Monday, May 30, 2016

Four Star Find: Joseph Joseph Twist 2-in-1 Silicone Whisk



Because my kitchen storage space is limited and because I believe the right tools makes cooking much easier, I’m always on the lookout for new kitchen gadgets that are space-efficient.  I was so excited when I saw this Joseph Joseph whisk on the internet-after turning the piece at the bottom, the whisk collapses and can be stored flat.  The pieces can also be individually removed and cleaned in the dishwasher.  What a genius invention!

For more information on this product, click here

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

Friday, May 27, 2016

Travel: Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

one of many beautiful planters filled with blooms

Everyone who knows me well knows I’m an “indoor” person.  That said, I had a wonderful time meandering the grounds at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.  A sprawling, structured garden with waterfalls, brass sculptures and a children’s area, this wondrous place is filled with children’s laughter, young ladies getting professionally photographed for their quinceaƱeras, and garden lovers taking in the natural beauty.  I love feelings of peace and contentment inspired by this amazing place!  

this sculpture of the artist at work was my favorite

I didn't plan on visiting the children's area, but am so
glad I did. This cauliflower was part of the edible garden

a wandering brook

I love the "wildflower" look

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Movie Review: “Sing Street”

   Sing Street
   Rated PG-13

Set in the mid-1980’s in Dublin, Ireland, 15-year old Connor’s life is falling apart.  Due to financial concerns, Connor is forced to attend a new school with a bully headmaster and his parents are considering divorce.  To escape his life and to impress a mysterious girl, he forms a band and transforms his life.

Anyone who is a fan of 1980’s music will love Sing Street.  This movie has old favorites and new compositions in the “new wave’ style.  The story is sweet and funny, but also provides a valuable social commentary on Dublin life during that time period.   Sing Street is a must-see!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Book Review: “Spark Joy”

   Spark Joy
   Marie Kondo

In a previous blog (click here to view it), I wrote about Marie Kondo’s best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  This book literally changed my life, and my home is much more tidy and organized since I employed Kondo’s method.  Spark Joy is a follow up to the first book, and it provides illustrations that demonstrate Kondo’s organizing and folding techniques.  In addition, Kondo clears up a misconception many readers of the first book have. 

Kondo does not advocate becoming a minimalist; she encourages readers to keep items that bring feelings of happiness or that serve a purpose (such as a vacuum cleaner) and to appreciate and value our possessions.  Using her philosophy, I’ve changed the way I shop.  While I buy fewer permanent items (like clothing and accessories), I guiltlessly purchase transient items like flowers and candles because they bring me so much happiness.  If you’re ready to change your attitude toward possessions, Spark Joy is the perfect book.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Home: Knife Sharpening

Click here for more information on the knife sharpener

I followed the directions included and was finished in a few minutes

Anyone who loves to cook knows the value of a sharp knife-it makes the whole process much easier and more efficient.  Because I mainly use ceramic knives, I used to send them to the manufacturer (Kyocera) to be sharpened for a small fee, and the knives were returned in 2-4 weeks like new. 

Kyocera recently began selling knife sharpeners that can be used with both steel and carbon knives, so I immediately bought one.  What a great purchase!  Taking a few minutes to sharpen my knives is much more efficient than sending them to Kyocera and waiting for them to be returned.  Also, I can always have sharp knives, rather than waiting a bit too long because of the previous effort involved. 

Even if you don’t buy a knife sharpener, I highly encourage you to get your knives sharpened at a cooking, knife or hardware store.  The results will be worth the effort!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Style: Graduation Outfit

Rebecca Taylor dress, Via Spiga sandals, Christian
Dior wallet and sunglasses

I’m very excited to share that my son is graduating from college.  It’s hard to believe because it seems like just yesterday when we helped him move into his dorm room!  Of course I bought a new outfit for this big event, and I put a lot of thought into it.

I wanted a day dress, one that wasn’t too revealing, but that wasn’t dowdy.  It couldn’t be black since Southern California in May can be very warm, and we’ll be sitting outdoors.  But just in case the weather is cool and overcast, I didn’t want a sleeveless or floaty silk dress.  Shoes were another concern because to me, the occasion warrants heels instead of flats, but stilettos were out of the question since we’ll probably do a lot of walking.

When I saw these Via Spiga sandals, I knew they were the ones, even though they didn’t go with the dress I originally bought (which I ended up returning).  This white Rebecca Taylor dress is perfect-it’s appropriate for the occasion, flatters my figure, and complements the shoes!  The fuchsia wallet on a chain is small and elegant and adds a pop of color!  I’m glad to say I’m prepared for Sean’s rite of passage.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Cooking and Entertaining: Giada's Farro & Greens Salad, Adapted


Now that the weather has warmed up again, I’ve started replacing soups and stews with salads.  We tend to like hearty salads that can be eaten as entrees, and this salad by Giada De Laurentiis fits the bill.  It contains farro, goat cheese, dried cherries and walnuts to provide enough filling protein and is tasty to boot.  I changed the recipe by using arugula in place of kale, and I’m sure the original recipe is as good as my adaptation!

the ingredients

toasting the farro

cooking the farro

soaking the farro in the dressing

Click here to see the recipe.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Four Star Finds: Konjac Sponge

the sponge in packaging

a close up of the sponge

Though I’m a big fan of my Clarisonic cleansing brush (click here to see the post on it), I don’t take it with me on trips.  Lately I’ve been spending quite a bit of time traveling and feel like my skin had suffered a bit.  When I was shopping in a Japanese market, I saw a display with konjac sponges and since I had heard great things about them, decided to give one a try. 

I loved it and told my mom about it.  She tried one and liked it so much that she bought them for her friends, who all raved about this unique cleansing product.

Made from a konnyaku potato, these sponges are formed, dried shirataki noodles.  They’re gentle, yet exfoliate well, contain all sorts of vitamins and minerals, and my skin felt softer after using it.

Best of all, they can be purchased at Japanese markets for around $2-$3. They are pricier, however, on, but I’ve included a link for those who don’t have access to a Japanese market (click here).

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

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Travel: Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas

Recently, I tagged along with Kevin on a business trip and discovered what wonderful cities Dallas and Fort Worth are.  Filled with fascinating attractions, amazing barbecue, delicious Tex-Mex food and friendly people, Dallas and Fort Worth are wonderful places to visit!

Below are some pictures from my adventures:


the Dallas skyline as seen from the freeway

the Historic West End, a quaint area filled with shops and restaurants

inside the John F. Kennedy Monument

a tchotchke shop at the Dallas Farmers Market

a display in the Old Red Museum

the Texas School Book Depository, the site of
JKF's assassination

the Dallas JFK Museum-I didn't realize pictures weren't
allowed until after I took this one

a painting from the Meadows Museum at SMU, which has a large
collection of works by Spanish painters

the most amazing barbecue sandwich and banana pudding

tortilla soup from the Mansion at Turtle Creek, one of the experiences
recommended in 1000 Places to See Before You Die

Fort Worth

the entrance to Stockyard Station, a collection of rodeo events, shops
and restaurants

one of the shops in Stockyard Station

I couldn't resist having my picture taken on the steer
(I do look a bit nervous, though)

this chicken fried steak was even better than my dad's, which says a lot

Monday, May 9, 2016

Movie Review: “Elvis and Nixon” & "Captain America: Civil War"

   Elvis and Nixon
   Rated R

Always fascinated by law enforcement and concerned by societal changes, Elvis Presley made an unscheduled visit to the White House in December 1970.  His goal was to convince President Richard Nixon to make him a special agent-at-large.  Initially, the President denied Elvis’s request for a visit, but convinced by his aides, he relented, met with “The King” and both men ended up posing for the most requested picture in the National Archives.

Before I give my opinion on Elvis and Nixon, I want to make it clear that I’m not a big fan of “The King.”  It’s not that I dislike him or his music, it’s just that I don’t listen to his music.  That said, I found this film sweet, touching and funny.  Michael Shannon’s and Kevin Spacey’s performances as Elvis and President Nixon, respectively, are spot-on.  If you’re looking for a light-hearted film, Elvis and Nixon is the one for you!

   Captain America: Civil War
   Rated PG-13

The Avengers become deeply divided when the government wants some control over their actions due to recent collateral damage.  Ironman supports the government oversight while Captain America is staunchly opposed.  Will the superheroes work out their differences or will these conflicting views tear them apart? 

Instead of a good versus evil theme, this Marvel superheroes movie is much more complicated and nuanced since neither party is wrong; they just have a difference of opinions.  That said, the movie is entertaining, action-filled and humorous.  Captain America: Civil War is definitely an e-ticket ride!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Book Review: “Wake Up Happy”

   Wake Up Happy
   Michael Strahan

I’ve liked Michael Strahan since I saw him years ago as a guest host on Live with Regis and Kelly and was happy when he became Kelly Ripa’s permanent cohost.  Even though he’s going through a bit of controversy right now due to his decision to move to Good Morning America, I’m still a big fan.  His upbeat attitude and sense of humor always makes me smile. 

Wake Up Happy contains 18 life lessons that, Strahan believes, led to his success, and each common-sense rule is accompanied by a story from his life that illustrates the importance of each rule.  Strahan’s life wasn’t always easy, but his values of hard work, determination and a good attitude helped him through the tough times.  Even if you’re not interested in a self help book, Wake Up Happy is entertaining reading!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Four Star Finds: Kyocera Ceramic Knives

For more information on Kyocera ceramic knives, click here

Plagued by insomnia during my pregnancy, I started watching the Food Network as a way to kill time during the witching hour.  During that time period, one of the shows I watched was Ming Tsai’s.  Though I never got into Chinese cooking, the ceramic knives he used impressed me.  He was such a proponent of them that I eventually bought one, then another and finally another. 

Ceramic knives are perfect for me because they’re lightweight and extremely sharp-so sharp they can be used to slice tomatoes.  They rarely need to be sharpened, and Kyocera, the manufacturer, offers lifetime sharpening for a nominal price.  I’ve always believed good tools making cooking easier and more enjoyable, and ceramic knives are definitely good tools!

As always, I receive no compensation for this endorsement.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Style: Lavender with a Twist

3.1 Phillip Lim sweater, J Brand jeans (old), Jimmy Choo shoes,
Tom Ford sunglasses (old), Reed Krakow clutch (old)

When shopping, I often see pieces I’m like, but don’t try them on because though they’re beautiful, I think they just aren’t suitable for my life.  For example, when I was shopping the other day, I saw a cool, edgy silk dress, but decided against it since it would be worn rarely.  Such was the case with this lavender sweater.  I saw and immediately liked it, but didn’t think it would get much use.

The problem was that I couldn’t get it out of my mind, so a month later I bought it.  It was the right decision-the contrasting trim, peek-a-boo cut-out and unique design made me fall in love with this sweater.  I like it so much I’ve worn it three times in the past month.  That’s the thing about pieces we love, we make occasions to wear them.