Tuesday, June 30, 2009

traveling with pets: subway fears

Our puppy, Griffin, is about as well-behaved as you can get for a nearly 5 month old pup. He doesn't wander off and get into trouble, doesn't pee/poop in secret places for us to find, and is generally a loving and playful little guy. He is, however, still a puppy, and puppies pee, poo, puke, bark, and jump at various inappropriate times. Lord only knows what I would do if Griff started puking on the train or in a cab! My question is this...what [insert choice word for 'bad person' here] felt the need to report the puking pug to the MTA authorities? I'm also confused as to why she was arrested...was it because she removed him from the bag? Was he leashed? If he was sick, why did she take him on the subway?

The complete story is here, and disgusts me! Poor woman was assaulted (with the bruises to prove it), threatened that her pug would be 'put down' (I would totally break down if this happened!), and humiliated in public. It makes me a bit fearful myself...how would I deal with this situation? Would any strangers jump in to help? How do you demand your rights (ie: a lawyer, etc.) when denied them by the people who are supposed to protect you? What would you do if your pet was taken from you in such a manner? I suppose there are more details to the story that would flesh it out, but I can't find it reported anywhere else!

*Update - This is the woman, a blogger for Huff Post. Methinks this story will get out shortly...
*Update2 - So now the cop is alleging she was saying anti-Semitic things and being difficult. Also perplexing...there are witnesses that support both sides. Hmm...
*Update3 - Apparently she may lose her job (or may have already lost it) regarding the anti-Semitic slurs she supposedly used. There are still all sorts of holes in the story, imo. Sketchy from both sides!

apple cider what?

I'm not much for diets; in fact, I think I've tried two diets in my life. The first was the Abs diet to help kickstart some weight loss after leaving my desk job and starting school; the second was me cutting carbs for a week before leaving for Mexico to attend a wedding. Both were fine (actually the low-carb diet made me grumpy and a bit sickly-looking), but I didn't feel compelled to stick with them. Anything that requires major changes in grocery-buying and food prep is a no-go in my book. I like food too much and don't like thinking so hard at the supermarket.

Enter ACV--aka Apple Cider Vinegar. I stumbled on Gigi's Gone Shopping when googling something or other for JCrew. Her before and after pics were pretty dramatic in my opinion, and she's been doing this ACV thing since the beginning of the year. It seemed pretty idiot-proof, and a minor commitment, so I decided to give it a go after some internet research (and also managed to rope Husband into it...after all, the couple that diets together...hehe).

Some notes thus far:
1) We have 1 tablespoon with about 8 oz. of water in the a.m. (soon after waking up) and in the p.m. (just before bed). He chugs, I sip. I won't lie...the taste is pretty heinous at first, but you get used to it quickly. You must ignore the pale yellow hue of the mix (ahem). I've found that the colder the water, the smoother it is.
2) We are using the Trader Joe's kind, but plan to track down Bragg brand once we're done with this bottle. Several sites have noted that it's much smoother and easier to take down. It's CRITICAL that you buy an unfiltered kind, and preferably organic. Heinz won't cut it.
3) We haven't noticed any weight loss yet (it's been nearly 4 weeks now), nor any major changes in bloat. We have both noticed decreased cravings though...I find that I don't get hunger pangs as much, nor do we get hankerings for salty or sweet things at random. I did come across one site that stated the ACV needs to be unpasteurized, which the Trader Joe's brand is not. Could be why we're not seeing the weight loss...need to update on this when we make the switch...
4) Like anything else, do some research on this. I have found sites that extol the virtues of an ACV diet, and ones that cast it as useless or even borderline harmful. I don't know about harmful; after all, how many people drown their salads in some sort of vinegar and oil on a daily basis? Regardless, I'd never take it straight (harkening back to acid burns and pH levels from AP Bio).

I know that it sounds like some crazy juice or liquid diet, but apparently it has been consumed for hundreds of years to help with all sorts of ailments. At the very least, like Gigi said, it contributes to your daily water intake. Plus, it's an experiment Husband and I doing together, which gives me warm fuzzies in a weird way. I'll keep reporting on 'the concoction' as time goes on...

Monday, June 29, 2009


Gathering @ The Apollo on the day of MJ's death

Although Michael Jackson's untimely death has been covered by every media outlet since last week, I couldn't help but add my own small tribute. I remember feeling like the coolest kid on the block when I got my Bad album on tape. I listened to it over and over on my tiny boombox in my room, until I had memorized all the words and/or had danced myself silly. Sure, he had his faults, shortcomings, questionable decisions, and life spent on the fringes, but none of that takes away from his career and what it did for everything from music to race issues around the world. His life and career would certainly make for a compelling piece on the consequences of child stardom, child abuse, alienation, race transcendence, and celebrity! I know my generation will always remember where we were when we heard the news...

2 of my fave Jackson songs, the way we'd like to remember him:

Monday, June 15, 2009

recipe review: pomegranate dream

No-Churn Pomegranate Ice Cream
Review: Minimal ingredients and the taste is unique and divine. Whisking takes a LONG time. Beware of overwhisking and curdling. Danger of slightly icy ice cream is high, but worth it.

A small piece of my heart will always be back with Ann Arbor, where I spent 4 years for college. One of my best memories comes not from friendships, but from the most amazing smoothie I've ever had, at the vegan restaurant Seva. The smoothie was an odd concoction that was oh-so-good...milk, strawberries, yogurt, bananas, and lime juice...the yogurt and lime juice were perfect complements to the sweetness and gave the whole thing a tangy kick.

This recipe originated from Nigella Lawson's Nigella Express, which has wonderful simple and yummy recipes, as well as Nigella's charm and dry wit. I wasn't about to squeeze fresh pomegranate juice, so I bought a bottle of pure juice from Whole Foods. Consequently, I did not have seeds with which to garnish the finished product as suggested, but c'est la vie. Plus, hub and I are fast eaters, and have little interest in garnishes.

*2 pomegranates, or about 3/4 cup of pure pomegranate juice (with no sugar added)
*1 lime [I would really go with a fresh lime here, rather than the bottled juice]
*1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar (ie: powdered sugar)
*2 cups heavy cream (= 1 pint)

1) Juice the pomegranates and lime into a bowl (or juice the lime and measure out about 3/4 pomegranate juice into a large bowl).

2) Add the powdered sugar and whisk until dissolved.

3) Slowly add the heavy cream as you whisk. Keep whisking until soft peaks form in the pale pink cream.
[Here is where it gets complicated. What the original recipe fails to mention is how long and agonizing it is to whisk the cream mixture...it took us nearly 20-30 minutes of on-and-off whisking. The recipe specifically calls for heavy cream, but perhaps whipping cream might have made things easier? Our hand mixer just made the cream splatter, so stick with a manual whisk. Additionally, the critical point of the mixture seems very small...we overwhisked the first batch by maybe 10 seconds and the whole thing curdled! I think the way to avoid this is stop frequently when the mixture starts to get thicker. You're going for a consistency like beaten egg whites or homemade whipped cream. We were super cautious and underwhisked our second batch...probably why it is slightly icy.]

4) Spoon and smooth into an airtight container and freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight.
[Better to freeze overnight. We were woken up at 3am by Griff to potty...while hub was stumbling his way downstairs with the pup, I peeked at the ice cream we made at 10pm and it was still pretty jiggly and loose in the center.]

5) Optional: Scatter with pomegranate seeds to garnish and enjoy.

The last time I dined at Seva was just before graduation during my senior year of college. It had been a while because I had lived clear across campus for 2 years. Imagine my shock to learn that they had gotten rid of the smoothie menu. For shame! Thankfully, I now have this recipe to bring back that light, creamy, fruity yet tangy taste I loved so much.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

review: i dew!

DDF Ultra-Lite Oil-free Moisturizing Dew SPF 15
Retail:  $40 for 1.7 oz. 
Review:  A wonderful moisturizer+spf option for combination and oily, as well as sensitive skins.  Smooth, light texture.  Does not cause breakouts.  Travel-friendly size. 

Yes, I've decided to add product reviews here in addition to clothing reviews.  It probably won't happen often...only when I truly feel the need to sing the praises of something I've found [by the way - the reviews on MakeupAlley.com and Sephora.com are pretty comprehensive].  So why the Dew?  Long story short, I suffered from breakouts and acne for years.  It wasn't severe, but I was never completely clear, and always felt self-conscious about my face.  As I progressed through my 20s, things went from bad to worse (most likely due to hormonal changes).  Shortly after we got married, I switched to hub's far better health insurance and made a dermatologist appointment here in the city.  She took one look at my face, and prescribed a battery of stuff to wage acne war.  Oral antibiotics to get rid of bacteria beneath the skin, a topical antibiotic for the a.m., and Differin [a mild retinol that has changed my skin...more on that some other time] for the p.m.  Retinols and oral antibiotics each contribute to extreme sun sensitivity, so Dr. implored me to use a sunscreen by day.  

Problem is, I've never had luck with finding a good spf-containing moisturizer.  I've tried everything from Clinique, Shiseido, Olay, Dior...nothing felt right on my sensitive skin.  Enter DDF's Ultra-Lite Oil-free Moisturizing Dew SPF 15.  I had tried the non-spf version years ago, and found it too light of a gel moisturizer...even for my oily-in-the-summer skin.  The new SPF version, though, is the perfect texture and weight for me in the summer.  If you have tried the classic gel version, this one is much more opaque, with a creamy texture and without the typical sunscreen smell.  It provides just enough moisture, and so far (about 1 month now), has not caused breakouts nor irritation and redness.  I am committed to Dior's Sorbet Creme for fall/winter, but I may have just found my holy grail spring/summer moisturizer.  Head to Sephora for a sample, and see what you think!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

review: huzzah for the gizeh

Birkenstock 'Gizeh'
Color: Black patent Birko-flor
Retail: around $80
Review: Runs a full size large. Color is true. Birko-flor is soft and comfy.
I've been eyeing these for over a year now! It all began when I saw a Tory Burch sandal of the same style...I waited and waited for them to go on sale, and eventually missed out completely. Admittedly, I was a tad hesitant to go to the Birkenstock brand, not-so-fondly recalling the grunge and hippie trends of my middle school years, when the cool kids had the Birks they rocked with their flannel shirts and leggings. I remember begging my parents for a pair, and when I finally got them as a birthday gift (the classic two-strap in a tan suede), everyone had, of course, moved on to Converse, and mine were relegated to being house shoes.

Anyway, I've been researching these for nearly a year, not wanting to pay full-price and also totally confused by sizing. As most reviews on zappos.com say, this sandal runs a full size big. It also comes in leather, suede, and something called Birko-flor (leather-like material, which is not quite pleather). I ordered mine from Macys. We have a ton of gift card cash to still spend from wedding gifts. Plus, they had free shipping and an additional discount on fragrance purchases this past weekend...we both bought new Bulgari and I got the Birks!

Ordered on Sunday night, received everything by Wednesday. Holy fast standard shipping! I'm a true size 7 in most brands, and ordered a Women's 6 in a medium width (equivalent to a Eur 37, according to the box). They fit perfectly after some buckle adjustment. The footbed is stiff, but should break in and mold beautifully. The Birko-flor has a nice, chic finish to it, and some sort of soft material on the underside (this is lacking on the true leather Gizeh...people often complain of chafing against the skin). They aren't as streamlined as some of the other sandals out there, but I could definitely wear them all day when walking around (more than I could say for my Havaianas flip-flops or Tory Burch Ali sandals!) These periodically go on sale, so keep an eye out, or at least purchase with a code!

review this!

Online message boards have been so helpful to me over the years. Most that are fashion-related include threads with reviews on clothing, clothing lines, fit guides, and even pictures of people's new purchases. These are invaluable tools for the online shopper. These days, vanity sizing and reverse vanity sizing ensure that a size 4 in Juicy Couture will not fit like a size 4 in JCrew. Furthermore, it can be tricky trying to visualize a piece on anyone other than the rail thin models so often used by online stores. When I was living in Baltimore, it was tough to find certain clothing lines to even try on...the city isn't exactly a mecca for shopping, and the mall was nearly 20 miles away. Even in New York, sometimes I'm just too lazy to venture out for a shopping trip. And lest I forget the most important part...95% of the time you can find a better deal online than in-store. With the recession hitting hard, coupon codes (I check retailmenot.com before any online purchases), free shipping offers (and often no sales tax), and sitewide sales to clear inventory, a deal can be had at every computer click.

I can't lie and say that I'll post every coupon code and sale I find. That's what Google is for. But I can post reviews of items I do find and purchase (both online and in-store), and link to other sites that post reviews I have found helpful. Anything for my fellow smart shoppers!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

i must confess...i still believe

Possibly the best news I've gotten all month. Britney's added more tour dates! And just as I'd originally hoped, she's actually coming to the Garden this time, instead of just through NJ. Tix go on sale June 19, and you better believe I'm buying as soon as they do!

To tide me over until I have tix in hand, I'll continue to listen to Unusual You on repeat. I love when she dabbles in more of an techno-y sound, which she did with Breathe on Me from In the Zone and the lesser known And Then We Kiss from B in the Mix: The Remixes. Even Radar from the infamous Blackout has that electronica feel (if you're really in a fun mood, take a listen to Toy Soldier from the same album).

Monday, June 8, 2009

color this, color that

I've never been one to care about what colors would work best for me. I tend to wear what I like (green!) and what I'm comfy in (black and grey!) That sort of changed for me last week, when I tried on a top I'd been eyeing online. I realize it has the dreaded elastic hem, but F21 claims it's silk and it reminds me of an outfit I loved on Hilary Duff from TRL many moons ago. I know, I know...elastic hem, Hilary Duff...TRL?!? Stay with me here...

So I first tried on the green, which I had intended to purchase. Very pretty jewel tone, and the fit was actually decent and true to size. For kicks, I tried on the magenta, which I only grabbed because there were 3 left on the rack, next to the entire full row of green (anyone else do this as well?) Anyway, I tried it on, and WHOA. My cheeks popped, my skin glowed, and I felt fabulous. I don't own a single thing in magenta...the closest is a hot pink JCrew tunic, but now I am obsessed with the potential here. I ran home and researched colorprinting and warm vs. cool skin tones. I still haven't figured it out, but here are a few great links to get me started...

*Update (July 20th) - So I think I concluded that I'm technically a cool...I tried a new foundation that had yellow undertones (the one with pink undertones did not work on me at all). This confuses me, because the above magenta color really does make my skin glow. I'm officially confused!

it's the little things

Everyone has those personal simple pleasures in life.  They make you smile and brighten the day just a little.  Here are a few of mine:

Frozen Grapes
Cheap to make and can substitute for sorbet on any hot summer day.  I prefer mine super frozen, but I know most people go for the semi-frozen state.  Best of all, you can make them year round!

Fill 'em with your pup's favorite treats (or in our case, his dinner), and let them go to town trying to get all the food out.  Each stuffed kong gives us approximately 15 minutes of peace and quiet from our pup...freezing them garners about 5-10 more minutes.  It's also incredibly adorable to see your pup chasing and pawing at the rolling kong. 

Mister Softee
A sign of summer that can be found on virtually every other street corner when the temp breaks 70.  So cheap ($1.50 per cone with topping) too!  I never stray from the vanilla cone with chocolate sprinkles. 

The Impression That I Get
By the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.  This is my happy song; it takes me back to feeling carefree and young in high school. 

Nothing says lazy Sunday to me more than a stack of pancakes drowning in butter and syrup.  I love plain, banana, chocolate chip, pumpkin...actually, I've never met a pancake I didn't like.  I make the healthy whole wheat version at home, add some vanilla extract and baking splenda to the batter for extra fluffy pancakes.  And the look on hub's face when he gets the first taste of a fresh batch is just priceless.