – I went to school for fashion and I learned a lot about the process of making clothing and what it takes to produce them. From the manmade fibers to chemical treatments to the underpaid labors who are sewing the garments together. It was very eye opening to see how bad everything is.

Lu – Interesting! I feel ignorant to admit that I never considered that the ethical ramifications of the industry would be addressed in an educational curriculum. Can you share the school / program that you are studying?

Lindsey – I went to West Virginia University and have my Bachelors degree in Fashion Merchandising. I am currently in graduate school at WVU to earn my Master’s in marketing.

Lu – Sometimes I experience internal struggle between encouraging my audience to live a more sustainable life and on the other hand promoting clothing, albeit those that will stand the test of time. Do you ever experience similar sentiment?

Lindsey – Ugh this is something that I struggle so much with! There is a constant battle to buy new clothing to promote on my blog and social media, but I know how bad my shopping habits are. I really haven’t found a way to balance the two yet but I just try to promote more organic clothing in my posts so that people see that I do still support sustainable fashion.

Lu – I spoke with Carla Arvie of I Got It for Chic earlier this year and she inspired me to take a secondary market approach to satiating any shopping needs. Lately I have been indulging in shopping secondhand, specifically vintage Lilly Pulitzer via eBay. Just keeping clothing out of landfills.

Lindsey – I love going to thrift stores and consignment shops to search for new clothing. I have one that I regularly sell my clothing to every other month.

Lu – The clothing industry is the second largest contributor to pollution, next to oil and gas. Have you watched any sustainability in the clothing industry documentaries that have resonated with you lately?

Lindsey – I watched a Netflix documentary called The True Cost that went in depth about horrible working conditions for factor workers, and how we are spoiling waterways with deadly chemicals. It made me want to research sustainable brands that practice eco-friendly production processes. I am more aware of the clothes that I buy now too, I won’t buy something if it was produced in Bangledesh and I always research a brand online before purchasing something. I want to know what that brand and company are doing to be friendly to our planet and their workers.

Lu – The 2013 Bangladesh factory collapse was devastating. It is physically difficult to look at photos of the aftermath. Along with not purchasing anything from Bangladesh, I also look at tags for the fabric content. Unfortunately, as someone has to shop online for tall length sizes, the provenance of items is not disclosed in the descriptions.

Lindsey – It is very difficult to look for clothing brands that tell us everything about the piece of clothing that we’re buying. That’s why I try to stick to brands that are very open about their production processes. I actually just published a blog post too about how to shop spring fashion with sustainable brands.

Lu – Lately H&M has been running commercial spots for their sustainable line. An H&M sustainable line seems like an oxymoron. Even if there are not environmental implications, I sincerely doubt that there are not social implications. What are your thoughts about the line?

Lindsey – H&M is one of the worst offenders for fast fashion. There have been news stories about how their workers are begging for help in little notes that are left in the pockets of clothing. I don’t know how true those stories are but they are believable. They product their clothing at such a fast rate that they don’t care about the working conditions of their workers or the quality of their clothing.

Lu – I recently read about a human bone found in the Primark socks at the beginning of the year or back in 2016, a rat sewn into the Zara dress.

The Lookbook is Here // #EDSFTG featuring @Target and @VineyardVines

The Vineyard Vines and Target lookbook dropped yesterday. Offerings included everything from the iconic patchwork print, whale logo, and polo shirt to items that look more seasonal. I was disappointed to see that any iteration of the ever-present heritage canvas tote bag or even a weekender was not included in the collection. I guess I will just have to buy that from the standard line. Le sigh.

Nevertheless, this is what I have my eyes on for when the collection drops on May 19th:

I want the pullover for my sister, the shorts for myself, and polo for my mom. Ideally, I want all three of the items for all three of us. Triplets!

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Ever since my parents retired, they have been living the life of leisure. On the coast that means fishing, grilling, and hanging out in the pool. When my husband and I visit them, we get to live that life of leisure for a week. The polo is perfect to pull on with the swim trunks to run to our local poboy place (holla Pirates Cove!) to pick up lunch midday.

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Speaking of our yearly week long life of leisure on the coast, I should order and send these home items straight to my parents house for this year’s Independence Day. Our trip is a tradition that goes back to 2014, when I brought my then-boyfriend / now-husband to my parents’ house for the first time and introduced him to the legends themselves. While my parents go grocery shopping in the days leading up to our visit, I usually send some items their way. In years past I sent flamingo and pineapple floats. This year, beach towels and beach chairs and beach balls.

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This is not my biological clock ticking. My sister-in-law has a four month old and he is just the cutest, most mellow guy ever, especially in comparison to his two older rambunctious brothers.

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I cannot shop for the baby without shopping for the big brothers. Or the cousins. I have three nieces and four nephews, not including the baby. The JV squad is the best. The girls are always getting into something be it camping, hunting, or packing trails. True story: The middle niece once misunderstood her momma’s directions and tried to pack a snow trail to Nana’s house the next town over, not Nana’s land the next parcel over as her momma intended. The Lilly x Target rompers I bought the two oldest girls four years ago were hits. I am betting on these rompers for the little ladies and the newest member of the #girlsquad.

And the boys will wear whatever their moms pick out for them.

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Will you be at the local Target in line when the store opens or rage tweeting when the collection goes live online?

Arugula and Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken Thigh // @2souschefs

“When Andi and I are developing dish ideas for new menus, we try them out at our house before we present them to Chef for approval. To make sure we can execute it at the restaurant, we take the core concept of a new dish and adjust it as necessary. Often the dish is just too complex to effectively prepare for over two hundred guests in a night; however the creative process is a great way to keep things exciting in our own home kitchen.

This recipe is delicious and fun to make at home, but just not a dish we could see in a future menu for the restaurant. Arugula and goat cheese are delicious together; to stuff them inside chicken thighs makes a dish that looks like something from a Parisian café. With the addition of nouvelles pommes de terre violettes (new purple potatoes) and pois mange-tout (snap peas), you will be wanting to reach for a glass of Bordeaux while sitting on your terrace.

Eagle eyed readers may notice that anytime we slice, portion, or prepare any type of raw meat we use a plastic cutting board. This is for sanitary reasons. I love our wood cutting board; however, as a porous material, wood is not the best when bacteria is involved. Plastic cutting boards are versatile tools and very easy to clean with little risk of bad microbes sticking around.” – Joe

Ingredients

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

  • 1 cup packed arugula

  • 4 ounces goat cheese

  • 2 spring onions – bulb cut in half, green and white separated and sliced

  • 5 new purple potatoes – sliced

  • 8 ounces snap peas – tipped, tailed, and cut in half

  • 12 toothpicks

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. Lay the chicken thighs skinless side down, on a plastic cutting board and season with salt, pepper, and any poultry seasoning you like.

  3. Evenly distribute the arugula and goat cheese between all the thighs.

  4. Roll the thighs burrito style and skewer with the toothpicks.

  5. In a large skillet on medium high heat, add two tablespoons of olive oil.

  6. Once the oil is hot, add the thighs to the pan skinless side down first and sear for four to five minutes.

  7. Flip the thighs and place the pan in the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes for until the chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

  8. In a medium sized skillet, add two tablespoons of olive oil and set to medium high heat.

  9. Once hot add the sliced potatoes and sliced spring onion bulb.

  10. Continue to roast for about five minutes or until the potatoes start to turn golden brown. Place the pan in the oven and cook for another eight minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through.

  11. Once cooked add the sliced whites of the spring onions and season with salt and pepper.

  12. In a third medium sized skillet, place on medium heat and add a teaspoon of olive oil. Add the snap peas and sauté for five minutes, stirring regularly.

  13. Once cooked the onions will still have a small amount of ‘crunch’ to them. If the peas start to caramelize add splash of water.

  14. Add the greens of the spring onion and season with salt and pepper.

  15. To plate the dish: place a spoonful of snap peas on the bottom of the plate, stack the roasted new potatoes on top of the peas, and place two halves of the roasted spring onion on either side of the peas. Place the chicken thighs on top of the potatoes.

Pack a Bag: The Hotel Paisano, Part II

In addition to guestrooms, meeting and ballroom spaces, a heated pool, and commercial space, Hotel Paisano is also home to Jett’s Grill. Jett’s Grill has the most phenomenal margaritas in Marfa, and I know margaritas.

Making reservations is essential. While we waited for our table time at the bar and enjoyed a few margaritas and shrimp nachos as the antidote to a long day on the road, my husband and I witnessed Jett’s Grill absolutely fill up. Nevertheless, even had we not made reservations, the time spent waiting for a table would have been worth it because the food was fantastic.

I ate the bacon penne with shrimp and my husband ordered the pistachio fried steak with asparagus, which is a Jett’s Grill classic dish. While I was nearly full from the margs and the nachos earlier at the bar, I found the space to polish off my pasta dish.

Jett’s Grill is open for breakfast burritos from 7:30 to 10 am and the restaurant reopens for late lunch at 2 pm. Dinner service commences at 5 pm.

Sincerest thanks to Hotel Paisano for sponsoring our stay.

You got a, Prada {Marfa}, bag with a lotta, stuff in it

The opening photograph of this blog post may seem familiar to those who have binged Gossip Girl. When the series starts, the van der Woodsen family’s upper east side flat is under renovation but upon the first few episodes of the second season, the matriarch Lilly, is selecting art for the newly updated home. One of the pieces is a reference to the Prada Marfa installation by Elmgreen and Dragset, a pair of European artists who have worked together since 1995.

In our quest to stay off of the beaten path, we spent our second night in Texas in another arts town, this one on the west side of the state. While the title includes “Marfa,” it is not actually within the town limits; rather it is about thirty minutes away from Hotel Paisano. 

The installation was subsidized by the Art Production Fund, a nonprofit that promotes public art. With the assistance of a pair of architects, Prada Marfa was installed in October of 2005, for a cost of 120,000 dollars. It is constructed out of adobe and plaster and with a sealed aluminum storefront assembly. The products within the installation were handpicked by Miuccia Prada: six handbags and twenty one shoes. Even though Elmgreen and Dragset received permission to use the Prada name and even had the merchandise curated by the head designer of the brand, Prada Marfa is a comment on capitalism and consumption.

sDSC08553sDSC08554While Prada Marfa was designed to degrade into the landscape, to never be repaired from wear and tear, it did not take a mere 36 hours for the installation to be vandalized and merchandise burgled. Rather than follow through with the intention to allow let the installation be, it was repaired and the products were replaced, albeit with security-laden versions. It was later vandalized again in 2014 and subsequently cleaned up.

Initially, I felt conflicted regarding whether the installation should have been repaired in order to align with the artists’ intention to allow it to degrade. However, I can imagine public safety being a concern; can you imagine the broken glass and maybe a pack of wild coyotes taking up residence in Prada Marfa?

Pack a Bag: The Hotel Paisano, Part I

The Hotel Paisano is a prime example of a historic property hospitality success story. This National Register of Historic Places hotel was designed in 1928 by storied architectural and structural engineering El Paso-based firm, Trost & Trost and exemplifies Spanish Revival style as defined by the red stucco roof, arches, and stucco finishes. It concluded construction and subsequently opened in 1930.

The cast and crew of the film Giant stayed at the Hotel Paisano and several of the suites are named for the celebrities who stayed there: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Deen, and Dennis Hopper. Framed black and white vintage photographs featuring behind the scenes of Giant are hung throughout the corridors of the hotel.

Previously known as El Paisano, the Hotel Paisano is listed in the Texas state inventory of historic places in addition to being listed in the National Register. While the criteria is not explicitly stated in the El Paisano application to the National Register of Historic Places, the statement of significance leads me to believe that it was listed under the third criterion, or C. The application details the midwestern architectural influence on Ohioan Trost’s work in the southwest, merging the Prairie style with regional southwestern styles.

The Hotel Paisano was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978; however, the late 1970s brought a change in the use as the then-65 hotel rooms were converted into nine condominiums for time share use. Eventually the time share model went dormant, the hotel fell into disrepair, and tax issues imposed foreclosure by the county. The current owners acquired the property in 2001 and rehabilitated the project. Currently, the Hotel Paisano has 41 rooms and additional suites and historic rooms, a heated pool, ground floor commercial space, meeting and ballroom space, Jett’s Grill which is home to the best margarita in Marfa.

Sincerest thanks to Hotel Paisano for sponsoring our stay.

Shopping Moratorium 2019 | 98/263

last…

I bought this pair of shoes. They were sub-sixty dollars and I have had my eye on them since… February? I wrote about them back then here.

I wore the same style in a different colorway back in the fall of 2016 for engagement photos, during which my husband and I covered about three miles of the cobblestone hills of Georgetown. Only after the last shot did my feet start to ache. Nevertheless it did not bother me enough to keep me from a friend’s engagement party and subsequent Orca Platter at Old Ebbitt’s Grill.

 

heels

While we were visiting North Carolina, my sister mentioned wanting a pair of wedges that I currently have in navy, albeit in bright red. I happened to see that they were on sale for $25.99 and available in her size. One text to her husband to confirm the address, and the wedges were on the way to her closet, unbeknownst to her.

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wedges

Sartorial Sustainability Sunday: Alex James: Slowing Down Fast Fashion

last week…

This morning I watched the documentary Alex James: Slowing Down Fast Fashion. For those who are unfamiliar, Alex James is multifaceted but well known for being the bassist of the British rock band Blur. If you were in the states and out of diapers by the 90s, you will most definitely recognize their Song 2I distinctly recall Channel One news using it as the background in a few clips illustrating the 1998 El Nino. How fitting for today’s topic.alexjamesLike (some) bloggers, rock stars are sent boatloads of clothing. Alex acknowledges how outrageous it is. He even negotiated new socks and pants via Blur’s rider. He discusses that he is part of the problem and starts his exploration of fast fashion, commencing with a trip to farm and a ton of sheep.

Alex opens the documentary by hypothesizing that positive action is the answer; all we have to do is understand the fashion industry. Ask yourself the following when finding a too good to be real deal:

  • How can it be so cheap?
  • What is it made of?
  • Who made it?
  • How long will you wear it?
  • Where will it end up?

When it comes to fast fashion, the things we wear are disposable. Fast fashion garments are not designed or intended to last a lifetime, let alone the season. A brutal fact: fifty percent of what we buy ends up in a landfill. And why? More than eighty percent of what we wear is made of plastic, which is made of petroleum, which will never degrade. Landfills are not a renewable resource and as such, we need to change our strategies when it comes to outfitting ourselves.

Alex speaks with industry leaders and gets perspectives on the fast fashion epidemic:

  • Author Elizabeth Cline wrote Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Fast Fashion. Did you know that in the year 1990, half of the clothing consumed by America was made in America. As of these days, only two percent is made in America. Elizabeth and Alex go guirilla-style shopping and filming in a fast fashion store and note that a shirt is $4.95. A pair of pants clocked in at $9.99 pants. How does that happen? Garment workers in China are topping out at five dollars an hour and in Bangladesh less than one dollar an hour. All this is to say that the social (people) bottom line is taking a hit.
  • A fast fashion employee ponders that it is a chicken and the egg issue and hypothesizes that the responsibility lies on the consumer demands.
  • Psychologist Pam Nell likens fast fashion and more broadly shopping, as a quick fix, similar to a recreational drug. Consumer society says that we need X in order to feel accepted. Pam goes into how this starts in adolescence and this is something with which I particularly identified.
  • Editor of UK GQ Dylan Jones OBE says that male shopping habits are more akin to women’s and fashion fashion is unfortunate manifestation in the industry. With Dylan Jones as editor, GQ is keen to articulate investment dressing and to emphasize character, as opposed to idiosyncratic behavior and consequently, dressing. He stresses provenance, as it is as important as who designed a garment and the level of on-trend one is.

Alex directs the viewer to the KEEP AWAY FROM FIRE label on a garment. He then films a experiment in acrylic versus wool. He hands up two near-identical sweaters, one made of acrylic and one made of wool. When he lit them on fire, the acrylic version literally melted and stuck to the floor. Meanwhile the wool version burned but did not catch fire; clearly it was the sweater I would have preferred to be armored in, in a flammable sitch.

Per Alex, fast fashion is a trillion dollar business but also an environmental, social, ethical nightmare. Bottom line: what can the every girl (guy), like you and I, do about it? He provides us ideas:

  • Research provenance
  • Buy less and buy natural
  • Look at labels and know fabrics
  • Think about who made it
  • Think about where it will go
  • Buy quality, no matter the age
  • Repair the clothes you love
  • Buy from charity shops
  • Upcycle

I wrote about the quadruple bottom line approach in terms of the clothing industry in the last year and it bears repeating in terms of the clothing industry. In the quadruple bottom line approach, fast fashion has social (or people) and environmental (or planet) implications. Fast fashion suffices in terms of profit and albeit questionably, aesthetics.

Is it worth it?

Blazed

The beauty of classic style is that I know I will never look back on photos of myself and wondering what I was thinking in terms of my ensembles; it is just so timeless. Throughout the years, this is one mode of dressing that just does not fall out of favor. I love looking at vintage photographs of collegiate style; it is how get my inspiration for my very own Kennedy cosplay.

I am not joking.

I really enjoy masculine inspired looks and one of the strongest staples, in my mind, is the blazer. Tipped, tweed, solid, striped: I love all variations.

I bought the above blazer (last on the blog here and here) last fall and I cannot wait to break it out again next autumn. It goes in and out of stock, probably due to its marked down status. Ten-out-of-ten recommend it, even if you have a taller frame like me; it fits.

clockwise from top left: gray + navy tipped (last on the blog here and here) // navy + white tipped // ecru + repp stripe tipped // navy + gray tipped // navy + green tipped (last on the blog here)

blazer (navy version also here)

left to rightblazer (last on the blog here) // navy stripe (also available here)

left to right: natural stripe (also available here) // bright white stripe

I am a long time Smythe fan and though the prices are steep, I wish it did not take me a near decade to invest in one. This one in particular (last on the blog here) made a home in my closet. Windowpane print and elbow patches made it a necessity.

left to right: herringbone tweed elbow patch // black windowpane tweed elbow patch // gray windowpane tweed elbow patch (last on the blog here) // tartan tweed

left to right: windowpane tweed // houndstooth tweed

left to right: white // red // navy

left to right: white (also available here) // navy (last on the blog here)

Caramelized Shallots and Strawberry Salad with Spinach, Bacon, and Toasted Almonds // @2souschefs

“This past weekend we were set to task to come up with ideas for dishes for a blogger who had just went strawberry picking. The picking of the sweet berries was the easy part; the big question looming is what to do with the spoils of the harvest. The two recipes we were inspired to create are a strawberry and white balsamic vinaigrette to go along with a caramelized shallot and strawberry salad with spinach, bacon, and toasted almonds.

Strawberries, bacon, and spinach salads have graced restaurant menus time and time again and as such we were hesitant to present this, as some may say, tired idea. However, the more Andi and I discussed this idea of “cliché salads,” the more we discovered there is a reason people love Caesar salads, wedge salads, and even spinach, bacon, and strawberry salads: they simply taste amazing. A strawberry vinaigrette underscores the wonder that is this salad combination. The addition of white balsamic vinegar, caramelized shallots, and toasted almonds sounded too good not to add to the dish. This recipe will serve two as dinner.

Blenders are vital to any professional or home kitchen, from mixing the salad dressing in this recipe to pureeing soups to crushing ice for the next round of margaritas. While our current rental came fully furnished, we brought some of our personal tools we deemed necessary for our cooking style. One necessary item is our KitchenAid blender.” – Joe

For the Strawberry and White Balsamic Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 1 pint strawberries – stems removed and quartered
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • 0.25 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 0.5 cup olive oil

Directions

  1. Place the strawberries and agave in a one-quart sauce pot and place on medium-low heat.
  2. Cook the mixture for about ten minutes, stirring regularly, until the berries are completely soft.
  3. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.
  4. In a bowl whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, and a quarter cup of the strawberry puree.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.

For the Spinach Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 pint strawberries – stems removed and quartered
  • 4 strips bacon – cut into half inch pieces
  • 3 medium sized shallots – papery skin removed, cut into round slices
  • 0.25 cups almonds – toasted
  • 2 to 3 cups spinach – washed and dried

Directions

  1. Place the bacon into a skillet on medium heat and cook the bacon until crispy.
  2. Remove the bacon from the pan and place on a paper towel lined plate.
  3. Discard almost all the rendered bacon fat, leaving some in the pan, add the shallots and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until slightly caramelized.
  4. Remove shallots from the pan and place on the same paper towel lined plate as the bacon.
  5. Place the spinach at the bottom of the serving bowl and top with the quartered strawberries, bacon, caramelized shallots, and toasted almonds.
  6. Drizzle the vinaigrette atop the salad or serve on the side.