the ultimate sacrifice

IMG_7670Happy Ash Wednesday! Nothing gets a Catholic fired up like a brand new Lenten sacrifice. HCG and our readers love Lent. I've chosen some huge, incredibly challenging sacrifices in the past: reality TV in 2005, cursing in 2006 (my quickest defeat), shopping in 2010 (what the hell was I thinking?) and all forms of bread and sweets (both failed attempts to lose weight while honoring Jesus. Don't act like you haven't done it). This year, I’m making a small but necessary sacrifice: Nestle Toll House Break & Bake cookies. Before you judge me for taking it easy this year, first consider how often I have eaten B&B cookies over the last six or so months: almost every single day.  It’s rare that the sun sets in Philadelphia without HCG throwing back a few B&B minis. If you’re single-handedly blowing through one to two packages of B&B cookies per week, you need to admit you have a problem. If you convince your husband to move your car on a Monday night from a neighborhood with notoriously difficult street parking solely for the purpose of going to the store to get B&B cookies, you are a junkie. If you get violent in the dairy section when you realize the store is out of B&B minis, something's wrong. When I’m having a long day, I just think of the B&Bs waiting in my fridge and I immediately relax. If I'm eating dinner out and don't totally love my dish, my mind will remember my B&B stash and picture an evening ahead filled with warm happiness. Addiction is a tough animal no matter what your drug.

Here’s how I get my daily fix: I buy a package of B&B minis and bake about one third of the package at night then store the remainder in my fridge. Yes, this process requires using my oven practically every night of the week. Only to bake cookies. Of course, I eat a small portion of almost every raw cookie before I slide the tray in the oven. God how I love cookie dough.  If you are a functioning adult and you can say cookie dough was the first thing you ate in the morning (I have eaten it upon waking several times in the last 6 months), you are officially out of control. Is anyone surprised I haven't been sickened with salmonella poisoning yet? Maybe I am a living testament that cookie dough really doesn’t pose much of a salmonella risk (sorry to prove you wrong, NYT).

What are you giving up this year? If you’re like the Pope, you could be the first person in 600 years to give up your life’s work just because you feel tired. Guess what, Benedict: Jesus was tired when he carried that cross. But he didn’t just quit.

Image of a beautiful field of freshly baked B&B minis on Christmas Eve 2011 via HCG

Best Dressed: Golden Globes

best-dressed-580x616 copyThe 2013 Golden Globes were enjoyable on many levels (all of which involved Tina Fey and Amy Poehler), but the fashions didn't exactly blow me away. Below, a listing of who HCG loved at the Globes and who didn't leave much of an impression. Chime in with your comments!

Looks HCG Loved:

1. Kate Hudson in McQueen: Kate Hudson looked gorgeous in this long-sleeved embellished McQueen number. I could do without the gilded neck choker situation (which was mostly hidden by her smooth blowout), but I'm all over the deep-v neckline, wide belt and gently flared skirt. Here's what I love about Kate Hudson on a red carpet: she's usually doing that kind of laughing, hair tossing look which makes you believe she really is exactly like her character Darcy from "Something Borrowed". And which I imagine is kind of awkward to see if you were to stand near her on a red carpet and watch her pose (example: Lea Michele). Side note: Hudson's breast impacts are the perfect size for her body. Money well spent.

2. Claire Danes in Versace: Ah, Claire. Where do I begin to list all the ways you're awesome? I fully admit I'm reviewing your Golden Globes look from a biased perspective. You're exactly what Carrie Mathison could be if she would just stay on her bipolar meds, find a non-terrorist lover and wear some makeup. Bias aside, Claire looks incredible in this Versace dress. The simplicity and elegance of this choice is a testament to Claire's consistency in always looking gorgeous on red carpets. Need I mention the woman just had a baby four weeks ago? A reminder that Stars: They're Really Not Just Like Us.

3. Katherine McPhee in Theyskens Theory: K. McPhee is the Mandy Moore of the 2013 Golden Globes. Granted, McPhee has a slightly higher profile right now than Moore did during last year's awards show circuit, but she still came out of nowhere with this slutty-in-a-good-way simple black gown. Bonus points for the appropriately tousled messy bun and wearing a dress with pockets.

Best Dressed 24. Jessica Alba in Oscar de la Renta: Jessica Alba's figure and complexion lend themselves perfectly to this tangerine ODLR dress. Her hair is soft and complementary, her furry bag is fun and her pose is flawless. I could do without the necklace.

5. Amy Poehler in Stella McCartney: Amy Poehler was my favorite person of the entire night, and her red carpet mini tux was a refreshing departure from the mermaid cuts and uncomfortable fits worn by so many other ladies (see below: Amy Adams). Poehler looked comfortable yet chic in a way so many other women who try to wear tuxes on the red carpet fail. 

6. Hayden Panettiere in Roberto Cavalli: Here we go, Hayden Panettiere! You look so fresh and young I could barely take my eyes away from my HD television during close-ups of you in red carpet interviews. An all around fantastic look with standouts like natural full hair, glow-y makeup and a hot pink clutch.

Looks HCG Didn't Love but Didn't Hate - just "meh":

MEH11. Jennifer Lawrence in Dior haute couture: I loved Jennifer Lawrence in "Silver Linings Playbook", and I know she has the body to work practically any dress out there. The metallic belted waist of this Dior gown is incredibly flattering, but the oragami fabric on the chest just didn't work for HCG. Props to J. Law for being attacked by Lindsay Lohan on Twitter. Watch out.

2. Anne Hathaway in Chanel: It feels wrong not to love Anne Hathaway in Chanel. I simply expected more. MR opined that the top of this two-piece gown looked like a fancy back brace. If you're concealing a new pregnancy Annie, we're willing to overlook this one.

3. Jennifer Garner in Vivienne Westwood: Another instance where a celebrity looks fine, but she doesn't look amazing. J. Garner's hair, makeup and accessories are all commendable, but the dress is a little boring. I understand not wanting to show up your husband, but a girl has to SHOW UP to something like the Golden Globes.

MEH24. Jessica Chastain in Calvin Klein Collection: HCG is a huge fan of Jessica Chastain, so I was disappointed not to be able to include her in the "love" section of this post. The sea foamy blue color of this Calvin Klein dress is a gorgeous contrast to Chastain's skin and hair, but the cut doesn't flatter her like so many other cuts could. I don't totally understand how her hair stayed slicked back or why she would want it to.

5. Taylor Swift in Donna Karen: I appreciate that T. Swift tried something different here. She's wearing eggplant and, shockingly, she's not wearing red lipstick. But the final product just didn't work for me. Taylor: you look older than you are in this dress. And we know your boobs aren't that big.

6. Amy Adams in Marchesa: This Marchesa dress is clearly beautiful, and the lightness of the tulle skirt is delightful. Compliments aside, the color was a shade too close to Amy's skin color to get my vote. Watching Amy try to move in this dress was almost as uncomfortable as she likely felt sitting down in it. She's clearly been working out, though.

Thoughts?

Cozy Knits

Winter mornings are rough. When I wake up for work in these cold, dark months, I spend my time getting ready brainstorming ways I can wear some form of a Snuggie to the office. While my new job has a more casual dress code, the jury is still out on whether full body blankets are permitted. Until then, I'm wearing every cozy sweater I own. Above are some knits I could happily dive into every morning. And even more happily wear as I dive into a plate full of pancakes at brunch on the weekends.Stay cozy, HCG

Back

mBackHCG is back, bitches! You may have wondered what I've been doing for the past few months while Here Comes Gina has been on hiatus. Was I cast as an extra in Downton Abbey and have been on location in the U.K. filming the new season? I wish. Did I get a divorce? Please. I would never let Joe out of this marriage while he is still alive. But I have experienced a big life change recently: I got a new job. As I have alluded to on HCG before, my previous job wasn't very blog-friendly. While my life as a large law firm associate was filled with glamourous business trips on private jets, high level client negotiations and so much money I could barely spend it, my job just didn't allow me the kind of schedule I yearned for to work on this site. So I found a new one and quit. All for Here Comes Gina. Mostly.

The new job is an in-house counsel position in Philadelphia - still "scoot-able" from my house. In-house counsel jobs are generally considered the holy grail of lawyer jobs, and so far I can confirm my new situation is pretty awesome. Because I would like to retain this job for quite a while, those are all the details I will disclose for now. My desire to remain employed at this new company is also why I am refraining from giving CF my new e-mail address and phone number. Girlfriend loves calling me at work.

I hope you are all enjoying a fantastic 2013 so far, and I think we're going to have a great year together.

It feels good to be back.

Image of yours truly reenacting a WWII battle at a German bunker in Longues-sur-Mer, France (outside Normandy) in October 2012. Military jacket and fur vest intentionally worn to this location.

Paris

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Bonsoir from Paris! In the event you don't follow HCG on Twitter or Instagram (side note: why not? You really should), you may not be aware that yours truly has been in Paris for the past week and change on a fantastic vacation. This is my first visit to Paris, and it has been even more spectacular than I imagined. Until today, I managed to spend semi-reasonable amounts of money and resist the urge to spring for luxury goods. But then I realized I needed multiple pairs of high end sunglasses which were "so much cheaper" in Paris than at home. I was doing so well.

There's plenty more to come from this Parisian holiday, but for now here are some glorious photos of my first encounter with the Eiffel Tower (at night and in late afternoon). What else is a girl to do at the top of the world's most recognizable monument except jump for joy?IMG_3215

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Team HCG returns home this weekend, but if you want to see a decent synopsis of our trip to date, seriously check out HCG's Instagram. If there ever was a perfect city for Instagram, Paris is it.