Month: August 2015

Project Runway: Fashion Flip

Did anyone else think last week’s Project Runway had like, a lot of themes?  It was the Mary Kay Challenge, meaning the winner gets $5000 care of Mary Kay Cosmetics.  The challenge was to update a classic garment (think: the wrap dress, the pencil skirt) by adding your own twist.  Also, the designers were to use the New York City skyline as inspiration.  See what I mean?  There are a lot of things.

Anyway, I can’t help but find this a very daunting task.  The designers take their very first trip to Mood after sketching to pick out fabrics.  They only get one day for this challenge as well.  In that one-day, they fit in some model fittings and hair and make-up consultations.  At the end of it all, here’s what they put on the runway: (more…)

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MasterChef: Takeover

The top six home cooks were tested on the line this week!  The challenge was a restaurant takeover at legendary Japanese fusion restaurant, Chaya.  The executive chef here invented tuna tartare in that very kitchen… so no big deal or anything.

Last week’s winning team of Stephen and Derrick get to take their places as captains.  Stephen selects Nick to start his red team and Derrick picks Katrina for his blue.  Stephen selects Claudia, automatically assigning Hetal to Derrick’s team.

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Along with the tuna tartare appetizer, the teams are also preparing a wagyu beef appetizer.  For entrées, they are preparing venison, and a miso sea bass.

Blue starts off a little stronger, but both teams actually are able to prepare impressive and delicious appetizers to Chaya’s diners.  Entrées go well for blue right off the bat, but it takes red a while to get the timing down between the sea bass and the venison.  They get it down, but they receive comments about their food being oily.  Blue seems to fall apart at the end of service.  The fish gets burnt, the team slows down.

Gordon Ramsay gathers the home cooks back at the MasterChef kitchen to announce the winning team: Red!  That places Stephen, Claudia, and Nick on the balcony and safely in the top 5.  Derrick, Hetal, and Katrina now face the dreaded pressure test… and it’s a bad one.

Christina presents a beautiful ricotta-and-spinach-filled manicotti.  Graham presents a squid ink-striped farfalle with clams and scallops.  Gordon presents a single egg yolk-filled raviolo.  Each of these dishes looked harder than the last, and Derrick, Hetal, and Katrina must make all of them.  In an hour.

It’s a pretty mad dash.  Derrick looks fairly under control, as he’s been in a million pressure tests and is probably used to it by now.  He struggles most with the egg-yolk ravioli, making it almost too small and threatening to break that yolk before cooking.  Katrina’s biggest concern is the squid ink stripes in the farfalle.  She can’t figure out how to do them!  Hetal is in a panic.  At one point, she decides to only present two dishes, which would have been the worst idea ever.  Speaking of horrifying things she almost did– she almost put the manicotti filling in the ravioli!  Claudia caught her from above and told her that wasn’t right.

Christina tastes the manicotti from each home cook.  Derrick’s sauce could use a pinch more salt and his pasta a pinch more filling, but it’s good.  Katrina’s comes out great.  Hetal’s sauce is bland and her manicotti is also lacking some filling.

Graham tastes the squid ink farfalle.  Derrick’s seafood is cooked beautifully, but his past is a bit under.  Katrina couldn’t get the squid ink stripes in there, but her seafood is also well cooked.  Her pasta is undercooked too, though.  Hetal’s pasta is done nicely and cooked well, but her seafood has not a sear in sight!  Graham makes a face trying to eat it.

Gordon tastes the ravioli.  He makes a big deal about the raw sage Derrick put atop his, but the yolk oozes out of the perfectly cooked raviolo and all is well as far as I’m concerned.  Katrina should’ve been paying attention to Claudia/Hetal, because she put ricotta in her raviolo… other that that, it would’ve been good.  Hetal basically cooked her egg yolk, over-cooked and over-peppered.

Hetal is sent home.  I’m sad to see her go, as I’ve really enjoyed her!  She’s done such impressive cooking, especially for a vegetarian!  I’m throwing all of my support behind Derrick.  How awesome would it be to see him and Stephen in the finale?!  Thoughts?

Face Off: Gates to Other Worlds

This week’s episode of Face Off featured not one, but two very cool challenges!  It all started with a Foundation Challenge.  The artists walked in to find McKenzie seemingly about to start a therapy session.  Actually, she announces that all the artists will have to inspire them for the challenge is the rorschach test.  You know those ink blots?  Each artist uses one to create a character and results are amazing.

Jasmine and Meg come out on top of this and Meg ends up taking the win for her dirty river mermaid.  She wins immunity for the Spotlight Challenge!

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Speaking of switch, the next day the artists find McKenzie standing in front of six unique gateways.  The challenge is to create two characters: the gatekeeper and what they are guarding.  The artists work in pairs chosen at random by selecting keys to the gates from a bag held by McKenzie.  The pairs are: Jason & Ricky, Meg & Libby, Ben & Jordan, Evan & Stevie, Scott & Kevon, and Nora & Jasmine.  Here’s what they come up with:

L to R, T to B: Jason & Ricky, Meg & Libby, Ben & Jordan, Evan & Stevie, Scott & Kevon, Nora & Jasmine.

L to R, T to B: Jason & Ricky, Meg & Libby, Ben & Jordan, Evan & Stevie, Scott & Kevon, Nora & Jasmine.

Top Looks this week are Nora & Jasmine and Ben & Jordan.  Jordan is declared the winner!

Scott, Kevon, Evan, and Stevie are all safe.

Bottom Looks are Jason & Ricky and Meg & Libby.  Since Meg has immunity, we knew she wasn’t going anywhere.  Libby goes home for her lack of grip on the anatomy of the hyena character.

Jasmine’s on fire, huh?  Her painting will get her far in this competition.  Do you have any favorites yet?

Summer Reading 2015 | part 4

It’s been a while since I’ve updated you on my summer reading!  Well, the summer’s almost over, isn’t it?  August always tends to be slower for me, as I’m not hitting the beach as frequently because I’m trying to catch up on all of the other things I forgot to do this summer!  The good news is that I’ve officially passed last year’s count.  Here are books 10, 11, & 12!

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Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman | This was my first Gaiman venture, and I must say that I am so excited to read more!  This took me a bit to get into, but once I was in, I felt pleasantly completely submerged in the world created.  Don’t you love that in a book?  I found myself wanting more when this was done, and weirdly, found myself thinking Door was a pretty cute name.

Armada by Ernest Cline | After reading Ready Player One last year, I couldn’t WAIT to get my hands on more Ernest Cline.  Armada didn’t disappoint, but I must say, I liked Ready Player One much better.  The world created in Ready Player One was slightly more plausible, but Cline really does an excellent job at, to quote myself, writing love letters to geeks everywhere.  Armada may have been slightly more difficult to get into, but it did cause me to shed a tear and, like Cline’s other book, really made me want to play video games!

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee | Alright, I’m sure a lot of you have read this by now and I honestly want to know what you think.  I find myself dying to take this as a completely separate work from the (obviously related) To Kill A Mockingbird.  To me, it’s like Harper Lee brought this to her publisher and was like, “good try, but what’s actually the story here?”  And then came TKAM.  My friend Celina (who frequents Russian authors) said she was basically told to write it 20 years earlier, which is how TKAM came to be.  I can’t say I was floored.  Opinions?!

This could be it for this summer, guys… stay tuned to see if there will be a part 5!

Project Runway: Not the Love Boat

Last week, the designers were taken aboard a cruise ship to announce their challenge.  Seven suitcases boasted seven fabulous destinations to serve as inspiration for a day-to-night vacation look.  Fourteen designers for seven suitcases meant this would be their first team challenge.

Tim brings out the dreaded button bag to get it all started.  Amanda and Gabby are the first pair drawn and they select their location first: the South of France.  Ashley & Candice are drawn next, and they chose Venice.  Lindsay & Jake are partnered up and select Hong Kong.  Laurie & Swapnil select India.  Kelly & Blake take the Greek Isles.  Edmond (who has immunity) and Hanmiao pick the Caribbean.  Merline and Joseph are left together and the St. Petersburg.

It’s not smooth sailing for all the teams once they get to work.  Two different points of view clash for Edmond and Hanmiao.  Edmond makes very feminine clothes, but Hanmiao prefers structure.  Hanmiao seems unable to communicate anything but that fact.  Lindsay’s ideas all get shot down by Jake, but he doesn’t seem to offer any suggestions of his own.  Joseph decided Merline would annoy him before they even began, so he “put her on lockdown” and wouldn’t let her sing/dance/act like herself… or even contribute any ideas.  While I admit, she’s been a bit much, her ideas have always been well received by the judges.

The other pairs are getting along perfectly– Laurie & Swapnil are integrating bits of each other into one finished product, Ashley & Candice are inspired by each other’s style and the fabrics from their suitcase, Amanda & Gabby seems to share a point of view, and Kelly & Blake are perfectly aligned on their Greek goddess garment.  Here’s what the teams come up with:

After endless fighting with Jake, Lindsay somehow manages to create this.  She did, however, have to do all of the work by herself.

After endless fighting with Jake, Lindsay somehow manages to create this. She did, however, have to do all of the work by herself.

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  • Lindsay & Jake end up in the top!  Despite all of their troubles, Lindsay’s design and hard work pays off.  I love this risky fabric mix.
  • Amanda & Gabrielle are a bottom look for the night.  I think the shirt is entirely confusing.  I don’t like it either.
  • Blake & Kelly’s jumpsuit may actually be my favorite look this week.  They are the only team that is safe straight out of the gates.
  • Candice & Ashley’s look is definitely bold, but it does work.  This one puts them in the top.
  • Swapnil & Laurie’s look is pretty perfect.  Laurie’s fabric suggestion for the sari-like piece is definitely “the secret sauce,” as Tim Gunn said.  This look is another top one!
  • Joseph & Merline end up in the bottom for this hideous, matronly dress and cape.  The fabric is awful.  The color is awful.
  • Hanmiao and Edmond’s Caribbean disaster also deserved to be in the bottom.  Hanmiao’s bathing suit is so poorly constructed.  Edmond even made another one while she sewed the model into this one… yeah, communication was an issue.

The choice comes down to Hanmiao and Merline for who’s out.  If it were up to me, I’d have chosen Joseph to be out, believing he’s more at fault for a bad garment than both of these ladies.  Between the two, though, Hanmiao is out.  I agree with this decision, even though I’d enjoyed her thus far!  I do think Merline has more to accomplish.

What did you think of last week’s elimination?!

MasterChef: Coffee & Tag Team

It’s the top 7 home cooks in the kitchen this week on MasterChef and they are trying to be the top 6.  What’s standing in between each of them an that distinction?  Oh, a Mystery Box Challenge.  They pull away their boxes to reveal a cup of coffee.  These Mystery Boxes have gotten very symbolic, eh?

The home cooks get an hour to create a dish out of something we are very used to drinking, but perhapys not eating.  Many of the home cooks wisely choose to skew sweet.  The top three dishes are:

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Derrick with his beautiful blue eyes and arms caramel latte panna cotta, Hetal with her chocolate coffee cake, and Nick with his vanilla coffee pound cake.  Nick wins the advantage for the episode and his first Mystery Box Challenge!

Despite the win, Nick isn’t choosing what his fellow home cooks have to make.  Gordon, Graham, and Christina have done the picking.  Nick gets the free pass into the top 6 and the ability to form the teams for the challenge.  They home cooks will work in pairs to recreate the summer appetizer platter put before them.  It includes chicken wings, shrimp skewers, chips and guac, sliders, pigs in blankets, and oh yeah, did we mention it’s the tag team challenge?  The home cooks will be tagging in and out to create one platter, together.  Nick is particularly strategic in forming the team of Stephen & Derrick, though they are perhaps the two strongest home cooks… they don’t enjoy each other.  Another strategic choice comes in the form of pairing Tommy & Katrina, who have bashed heads before.  This leaves Claudia and Hetal together.

As expected, Stephen & Derrick are an explosive combination.  Stephen does A LOT of frantic yelling and they make me nervous altogether.  It’s also stressful to watch Tommy & Katrina, where again we have Katrina yelling a lot at Tommy and Tommy telling her to stop yelling at him.  Things are relatively calm for Claudia & Hetal, who seem to work together fairly well.  When the final minutes tick away, we see Derrick complete his team’s platter at the buzzer and it looks perfect!

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Derrick & Stephen prove they are a force to be reckoned with, despite working against each other and Gordon mocking they way they yelled.  Despite the smooth sailing, Hetal and Claudia did not fair so well.  Their platter is a mess, and for some reason there are burnt mushrooms everywhere.  The shrimp is raw.  It’s a pretty similar story for Tommy and Katrina, for whom the judges can barely find anything positive to say.

Derrick & Stephen earns their safety easily, and pop up to the balcony as champions.  Hetal and Claudia have just a tiny advantage over Katrina & Tommy, and also find themselves safe.  Katrina gets saved, and Tommy is sent home.

He exits in supreme Tommy fashion, and it is glorious.  You do you, Tommy!  We’ll miss you.

So, at this point, I’m Team Derrick.  Who you all cheering for?!