Monday, February 27, 2017

Cooking and Entertaining: Homemade Bacon

There's nothing better than the smell of cooking bacon

My son LOVES bacon!  So when I saw a bacon-making kit, I thought it would be a fun thing we could make together. What a great decision! It’s easy-to-use and makes savory, delicious bacon!

To make the bacon, you simply rub the salt and maple-sage spices onto the pork belly, place it in a bag to cure for five days, turn it over once a day, rinse and dry it, place it on a sheet pan and then bake it.  After baking, remove the rind and cook as normal (In my case, pan frying it).

Making bacon was worth the wait and a great experience. My next adventure will be making it without a kit!

click here for more information on the homemade bacon kit

the seasonings

curing in the bag

the pop up told us when the bacon was cooked

I like bacon extra crispy

Friday, February 24, 2017

Four Star Finds: L'Oréal® Paris Revitalift® Volume Filler® Daily Volumizing Concentrated Serum

For more information on this product, click here

I was recently watching the Dr. Oz show and a guest dermatologist talked about the benefits of applying hyaluronic acid to the face and neck. She said that it absorbs water, therefore temporarily plumping the skin, but also increases collagen production and reduces fine lines.

Because she didn’t specify a particular product, I did some research and decided to try L'Oréal® Paris Revitalift® Volume Filler® Daily Volumizing Concentrated Serum. It’s reduced the fine lines around my eyes and just made my skin look better overall. I like it so much I even gave it to a friend to try! What a miracle product!

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

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Travel: Barcelona, Spain

different types of Spanish hams at La Boqueria

Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, is located on the north-east coast of Spain. It is Spain’s second most populous city and home to phenomenal attractions, which include the Picasso Museum, the Font Magica de Montjuic (a beautiful fountain), Gaudi’s masterpieces-Park Guell and La Sagrada Familia, Plaza Espanyol and even a chocolate museum.

To me, Barcelona is very different than the other Spanish cities we visited. It runs at a faster pace and is more cosmopolitan, but is as charming as the rest of Spain. Barcelona’s food is fantastic, both in selection and taste, and I wouldn’t want to have missed seeing the Picasso Museum. My thought is that a trip to Spain would be incomplete without visiting Barcelona!

the port cable car from Montjuic

Kevin at the Castle de Montjuic (Montjuic castle)

Kevin in the Barcelona Cathedral

This sculpture is made out of chocolate

La Familia Sagrada was awe-inspiring

It rained the day we went to Park Guell

Dinner at Cera 23, my favorite meal in Spain

Monday, February 20, 2017

Movie Reviews: “Hacksaw Ridge” and “Moana”

   Hacksaw Ridge
   Rated R

Based on a true story, PFC Desmond Doss, a World War II Army medic, refused to carry a gun due to his pacifist beliefs. After being harassed and ostracized by his fellow soldiers, Doss surprises everyone at the Battle of Okinawa.

Even though I knew Hacksaw Ridge was violent, I wanted to see it because it has two major Academy Award nominations (Best Picture and Best Actor). It’s an outstanding film and well-deserving of its nomination; I just didn’t love it because I thought the battle scenes were too long and too graphic. The story, however, is uplifting and moving. If you’d like to witness an important historic event and the best of human nature, Hacksaw Ridge is an excellent film.

   Rated PG

Moana, daughter of the chief of the South Pacific Island they inhabit, dreams of adventure and traveling the seas. To help her people, she and demi-god Maui go on a life-threatening journey. Will Moana and Maui survive the elements, both natural and supernatural?

Like most Disney animated movies, Moana is well done-in fact, if I had a young daughter, I would absolutely take her to see this movie. Moana is a great role model; she’s smart and brave, but not perfect. This movie has just the right amount of adventure, humor and drama.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Book Review: “The Dorito Effect”

The Dorito Effect
Mark Schatzker

In The Dorito Effect, Mark Schatzker espouses his belief that modern processed food is the cause numerous health problems. He posits that high volume factory farming and increasing crop yields have resulted in less flavorful (and therefore less nutritious) meats, fruits and vegetables. Schatzker also believes we crave foods because we need their particular nutrients and that the use of artificial flavors causes our bodies to pine for chemically-flavored junk foods.

The Dorito Effect is entertaining, yet incredibly informative. I believe gaining knowledge is the first step to making lasting change, and even though I haven’t given up Sour Patch Kids, I am more aware of what I’m putting into my body. If you have an interest in health, The Dorito Effect is essential reading.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

All Blush

Banana Republic pants, 3.1 Philllip Lim sweater (old),
Chloe handbag (different color), Tory Burch shoes (old),
Tiffany necklace

Whether it’s blush or bright fuchsia, I love all shades of pink because it provides such a feminine touch to any outfit. So when I was walking through the mall, these pants from Banana Republic caught my eye. They’re versatile and can be worn casually, are work-appropriate for most offices or can be dressed up for evening.

To keep the color from making this outfit too cutesy, the pants are paired with a casual sweater, nude heels and minimal jewelry. A coordinating handbag completes the delicate look.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Home: Muji Ultrasonic Aroma Diffuser

click here for more information on this aroma diffuser

One day when I was visiting my son in New York City, I wandered into Muji, a Japanese department store. Though it’s small, the store is well-curated and carries interesting, unique pieces.

One of the things that intrigued me was a scent diffuser. With its sleek design and similar to a cool-air humidifier, this diffuser emits essential oil-scented cool steam. What makes this piece even better is that it has two optional light settings, so it literally glows. What could possibly be better than a well-designed item that produces a relaxing scent?

Friday, February 10, 2017

Cooking and Entertaining: Pretzel Rolos

It's hard to eat just one of these candies!

I love homemade gifts; it means so much to me when people take the time to make something for me. Since Valentine’s Day is coming up and one of its traditional gifts is candy, I thought I’d add a post for making candy. These pretzel Rolos are awesome-they’re crunchy, salty, sweet and easy to make. Even better, they can be adapted to fit your taste.

the ingredients

toasting the nuts

ready for the oven

the candies and be taken out of the oven when the chocolate is glossy
and melted

Pretzel Rolos

Mini Pretzels (I like the Snyders Snaps because they have a lot of surface area)
Nuts (I used pecan halves, but these candies are also awesome with salted peanuts)

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Remove the foil wrapping from the Rolos, count the quantity of Rolos and set aside. Place the same number of pecan halves on a baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes, until the nuts are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and set aside.

While the nuts are toasting, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the same number of pretzels on the sheet. Top each pretzel with a Rolo. Bake for 3-4 minutes, until the candies are softened. Remove from the oven and immediately top each pretzel/Rolo with a pecan, pushing the nut into the caramel.  Cool and serve.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Four Star Find: Nespresso VertuoLine

For more information on the Nespresso VertuoLine, click here

A lot of people stop by their favorite café to buy their daily coffee or espresso drink, but having the ability to make a good cup of joe at home is important to me. While I don’t drink a lot of coffee (1-2 cups per day), I like good coffee, which, to me, is defined as coffee that isn’t too strong or too bitter. I’m also pretty fond of espresso and don’t have the space to store a separate machine, so I love the Nespresso VertuoLine.

It quickly makes both coffee and espresso, is easy to use, and has a large variety of coffees and espressos for everyone’s taste. While some may say the recyclable pods are pricey, I contend they cost much less than a drink at a café. If you want the convenience of a single cup coffeemaker, the Nespresso VertuoLine is a gem!

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

Monday, February 6, 2017

Travel: Granada, Spain

This photo doesn't do justice to the beauty of the Alhambra

Out of all the cities we visited in Spain, Granada was my favorite. Located in southern Spain, Granada was ruled by the Moors until 1492, when King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella conquered the city. It is home to the Alhambra, a fortress/palace that is one of the most beautiful places I’ve visited. Granada is also home to the Gypsy Caves of Sacromonte, an unforgettable cathedral  and historic Arab baths. 

Granada is filled with culture, charming and a must-see if one travels to Spain.

Kevin at the Bañeulo-historic Arab baths

Even though they're quaint, note how narrow the streets
and sidewalks are. I suggest not driving in Granada

Kevin at the Gypsy Caves or Sacromonte
The Granada Cathedral was awe-inspiring


Friday, February 3, 2017

Movie Reviews: “Lion,” "Elle" & "Jackie"

   Rated PG-13

Five year-old Saroo is lost after mistakenly taking a train across India. After being adopted and raised by an Australian couple, he searches for his birth family using Google earth technology.

Based on a true story, Saroo’s adventure is captivating. A loving movie that showcases the best of human nature, Lion will warm your heart.

   Rated R

A successful businesswoman is attacked in her home by an unknown assailant, and the event changes her life. After her home is broken into for a second time, she takes matters into her own hands.

Note: Elle is a French film with English subtitles. Complicated, violent and unpredictable, Elle is fascinating. The main character is difficult and unlikeable, but as her story unfolds, the viewer learns about the events that shaped her life. Elle is a film for adults who are comfortable with the unconventional.

   Rated R

Jackie is Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s story about the days immediately following her husband’s assassination and how she established her late husband’s legacy.

Until I saw this film, I knew little about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, mostly that she had a privileged upbringing, was known for her poise and had extravagant taste. Jackie showed that she was a cunning, disciplined woman whose mission was to establish and maintain her husband’s reputation.

Jackie is an remarkable film, and Natalie Portman’s exceptional performance is the cherry on the sundae. If you have any interest in the Kennedy’s, Jackie is the film for you.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Book Review: “How to Hygge”

   How to Hygge
   Helena Olsen

It’s not possible to translate the Danish word hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) directly into English, but it’s a feeling of coziness, simplicity, connection to others and creature comfort that pervades Danish society. It’s often experienced in the cold winter months when Danes make more of an effort to reconnect with others and find joy in the dark, cold days.

Hygge frequently involves making one’s home warm and inviting, consuming and imbibing in comforting foods and drinks, spending quality time with loved ones, spending time outdoors to get so fresh air, bringing people together and most importantly, learning to live in the moment and be content and filled with gratitude.

In How to Hygge, Olsen explains the concept of hygge and offers 33 suggestions for living a more fulfilled life. As a person who lives in an area with cold, long winter nights, I’m actively implementing some of her suggestions, and even if you live in a temperate climate, How to Hygge offers some great ideas for leading a better life.