Friday, May 30, 2014

Obsessed by the Dress

Banana Republic dressCatherine Stein necklace,
Ray Ban sunglasses (old), Salvatore Ferragamo handbag,
J. Crew bracelet, Tory Burch sandals (old)

When I received an email from Banana Republic with a model wearing this dress, I searched the Banana Republic website and even went to their store looking for it.  Unable to find it, I kept going back every few days and finally asked a salesperson about it.  He said that merchandise shown in emails isn’t automatically sold in the stores.  When I had finally given up hope that I’d find it, it turned up in the store. 

I realize that going back to the store every few days to look for a dress is obsessive, but what intrigued me about this dress is the dropped waist.  Dropped waists haven’t been shown in a while (so I thought the style was fresh), and they bring back good memories.  In college, I had a black tank dropped waist dress that I loved and wore until it was so faded it was embarrassing.  I guess it’s true that everything old is new again!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Four Star Finds: Furminator

Emmie-after being "furminated" and getting a bath

All of us with furry family members know this is the time of year they share pieces of themselves with us.  What I mean is: Our pets shed EVERYWHERE!  To cut down on Emmie’s shedding, I brush her with a FURminator deshedding tool twice a week.  I don’t know how, but it removes her loose hair way better than a standard brush. 

A few notes:
I only brush her with it during her “shedding times”
Be sure to brush your pet outside.  Otherwise, fur will be all over your house.
The FURminator on the link is more sophisticated than the one we have.  Ours doesn’t have a FURjector button

the FURminator

Monday, May 26, 2014

Décor: Ceiling Fans

Master bedroom ceiling fan

Now that the weather is warming up, we bought ceiling fans for the master and guest bedrooms and hired an electrician to install them.  While we like home improvement projects, anything that involves high voltage requires a professional.  After the electrician left, I noticed he placed the remote controls on the night tables. 

While I could have asked Kevin to mount the ceiling fan remote controls to the walls, I decided to do it myself.  See, when my dad became ill more than ten years ago, I taught my mom how to put gas into her car since that was one of the things my dad had always done for her.  That incident motivated me to become more self-sufficient. 

Since I was feeling handy, I decided to mount them on the walls myself.  It wasn’t a difficult task and I feel so accomplished!

Mark where the holes will be drilled

Use a drill bit somewhat smaller than the scores

Use a screwdriver to turn the screws

The view from far away

Friday, May 23, 2014

Crispy Blue Cheese Salad

One of my favorite California restaurants is The Old Vine Café-everything I’ve eaten there is amazing, and my friends and I love to have birthday celebrations there.  Though it's hard to choose a favorite dish, it's probably the Crispy Blue Salad, a mixed greens salad filled with prosciutto and crispy onion strings and dressed lightly with blue cheese dressing.  Since I’m living in Boston these days, I’ve created my own version of their salad
the ingredients

cooked prosciutto

toasted croutons-you can purchase croutons instead of making them

David Lebovitz's blue cheese dressing-dressing, too, can be purchased
to save time

Crispy Blue Cheese Salad

8 oz. mixed greens
8-10 grape tomatoes, sliced in half
2 oz. French fried onion strings
4 oz. Prosciutto, thinly sliced
4 thin slices of French or Italian bread
1/2 oz. Parmgiano Reggiano cheese, grated
Blue Cheese dressing to taste

Preheat oven to 350º.  Place prosciutto in a single layer on baking sheets.  Bake 12-14 minutes or until crispy.  Remove from oven and set aside.  When cool, break or cut into small pieces

Evenly distribute Parmigiano Reggiano onto bread slices-toast in oven until crisp, about 5-10 minutes.  Set aside croutons.

To make the salad, toss together the mixed greens, tomatoes, French fried onion strings, prosciutto and dressing.  Top with croutons and serve.

Blue Cheese Dressing-recipe available here.  I used milk and yogurt in place of buttermilk, as suggested in the recipe.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Book Review: "Fahrenheit 451"

Ray Bradbury

Recently, I discovered Amazon's list of 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime. Unlike many top literary lists, Amazon's list contains many accessible and recent books, such as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and The Hunger Games. I'm a little embarrassed to admit I've read only 43 of them; though if I include seeing the movies, I've experienced 60 of the books. When I saw Fahrenheit 451 was in the top 20, I immediately purchased it and thoroughly enjoyed it-I can see why it's near the top of the list.

In the future when houses are flame-proofed, firemen (I can't call them fire fighters since they actually set them) spend their days burning banned books rather than extinguishing fires. Fireman Guy Montag is cruising through life until he meets seventeen year old Clarisse McClellan, who changes his view of his profession. How will Montag survive in a society when he comes to abhor his livelihood?

Though written 61 years ago, some of Bradbury's prognostications are eerily true-the depression associated with a fractured society; people searching for activities that entertain, rather than challenge and expand one's mind; and society's materialism. Fahrenheit 451 is thought-provoking, and I'm glad I took the time to read it.  Forty more books to go!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Rain Gear

Rag & Bone trench (sold out) and tee shirt (old), J. Crew jeans, Via Spiga booties (old), Chanel sunglasses (old),Salvatore Ferragamo Sookie handbag 

When I told my very stylish Boston friend and neighbor that she has beautiful coats, she said, “It all about coats and jackets here since that’s what most people see you wearing.”  I have to agree…

Though I have purchased more outerwear in the past six months than I have in the past three years, my outerwear collection was still a bit weak.  Specifically, I needed a new raincoat.  Until I found this coat, I was going to buy a standard khaki trench.  However, I had such an emotion reaction to this coat that I changed my mind.  No regrets here!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Décor: Splurging on Home Accessories

A bookshelf in our living room
As you can see, almost all of our home accessories are from mass-market stores like Crate and Barrel, West Elm, Target, Pottery Barn and Ikea.  Generally, I like to be reasonable when purchasing accessories for our home.  Every now and then, though, I find something that is so unique and special that I end up splurging.

When I like something that’s expensive, I don’t immediately buy it.  I’ll leave the store and think it over-sometimes the process takes a week and once the process took two years.  I figure that if the item has been sold while I was thinking it over, it wasn’t meant to be mine.  (To be honest, I use the same process with most major purchases).

Using this process has prevented buyer’s remorse, and I have even been lucky enough to find something I liked even more than the first version I found.

Looking at these beautiful things on a daily basis makes me happy.

A watch tree by Margaret Larkin-I was originally interested in her jewelry balls
and spent two years thinking about buying one.
  When I found the watch tree,
I was glad I waited and bought it immediately.  Other original pieces available here.

Floating Crystals Under a Dome from Acquire.  I must have "visited" this one-of a kind
accessory 5 or 6 times before deciding to buy it.  
This hourglass sand timer appealed
to the engineer in me-Purchased at Roger's Gardens in Corona del Mar, California

This onxy table lamp is from a Newport Beach store that closed a few years
  Similar styles are available on the web

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Movie Review: Fed Up

Fed Up
Rated PG

Fed Up is one of the best movies I’ve seen this year.  A documentary narrated by Katie Couric, Fed Up examines the connection between processed foods and obesity.  The film also debunks commonly held beliefs about food and exercise.

At the end of the film, a challenge is proposed: Give up added sugar and/or artificial sweeteners for 10 days.  Kevin and I are going to do it in the middle of June.  I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Four Star Finds: Taco Works Chips

Last weekend, Kevin traveled to San Luis Obispo, California for business; San Luis Obispo is a sleepy college town on the Central California coast and home to California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo (aka Cal Poly San Luis Obispo).  Though the city has grown quite a bit in the 25 years I’ve been familiar with it, it still has a small town feel and many local businesses.  One such is Taco Works, and they make amazing tortilla chips!  

I was so excited when Kevin brought some home for me! Most women want jewelry and flowers-not me-I’d rather have chips!

Taco Works used to be a casual Mexican restaurant, but their chips were so popular that the owners closed the restaurant and began manufacturing only chips.  I thought their chips were pretty much only available in San Luis Obispo County, but while researching for this blog, learned they are available online.  What exciting news!

If you’re interested in their chips, visit their website by clicking here.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Book Review: "Very British Problems..."

Rob Temple

Though I rarely admit it, I’m a bit of an Anglophile-I love visiting England, especially London.  England’s history is fascinating, the landscape is beautiful and the people are charming. 

Very British Problems: Making Life Awkward for Ourselves One Rainy Day at a Time is a hilarious look at the British mindset.  Because Very British Problems… began as a Twitter feed (@soverybritish), it’s filled with quick thoughts (less than 140 characters) that showcase British people’s self-deprecating, understated natures.  The book contains 27 chapters, whose topics include apologizing, food and drink dilemmas and keeping calm and carrying on.  Temple also added some cute cartoons to the book.

If you’re looking for a quick, entertaining read, Very British Problems… is the book for you.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Smoothie Bowl

One of the foods I love to eat in California is Banzai Bowl’s Maui Sunrise smoothie bowl.  Thicker than a smoothie, topped with fruit and granola and eaten with a spoon, this smoothie bowl is nutritious, fiber-filled and delicious!  Since I haven’t been able to find smoothie bowls anywhere in Boston, I made my own, inspired by Banzai Bowl’s version.
the ingredients

ready for blending

Smoothie Bowl

4 oz. pineapple juice
4 oz. coconut milk
1 C. frozen mango
1 C. frozen strawberries
3-1/2 oz. frozen acai puree
1 banana
1 strawberry
1 Tbsp. blueberries
1/4 C. granola
1 tsp. honey

Slice about 4 one-half inch slices of banana.  Set aside.  Slice strawberry into 3 slices and set aside.

In the bowl of a blender, add, pineapple juice, coconut milk, frozen mango, frozen strawberries, acai puree and banana.  Blend until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. 

Place 1 tablespoon of granola in the bottom of serving bowl.  Add pureed fruit/juice.  Top with remaining granola, sliced bananas, sliced strawberry and blueberries.  Drizzle with honey.

Monday, May 5, 2014

New Spring Dress

Rebecca Taylor dress, Ray-Ban sunglasses (style no longer available),
Tiffany necklace and braceletAnother Line Belt (color no longer available),
Rebecca Minkoff clutch, Stuart Weitzman Sandals (style no longer available)

One of the challenges I've had lately is finding age-appropriate dresses.  Many of the dresses available are either very short or have strategic cut-outs, both of which I am past the expiration date!  This Rebecca Taylor dress is perfect for a young woman and a woman, like me, "of a certain age"-it's appropriately long, yet still current and feminine.  I think I'll be wearing this dress quite a bit this spring and summer!


Friday, May 2, 2014

Boston Freedom Trail Tour

Mike, Kathy, Kevin and me at one of the Freedom Trail sites

When we went on a family vacation to Italy, one of the best pieces of travel advice we received was to take a private tour of the Vatican.  Our friends, Gale and Jean, said that not only would we bypass the entrance line, but we would also have a much greater appreciation of the art.  As always, they were right and hiring a private tour guide is now something we regularly do on vacation.

When our friends, Kathy and Mike, came to Boston, we arranged for a private tour of the Boston Freedom Trail (through the FreedomTrail Foundation).  It was awesome!  Our tour guide (a college History major) met us wearing period clothing and walked us through 11 of the 16 sites, beginning at the Boston Common and ending at the site of the Boston Massacre. 

Though I’m not really into history, the 90-minute tour was fascinating!  It cleared up a few misconceptions I had about the Revolutionary War and was a great experience.  If you aren’t into private tours, the Freedom Trail Foundation also offers public tours for a reasonable fee.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Happy Birthday Blog!

It’s hard to believe today is the one year birthday of this blog!  When I started it, I only purchased the domain name for one year, since I wasn’t sure it was something I would want to continue.  Producing ramseyrecommends is something I love, and when I try new products, watch movies, read books, buy clothes or look through recipes, I think about whether or not it’s something that might interest the readers.

To keep this blog evolving, I’m adding a travel section.  My first travel post will be tomorrow, May 2, 2014.

I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions. 

Thank you for your readership!