Monthly Archives: February 2015

Lush : Twilight Bath Bomb [ REVIEW ]

One of my *unofficial* goals for 2015 is to relax more. As the great Leonardo da Vinci once said, ‘Every now and then go away and have a little relaxation. To remain constantly at work will diminish your judgement.” What is more relaxing close to home than a luxurious bath?  This year I will review products from my fav shop that makes fresh and handmade beauty goods, Lush! So draw up a bath, get a good book and a glass of wine, and let’s relax!

Lush’s Twilight Bath Bomb is a dreamy smelling ball of goodness that ‘recreates the magic of a starry night in your bath water with clouds of lavender and tonka absolute (vanilla’s saucier cousin).’ Once you drop the bomb in your warm bath water the main ingredients sodium bicarbonate and citric acid go to work fizzing v.e.r.y. slowly ‘changing color like the sky at dusk, from pinks to purples and darker still.’ I found it spinning around like it was some bath time constellation in the water.

The smell is heady and relaxing, and it made the water SO soft to the touch. One surprise was the faint glimmer of gold shimmer left on my skin from the water. It’s very unassuming, and actually pretty so don’t let it deter you from purchasing the bomb! Fair warning: this bomb will make you sleepy! Zzzzzzz….

*This post is not sponsored

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Click here to see my goals for 2015

You can also see my goals for 2014, 2013, 2012 and my bucket list!

 

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‘The Hundred Foot Journey’ by Richard C. Morais [ REVIEW ]

100 foot

One of my goals for 2015 is to get back to my roots and read more books. As the great Frederick Douglass said, ‘Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.’ Books are a passion – nay, an obsession of mine and always have been. I grew up in the library and my parents fostered my love of reading and learning. With books I have lived a thousand lives, found myself absorbed in different worlds, and learned immensely more than I could have otherwise. So put up your feet, grab a good paperback and let’s get reading!

The Hundred-Foot journey by Richard C. Morais is a journey much longer than the title suggests. The pace at first is brisk. We meet Hassan and are thrown into his Bombay childhood, including the terrible death of his mother at the hands of a Hindu mob, all concluded in 30 pages. We read of his coming-of-age in London  in another 20. His father then takes the family off on a tour of Europe by motorcade, stopping only when they have a serendipitous break down in rural France in front of a mansion for sale, which Papa immediately decides to convert into a boisterous, Bollywood-esque eatery, with Hassan as its chef.

One hundred feet across the road stands a country inn, an archetype of French rustic elegance and fine eating.  The proprietor Madame Mallory is disgusted with the exuberance and ‘foreign-ness’ of the newcomers. She is an elderly woman embittered by her failure to earn a third Michelin star, and on top of that discovers that Hassan is a culinary genius. She can’t take it at first, but eventually she becomes his mentor, much to Papa’s grief. Hassan meets Marguerite in the kitchen and the two start a relationship. However it is not long before Hassan moves up the ranks, and his talent takes him to Paris.

The latter part of the novel sags a little, years pass, bereft of the colorful Papa and Mallory. Hassan starts his own restaurant. In a thinly sketched Paris, Hassan charts his ascent to the top ranks of chefs as if ticking off points on a résumé.  We’re given (in my opinion) too much information on French labor law. But the tides turn again, and the mood turns ­earnest. Morais tugs at the heartstrings a little, and gives both Hassan and the reader a sense of satisfaction.

The book is well researched, subtle in its details and delights the senses. A pan seethes with “prattling onions and furiously spitting lemon grass”; and an artichoke appears as a “spiky hand grenade.” Cue all foodies weeping with joyful tears. For all the differences and little annoyances I had with the book such as little digs at Christian faith and the ‘laggy’ middle overall I really liked it. It was a journey- it felt like it took us the length of the book for Hassan to make his hundred foot journey ‘across the street’ from the Indian cooking of his childhood to Parisian culinary, when he had actually, (literally) made the move years before. The books shows the growth of Hassan’s character, and is a treasure trove for foodies.

star-four-11-jpg1

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Click here to see my goals for 2015

You can also see my goals for 2014, 2013, 2012 and my bucket list!

 

Lush : Blackberry Bath Bomb [ REVIEW ]

blue

One of my *unofficial* goals for 2015 is to relax more. As the great Leonardo da Vinci once said, ‘Every now and then go away and have a little relaxation. To remain constantly at work will diminish your judgement.” What is more relaxing close to home than a luxurious bath?  This year I will review products from my fav shop that makes fresh and handmade beauty goods, Lush! So draw up a bath, get a good book and a glass of wine, and let’s relax!

Lush’s Blackberry Bath Bomb is a purple/blue sweet smelling concoction that includes frankincense oil (a sweet and woody smell) with bergamot oil (sunshine in a bottle). Bergamot is used in aromatherapy for anxiety, depression and nervous tension, and is both relaxing and uplifting as well as antibacterial. The frankincense oil helps slow down breathing and induces a feeling of wellbeing.

Once you drop the bomb in your warm bath water the main ingredients sodium bicarbonate and citric acid go to work  fizzing until there’s only purple water left- along with a surprise!

boom

I’ve heard this bath bomb is a slow fizzer, but no complaints from me- it was completely dissolved within three minutes. The smell is clean and relaxing, and it made the water soft to the touch. My one complaint was the purple stain it left behind. It didn’t take too long to remove, but removing it wasn’t very relaxing in itself. Some complain that their skin turns purple as well, but I didn’t have that issue. Overall it was a great bath bomb- relaxing and smelled great!

*This post is not sponsored

_________________________________

Click here to see my goals for 2015

You can also see my goals for 2014, 2013, 2012 and my bucket list!

 

‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed [ REVIEW ]

Wild

One of my goals for 2015 is to get back to my roots and read more books. As the great Frederick Douglass said, ‘Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.’ Books are a passion – nay, an obsession of mine and always have been. I grew up in the library and my parents fostered my love of reading and learning. With books I have lived a thousand lives, found myself absorbed in different worlds, and learned immensely more than I could have otherwise. So put up your feet, grab a good paperback and let’s get reading!

‘Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

– Mary Oliver, “The Summer Day

 ‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed is a raw and deeply honest memoir. It chronicles Cheryl’s relationship growing up with her mother until at the age of twenty two she lost her painfully and quickly to cancer. The book takes a gritty and unflinchingly blunt look at her mother’s death and at Cheryl’s downward spiral afterward. It details Cheryl’s infidelity to her husband and their eventual divorce, and the strain on her relationship with her sister, brother and stepfather.

Cheryl decides to hike a large chunk of the Pacific Crest Trail or the PCT as a method of healing. She hasn’t had any experience in the wilderness other than camping a few times while growing up in Minnesota. We see how dangerous that decision really was, but ultimately it is rewarding. Throughout the book we experience Strayed’s journey struggling with the weight of her backpack, the condition of her feet and hiking in general. We see her grow, fall back again and pick herself up. It’s a truly inspirational story of a broken woman whose journey heals her. You will laugh, you will cry, but best of all you will go on the same emotional journey that Strayed does.

four_half-stars_0

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Click here to see my goals for 2015

You can also see my goals for 2014, 2013, 2012 and my bucket list!

 

February ArtSnacks Unboxing [ 2015 ]

artsnacks feb

One of my goals for 2015 is to sketch more. I’ve always loved art, whether it was admiring other’s work or creating my own. Over the past year I have been taking online classes through Sketchbook Skool. I found out about it before the first class and I’ve taken all three (plus currently their Bootkamp) that they have offered. They have inspired me to capture the everyday. They also inspired me to try new materials which has me on the hunt for the ‘perfect’ sketchbook as well as new products.

That’s where Art Snacks came in- they send you new art products every month- I decided to give it a go. February was the first month! I wouldn’t have picked these items up on my own, and I loved them all. I can see this will be something I look forward to each month! It was fun un-boxing and playing with my new toys as I snacked on the sweethearts included in the box. Below are some sketches I did to test out the products as well as my thoughts on the products.

watercolor

GRUMBACHER Finest Watercolor Paint & GRUMBACHER Watercolor Brush

I have never sprung for one of the pricer watercolor tubes, but I realize now it’s worth it. This watercolor is incredible. It states that it has a rich pigment of color (Red Iron Oxide) and that it is designed to ensure a fluid even wash when mixed with a little bit of water. Very true- the smallest bit of watercolor with water is enough. The picture doesn’t fully capture the vibrancy of this color, and it went on with the brush like it was nothing. The brush itself is great too.

marker

Kurecolor Fine & Brush for MANGA by Zig

This pen is awesome! It is double sided with a fine pen on one side and a bigger ‘brush’ tip on the other. It feels so soft on the paper, and doesn’t create weird marker lines. The color is ‘Pale Aqua’ and is comparable to if not better than my artist’s rendering markers.

pencil

GENERAL’S Sketch & Wash Pencil

This pen allows you to draw and then wash over the lines with water. I love this product, and will certainly be purchasing more!

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Click here to see my goals for 2015

You can also see my goals for 2014, 2013, and 2012 and my bucket list!

Strawberry Cream Cheese Pastries [ Recipe ]

16

I went in search of an easy and tasty treat for our Super Bowl party and found these beauties at Diethood.com and knew they were it. Not only did they look simple and delicious, they are red for my football team the Kansas City Chiefs! (Who, if anyone is interested, happens to be the only NFL team who beat both the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots this year. Just saying.) 😉

Although the pastries are easy to make, they are rather time consuming. The total time it takes to make these pastries (including refrigeration) is 2 hours and 15 minutes. I also felt like they tasted as though they were missing something. I added all the ingredients so that isn’t the issue. It just needed a push toward more of a pastry or more of a cookie. It’s stuck in dessert limbo. If I make these again I would use a flakier crust- maybe even croissant dough from the store (time saver!) and also add raw sugar to the top. Below is the process of making these treats with the recipe at the bottom. Try it out and let me know how you improved the process, or if you tried them as is and if you liked them!

All of the delicious ingredients:

items

In your mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth, light and fluffy. Add the flour and salt and combine. You should have dough at this point.

Sprinkle powdered sugar on your work surface, and divide the dough into four rounds. Flatten each round and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough rounds for 30 minutes. In the meantime clean up the mixer so you can use it again right away to make the cream cheese filling!

Combine all of the ingredients in your newly cleaned mixing bowl and mix until it is smooth and creamy. I put mine straight into a pastry bag (aka a ziplock bag with a snipped hole at the bottom) ready for piping.

Dust your work surface with flour, and let your dough rounds rest out of the fridge for 5 minutes. Roll each round out to a 1/4-inch thickness and cut out 3″ x 3″ squares. Fill the squares with the strawberry jam and then pipe the filling on top. Pinch two opposite corners of the dough in the center over the filling. Then pop the pastries in the fridge for an hour.

Bake each sheet 10 to 11 minutes or until the edges are browned and let them cool completely before eating. Bon Appetite!

16

STRAWBERRY CREAM CHEESE PASTRIES
PREP TIME
30 mins
COOK TIME
11 mins
TOTAL TIME
2 hours 15 mins
Soft, flaky and delicious cream cheese dough filled with a sweet cream cheese mixture and strawberry jam.
Serves: Makes 26 to 30 Cookies
INGREDIENTS
For the Pastries
  • 1 package (8-ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons or 226 grams) butter, softened
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • powdered sugar for dusting
  • ½ teaspoon salt
For the Filling
  • 1 package (8-ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup powdered sugar, or to taste (if you prefer it sweeter, add more)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • strawberry jam
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. In your mixer’s bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth, light and fluffy.
  2. Add flour and salt and continue to mix until thoroughly combined.
  3. Lightly dust work area with powdered sugar.
  4. Transfer dough to work area and shape into a ball.
  5. Divide it into 4 rounds; flatten each round and cover each pastry dough with plastic wrap.
  6. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  7. In the meantime, prepare the filling by combining cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla in your mixer’s bowl.
  8. Beat until creamy and smooth. Set aside.
  9. Dust work area with flour.
  10. Remove dough from fridge and let rest for 5 minutes.
  11. Roll out each ball of dough to a ¼-inch thickness.
  12. Cut into 3×3 squares.
  13. Fill the center of each square with ½-teaspoon cream cheese mixture and ½ teaspoon strawberry jam. For a prettier presentation, using a pastry bag, you can pipe the fillings, one on top of the other.
  14. Overlap opposite corners of dough to the center and over the filling. Pinch seams together.
  15. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  16. Preheat oven to 375.
  17. Bake 10 to 11 minutes, or until edges are browned.
  18. Cool completely.
  19. Serve.
NOTES
Total Time includes chill time.
Store cookies in air tight containers.
Freeze for up to 3 months.