Archive for February, 2011


For several weeks, I have had an obsession with finding the perfect shade of turquoise bag for spring...

It started out with a passing glance at a woman’s turquoise bag and thinking, that’s a striking color – I’d like a bag in a color like that. And then I started to obsess a little – looking around me, trying to find that exact color again. Over the weekend, I did a quick search through some of the brands I thought might be in my price range. And all I saw were bags that were too green, too blue. I have no idea why I started fixating on this color. But as I was leaving the office just a few hours ago, I made a decision – I am going to find the perfect turquoise bag and buy it for spring. So, I get home this evening and…new bags on gilt.com…let’s just take a look and see…and there it was – the perfect color! Offered in multiple shapes, no less. Gilt.com tried to explain to me that Kooba is a hip and trendy brand. I have no idea. Even with the near 50% discount, it was still at the upper end of what I wanted to spend. So, I paused before putting it into my basket. I thought about some of the other shapes offered. But this turquoisey-leathery bag began to imprint itself more and more on my brain. I tried to look away. I tried to focus on finding my sister a birthday present instead. But my subconscious crept in and explained to me how I’d been looking for this bag before I found it. And then it actually materialized in front of my eyes just days later. How could one argue with such destiny!

My rational brain realizes this is how online flash shopping gets you – not just because this deal is only around for a few days – because you know, from past experience – that if you just wait a half day, a few hours – the item you’ve been eyeing will be “sold out”. Snatched up by another shopper. Flash shopping makes it not just the joy of consumerism, but also the joy of  competition. Feeding multiple basic impulses and goading me into decisiveness where I otherwise might waffle. Because I don’t want to lose.

So, the ploy works on me. And, what do I care? I get to have my dream bag of the season….

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There’s something about attraction. It rarely makes any sense. What else could account for my irrational attraction to Damian Lewis? Irrational because he’s soooo not my type. Red head? Umm, no.
Could it be because I dated a really nice namesake in college? Or is it because he played the quirky Charlie Crews on NBC’s LIFE so well a few years ago? Maybe it’s the irresistible English accent? But its probably got something to do with how absolutely yummy he looks in a suit. I’m a sucker for a man who looks hot in a suit that’s what got me knocked up twice. Whatever the reason, every time I see this man I can’t help but to break out into a huge smile…:)

Who’s your irrational attraction? Go on spill! Don’t leave me hanging!

To my dismay, I’m all out of my beloved La Mer moisturizing skin gel. Can I just say I absolutely LOVE this cream. Its a lighter version of the original Creme de la mer for those of us with oily and acne prone skin. I got introduced to it on a particularly desperate visit to Saks on my birthday last year after suffering from a facial burn while experimenting with Murad Acne complex kit , more on that later. The sales woman at the La Mer counter mixed the moisturizing skin gel with the gel concentrate and applied it to my face and it felt like heaven. All the tightness and the flaking simply disappeared and since it happened to be my birthday and I was on my way to dinner with MVOW i decided to cuff up the hefty price tag – $249 (don’t judge me for vanity sake) for the gel cream and the nice lady gave my several sample packs of the concentrate that lasted weeks until my burns went away. Needless to say, I’ve been in love ever since. A little goes a long way with this mysterious broth. It lasted about 9 months which made the price a little easier to justify (at least to me). Anyway, last month the love-affair finally had to end for economy sake. I found myself at a cross roads, cough up another 249 dollars for a facial cream in the middle of a global recession, with starving children in Africa or find another moisturizing lotion?

At the end my conscience won and i began my search for recession proof La Mer. One option was to return to an old faithful the Khiel’s Sodium PCA oil free moisturizer which is also very good but I find it doesn’t do anything for the texture of my skin which has started showing signs of “aging”, I need the heavy duty stuff to slow down nature’s intent. Someone suggested I try the Alba Bontancia Sea Lipids, at 8.99 my snobbish side was extremely skeptical. Does my moisturizer have to be expensive to prove it works? The answer to my delight is a resounding NO! I love this product. Packed with macademian and almond oils, protective shea butter and a nutrient rich complex of sea lettuce, kelp and algae. This all natural product is pure moisture without the oily residue. My skin feels plump and super hydrated and I think it gives me a certain glow…that could also be my MAC working, but you never know!

A Meal for Charcoal Workers

I am not a charcoal worker but I do love me a Pasta Carbonara.  According to Wikipedia, the name of this pasta dish is derived from carbanaro, meaning charcoal in Italian. This dish was thought to be a fit and hearty meal for those hard workers.

Can you see me doing that?

Pasta carbonara has become a staple dinner around the Maccha apartment.  It all started one evening in October when MacchaHe decided to try and make it.  He usually Googles for the general recipe and goes at it.  We (uh..he I mean) make pasta often but this was superb to all the rest for some reason.  Who knew the combination of egg, cheese and bacon was oh so satisfying.  From that evening on, we have had the dish about once a week or during lazy days, once every two weeks.  Each time, we find what makes it better from last time.  So here are some tips:

1) We started off with spaghetti, which is what most recipes dictate.  Over time, we have used whatever pasta was in stock, even rigatoni (don’t recommend).  My personal winner is the linguine.  MacchaHe doesn’t necessarily agree with me.  So I sometimes secretly keep our pasta shelf full of linguine. “We’re out of spaghetti?  Oh well, let’s use the linguine!”

2) We couldn’t find Pecorino cheese at our local supermarket the first time so we used Parmesan, the standard substitute.   The following week, Whole Foods came to our rescue and we got the Pecorino.  YUMs.  Moral: don’t substitute, grate lots of Pecorino.  Grate some more and stock up on Pecorino when it’s on sale at WF.

 

No Subsitutes!

3) What is the ingredient that keeps luring us back to this dish on a weekly basis?  The fatty pork of course!  We have tried using standard bacon and thick cut bacon.  Regular bacon is a little wimpy.  Thick cut adds a nice porkiness against the eggy, cheesy pasta.  But what is even better? Pancetta!  I am talking slab pancetta diced into hearty cubes.  It took us six months to try this pancetta and I have no idea why we waited so long.  It’s fat, but meaty fat.  We fight for the last remaining piece, even as we are both on our second helpings (yikes, shouldn’t I be eating less than him if I am half his size?)

Devoured (very) shortly after photo was taken

Add this dish to your dinners, you may never turn back…

I started making a list of all the new items I wanted to buy for spring here.  Oh I was so excited!  I went to the Limited today and there was the skirt, the jacket AND the dress!  The jacket was even on sale!  How did it go?  What did I buy?

Nothing.  The jacket was too orange, or maybe not orange enough.  The skirt was too voluminous.  The dress was way too big on the top for my petite frame (i.e., I have narrow shoulders and no boobs).  Oh how I wish Limited would start making petite sizes.  It would make my life so much easier.  While I was there I also tried on a pair of black pants in a short length (as opposed to regular length) and they were too short.  The proportions of my body are a mystery!  Everything I try on in stores is either too big, too small, too long or too short.  I’m like the Goldilocks of fashion!!!  😦

Planning a trip to Lord and Taylor tomorrow after work to snatch up those Coach nude heels – the only thing left on my list.  Wish me luck!

I Wok! (trying not to lose my honorary status)

As I mentioned yesterday, I am sometimes known as the “honorary Asian” due to the many pleasant Asian girls I choose to share my world with.  There was even some talk at one time of giving me a laminated card to carry in my wallet with this title, but sadly I never got one.

The more I pondered this notion last evening, it got me in the mood for . . . Asian food, of course.  Chinese food to be specific.  I’m really trying to make an effort to cook better food for my lovely hubbo and although Chinese food does not always make it to the top of the healthy list, it’s got tons of veggies and can actually make a great healthy option if you make it at home and do some minor tweaking.

As I tried to figure out what to make for dinner tonight, I defrosted some chicken breast and then looked to the ol’ internet for inspiration.  I usually frequent Food Network (my future employer – FN ARE YOU READING THIS?!?!) and Tastespotting, but today I was inspired by MacchaMe to check out foodgawker.  I’d never really heard of it, but I am a sucker for food porn, so once I saw the pretty photos, I was intrigued.

Long story short, I found two “Chinese” recipes and I have to say they came out pretty good.  I obviously cannot vouch for the authenticity of the dishes, but they look, smelled and tasted like Chinese food to me!  Hubbo liked it too!

Chicken Stir-Fry

I love anything that has a little sauce to it, and this recipe created the perfect amount of sauce to make it tasty.  I did not modify this recipe at all (for once!)

Veggie Fried Brown Rice

I looked specifically for a brown rice version of traditional fried rice, since we only eat brown rice in our house now.  Did I modify this one?  Yes – I used egg whites instead of whole eggs, and three times the amount the recipe called for too.  We’re egg junkies!!!  I also omitted the mushrooms, since I did not have any in the house, and the broccoli, since I was already putting broccoli in the stir-fry.  I did cook the rice in my rice cooker, but I cooked it in chicken broth instead of water for a touch more flavor.  Recipes say you should use leftover rice for fried rice, but I never think ahead to make rice the day before.

Look at the pretty colors! And I did not overcook the broccoli!

My attempt at a detail shot.

I think I made too much rice. Can I freeze this?

I love that you can see the individual grains of rice. My rice usually turns to mush if I do not use the rice cooker.

Bento Lunch

This week, I made a vow to cook more and bring lunch. My groceries for the week included a roast chicken, salmon fillets, and some sardines. Yes, sardines. Have you ever had broiled or grilled sardines? Delicious! Well, that was from my trip to Whole Foods last Saturday. It is now Friday evening, and I still have a whole container of shredded chicken, and four lonely sardines in the fridge. I always overshoot in my goals.

But. I did end up cooking! Tuesday AND Wednesday. Imagine that. And, even brought lunch for two days. Monday night, I looked up some salmon recipes and found a salmon/veg/rice bake out of one of my America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks and a salmon teriyaki recipe in my Bento cookbook. This inspired me to bring my lunch in my Bento! So, I did all this prep on Monday night, did the final cooking and packing of my Bento on Tuesday morning…and here is the story of my Tuesday Bento….

The Bento Carrier.

Oh those adorable Japanese and their unique use of the English language. Ok, the Chinese do it, too. Isn't it cute?

I actually started with my Bento-meal at breakfast time. I hate eating breakfast at home. It feels too early. But for some reason, the 15 or 20 minutes later, after I get into my office, feels like a fine time to eat breakfast. I think the other thing is that actually taking time to eat breakfast in my kitchen at home makes me nervous. Like I’m falling behind on the start of my day and I really need to get to the office as soon as possible. Why do I have such anxiety when I am away from my desk? It must be some kind of illness.

Here is the bento in all its glory - vacuum sealed to keep food hot or cold for hours! And the reusable bamboo utensils from Whole Foods. I'm a sucker for knick knacks at WF. Another illness of mine.

And the bento unpacked. Note the three convenient containers for different foodstuffs.

So, for breakfast – kefir with honey, cinnamon, and toasted flaxseed. How did I come up with this scrumptious-sounding concoction you ask? Why, from my recent stay at the Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico! This lovely healthy living spa got me addicted to this dairy product they served every day that they called “acidophilus milk.” What is that? Just plain lowfat milk that has acidophilus living and multiplying it. The closest thing I know of is Kefir, which the bottle describes as a “cousin of yogurt” and the “champagne of dairy.” Kefir has other yogurty bacteria in it, besides just acidophilus, so maybe it’s not exactly the same as what I got at the spa. But, chock full of even more probiotics and healthy bacteria! Does that not sound appetizing? Well, if you’re still not convinced about how delicious it is, just take a look:

Bento meal part 1: Breakfast Kefir Blend

What more proof do you need of the deliciousness of this meal?

So the thing about packing the yogurty-stuff, though is: this stuff was packed cold. The rest of my meal was packed hot. I also unpacked everything at breakfast, and then repacked everything, to save the other containers of food for lunchtime. I am clearly not well-versed in the way of the Japanese Bento. Lunch turned out lukewarm. Would it have stayed hot if I’d just left the whole thing sealed until lunchtime and not mixed in cold foods? I have faith that it would have. Until completely proven wrong, I will maintain my faith in the Japanese Bento. But, even lukewarm, it was tasty, seasoned with the extra sense of satisfaction that I’d cooked something healthy for myself. So, lunch:

Yum! This is better, right? On the left, lightly sauteed kale and collards over brown rice. To the right, teriyaki salmon.

I made the second salmon fillet for Tuesday dinner using the America’s Test Kitchen recipe. I ate the entire fillet, but there was leftover veggies and rice that I brought for lunch the next day. Not in the bento, because, of course, I hadn’t had a chance to wash it yet. I can either cook, or do dishes. Not both. That gives me one solid reason for why I need a partner in life. Or at least in my home.

Of the rest of my last Saturday’s grocery shopping, I have put a dent in the roast chicken. I made a few chicken quesadillas on Sunday. The rest of it has been mixed in with Marley’s dog food at night. Did I tell you how he will not eat his dry food unless I mix something yummy into it? He’s so spoiled. Usually, I just put some canned dog food and mix it together. But this week, I kind of knew I wasn’t going to be able to eat a whole roast chicken on my own, so I thought I’d give him a special treat. Anyway – time to broil some sardines for dinner tonight. I hope they are still good. I do have to clean them myself because the WF fishmonger told me that if he cleaned them for me, they would not stay fresh for more  than a day or two. I don’t know if he realized I thought he was promising me that, if I didn’t have him clean them, they would fresh for six days.

Isn’t it funny how when we’re younger things just seem ridiculous or unfashionable and then all of a sudden we get older and they become necessities? When I was in high school, it was unheard of to wear a winter hat in the cold weather. God forbid we look unfashionable or mess up our teased hair (yes folks, it was the 90’s)! Now, I can’t imagine not wearing my winter hat, even when it’s 50 degrees out! I also used to wear pantyhose with my school uniform, even if it was 10 degrees. Now, I cannot bring myself to put a skirt or dress on because I would freeze to death on my long commute to work.

What’s my new rediscovered necessity? Rubber rain boots. It’s seems like they’ve become necessities for everyone nowadays. I remember wearing them when I was very little, maybe 5 or 6 years old. My mom used to wrap my feet in plastic shopping bags before putting the galoshes on over my regular shoes, so they would slip on and off easier. You did not think about fashion, you just did it because your mother said so. I wonder if you can still buy those rubber boots that go over the shoes . . .

Anyhoo, so rubber boots went out when puberty came in and no one I knew in high school would have been caught dead wearing those things! Man they were ugly! And then, I don’t know what happened, but the rubber boot came back in style! I have to admit, I was a little excited to see them gain popularity again, since they truly are practical if not all that nice to look that.

A couple of years back I jumped on the rubber rain boot bandwagon and bought a “cute” pair. I saw many girls wearing boots of all different colors and designs that I thought, “Sure, what the heck! Crazy rain boots it is!” They were black and pink and had polka dots and were significantly discounted (I think I paid $30 in DSW). And then after a few wears, I came to the shocking realization that I am over 30 and when you’re my age, they’re just not cute. One run-in with my boss in the elevator sealed the deal on that one. I never wore these boots again . . .

Yes, the brand name of these boots is Cougar.

What do I do now? Invest in another pair of rubber rain boots? I HATE when my feet get wet in the rain and snow and I was getting by with spraying my Uggs with waterproofing spray, but it just was not the same. The rubber boot currently in vogue is the infamous Hunter wellies. You see them all over town here in NYC and they look super cute. So I started to lust after Hunters. I was even willing to pay the $100+ price tag to be a slave to rubber rain boot fashion. But they have a major flaw . . . they do not fit over my damn extra-calfy calf! The Hunters have a very narrow circumference, and no matter how many times I tried them on the in stores and tried to pull them up with all my might, they just do not fit me.  Damn it!

All the celebs look good in Hunters.

Not me. FAIL.

So what do I really do now? I ask a Spice, what else? Our little MacchaMe is in the “big ol’calf” category just like me and apparently had researched the right rubber rain boot and came across a pair of Tretorns. She raved about them. I debated over whether to spend the $60 (on sale at Zappos). I ogled them for weeks while we received over 3 feet of snow in NYC this winter. So, I caved in and purchased them. And then what? Of course it stops snowing.  I’ve had them about a month and today is the first day I wore them since the forecast called for heavy wind and rain. YAY!

So far, I like them a lot. They’re not too tight on my leg, they’re sleek looking (black is slimming, right?), I can run for the bus in them, and the price was right.

Tretorn Langta Rubber Rain Boot

Sorry for the blurry pic, but you get the idea. so cute!

I wonder what crazy “I would not be caught dead in” item will find its way into my closet? Flowers and lace? Jeggings? Ed Hardy attire? God only knows . . .

Travel Etiquette…Please?

Other than when I’m behind the wheel, I’m a patient person.  I’ve traveled enough to have honed my airport security skills to a tee.  With one hand, I can get my 3-1-1* ziploc and laptop out, shoes, cardigan and coat off, and never let go of my boarding pass.

I exchange “Why can’t they all be like you?” looks of agony with TSA Agents, as they ask the same passenger over and over again to walk through the metal detector, because, yes ma’am, you have to take your spiked neck collar AND cuffs off.

I wait patiently as the gentleman blocking the narrow aisle casually removes his sports coat, takes his time getting his laptop from the overhead, and nonchalantly keeps his butt out, rather than slide into his row, as he rummages for his newspaper.

Finally.  Finally, I make it to my seat.  I dare not even think it or I’ll jinx myself, but…can it be?  Two seats to myself on a 7:30am-suit n’ blackberry-loaded-flight?  Haaaaaalllllleeeellll…o…oh, hello, seat mate.  Didn’t realize you went to the bathroom.

Fine.  I’ll share.  Now, ya’ll know there is a lot of me to love, however, I fit perfectly fine into a normal airline seat, arm rest down, no spillage, thank you.  Instead of a “You’re welcome” from my seat mate, I got this:

Source

Really?  You have to put your foot under the seat in front of ME?  Oh, sure, go ahead, I don’t need the arm rest.  I’ll just rest my elbow on my stomach.  Did you want me to read the NYT Obituaries with you?  No?  Then why is that section in my face?  No, no, it’s cool – go ahead and put your laptop on both of our trays to make room for your coffee.

My seat mate was not a large person, nor was he a novice flyer.  He was…inconsiderate.  I politely asked him to move his foot off my purse, and I think he got the hint to mind his space.  Thank God it was only an hour flight.

Be considerate, people!  Don’t make me bring this with me next time!

*3 ounces of liquid or gel, 1 quart-size baggie, 1 bag per traveler.

Creepy Internet

I have a wedding to attend in August, in Tulum.  So today, I went to Tripadvisor, an all time favorite source for travels, to research some hotels.  This is what I see:

On top it states “TripAdvisor is using Facebook to personalized your experience.”   Some might find this useful.  In fact, I had NO idea that any of the above friends actually did visit Tulum.  But I just find this creepy.  There are many creepy things on the Internet and I would categorize this as one of them. I am curious if these “friends” even want me to know that they visited Tulum.

Do you like this kind of personalization?