Monday, August 31, 2015

Home: Warm Weather Throw

Click here for more information on this throw
Emma looked so happy and comfortable that I couldn't bring myself
to move her out of the picture!

In a post earlier this summer, I wrote about changing the sofa pillow covers to match the season, replacing the wool and chenille covers with lighter, airier fabrics like linen (Click here to view that post).  At the time, I also wrote about not changing the throw because I didn’t find one that was just right.  After a bit of looking, I finally found just the right piece. 

This cotton throw has all the design elements I was looking for-I love the color, pattern, texture and weight of this blanket.  It just goes to show that waiting patiently for the right item pays off!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Four Star Finds: Dr. Jart+ Pore Medic Pore Purifying Mask

Click here for more information about this product

Though I subscribe to Birchbox and receive monthly samples, I’m always a bit hesitant to try new products on my face due to my sensitive skin.  But because I had read so much about cotton facial masks, I put aside my concerns and tried the Dr. Jart+ Pore Medic Pore Purifying Mask.

This product is a miracle worker!  After applying the mask and leaving it on for about 20 minutes, my pores appeared to be much smaller and less congested.  Now I use this product weekly.

As always, I receive no compensation for endorsing this product.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Style: Pink Dress Redux

Club Monaco dress (similar), 7 for All Mankind jacket (similar),
J. Crew necklace (old), Christian Dior sunglasses,
3.1 Phillip Lim handbag, Kenneth Cole booties

This fit and flare dress is about two years old and is still one of my favorites!  The cut flatters my shape, and I love the baby pink color.  In a previous post (click here to view it), I paired it with a black leather jacket and high-heeled booties.  It’s a great look, but a bit heavy for summer.

For the warmer months, I like to accessorize it with a cotton textured motorcycle jacket, bucket bag, and open-toed boots.  The accessories elevate the outfit and are perfect for the current season.

I wanted to share the buying details of this jacket, but
it was an exclusive to the 7 for All Mankind stores, and
I couldn't find it anywhere online

Monday, August 24, 2015

Cooking and Entertaining: Fire and Ice Salad

Fire and Ice Salad

I believe every cook needs a few simple, yet tasty dinners for those nights when one just doesn’t feel like cooking.  This Fire and Ice Salad is perfect for those nights-it uses prepared ingredients, namely frozen Buffalo chicken bites, French-fried onion strings and Mandarin oranges and is so good that it’s one of our family favorites.

Inspired by a salad of the same name sold in a café in St. Louis, I lightened it up by replacing the ranch dressing with vinaigrette, and by using a small amount of flavorful blue cheese in place of lots of shredded mozzarella.  Though I tend to be a recipe follower, this salad is easily changeable, so feel free to change the ingredients to suit your taste!
the ingredients

the salad ingredients mise en place style
the vinaigrette contains 2 Tbsp. olive oil, 1 Tbsp. red wine
vinegar, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, salt and pepper

Fire and Ice Salad

Salad greens
Tomato, sliced
Avocado, diced
Mandarin Oranges, drained
French-fried onion strings
Blue cheese
Buffalo chicken bites
Dressing (I made Dijon vinaigrette, but choose any dressing you like)

Use as much of any ingredient as you wish. Combine all ingredients and toss.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Travel: Fenway Park Tour

the view from the Green Monster seats

In my last travel post, I wrote about touring the Samuel Adams Brewery with our friends, Ellen and Tom.  Our other “touristy” outing with them was taking a tour of the Boston Red Sox home, Fenway Park.

Tours are held most days and provide a fascinating glimpse into one of the oldest and smallest major league ball parks.  Not only did we see the visitors'  locker room and press box, but also the “Hall of Fame” wall, the original bleachers and the famous Green Monster and the coveted seats atop it.  It was a fascinating and fun adventure!

If you have any interest in America’s national pastime, a Fenway Park tour is the outing for you!  For more information about Fenway Park tours, click here.

The locker room was much nicer than I expected

the Wall of Fame

the view from the press box

the famous Big Green Monster

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Movie Reviews: “Vacation” and “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation”

   Rated R

Rusty Griswold, decides to recreate his childhood vacation by taking his family on a road trip to Walley World.  Hilarious antics ensue with stops along the way at his wife’s alma mater, sister Audrey’s Texas home and a brief visit with parents Clark and Ellen.

Our family is incredibly biased toward the Vacation series, and we watch Christmas Vacation every year.  That said, we loved Vacation-it’s a wonderfully updated version that stays true to the original.  Ed Helms is the right choice as Rusty-he captures Clark’s mannerisms and speech patterns perfectly.  Christina Applegate adds just the right comedic element as Clark’s wife, and a brief appearance by Chris Hemsworth is worth the price of admission.  Be sure to stay through the credits!

   Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
   Rated PG-13

Despite being disbanded by a Senate committee, the IMF is back; this time, attempting to eradicate the Syndicate, an international crime group with equal skills and resources.  Will Ethan and his team prevail over this evil organization?

Action-filled and unpredictable, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is an e ticket ride that will keep you guessing until the very end!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Book Review: “Little Women”

   Little Women
   Louisa May Alcott

Two months ago when our friends were in town, we visited Louisa May Alcott’s former home in Concord, Massachusetts.  Though it was interesting to see where she and her family lived and to learn about their lives, I was embarrassed to admit I hadn’t read Little Women.  Semi-autobiographical in nature, it is a fascinating read!

At the beginning of the story, Father is away fighting the Civil War while wise Mother, responsible Meg, narrator Jo, sweet Beth and haughty Amy are home in New England trying to make ends meet.  Little Women follows the girls from their teen years through young adulthood, marriage and parenthood.

I can clearly see why this remarkable book is #9 on Amazon’s top 100 list of books to read.  A well-written novel, Little Women both engages and educates the reader on mid 19th century New England life and mores.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Home: Laundry Area



After we replaced our washer and dryer (out of necessity) about a year ago, I thought the rest of the laundry area didn’t do justice to the new appliances.  To me, everything looked messy and out-of-place.  A few hours and quick trips to a couple of stores solved my problem.  Now the area looks neat and tidy!

Here's what I did:

  • The laundry supplies that are on top of the washer were placed in glass bottles or jars
  • The mesh laundry bags remained on the side of the appliances on hooks
  • The closet light pull string was replaced with a metal pull chain
  • Extraneous items were removed from the sides of the appliances and placed in other spots in the house
  • The Elfa door and wall rack system was installed on the wall to hold small, odd shaped laundry products

Close up of the top of the dryer

Click here for more information on the milk bottles
Click here for more information on the powdered detergent glass jar

Close up of the Elfa System

Click here for more information about this storage system

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Four Star Finds: Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Night Cap Overnight Protector

Click here if you're interested in learning more about this product

As I’ve gotten older, my hair isn’t as soft and straight as it was when I was in my teens and twenties.  Over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks to restore my hair.  Here they are: I alternate washing my hair and using dry shampoo; I deep condition my hair weekly (See this post for the deep conditioner I love) and I recently discovered a miraculous new product-Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Night Cap Overnight Protector.

There was a lot of buzz about this hair cream, but the fact that it was co-owned by a celebrity made me a little hesitant to purchase it.  Despite my reservations, I decided to give it a try, and when I went into Sephora to purchase it, two associates talked about what a great product it is (By the way, that’s when you know you have a hit!). 

What an amazing product!  I simply apply as directed, and it’s frizz-reducing properties last for 3-5 shampoos.  I know this hair protector works because when I was in California for 3 weeks and didn’t take it with me, my hair wasn’t nearly as soft as usual.  Leaving Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Night Cap Overnight Protector at home is a mistake I won’t make again!

As always, I receive no compensation for this endorsement

Monday, August 10, 2015

Style: Blue Danube

Joie blouse, J. Crew denim and belt (old, but similar denim and belt),
Seychelles sandals, Chloe handbag (old), antique necklace,
Ray Ban sunglasses (similar)

When I saw this breezy blouse, I was immediately drawn to it, probably because it reminded me of Blue Danube dinnerware.  It’s not that I’ve ever owned this dinnerware; I just like the nostalgia of it.

That said, I paired the blouse with white denim, Birkenstock-like sandals, and a leopard-print belt (just to mix things up).  It’s a perfect outfit for a not-too-warm summer day!

Yes, I half-tucked the top just for fun!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Cooking and Entertaining: Laura Calder’s Basque Eggs My Way

Laura Calder's Basque Eggs My Way

Since our visit to France a few years ago, I’ve become interested in French cuisine and watch Laura Calder’s Cooking Channel show, French Food at Home.  Though she’s Canadian, she studied in France and has a way of simplifying complicated dishes.  Every one of her recipes I’ve made has been outstanding!

Though I’ve never seen Basque Eggs on a bistro menu, this dish looked like a nice weeknight meal-it’s full of healthy ingredients, easy to prepare, and takes very little time.  Best of all, this dish is delicious!

Unlike the original recipe, I used only 1 chili pepper because when I've
made this dish with 2 chilies, it's too spicy

I rarely follow the "mise en place" method of having everything chopped
and ready to go before starting the cooking process. This dish 
cooks quicklyso I wanted to be prepared

Sautéing the veggies

Almost ready to be plated

Click here to see Laura Calder's recipe

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Travel: Samuel Adams Brewery Tour

Getting ready for the tour!
When our friends Tom and Ellen visited Boston, all four of us stopped by the Samuel Adams Brewery for a tour.  A fully functioning brewery that serves as the company’s test kitchen, touring this facility makes for a fun adult afternoon (only age 21+ are permitted). 

After learning about the ingredients that go into Samuel Adams beer (hops, malt and water) and about the beer making process, came the best part of the day…the beer tasting.  As we entered the tasting room, we were given a souvenir tasting glass and a quick rundown on how to taste beer.  Of course, the first sample was the beer that made the company famous, the Boston Lager-it was so tasty!  After that, we tried two equally good seasonal brews.  Taking this almost-free tour (there’s a suggested $2 donation to charity) was a wonderful way to share our city with our friends!

If you'd like more information about visiting the Samuel Adams Brewery, click here to visit their website.

a look around the factory

the tanks

the malt

the hops


Monday, August 3, 2015

Movie Reviews: "Trainwreck," "Infinitely Polar Bear" & "Mr. Holmes"

   Rated R

Young Amy took her father at his word when he drilled into her head that monogamy wasn’t realistic.  As a successful, modern woman, she answers only to herself and does as she pleases.  Will her relationship with sports doctor Aaron cause her to have a change of heart?

Even though there was a lot of internet buzz about Amy Schumer and this movie, I went into Trainwreck with pretty low expectations.  I didn’t think it would be horrible, just not good enough to write about on this blog.  I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it.  Bawdy, yet sweet, seeing Trainwreck was a great way to spend the afternoon!

   Infinitely Polar Bear
   Rated R

Though he suffers from Bipolar Disorder, Cameron tries to win back his wife by taking care of their daughters while she attends graduate school in another state.  Will he find success as a father, or will his disease overtake his life?

Based on a true story, Infinitely Polar Bear shows the complexities of mental illness and that the mentally ill also have positive traits.  Well-acted, and heartbreaking, yet funny, this film will change your view of mental illness.

   Mr. Holmes
   Rated PG

Well into his retirement in post World War II England, Sherlock Holmes lives in the country, tends his bees and is experiencing profound memory loss.  After returning from Japan with a plant that has restorative powers, he, along with his housekeeper’s young son, reopen his last case.

Well done, with an interesting story and good acting, Mr. Holmes is a gem!  This film poses the question, “Can Sherlock Holmes still be effective when he is elderly and forgetful?”  Learning the answer will keep you mesmerized!