Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Travel: Bowers Museum Mummies of the World Exhibit

For more information on this exhibit, click here

Photos weren't allowed in the exhibit, so I could only take a photo of the posters

The  Bowers Museum is home to an outstanding restaurant, Tangata

Now through September 5, 2016, the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California has a fascinating mummies exhibit.  Until I attended this exhibit, I thought of mummies as exclusively Egyptian.  However, I learned there are naturally occurring mummifies and that mummification was a ritual in some South American countries.   This exhibit isn’t for those who are squeamish, but it’s absolutely spellbinding for those of us who aren’t.  I absolutely recommend seeing this temporary exhibit!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Movie Reviews: “Finding Dory,” “Central Intelligence” & “The Shallows”

   Finding Dory
   Rated PG

We all know short tem memory-challenged Dory helped Marlin find his son, Nemo, in the first movie, but what happens when they become separated from Dory? 

Like most Pixar films, Finding Dory is sweet, funny and touching and addresses a larger social issue (in this case, what is the definition of a family?)  Good for both children and adults, Finding Dory is a must-see!

   Central Intelligence
   Rated PG-13

Days before their 20th high school reunion, cool kid-turned-accountant Calvin reunites with Bob Stone, the school punching bag.  Bob now claims to be a secret agent who needs Calvin’s help saving the world, but is it the truth or is Bob using Calvin for his own nefarious reasons?

I don’t usually rate this type of comedy this highly, but Central Intelligence is a gem!  It’s hilarious and unpredictable, and Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart are both so charismatic and funny. I loved seeing Central Intelligence!

   The Shallows
   Rated  PG-13

As a tribute to her late mother, medical school dropout Nancy surfs at a secluded beach and becomes the prey of a great white shark.  Though she’s fairly close to shore, will she survive the ultimate test of wills?

To be honest, I was surprised by how much I liked The Shallows.  Suspenseful and gripping, this movie has a likeable protagonist, an interesting story and is just the right length.  Seeing The Shallows is a great way to spend a summer afternoon!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Book Review: “Before the Fall”

   Before the Fall
   Noah Hawley

What is the fallout when a private plane carrying New York’s elite and a starving artist mysteriously crashes and only a young boy and the artist survive?  Was the crash caused by pilot error, bad luck or something more sinister?

Before the Fall that had me enthralled from page 1 and gracefully unfolded to reveal the cause of the tragedy.  It’s an easy summer read but gently addresses current issue like the commercialization of television news and income inequality.  Before the Fall is the perfect novel to kick off summer!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Home: Battery Box

For more information on this product, click here

I often spend way too much time at the Container Store because I love walking up and down every single aisle looking for items that can make my life more organized or visually tidy.  My latest “treasure” is this battery box.  It has compartments for AAA through D batteries, allows me to clearly see how many batteries of each type we have and is so much better than throwing all of our batteries into a plastic shoe box!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Style: The Dress I’ve Always Wanted

Theory dress, Kate Spade clutch (old),
Prada heels (old) (click here for similar shoes),
Tom Ford sunglasses (old)

A few weeks ago, I spotted this dress at Bloomingdales and had to buy it, even though I wasn’t in the market for a black dress.  You see, I’d wanted a little black dress with feathers or ruffles at the bottom but was never able to find one.  So when the opportunity presented itself, I had to take it.

This dress is my dream dress-it can be dressed up for an evening out with heels, can be dressed down with flats and can be worn to work with a blazer and pumps. It’s knit, so it’s forgiving, yet thickly woven so it falls nicely.  And the trim at the bottom adds such a unique touch that makes this dress special!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Cooking and Entertaining: Shrimp Cocktail with a Twist

Shrimp Cocktail with a Twist

 I didn’t eat shrimp until a few year ago-it wasn’t the taste that bothered me; it was the texture.  After trying it a few years ago, I discovered that I really like shrimp.  The funny part is that when I told my mom I now eat shrimp because it’s much less rubbery than I remember, she replied that she doesn’t like soft shrimp and always cooked hers a bit longer than recommended.  My lesson learned is to try foods even if I didn’t like them in the past!

When Kevin and I were at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, we ate at Papadeaux and had a "hand tossed cocktail.”  It was a shrimp cocktail with fruits and vegetables that was tossed in vinaigrette and then placed in a glass with cocktail sauce at the bottom.  It was delicious!  I’ve recreated the shrimp cocktail, and it’s become a summer staple in our home.

the ingredients

combining the avocado, tomatoes, onions and vinaigrette

drying off the shrimp

add cocktail sauce to the bottom of the serving glass

toss the salad with the shrimp & then place in the prepared glasses

Shrimp Cocktail with a Twist

   1 lb.  cooked shrimp
   1/4 C.  cocktail sauce
   1  avocado, cubed
   8 oz.  cherry tomatoes, halved
   1/4  red onion, thinly sliced
   1  lemon
   2 Tbsp.  olive oil
   salt and pepper to taste

Combine the avocado, cherry tomatoes and red onion in a bowl.  Drizzle with the juice of half the lemon, olive oil, salt (I used 1/2 tsp.) and pepper (I used 1/4 tsp.)  Toss to evenly coat.  Dry the shrimp with paper towels and add to the mixture. 

Pour 2 tablespoons of cocktail sauce into the bottom of each serving glass and add half the shrimp mixture to each glass.  Garnish with the remaining lemon and serve.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Four Star Finds: Yu-Be Moisturizing Skin Cream

For more information on this product, click here

I’m fairly cautious when it comes to moisturizers, because I’m sometimes allergic to them and break out with a rash.  And while they often work initially, as the days wears on, the benefits disappear.  So when I received Yu-Be Moisturizing Skin Cream in my monthly Birchbox, I didn’t rush to try it. 

After using it on my elbows, though, I wish I‘d tried it sooner. Yu-Be made them so soft, and the results last for a day or two.  I’ve even used it on my heels, and they’re much softer than they used to be.  Best of all, I didn’t get a rash!  Though it’s a bit pricey, only a small amount is needed to get great results!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Travel: Fort Worth Botanical Gardens

I loved the hardscaping in this photo and would love for
my (eventual) back yard to look like this

This photo doesn’t do justice to the Japanese garden

The cacti garden

This area was the most structured in the botanical garden

In an earlier post, I wrote about how much I loved visiting the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens (click here to view it).  Since I had time to spare on my trip, I decided to drive to Fort Wroth to wander through their botanical gardens.  They were stunning!

While the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens are a little more structured, the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens have more of a laid-back, natural vibe.  I enjoyed meandering through, observing the flora, fauna and hardscaping, listening to the birds, feeling the cool breeze on my skin and catching the wafts of spring!

One of the highlights is the native Texas area, where a walkway separates indigenous and non-indigenous fauna.  This display showcases the negative effects of introducing non-native plants to an ecosystem.  My favorite part, however, was the Japanese Garden, which had a small entrance fee.  It was stunning in it’s simplicity and had such a peaceful aura that I wanted to meditate right then and there.  

Nature and non-nature lovers will enjoy the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Movie Reviews: “The Nice Guys,” “Me Before You” & “Love and Friendship”

   The Nice Guys
   Rated R

Set in Los Angeles in the 1970s, enforcer Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) and private investigator Holland March (Ryan Gosling) work together to find a missing girl.

Though this movie contains explicit language, violence and nudity, it’s a fun one to see. The actors are cast perfectly and have good chemistry, the plot is interesting, and this movie truly has the “feel” of a 70’s movie, complete with smog in the LA skyline shots.  It’s one of those rare movies where I’m actually looking forward to a sequel.

   Me Before You
   Rated PG-13

Sheltered caregiver Lou Clark and quadriplegic Will Traynor, a former London businessman and extreme athlete, form a unique bond.  I’m stopping here because saying anything more would be a spoiler.

Based on the book of the same title, Me Before You is one of those rare movies where the movie is as good as, or better than, the novel.  Sam Clafin and Emilia Clarke are exactly as I imagined their characters, and Emilia Clarke perfectly captured Lou’s sweet, quirky nature.  If you’re prepared for an emotional journey, Me Before You is the film for you!

   Love and Friendship
   Rated PG

Based on a Jane Austen novella, Love and Friendship is set in late 18th century England and follows Lady Susan’s­­­­­ travails.  A young, penniless widow, she skillfully seduces and manipulates others to secure futures for her and her daughter. 

I thoroughly enjoyed Love and Friendship, though I may be biased since I’m a Jane Austen fan.  To me, it was interesting to see what women resorted to in order to meet society’s mores.  Kate Beckinsale is perfect as Lady Susan, portraying her as a sympathetic sociopath you can’t help rooting for!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Book Review: “The Rainbow Comes and Goes”

   The Rainbow Comes and Goes
   Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt

Around the time Gloria Vanderbilt turned 91, her son, journalist Anderson Cooper, realized he didn’t know her as well as he would have liked.  They started communicating by e-mail, and The Rainbow Comes and Goes is a compilation of their year-long correspondence.

Prior to reading this book, I knew Gloria Vanderbilt was Anderson Cooper’s mother, an heiress, and had a line of jeans during my teen years.  I had no idea she suffered great losses, but also lived a fascinating life.

While it was interesting to see their relationship dynamics, Vanderbilt’s nonagenarian’s life perspective is what fascinated me most.  She reflects on mistakes, forgives herself and others for them and now understands what’s truly important.  The Rainbow Comes and Goes is an enthralling, yet easy read.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Home: Refreshing Pots and Pans



after-just like new!

Since I started using an induction cooktop, my pots and pans seem to have more oil stains than when I used a gas range.  Because I like my cooking tools to look pristine, I used to spend a lot of time scrubbing them.  Luckily, I’ve learned an easy way to make them look like new.

Simply wet the pan and sprinkle with Bar Keeper’s Friend, then scrub with a soaped steel wool pad.  Your pans will quickly look like new expending a lot of effort!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Style: Tie Front Dress

10 Crosby Derek Lam dress, Pedro Garcia sandals,
Loeffler Randall handbag (different color)
 Madewell sunglasses (old)

Last year 10 Crosby Derek Lam made a similar version of this dress.  I liked everything about it, except the fabric-white cotton poplin, which would show every stain and wrinkle.  This year’s model took a while to grow on me.  While I’m very fond of the fabric, color, cut, length and sleeve length, I wasn’t too sure about the ties, which resemble sleeves.  After thinking about it for a while, I decided that the sleeve ties added, rather than detracted, from the dress and am very happy with this purchase.   It’s cool enough for hot summer days, yet dressy enough for a casual night out.  No regrets here!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Cooking and Entertaining: Mom’s Dobash Cake

My mom's Dobash cake
Because my parents were born and raised in Hawaii, I spent a few childhood summers on the islands.  It was a wonderful experience, and I now have an appreciation for Hawaiian culture and “Hawaii-style.”  I love the islanders’ friendliness, emphasis on family and especially their food.  I jokingly say that Hawaii-style food takes special occasion foods from the various cultures, adds more fat, sugar and/or salt to them, and the result is amazing!

Dobash cake is Hawaii’s version Doberge cake, a New Orleans layered dessert containing cake and pudding.  I have fond memories of stirring the pudding-like frosting on the stove for what seemed like hours.  It was worth the wait and was the only frosting I ate as a child.  Years passed, and I forgot about Dobash cake, until a few years ago when my mom shared her recipe with me.  I’ve been making it for special occasions, and am pleased my family loves it as much as I do!

the cake ingredients

melt the chocolate in the hot water

alternately add the flour and chocolate mixtures

just out of the oven
the frosting ingredients

melting the chocolate

adding milk to the mixture

Since the frosting is runny, I place strips of wax paper under
the cake before frosting and remove them when I'm done

Mom’s Dobash Cake

   1 C.  butter
   2-1/2 C.  sugar
   4  eggs, well beaten
   4 oz.  unsweetened chocolate
   2 C.  hot water
   3 C.  flour
   2 tsp.  baking powder
   2 tsp.  baking soda
   1 tsp.  salt
   2 tsp.  vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350˚F.  Melt chocolate in hot water.  Sift together dry ingredients.  Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs.  Alternately add chocolate mixture and flour.  Pour into 2 ungreased pans lined with parchment on the bottoms.  Bake around 30 minutes or until they pass the toothpick test (Insert a clean toothpick into the center of the cake and if it comes out clean, the cake is done.)

While the cakes are cooling, prepare the frosting.  After the cakes have cooled, remove them from the baking pans and remove the parchment paper from the cake.  Place one layer on a plate, and frost with about 1/3 of the frosting.  Place the additional layer on top and ice the top and sides.

   2 Tbsp.  cornstarch
   3/4 C.  sugar
   2 oz.  unsweetened chocolate
   1 C.  milk
   1 tsp.  vanilla
   1 Tbsp.  butter.

Melt chocolate a pan over low heat.  Add sugar and cornstarch.  Stir until smooth.  Add milk and cook until thick, about 10-15 minutes.  Remove from heat and add vanilla and butter.