Friday, May 29, 2015

Movie Review: Hot Pursuit

   Hot Pursuit
   Rated PG-13

Reese Witherspoon stars as Cooper, an overeager police officer who is tasked with escorting Daniella Riva (Sofia Vergara), a money launderer’s wife, to federal court in order to testify against a drug kingpin.  After being ambushed, the women are pursued by both corrupt police officers and assassins.  But will they make it to court or will they pay the ultimate price?

Though this movie plays on stereotypes and wasn’t well received by the critics, I enjoyed it immensely!  Female buddy movies are not the norm, and I like seeing women work together instead of competing against one another.  Silly, but entertaining, Hot Pursuit is a fun distraction.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Book Review: “The Girl on the Train

   The Girl on the Train
   Paula Hawkins

When Rachel takes the morning train into London and the evening train home, she often sees an attractive couple on their patio, reading, drinking coffee, chatting or contemplating life.  She identifies with them and imagines what their “perfect” life is like, but her life is thrown into a tailspin when the wife is reported missing.  Will Rachel give up her obsession with this couple before her own life in endangered?

Last night I stayed up until three am to finish The Girl on the Train-that’s how good it is!  I knew I wanted to read it when I overheard two Barnes and Noble employees talking about how it is hard to put down.  I agree!  Though I didn’t love any of the characters, I loved the story, its unpredictability and how it slowly unfolded, gently parceling out clues to the reader.  There’s a reason The Girl on the Train is on the bestseller list!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Home: Dining Room Light Fixture

Dining Room-Before

Dining Room-Before

Dining Room-After
Dining Room-After

Happy Memorial Day!

This is the fourth home we’ve owned, and the one thing we’ve learned about home ownership is that it’s important to maintain, modernize and make improvements regularly.  Sometimes they are small, do-it-yourself projects, and sometimes they’re investments that require professional installation.  This dining room light fixture is the latter. 

I thought it would be nice to have something over the table and (luckily) our dining room was already wired for a fixture.  We considered installing a traditional chandelier, but opted for a less formal option.  This Chicago Chandelier from Rejuvenation Lighting and House Parts (click here for more information) is just what I wanted.  I was able to choose the metal finish, hanging bar length and shades.  With the addition of the Edison-style light bulbs (click here for more information on the light bulbs), I have the retro/modern look I wanted.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Four Star Finds: Yves Saint Laurent Volupté Tint-in-Oil

To find Yves Saint Laurent Volupté Tint-in-Oil, click here

Unless we’re going out for the evening, I generally don’t touch up my make-up.  As a result, I’m always interested in long-wearing lip color products.  They were great for when I lived in temperate California, but since most of them tend to be a bit drying, they’re not as good for Northeast, where it seem like we either have the heater or air conditioner running.  This Yves Saint Laurent Volupté Tint-in-Oil is the perfect solution!

Since it’s an oil, this product isn’t drying, and when it evaporates, it leaves a nice hint of color on my lips.  It's truly a four star product!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Style: Edgy Pink

Dylan Gray jacket, Bailey 44 top (old), Helmut Lang skirt (old),
Dior sunglasses, Lauren Merkin clutch, Jimmy Choo pumps

In my quest to stick to a clothing budget and make thoughtful purchases, I generally don’t buy items when I first see them.  Instead, I take a picture, leave the store and over the course of a week, think about whether or not the item is something I love and will use.  I say “generally” because this was not the case with this blush pink motorcycle jacket.  I discovered it at the Bloomingdale’s Friends and Family sale, slipped it on and immediately purchased it.

I love the discordance of the edgy cut and feminine color.  It’s versatile and I’ve worn it with everything from jeans to a floral print dress.  Paired here with an Bailey 44 top, Helmut Lang skirt and traditional pumps, I think I have an impeccable evening outfit!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Cooking and Entertaining: Lemon Madeleines

Lemon Madeleines

While I was recently browsing through a cooking store, I found corn-shaped corn bread/muffin pans.  I thought about buying them, but decided against it because I don’t have a lot of storage space.  Generally, I don’t advocate buying specialty baking pans unless they’ll be used quite often.  My exception to this rule is for a Madeleine pan.  I rarely use the one I have, but it’s nice to be able to make, rather than buy, these cake-like cookies for a few reasons-they’re fresh, made without preservatives and can be flavored.

These Madeleines were made using Laura Calder’s recipe, and they’re delicious.  Buttering the pans gives them slightly crunchy edges, and the lemon zest gives them a subtle lemon flavor.  This recipe requires few tools, so the clean-up is minimal and uses melted butter and doesn’t require refrigerating the dough, so there’s they’re quick to make.  It’s time to start using my Madeleine pan regularly!

Click here for the recipe

the ingredients

buttering the pan gives the edges a crispy texture

instead of using measuring cups, I weighed the ingredients

a one pot recipe

my Madeleines were on the large side, so I only got 21, instead of 24

I dusted the cookies with powdered sugar to make them look pretty

Friday, May 15, 2015

Travel: Huntington Beach, California

the view from the pier

Host city to the U.S. Open of Surfing, Huntington Beach, California (also known as Surf City) is a great place to visit!  Though most of the city is a typical suburb, the downtown area is charming.  There’s something for everyone there-surfing is year-round, fishing on the pier is permitted, Main Street is filled with surf shops and beachy restaurants, and the mild California climate allows people to enjoy the beach every season!

looking down the pier

a hoodie sold at a local surf shop

a tile in the Surfing Hall of Fame Walk
looking down Main Street

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Movie Reviews: “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Ex Machina” and “Far from the Madding Crowd”

   Avengers: Age of Ultron
   Rated PG-13

Yay-the summer movie season is here!  Avengers: Age of Ultron is a typical summer blockbuster.  With big name actors, huge special effects, a love story subplot, just the right amount of humor and an over-the-top story, this movie is an A-ticket ride!  Though the plot can be a bit confusing, the story unfolds so the viewer can eventually figure everything out.

If you like any of the Marvel action movies, seeing Avengers: Age of Ultron is the perfect way to spend an afternoon or evening!

   Rated R

Caleb Smith is thrilled when he wins a chance to spend a week with his brilliant, reclusive company CEO, Nathan Bateman.  Little does he know he was specifically selected to test Bateman’s latest artificial intelligence project, a “woman” named Ava. 

Though it’s a little scary to see what might be in our future, Ex-Machina is fascinating!  With three morally ambiguous characters and a completely unpredictable plot, Ex-Machina will keep you on the edge of your seat, not quite knowing which character to root for.

   Far from the Madding Crowd
   Rated PG-13

Beautiful, charming Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) has three very different suitors: kind sheep farmer Gabriel Oak; charming Army Sergeant Frank Troy and wealthy, but socially awkward land owner William Boldwood.  Fearing a loss of her independence, Bathsheba is hesitant to marry at all.  Will she find the happiness she deserves?

Based on the Thomas Hardy novel, Far from the Madding Crowd has an interesting, unpredictable plot, beautiful cinematography, and first-rate acting (I’ll come right out and say that Carey Mulligan is one of my favorite actresses; she has such an expressive face that I feel her joy and pain).   The film also educates the viewer on 19th century British class norms and women’s rights in an engaging manner.  I was surprised by how much I liked Far from the Madding Crowd.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Book Review: "I Was Here"

   I Was Here
   Gayle Foreman

Hoping to understand why her best friend, Meg, took her own life, Cody jumps at the chance to pack up Meg's college apartment.  After discovering friends Meg never mentioned and an encrypted file on Meg's computer, Cody plays detective and soon finds herself in an underground world where her own life may be endangered.

Reading about suicide is tough, especially since someone close to me took his own life.  That said, I Was Here sensitively approaches the delicate subject matter in a life-affirming way.  It's a young adult novel, and therefore a quick, easy read.  And though this book isn't about my stage of life, I find it interesting to learn about the current generation's psyche and culture.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Home: Master Bedroom Dresser


a close up of the accessories

When I really looked at the accessories on the master bedroom dresser, I realized they looked stale and tired.  In fact, the handle on my jewelry box had broken a few years ago, and I hadn’t replaced it because I hadn’t found one I truly liked.  When I found this shagreen jewelry box at West Elm, I knew it was the one! 

To change the look of the dresser, I removed two of the picture frames and replaced them with an antique clock from another spot in the bedroom.  And because the new jewelry box is smaller than my old one, I combined it with a room diffuser and a small picture frame that was originally on the other side of the dresser.  I’m very happy with the new look.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Four Star Finds: Dual Citrus Squeezer

This dual citrus squeezer is available here

I love using citrus squeezers to juice lemons and limes and had one of each.  They were pretty old, and because I put them in the dishwasher, the finish was partially chipped.  Obviously, they needed to be replaced, but since moving to a home with much less kitchen storage, I’ve tried to minimize our kitchen tools and utensils.

This dual citrus squeezer solved the problem-it works as well as the individual squeezers and saves a lot of space.  As a side note, I hand wash this squeezer to preserve its longevity.  What a great find!

As always, I don't receive any compensation for this endorsement

Monday, May 4, 2015

Style: Tie-Dye Shirtdress

Rebecca Minkoff dressIvanka Trump sandals, Tom Ford sunglasses (old)
 Argento Vivo necklace, Chan Luu bracelet (similar) and
Rebecca Minkoff clutch (different color)

Seven or eight years ago when I bought my first maxi dress, I thought it would be a short-lived trend, and every year since, I thought it would the maxi dress’s last.  Now, I’m convinced they’re closet staples that are slightly updated every year.  This year, I noticed maxi dresses are made using airy fabrics and have fuller, split skirts.

This Rebecca Taylor dress is just what I need for the upcoming balmy months.  The blue and white Ikat print is on-trend, the slits in the skirt keep it cool, and this dress’s cut is forgiving if I eat too many cookies.  Another feature of this dress is that the skirt is lined almost to the knee, making a slip unnecessary.  What more could I ask for in a summer dress?

I accessorized this dress with the Ivanka Trump sandals mentioned in a previous post (click here to view it), Tom Ford sunglasses, an Argento Vivo necklace, a Chan Luu bracelet and with a Rebecca Minkoff clutch.  Though the bracelet and clutch are older, I’m happy to report they are still being sold at fashionable stores.  Though I'm not a fan of the heat, I'm looking forward to wearing this April 2015 buy!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Cooking and Entertaining: Katie Lee Joel’s Fiesta Won Tons

Fiesta Won Tons

I grew up eating won tons-they were one of those “special occasion” foods my mom made for holidays and family get-togethers.  When I found this recipe for Fiesta Won Tons, I thought, “What could be better than Mexican-inspired won tons?  Pretty much nothing!” 

Though they’re a bit labor-intensive, they’re worth the extra effort!  These won tons can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen (up to 3 months) and reheated just before serving.  Accompanied by our favorite salsa, they’re absolutely addictive!

To make these Fiesta Won Tons, click here for the recipe

the ingredients-I doubled the recipe

the filling

I used the assembly line approach for stuffing the won tons

I fold the won tons into rectangles because I like shape more

ready for the fryer