Saturday, February 28, 2009

February Wrap up...

February was an “ok” month in terms of my goals. I achieved 1 goal- goal #85- follow a face regimen every day for a month. The skincare goal went REALLY well! I followed the skincare plan that I described in 2 other blogs. I feel like my pores are getting smaller, my skin is getting softer and smoother and the chemical peel might actually help minimize the dark marks. Most importantly I think the skincare goal actually achieved the purpose that I hoped ALL the goals would achieve; taking things that I know I should do for myself and make them a routine part of my life. I really enjoyed the process. It wasn’t difficult and taking the time to go through all 3 steps every morning and night really reinforced the idea that I am worth the time and effort to do stuff like this. May sound corny, but it was really great for me….

So here are the goals that actually had some movement in February (started, continued or failed :-p)
4.) Acquire >2 songs per month for 6 months (2/6)- FAILED! Looks like I’m starting over again. For some reason this is hard… I think I need to make it a point to get out more to listen to music (live or not). I don’t even hear 2 songs per month that I would be interested in having… I know good music is out there… I need to make more of an effort to get to it.

10.) Make 100 new recipes (13/100) Made 3 new recipes this month: a GREAT chicken Tortilla Soup, a kind of nasty White wine, Kale and Pork soup, and my remake of the Shrimp Provencal.

13.) Try 50 foods or types of cuisine I haven't tried (8/50) I tried 3 new things this month; oysters, bone marrow and pigeon. I found the oysters to be… interesting, the bone marrow was kind of booger-y and not that exciting and the pigeon was pretty tasty.

34.) Blog on my 101 90% of the days (40/901) 10 times in February… that’s about 36% of the time.

55.) Go to the gym 500 times (0/400) February was actually a pretty good month in terms of working out. I'm getting back into the swing of routinely hitting the gym... but unfortunately I didn't mark down the number of times I went. I'm pretty sure I'm not going to hit the 400 mark, but starting in March I'm going to actually start documenting when I work out.

Here are the goals that I had planned to start/continue in February…. But didn’t... :-(
20.) Watch all the movies that have won Best Picture since I’ve been alive. (1/25)
31.) Read 6 non-fiction books (0/6)
39.) Be on time or early for everything for a month (0/30)
50.) Drink 1.5 liters of water per day for 2 months (0/60)
56.) Complete 50 military push-ups
35.) Go to bed with all clothing hung and no clothing on bed, floor, etc for 45 days (0/45)
87.) Leave no dishes in the sink overnight for 1 month (0/30)
88.) Make bed every day for 1 month (0/30)

Building on what I learned from my skincare goal (I do better when I can physically see the results of my work) I’m going to try something a little different for March…. More to come soon.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Really Mayor Grose.... really?

So in WTF news of the day, I was scrolling through my Google Reader (thanks Janet!) and came across this story... Apparently Mayor Dean Grose of Los Alamitos California decided it would be cute to email this picture with the title "No Easter Egg hunt this year."

.... Really Mayor Grose? Watermelons? I don't know if I'm more upset with the poor photoshopping, the racist-ness, or the stupidity of an elected official emailing this picture... Either way Mayor Grose is Mayor no more.

Dumb ass...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Goodbye Slum!... minus one

So there's been a bit of an uproar about the treatment of the kids that starred in Slumdog Millionaire. I believe the kids that played the child versions of the main characters of the movie were actually residents of the slum where the movie was filmed. Reports have stated that they weren't adequately compensated (movie reps stated that they were paid "above local Indian wages") and despite the success of the film they are still residing in the slum...

Well the Indian government has graciously decided to purchase new houses for the Slumdog Kids... wait... for only TWO of the Slumdog kids... the 2 that played the child versions of the "main" characters "Jamal" and "Latika". According to the Indian government those 2 actors have brought "laurels" to the country..... Uh weren't there 3 main kids in this movie? Jamal, Latika and Jamal's Brother Salim.... WTF happened to his house? Maybe Salim's character didn't bring "laurels" to the country since he was a jackass kid who pushed his brother into a hole filled with runny poop and was the mastermind behind all of the swindling and general mischief that they 2 got into, but damn! He was playing a character! It's not like he personally pushed someone into a pile of shit and stole tourist's money. WTF?!? I honestly think that kid stole the movie. He was my fav by FAR! And how shitty will that be for him when he's busily scavenging for breakfast in the local landfill and sees his slum friends roll by in their new Landcruisers on their way to their new houses with their non-landfill breakfast... Damn...

But honestly why is it the Indian government's job to buy these kids houses? I mean, while I think all 3 should get houses, kudos to the government for doing anything, but where the fluck is Danny Boyle?!? He made a little movie that was originally going to go straight to video and now he is going to make MILLIONS on this movie. I would understand more if he wasn't going to make any money on the movie then maybe he could have been given a pass, but come ON! It's just common decency to share the wealth with the people that helped create it. If nothing else the filmmakers/production company should at least set aside a few 100,000 for each kid to receive when they come of age and ensure that they are in school. But apparently they don't feel that's the responsibility.

Argh... This angers me. I think we should start a campaign to at LEAST get the third kid a house. Who's with me?!?

ETA: Apparently Danny and co have set up a trust fund has been set up using some of the movie's almost 200 MILLION dollars in profit... But it looks like the trust fund is also just for the 2 kids. Am I missing something here? Maybe the 3rd kid isn't from the slum.... SMDH

Edited AGAIN to add that houses and the trust fund will go to the kids that played Salim and Latika, not Jamal and Latika... Perhaps the kid playing Jamal (the real Main character) isn't from the slum... it's sounding a bit better... but still a bit sketchy IMO

Spring/Summer/Miami Slutatious Fashion...

As some of you know, I'm heading up to Miami this April to celebrate my dirty 30th birthday! I planning on looking hot and maybe a little slutacious throughout the entire trip (stilettos at the pool, thong bikini, the whole 9...)

Since this is my blog and I can do what I want, I'm decided to post a few pics of ideas for Dirty 30 looks... I'm posting these mainly so I can remember things that I've seen and liked, but feel free to post comments, links etc for other looks that you think are cute :-)

Here's a few...
I like the look in the picture to the left... the crotch grabbing pink teddy number...... maybe good for a night out?

SIKE... (heh heh I said "Sike")

I do like the high waisted mini, simple tank top and long necklace look... Cute look for a night out in Miami, or a night out in NYC.... I'm not so sure about the booties... I like them with the look, but I feel like my feet will get hot or something :-/

Love this little dress! Love the frills! Love the color... (although I think it would look better on my skin than Kim K's)... just love it. Definintely a little too conservative for Miami.. I'm not really sure where I would wear this? Maybe a wedding? Maybe a really nice date? Very cute...

In terms of accessories, I really love those full finger rings... Not the crazy claw things that Beyonce's been wearing, but I really like the Gold one in the pic... Very cute.... And I really need to get more accessories for Goal # 42

Ok that's all for now.... :-)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I LOVE What's wrong with Chips and Salsa? A carrot cake muffin isn't bad for you... it's got CARROT in it! But it says low-fat

1. Look at the ingredient list... Ideally there shouldn't be an ingredient list... but if there is one, the fewer ingredients the better. What do I mean "there shouldn't be an ingredient list"... ideally the majority of your diet should consist of whole foods...
2. Size matters... serving size that is... 1st thing Service Size and number of servings
3. Stay out of the Isles
4. Just because it says "Low fat, organic, Healthy or Whole grain" on the package don't make it so. Ignor the buzzwords.. all natrual isn't good... cyanide and arsnic are all natural...
5. the salt shaker isn't the devil.... But your hot sauce may be.
6. Fiber is your friend (at least 3 grams per serving)
7. Fat won't necessarily make you fat... but low fat/fat free foods may. (Flavored yogurt... add your own fruit.)
8. EVERYTHING in moderation
9. Your vitamins shouldn't come sprinkled on your cereal or in your soft drink.

Juice isn't healthy

Monday, February 23, 2009

Clear skin WILL BE MINE!!!! (clear skin challenge part deux)

Ok... given that the original product choices in my 30-day skin makeup produced less then stellar results, I decided to switch up the program a bit and bring in some heavier artillery.

As I described previously, the initial plan was to use the Clinique 3-step Acne Solutions program which included a foaming cleanser, a clarifying "lotion", and moisturizer for acne prone skin. I soon found out the "moisturizer" turned my skin into a flaky, raw mess so I decided to go with an oldie but goodie for my moisturizer; Origin's "Have a Nice Day", and I threw in a deep pore masque just for good measure...

The results after 25+ days of consistent use were not negligible, but not spectacular either. I think the foaming cleanser did an ok job at cleaning my skin and preventing breakouts, but it wasn't "great". A couple pimples still managed to break through, especially during that "special" time of the month... As I type this, I have a little annoying sucker on my chin... argh. So honestly I have to give the cleanser a B/B-. It was OK, but nothing to write home about. I decided to try a new cleanser this month- Murad Clarifying Cleanser. I heard great things about this one as well... so we'll see if it fares better than the Clinque.

I really liked the clarifying lotion. It has exfoliating powder, and I feel like it did help tighten and shrink my pores and produce a smoother appearance. I got a ton of compliments this past month on my skin (from people who hadn't seen the blog :-p) All of those compliments occurred when I had foundation on, so it's not like my own skin looked extraordinary, but I believe the tightening of my pores and general smoothing and softening of my skin helps my makeup go on more smoothly.

Re: the Origin's products... I've been an Origin's use for a long time. I'm not sure exactly what benefit I am getting from the deep pore cleansing mask that I do 2x a week, but honestly I just kind of like doing it... it looks cool... I feel like I'm really doing something, and it definitely hasn't hurt. My pores are smaller and my skin is less dull. I also don't know if the "Have a nice day" is the best moisturizer on the market, but it's VERY potent... a little goes a LONG way and I've never had a problem with it so for now it's a keeper.

Next steps... Getting rid of this daggone mother flucking dark marks! UGH I hate them! My skin is softer, my pores are tightening, but you can't have perfect baby butt skin with dark marks... Gabby ain't got no dark marks. So I went out and got a very highly rated, (and fairly expensive) at home chemical peel kit today. It's a 2 step process from Philosophy called the micro delivery peel. The first step is to rub these vitamin C crystals into your dry skin... you're supposed to rub them for about a minute. After you rub your face with the citric acid you add the activating gel which is made of lactic and salicylic acid... the addition of the activating gel should cause the citric acid crystals to heat up and foam, and apparently eat off the yucky top layer of your skin... YES!

I am very excited about this.

I read tons of reviews and people seem to notice a difference even after the very first application. I'm going to try and do this once a week....

so this is my new skincare routine
Daily (am/pm) :
Cleanse am/pm with Murad Clarifying Cleanser
Tone/Exfoliate with Clique Clarifying Lotion
Moisturize with Origin's "Have a nice day" cream

Origin's Activated Charcoal deep pore masque

Philosophy Microdelivery chemical peel

I've spent entirely too much money on my face during this process.... If this doesn't work, I'm just going to throw in teh towel and go back to coating my face with Palmer's Cocoa butter and embrace the impending cystic acne.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Curly Tail's first meetup

Leroy and I had a GREAT time at Curly Tail Pug Rescue's first meetup on Saturday. The meetup was at Happy Paws, which is a pet boutique and also offers dog boarding and doggie daycare. We were expecting over 60 pugs. I think about 40-50 actually showed up. It always amazes me how different the puggies look. You'd think they'd all kind of look alike since pug are either all black or fawn, silver, apricot (It's hard for me to tell the difference between those last 3 though :-/).

Leroy and I always have fun at the meetups, but this one was really special because a couple of the people that adopted dogs from the rescue actually brought their dogs to the meetup. It was really touching to see how happy the dogs were! I had personal experience with one dogs that came back, Sunny (previously "Tyson"). I talked about Tyson in one of my posts about Bruno my foster pug. He was surrendered in front of my house and him and Bruno went to a vet visit together. When Tyson was surrendered he had a HORRIBLY ulcerated eye. It was awful. He was crazy hyper, had stinky breath and bad gas. When he went home with Nicole, his foster mom, he jumped on the bed and peed on her... yes ON top of her. Tyson had to have his eye removed and Nicole worked REALLY hard around the clock for the next month or so on keeping his other eye medicated so he wouldn't have to lose that one as too.... Well Tyson/Sunny was at the meetup and he looked SO GREAT! I almost cried when I saw him. His coat was shiny. He was calm. He had an adorable blue argyle sweater on. You could tell how well he was being cared for. His new mom was AWESOME. I loved her! And she lives in Brooklyn. If I hadn't seen him, I would have had NO idea he was the same dog. It was really beautiful.

Another dog, Teddy, was also at the meetup. Teddy was one of the puppy mill rescues. I had never met Teddy in person, I just facilitated the adoption partly via email. Teddy was a BEAUTIFUL pug. One of the nicest looking male pugs I've seen. And he looked SO happy and secure sitting on his new owner's lap. He was shaking and definitely too nervous to get down and run around with all of the pugs, but just knowing that he had someone who loved him and that his life had turned around so completely since his time in the puppy mill really made me happy for him and proud of the work that I do for the rescue.

It really was a beautiful afternoon. Hopefully I'll have pictures up soon.... But just to tide you over (all 3 of you :-p) Here's another pic of Leroy going down the slide at Happy Paws!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Shrimp Provencal... take 1

Last night I tried my hand at a re-make of the delicious shrimp dish that Saba had at Blue Ribbon Restaurant in NYC. I've actually been kind of trying to figure out what was in this recipe since last week (I'm a dork, I know), so making it yesterday was kind of exciting. I talked about the dish in detail in the last posting, so I won't do it again (trying to make these more succinct), but the overall flavor of the sauce was pretty interesting to me, and I really didn't have any idea what the components were so... Chall-ange!

The first thing I did was just do an Internet search for Shrimp Provencal recipe to see if anything came up. Hey! I didn't say I needed to create it from scratch... just figure out what was in it:-p No luck with that. :-p

The next thing I did was to do an ingredient search on epicurious and the food network site to see if I could find anything with the ingredients that I thought I tasted, shrimp, butter, cream and fennel and cheese ravioli. From that little search I initially thought maybe it was a sort of Mornay Sauce which is a Bechamel sauce with added cheese, but I didn't remember tasting any cheese in the sauce.. somehow through a random series of searches I came across a recipe for a Lobster Ravioli in a Chervil Nage. I'd never heard of a "Nage", but the picture looked very much like the shrimp Provencal sauce and the ingredients seemed promising. Saba was pretty sure that the primary herb was tarragon and that there was no cheese in the sauce. I asked my boss (who is very food knowledgeable, and shares an office with me) some questions about fennel bulb (which I rarely cook with), and she mentioned that fennel bulb tastes much like anise when cooked, which was one of the flavors that I initially thought i tasted. So it looked like I was making a Tarragon infused nage sauce. Yay! I actually found quite a few recipes for Tarragon nage sauces, so I figured I was on the right track, but Emeril's nage recipe seemed more complex so I figured I'd pretty much use that one, but sub the tarragon for the chervil. I decided against making homemade ravioli, because I just couldn't do all that on Saturday. I thought there was goat cheese in the ravioli, but Saba thought it was just ricotta... I found a goat cheese ravioli at Whole Foods that had Ricotta as it's first ingredient so I decided to just use those. Here is the recipe I decided to use...

1.5 onion
3 carrots
1 lemon, juiced
1.5 leeks (white part only)
1.5 shallots
3 sprigs tarragon
3 springs parsley
½ tsp coriander seeds
6 peppercorns (or 1 tsp)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon salt
1 lb shrimp
1 bulb fennel fronds and upper stems reserved
3 tablespoons minced tarragon
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon lemon zest

I first made a "stock" out of all the the veges and spices (Onions down to Salt). I then threw the shrimp skins in with the veggies. The initial recipe called for the lobster shell to be simmered in the stock. I simmered that for about 30 min. I cooked the shrimp in a butter with only kosher salt and black pepper. I cooked the shrimp only until it started to get pink in the center and then set it aside. When the "stock" had simmered for about 20 min I strained all the solids out and then added the fronds of fennel and boiled it on high.... According to the recipe I was supposed to boil it until the gallon of water reduced to 2-3 cups... but I had a hungry friend over who was getting drunker, hungrier and more belligerent by the moment so I figured I needed to get some food on the table, STAT! I just took 2+ cups of stock out and started to make the nage. The instructions for the nage said to bring the stock to a simmer and add the chopped tarragon, cream, butter and lemon zest, stir and remove from the heat.

So... I finished the sauce and it looked REALLY watery and was kind of bland, so I decided to add some flour to thicken it up... didn't help much. I added more salt and pepper and it helped a bit, but it was still really watery. But my girl was hungry, so I put it all on the plate and we ate. This is what it looked like:

Honestly I really liked it. In terms of mimicking the flavor I recalled I give myself a solid C+ The flavor of the sauce was similar, but it wasn't nearly as potent/flavorful as the original. Also it was WAY WAY too watery. The sauce didn't stick to the shrimp or the ravioli.. They just sort of swam in the butter/cream.

Next time I think I'm going to start with a vegetable broth instead of water. Maybe use less than a gallon of veggie broth with the same amount of vegetables to make the stock and let it reduce down to the 2-3 cups to make a more potent broth. I will also let the stock with the shrimp shells simmer for a little longer 30-35 min and add a bit more tarragon and actually add the coriander. Made a cream of asparagus soup for Christmas that had a lot of coriander and I think that was really one of the flavors that was missing. Saba said she tasted rosemary... I'm not sure if I missed the taste of rosemary, but maybe next time I'll add some rosemary to the chopped up tarragon.

Also I have to figure out how to thicken the sauce... maybe I'll start with a roux? Maybe I'll just use less stock?

Also I discovered how useful shrimp shells are! I ate some of the boiled out vegetables and you could REALLY taste the flavor of the shrimp shells in the vegetables. I think I'll start saving my shrimp shells. I know people use them to start sauces for risotto, bisque's, etc. I never really thought of it, but it really does make a big difference to the depth of flavor.

So overall I give the entire dish a C/C+ I give it a C+ for overall flavor, a B+ for the shrimp, but a D+ for the wateryness of the sauce.

If anyone has any suggestions about thickening the sauce, please let me know. I'm going to try this again in a few weeks.... it's a bit too rich to be eating all the time. :-p

Monday, February 16, 2009

Deliciousness at Blue Ribbon (beef marrow and piegon, yummm!)

My dinner club compadres Del, Saba and Juan, and I headed out to Blue Ribbon Restaurant in SoHo last night for our "monthly" dinner club celebration. I had heard about this restaurant from my friend Keith who generally has excellent taste in restaurants so I was really excited to give it a try especially since there were so many strange/interesting things on the menu. (Double click on the picture to the left to see the full menu! ;-p)

Going into the meal I was initially interested in the Sweetbreads or the Pigeon because.... well because they were weird and I like to try new things.... no matter how nasty they sound...

Our meal: Starters:
Oysters: I have never had an oyster, so when the waiter said that you could get a single oyster for $3.50 I thought, what the hell lemme try and oyster while I'm here. We all decided to get one and take them as a kind of "pre-dinner" shot. :-p The oysters came with 4 sauces, one was just basic shrimp cocktail sauce, the 2nd was a balsamic vinegar based sauce and the third seemed like a tomatillo lime sauce. I opted for the balsamic vinegar... poured a bit on my oyster and slid the sucker down my throat.... It was cool.... chewy... very fresh and clean and balsamic-y. The oyster tasted like nothing. It was amazing. I don't think I've ever in my life tasted a food so devoid of taste. It didn't taste like salt water, it didn't have any type of a seafood taste... it was just pure, chewy, fresh nothingness. It was kind of nice actually. It was an interesting sensation to eat something that really tasted like nothing at all. I would probably eat oysters again.... although I'm not really sure why. They get a B :-p

Bone Marrow and Oxtail Marmalade:
For starters, Del and I knew we were going to get the Beef Marrow and Oxtail Marmalade. I had never had "prepared" bone marrow before.... I mean I've sucked some marrow out of a bone at dinner on occasion, but never thought to scrape it out and fry it up before hand. Del, of course, had had bone marrow before and was very excited. The presentation of the marrow was BEAUTIFUL. The marrow was presented in 3 hollowed out, blanched bones and surrounded by the oxtail marmalade and some tasty grilled sourdough bread. The oxtail itself wasn't too too flavorful... it was just like pure fat, not really what I was expecting... It also had kind of a lumpy, booger-ish consistency. I definitely wouldn't say I DISliked it, but I'm not sure if I like it that much. The Oxtail marmalade on the other hand was AWESOME! It was little chunks of oxtail in a slightly sweet orange sauce... YUMMMM and the bread was hella good too. Overall I give that app a A-, but that grade is more for the oxtail and the bread then the actual marrow.

Saba and Juan had some REALLY delicious ribs. There were 4 ribs in the order and they came with some crispy Asian style chips and a spicy mustard and sweet (chili maybe?) dipping sauce. The ribs also had a cool presentation, along side the ribs was a little fire pit/grill and you were supposed to grill the ribs for a few seconds before eating to caramelize the sauce. The fire pit was a bit dangerous.... we had a lot going on our table and I really thought I was going to lose a braid to the pit and Saba has a history of setting herself on fire, so we all a little bit weirded out by the fire pit. Nevertheless, the ribs were OUTstanding. I think I'll get those as an app next time I go back. :-) Ribs get an A

- My dish was the pigeon of course. I was actually really against the pigeon until I asked my boss if she'd had pigeon and she looked at me like, "hasn't everyone?" and I saw last week's episode of Top Chef where the guest judge asked for "Squab and Peas" as his last meal. I looked up Squab and lo and behold squab= pigeon! If it's good enough for Jacques Pepin, it's good enough for me. (Just to clarify, the pigeon that was served was not the run of the mill NYC flying street rat, but a breed of domesticated pigeons bred specifically for food. Pigeon meat generally comes from young pigeons less than a month old.)

The pigeon was pretty daggone tasty, Thankfully my dish was only the pigeon legs/thigh, not the full pigeon, or I might have been a little freaked out. The pigeon legs were actually pretty meaty and they were served on a bed of barley and mashed sweet potato with a rich brown sauce. The pigeon had a decidedly "poultry" taste... it tasted kind of like dark meat chicken with the fattiness of duck and it had a bit of a liver taste to it as well. Overall I liked it. I feel like it could have been seasoned better. The taste of the meat was fine, but I feel like the execution of the dish wasn't really up to par of the Shrimp or the Hangar steak. I was pleasantly surprised that Saba tried some of the pigeon. I gave her a little piece, that she ate half of, but I give her a high 5 for trying it! :-) The picture above isn't my dish, but that's what the pigeon looked like.

-Del got the Hanger Steak with wild mushrooms and onion rings. The steak was REALLY juicy and the mushrooms were delicious. I can't really describe the taste of the sauce because I didn't eat that much, but it was TASTY.

-Juan got the Lobster, which was an entire BEAUTIFUL, little lobster with a side of corn on the cob and a baked potato. The dish looked SO fresh. The lobster was perfectly pink, and the corn perfectly yellow. The lobster was delicious also. I've only had lobster (like in the shell) a few times and none of them tasted like this. The flavor of the lobster was really intense and clean, like it wasn't marred by the flavor of the refrigerator, or freezer that it was kept in... i was just a really clean, pure tasting lobster... yummm.....

-Saba got the Shrimp Provencal with cheese ravioli. Just looking at the description of the dish it seemed really boring and I would never have chosen it for myself, but honestly it was my favorite dish of the night. When I think of Provencal, especially with cheese ravioli, I think of a tomato-y, garlicy, white-wine type sauce... which just seemed really boring compared to all the other stuff on the menu. In actuality, the sauce was REALLY complex... There was no tomato in the sauce, it seemed like a butter based sauce (maybe?) and at first I thought I tasted a bit of an Asian 5-spice type flavor, (fennel, cloves, cinnamon and anise), but it didn't really seem too sweet. In the end I think it was only fennel I was tasting... The sauce was AMAZING! And the ravioli... .Usually when you bite into Ravioli you get that kind of firm, pasty filling... Not this Ravioli... the filling was creamy and delicious... when you bit into it the strong, garlicy ricotta, poured out into your mouth mingling with the sauce in a sexy tango :-p OK I'll stop, but that mess was tasty! I think I'll try and re-create that this week.

Dessert: For desert we shared had the Chocolate Bruno which was sooo flucking tasty. It was a flourless chocolate cake served with a little ice cream and chocolate drizzling. Soooo goood. The cake was uber rich (just like a good flourless cake should be), warm and delicious. The ice cream was tasty too, but the dish was definitely about the cake... I have to try a flourless chocolate cake. My friend Anabela made one once for a birthday party and it was fantastic.

So all and all I have to say Blue Ribbon was one of my top 5 dining experiences in New York and unfortunately it had the price tag to match. Everything was just flavored and prepared expertly. I will definitely be going back.

N :-)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Clear skin in 30 days? (day 15)

Hey Y'all...

I started my clear skin challenge on Feb 1. It's Feb, so I'm officially 15 days in. Just as a reminder, my toolkit for clear skin is the Clinique 3 step system for acne prone skin, Origin's "Have a Nice Day" moisturizer, and Origin's "Clear Improvement" masque for deep pore cleaning once a week.

The actual "goal" was to keep up a skincare regimine for a full 30 days. So far I've been doing great and it's been really easy. My "regimine" was just to wash, exfoliate and moisturize 2x per day and do a pore cleansing masque once per week. I stopped using the moisturizer from the 3 step kit because it made my skin dry (weird huh?). What's been really odd is the exfoliator is just a liquid with some powder on the bottom. You shake it up to disperse the powder and then wipe it on like you would a toner. I guess the new age exfoliators are like micro granuals... it's a big change from the St. Ives Apricot Scrub days. :-p

So far it's been simple as pie. I think it's been easy because I've been seeing improvement in my skin. It seems to be clearer and tighter. I'm still having some issues with the dark marks, but those even seem to be fading a little bit... Here's a comparison from day 1 (Day 1 is on the left)

Hmm... LOL the pictures aren't that compelling LOL. Although I still think that my skin looks much clearer than it did a month ago. Oh well I'll try again at the end of the month.

Right now I'm more focused on the dark spots. I still haven't really found a good spot remover or chemical exfoliator, but I'm working on it. If anyone has any tips/suggestions please let me know. As of right now I've been hearing really good things about MD Skincare Alpha Beta Facial Peel. It's a bit pricey, so I'm not sure when I'm going to start it... but when I do I'll put up some more pics. :-)


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Get your butt ready for bikini bottoms! (Fitness move of the week/month)

The move of the week (or month… let’s be truthful here about my ability to update this thing) is..... the Reverse Lunge and Lift!

Major Muscles worked: Gluteus Maximus, Quadriceps

Supporting Muscles: Hamstrings, Adductor magnus (inner thigh) Erector Spinae (worked during the kick and to stabilize), Abs (mainly to stabilize)

Equipment Needed: Dumbbells or just body weight.

Hardness Rating: 2 out of 4 dumbbells

I came across this move in the most recent issue of Oxygen (March 2009). They had a little mini section on building a better butt. I’ve incorporated a few into my leg workout but this is the one that I found worked the most muscles, and was the most effective (ie I felt it the most) while requiring only minimal equipment. The basic exercise is a series of back lunges (ie instead of stepping forward into a lunge –the kind you would do for walking lunges—you step backward keeping the front foot anchored on the ground.) but instead of bringing your rear leg back to the starting position you do a little glute kick and then go directly back into the lunge.

Here are the instructions from Oxygen

Set up: Stand with your knees slightly bent and hold a pair of dumbbells at your side.

Take a large step to the rear with your right foot. Bend both knees, keeping your front knee over your toes and centering your weight between both feet. When your front thigh is parallel to the floor, push off your right foot and straighten your left leg while simultaneously lifting your right leg straight behind you, with your hips square and level, squeezing your glute. Bring your legs back together to complete one rep. Continue alternating sides

Proper form for the lunge is shown in the picture. When doing the lunge your thigh should be parallel to the ground and your thigh and shin should form a 90 degree angle. I tend to think this is the most important part of the exercise in terms of form. You can put a lot of strain on your knees when you do squats and lunges incorrectly, so please pay attention to form.

Please see the video below for a demonstration of the move. The fitness model in the magazine has her leg lifted really high in the glute lift.... My leg will not be lifted that high, but you'll get the gist. (My form isn't really stellar in this demonstration... I didn't have a mirror to check myself in. :-/)

1. No baby steps! When you step backward into the lunge make sure your step is big enough. When you lower into the lunge your front thigh should be parallel to the ground and your knee should NOT extend beyong the front of your shin. It may be uncomfortable at first to take such a large step backward. You may need to do a few balence checks, but don't do the move until you can take the appropriate step back.

2. Keep pressure on the heel. When raising up from the lunge make sure that all of the weight of your body is being supported by your heel, not toe. Keeping the pressure on the heel helps engage the gluteal muscles AND helps you keep good form. If you push off with the pressure on your toes or balls of the feet your front knee will extend beyond 90 degrees which puts increased strain on the knees.... not a good thing. Lunges and squats always get a bad rap because they "hurt the knees". They only hurt knees if your form is crappy.

3. Try not to propel yourself back up using your back foot. As much as possible you should be pushing yourself up with your front leg. The majority of the glute work in this exercise comes from the front leg pushing out of the lunge. If you use your back leg to propel you off the ground then you are cheating yourself out of the exercise..... so don't do it.

I hope someone tries this out. It's really a great exercise for the butt! Do this as part of a comprehensive leg workout for a few months and your butt will look just like this! (ok... your but won't look like yours unless you do a HELL of a lot more than this move, but she's my butt idol, so I thought I'd post her. she works out with heavy weights 5 days a week...doing a few lunges won't bulk you up like this, so please don't post saying... "I don't do lunges because they'll make my legs big. They won't. Stop your yappin and do a lunge!")

Stay tuned for next weeks exercise :-)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Celebrity Pug Owners....

Just Because I love da pugs.....

Jessica Alba has two pugs, Sid and Nancy.

Kelly Osbourne with her pug, Prudence. I need a hoodie like that for Leroy...

Tori Spelling with her pug, Mimi La Rue, and her family. I love her. R.I.P Mimi La Rue :-(

George Clooney's sexy ass has a pug...

Paula Abdul is crazy, but has a cute pug, Puggy Sue.

Valentino has SIX pugs.

Ted Danson has a pug.

Nick Carter (LOL) from Backstreet Boys has two pugs.

Denise Richards has a pug, who is famous for his appearance on The Dog Whisperer.

Eva Longoria is now the new mom of a precious black puppy.

Brooke Mueller (Charlie Sheen's fiancee) has two pugs..... after seeing this carrier NO ONE has a right to make fun of my dog sling :-p

Gerard Butler has a pug, Lolita.

Debra Messing with her pug on Rodeo Drive. How happy does her pug look! But then again I would be that happy shopping on Rodeo Drive too. :-p

Hope y'all enjoyed the celeb pugs.... BTW I totally stole this from another site. If I remember where I got this I will post it as a footnote :-p