Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Travel: Big Apple Circus

the performers' entrance

Big Apple Circus is best described as a one ring cross between traditional Barnum and Bailey’s and Cirque du Soleil’s contemporary circuses.  With a small, multitasking crew, Big Apple Circus has human and animal performers who amaze the audience.

With shows in Boston through May 10 and shows in Queens May 17-June 10, 2015, I highly recommend catching a performance if you’re nearby.  Click here to visit Big Apple Circus’s website.

These acrobats are a nuclear family-father, mother and two sons
This performer will squeeze into the box 


Two women in a box. Very Impressive!

A dog on a donkey.  Goats also rode atop horses.

I don't know how she can stay balanced while hula hooping and juggling.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Movie Review: “While We’re Young”

   While We’re Young
   Rated R

Josh and Cornelia are a middle aged couple, both documentary filmmakers whose lives are turned upside down when they befriend twenty-something hipsters Jamie and Darby.

I liked While We’re Young-it provided an interesting perspective on aging and generational differences and helped me realize we rarely feel our age.  If you’re looking for an artsy film, rather than a movie, While We’re Young is the one for you.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Book Review: "Wild"

   Cheryl Strayed

In a previous post (click here to see it), I recommended another book by Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar, a collection of advice columns she wrote.  Her vast life experiences made her compassionate, yet oddly outspoken.

Wild is the chronicle of some of her experiences.  After losing her mother as a young adult, Strayed descended into a life of heroin use and promiscuity.  On a whim and with minimal experience, she decided to solo hike a portion of the Pacific Coast Trail.  In the solitude and beauty of nature, will she find what she is searching for?

Even though I'm not "into" nature, after reading Wild, I almost wanted to go hiking.  I say almost because the reality of life is that it's definitely not going to happen!  The book did give me a appreciation for and understanding of why some people feel at peace in the outdoors.  Additionally, Wild is a compelling story that will keep you hooked!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Home: Elfa Hanging Bar with Hooks

When I worked as an aerospace engineer during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, the company I worked for emphasized the concept of Kaizen, or continuous improvement.  I didn’t think much about it at the time, but Kaizen is a big part of my life.  Whether it’s reading about healthy habits, trying new recipes or learning better ways to make our home a nicer place to live, I’m constantly trying to improve myself and my environment.

I’ve gotten to the point where what is seen in our home is tidy, but now I’m working on beautifying the insides of the closets and drawers.  Our coat/kitchen accessories closet is fairly neat, but one of the things that drove me crazy was that Kevin’s baseball caps didn’t have a “home.”

At our old home, we installed a hat rack on the coat closet door.  Because these doors are only 14” wide, a standard hat rack won’t fit.  After seeing a center-of-the-door-mounted Container Store Elfa system, I thought I’d give it a try.  Quick and easy to install, the Elfa system is the perfect solution to our hat problem!


After centering the rail, I drilled a hole for the top fastener.
Next, I installed the screw.

To make sure the rail was straight, I used a level before
drilling a hole for the bottom fastener.  I then installed
the second fastener

After the rail was in place, I drilled the remaining holes
and installed the final fasteners

Next, I placed the hooks in the rail

A close up of the hook


Monday, April 20, 2015

Four Star Finds: Bite 5 Night Fix for Lips

Click here to find this product

One of the challenges of residing in New England is living with dry skin. Despite using a humidifier, I slather on body oil, lotion and lip balm seemingly all the time!  My skin seems to be okay with all the extra attention, but when I wake up, my lips are dry and flaky.

Or they were…until I discovered this 2-part kit from Bite Cosmetics.  Before bedtime, I use the scrub stick to buff away dead skin, and then apply the thick agave lip balm.  Like the product’s name, my lips were soft and back to normal after 5 days.  I still use it every night for preventative measures.

As always, I receive no compensation for my endorsement of this product.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Style: Getting My Style Back

Our Boston record setting winter threw me for a style loop.  Generally, I try to look my best, but the cold winter days and seemingly permanent snow berms made it difficult to wear anything but yoga clothes.  I dressed up for special occasions, but my day-to-day outfits were pretty casual.  Today, I feel like my sense of style was reinvigorated!

My good friend, couture dress designer, Firas Yousif (of Firas Yousif Originals-click here to visit his website), invited me to a panel discussion held by the Fashion Group International of Boston.  Though all of the panelists had insightful things to say, one of the panelists gave me an "aha" moment.  When Jean Wang of (click here to visit her website) said that you represent your blog, I realized that it was time to step up my style game on a daily basis. 

Since there’s no time like the present to start, I changed into this outfit.  The silk blouse and bouclĂ© jacket are dressy, but since I like to juxtapose opposite elements, I paired them with ripped jeans.  I added an old mixed material necklace and the casual sandals I wrote about in this post.

You may notice there are two style posts today; I originally planned to post the March 2015 Buys, but was so excited about getting my groove back that I wanted to post today’s outfit.  It’s also why my outfit photos are selfies-my photographer (a.k.a. my husband) was unavailable to take the pictures!

a close up of the handbag...  I put all of my things into small black bags before
placing them into the handbag, so nothing can fall out through the holes
and for a cleaner look.

a closer look at the outfit

Style: March 2015 Buys

Last month, I wrote about going on a clothing and accessory budget because I wanted to thoughtfully purchase items that would get a lot of use (Click here to visit that post).  I was under-budget until Bloomingdale’s held their Friends and Family Sale, and let’s just say that I ended up over budget...

I'll do better in April!

Last year, I considered buying a flap top dress, decided not to,
and regretted that decision.
  I searched and finally found 
this dress
 at Banana Republic.
  The day I bought it, there was an additional
percentage off the sale price.  Click here to see the dress at Banana
Republic's website.
Another Banana Republic find, I thought this blush silk blouse
was a nice addition to my wardrobe.
  Like the black dress, it too
was additionally discounted from the sale price.  Click here to
visit the BR website
This Haute Hippie silk blouse was a well-thought-out purchase.  I
saw it, photographed it, left the store, decided it was something
I wanted to add to my wardrobe, and went back and purchased it
a few weeks later.
  The color and split sleeves are what attracted me to
this blouse. Click here to visit the website.

The Splendid jungle boucle top is a fun sweater for relaxed, casual
  Apparently a lot of other people thought so because it’s sold
  It’s available on the Splendid website in another color, though-
Click here to see it
This Dylan Gray pink leather motorcycle jacket is my gem!  I’ve only had
it for a few weeks and have worn it at least six times.
  I love the
juxtaposition of an edgy look in a very feminine color.
  This piece was
the straw that broke my budget’s back, but it was worth it!  Click here
to visit the website.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Cooking and Entertaining: Auntie Alice's Mirin Chicken

Auntie Alice's Mirin Chicken
My parents were both born and raised in Hawaii, so much of my culture is “Hawaii-style.”  Besides being pretty fond of spam and shaved iced, one the things my family does is call older female relatives “Auntie,” not Aunt.

That said, my Auntie Alice is a fantastic cook-she doesn’t use recipes and has the gift of seasoning everything perfectly.  She shared her simple 3-ingredient marinade recipe with me, and this chicken has become one of my family’s staples.

the ingredients

marinating the chicken

bringing the marinade to a boil

grilling the chicken

Auntie Alice’s Mirin Chicken

1/3 C.  soy sauce
1/3 C.  mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)-available at most markets in the Asian food section
1/3 C.  canola oil
chicken breasts or thighs

Combine the soy sauce, mirin and canola oil.  Place in a glass dish or plastic bag and add the chicken.  Marinate overnight, and I turn the chicken over once the next morning when using a glass dish. 

Grill the chicken over medium heat until cooked through (I cooked mine about 10 minutes on the first side and 7 on the second-the pieces of chicken were very large).  Remove from heat, cover the chicken and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes. 

While the chicken is cooking, place the marinade in a pot over medium heat.  Gently stirring, bring the marinade to a boil.  Slice the chicken and pour the cooked marinade over the slices. Enjoy!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Travel: Boston Celtics Basketball Game

the initial jump ball

For me, the past year and a half has been about keeping an open mind and saying “Yes” to new experiences.  Some of these activities have worked out well (snowmobiling, snow tubing and eating oysters) and others like driving in the snow, well, not so much.

So, even though I’m not into basketball, when given the opportunity to attend a Boston Celtics basketball game, I said, “Yes.”  What a great decision!

It was fun to watch a live basketball game-I noticed the players are much taller than I realized and that they seem to move much faster in person than on television.  Also, the game’s pace and fans’ enthusiasm makes it hard not to get into the spirit of the game!

a free throw shot

me before the start of the game

Since we went the night before St. Patrick's Day, Irish step dancers
provided our halftime entertainment

Friday, April 10, 2015

Movie Reviews: “Insurgent,” “Home,” "Furious 7" and "Danny Collins"

   Rated PG-13

The second film in the Divergent trilogy, Insurgent picks up right where Divergent left off.  In a futuristic Chicago society, peace became a thing of the past when the Erudite faction seized power.  Actively seeking divergents (society members who can belong to more than one faction), Erudite leader Janine has a special plan for them.  And after narrowly escaping death, Tris and Four are on the run, while still trying to protect divergents.

In previous posts, I recommend both the Insurgent book (click here to view it) and the first Divergent film (click here to view it).  Insurgent (the film) is action-packed with an unpredictable story that touches upon deeper societal issues.  If you’re looking for a few hours of entertainment, Insurgent is the movie for you!

   Rated PG

When lovable misfit Oh is forced to flee his planet, he escapes to Earth and befriends Tip, a girl with a quest of her own.  Together they embark on a journey and learn the meaning of friendship, family and being human.

Though intended as a children’s movie, funny, yet sweet Home offers something for every one!  I especially like that Home showed differences should to be celebrated and that fitting in isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

   Furious 7
   Rated PG-13

The whole gang is back, but instead of being the hunters, they’re being hunted by Deckard Shaw, brother of their last nemesis.  With the addition of new cast members, hacker Ramsey (love her name!), Mr. Nobody and assassin Jakande, Furious 7 is an “A ticket” ride!

Filled with humor, adventure and amazing stunts, Furious 7 is the best one yet!  What more can I say…except be sure to stay through the end for a very touching tribute to Paul Walker

   Danny Collins
   Rated R

Danny Collins is an aging rock star with a penchant for alcohol, cocaine and women.  After receiving a letter John Lennon had written forty years earlier, Danny decides to turn over a new leaf by writing his own songs again and connecting with his adult son.  Will he become the man he wants to be or will Danny’s demons continue to haunt him?

Touching, but not maudlin, Danny Collins is a feel good movie.  The all-star cast (Al Pacino, Annette Bening, Christopher Plummer, Jennnifer Garner and Bobby Cannavale) is superb, and I loved characters’ sweet natures.  If you want to feel good about humanity, see Danny Collins.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Book Review: “Before I Go”

   Before I Go
   Colleen Oakley

When 27 year-old Daisy’s breast cancer returns, she’s afraid of dying, not because she fears death, but because she’s worried about what will become of her absent-minded husband, Jack.  So uber-organized Daisy devises a plan to find Jack’s next wife, but what happens when he appears to be too fond of Daisy’s replacement?

Perhaps because I’m a little too organized and too into planning, I thought the premise of Before I Go was interesting-I can see the logic in finding a replacement wife.  Despite the subject matter, I found Before I Go funny and touching.  It’s a sweet novel that shows everyone deals with death in his or her own way, and even though the reader pretty much knows how the story will end, Before I Go was strangely uplifting.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Home: Orchid Trick



I have a black, rather than green thumb-that is, I’m not great with plants despite my best efforts.  Not surprisingly, I’m completely unable to get orchids to bloom again.  I used to throw the plants away until my sweet, creative friend, Carole, taught me this trick.

When the orchids have fallen off the stalk, clip the stalk back and replace it with a high-quality artificial orchid spray.  Since the plant is still alive, no one will guess the flowers aren’t real!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Four Star Finds: Sumo Citrus Fruit


A cross between a tangerine and an orange, sumo fruit is amazing.  Developed in Japan and grown in the United States by only a few family farms, sumo are worth taking the time to find.  They have the best features of both fruits-they peel easily like tangerines, yet are not as overwhelmingly sweet and are less acidic and bitter than oranges   Available February through May, buy some while you can!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Style: Summer Sandals

Ivanka Trump Kalia sandals                          Rene Caovilla sandals

On a recent California visit, I spent time with my quintessential California blonde friend Gretchen, and she was wearing the cutest sandals.  When I complimented her on them, she said they were by Ivanka Trump and mentioned how comfortable they are.  And though I don’t normally buy the exact same things my friends already own, Gretchen was completely okay with me having them.  Also, I figured that since we live 3000 miles apart, it’s unlikely we would wear them to the same event.  I immediately ordered a pair online.  Since they were last year’s style, they were a deal at less than $50.

While shopping on that trip, I found a very similar pair at Neiman Marcus that cost $1,265.  Yes, the price difference is more than $1,200!  I’m sure there are differences in quality, but...  

I guess my point is that great style can be found at all price points!