Thursday, May 31, 2012

Father's Day Gift Guide: part 1

With Father's Day coming up, it's time for another round of gift guides. Do you know what you're getting your dad yet?

man candle from yankee candle (why aren't these called yankee "mandles"?) $17.99-$27.99

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

New Sunscreen Labeling

With the summer fast approaching, and the days already getting sunny and hot, it's definitely time to not leave home without the sunscreen.

This year, the FDA has put into place new labeling requirements for sunscreen. These requirements create a standard for over the counter sunscreens, the final regulations go into effect on June 18, 2012. You can read more about the specifics here.

Meanwhile, Olay has put together this great chart about these new guidelines and sun safety:

What sunscreen is your favorite? I have been using Neutrogena SPF 100+ for years now and it always protects my super pale skin (and doesn't clog my pores).

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Blueberry Muffins

I have long been on a quest for my perfect muffin recipe, going through several variations and tweaking things slightly. This blueberry muffin is soft, flavorful and full of fruit.

Blueberry Muffins makes 1 dozen (adapted from here)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 large egg
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cup fresh blueberries, washed and patted dry
2 tablespoons vanilla sugar (white granulated or turbinado would also work just fine)

Heat oven to 400. Put liners in muffin pan or grease pan.

Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, mix together oil, egg,  buttermilk and vanilla. Make well in the center of dry ingredients and pour in the liquid. Mix until just combined (mixture will still have a few lumps, but that's ok). Fold in blueberries.

Fill muffin cups and sprinkle lightly with vanilla sugar. Bake for 20 minutes.

this recipe is also shared at some of my favorite food blog hops

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Fun: Cinematic Universe Timeline of The Avengers

Greg sent me this timeline that lays out all the events leading up to The Avengers movie from the various connected superhero movies and some comics in the Marvel-verse. I thought it was really interesting to read through and see how events in the movies overlap with each other on the timeline.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Blue Ear

In Salem, Massachusetts, a little boy just became a superhero. This news story warmed my heart and brought such a smile to my face.

"Christina D'Allesandro said her son Anthony Smith cannot hear out of his right ear and has hearing loss in his left ear. She said Anthony woke up one day and decided that he did not want to wear his blue hearing aid.

"Basically, one day he woke up and I said, 'OK, time to put in your hearing aid,' and said, 'Let's put in blue ear.' We've always called it that. And he said, 'No, superheroes don't wear blue ears,'" D'Allesandro said.

D'Allesandro assured her son that superheroes did wear hearing aids. She said she wanted to make sure, so she emailed the experts at Marvel Comics in New York City.

Marvel sent back a comic book cover featuring Hawkeye, a superhero who lost his hearing. D'Allesandro said her son was captivated by the image.

Marvel then sent a drawing of a new superhero inspired by Anthony: Blue Ear. Another sketch arrived portraying Hawkeye and Blue Ear together."

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Star Trails

I love long exposure photographs, they have such a dreamy quality to them. This image was created by NASA astronaut Don Pettit, who took 18 separate long exposure photos and combined them into one.

These are the trails of's amazing:

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Crepe Cake

This weekend my family got together to celebrate my dad's birthday. I had sent him a nice long list of options for his birthday cake and he chose a crepe cake with alternating layers of vanilla bean pastry cream and lemon curd.

There are a lot of components to this cake, but the result is completely fabulous; t
he tart lemon curd and luscious pastry cream are a wonderful combination. The different items can be made over a couple of days and stored in the fridge so it's not too much all at once. 

For those counting, yes, it is 13 eggs (minus 4 egg whites, make some meringues with those) decadency is for birthdays, non?

Crepe Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup lukewarm water
6 large eggs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients together until smooth, let batter rest at room temperature for  thirty minutes (or store it in the fridge if you aren't using it right away)

Heat your crepe pan and brush with a light layer of butter. Pour a scant 1/4 cup of batter into the pan, swirl until the surface is covered, cook until the crepe looks dry/matte on top and then flip. Repeat until all the batter is used.

Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream (adapted from the Kitchn)
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

Mix together sugar, flour and salt until well combined in a large bowl. Add in egg yolks and whisk until texture is a thick paste. Set aside.

Combine milk, vanilla bean scrapings and pod in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until it begins to steam but not simmering or boiling. Remove from heat.

Pour a little of the hot milk into the egg mixture and whisk thoroughly to temper the eggs. Then continue to pour the milk into the egg mixture slowly while mixing constantly. Once everything is combined, pour the mixture into the saucepan and return it to the stove over medium heat.

While heating the pastry cream, be sure to whisk constantly, pausing occasionally to check the heat of the cream, once it reaches boiling whisk for just a few seconds more and then remove from heat and pour through a strainer into bowl, using a spatula to help press it through the strainer. Cover with plastic wrap pressed against the surface of the pastry cream and refrigerate. 

Lemon Curd (from Joy of Cooking)
3 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

In a saucepan, whisk together eggs, sugar and lemon zest until light in color. Add in lemon juice and whisk until combined. 

While whisking constantly, heat mixture over medium heat until thick (pudding consistency) and just begins to bubble.

Pour curd through a strainer, 
using a spatula to help press it through the strainer, and refrigerate. 

Cake Assembly
Center a crepe on your cake plate and then using an offset spatula, pastry brush, or even a butter knife spread it with a thin, even layer of the pastry cream, then another crepe, then a thin, even layer of lemon curd...repeat this several times and end the cake with a crepe. Depending on the size of the crepes you made, each filling layer will be roughly 1-3 tablespoons. Chill cake for at least 4 hours before serving. 

Just before serving, sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of sugar on top of the cake and then give it a going over with a kitchen torch.


this recipe is also shared at some of my favorite food blog hops

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Fun: Gronk

I have been a fan of artist Katie Cook for quite awhile now, and have met her a few times at different Comic Cons and she's always incredibly nice and fun to chat with and I just love her art style.

Every(ish) Friday for the past two years she has been posting instalments of her webcomic Gronk. It chronicles the life of an unmonsterly monster who leaves the other scary monsters in search of something new. Gronk finds a better life with Dale (the human who 'adopts' Gronk), Harli (the enormous dog), and Kitty (self explanatory). Their adventures are wonderful.

Here's the very first appearance of Gronk, isn't she sweet?

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Kristen Stewart in Elle

Kristen Stewart recently did a photo shoot for Elle where she posed as both a man and a woman, and she is stunning in both roles. It's such an intriguing idea for a photo shoot (it kind of reminds me of the episode of Sex and the City where Charlotte poses as a man and the idea of everyone having female and male traits is discussed). I'm looking forward to seeing her new film Snow White and the Huntsman.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

SpyGal from Benefit and Marvel

Marvel Custom Solutions, a division of Marvel Entertainment has teamed up with Benefit Cosmetics to create SpyGal, the first beauty inspired comic hero. It's a really fun idea to promote a new product, and definitely something not seen before in the cosmetic world. I love this fusion of two things I love...comics and beauty products!

 Isn't she cool? I love the Tiffany Blue trench. I'll definitely be hunting down a copy of this:

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Advice from Jon Hamm

Too funny not to share. This is part of Rookie's series called 'Ask a Grown Man'.

I just adore Jon Hamm:


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Friday, May 11, 2012

Have a wonderful weekend!

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers, grandmothers, aunts....I hope it's a fun, festive and meaningful time spent with family.

my mom and me at my wedding

How are you spending the weekend?

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Chewy Chocolate Meringues

These delicious little meringues are so easy and quick to make. They are crisp, chewy, chocolatey, and light as air. A word of warning...these are ridiculously easy to eat a lot of.

Chewy Chocolate Meringues (adapted from Williams-Sonoma Home Baked Comfort)
3 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, halved and scraped
2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together sugar, egg whites and vanilla 'caviar' in your large, heatproof mixer bowl.  Set bowl over a pan of hot, barely simmering water (be sure that your bowl does not touch the water). Whisk constantly until sugar is completely dissolved into the egg whites.

Attach bowl to mixer with whip attachment. Beat egg white mixture until glossy and stiff. Remove bowl from mixer.

Sift cocoa powder on top of the meringue, and then sprinkle on the chopped chocolate. Fold together until completely incorporated and no streaks remain.

Drop by tablespoonful onto baking sheets. Bake for 9 minutes, rotate pans and then bake for an additional 9 minutes. Transfer meringues while still on the parchment paper to wire racks to cool. Once completely cooled, remove from parchment.

this recipe is also shared at some of my favorite food blog hops

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mother's Day Gifts Part 2

Only a few days until Mother's Day! Have you finished shopping yet? Here's one more roundup of some ideas for what to give your mom this year

kate spade gumdrop studs in her favorite color $38

nudo mamma mia gift box, filled with olive oil, lavender soap and chocolate truffles $38

Love Quotes Italian Linen Scarf, each comes with a quote about love $88

Want more Mother's Day gift ideas? Click here.

What are you giving your mom this year? Or, if you're a mom as well, what are you hoping to receive?

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Monday, May 7, 2012

Sausage & Chicken Jambalaya

Greg loves jambalaya. He raves about it every time we go to The Border Cafe, and asks me to make it at home. I recently stumbled upon a recipe on Cajun Delights (amazing blog with fabulous recipes, if you like Cajun food you should check it out immediately) that sounded and looked perfect, so I gave it a whirl. It turned out so well, very flavorful and moist with just the right amount of spice. It's perfect as a main course or a side dish.

Sausage & Chicken Jambalaya (adapted from here)
14 oz andouille sausage, sliced
2 cups cooked chicken breast, cubed
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 10 ounce can Rotel diced tomatoes & green chilies (I used the 'original' heat level), drained
2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
1 8 ounce can tomato sauce (I used Hunt's)
1 tablespoon creole seasoning (Tony's is my favorite)
3 cups water
2 cups rice (I used plain white basmati)

Melt butter in a large dutch oven and add in onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook for until onions have slightly softened (about 5 minutes) then stir in Rotel and cook together for another 5 minutes. Add chicken, sausage and creole seasoning, stir until well combined and cook for 5 minutes. Pour in the tomato sauce, worcestshire sauce, and water, stir well and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and add rice, cover and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, making sure to scrape the bottom so that the rice doesn't stick.

this recipe is also shared at some of my favorite food blog hops

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Friday, May 4, 2012

Have a fun weekend!

Happy Friday! Did this week feel as long for all of you as it did for me? Work was so busy and non-stop, I didn't think the weekend would ever come!

Tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day, the best nerd 'holiday' there is! It's a day when participating comic shops give away comics. If you have any sort of interest in comic books (love them, want to read them, mildly interested, haven't picked one up since you were a kid...) you should stop by a shop near you and pick some up! A lot of shops do other specials and sales that day too to make it into a bit of a party. It's always a lot of fun.

In other geek news, The Avengers is out in theatres (and we already have our tickets), I'm so excited to see it!

What are you all doing this weekend?

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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Mother's Day Pop Up Shop at Fab

Mother's Day is next weekend! Are you done with your shopping yet (I'm not!)? In case you aren't, I'm doing a couple gift guides :-)

Fab is such a great sample site, they always have really unique items and amazing selection. Right now they have a Mother's Day pop up shop filled with great stuff for your mom.

Here are a few of my favorites:

gummies $16

watch $23.50

morse code mom necklace $30

20 mini calla-lillies $65

cashmere travel set $245

Not a member of Fab yet? Click here to join now!

Want more Mother's Day gift ideas? Click here. 

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Shops at Target

Target's newest collaboration isn't with one designer as they have done in the past. Instead they have worked with five different small shops owners and specialty stores to bring a boutique feel to the store with The Shops at Target.

The shops go live this Sunday, May 6th. I am really excited for the wide and different variety of items in this collection.

The Candy Store, San Francisco - Collection features favorites such as Caramel Creams and Round Swirl Lollipops

Polka Dog Bakery, Boston -  A collection at Target with signature doggie delights and stylish accessories

Cos Bar, Aspen -  Body care products, bath accessories, beauty tools and manicure essentials 

Privet House, Connecticut - An international collection of vintage furniture, artwork and mirrors for the home 

The Webster, Miami -  Apparel and accessories inspired by the essence and sunshine of Miami, Fla.

Which Target Shop are you most excited for? Are you planning to get anything from The Shops at Target?

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