Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Style: An Unexpected Sweater

Splendid sweater, Madewell pants (old), Ray-Ban sunglasses (similar),
Relic necklace (old), Loeffler Randall handbag (different color),
Vince Camuto booties

Sometimes I find great clothing in the most unexpected places. While I was shopping in the Splendid store, I saw a fringe sweater with a lace bottom on a mannequin and said to the salesperson, “It’s too bad that sweater doesn’t come in adult sizes.” She replied, “You might be surprised. We have quite a few adults who buy it for themselves.” She provided the impetus to try it on, and surprisingly, it fit. It’s a fabulous sweater-cute, comfortable and very reasonably priced.

Shown here with slim fitting cargo pants, toeless boots, an antique necklace and Ray-Ban Clubmaster sunglasses, this outfit is the right mix of edgy and feminine. It’s casual, yet stylish and perfect for a busy day in the city!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Cooking and Entertaining: Sarah's Salsa

Sarah's Salsa is so delicious

Moving to Boston has made it difficult to eat one of my favorite comfort foods, chips and salsa. Though Boston has excellent food, the salsas served here aren’t to my taste because they tend to be a bit sweet. I have a salsa recipe, but it’s more of a pico de gallo (chunky) salsa, and I wanted a salsa more like what I would get at a Mexican restaurant.

The solution was to learn to make my own restaurant-style salsa. My cousin’s fiancée shared her recipe, which is delicious and easy to prepare. Now I can have a taste of home whenever I’d like!

the ingredients

When chopping the chilies, be sure to use gloves

I add only half of the chilies initially, taste the salsa
and add more chilies if needed


Sarah’s Salsa

 tomatoes, diced
10 oz.  Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies
1  onion, diced
1 bunch  cilantro, leaves only
2   jalapeno chilies, diced with seeds and membranes removed
1  habanero chili, diced with seeds and membranes removed
1  serrano chili, diced with seeds and membranes removed
1/2   lemon, juiced
1 clove  garlic, peeled and minced
1 tsp.  lemon pepper
1 tsp.   salt
1/2 tsp.  pepper

Combine all ingredients in a blender and pulse until chunky.  Adjust salt, pepper, lemon pepper and lemon juice to taste.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Four Star Finds: Quicos

Quiches are available at specialty markets and online

Quicos are basically giant Corn Nuts. Originating in Spain, they’re extra large corn kernels that have been soaked in water, toasted and salted. Crunchy and savory, it’s hard to have just a few. In fact, they’re one of my favorite snacks.

As always, I receive no compensation for this endorsement.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Travel: Voodoo Doughnut

the doughnut case is so enticing

As dessert trends come and go, it seems to me that artisanal doughnuts are now in the spotlight, and Voodoo Doughnut is probably one of the reasons why. Founded in 2003 by two friends in Portland, Oregon, Voodoo Doughnut features unusual ingredients (cereal, candy bar, and cookie-topped doughnuts) and edgy or racy designs. Besides being unique, these doughnuts are seriously tasty!

If you’re visiting Portland or Eugene, Oregon; Denver, Colorado or Austin, Texas be sure to stop by and pick up one of these amazing creations!

all stores feature creative decor

one of the "edgy" doughnuts

cereal-topped doughnuts

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Book Review: The Invention of Wings"

The Invention of Wings
Sue Monk Kidd

Set in 19th century Charleston, the story opens when 10-year-old slave Hetty (Handful) Grimke is presented to Sarah Grimke as an eleventh birthday gift.  Narrated by both women, The Invention of Wings follows the lives of both women for more than 35 years.  Hetty spends her life working toward freedom, and as does Sarah, who feels imprisoned by society’s norms.

The Invention of Wings is a work of historical fiction, inspired by the life of Sarah Grimke.  Born to a wealthy, slave-owing family, Sarah rejected her family’s values and became an abolitionist.  The Invention of Wings is an excellent read!  Like the film 12 Years a Slave (see my review here), reading about or seeing a movie about slavery is a double-edged sword.  While it’s important to be educated about the brutality and humiliation of slavery, it’s very painful to experience visually or through words.  Despite the cruelty in this story, The Invention of Wings it is a must-read!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Movie Reviews: “Almost Christmas” & “Bleed for This”

   Almost Christmas
   Rated Pg-13

A widower’s four children, along with their spouses and children return home for their first Christmas after their mother’s passing. Sibling rivalry-induced family drama ensues, and secrets are revealed while this family works out their differences.

To be honest, I didn’t expect to like Almost Christmas because watching people treat each other badly and witnessing their humiliations aren’t my thing. Though there is drama in this film, Almost Christmas surprised me because it knew when to stop, and it was surprisingly sweet and funny!


   Bleed for This
   Rated R

Based on the true story of boxer Vinny “The Pazmanian Devil’ Pazienza, Bleed for This is an excellent film. (SPOILER ALERT) Shortly after winning a world title, the Providence-based boxer is involved in a near-fatal car accident and attempts to return to boxing, against medical advice.

Though I had vaguely heard of Vinny Pazienza, until this film I didn’t know about his accident and the odds and hardships he overcame to return to the ring.  His hard work and determination is an outstanding example to us all and witnessing it was inspirational.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Book Review: "Unforgettable: A Son, A Mother and the Lessons of a Lifetime"

Unforgettable: A Son, A Mother and the Lessons of a Lifetime
Scott Simon

When the elderly mother of NPR broadcaster Scott Simon was in the ICU, Simon camped in her room to spend her final days together. They sang, recounted old stories and, most importantly, Patti shared her wisdom with her son. In her younger days, she worked as a model, dated gangsters and married three times. Not just beautiful on the outside, Patti also possessed wit, charisma, and the ability to make those around her feel good.

Patti can be an inspiration to us all. Despite some tough times in her life, she was optimistic, cheerful and considerate of others. Mimicking the example she set and abiding by her life lessons of "Write thank you notes. Tip well. Sing. Drink responsibly. Remember that good manners cost nothing, and open doors. Reach out to someone who is lonely. Make them laugh. Help people smile" can improve all of our lives.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Home: Candles

 Voluspa candle

One of the challenges of living in a city is that we're rarely able to open the windows. We only open them when it's raining and the outside temperature is moderate because otherwise our home gets a thin layer of black soot.

To help the air seem fresher, I started burning candles, usually fruit or floral-scented. The pleasant smells lighten my mood and make my day just a little better. It's interesting that what I used to consider an indulgence, is now an essential! 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Style: Better than Suede

Zara jacket, Alice and Olivia Air top, Kirkland camisole,
DJ1961 jeans, Jimmy Choo pumps (similar), Illesteva sunglasses,
3.1 Phillip Lim handbag (old)

Sometimes faux items are truly better than items they are meant to imitate.  This stylish biker jacket from Zara looks and feels like suede, but is so much better than the real McCoy. First, it’s got a bit of spandex, so it stretches. Second, it’s way less expensive than suede, and finally, the jacket can get wet and is washable. I was immediately attracted to it when I saw it, and I like it even more now that I've worn it a few times.

Here, I paired the jacket with all black-a drape neck top, camisole, jeans and pumps. To add a bit of interest, I added a tan/black bucket bag and grey sunglasses. For evening, I would pair this jacket with the same clothing, but would change the shoes to leopard pony hair pumps and a small coordinating clutch. This jacket is going to be an integral part of my fall/winter wardrobe.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Cooking and Entertaining: Apple Crisp

apple crisp with vanilla ice cream

I’ve always been a fan of fruit desserts, but now that autumn is here, one of my favorites this time of year is apple crisp. The tartness of the apples is perfectly offset with the slightly sweetened and textured crumb topping.  And a scoop of vanilla ice cream truly makes this dessert over the top!

the ingredients

Cut the cold butter into the crumb mixture until the butter is in pea-sized

this apple peeler/slicer is a gem!

ready for the oven

Ready to serve!

Apple Crisp

6 C.  apples (6 medium), peeled and sliced
1 Tbsp.  lemon juice
1 Tbsp.  water
crumb topping

Place apples in an 8” x 8” or 9” x 9” pan. Sprinkle with lemon juice and water. Sprinkle with crumb topping. Bake at 375ºF for 30-40 minutes or until apples are tender and topping is golden brown. Serve warm.

Crumb Topping
3/4 C.  brown sugar
1/2 C.  flour           
1/2 C.  oats
 3/4 tsp.  cinnamon
3/4 tsp.  nutmeg
1/3 C.  butter, very cold and cubed

Combine brown sugar, flour, oats, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl. Cut the cold butter into the mixture until there are pea sized bits of butter.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Four Star Finds: Kevyn Aucoin’s The Precision Brow Pencil

For more information on this product, click here

People don’t know this about me, but I’m obsessed with my eyebrows and get them threaded every two weeks. I recently wrote about Benefit’s Gimme Brow which is a great everyday brow darkener/thickener. For those special occasions when I want a very precise eyebrow, I use Kevyn Aucoin’s The Precision Eyebrow Pencil.

With a brow brush and very thin pencil, this product allows me to draw very precise hair-like lines into my brows to make them fuller, while retaining a natural appearance. Kevyn Aucoin’s eyebrow pencil is a necessity for anyone who wants better looking brows!

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

Monday, November 7, 2016

Travel: Bronx Zoo

Click here for more information on the Bronx Zoo

the Mouse House had the cutest critters

nature's beauty

it was almost like she knew her picture was being taken

While I could spend days shopping, eating and people watching in New York City, Kevin can’t. So when we visited our son in the Big Apple, we went to the Bronx Zoo while Sean had class. What a great way to spend the day!

The Bronx Zoo, located in the New York borough of the Bronx, is the largest metropolitan zoo in the United States. This world-class zoo rivals the famous San Diego Zoo in its collection and visiting this zoo is a fun, yet educational experience. We saw the standard-fare animals, like a tiger, lions, and giraffes, and also saw the unusual, like bats and a red panda. If you’re an animal lover and are in New York City, I highly recommend visiting the Bronx Zoo!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Movie Review: “Inferno”

Rated PG-13

After waking up in a Florence hospital with no memory of the past two days, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon finds his life endangered. After a narrow escape from an assassin, he and emergency room doctor Sienna Brooks try to prevent the release of a deadly virus.

Like Dan Brown’s other books that were made into movies (The DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons), Inferno will educate you on Renaissance art and architecture while keeping you on the edge of your seat. With plot twists and ambiguous characters, Inferno will keep you guessing until the very end!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Book Review: Real Food Fake Food

Real Food Fake Food
Larry Olmsted

Reading Real Food Fake Food was a huge awakening for me. In it, Larry Olmsted investigates the food industry and maintains that Americans aren’t necessarily eating what they think. For example, he asserts that some of the fish we eat is mislabeled as more expensive fish, much of the “extra-virgin” olive oil we consume is blended with blended with lower quality olive oil or other less expensive oils, and that Kobe beef served in America is not truly “Kobe beef.”

Becoming educated about our food and where it comes from is important so we can make informed decisions about what we put into our bodies. After reading the entertaining Real Food Fake Food, I’m convinced buying pricey, yet higher quality food is money well spent and believe this book is essential reading for everyone.