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Monthly Archives: April 2012

April Favorites

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The products from my pantry/closet/medicine cabinet I reached for and enjoyed the most throughout the past month…

1. Harney & Sons assorted Iced Teas


These are brilliant. As you can see from the above picture, the tea bags are huge. You brew a super concentrated tea base–just 2 cups–and then add another 6 cups of cold water to your pitcher (or in my case, a giant Ball canning jar). These iced teas come in peach, raspberry, green and black. All are lovely, and I particularly love that the raspberry is an herbal infusion (meaning there are no actual tea leaves in it) so I can have it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach and not worry about getting sick.

2. Cerave SA lotion

Like approximately 50% of the population, I have keratosis pilaris–those tiny red bumps on the back of my arms. The only way to get rid of those dreaded bumps is by using an alpha hydroxy acid to slough them off gently. This lotion is the best over the counter option. I’ve been using it every single morning and every night I don’t use my self tanner in an effort to get smooth skin by tank top season!

3/4. Batiste Dry Shampoo and L’Anza leave in Trauma Treatment

I’m really trying to improve the health of my hair, which means two things: washing it less and protecting it pre-heat styling. I use the Batiste dry shampoo in between washings, and it is hands-down my all time favorite dry shampoo. It’s cheap, smells great, and not at all sticky. The L’anza is absorbed very well by my parched hair, and yet doesn’t weigh it down at all–which is somewhat miraculous considering how fine and thin my hair is.

5. Rimmel Lash Accelerator Serum

Spring allergies have destroyed my poor eyes. I have tiny red sores on the corner of my eyes from constant tearing and rubbing, and my lashes are brittle and dry. This nightly serum has helped my lashes 100%. Not only are my lashes appearing thicker and stronger, but my mascara lasts at least fifty percent longer. While I don’t think this is of the Latisse caliber, it certainly is making my lashes as lush as they can be.

6. The Best Blemish Treatment

Every September and April, my skin breaks out. I don’t get those tiny, easy to conceal blackheads or whiteheads–oh no. My acne announces its arrival days in advance as a deep achy spot that slowly emerges, is about the size of a pencil eraser (or larger), deeply painful, hangs around for a week, and then sloooooowly fades. In other words, THE WORST POSSIBLE KIND OF ZIT. The only thing that keeps me from jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge when this happens? My very own blemish treatment. I liberally cover the offensive spot with a thick dot of cortizone cream, and then slap on a waterproof bandaid (Nexcare is my favorite because–I swear–they are invisible enough on the skin to run basic errands in!) This is nearly as powerful as those expensive cortisone shots celebrities get in their spots on red carpet days. Do this two nights in a row and your blemish should be history. (I even made Nate try this method earlier in the month and now he is a convert, too!)

7. Vincent Longo Liquid Canvas Dew Finish foundation + Neutrogena Healthy Skin bronzer

My new Holy Grail foundation, this Vincent Longo formula is pure perfection. It goes on perfect with just a few swipes of your fingers, and is totally undetectable on the skin. Furthermore, the SPF is an added layer of protection for my super sun-sensitive skin. This range comes in several shades, and I can’t recommend it enough. If you are looking for a very sheer yet buildable foundation, I urge you to check this out. The Neutrogena bronzer adds just the right amount of tan glow to my cheeks and doesn’t have the chunky glitter most bronzers are loaded with.

8. Danskin for Walmart Sport Bra with Foam Inserts

 

OBSESSED. This is the best sports bra. Ever. The removable foam inserts give your girls a little extra boost AND protect from–ahem–headlights. The back is mesh for maximum breathability. And guess how much this cost. C’mon, guess. TWELVE DOLLARS. I need to order approximately 6 more.

9. White River (via Marshall’s) Gold knock off Sperry’s 🙂

From Ann Arbor to LA to San Francisco to Manhattan to the Boogie Down Bronx, I have LIVED in these shoes the past month. They are comfortable and cute, and seem to go with everything. The metallic gold keep them from feeling too preppy. If I find another pair I would totally snatch them up for after this pair dies.

10/11. Baja Shrimp OPI nail polish & stacks of slender rings

All month I’ve been loving this hot coral nail polish. It is the perfect rainy spring day pick-me-up. And I’ve been very into stacking tons of mixed metal tiny rings on several fingers.

I really can’t believe it’s already May! This is a packed month with Cinco de Mayo/Kentucky Derby, Mother’s Day, my brother’s 30th birthday (!!!!), my boyfriend’s birthday, and Memorial Day all back to back. I guess I’ll sleep in June?

xo

 

 

INSANELY DELICIOUS Baked Doughnut Holes

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Churros. Elephant ears. Beignets. Funnel cakes. Krispy Kremes. Apple fritters. I l-o-v-e fried dough. But, I seriously hate frying anything. It makes your house stink for days. It’s a bitch to discard a gallon of gross, dirty fryer oil. And I’ve heard rumors it’s unhealthy.

So what’s a girl to do when she’s craving a hot, golden ball of cinnamon-sugary goodness? BAKE THESE:

Deb of smittenkitchen amazingness is responsible for these babies. Now, Deb calls these “cinnamon brown butter breakfast puffs,” but I don’t want to pigeon hole these as a strictly morning delight. In fact, I think these might be best at night, post dinner, served alongside a cup of coffee and perhaps a drizzle of salted caramel and chile-spiked chocolate sauce. Just off the top of my head.

In truth, every time I’ve made these, it’s been for brunch. But that’s because I simply can’t wait all day to dive mouth first into a heaping plateful of these.

This recipe is quick and easy, and the doughnut holes keep for two days if tightly wrapped….but I doubt you’ll have leftovers.

Ingredients:

COATING:

-2/3 cup sugar (I used coarse, but granulated is fine)

-1 tbsp cinnamon

-8 tablespoons unsalted butter

DOUGHNUT HOLES:

-1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

-1 1/2 tsp baking powder

-1/2 tsp baking soda

-1/2 tsp table salt

-1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

-1/2 cup granulated sugar

-1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

-1 large egg

-1 tsp vanilla

-1/2 cup buttermilk

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 30 mini muffin cups or 12 standard size muffin cups. Set aside.

2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg in a medium bowl and set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat softened butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

4. Add egg and vanilla, beat until combined.

5. Mix in 1/3 of dry ingredients.

6. Mix in 1/2 of the buttermilk.

7. Mix in another 1/3 of the dry ingredients.

8. Mix in the rest of the buttermilk.

9. Mix in remaining dry ingredients just until combined.

10. Fill muffin cups 3/4 the way full.

11. Bake 12-15 minutes for mini muffins, 20-24 minutes for standard size muffins.

MEANWHILE…..

12. In a small saucepan, melt 8 tablespoons butter over medium heat.

13. Continue cooking while stirring regularly.

14. As color darkens, watch for brown bits forming on the bottom. Scrape these off and continue stirring.

15. As soon as the butter smells nutty and heavenly and is a dark amber color (your butter might froth like mine), remove from heat and set aside.

16. In a small bowl, stir together the 2/3 cup sugar and cinnamon.

HERE’S WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS:

17. When a toothpick inserted into doughnut hole comes out clean, take out from oven and let cool for a minute or two.

18. As soon as you can physically stand it, pick up the warm doughnut and roll in browned butter.

19. Immediately drop into bowl of cinnamon sugar coating and roll.

20. Set on plate.

Go make these. Right now. And don’t question me on the “Wait, is 8 tablespoons of melted butter really healthier than fried dough?” I don’t have time to explain the chemical process of frying and how it produces unnatural compounds yadda yadda yadda. I have some delicious toppings to test out on these doughnut holes.

xo

Warm Weather Perfumes

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I love perfume. It all started with CK One in 8th grade…My best friend at the time, Sarah, had an insanely gorgeous and cool older sister, Annie, who wore CK One. I’m not ashamed to admit that every so often I’ll buy the tiny purse size vials of it at Walmart. Yes, its smell fills me with pleasant nostalgia, but I also happen to genuinely believe its balance is very cool.

Fast forward 14 years later, and I’ve probably owned nearly 40 scents. My perfumes typically last about a year or two, at which point they are either used up or tossed out–a perfume’s delicate notes disintegrate over time, not necessarily becoming weaker but possibly overly sweet, sour, or powdery. I am also a seasonal perfume wearer–there are some scents (Coco Chanel Mademoiselle, J’adore) that strictly feel “cold weather” to me. As spring comfortably settles in here, I have officially rotated my warm weather scents in! Here are my favorites (two new, two old favs):

1.  D&G 3 L’Imperatrice by Dolce and Gabbana

This bright, casual scent is actually unisex. It launched in 2009, and I’ve owned 2 bottles since then. The top notes are fruity, mainly watermelon and kiwi, and yet it is NOT a sweet scent at all. This perfume is anchored by a strong base of musk and sandalwood. After it settles on the skin, it smells crisp and clean, I get notes of cucumber. Unlike a lot of scents, this one continues to develop beautifully even on hot, sweaty skin. In fact, it’s great to spritz on post-workout because it’s so neutral and clean smelling! And on a personal note, this is Nate’s favorite of my perfumes.

2. Gucci Rush 2

My ALL TIME FAVORITE perfume, I’ve repurchased at least 10 times since I first discovered it when I was 17. Unfortunately, Gucci no longer sells this in the US, but fret not! Just about every duty free store in every airport carries this! I have picked this up at a duty free shop in O’Hare and Detroit Metro in the last 2 years.

What I love about this perfume is its complexity: it has no top/mid/base notes, as all the notes are equally weighted. The result is a scent utterly alluring as it defies classification. This is not a sweet perfume, not citrusy or floral, not musky or amber, although all those notes are present. I wish I could better explain this scent, but there is no comparison.  The result is a perfume that smells modern and light.

3. Lavanila Vanilla Passionfruit

Nate gave me this scent last spring, and it is definitely a sensual perfume, making it perfect for a warm spring or summer night. As expected, its strongest scent is vanilla, but the passionfruit adds a tartness that grounds the scent and keeps it from being sickly sweet. When I wear this scent I constantly have women asking me what I have on. (I think it smells very much like what a woman thinks “sexy” smells like. I, for one, think sexy and eating go together, so its no surprise that I associate a food-scented perfume with sexy.)

4. Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue

Ladies, if you want to attract the fellas, spritz this! Hands down, men compliment me on this perfume more than any other scent I have ever worn. The strongest notes in this girly perfume are citrus, jasmine, and amber. This smells “young” to me, which is not a bad thing, but makes me wonder about why so many men are drawn to it…Ultimately, it is so light and pretty and just perfect for spring and summer.

I’m very happy with these 4 perfumes, and certainly don’t NEED any more spring scents, but I am having serious lust for Jo Malone’s orange blossom. Maybe I’ll try and score enough free samples from the different Saks/Neiman’s/Bloomingdales around the city I will get through until autumn!

xo

Tropical Turkey Burgers

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Hello, summer! It was nearly 90 degrees here in nyc yesterday. (Maybe Al Gore was on to something, eh?) As someone who is allergic to the sun, sweats like a monster, and attracts any mosquito in a mile radius, I’m not too keen on summer. The one thing that makes all the seasonal discomfort worth it? THE GRILL.

Here’s a super quick, yummy, healthy recipe for Hawaiian turkey burgers. I think I’ve mentioned before just how much I love pineapple, so this is definitely my favorite kind of turkey burger 😉

For the burgers:

-1 lb ground turkey

-1/2 half red bell pepper, finely diced

-1/2 half small yellow onion, finely chopped

-1 clove garlic, minced

-1/4 cup bread crumbs

-3-4 tbsp teriyaki sauce

-salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Throw all together in a bowl and mush with your fingers. If it feels too dry, add more teriyaki sauce. If mixture feels too wet, add more bread crumbs.

2. Smoosh together into a big ball. Then, divide ball in half. Then, half it again so you have 4 even sized patties.

3. Grill for 6-7 minutes on each side on a medium-high grill.

Toppings:

-1 avocado, sliced

-1 pineapple, sliced into rings and grilled

-1/4 cup bbq sauce mixed with 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce

Directions:

1. Cut off pineapple top and bottom.

2. Stand up and slice off skin.

3. Use a corer to remove center.

4. Turn on side and slice into 1/2 inch thick rings.

5. Grill for about 1-2 minutes per side.

Top bun with turkey burger, then pineapple, teriyaki bbq sauce, and avocado slices.

I grilled up some sweet potatoes on the side, which is highly recommended. Wrap the little suckers in foil and toss on the grill for an hour or so. Check out this steamy shot:

Enjoy!

xo

Literary Round Up

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I’ve been reading. In no particular order…

1, 2 & 3) Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy, by EL James

I wanted to like these books. First of all, everyone else does; secondly, the novels are based on fan fiction erotica of the Twilight characters; and do you really need another reason after that last one? But there’s nothing grey about my opinion here: this trilogy is majorly disappointing.

The plot: an innocent young coed (based on Bella) enters a BDSM relationship with a powerful and dark man (based on Edward). SO. MUCH. POTENTIAL.

But, sadly, James doesn’t fully commit to the BDSM (that’s bondage/discipline, dominant/submissive, sadism/masochism for those not in the know) experience, and what should be a sexy, modern, edgy book comes across as painfully adolescent and thus, downright creepy. It’s hard to get excited (that IS a double entendre) about a woman getting whipped on her clitoris with a riding crop when said woman can’t call her nether regions anything other than “down there” or–I’m not kidding–“the apex of my thighs.” OH NO SHE DIDN’T!

If the tone wasn’t bad enough, by the middle of the first book James completely abandons the BDSM angle in favor of a traditional love story…Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

0 stars (out of 5).

4) The Vanishers by Heidi Julavits

What a pleasant surprise! A truly, refreshingly, unique book! One word of caution: this story is a bit Inception-y (you know, a world inside an alternate reality with characters from other realms…) so this is not a novel to read before bed. It takes a certain amount of focus to follow the twists and turns.

The plot: a young woman is a rising star in the psychic world, and her jealous/aging mentor inflicts psychic warfare on her. Enter subplots of mysteries involving dead mothers, missing film reels, and underground feminist extremists. I realize this synopsis doesn’t make any sense, but that’s the very nature of the telepathic phenomenon! However, I promise all becomes clear in the end…

4 stars (out of 5).

5) History of a Pleasure Seeker by Richard Mason

This is a familiar story (boy from nothing becomes man with everything), but it is told with so much originality it sucks you in from the first page.

The plot: a poor young man living in Amsterdam uses the lessons his savvy French mother bestowed upon him (and his natural physical beauty) to climb the social ladder. What makes this novel fresh is that somehow, the dashing Piet never comes across as sleazy. In fact, he goes to great pains to be nothing but genuine, which certainly is part of his secret to success. Furthermore, this historical fiction work gets marks for openly addressing the oft-overlooked but overwhelmingly common episodes of homosexuality amongst the “straight” men of the upper class. Indeed, the frank telling of Piet’s sexual encounters with both men and women very much make this story rather original.

4 stars (out of 5).

6) The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

A little bit spooky, a little bit fantasy, a little bit sad, this emotional read will make you wonder and weep.

The plot: an aging and childless couple living in Alaska build a snow child. When they wake the next morning to find the snow child toppled to the ground, they take note of the strange footprints in their yard. The couple begin to see things they can’t explain, and the reader is left wondering if the couple have lost their sanity in the snow, or found sanctity in it, or both.

This book is imaginative and emotional. A wonderful debut novel from Ivey.

4 stars (out of 5).

7) The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht

Wow, wow, WOW! This is a must read. the best book I’ve read in 2012. I can’t even say anything because this book is EVERYTHING. Smart, irreverent, historical, magical, amusing, moving…you get where I’m going.

The plot: a young woman follows in her beloved grandfather’s footsteps and becomes a doctor in a war-torn Balkan country. She embarks on a journey to solve the mystery of her grandfather’s death by solving the mystery he was investigating…the  deathless man. Of course, you can’t understand death without understanding life, as Obreht so beautifully and unexpectedly expresses in this novel.

5 stars!!!!!!

I’m currently reading The Expats by Chris Pavone. I have no idea what I’ll pick up after that, so if you have any suggestions please pass them along in the comments!

xo