Oscars red carpet countdown: The women to watch for fabulous fashion

Written by Sara Bauknecht on .

Can you sense it? Oscars excitement is in the air!

With the awards show just a few days away on March 2, Stylebook is counting down all this week with daily blog posts about the stars and trends we hope to see on the red carpet (and the styles that should be left at home). Stay tuned!

Today, we salute the ladies we anticipate will be the night's style standouts based on their fashion picks at past awards shows. 

In no particular order, here are five women to watch on the red carpet:

Lupita Nyong'o

She's fashion's new *IT* girl. Vogue named the "12 Years a Slave" actress one of the rising style stars to watch. Plus, she was spotted making the rounds earlier this month at New York Fashion Week (even sitting next to Vogue editor Anna Wintour at Calvin Klein's runway show). So far, she's impressed in vibrantly colored gowns with minimal embellishments by such designers as Gucci (pictured below), Ralph Lauren and Dior.

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Cate Blanchett

She's showed off several iterations of elegance this awards season, from the black lace-and-sheer J. Mendel gown at the Golden Globes to the softer blush halter-style dress by Givenchy (pictured below).

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Angelina Jolie

We haven't seen much of this style star this awards season, but she will be a presenter at the Academy Awards. Will she pull out a Hollywood glam look like the white Versace gown with the swipe of scarlet across the collar from the 2012 Golden Globes (pictured below)? Or will she bring sexy back with her signature skirt slit and show some leg? 

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Jennifer Lawrence

Being the face of Dior, it's a done deal that J-Law will be wearing something couture from the French fashion house. She's tends to stick with full silhouettes, such as the pale strapless look from last year's Oscars (pictured below). In January her white Golden Globes gown inspired a meme where people started comparing the dress to Disney characters or snapping photos of themselves wearing white blankets held on with black bands or cords. It would be fun to see her try something a bit different, such as a column dress with a pop of color.

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Anne Hathaway

Like Ms. Jolie, Anne Hathaway's red carpet style made a splash last awards season but has been largely out of the spotlight this year. But she will be making an appearance as a presenter at the Academy Awards. At last year's Oscars, she opted for soft sophistication in a powder pink silk Prada gown (pictured below).



Who are you excited to see? Tweet your thoughts and fashion predictions to @SaraB_PG(Photos courtesy of Associated Press)


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Grafted vegetable plants offer vigor and disease resistance

Written by Doug Oster on .


Nearly 15 years ago on the island of Crete, Alice Doyle discovered grafted tomatoes. She was there to meet a brand-new extended family when someone pointed out a field of plants where a nematode infestation had devastated crops in previous seasons. The grafted tomato varieties were impervious to the pests.

"I really didn't think about it as important for the home gardener," she said. But it stuck in her mind, and over the years she began to think about it more and more.


A.P. Whaley Seed Co.: 1-608-437-9081.

GardenLife: No phone orders.

Johnny's Selected Seeds:, 1-877-564-6697.

Log House Plants:, 1-541-942-2288. (No retail sales to individual gardeners but has information.)

Mighty 'Mato: lists retailers of its grafted plants.

Territorial Seeds:, 1-800-626-0866.

Grafted tomatoes will be available locally at many garden centers and nurseries.

Ms. Doyle, who runs Log House Plants in Cottage Grove, Ore., wondered, "Why isn't the home gardener enjoying all the benefits that grafting brings?"

Here's how it works: A special seed is selected for vigor, disease resistance and/or other traits. It's called the root stock. It might be a wild species that wouldn't produce much of a tomato at all. Another tomato variety, called the scion, is selected for taste, size or other attributes. These are the varieties we're familiar with, such as 'Brandywine,' 'Jetsetter,' 'Cherokee Purple' and others. Any favorite tomato could act as the scion.

Seeds of the root stock and scion are planted. When the root stock is the right size, its top is cut off and the stem of the scion is attached to it with a grafting clip.

Under the right conditions, the two become one. There's no DNA exchanged. The scion benefits from the vigorous root stock that is resistant to soil-borne diseases and can be three times larger than a standard tomato's root system. Larger roots mean the plant can pull in more nutrients for the plant.

"You have these roots that are creating more mass, so they actually do more with less," Ms. Doyle says. These plants will use less water and fertilizer.

These tomatoes have other advantages, too. Even though they shut down like most tomatoes during extreme heat, the plants rebound quicker. When things cool off, the tomatoes last longer into the fall. When the plant is still covered with fruit as frost looms, Ms. Doyle recommends cutting it at the base and hanging the plant upside down in a warm place to let the fruit ripen.

Even though the rootstock can't prevent airborne diseases or fungal issues such as early blight, it can often fight them off more effectively because the plant is so prolific. Grafted tomatoes can also tolerate soils with higher salt levels.

In 2011, 1 billion vegetables were grafted around the world.

"Once a gardener plants a grafted plant, they will never go back," Ms. Doyle says.

Log House Plants, a wholesaler, became the first company to offer grafted tomatoes to gardeners in the U.S., originally offering them exclusively through Territorial Seeds. About the same time, John Bagnasco from GardenLife was also working with grafted tomatoes. The two companies teamed up with grower Tim Wada of Plug Connection to form SuperNaturals Grafted Vegetables LLC. They charge around $7 per plant.

SuperNaturals has also partnered with Aaron Whaley of A.P. Whaley Seed Co. to add interesting vegetable varieties like the Indigo series of tomatoes. The fruit sports various shades of purple and is high in antioxidants called anthocyanins.

Mr. Bagnasco, who also hosts the popular radio show "GardenLife," saw a need for grafted tomatoes in the home garden. "People just love the taste of heirloom tomatoes, but you can't grow heirlooms everywhere in the country because you've got disease issues in the soil and you've got nematodes. Our root stock is resistant to all soil diseases and nematodes. Now you can grow an heirloom anywhere."

'Brandywine' is one of the most popular heirlooms. Gardeners are lucky to pick half a dozen in a season he says, but trials of a grafted 'Brandywine' produced 50 to 60 tomatoes on each plant.

The trick to successfully growing a grafted vegetable is not to bury the graft point, Mr. Bagnasco says. Doing so negates the positive traits associated with grafted plants. It's an easy mistake to make, especially with tomatoes because many gardeners place their transplants deep in the soil. Even professional growers made the error the first year the plants were shipped.

The company also offers seeds of the root stock, and I wondered why they would sell them. "Because we know how hard it is," he said.

In his operation grafts are nearly 100 percent successful; a novice will be lucky with half that rate. "If you had one [tomato variety] you wanted to do, you could do it yourself. It's kind of a fun project," he said.

Because he works with tomatoes for a living, I had to ask what some of his favorite varieties were. He loves 'Blush Tiger.' "It might be the world's best-tasting tomato," he said with a smile. The other tomatoes he's thrilled about are the Bumblebee series. These striped cherry tomatoes in purple, pink and orange are tasty and beautiful.

SuperNaturals has branched out from tomatoes to eggplant, peppers, basil and vine crops. Although the cucumber plants don't produce more fruit, they are highly disease-resistant and very vigorous. It's the cantaloupe and watermelons that really pack on the fruit.

"You get a minimum of double amount of melons and sometimes three or four times the amount of melons," Mr. Bagnasco said.

In fact he offered some grafted 'Ali Baba' watermelons to Portland, Ore., master gardeners. At the end of the season the local paper was out to photograph vines loaded with 35 to 40 pound full-sized melons.

After a little prodding, he revealed some of the fascinating plants on the horizon for 2015. The first two are not grafted: a sweet corn plant with red foliage, husk, kernels and tassels that is 30 percent protein and a blue edible podded pea. 'Ketchup "N" Fries' is a cherry tomato scion grafted to potato root stock.

Grafted plants might be the future for tomatoes and other vegetables as they use less resources and produce more fruit than standard varieties. It's something gardeners will be experimenting with for seasons to come.


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Tiny snowdrops bring hope in the garden

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog snowdrops frozen 021914This tiny snowdrop blossom caught my attention while running out the front door. Still covered in ice, there's nothing that can stop the blooms now. Photos by Doug Oster

The tiny white blossoms of snowdrops push up through frozen soil to announce the unofficial end of winter.

Sure there's plenty of snow and cold left, but once the snowdrops flower, there's no turning back; somethings has bloomed!

One of the reasons diminutive snowdrop bulbs are planted near the house each fall is to see them in their glory as early as possible. Last season they poked through in mid-January, but this is more typical of their bloom time.

While running out the front door I caught a glimpse of white against the wet, brown oak leaves littering a narrow patch of dirt between the house and sidewalk. It's always such a wonderful surprise, especially after this tough winter.

The flowers barely stand above the soil and are only a quarter inch long. If they bloomed in July, it wouldn't matter, but as I laid on the cold stone sidewalk photographing these wonders of nature, all I could do was smile.

They are prelude to the sweet sounds, smells and sights of spring.

blog snowdrops green 021914As temeratures warm, this spot will be filled with pretty white flowers.

blog snowdrops sprout 021914This is why they are called snowdrops.

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Drones to help stream Fendi runway show at Milan Fashion Week

Written by Sara Bauknecht on .

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Streaming fashion shows online is nothing new. But with Milan Fashion Week kicks under way, leave it to Fendi to add a fresh twist.

According to various media outlets, including, a little drone will fly above the runway during the Fendi fashion show and capture aerial images with a high-definition camera that will be transmitted to the show's livestream.

Fendi is calling its techy take on livestreams "an innovative project" and says it "surpasses the traditional notion of fashion shows."

Could drones be part of fashion's future? What do you think?

Photo: An image of a Fendi-branded drone that's circulating the Web.

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Kardashians to launch kids clothes -- and they're actually pretty cute

Written by Sara Bauknecht on .

Kardashian top

They're the sisters everyone loves to talk about, for one reason or another. Now they're giving people something else to discuss.

Kourtney, Kim and Khloe Kardashian have teamed with global fashion supplier Jupi Corp to create a collection of clothes for girls up to 24 months that will be available at Babies "R" Us.

Clothes are cute and girly and include colorful butterfly prints, shimmering stars and -- of course -- a little leopard. There are onesies, blankets, caps, jackets, dresses and two-piece sets.

This isn't the first time the sisters have dabbled in design. They also have a collection (or more appropriately "a kollection") for women at Sears.

Kardashian Kids will retail for $15-$30. It will hit stores and starting March 15. Check out more clothes from the collection below:

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