Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Style: Professional Outfit

Club Monaco sweater, Limited slacks (similar), Jimmy Choo pumps,
Tom Forx sunglasses (old), Hobo clutch (old), Stella and Dot necklace (old)

When I got my first engineering job, it was in the heyday of the yuppie and everyone dressed up for work.  Men wore slacks, shirts with collars and often ties, and women wore suits, dresses, or slacks and dressy blouses with closed toe pumps.  No one ever wore jeans to work.  As time went by, dress standards relaxed, but I still like the idea of looking professional at work.

If I were an engineer now, this is the sort of outfit I’d wear-slacks, a sweater and high-heeled pumps.  It looks put-together, but doesn’t take itself too seriously.  The sweater is from Club Monaco, and I like how there appears to be another layer underneath it.  These Limited slacks are very old, but I can’t bring myself to get rid of them-they’re a classic piece, look work-appropriate and, best of all, can be laundered at home.  Accessorized with black pumps, a black clutch and a tassel necklace, it looks like I’m ready for business. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Cooking and Entertaining: Trader Joe's Breaded Chicken Tenderloin Breasts & Frank's Red Hot Wings Sauce (Buffalo)

For more information on the chicken tenders, click here and for more
information on the Buffalo sauce, click here

When I lived in California, I used to eat fast-casual food quite a bit-it was so easy to pick up a sandwich, chicken/veggie bowl, salad or bowl of soup.  Living in Boston, it’s much less convenient since the closest fast casual eatery is a 15-minute walk away.  The walk isn’t a bad thing, but when the weather isn’t pleasant, I’d rather just eat leftovers or something in the freezer. 

That said, one of my favorite lunches is cut up raw vegetables with Trader Joe’s Breaded Chicken Tenderloin Breasts with Frank’s Red Hot Wings Sauce (Buffalo).   The chicken tenders are the best I’ve eaten and relatively low in fat and carbohydrates.  Adding the Buffalo sauce makes them out of this world!

I’m very particular about the way I prepare this meal.  Since the chicken tenders are fully cooked, I first thaw them in the microwave, and them place them directly on the toaster oven rack.  They’re cooked on the medium toast setting until they’re warmed throughout and have a crispy exterior.  Sometimes I cover the entire tender with Buffalo sauce and other times I dip them in sauce as I eat them.  Although this meal is a no-brainer, I wanted to share it since it’s one of my favorites.  Enjoy!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Four Star Finds: Paderno Spiralizer

the Paderno spiralizer-click here for more information on this product
Saute the zoodles in a little olive oil with salt and pepper until crisp tender

Kevin could eat spaghetti once a week and is always so happy when I make it for dinner.  At this point in my life, though, pasta is a treat I reserve for dining out.  I used to serve Kevin regular spaghetti and eat shirataki noodles with sauce, and while they had the right texture, shirataki noodles (to me) smell like fish.  We needed a solution to our spaghetti dilemma!

I had heard a lot of good things about zoodles, which are zucchini noodles made using a sprializer and though I’m hesitant to buy kitchen tools that require a lot of storage space, I thought I’d give a spiralizer a try.  I love it-it’s easy to use and clean, and the zoodles truly are a great (and healthy) substitute for spaghetti.  Now Kevin can have his spaghetti and eat it too!

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

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Travel: Disney Springs in Orlando, Florida

A Mickey Mouse Rice Krispies Treat cake at the candy shop

A few weeks ago I tagged along with Kevin on a business trip to a Disney resort in Orlando, Florida.  While he was working, I took advantage of the shuttle amenity and went to Disney Springs, a dining, shopping and entertainment center.  Similar to Downtown Disney in Anaheim, California, Disney Springs is much larger and is home to a Cineplex, bowling alley, free outdoor entertainment, lots of restaurants and many stores. 

In addition having expected shops like a candy store and Christmas shop, the center also has some unique stores.  For example, there’s a store where one can create a custom phone case, a left hand only kiosk and the largest Disney merchandise store I’ve seen.  Like many department stores in the 1950’s and 1960’s, this store had a hair salon where children could get their hair styled like a Disney princess, complete with a mini tiara.

If you’re in Orlando and have a few extra hours, Disney Springs is the place to be!

For more information on Disney Springs, click here

a glass blower

the children's hair salon

hanging out in the Lego store

part of my dinner at Iron Chef Morimoto's restaurant. It was amazing!

a store completely dedicated to Star Wars merchandise

Monday, March 21, 2016

Movie Reviews: “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” & “Eye in the Sky”

   Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
   Rated R

Frustrated with her career path, reporter Kim Baker accepts an assignment as a war correspondent in Afghanistan.  By adjusting to the Spartan living conditions and cultural differences, forming new friendships and competing for stories, Kim finds her resourcefulness, inner strength and “voice.”

Based on Kim Baker’s memoir, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is intelligent, touching and funny.  Though it’s a lighter take on war than Eye in the Sky, both films show that war is horrific.

   Eye in the Sky
   Rated R

Colonel Katherine Powell leads a joint military operation between The United Kingdom, Kenya and the US that involves surveillance and drones.  When the venture changes from a capture to kill operation, the leaders struggle to find an acceptable amount of collateral damage while preventing a major terrorist attack.

A tense, yet slowly unfolding drama, Eye in the Sky, keeps the viewer engaged the entire film.  It effectively presents the moral dilemma of taking a few lives to prevent the loss of many and shows there is no “right” answer.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Book Review: “The Road to Character”

   The Road to Character
   David Brooks

When author David Brooks made an appearance on Oprah Winfrey’s show, SuperSoul Sunday, he discussed the difference between resume and eulogy virtues.  Resume virtues are skills that contribute to external success while eulogy virtues describe one’s core (honest, brave, etc.)  While our society places a high value on resume virtues, which also bring us immediate happiness, Brooks emphasizes the importance of cultivating eulogy virtues, which, he believes, bring moral joy.  Of course, like most things that are good for us (saving money, regularly exercising, etc.), building character isn’t easy and requires sacrifice.  In the remaining chapters, Brooks highlights different virtues and historical figures who best exemplify them

I loved the first part of The Road to Character, which was mainly learning about the two types of virtues.  When I got the individual virtues and those who best represented them, I was initially a little put off because these people were so flawed.  However, after reading a few chapters, it dawned on me that Brooks wanted to show their difficulties in obtaining character and that they still weren’t, by any means, perfect.  The Road to Character is not a quick or easy read, but I believe its knowledge is valuable and that this book has deeply impacted my way of thinking.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Home: Hurricane Lamps Redux


the damaging river stones!


For more information on the vase filler, click here

I realize I’ve done quite a few posts on these hurricane lamps and was prepared to only change them seasonally with fillers I already have.  However, when I removed the Christmas filler and replaced it with the black river stones featured in this post (click here to view it), I broke one of the lamps.  Since this was the second one I broke installing or removing these stones, I decided they needed to go.  It took a while, but I finally found an appropriate filler (which has a lovely scent) that won’t break the hurricanes!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Style: Style at a Great Price

Merona dress (different fabric), Guess jacket (old), Ray Ban
sunglasses (old), Loeffler Randall handbag (different color),
Jenni Kayne shoes (different material), 

I’ve always maintained that stylish clothes can be found at all prices, and this dress illustrates my point.  When I had lunch with Dana, a chic friend who lives in California, and complimented her dress, she got a sort of funny look on her face before confiding that she purchased it at Target.  Immediately after lunch I went to Target, purchased the same dress and mentioned it in passing to a different friend, who also bought the same dress.  Hopefully, the three of us won’t wear our dresses to the same event!

I wondered how this dress would hold up after being laundered and am pleased to report it performed well-the seams didn’t twist, and it didn’t fade, though it shrunk slightly (luckily for me to the exact length I wanted).  Another bonus feature of this dress is that it doesn’t need to be ironed, at all, seriously.  This may be the ultimate dress!

What attracted me most about this dress is its fabric

Friday, March 11, 2016

Cooking and Entertaining: Sesame Chicken

Sesame Chicken

When Kevin and I were first married, I had very little experience cooking and (needless to say) wasn’t the best cook.  The first time we hosted my parents for dinner, I made this Sesame Chicken.  It was a disaster-because I used half breasts on the bone and didn’t know they had to be cooked for a long time, I served seriously undercooked chicken.  My parents were incredibly gracious about the whole mishap, and luckily my cooking has improved.

Even though we always liked this dish, we hadn’t eaten it for years, mainly because it’s fried.  However, after making and enjoying this entrée recently, I realized it’s fine to eat occasionally.  I’m so excited to have rediscovered Sesame Chicken!

the ingredients

making the marinade

ready for the chicken

cooking the Sesame Chicken

Sesame Chicken

2 lb.  chicken (I used cubed breasts, but any pieces are fine, including pieces with skin)
1/4 C.  flour
1/2 C.  cornstarch
3/4 tsp.  salt
5 Tbsp.  soy sauce (I used low sodium soy sauce)
2  eggs
2 Tbsp.  sesame seeds
2 stalks  green onions, chopped
2 cloves  garlic, finely minced
canola oil

In a bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, salt, soy sauce, eggs, sesame seeds, green onions and garlic until blended.  Add the chicken and marinate overnight.

Add about 1 inch of oil to a large pot and heat to 325ºF-350ºF.  Add a few pieces of chicken at a time and fry until cooked through.  If desired, garnish with green onions and sesame seeds.

Note:  If cooking large pieces of chicken, brown the chicken in the oil, remove, place on a baking sheet and bake in a 325ºF oven for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Four Star Finds: Hoosier Hill Mushroom Popcorn

Click here for more information on this product

One of my favorite things to eat is popcorn, and I usually eat it at least three times a week.  That said, I’m very picky about my popcorn-it has to be freshly popped over a cook top and preferably mushroom (rather than butterfly) type.

Though they have similar flavors, there are differences between the two types.  Butterfly popcorn is more common and is typically served at concession stands and in microwave bags.  Mushroom popcorn tends to pop at higher temperatures, has a spherical shape and is often used for caramel corn due to its larger surface area.  What I like about mushroom popcorn is its density and “chew factor.”

I’ve tried different brands, but Hoosier Hill’s mushroom kernels produce the largest and fluffiest popcorn.  Just writing about it is making me hungry-time for a snack break!

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

Notice how spherical this popcorn is?

Monday, March 7, 2016

Travel: Ogunquit, Maine

the captivating coastline

Last week I asked a friend who is a wealth of knowledge for day-trip ideas, and he suggested visiting Ogunquit, Maine.  Located about 75 miles north of Boston, Ogunquit is exactly what I picture when I think of a quintessential New England beach community.  Picturesque and charming, it’s filled with inns, B&Bs, restaurants, galleries and adorable shops.

Since we went on a winter weekday, many of the restaurants and shops were closed.  According to the locals, though, Ogunquit becomes quite the place to be in the summer.  In addition to the quaint downtown area, Ogunquit is home to some beautiful coastline, museums and a playhouse that’s open from May through November.  I can’t wait to return to this beautiful haven!

one of the many galleries in Ogunquit

an adorable shop

an old cinema

a natural waterfall

Friday, March 4, 2016

Movie Reviews: “Carol” & “Eddie the Eagle”

   Rated R

In 1950s New York, young department store clerk Therese and middle-aged socialite Carol find themselves in a forbidden love affair.  Will they live within society’s confines or break the norms and find happiness together?

Carol is best described as a “beautiful” film-it has stunning scenery, arresting actresses, exquisite cinematography and an engaging script.  Though it was heartbreaking to see how women were treated during that time and to witness society ostracizing those who didn’t conform, Carol is well worth seeing!

   Eddie the Eagle
   Rated PG-13

Based on true events, Eddie the Eagle dramatizes Michael “Eddie” Edwards quest to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming an Olympic athlete.  Will he overcome his lack of natural talent, obstacles set up by the British Olympic Committee, and newness to Ski Jumping to become an Olympic competitor?

Eddie the Eagle is this year’s first “feel good” movie.  With its likable characters and engaging story, this movie shows that being in the game can be more fulfilling than winning!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Book Review: “When Breath Becomes Air”

   When Breath Becomes Air
   Paul Kalanithi

All his adult life, Paul Kalanithi wondered what made one’s life virtuous and meaningful.  He found his answer when he was in his last year of a neurosurgery residency and was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer.  A brilliant writer as well as talented doctor, his memoir chronicles his preparation and training to become a physician, his grueling residency and transition from doctor to patient.

When Breath Becomes Air Is a mix of dualities.  To witness Kalanithi’s dedication to both his profession and loved ones be cut short is heartbreaking, but to experience his acceptance of his untimely death and subsequent personal growth is uplifting and inspiring.  One of my personal top ten books, When Breath Becomes Air is a must-read!