Friday, July 31, 2015

Book Review: 10% Happier

   10% Happier
   Dan Harris

After suffering an on-air panic attack, Good Morning America correspondent Dan Harris embarked on an accidental self-improvement journey.  Ever the skeptic, he Interviewed gurus, spiritual leaders and a disgraced pastor before finding meditation made his life “10% happier.”

Funny and entertaining, yet immensely educational and practical, 10% Happier gently introduces meditation to the common man in a non-threatening, accessible manner.  Even if you don’t believe meditation is “your thing,” 10% Happier is a great read!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Home: Master Bedroom Bedding

Master Bedroom-Before

Master Bedroom-Before

Master Bedroom-After

Master Bedroom-After

About nine months ago, I realized our bedding was looking worn and searched for new bedding, but mainly found the hotel-style look I currently had.  Though I like the style, I feel like I’ve been there and done that and wanted to take our bedroom’s look in another direction.  Every time I went to a store that sold bedding, I searched for something I liked.  At times, it was tempting to just buy something adequate, but since beds visually dominate the bedroom, I wanted to find pieces that expressed my personality.  It took a while, but persistence paid off, and I finally found a “new look,” or at least a look that is new to me!

The bottom pillow shams and coverlet are basically the same as my old one, but in a different cover.  The top pillow shams and comforter cover are completely different; their pattern and texture make them interesting and appealing.  Instead of having the pillows rest against the headboard, I laid them flat and used fewer of them for a more modern look.  The white soutache pillow and the beige pillow (a souvenir from Belgium) complete the look.  I’m ecstatic to have a bedroom that stylistically speaks to me again!

For links to the bedding, click here, here and here.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Four Star Finds: Nivea In-Shower Body Lotion

If you're interested in purchasing this product, click here

When I first read about Nivea’s in-shower body lotion, I thought, “What’s the point of using a lotion that needs to be rinsed off?”  But after reading about it in a few different articles, I decided to give it a try.  Now I understand what all the buzz is about.

This lotion is amazing…

Applied in the shower and then rinsed off, it leaves my skin nicely moisturized, but without the stickiness and warmth of a traditional lotion.  Additionally, it can be applied and rinsed off much quicker than a traditional lotion, can be found at many drug stores and has a reasonable price point.  Nivea In-Shower Body Lotion is a true four star find!

As always, I receive no compensation for this recommendation.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Style: Yes, I’m Wearing a Romper!

Club Monaco romper, Christian Dior sunglasses, vintage necklace,
Salvatore Ferragamo belt (old), Kate Spade clutch (gift),
Crown Vintage Sandals

When rompers first became popular about a year ago, I didn’t even bother to try one on.  I thought it would be too much trouble to get completely undressed for restroom breaks.  Additionally, I didn’t think I’d find one that would fit my long torso.  What can I say…it’s a woman prerogative to change her mind.

When I started softening toward the idea of a one-piece, I shopped around and liked this one from Club Monaco.  To my surprise, the romper’s torso was even  long enough.  It’s edgy, yet feminine and can be dressed up for the evening or down for the daytime.  Paired with a black belt and shoes, a vintage necklace and a colorful clutch (Thank you, Nora, for the wonderful birthday gift!), this outfit is fun, modern and perfect for date night.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Cooking and Entertaining: "Cookie Love" by Mindy Segal

Click here if you're interested in purchasing Cookie Love

Instead of sharing a recipe today, I wanted to share this amazing cookie cookbook with you.  I read a lot of internet buzz about Cookie Love, but was hesitant to buy another cookbook, especially one solely dedicated to cookies.  However, when I found out the author was the owner of my favorite Chicago restaurant, Hot Chocolate, I had to buy it.  What a great decision!

Though I’ve only made the Chocolate Toffee Biscotti so far, this recipe is worth the price of the book. Filled with sliced almonds and homemade toffee (yes, this recipe is a bit labor intense), these cookies were to die for!  I’m looking forward to trying the Brownie Krinkles, Oatmeal Scotchies, Lemon Goat Butter Tea Cakes, Dream Bars-I could go on and on…

Monday, July 20, 2015

Travel: New York City

Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge to get back into Manhattan

A couple of months ago, Kevin and I took a weekend trip to New York City.  Because there are so many fun things to do and great places to eat, I’m hesitant to make any recommendations.  Instead, I’ll highlight how we spent our time in the Big Apple. 

Because we’ve visited the Big Apple a few times before, we didn’t go to the usual tourist attractions (Rockefeller Center, the United Nations, the Met, MOMA, the NBC Studios Tour, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, etc.).  We mostly walked the city, ate some amazing meals and shopped.  For nighttime entertainment, we saw The Book of Mormon and listened to music at a blues club.  It was a wonderful getaway.  I love visiting New York City-the food, culture and entertainment can’t be beat! 

We began our visit by lunching at Juliana’s Pizza.  Co-owned by legendary
pizza maker Patsy Grimaldi, it was the BEST pizza I’ve eaten

I love watching the spray paint artists at work

Our caramel popcorn and ice cream dessert at Stanton Social

Half of a corned beef sandwich at Katz’s Deli, home of the
infamous scene in 
When Harry Met Sally

Levain Bakery sells the best chocolate chip cookies!

We loved The Book of Mormon-it that play isn’t to your taste,
I still suggest seeing a live performance in the city

Mario Batali’s Italian food emporium, Eataly, is my idea of heaven

Listening to live music in the small club was a great experience

It’s worth eating at any Bobby Flay restaurant just for the bread basket

Friday, July 17, 2015

Movie Reviews: "Terminator Genisys" & "Inside Out"

   Terminator Genisys
   Rated PG-13

In 2029, human resistance leader John Connor sends Kyle Reese back to 1987 with a mission to save his mother, Sarah Connor (Does this sound like the first Terminator movie?)  Expecting to find a sweet, but weak Sarah, Reese is in for a big surprise!  I’m stopping here because writing any more would give away the plot…

Terminator Genisys is an e-ticket ride!  It has subtle references and nods to earlier films for diehard fans, yet is understandable and accessible to series newcomers.  With lots of action, an unpredictable storyline and just the right dose of humor, Terminator Genisys is my pick for summer action films!

   Inside Out
   Rated PG

From the time of her birth Riley’s emotions (Joy, Anger, Disgust, Fear and Sadness) are harmoniously living in Headquarters, the control center of Riley’s brain, with Joy as the leader.  When a job change requires Riley’s family to move to San Francisco, the difficulty of adjusting to a new environment leads to major upheavals at Headquarters.

Like most Pixar films, Inside Out is funny and sweet, yet realistically examines complex emotional issues.  The combination of upbeat Joy and world-weary Sadness is absolutely hilarious.  Though Inside Out is an animated children’s movie, it isn’t just for kids!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Book Review: Primates of Park Avenue

   Primates of Park Avenue
   Wednesday Martin

After majoring in cultural studies and comparative literature, Wednesday Martin lived in New York City, including a stint on the Upper East Side.  Her memoir, Primates of Park Avenue, details her experiences living and raising a child in arguably America’s most prestigious zip code.  Gaining acceptance from other stay-at-home moms (many of whom had advanced degrees from Ivy league universities) was more challenging than expected.  Martin also details her efforts to get her child accepted at the “right” preschool, to arrange play dates for him and even buying an Hermes Birkin handbag to fit in.

Written from a primatologist’s viewpoint, Martin compares her experiences to those of an ape attempting to fit into a new group.  After initially feeling disdain for the other women, Martin realizes their lives aren’t as picture-perfect as she imagined and eventually empathizes with them.  If you’re looking for an entertaining summer read to see how the 1/1000 of 1% lives, Primates of Park Avenue is the book for you!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Home: Hurricane Lamps for Summer



In previous posts, I’ve written about filling our dining table hurricane lamps with Christmas ornaments and river stones for different seasonal looks (Click here and here to view the posts).  Since it’s now summer, I decided to give them a completely different look. 

There are two changes I made.  The first change occurred because I accidentally broke one of the hurricanes.  Instead of replacing it with an identical lamp, I bought two smaller ones so now have one large hurricane flanked by two small ones.  The other change is that I filled them with seashells to complement the summer season.  The effect is airy and cheerful, just like a summer day.

another view

For more information on the hurricanes and seashell vase filler, click here and here, respectively.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Four Star Finds: Baudelaire Loofah Hand Soap

Baudelaire Loofah Hand Soap

When our friends Gale and Jean visited us in Boston, one of the hostess gifts they gave us was this Baudelaire bar soap.  Jean explained they tried it when staying at another friend’s home, loved it and thought it would be something we’d enjoy using-they were so right!  This soap contains small bits of loofah, so it’s excellent for exfoliating and has an intoxicating scent.  What a wonderful, thoughtful gift!

For more information on this product, click here.  As always, I do not receive any compensation for endorsing this product

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Style: Dressing for the Dog Days of Summer

Club Monaco dress (sale), Tom Ford sunglasses (different color),
Chloe handbag, Crown Vintage sandals

When we lived in California, I thought the hottest time of year was the period surrounding Labor Day and was completely unprepared for the heat and humidity of New England summers.  Now I understand what is meant by the term, “the dog days of summer,” which is defined as the period from July 3 through August 11 where the Northern Hemisphere typically experiences the hottest temperatures of the year. 

I learned a few tricks to stay cool: 1. Check a weather app to figure out the optimum time to run errands 2. Put my hair up when I feel too warm and 3. Wearing light, airy dresses helps a lot, too.  This one, a birthday gift from my mom, is both stylish and prevents me from overheating.  Paired with low-heeled sandals, the effect is casual, yet stylish.

These sandals were one of my May 2015 buys.  I saw a young woman
wearing them, complimented her on her shoe choice and asked where
she purchased them.  They were from DSW, and very reasonably priced!
It goes to show that great style can be found at all price points!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Cooking and Entertaining: Overnight Oatmeal

Overnight Oatmeal!

Since eating oatmeal helps lower Kevin’s bad cholesterol level and because I’m not at my best in the mornings, I’m always on the lookout for low-sugar oatmeal recipes that can be made ahead.  Overnight oatmeal seems to meet both needs.

After finding this recipe on another blog, I adapted it to use ingredients I have on hand.  The result was outstanding, so I wanted to share it.  Overnight oatmeal couldn’t be easier to prepare; you simply mix together the ingredients and let them rest overnight in the refrigerator.  In the morning you have a tasty, healthy breakfast!

the ingredients 
Place all ingredients except the raspberries into the jar, top with the lid
 and then shake to combine

Stir in the raspberries and then refrigerate overnight

Overnight Oatmeal
Recipe adapted from the Yummy Life-click here to view the original recipe

1/4 C.  uncooked old fashioned rolled oats
1/3 C.  almond milk
1/4 C.   Greek yogurt (I used non-fat plain, but any flavor can be used)
1-1/2 tsp.  chia seeds
1/4 tsp.  vanilla extract
1 Tbsp.  apricot jam, preserves, or spread
1/4 C.  raspberries

In a jam jar, add oats, almond milk, yogurt, chia seeds, vanilla, and jam. Put lid on jar and shake until well combined. Remove lid, add raspberries and stir until mixed throughout. Return lid to jar and refrigerate overnight or as long as 2-3 days. Eat chilled

Friday, July 3, 2015

Travel: The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove State Park

The front patio at the Beachcomber

When we lived in California, if someone from out-of-town wanted the quintessential beach experience, we suggested going to Crystal Cove State Park.  Located in Newport Beach, Crystal Cove is a small beach home to the Beachcomber restaurant and rentable bungalows.  Though I’ve heard it’s quite difficult to rent the cottages, anyone can dine at the Beachcomber, which is located directly on the sand.  With their delicious food, tasty drinks and beautiful views, the Beachcomber is a slice of paradise.

For more information on the cottage available to rent, click here

To visit the Beachcomber’s website, click here

the back patio at the Beachcomber

the menu board

the view from the front patio

Parking is across Pacific Coast Highway-murals in the walkway to the parking lot

for those who don't want to walk to the beach, a
shuttle is available

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Movie Reviews: "Jurassic World" & "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl"

   Jurassic World
   Rated PG-13

More than twenty years after the horrific events at Jurassic Park, Jurassic World is a fully functioning theme park featuring dinosaurs.  To boost attendance, a scientist manipulates DNA to create a hybrid dinosaur that produces unforeseen consequences.

The special effects in Jurassic World are mind-blowing!  The dinosaurs looked real (or as real as I imagine them), and the stunts are unbelievably good.  A classic summer blockbuster, Jurassic World will keep you on the edge of your seat!

   Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
   Rated PG-13

High school senior Greg spends his days trying not to offend anyone and making classic movie parodies with his “co-worker” Earl.  He reluctantly befriends leukemia patient Rachel at his mother’s behest and learns the true meaning of life.

In the same vein as Juno and Lars and the Real Girl, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is an artsy, yet accessible film.  Funny and touching, I loved the characters and the story line.  Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a must-see film!