Month: July 2014

Hell’s Kitchen Recap: Winner Chosen

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The final two, Scott and Jason, take a moment to celebrate at the Four Seasons before getting to work on their menus.  The next day at breakfast, they are joined by their families!    After they say their goodbyes, Chef Ramsay gifts them white jackets and promises them a night on the town.  Oh, you know this is a trick.

They end up at supper club and a boxing match of sorts until the announcer calls out “From Chicago, Illinois…”  Jason and Scott enter the ring for their final challenge.  No, it’s not a fight; there are kitchens back there!

Five judges come out to score their five dishes.

  • MICHAEL VOLTAGGIO IS THE FIRST JUDGE.  I’m dying.  I love him!  Top Chef meets Hell’s Kitch!  Michael prefers Scott’s cold appetizer to Jason’s– Scott gets 9/10 and Jason 8/10.
  • Ben Ford is the second judge for the hot appetizers.  Jason earns 8/10 and Scott does too.
  • The chicken entrée is judged by Neal Fraser.  Both chefs earn 9/10.
  • Quinn Hatfield judges the seafood entrée.  He gives Scott 8/10 and Jason 9/10. They’re now tied.
  • The beef entrée is judged by David Myers.  Scott earns 9/10 and Jason only get 8/10 making Scott the winner!

Scott gets first pick as they alternate through the Hell’s Kitchen contestants picking their teams then and there.  Scott gets: Chris, Ralph, Rochelle, Kashia, and Jessica.  They become the Blue Team.  Jason takes: Anton, Melanie, Gabriel, Bev, and Sandra.  This is the Red Team.

JP opens the doors to Hell’s Kitchen one last time of the coronation of a new champion.  There are lots of VIPs in the house, including “Shameless” actress Shanola Hampton!  Jason’s Red Team starts out slow thanks to Sandra.  Scott’s quality control gets Chris through the first appetizers.  In the dining room, his daughter Gigi remains unimpressed.  What a cutie!

Jason has Sandra problems and Scott has Jessica problems.  While Jason threatens to kick Sandra out of the kitchen, Scott actually ends up doing so to Jessica!  Rochelle takes over garnish for her.  Both teams end the night on a positive note.

And now it’s Gordon Ramsay’s turn to make a big decision.  As is tradition, Scott and Jason stand in front of the two glass doors– whoever’s door opens is the winner.  Chef Ramsay instructs them to place their hand on the doorknob, and turn on the count of three…  (more…)

WCW: Jenny Lewis (The Voyager)

My Woman Crush this Wednesday, and everyday, is the amazing Jenny Lewis.  I picked her today in honor of her newest solo album, The Voyager, which debuted yesterday.

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I’ve loved Jenny Lewis from her days in Rilo Kiley, but I’ve known her for a lot longer than that.  She also delighted me playing Shelley Long’s daughter in Troop Beverly Hills!  I’ve gotten the opportunity to see Jenny in concert only once, back when Rilo Kiley was still together and she and Blake were magic together on the stage.  She’s so adorable and has a fantastic spirit about her when she performs– look no further than her flawless appearance on Jimmy Fallon with her first single, Just One of the Guys.

I’m already absolutely in love with this album.  It’s perfection.

What do you all think of The Voyager?

 

Summer Reading 2014 (part 3)

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Let’s jump right in, shall we?

07. Swamplandia! by Karen Russell

  • Karen Russell is a very talented author.  I so appreciate the way she writes, the vivid word that she created, and the characters that feel so real, yet strange.  This novel is really written in the voice of the main character, Ava.  Later, her brother’s voice plays a role in the novel as well.  Both voices are strong and do not distract from each other.
  • The adventure part of the story is a bit weak– the mystical journey through the swamp I was promised isn’t really the highlight here.  The end doesn’t feel as complete as I would’ve liked.
  • It’s an odd novel, but when all is said and done, it’s a unique piece of fiction.  I’m really looking forward to reading more of Russell’s work.

 

08. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

  • This true crime novel is the second piece of nonfiction to make it to my summer reading list!  Maybe it’s that I’m not used to reading true crime, but this seemed to take a lot of liberties with nonfiction.  It’s written like the author was there while all of this took place.  I was unclear on this the whole way through.
  • This book, pre-murder trial, does so much for Savannah.  I’m adding it to my list of American cities I want to visit immediately.
  • The cast of characters are so compelling.  In my previous summer reading post, I spoke about how I’ve been watching TV to accompany my books.  This time around, the best fit show would be RuPaul’s Drag Race because this book features a fabulous drag queen called Chablis.
  • When you actually do get around to the trial and the murder, which if you’re anything like me, you kind of forgot was coming, you find yourself with a renewed interest in everything.  The trial itself make me so nervous with this: the jury was sequestered for 2 weeks and the selected jurors freaked out about it.  I have jury duty tomorrow and this tidbit made me so, so paranoid.

 

09. The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna van Praag

  • The cover of this book promises its contents to be “sweet, magical and bookish” which are all things I look for in a book!
  • I’m not going to lie, for such a short book, this was difficult for me to get through.  The magical element came in right away, as did the literary element.  I don’t think the former ever panned out to my expectations.  Interesting things come into play much later in the novel, but trying to get to them is tough.
  • The characters were not compelling.  I came around to the main character, Alba, but not so much to the others.
  • I am glad I stuck it out, because this book is a love letter to great women– from Dorothy Parker to Sylvia Plath.  The best part was after the story was over, there was a guide to all these wonderful women who stayed at Hope St.

 

10.  People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

  • I just started this one!  I’m sure I’ll let you know.  As I said, I have jury duty tomorrow which should give me plenty of time to read… wish me luck, guys!

Keep on reading!

Orange You Jealous? + Mint Candy Apple

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Hey guys, it’s manicure Monday!  I tried out a new brand– L’Oreal Color Riche!

I saw this color, Orange You Jealous?, when browsing drug store make-up with a friend.  I bought it on impulse because I loved the coral color– it’s a bit more pink than orange but I absolutely love it.  I’ve paired it here with Essie’s Mint Candy Apple and it’s quickly become my favorite color combination of the summer.  The polish itself does not go on smooth like Essie, or Revlon, or Sally Hansen.  It takes a couple of coats to get this color and the first time I used it, it looked really messy!  I was ready to write L’Oreal polish off, but the color is so pretty that I did a repaint after it chipped away.  This color is a homerun for me.  Would I buy L’Oreal Color Riche nail polish again, though?  Probably not.

I’ll definitely continue to use Orange You Jealous? and hopefully find even more fun colors to pair it with.  What other brands should I try out?

Friday Favorites: Colorstrology

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IMG_5565Despite all of the wonderful books I’ve been reading, my fun find of the summer has got to be Colorstrology.  This little coffee table book was the last in stock at my local Paper Source.  I picked it up innocently enough, but once I did, I couldn’t let it go.

The concept it simple.  It combines Pantone colors with astrology– really, just your birthday– to assign each day of the year a power color.  It gives you a little color horoscope– your color plus three adjectives, then a little paragraph.

My birthday is January 17th and my color is Tandori Spice [Pantone 18-1444].  That makes me dynamic, intricate, and colorful.  Today is actually my mom’s birthday– she’s Wedgewood [Pantone 18-3935], creative, youthful, and efficient!

I checked everyone whose birthday I could conjure up and found the ‘scopes super accurate!  Of course, that’s the game, isn’t it?  Even if you don’t believe in horoscopes, you’ve got to think they’re fun!

Why I ultimately decided I needed this book is two-fold.  Firstly, Pantone color swatches and books are typically very expensive.  To get a book of over 300 Pantone swatches for less than $20 seemed like a great steal!  I’m someone who’s interested in color theory, and Pantone is the authority on color!  Second, I’m a writer; a writer who focuses on character development in her fiction (though you’ll never see that here!  Insert see-no-evil monkey emoji.).  I spend a lot of time thinking about my characters’ birthdays and what that says about them.  I’m someone who’s interested in astrology, and have always taken zodiac signs into consideration for my characters as well.  This is just another layer, and I’m always interested in more aspects of my characters!

There is also a color assigned to each month.  I’ve included these here for you for fun!  What color are you?!

Hell’s Kitchen Recap: 4 Chefs Compete

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After Joy’s departure, only the fantastic four remain– Melanie, Rochelle, Scott, and Jason.  We started last week’s episode knowing that only two would be left standing.

It starts, however, with a very sweet surprise: the chefs’ families!  Rochelle is visited by her fiancé and her parents.  Melanie is visited by her boyfriend and her mother.  Jason is visited by his girlfriend and his mom.  Scott, who’s crying before his family even steps out, is visited by his wife and two kids!

And I cried too.  I love this part!  This totally endeared me to Scott as well.  His daugter running out of the car and his baby son are adorable, and his emotional response to seeing them just melted my heart.

The chefs and company sit down to “fish and seasonal vegetables,” which signaled to me what the challenge would be.  Melanie doesn’t take a single bite, and is shocked when Chef Ramsay announces the challenge…

Taste it, Make it

Thankfully, Chef Ramsay provided another example for the chefs to taste while they make.  Everyone decided on sole wrapped in prosciutto, with the exception of Scott who went for escolar.  Everyone picked butternut squash for their veggie except for Melanie, who went for pumpkin.  For the purée, Rochelle uses parsley, Melanie uses arugula, and Jason and Scott use watercress.

Since the protein is the most important element on the plate, Scott is eliminated first for incorrectly choosing his fish.  Melanie is out of the running next for going for pumpkin over butternut squash.  It all comes down to the purée– Jason takes it for getting that element right as well!

Jason wins a culinary tour with Chef Andi and his family members.  As punishment, the girls and Scott have to move furniture out of Hell’s Kitch.  Actually, Melanie and Rochelle just manipulate Scott into doing the whole punishment for them.

Dinner Service

Each chef has his or her turn up at the pass.

  • Rochelle is completely frantic.  I can barely understand what she yells.  She is very nervous and giggly at first, but is able to send appetizers out well.  Her quality control test comes in the form of shrimp instead of lobster in the risotto. She catches it, no problem.
  • Melanie is tested right away with a ticket QC– a Caesar on the ticket that’s not on the menu.  She calls it out, confused.  After that, she has trouble controlling her brigade.  When she finally gets control, things flow well.
  • Scott is able to use his voice to his advantage and coordinate with the brigade.  His quality control test comes in the form of a duck breast where that of a chicken should be.  He catches it!  He’s a little picky moving forward, but Chef Ramsay is pleased with his performance.  Great standards!
  • Jason takes a more laid-back approach, wanting people to like him as he leads.  This slows the kitchen.  Chef Ramsay gives him a talking-to and his adopts a more serious approach in time for his QC: salmon instead of halibut.  He catches it too.

Elimination

Despite asking each chef for their opinions, the decision is ultimately Chef Ramsay’s.  Rochelle is the first he eliminates, and the two giggle as she does.  It’s a kind, respectful exit.

Down comes the screens to announce the finalists: Scott and Jason.

Though Melanie was my early favorite, and I hate to see no girls in the final, I agree that her maturity level is not that of Scott and Jason.  Chef Ramsay tells Melanie she is born to cook, and she hugs him and her former competitors before making her exit.  I’m sure we’ll see her tonight cooking for one of these two finalists!

I’m pulling for Scott tonight!

Who do you think will win Hell’s Kitchen?

WCW: Allison Harvard

I’d been complaining for a while about not being able to watch the early seasons– the ones I like– of America’s Next Top Model.  Apparently, the Hulu Plus gods heard my prayers and seasons 1 through 12 are now available to stream!

I started my ANTM binge with 12 for one reason: Allison Harvard.  She’s my Woman Crush this Wednesday.  Can I please look like this girl?

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Tyra keeps saying she chose Allison for her unique look and “model features.”  Let me tell you all, I went to high school with a girl who turned out to be a beautiful model and she was the most awkward-looking teen I have ever seen.  Models are not “pretty” in a straight-forward sort of way.

Allison, in my opinion, is absolutely beautiful.  Tyra insists she needs to overcome her “quirkiness” throughout season 12.  I think this very quirkiness is what makes Allison so beautiful.  All art is subjective, so while the judges say she gives the same face in many photos, I say they’re absolutely lovely and I like that face!

If you browse her Wikipedia page, you’ll see Allison has worked as a model despite not winning either ANTM season in which she appeared.  More impressively, Allison is an artist.  You see her creativity in the styling challenge, and you can check around the web for some of her beautiful paintings.

Allison is my favorite model to grace ANTM. She’s so much more than just a pretty face!

Nicole Spends Money at Warby Parker

IMG_5526 I’ve been dying for a pair of prescription sunglasses for years now.  It seems that my eyes get worse and worse every year, and I’d still like to be able to wear sunglasses and SEE at the same time.  So, I finally treated myself to a pair!

I went to Warby Parker off the recommendation of a friend.  I went to their Newbury Street store location on my one vacation day in the city.  Be warned: the Newbury Street Warby opens at 11 AM.  I got there early in hopes of checking a bunch of errands off my list and had to kill time… by shopping.   The service at the Newbury Street location was stellar.  It took me no time at all to pick out a pair and order them up!  I went in with a prescription ready which also had my pupil measurements.  This is one thing a friend had tipped me off to with Warby, so I made sure they wrote this measurement down for me during my last eye exam.

In two weeks, my sunglasses arrived at my house.  I headed back to the store that very day to get them adjusted.  This was a quick and easy process as well! We haven’t gotten a lot of sun since I’ve received my glasses, but I finally got to wear them a bit.  There is a weird rainbow glare on my iPhone with these sunglasses on.  Bostonians, have you ever looked at the screen of your iPhone in the reflection of the MBTA window?  It’s that same glare.  To be fair, I can’t look at my phone screen with glasses on, so it’s not a problem.

Their social media team seems great too, as every time I tweeted about how excited I was for my sunnies, they’d respond!  I love that little bit of attentiveness.  And aren’t these frames freakin’ adorable?  I chose Haskell in lighter tortoise shell color called burnt lemon tortoise. At $150 total (frames + my prescription), they are a rather inexpensive alternative to fashion glasses, and there are so many cute choices!  I’m planning on getting my next vision pair there too!

All and all, I’m so happy with my experience with Warby Parker.  The service in store and out was great.  I love my sunglasses, and I’m eager to try out another pair there!

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 2: Thoughts

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Sailor Moon Crystal’s second episode is like fast-forwarding to the eighth episode of the original anime.  This episode mirrors Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon’s eighth episode, succinctly titled “Computer School Blues” and not-so-succinctly subtitled “The Girl Genius is a Monster: The Brainwashing Cram School of Horror.”  In both cases, this is the episode which introduced Ami Mizuno, Sailor Mercury.  Here are my thoughts on this episode:

Fast-Forward Works In Our Favor

Do we need 7 episodes with just Sailor Moon?  Nope.  I’m happy to see Ami-chan introduced in the second episode, and I’m hoping this trend continues so we can assemble the senshi quickly.

Usagi is Typical Usagi

I loved Usagi in this episode!  She was loud and rambunctious playing in the arcade, which is exactly what I expect of her.  When Ami got her transformation pen, I loved watching Usagi shake the console until she got one too.  She said she was both hungry and tired in this episode, which is what I love about her.  She schemed upon introducing herself to Ami that she could become smarter by association if Ami taught her how to study, which we know is lofty, and is just so Usagi.  Finally, the Sailor Moon crying sonic waves are maybe the coolest weapon around.  I want this power!  It suits me.

Why doesn’t Mamo-chan have any normal clothes?

Seriously, we’re seeing this guy in a tuxedo in the middle of the day again.  I believe the poor grade paper-to-the-face is the original meet-cute of Usagi and Mamoru, which I enjoy seeing again and again, but seeing him in nothing but a tuxedo is really weird.  I mean, in the theme Mamoru wears regular clothes.  When are we going to get Mamoru, not just Tuxedo Mask?  It was nice seeing him help Sailor Moon, but I so miss the rose!

Sailor Mercury’s Transformation Sequence > Sailor Moon’s

Sailor Mercury doesn’t look anywhere near as rubbery as Sailor Moon does when transforming. For this reason alone, I enjoyed watching Sailor Mercury’s transformation sequence.  Sailor Mercury doesn’t hold herself as well as Sailor Moon does, though, posture-wise.

Sailor Mars Foreshadowing

This brings us back to the fast-forward, working to our advantage.  Though Rei’s foreshadowing is slightly more subtle than Ami-chan’s, it’s good to see the elemental tie-in play a major factor in it, as it did with Ami before her.  We see fire in the form of many candles, we see her shrine, and we see her eye.  This would only be skipping over one episode to get to the entrance of Mars, which is barely noticeable.  I wonder how, elementally, they will introduce Jupiter and, even more curiously, Venus.  I remember feeling a very long gap before Jupiter and Venus joins the senshi, so we’ll see if this trend continues… in two weeks!

 

What do you guys think of Sailor Moon Crystal so far?