Friday, September 30, 2011

Willy Wonka Inspired Chap Stick

Willy Wonka chap sticks ... not! ... but they could be.  I buy a lot of lip balm.  Whether at work, home or on the road, one is always within reach.  I keep chap sticks just about everywhere ... in my purse, at my desk and inside my nightstand.  There is usually one in the pocket of my jackets and coats too.  Now you can get them in many delicious flavors, including your favorite candy, soda pop and even breakfast cereal.

As sets, I think they make fun, inexpensive gifts, not to mention, perfect Christmas stocking stuffers for kids and adults alike. You'll want to eat your lips, but won't expand your waist, nor sugarcoat your child's teeth.  And as we move into the fall and winter, we will need the extra protection to keep our lips soft, smooth and shiny.  Some varieties have sun screen also!

Look for candy and soda flavored chap stick at Walgreens, Walmart and Target.

Online retailers carrying sets of popular flavors for cheap include:

Amazon - Flavors include:  Skittles, Coke, Dr. Pepper, 7-Up and more. [Use Amazon's search box to find a flavor and pull up sets.  It's a fabulous tool to see what exists.]

The Lakeside Collection - Has: Fruit Loops, Frosted Flakes, Rice Krispies and others.

My Lip Stuff - They are the most expensive, selling sets of 6 at $13, but offers 500 different flavors.  If you can't find a favorite flavor elsewhere, look here.
Because ... taking care of your lips tastefully shouldn't cost you an arm and a leg.💋

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sidney Poitier: Actor, Author ... And More

I don't remember a world without Sidney Poitier.  Lilies of the Field, In the Heat of the Night, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, To Sir With Love,  A Patch of Blue.  I remember his movies vividly even though I watched them at a tender age before I should have understood what they were about.  And yet, the way S.P. played a character, I did understand what his films were about.  I especially remember his presence.  He brought a strength and grace to every role he played.

Mr. Poitier's memoir came out in 2000.  Like his acting, The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography is expansive, timeless and worth revisiting.

The book shares memories of his Caribbean childhood, celebrated life and acting career.  He says his parents and boyhood in the Cat Islands gave him his self-worth and unwavering sense of right and wrong.

Poitier was born prematurely in Florida on a trip his parents took to sell tomatoes grown on their farm.  He wasn't expected to live.  His parents spent 3 months nursing him to health before returning home.  He grew up in poverty, but learned to enjoy simple pleasures in a world without material distractions.

At 15 he was sent to live with a brother in Miami.  He moved to New York at 17, working menial jobs and living in a toilet at a bus station.  He joined the Army and later worked as a dishwasher until an audition won him a spot with the American Negro Theater.  Poitier became an actor to earn a paycheck, but worked doggedly to overcome his dialect and develop his craft.

A stage role lead to an opportunity to play a black doctor treating a white bigot in a 1950 film, No Way Out, which lead to other roles, more prominent than what black actors usually were offered in those days.

He talks about his religious faith, thoughts on racism, the influence of world leaders like Gandhi and Mandela and how it was to break barriers along the way.  In 1963 Poitier became the first black actor to win an Academy Award as a leading man for Lilies of the Field. ("I stand up!")

He writes with clarity, passion and humility about being a husband, father and artist.  Throughout his book, he probes personal values and the importance of character. He had less than a 6th grade education, but became an avid reader, as well as, a student and citizen of the world.  In both his private and public life, Poitier strives to honor his upbringing and the legacy of his parents.

In the 70s he became a successful director and producer of films, including Stir Crazy and Uptown Saturday Night.

His talent, morals and likability made him one of the most respected actors of all time.  Today S.P. is 84 years old.  His autobiography is a great book to keep on your shelf for inspiration and life lessons.  In 2008 he published a new book: Life Beyond Measure: Letters to My Great Granddaughter.

Filmstrip I'm not exaggerating when I say, as a child, I knew Sidney Poitier personified dignity even before I knew what the word meant.  When you see it, you just sense it. 

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Real Italian Cooking

This week I was invited to a Casa Barilla event held in Central Park, where celebrated chefs shared their joy of Italian cooking.  I watched demonstrations and tasted succulent, mouthwatering Italian food.  It's a tough job, but someone has to do it.

Each of the chefs used simple, but quality ingredients like fresh tomatoes, garlic, parsley and extra virgin olive oil.  Quick and easy, all of the dishes were prepared on a stovetop using skillets and a big pot for boiling pasta.

There are 4 cardinal rules for boiling pasta: 1) Never break the noodles; cook them long; 2) Never put oil in the boiling water.  It doesn't keep pasta from sticking, and you are wasting good olive oil; 3) Cook the noodles al dente [firm].  Soft pasta is overcooked and unhealthy; 4) Never rinse the pasta; you don't want to remove the starch.  As a guide: Cook one pound of pasta in one gallon of water with one tablespoon salt.

At the Barilla event, professional Italian chefs walked us through the steps of making 10-12 seasonal, authentic Italian dishes with fresh ingredients available at farmer's markets and, increasingly, at supermarkets.

Chef Lorenzo Boni recommends cooking pasta one minute short of what the directions on the box say, then finish cooking it in the sauce to pick up flavors.  Other tips: Don't cook ... warm extra virgin olive oil to preserve flavor and its health benefits.  He uses only a small amount of extra virgin olive oil to tenderize vegetables, then dribbles more on to finish the dish right before serving. 

Here are the recipes for two seafood dishes I plan on making at home:

Linguine with Sundried Mullet Roe and Parsley
1 box linguine
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 piece sundried mullet roe, grated
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
Red pepper flakes to taste
1. Cook pasta according to box directions.
2. Meanwhile, in a skillet, warm the olive oil and add the garlic, frying until golden.
3. Add the pasta, and toss with grated mullet roe and chopped parsley. [Our chef grated the flesh of a fillet.]
4. Sprinkle on red pepper flakes and serve.

Vermicelli Mari e Monti
12 mussels
12 small clams
½  pound calamari
2 garlic cloves
¼  cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
10 medium shrimp
½  pound sea bass
1 cup porcini mushrooms, sliced
1 box Vermicelli or thick spaghetti
3 tablespoons parsley
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
1) Steam the mussels and clams in a covered skillet.  Discard the shells.
2) Cut the calamari into thin rings.
3) Chop the garlic into very thin slices.  Heat half the oil and garlic in a skillet.
4) Add the seafood and saute for 2 minutes.
5) In a separate skillet, saute the mushrooms until golden.  Add the fish sauce.
6) If needed, add some of the pasta cooking water and simmer two more minutes.
7) Meanwhile, cook pasta according to box directions, drain al dente and toss with the sauce and some cooking liquid.
8) Garnish with chopped parsley before serving.

Trust me, the cost of the seafood in each dish is well-worth the splurge.  Italians are famous for "celebrating the good things in life: food, culture, family and friends."  They "believe in the power of food."*  Let's all be Italian for a day. 
Mangiare bene e piacere!

*Quotes from Barilla event

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Zac Posen Rules The Runway

Zac Posen exhibited his Spring 2012 collection in New York during Fashion Week after a two year absence.  Like several other high profile designers, he showed in Paris in recent years, but not here.  Thank goodness he's back at Lincoln Center this year.  Even if you don't buy high fashion, browsing is fun, inspiring and sometimes gorgeous.  Zac Posen is a favorite designer of mine, and I'm not alone.  The reason?  He truly knows how to dress a woman.  Weather it's his sultry party dresses, or a two-piece, night-out-on-the-town ensemble, you can entrust your curves into his capable hands and creative mind for a romantic, sweet and ultra modern look.  With satin and tulle fabrics that are perfectly cut,  Zac Posen always makes a woman look feminine, elegant and very pretty.  Styled to flatter a woman's figure, he gives you a little drama.  It's edgy without being ridiculous.  Thank you, Zac!  You're a dressmaker, who really likes women.  I love you too! 

Click here to view his complete collection.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fashion's Night Out Is Thursday

This year there are over 1,000 stores participating in New York City and many more in major cities around the world. Stores are open late and hosting free food, spirits and plenty of exciting entertainment.  Don't miss out on the ultimate party scene as only the fashion industry can throw it.  Go to these in-the-know sites to get a complete list of all the fashion, fun events and giveaways: FNO {All cities} and Metro {New York}.  Get ready to enjoy the celebrities, music, and champagne! Party smile

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

What Would You Do If You Were Losing Your Hair?

I feel for men who are going bald. Today baldness is considered hip, but thinning hair has to be traumatic. Hair is such a big part of our identity, a symbol of youth and not everyone looks good with a bald head.

According to several medical sources, male pattern badness affects about 40 million men in the US alone.  Men have a 4 in 7 chance of inheriting the baldness gene.  Studies indicate that early baldness is passed on through the X chromosome, but the Y chromosome plays a part too.  Castrated men don't go bald.  Interesting fact, but yikes!  Don't try it at home.

Male pattern baldness begins with a receding hairline (from the lateral sides of the forehead).  Usually, a woman's hair doesn't start to thin until she is in her 80s.  

In spite of websites that claim to treat baldness, there's not much you can do to slow it down, or regrow your hair.  Two FDA approved treatments, finasteride [Propecia] and minoxidel [Rogaine] have limited success.  And hair implants are costly, painful and not very effective either.

Hollywood types like William Shatner, Nicolas Cage, Matthew McConaughey, Jon Cryer, Jude Law and Gene Simmons are rumored to wear hairpieces while in the public eye.  As did Michael Jackson.  Elton John does too.  It doesn't take experience to know that fake hair is an ordeal to wear.

I don't blame a person for doing whatever he has to do to deal with hair loss.  If it were me, I'd get some tony, happening hats like Micky Dolenz and Cee Lo Green.

Life is change.  Since the beginning of time.  Every body changes.  But, you're in good company.  Many other men are going bald too.  Hopefully, losing one's hair makes a person a little more compassionate.  No one is perfect, and if it's not one thing, surely, it will be something else.