Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Bubbly Buh-BYE, 2014!

It's time to say farewell to the past twelve months and welcome 2015 to the world. The best way to ring in a New Year is toasting with something bubbly.
OK, surprise, surprise, the above is NOT Minne-snow-ta. It's Mexico, where I recently (and happily) imbibed quite a few champagne con cerezas.

Back to reality...
This is the ONLY way to chill champagne in Minnesota during the months of November-March. Ask any decent Minnesotan. 

But there is more to champagne than chilling it in some snow.
Here is some Champagne 101:

And second semester:

And for the physical basics:

For those more adventurous/dramatic - have you ever sabered your bottle?

If any of you try the above, I want to see the video!

Champagne is always a class act by itself, but for an event such as a new year, why not play around with some creative cocktails?




See anything to your liking?

Those who aren't into Don P can opt for a champagne-like beer, such as Brooklyn Brewery's big bottles that utilize champagne yeast.

And just because there is an absence of ABV, doesn't mean there needs to be a lack of fun. Try THESE nonalcoholic concoctions to add festivity to sober selections.

A tale told every New Year's Eve in my household involves some champagne flutes that provided quite a laugh (and quite a mess) many holidays ago. After sipping, as you rotated the glass back down, a perfectly formed drop of champagne would BLOP! back out into your face. Usually your eye. They were not much for function, but a hoot, nonetheless. We could never bear to part with them.

While nothing will ever surpass my love for those tricky tumblers, I might have a vintage set of coupe glasses on my wish list for 2015. How Mad Men!

Of course, you can just eat your spirits, then no glass needed.

If all else fails, go Spring Break style - with champagne.

Champagne is not just for solo sipping anymore - in fact, champagne pairing has become another skill to add to your culinary and palette know-how.

Ah...food, fizziness, folly. The last day of the year is so wonderful in its frivolity, when any worry or stress can disappear with the changing digit. Happy Days Are Here Again in 5...4...3...2...1...

See ya next year, friends! HAPPY 2015!

Friday, December 12, 2014

NYC Dos and Don'ts

I think I can call myself a New Yorker now. I've been a resident for over a decade and I've moved 5 times. Yes? Is that how the equation goes?

If it is truly official, then I also am allowed to start complaining about people not being New York-y enough. There is a sixth sense that you acquire after some time residing in Gotham. It may sound a little obnoxious, but it is absolutely true. As a bona fide "New Yorker", you are able to avoid tripping on pot holes without ever glancing down, easily maneuver through thick crowds of white-tennis-shoe-clad families, and have sonar to locate all of the hidden, cleanest public bathrooms. It's like your reward for having to pay broker's fees and smell urine 24-7. Give and take, you see.

But when you live in a city filled with 8 million people, someone is going to rub someone the wrong way (literally). Recently, Nathan W. Pyle published 136 brilliantly illustrated tips on how to navigate NYC while being on your best behavior and blending in with the natives. Por ejemplo...






"The most important thing I learned was to stay out of everyone's way," the 31-year-old told Business Insider last year. "Assume everyone's trying to get somewhere important and have spatial awareness."  -Nathan W. Pyle

Check out some of the back story HERE and buy the book in various forms here:

A newbie or a tourist does not posess the above skills. Not that I have anything against this grouping. As long as you avoid Times Square pre/post showtimes, the 5th Avenue Apple store during the day, and Madison Square Park's Shake Shack anytime, NYC tourists aren't so bad. But to any of you looking to visit the Big Bad Apple in the near future, there is help and you should be open to receiving it. More specifically for tourists, one can turn to Johnny T, our very own Miss Manners of NYC. Here he is breaking down tourist behavior and subway Ps and Qs.

See more of Johnny T and friends HERE.

Being a classy visitor to a city really is a timeless art. You can turn back the clock almost a century, and the same rules apply. Just take a page from Valentine's City of New York: A Guide Book.
I'll leave you with one last tip from that vade mecum:
"New York is like your own hometown, only bigger and the vast majority of its people are decent, likeable citizens. But there are also others."

Yep, sounds about right. Some things never change. See you soon!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Cozy Night In

I have to come clean - I'm loving this colder weather. Mostly because my pre-war apartment becomes a sweat lodge from late May through September, and is only somewhat less sticky during the spring and fall, leaving the winter season as the only time period where I can utilize baths, blankets, baking, and other b words that have to do with warmth.

So on particularly blustery days, I rush home, blinking snowflakes from my eyelashes, and ready myself for an evening home filled with relaxing coziness.

First order - bath.
"Calgon, take me away!"

Well, maybe not exactly like that. But there will definitely be bubbles. Luxurious bubbles. And sometimes, those bubbles will be made with a honey dipper.
Laura Mercier Creme Brûlée Honey Bath - Nordstrom

This little frosty will add extra nourishing oils and seasonal spice to your bath water as he melts away.
For the proper pampering ambience, light a comforting candle. I don't have a real live Christmas tree this year, but I do have a NEST Holiday candle which blends pine, cloves, and orange aromas. Plus, no need to vacuum up pine needles!

NEST Holiday Votive Candle

Post-bath your skin is ready to drink up this king of lotions:

Next step: Loungewear. Time to dress like you have nowhere to be for a very, very long time.

These PJs are as soft as they are affordable.
A high quality bath robe is basically like giving yourself a big hug.
Now that we are all wrapped up, let's unwind with a soothing hot beverage. Perhaps a cup of tea or chai?

This tea smells like sugar cookie dough and I can't think of anything wrong about that.



I've successfully made THIS chai tea recipe, but if you don't have the time (or star anise) to conjure up your own brew, I've heard good things about Trader Joe's Spicy Chai Tea Latte Mix.

Then pour it into your most cherished mug.

The bigger the better in this instance, since you aren't going to want to un-nestle yourself from your cozy cocoon on the couch to steep a refill.

Now sip.

Do you have the warm fuzzies yet? If so, now is the perfect time to peruse your Netflix queue. Gilmore Girls, anyone? Or check out the latest additions to see if a nostalgic favorite has made the list this month. Troop Beverly Hills, here I come.



Thursday, December 4, 2014

Peter Pan Live!

It's Game Day.

No, not football. Theater. Musical Theater. (cue: jazz hands and fan kicks)
Tonight NBC will present it's second go at live musical theater - Peter Pan Live! - and it's basically like the Superbowl for us theater kids. My young self can't imagine having access to all of the musical theater film and television that we have today. When I was a little one, I remember being obsessed with the TV series Rags to Riches (anyone?) because they sang and danced and were orphans (a seemingly essential component to tween musical theater success). It only lasted one season. I am thrilled that musical theater has become more popular in the public arena and will be watching tonight's Peter Pan Live! with a full 8-year-old-LuRuSo heart.
One of the best/worst ways to enjoy tonight's show is viewing while simultaneously updating your Twitter feed.

Last year, even the official DiGiorno Pizza gave it's saucy commentary.

Yes, there will be snark and meanness and judging (even from pizza!), but whether cruel or adoring, all of last year's buzz added to the soaring ratings of 22 million viewers. Which means more product and jobs and exposure. So, let's all clap our hands in belief that PP will attract the same attention. Plus, if you have gone down the performance road, you've learned to have some moxie and thick skin when it comes to reactions to your art form and choices. I think this cast is going to handle it all with aplomb. They can tell you for themselves:

The Sound of Music was my childhood. Nightly, I would doze off with the lights fully on and The Sound of Music soundtrack tape BLARING. Seriously, the only way I would go to sleep. Should explain a lot about me. But, I've Never (Never) seen the musical of Peter Pan. I love Peter Pan-themed things; One of my favorite memories living in London was running to the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens, the DisneyWorld ride is magical, and who doesn't love the idea of flying? So tonight will expose me to new music, which is always a good thing.

I certainly never (never) thought about being cast in a production - I don't think there is a single role for me in the Pan. Although if I had tried to audition, it might have gone something like this:

Or this:


I was a little bummed that Laura Benanti was not included in this year's cast. She was a highlight as Baroness Elsa last year, making me sympathize with a character that I used to loathe. And no one gives shade like she does.

If you are like me, and don't know much about the Peter Pan stage musical, HERE is some history 101. Read up and tune into NBC tonight at 8/7c.

Let the games and crowing begin. Break legs, all!

Hopefully it will be a smoother flight than this classic production:


Monday, December 1, 2014

Good Dog. Bad Dog.

Let's all do one collective sigh, shall we?

WHEW!

Not sure if that was a relief sigh for getting through another round of Thanksgiving leftovers or a deep breath in preparation for the crazy month to come, but I know we could all use it.

This is the time of year when each day goes by in a blink of an eye, while your To Do list grows just as fast. All the while, we have less daylight hours and more events.

During the next few weeks, I find myself becoming somewhat of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. One day, I'll have all of the strength, moxie, and hope to accomplish the tasks at hand, and the next - well, since it is the 1st of the month, I'll let our furry friends demonstrate.

Yes! I can DO THIS! There is always a way! Never stop trying! All this natural energy! I'll sleep when I'm dead! Stiff Upper Lip! What a life! That goal is MINE!

Or not.

Which hound are you?

Oh, and good luck to us all (have another sigh if you need it)!

Friday, October 31, 2014

The B Bee

I couldn't help it.

Bee still my heart!

(No doxies were harmed - except in honor - in the making of this Halloween) 

Bryndal's former nightmares HERE.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Foodie Twists

Classics are classics for a reason, but sometimes you want to tinker a little and see if you find something even better, or at least - different. These three small twists help switch up your regularly scheduled eating programming and are mighty tasty.

The Arnold Palmer was introduced to me by my dad, who would order them at work lunches. Upon first sip, I deemed this the fanciest non-alcoholic drink since the Shirley Temple and was immediately obsessed. Being the indecisive type, I'm already a big fan of getting two drinks in one. It doesn't hurt that I adore both lemonade and iced tea.
When I saw Siriously Delicious mention a green tea version at True Food Kitchen, I knew I had to attempt this at home.
Green Tea Arnie Palmer - half lemonade/half green tea

Switching the tea to green gave it a light, herbal flavor. This makes me want to experiment with all sorts of tea switcharoos - hibiscus, blueberry, lavender... What would you pair with the lemonade? You could always spike it, as well.

How can you improve butter? I was inspired by this next twist after eating the most delectable special at Pizzeria Lola that drizzled a honey olive oil on a farmer's market margherita pie. 

The tinge of sweet brought out all of the other flavors without crossing the line to dessert. I wanted to adapt this idea, using butter instead of oil.

Let a stick of butter soften to room temperature. Then add (all to taste) garlic, chives, honey, and salt - if butter is unsalted. Mix until combined and then re-refrigerate.

Try serving it with corn-on-the-cob, steak, or my favorite - grilled slices of baguette.

Sriracha. Love it. Just add it to everything. Here are a few recipes that are elevated by the spicy condiment.

This BBQ Chicken is ridiculously good. The grilling process really mellows out the heat of the spice, so don't be afraid to squeeze a little extra in!

Marinade (enough for approximately 2lbs of chicken):
1/2 cup soy sauce
4 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons Sriracha sauce
2 Tablespoons honey
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon ginger, grated
1/4 cup chopped spring onions
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
Juice from 1 lime
Combine all ingredients and cover chicken with marinade. Let sit for 2+ hours in refrigerator.
Grill chicken over medium heat while occasionally basting with BBQ sauce (BBQ sauce + Sriracha, honey, grated fresh ginger to taste). Serve with extra sauce.

Spice up your breakfast...
Sriracha-Maple Bacon - Food52

And the happiest couple of them all - Sriracha + salmon. They really do have an enviable relationship. Pour the below combo onto salmon filets and then move on to your cooking method of choice (pan to oven, bake, broil, grill...)
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon ginger, grated
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon lime juice
  • Sriracha, to taste

If you want to get really Sriracha serious, play off any of these ideas:
Sriracha Recipes - Brit + Co

So go get all twisty and have fun with food!

Friday, October 17, 2014

When Fall Gives You Lemons

I was all set to post about things that "fall" under the category of cozy. My cupboards are stocked with pumpkin puree, the knee high boots are polished, and I've switch from iced coffees to steaming lattes.

But then it hit 70 degrees. Three days in a row.
This humidity and sweatiness does not mix well with my apple cider and leggings. Is this how you flip flop wearing Los Angelenos feel every seasonal change? I'm so confused!

Anyway, I put the autumnal inspiration on hold for something completely inappropriate for this time of year - LEMONS!
Yep, it's mid October and I've got lemons on my mind.
Is there a fruit more cheery, bright, and zingy? I think not. It adds instant zest to whatever you use it in or on. Lemons are the refresh button of life.

Wear something with a lemon on it. I have a lemon dress and I actually had a construction worker bellow across Madison Avenue that I was "looking quite citrusy today". Is that not the best compliment ever (especially from a construction worker)? All of the collections that were ripe for the picking in May are now sold out, but you can find cute prints from Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, and Dolce & Gabbana on Ebay.

How sweet (or sour) are these clutches?


A zest or squeeze of lemon elevates any dish. I love to use it in baking because I feel like the dessert is that much healthier. Vitamin C, anyone? I enjoy fooling myself.

Remember THESE? Perfection.

This lemon zucchini bread is a great way to sneak some fruit AND veggies into a treat. Warning: it is extremely sweet - the next time I whip up a batch, I may try and cut back on the sugar.
Glazed Lemon Zucchini Bread - Lil Luna 

Who wouldn't be thrilled to receive this lemon-themed baking kit (HINT! HINT!)

Throw this mug into the loot, as well.

Years ago, I spent time traveling Italy. I distinctly remember the smell of lemon blossoms, whether enjoying my espresso in the square or hiking Cinque Terre. Lemon trees were everywhere and heavenly. Wouldn't it be swell to bring a little Italia into your home?

I knew lemons were a natural disinfectant and also remember squeezing juice into my hair to make "highlights" as a tween, but did you know they could also brighten your nails?

This is one of my favorite lotions, perfect for extra rough spots like knees, elbows, and hands. I stayed at the W Hotel in San Francisco where they stocked these products, and I didn't want to check-out!

I can't finish this list without mentioning lemonade. 
Little Lucy's Limonada

Not to diss my classic recipe, but THIS one mentioned on Cup of Jo sounds a bit more refined.

And then you could sneak it into this...

Or to deal with the sourness of life sober, just turn to the sourest of them all, Grumpy Cat.

See? I bet you feel sunnier already. That's the magic of lemons.
Next April, I promise to muse about nutmeg and mulled wine.

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