Sunday, June 27, 2010

Books: The Road

The Road by Cormac McCarthy.
"In his new novel, McCarthy exchanges the bleak Western setting of previous works for an even bleaker post-apocalyptic one. As usual, lawless space engenders violence, but here a nuclear holocaust has reduced everything to ash, mummifying all but a few unlucky souls, who must kill or be killed (and eaten). The main characters are a father and his son, who was born a few nights after the bombs fell. "We're still the good guys," the man repeatedly assures the boy as they scavenge their way south for the winter, trying to avoid "bad guy" survival techniques. Even by McCarthy's standards, the horrors here—an infant "headless and gutted and blackening on the spit"—are extreme, and, deprived of historical context, his brutality can seem willful. But McCarthy's prose retains its ability to seduce—the deathscape is "like the onset of some cold glaucoma dimming away the world"—and there are nods to the gentler aspects of the human spirit." The New Yorker, taken from Amazon.com

This is a much faster read than I thought it would be. Very interesting, sad & touching. It really stays with you & I already know that I'll want to read it again. My only problem with it was that it left so many unanswered questions but perhaps that was the point. Definitely a book you'll want to discuss after you're done with it

Books: In Defense of Food

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan.
"Food is the one thing that Americans hate to love and, as it turns out, love to hate. What we want to eat has been ousted by the notion of what we should eat, and it's at this nexus of hunger and hang-up that Michael Pollan poses his most salient question: where is the food in our food? What follows in In Defense of Food is a series of wonderfully clear and thoughtful answers that help us omnivores navigate the nutritional minefield that's come to typify our food culture. Many processed foods vie for a spot in our grocery baskets, claiming to lower cholesterol, weight, glucose levels, you name it. Yet Pollan shows that these convenient "healthy" alternatives to whole foods are appallingly inconvenient: our health has a nation has only deteriorated since we started exiling carbs, fats--even fruits--from our daily meals. His razor-sharp analysis of the American diet (as well as its architects and its detractors) offers an inspiring glimpse of what it would be like if we could (a la Humpty Dumpty) put our food back together again and reconsider what it means to eat well. In a season filled with rallying cries to lose weight and be healthy, Pollan's call to action—"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."--is a program I actually want to follow. --Anne Bartholomew" taken from Amazon.com

I want to start by saying that I'm not big on following any diet plan or restricting my food options. I heard this was a good, informative book & that's why I got it. As far as information goes, I was impressed & I have a feeling that I might end up quoting random facts that I learned from it. He does have a good point in that you should be eating whole, "real" foods & that what your food eats (in cases of meat & dairy) is just as important as what you eat. And we do have the option to eat things that are organic or grass-finished or raised without hormones, although we might have to go to special stores to get those items and pay 2-3 times more for them.
As far as what I'm going to take from this book, I know that I will be checking nutrition labels & choosing the items with a shorter, easily understood ingredient lists. And also at least checking the prices of the more natural meats & dairy products to see if I can swing the shift from the cheaper, more conventional options.
This is a good book, very interesting & informative. Keeps your attention quite well & has a sense of humor. Worth a read

Magazine Review: Elle July 2010 - Rihanna


This issue is all inspired by musicans. Unfortunately for me, thats not something that appeals to me at all. I can appreciate fashion & beauty trends started by influential people in the music industry but as a theme, it leaves me feeling very... eh.
The only notes I ended up making were about Beauty & the Articles.
For Beauty, they had a short writeup on the popularity of blue eyeshadow (not 80s baby blue but bright teals, turquoises, etc), the Beauty Insider column was on Beyonce (guess she does her own makeup quite frequently), how long bangs (ala Zooey Dechanel) are the rock n roll hairstyle of choice & several hit musicians' beauty picks.
In Articles, Afternoon Delight (about sex hotels) & Turn On, Tune In & Drop Out (tv addiction) both stood out.
Again all of the Fashion articles/photo spreads were music inspired & themed.
Overall, it was a good issue but if you are very inspired by music, it might be a must-get.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Magazine Review: Women's Health July/August 2010 - Ashley Greene

I can't wait until I can actually start working out again. I doubt I'll stick with it long since I tend to be lazy but at least I can try. lol
Let's start with the Workouts in this issue. They have a plyometric (jumping/quick movements) workout, Master That Move: Chin Up, the 15 Minute Workout: Get Hot Legs & Reshape Your Body in Record Time (requires resistance band, stability ball, dumbbells & body bar).
For Food, Giada has a few light summer dessert recipes & there are several summer cocktail recipes along w/10 Things You Can Do with a Tomato (stuffed, granita, etc).
In the Articles, they have a page on popular supplements & how to decide if you need to take it, Label Fables (serving size misconceptions), Dry Your Eyes, Guys!, Slow Down for Hotter Sex, Escape Any Sticky Situation (taken from book by Jane Buckingham), Survive Your Doctor (how busy doctors might overlook serious concerns since women in mid 20-30s aren't a high-risk group) & Is Fidelity Obsolete?
In Beauty & Fashion, they have a page on products to even your skintone, several twisted & braided hairstyles tot ry & fashion bloggers wearing white buttondown shirts their way.

Overall, I'm on the fence about this issue. None of the workouts stood out to me (I prefer to not have to buy a lot of equiptment & I'm in a 2nd floor apt so I can't really jump around while I workout) but I did like the Twisted Sisters hair article, Label Fables & Is Fidelity Obsolete?

Food: Dark Chocolate

I have a serious sugar addiction but I've been trying to curb it to just a few squares of dark chocolate a day. Now I've tried a few different kinds of dark chocolate & figured that I would write my thoughts about them.I started with Hershey's Special Dark. Even after trying other kinds, I still like this one & it's nice how readily available it is.
Next I tried Lindt 85% Extra Dark. This has a much more bitter flavor & a chalky feel is left on your tongue.

Next was Trader Joe's Swiss Dark Chocolate 70% (lime green box by checkout). I did like this one, very smooth & not too bitter.Then I tried Ghiradelli Espresso Escape. I was hoping this would have little coffee pieces in it but instead it just had a very intense bitter flavor, not really recognizable as espresso at all. I tried 2 pieces & actually threw the rest out.
Dove Dark was next. I think this is going to be my go-to, especially since I can buy a bag of the Promises & have them easily portion-controlled. Smooth, not bitter or overly sweet. Plus options like Almonds & Tiramusu.I also tried Cadbury Dark but this one was overly sweet.


I declare DOVE DARK CHOCOLATE the winner!!!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Books: Pride & Prejudice & Zombies


Pride & Prejudice & Zombies by Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith.
"This may be the most wacky by-product of the busy Jane Austen fan-fiction industry—at least among the spin-offs and pastiches that have made it into print. In what’s described as an “expanded edition” of Pride and Prejudice, 85 percent of the original text has been preserved but fused with “ultraviolent zombie mayhem.” For more than 50 years, we learn, England has been overrun by zombies, prompting people like the Bennets to send their daughters away to China for training in the art of deadly combat, and prompting others, like Lady Catherine de Bourgh, to employ armies of ninjas. Added to the familiar plot turns that bring Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy together is the fact that both are highly skilled killers, gleefully slaying zombies on the way to their happy ending. Is nothing sacred? Well, no, and mash-ups using literary classics that are freely available on the Web may become a whole new genre. What’s next? Wuthering Heights and Werewolves? --Mary Ellen Quinn" Booklist, taken from Amazon.com

I gave up on this after about 35 pages. Haven't given up on anything in awhile so, yeah, it was pretty lame.

Books: Honolulu

Honolulu by Alan Brennert.
"Virtually the only way for a young girl such as Jin to escape the poverty, isolation, and desperation of Korea in the early twentieth century was to advertise herself as a “picture bride,” eagerly available for marriage to a presumably young, honorable fellow countryman who had already fled to the burgeoning island paradise of Hawaii. Possessed of an insatiable desire for education and an innocent sense of adventure, Jin accepts Noh’s offer, only to realize that she’s traded one form of oppression for another when she suffers physical attacks from an alcoholic husband and the psychological abuse of a chauvinistic society. Spanning more than four decades, Jin’s plaintive yet intrepid tale of spirited courage and staunch resolve is as audacious as that of the vibrant island nation whose own polyglot heritage becomes increasingly endangered as it transitions from U.S. territory to fiftieth state. Brennert’s lush tale of ambition, sacrifice, and survival is immense in its dramatic scope yet intimate in its emotive detail. --Carol Haggas --" Booklist, taken from Amazon.com

Very good book. Gives you a history/cultural lesson & really pulls you into the story. Long but very touching. It's definitely something that I would recommend reading.

Magazine Review: InStyle July 2010 - Cameron Diaz


Not as good as I have come to expect from InStyle but I guess its still worth getting. The highlights:
Fashion - Her 10 Best Ever! Megan Fox, Man of Style Stephen Moyer, cute random pieces & looks
Beauty - Heat & Humidity-proof makeup, Hot & Not Bothered(summer beauty issues like sand sticking to sunscreened skin, blotchy self-tanner, etc)
Other - 101 Reasons to Smile This Summer (wedges, teal eyeshadow/liner, the World Cup, 3 cocktail recipes, Angelina Jolie in Salt, bright lipgloss, etc) & Summer Party ice cream (twists on homemade ice cream sandwiches, gourmet sundaes).

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Stash: Lipgloss

Revlon Super Lustrous lipgloss in Cherries in the Glow, Nude Lustre, Glossy Rose, Pink Afterglow, Pink Pop, Coral Reef & Peach Petal

Rimmel Vinyl lipgloss in Delirious, Surreal & Eastend Snob

Maybelline Color Sensational lipgloss in Tangerine Tango & Sangria Sunrise

L'Oreal HIP gloss in Succulent & Plush

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Magazine Review: Self July 2010 - Anna Paquin

I'm surprised Anna Paquin hasn't been on more magazine covers. This is the 3rd season of True Blood & its quite a popular show. Her interview was interesting. She comes across as down to earth as you think she would be.
For other Articles, they have Steal His Mojo (men's attitudes towards sex, like expecting to have an O every time & getting busy even when pissed off) & Who Controls Childbirth? (talking about one women's bad hospital experience & how she's looking for alternatives for when she has her next baby).
The only two things worth mentioning for Beauty were instructions on how to do a fishtail braid & nailpolish for your star sign (I'm Taurus & they suggested a red).
For Workouts, the pullout cards were for a beach volleyball inspired with plyometric moves. Also Bikini-Ready Now (w/Vanessa Minnillo) which focused on cardio->strength->abs.
There was also the Self Healthy Food Awards. Even though I normally love those kind of articles I didn't find a single item to check out. ???

Pretty boring issue overall

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Food: Tuscan Beans


Cook 1/2 lb of dry white beans according to direction on the package but add 1 T of dry sage to the water. When beans start to get soft (I start checking them after 20m or so) add salt to the water as well. When beans are tender, drain but don't rinse. Look through them & take out any empty husks that may have come off while cooking. Add a clove or 2 of minced garlic and more S&P.
Wash & cut up 1 red pepper. Cook in pan with a bit of water until tender but still firm.
Heat up 1 package of breakfast sausages, either in a pan or in the microwave. Cut into bite size pieces.
Mix all items together, reheat if needed, serve & enjoy!

Food: Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies


Yes, I've been trying to eat healthier recently but I still have a family & so I still end up baking. These cookies are very simple but incredibly rich tasting.

1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg

Preheat oven to 375. Mix all ingredients together. Roll into 1" balls, place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press down with fork. Bake for approx 8 minutes (remember less is more with PB cookies, you don't want them to get hard when they're cooled). Cool for a minute on the baking sheet then transfer to a wire cooling rack.
Makes about 2 dozen

NOTD: Essie California Coral

Magazine Review: Allure July 2010 - Diane Kruger

Two thoughts: 1, this issue is really thin (only 120 pgs). 2, YAY finally someone *different* on a magazine cover. So many magazines just recycled the same old people. Gets boring.
I've really been wanting to see some great summer beauty ideas. Unfortunately I didn't get much from here either. They did have an article titled Summer of Sexy but the only makeup idea was to do a smoky eye with copper instead of black. Other topics were How to Flirt &, Hot Hair (loose waves), etc. Dick Page's column was about how to lighten up your makeup (formulas) for summer, switching to lip pencil & cream products, etc. Also an article titled Shiny, Happy People, about how to get that celeb body glow.
For other Articles there was Forbidden Fruits ( about developing a sense of style in a restricted religious environment), Super Ego (39 tips for projecting confidence) & Deadline Diet (diet & exercise tips for losing weight & toning if you have 10 days, 4-6 weeks or 4-6 months). The Insider's Guide included some different things this time. Stuff like mixed drinks that start with vodka & lemons, How to Bodysurf, but also Bella's (Twilight) Beauty Secrets.

Overall, it was ok. I read through it pretty fast. Not a must-buy, IMO

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Magazine Review: Glamour July 2010 - Jessica Biel


Budget issues seem to be popular this month (Lucky did one as well). I do appreciate the effort since I love low-priced finds.
The Fashion topics covered in this issue are Florals for under $50, another fashion spread with everything under $50 (& beauty under $25) & dresses for under $100. They also had a summer fashion Dos & Don't pictorial.
The Beauty topics were very lacking. They had 8 Glam Ideas for Your Hair, but none of the ideas felt very new. And a lol - one of the beauty Q's was how to wear a smoky eye without looking like an alien, but the celeb examples of how to do the look in a non-alien way looked very alien.
They have an Miniskirt Workout that looked like slight variations on popular moves (like a squat but w/a heel lift, etc).
For Articles, the topics covered were 5 Lessons I Learned from the Wrong Guy, The Hardest Words for a Guy to Say & The New Sexxed Up Office.

Overall, the issue was very eh. So far so many summer issues have been very disappointing.

Aromaleigh order

Decided to take a break from Fyrinnae & try another mineral makeup company. Here's what I'll be getting (all samples, $10 total):

Loden


Charcoal

Raisin

Dollhouse


Persian Kitten

Startle


Moth



Lupine



Prim Tweed

Mink Coat

Wonder

Entangle

Magazine Review: Cosmo July 2010 - Shakira


I had really been hoping for more summer beauty articles, etc, but every magazine has been letting me down. Maybe Allure will save the day....
Not too much to mention about any section. For Articles, there is How to Break a Toxic Love Pattern, Why More Girls are Kissing Girls & Fascinating Info ABout You (random tidbits of info. Interesting but for me, not really accurate).
Beauty, an article about how to deal with summer hair problems (frizz, limpness), What Guys Really Love About Your Looks (hair up vs down, lip color) & The Sexiest Way to Glow (self-tanners).
Very little for Fashion, just how to wear sundresses for work & play.
I'd skip this issue unless you really need the sex tips. lol

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Books: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane


The Physick Book of Deliverence Dane by Katherine Howe.
"Harvard graduate student Connie Godwin is determination personified. She will get her doctorate and find success as a historian, whether her aura-reading mother understands her bookishness or not. But first she has to contend with her tweedy adviser’s oddly urgent demands and her late grandmother’s incredibly old, long-abandoned house in Marblehead, Massachusetts. The house is cloaked in vines and stuffed with dusty old bottles and books, but its clutter yields a tantalizing scrap of paper carrying the words “Deliverance Dane.” Connie hasn’t a clue, but the reader knows, thanks to alternating chapters set in the late-seventeenth century, that Deliverance was a good woman accused of being a witch during the infamous Salem witch hysteria. Soon Connie, admirably sensible in the face of mystifying, even terrifying occurrences, zealously searches archives and libraries for healer Deliverance’s “shadow book,” while struggling to understand her own weird, new powers. Historian Howe’s spellbinding, vividly detailed, witty, and astutely plotted debut is deeply rooted in her family connection to accused seventeenth-century witches Elizabeth Howe and Elizabeth Proctor and propelled by an illuminating view of witchcraft. In all a keen and magical historical mystery laced with romance and sly digs at society’s persistent underestimation of women. --Donna Seaman" Booklist, taken from Amazon.com

When I first saw this in the store, it looked really interesting but since I don't buy anything without checking the reviews, I came home & checked Amazon. The reviews about about 4/5 stars, not super great but I knew I wanted it anyway. Got the book as soon as possible, read it right away & absolutely *loved* it. Keeping in mind, I'm an atheist who finds religious history fascinating, this book was right up my alley. Kept my attention & I finished it in 2 days. Loved that the author based most of it on historical fact.
This is a great summer read.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Food: S'Mores

I have *such* a weakness for S'Mores. I have a gas stove so I like to toast the marshmallow (using a fondue fork) over the open flame. Now obviously its not a healthy snack but when I calculated the calories, I found out that it's really not that bad.
1 graham cracker: 65 calories
1 marshmallow: 25 calories
1 mini chocolate bar: 75 calories

Total: 165 calories

So feel free to enjoy!!!!

NOTE: I buy the $1 packs of Hershey's fun-size Milk Chocolate Bars & break apart the squares so they evenly cover the cracker.

Books: Eat This, Not That: Supermarket Survivial Guide


Eat This, Not That: Supermarket Survival Guide. Since I've been on a recent health kick, its only natural that I've been trying to find whatever info I can about healthier food options. I read the 1st Eat This, Not That book but since I don't eat out all that often, it was more of a novelty than really useful. But this is exactly what I needed. Not only does it have a bunch of info about choosing healthier versions of popular foods but it also has recipes, best salad bar choices, when fruits & veggies are in season & how to pick & store them, and things to watch out for on nutrition labels.
This really is a great book. And while I would've preferred even more eat this, not that examples, I do realize that there is only so much you can fit on a page. Buy this & use it as a reference book.

Great style: Emmy Rossum

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

TV: Great summer shows

I recently gave up cable so now I have to be more picky about what I watch since I can't just fill up my DVR. We are now watching tv on the internet, with wires streaming it to the tv. Not good for time-wasting channel surfing but much cheaper than our $80+ DirecTv bill. Here are the returning summer shows that I can't wait to watch:
Burn Notice. Started June 3rd on USA but I haven't had a chance to watch the premiere yet

True Blood. Starts on June 13th on HBO.Leverage. Starts June 20th on TNT

Warehouse 13. Starts July 13th on SyFy

Psych. Starts on July 14th on USA

Mad Men. Starts July 25th on AMC

Jersey Shore. Starts July 29th on MTV. lol ok. Far from a great show but admit it. You watch it too.

Being Human. Starts July 24th on BBCAmerica