Month: March 2015

Weekend Recap: Bites, Sips, & Splurges

I had such a fantastic weekend that I wanted to share it with all of you!  Yes, Saturday gave us an unwanted spring snowstorm, but Sunday made up for it with the sunshine.  Here’s what I did last weekend:

Saturday, I made plans with my friend Chelsea to meet at a new donut shop, Blackbird Doughnuts.  This place is insanely popular and we had to wait in line that wove around the shop while a new batch baked.

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I tried the cinnamon sugar stack of three mini-donuts while Chelsea went for the lemon coconut.  I was head over heels for mine, and Chelsea enjoyed hers as well!  I will definitely be making a return trip to Blackbird Doughnuts!

Sunday, since it was such a beautiful day, I made some last minute plans to walk around Boston’s North End with my cousin Amanda and her roommate Marisa.  We got sidetracked walking through Faneuil Hall when we stumbled upon Uno de 50.

Headquartered in Madrid, Uno de 50 has unique pieces hand-crafted by Spanish artists.  Each piece is slightly different because they are all made by hand!  The store only gets 6 pieces of each item, so it’s unlikely that you’ll see someone walking around with your jewelry on.  I was slightly disappointed to see that they have a website, but still, the hand-made differences make, for example, the ring I selected look nothing like the website’s version.

We had a great shopping experience with super friendly staff who wasn’t afraid to pull the store apart so we could try on anything and everything.  They poured us wine while we shopped– a sparkling, fruity blush.  There was also a promotion going on where we got a free bracelet, tote bag, and journal with our purchases.

I chose an adorable skull bracelet & cool key wrap ring!

I chose an adorable skull bracelet & cool key wrap ring!  Amanda snapped the wine while we shopped!

What we loved was that each piece has a two-year warranty and can be brought in for free cleaning once per month!  We each left with two pieces!

Off our wine and shopping buzz, we took to the waterfront and the North End enjoying the sun and warmth of the day.  We, of course, stopped by my favorite place, Mike’s Pastry, for a couple of canoli for the Cassaro girls and a zeppole for Marisa!  After enjoying our desserts in the park, we headed home.

more photo credit to Amanda for this shot of me in front of the water.  Nautical + Italian = perfection!  That's the North end.

more photo credit to Amanda for this shot of me in front of the water. Nautical + Italian = perfection! That’s the North end.

I can’t even explain how nice this weekend was!  It definitely felt like spring, even though it’s snowed twice in the last three days…  How was everyone else’s weekend?  And what do you think of my new jewelry?

Girls Season 4

Let’s ease into the week, shall we?

The time has come, my friends.  Another season of Girls on HBO has come to a close.  I really do miss this show when it’s not on.  It’s nice to have a reason to look forward to Sunday nights!  What I do love about having a completed season is looking at each of the fun, colored title-cards that start off each episode!

Yes, I crop my screencaps a lot tighter when the background is black…

I did something similar last season.  This time, let me know which title card you find most visually appealing!  Then, visit each episode recap and let me know what your favorite of the season is!

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

For a short season, we sure did make a lot of progress.  We started in Iowa, and next season we could find ourselves in Tokyo, Japan!  My favorite title card is probably Cubbies, but my favorite episode has to be the fantastic finale, Home Birth.  Leave me yours in the comments!

Hope you guys all have a great week!

Links For A New World [08]

snow and shells

Well, it’s been a solid 2 months since I’ve gathered links for you.  February and March were tough here in Boston, alright?

But anyway, links!

  • Majora’s Mask | This is my favorite Legend of Zelda game and one of my favorite games ever.  I didn’t put up enough fanfare about the 3DS release on this blog and I’ve literally been saving this fantastic article since it came out.  Play this game, you guys.  Especially since you’ll be waiting a while for a new one…
  • The Office | It’s been 10 years since the American version of The Office premiered.  Angela Kinsey did an awesome instagram takeover in celebration and I had so many emotions.  I love this show and this history of the Diversity Day episode really highlights what made it special.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer | You must know by now that BtVS is my number one.  My cousin Nick sent me this article entitled Every Argument about Buffy on the Internet from 1998 until Now and I just loved it.  Had to share!
  • Narragansett | I have a lot to say about Rhode Island neighbor of mine– mostly, that I miss it horribly through all this Boston snow!  I voted for Narragansett in Coastal Living’s Happiest Seaside Town contest and you can too!
  • ‘Gansett | Narragansett beer is also on my mind lately.  Summer brews and the delicious Del’s Lemonade Shandy are hitting shelves soon to help us remember that spring is here and summer is around the corner!
  • Game of Thrones | I’m getting so pumped for April TV.  We’ve waited so long for Mad Men, Orphan Black, and Game of Thrones!  Watch the lovely Maisie Williams talk about watching the show with her family and Arya’s sword skills.
  • Grace Helbig | Ah, my spirit animal!  She’ll always be dailygrace to me, but as of next Friday night she’s on all of your TV screens on E!  Here’s Grace on Fallon being perfect.

Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!

2015 Reading List

Winter is officially over, and it’s finally starting to feel like it!  (Yes, even here in Boston.)  With March, and therefore a quarter of 2015, coming to a close, I thought I should share what I’ve read thus far.  It’s a short list… just wait ’til summer!

Anyway, onward!

(more…)

HK 14: 15 Chefs do Family Night

This week’s Hell’s Kitchen felt really long, but not in a bad way– just like, a lot of things went on.  The chefs played Never-Have-I-Ever, there was a big football game (of sorts) and another individual cooking challenge, and then a dinner service.  Let’s get to that football game, shall we?

Chef Ramsay talked about football as an American classic.  (Coming from Gordon Ramsay, I find this hilarious; he played professional football… the kind we would call soccer.)  The challenge for the chefs is to recreate and elevate some American classic comfort foods– mac & cheese, burgers, pizza, and spaghetti.  Footballs are launched in the air with different ingredients on them and the chefs must gather the ingredients they want.  They work in pairs to gather ingredients, as its two chefs on each team to a dish, except for Randy on Blue who works alone.

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When they get around to actually creating their dishes, Chef Ramsay will only taste one.  Red and Blue go head to head and are scored by guest judges Suzanne Goin and David Burke.

  • Bret wins the pizza point for Blue.
  • Meghan gets Red on the board with her burger.
  • Joshua takes mac & cheese for Blue.
  • Sarah wins the spaghetti point for Red.
  • As a tie-breaker, they pick the best dish overall: Sarah’s spaghetti.  Red wins!

Red goes sailing in Long Beach for the day while Blue preps a large shipment of onions as punishment.  Bret is literally so mad that when Gordon’s announcing the reward, he stops saying, there’s only so much pain Bret can take.

Dinner Service is family night and both sides have quite a few bumps.  Sarah starts out with a mistake on scallops that she easily fixes.  Brendan makes 1.2 risottos instead of 2, and when Bret goes to fix it, he pours the old one into the fresh one.  Um, have you ever seen this show before?  That’s a sin in Hell’s Kitchen.

The meat station is where both teams struggle.  Bret must just not know his temps, as a severely overcooked New York strip and some bad salmon force the Blue team to eat their mistakes.  Marino brings them wine, too.  It’s got to be so embarrassing for them.  Red actually fairs worse with Monique and Mieka on meat.  Undercooked Wellington from Monique and raw New York strip from Mieka plague the girls’ team.  When Mieka puts up a steak that’s cooked to death, Ramsay kicks them out of the kitchen.  Blue manages to finish service.

It’s obvious that Monique and Mieka are the weakest chefs on the Red Team and that they both deserved to be up for elimination.  For some reason, (because apparently no one who’s on this show has seen this show,) the girls decide to strategize by putting someone up so they can get rid of Monique: Sarah, arguably the strongest chef in the competition so far.

This, of course, backfires and Monique spills the whole plan to Chef Ramsay.  There’s a moment of shock and horror when he calls Sarah’s name instead of Monique’s, but then sends her back in line and swiftly eliminates Mieka.  That’s what you get, girls.

Mieka deserved to go home tonight, but don’t worry, Monique shouldn’t be around for long.

Thoughts?!

 

Wii U Wednesday: Mario Party 10

image: dualshockers.com

image: dualshockers.com

I consider myself a Mario Party enthusiast.  That being said, my mastery of the game is limited to Mario Party 2 and Pagoda Peak exclusively in Mario Party 7.  I own others and I’ve played others in the franchise, but these are the ones I keep on coming back to: MP2’s Horror Land & MP7’s Pagoda Peak.

I scooped up MP10 and played through each of the game boards this weekend.  That’s all I’ve done so far, though!  I’ve not gotten in on the amiibo action… yet.  Neither of the amiibo I have are compatible– sorry Kirby and Pikachu!

Here is my assessment so far:

Each game board has a start to finish.  All the players move together.  You collect mini-stars along the way.  (Question: being that there are no discernible larger stars in the game, why do we call these mini-stars?)  The most mini-stars wins.

What works for me: The mini-boss and boss battles are the most fun!  I’ve enjoyed these games immensely, and that’s where my mini-stars really get paid out.  I actually do appreciate that different games have different mini-star payouts, too.  Unlocking Bowser with the roll of the dice block is a cute feature too.

What doesn’t work for me: Luck and chance have always been an element in Mario Party, but skill could always prevail.  Even winning every single mini-game may not help you in MP10.  The fact that there isn’t a mini-game after every turn is really what bugs me.  Mini-games pop up randomly, so it can honestly be hard to rack up starts, especially if you’re not lucky enough to be the front player when you go through a mini-star-granting gate.

Now for the game boards:

  • Mushroom Park | A classic, lush-green game board with features of an amusement park.  Pretty straight-forward play.
  • Haunted Trail | Hooray for spooky!  The spooky ones are always my favorite.  Boo is honestly a lot less menacing than he was in Horror Land.  I love the aesthetic of this board, so I can see myself playing again and again.
  • Whimsical Waters | An underwater game board with a few different areas and the Dragoneel who grants treasure chests to passers-by.  Having played through them all, I think this is my favorite thus far.
  • Airship Central | This game board honestly made my anxious.  The ships switch in and out as you play through so the probability of landing on unlucky spaces is high.
  • Chaos Castle | Talk about stressful!  There were a ton of obstacles on this game board making play quite long.  Each stage gets harder as you progress.  Bowser basically destroyed me/my mini-star count.

 

I’m looking forward to playing some more of Mario Party 10.  There’s very little progression in these games; you just kind of play to play which keeps it fun for me.  I’m definitely hoping to try some amiibo features as well!

Have you played Mario Party 10 yet?

What do you think?

Girls: Home Birth

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Girls season 4 has come to a close.  With just 10 episodes, this season went by super quickly!  I think we ended on a high note.  Here’s the character-by-character:

We open with Hannah having stepped out of her classroom because she’s having a panic attack.  Who’s there to comfort her?  Fran.  Man, this guy is sweet!  We’ll get back to more Hannah later.

IMG_7189Shoshanna is offered my dream job doing marketing and social media in Tokyo!  Shosh is thrown off guard at the prospect of moving to Japan.  Her new boyfriend Scott is even more thrown off and asks her not to move.  He tells her she can work for his company instead.  “I’m gonna be in love with you soon,” he says.  This may sound super creepy, but I actually found it incredibly sweet.  Shosh needs advice and seeks out Ray, who is not there for her.  Instead, she finds Hermie who has apparently just read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, and tells her to do just that.  By the end of the episode, Shoshanna has decided she’s moving to Japan!

IMG_7193Marnie is still in weird, pre-engagement-bliss-land even as her music career is taking off.  She and Desi meet with a music label president at Ray’s coffee shop.  After Marnie and the president leave the shop, Desi goes to pay Ray, who has it out with him about how he’ll never deserve Marnie.  At the Marnie and Desi gig later, the label people and the music bloggers are in place, but Desi is no where to be found.  I hate the phone call Marnie places to him, saying she’s not mad in the voicemail.  Be mad, Marnie; this is shitty.  The label president thinks he killed himself and keeps saying he hopes he’s not dead.  “Jesus Christ,” Marnie says through tears, “Let’s always hope everyone we like is alive.”  (“Don’t worry about it man, she cries all the time,” says Ray to the frazzled label president.)  Ray convinces her to go on alone and she is fantastic.

Now we’re back to Hannah, but also on Jessa who are present at the events which are the episode’s name sake: Laird and Caroline’s baby is coming.  Hannah, Adam, and for some reason Jessa are all in attendance and all think the home birth is a terrible idea.  Eventually, Laird comes around to their side when Caroline’s pain becomes unreasonable.  Jessa’s morbid curiosity has her submerging her head in the bathtub where Caroline writhes to see a foot– the baby is breech.  Jessa, Hannah, Adam, and Laird forcibly carry Caroline to the hospital where she gives birth to Jessa-Hannah Bluebell Poem Schlessinger Sackler.

Jessa, who was absolutely wonderful under the circumstances, decides that she wants to be a therapist.

Adam decides he wants to be with Hannah again, but Hannah can’t do that.  I’m so proud of Hannah right here.

After a “Six Months Later” jump, we see Hannah and Fran together at last.

What I love about the ending is that we know there are 6 unseen months here.  Jessa could be on a productive path.  Marnie and Desi could be done.  Shoshanna could already have returned from Japan.  We’ll find out next season!

What did you guys think about the season 4 finale?  What are you expecting in season 5?

Sailor Moon Crystal: Act 18

I feel like the senshi fly more in Crystal than they ever did in the original anime.

I feel like the senshi fly more in Crystal than they ever did in the original anime.

Act 18 was a bit slow to get rolling for me.  It’s hard to believe Chibiusa’s been around for so long and her big reveal just happened at the end of this episode.  I’m really missing Ami and Rei… it’s been an awful long time without them!  I’m sure I’ll feel the same way about Mako-chan by next week too.  Even though it’s basically just Usagi and Minako holding down the fort right now, I liked so many characters in this episode.  So, let’s talk about them this time.

Usagi/Sailor Moon

Not remarkable this episode.  She cried; she saved the day.

Calaveras

Ah, the second eldest Spectre sister finally makes an appearance.  She’s a medium– a channeler, and the premise of the episode is that channelling has become a world craze.  She hypnotizes everyone to embrace the black moon.  Calaveras also channels her sisters so they may all attack together.  This, I loved.  I also loved that she was defeated before capturing Venus.

Minako/Venus

Her traits as a leader were very evident in this episode.  She takes the loss of Jupiter hard, but her reactions are not emotional like Usagi.  She feels responsible for letting Jupiter get captured and steps up as a leader to get to the bottom of the situation.  It’s Minako who decides they need to confront Chibiusa straight up, after all this useless back and forth they’ve had about it.  As I said before, she doesn’t get captured!  She also gets a nifty new attack, Rolling Heart Vibration.  And finally, she gets this hilarious line:

Slayyyy, Minako.

Slayyyy, Minako.

Mamoru/Tuxedo Mask

Not useless in this episode!  He’s still a bit too sympathetic to Chibiusa, if you ask me, but he remains firmly on Usagi’s side.  We find out that he can do a little channelling of his own, and he gets some advice from Jadeite, Nephrite, Zoisite, and Kunzite.  He also gets an attack–  Tuxedo La Smoking Bomber!

Two senshi down, but this hero network is strong.

Two senshi down, but this hero network is strong.

Naru

Naru surprised me this time around.  I never put a lot of stock in her, but really her friendship with Usagi is completely usurped by Sailor Moon’s responsibilities.  Naru was sweet, recognizing that Usagi has things going on that she may not understand. Even still, she tried to be there for her.

Chibiusa

Ta-da!  She’s from the future!  Did anybody honestly not know that?  She was a brat this episode, though, let’s be honest.

Alright guys, let me know what you thought of Act 18!

7 Shiny Pokémon

Or, why the adventure of Pokémon is better with friends.

Or, why the adventure of Pokémon is better with friends.

In the last week, I’ve gotten 7 new shiny Pokémon.  I attribute this to the new, more social way I play.

I’ve always played Pokémon alone.  Sure, when it was a big craze in generation 1 and everyone was playing, I played with other kids.  I played with my brother in generation 3 and with my then boyfriend in generation 4.  I’ve always had enough versions and devices to facilitate my own trades or get through the game the way I wanted to.

It’s only recently, with Pokémon ORAS, that I’ve gotten into the finer aspects of the game.  It’s not about beating the elite 4 for me now; it’s about filling with 700+ page National Dex and collecting the pokémon I want.

I was able to do the legendary hunt on my own, but once I was introduced to the online play, I felt instantly more integrated in the Pokémon community.  I got shiny Chespin and shiny Mudkip through Wonder Trade– what luck!

I also realized that I do have a way of joining the community: Twitter!  I was able to obtain a shiny Feraligatr thanks to @mews_heaven!

It was also through Twitter that I made some poké-pals.  After tweeting about the VGC St. Louis finals, I connected with a player who paid it forward and gifted me four awesome shiny pokémon: Charmander, Jirachi, Turtwig, and Fennekin!

Perhaps the best development is that my friend has started playing Omega Ruby after not playing since Red.  It’s been so fun to teach him about all of the new things generations 2 – 6 brought.  Best of all, it’s wonderful to have someone to trade and trade-back with just a text away!  With his help, filling my pokédex should be a lot simpler!

So the moral of the story is, it really is better to play together.

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 8.53.03 PM

I’d love to be your friend and play Pokémon with you!  My friend code is 4639 9658 6765.  Leave me a comment with yours!

Hope you all have wonderful weekends!

 

HK14: 16 Chefs Go Fish

Sixteen chefs in Hell’s Kitchen are woken up to do a little Alaska-inspired fishing.  In pairs, they chefs are to search for a matching fish head and a fish tail in pools of icy water.

In this, the first part of the challenge, the men win the advantage going into the second part of it.  Each chef is to individually prepare a dish featuring the fish they retrieved.  I love seeing individual cooking skills so early in the competition!  Michael Cimarusti comes to taste and guest judge.  We’ve seen him on Top Chef Masters!

Hell's Kitchen 16 Chefs Compete

L to R, top to bottom: Brendan’s trout, T’s trout, Josh’s salmon, Mieka’s salmon, Nick’s cod, Christine’s cod, Sarah’s cod, Alison’s halibut, Milly’s halibut.

  • In the battle of the trout, it’s Brendan, Bret, Meghan, and T competing.  Bret wins the point for Blue.
  • For salmon, Josh, Michael, Monique, and Mieka face off.  Mieka wins, much to everyone’s surprise as this was her third time ever cooking salmon.
  • The battle of the cod has Randy, Nick, Christine, and Sarah facing off.  Sarah wins the point for Red.
  • Halibut is prepared by Michelle, Alison, Adam and Milly.  It’s derailed a bit since Adam has used the same rice Milly prepared.  Even if the men were the best, this point was going to Red.  It’s claimed by Michelle and the ladies win!

They get to enjoy a day surfing with Anastasia Ashley while the men contend with seafood delivery day.  In prep, Randy cuts himself and ends up taking a trip to the hospital.  He’s back for service, two stitches later.

Although the women are feeling superior going into the night’s service, the reality of it is rocky seas.  Appetizers pose problems for the girls– T burns a pizza, scallops, risotto, and even pasta seem impossible to get right.  Another screw up on their last appetizer of the evening has Chef Ramsay kicking them all out of the kitchen.  Sarah’s plea for them to try again only further enrages Gordon.

Though the men make it a bit farther, they don’t actually have a better night.  A diner finds plastic on his salad of scallops and Michael decides to dangerously hide a smoking pan.  The biggest problem for Blue, and their ultimate undoing is their meat temperatures.  So many undercooked pieces of meat at delivered that Gordon kicks them out too.

For the actual first time ever in Hell’s Kitchen, Gordon pays a visit to the chefs’ dorms out of sheer frustration.  Each team nominates two of their own for elimination.  Red nominates Christine and Mieka.  Blue nominates Michael and Nick.

Michael is ultimately sent packing by Chef Ramsay.

I think there’s definitely dead weight on both teams, but agree Michael was the most deserving of a trip home.  Who do you think is next to go?