Monday, October 31, 2016

Home: A Home for a Razor

the clear Command Hooks I used

my razor's new home

close up

One of the things that annoyed me about my shower was my razor-it sat on a tiny circular shelf attached to the shower fixture and was constantly falling off. After breaking a few razors, I racked my brain and finally came up with a solution.

I attached clear Command Hooks to the shower alcove and placed the razor between the hooks. This result worked out better that I expected-not only is the small shelf clear, but my razor also dries completely between uses.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Style: Travel Outfit

James Perse tee, Splendid leggings, Vince shoes,
Tory Burch handbag, Chan Luu necklace (old),
Oliver Peoples sunglasses

When I travel, I have a few guidelines for what I wear on and carry onto the airplane. First, I try to dress as comfortably as possible. Next, I try to wear my heaviest or bulkiest shoes and coat so my suitcase won’t be too weighty or full. Finally, I carry a large tote that can hold my computer, Ipad, some snacks AND my regular handbag. I’ve been into traveling recently, so my system works fairly well. However, on our recent vacation, I discovered a hole in my wardrobe-I needed a long shirt or tunic to wear with my beloved Splendid leggings.

This James Perse tunic is perfect for traveling-it’s long enough to provide coverage, it has long sleeves so I won’t get too cold on the plane ride, and it’s soft and cozy! I paired it with leggings, slip on tennis shoes (so I can get through Security quickly), and a giant tote that holds everything I need. Lastly, the statement necklace adds a little oomph to the outfit and shows that I didn’t just roll out of bed and hop on the plane!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Cooking and Entertaining: Border Grill Guacamole

Border Grill's Guacamole

When I was pregnant with Sean I started watching the Food Network on those nights when I had insomnia. Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger of Border Grill were featured on a show where they prepared their famous grilled, marinated skirt steak with avocado corn relish-I was so intrigued that we drove 45 miles to eat at their restaurant. The skirt steak and corn relish lived up to my expectations, and while there, we also fell in love with Border Grill’s guacamole.

I like this guacamole for a few reasons. Not only is it fresh, chunky and delicious, but it also doesn’t contain tomatoes (which I think water down guacamole) or fillers (like sour cream or mayonnaise). This guacamole is easy to prepare and is always a hit with our family and friends!

the ingredients

I like to mash the avocados with a fork

Instead of using 4 jalapeƱos, I only use 2, but don't remove
the seeds and membrane. I also chop them using a food
processor. Don't add all of the chiles to the guacamole at once-
add about 2/3 and taste the guacamole to make sure it's not
too spicy

Adjust the salt, pepper and lime juice as needed

Click here for the recipe

Monday, October 24, 2016

Four Star Finds: Trader Joe’s Chile Spiced Mango

this product is available at Trader Joe's stores

After our recent vacation with daily wine, bread and sweets, it’s time to cut out treat foods.  So there’s minimal sugar, alcohol, fried foods and simple carbohydrates in our diet right now (Luckily, this eating plan is only for a few weeks).

Because I still like a bit something sweet after lunch, I like eating a piece or two of Trader Joe’s Chili Spiced Mango. It’s chewy, tasty and spicy (but not hot), and its sweetness makes my meal feel complete. Even though it does have a bit of added sugar, this mango also has vitamins, micronutrients and fiber, so I feel like its benefits outweigh its detriments. It you like a bit of spice in your life, Trader Joe’s Chile Spiced Mango is the treat for you!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Travel: Ethel M Factory Tour and Chocolate Tasting in Henderson, Nevada

our chocolates for the tasting

Founded by a member of the Mars family who was bored by retirement, Ethel M is a working chocolate-making factory in Henderson, Nevada. A short drive from the Las Vegas Strip, guests can see through windows how premium chocolate candies are made.

Going one step farther, I signed up for a chocolate tasting experience. For about $10 per person, our group was seated in a private room, and we learned how cacao beans are transformed into chocolate. We were each given 4 chocolates to taste, along with a sheet to record our observations. Out of our group, I was the only one who best liked the dark chocolate lemon satin cream-everyone else preferred the milk chocolates. For the cherry on top of the sundae, we were each give a coupon to use in the adjoining retail store, which I put to good use! What a great experience!

For more information on a chocolate tasting at the Ethel M factory, click here.

what a dream job!

the cacao beans, shells and nibs

the candies with the observation sheet

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Movie Reviews: "The Accountant" & "The Girl on the Train"

   The Accountant
   Rated R

Autistic math savant and small-town accountant Chris Wolff works for some of the most notorious criminal organizations. With the FBI on his trail, he takes on a legitimate client, an advanced robotics company whose books have a small accounting discrepancy. Soon, however, his life is threatened, and Chris takes matters into his own hands.

Though this story is completely implausible, seeing The Accountant is a fun movie experience. With sympathetic characters, tons of action, and just the right amount of humor, The Accountant is a hit!

   The Girl on the Train
   Rated R

Recent divorcee, Rachel, builds a fantasy life for a woman (Megan) she sees on her daily train ride. When Megan is reported missing, Rachel tries to help with the investigation. Soon, however, she becomes a suspect. Did Rachel kill Megan during one of her alcohol-induced blackouts?

Though a few details were changed, the film stays true to the novel (click here to read my review of the book), and the cast and scenery looked just as I imagined. Emily Blunt did an excellent job making her unlikeable character sympathetic to the audience. The story is riveting, and seeing The Girl on the Train is a great way to spend a few hours!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Book Review: “A Dog’s Purpose”

  A Dog’s Purpose
  W. Bruce Cameron

After seeing the movie trailer for A Dog’s Purpose, I wanted to read the book.  Its basic premise is that like some Buddhists, a dog lives his or her life and is then reincarnated into another body. In each body, the dog experiences life and gains wisdom while searching for his ultimate purpose.

Whether or not one believes in reincarnation, A Dog’s Purpose is a fabulous book for anyone who has ever loved a dog. This novel is sweet and touching, yet not saccharin. It engages the reader (I cried every time the dog died) and if you have a dog, will make you value your pet even more!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Home: Fresh Flowers

these stock smelled wonderful for about 10 days

Engineers have a reputation for being practical and sensible, and as a former engineer, I can say for the most part it's true. After all, we're trained to think methodically and generally value function over form. That's why, in the past, I had trouble buying fresh flowers. While I love their scent and look, it was hard for me to purchase something that lasted only a short time.

A few years ago, I started buying them occasionally and became aware of how much I enjoyed having them in the house. After I realized that nothing lasts forever and that little treats can bring immense pleasure, I started buying and enjoying flowers regularly.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Style: Sequined Collar

Equipment sweater, Alice and Olivia collar, J. Crew pants (similar),
Ray Ban sunglasses (similar), Jimmy Choo pumps (similar),
Target clutch (old)

The addition of one item can take an entire outfit from daywear to evening wear. The outfit shown, sans the beaded collar, is one I would wear to work or to a business meeting. The pants, sweater and pumps are relatively conservative, while the sweater’s print shows a bit of flair.

To make the outfit a bit more festive for an evening out, I added the sequined collar from the gold Lurex sweater featured in this post. I simply unbuttoned it from the gold sweater and attached it to a leopard-print sweater using fashion tape. Don’t you love it when your pieces do double duty?

Monday, October 10, 2016

Cooking and Entertaining: Giada’s Roasted Cauliflower with Capers and Almonds

Roasted Cauliflower with Capers and Almonds

At this point in our lives, our weeknight dinners are pretty simple-usually, soup, salad or protein with a vegetable. They aren’t very interesting or exotic, but they allow us to indulge on the weekends. That said, I’ve been making en effort to find interesting vegetable. This roasted cauliflower is one of my new staples-it a lot of flavor and texture and is so delicious you don't realize you're eating a vegetable.

I make two changes to this recipe to suit our tastes-First, I use whole almonds that I chop into pieces because I like the crunch and texture whole almonds provide. Second, instead of roasting the cauliflower for 15 minutes, I roast it for about 30-40 minutes, because I like when the cauliflower is charred.

This recipe is available in Happy Cooking by Giada DeLaurentiis

the ingredients

making the topping

ready to be roasted

extra charred with Parmigiana-Reggiano

Friday, October 7, 2016

Four Star Finds: Starburst Gummies

for more information on Starburst Gummies, click here

Friends who know me well often comment on my juvenile taste in candy. While I like dark chocolate, I love gummies-Haribo bears, Maynards wine gums, Sugarfina champagne bears and Sour Patch Kids are some of my favorites. But I’ve found a new gummy candy that I absolutely love-Starburst Gummies.

Starburst Gummies taste just like the four traditional Starburst flavors (Cherry, Lemon, Orange and Strawberry) but have a soft gummy bear texture. They’re absolutely addictive!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Travel: Mayflower II

the captain's quarters

When people come to visit us, we try to give them interesting New England experiences tailored to their personalities. My mom visited us last year loved Plimouth Plantation, a 17th century replica village. When she came this year, we took her to Plimouth Plantation’s sister site, the Mayflower II, which she also loved.

Located in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the Mayflower II is a full-scale replica of the original Mayflower that brought the Pilgrims to the New World. Complete with period-dressed role players who will answer any questions, visiting the Mayflower II is a fun and interesting history lesson.

Though this living museum is small and a visit takes only 30-45 minutes, it’s well worth seeing. If I hadn’t toured it in person, I would never have realized how hearty, accustomed to hardship and desperate to start a new life the original settlers were.

For more information on the Mayflower II, click here.

the view from the ship

some of the tools below deck

a role player

Monday, October 3, 2016

Movie Reviews: “Bridget Jones’s Baby,” “The Magnificent Seven” and “Sully”

Bridget Jones’s Baby
Rated R

Lovable Bridget Jones is back! Though she has a challenging job and her loyal band of friends, her life isn’t as she imagined. She’s a 43 year-old singleton and (gasp), Mark Darcy is married. After a passionate evening with a handsome stranger and a reunion with Mark, she unexpectedly finds herself pregnant. What will she do?

One of the criticisms I’ve heard about the Bridget Jones movies is “Why would a handsome, successful man like Mark Darcy fall in love with Bridget?” It got me wondering, so I watched both Bridget Jones’s Diary and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason before seeing Bridget Jones’s Baby. I realized people love Bridget because she’s sweet, fun, imperfect and, most importantly, has a joie de vivre-a joy in living.

That said, if you like the original, you’ll enjoy Bridget Jones’s Baby.  It’s light, entertaining, true to the characters and a sweet love story!

The Magnificent Seven
Rated PG-13

After the town of Rose Creek is terrorized by a rich industrialist, a widow hires a Chisolm, bounty hunter, to exact justice. Chisolm puts together a ragtag group of outlaws, gamblers and hired guns to help the town defend itself.

I’m the first person to admit I’m generally not a fan of Westerns, but The Magnificent Seven is magnificent (Sorry for the pun!). It has sympathetic characters, is action-filled, with just right amount of humor and is just a fun movie to watch!

Rated PG-13

Sully is the story of pilot Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot who, after double engine failure, glided his plane and safely landed on the Hudson River, saving all 155 passengers and crew members.

Though we all know how this story ends, it was wonderful to see a movie about a true hero. Though Sullenberger’s skill saved all aboard the plane, it was also inspiring to see what a caring individual he is.