Saturday, October 6, 2012

Isn't she clever!

I'm a huge fan of the Pottery Barn/Williams Sonoma/Crate and Barrel look.  Just not such a fan of the prices... Well Beckie at Knock Off Decor seems to share my feelings.  But she's much better at doing something about it!  Look at some of the amazing ideas she has collected:

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Soda stream

My daughter loves soda.  There, I said it.  I'm not a bad mom but what can you do?   One solution I've come up with is to make our own.  No, I'm not stirring a witches pot of ingredients on a daily basis.  I took the easy way out and bought a Soda Stream machine.  It was a Christmas present to myself and you know what?  I love it!

In fact, I love it so much that I went out and bought the fancier version so that it could be displayed on my bar!   To be honest, I think that the glass bottles are a little harder to clean but they do look nice enough to leave on the table during dinner...

Of course now it seems that the "fancy" version I bought last year has been retooled... but I'm sure it works just as well.
RIP Sodastream Penguin...

The company makes about a million soda flavors which mimic the most popular brands but with lower sugar and les preservatives (and shorter shelf life) but my favorite is just plain carbonated water.  Such a simple girl LOL

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Expats

I love books.  Lately I haven't had much time to read and have been forced to get my reading 'fix' through audiobooks.  And one I highly recommend is called The Expats by Chris Pavone.  If you like a good thriller then Chris is your guy.

I learned of the book through an interview on the radio where the author spoke about the experience of moving his whole family to Europe so that his wife could pursue a career opportunity.  He found himself as a househusband and began to write about that experience.  However, as Chris explained, expanding upon the tedium of his daily life made for a tedius story.  So he decided to spice it up a bit.

Tackling the question of how much do we really ever know about others, including those close to us, resulted in an absolutely engrossing novel.  I highly reccomend that you check it out.  And it's also available as an audiobook from the Overdrive system at many local libraries (i.e. free!)  Ch Ch Check it out.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Once upon a time I used to ride horses.  A lot.  And when you ride horses a lot, you also occasionally fall off.  After one such lovely event a friend noticed my bruises and shared a secret with me.  See, she was a Black Belt in Karate and was occasionally banged up herself. 

She said try taking Arnica Montana and you'll see that your bruises and swelling will go away much more quickly.  And they did.  It's genius!  


You can find Arnica just like this at your local Whole Foods in the Vitamin aisle and if you like it, you can buy larger quantities more affordably online.  Give it a try- you'll thank me!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Why didn't I think of that??

Taylor Swift makes a million dollars every time she breaks up with some loser then writes a song about it. Why didn't I think of that?!?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Don't you wish you were them?

Sailing around the world on a beautiful boat instead of reading this blog post right now?  I kinda do!  And that's why I enjoy reading about their daily ventures.  It's my way of living vicariously through two beautiful people living a farytale.  Man, am I jealous!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Ménage a trois

Well THAT'S certainly an interesting blog title.  Wonder how many hits that'll generate?  Get your mind out of the gutter (and while you're there please grab mine too).  I'm talking about my favorite everyday red wine.   In fact, it's my house red.  That's right, I said it.  Menage a trois at my house!! Har dee Har Har.

In all seriousness, back to the wine.  This blend of reds provides the classic  jammy fruity taste that is expected of the California Red.  The fruits of the Zinfandel combine with the mouth feel of the Merlot and the rich flavors and tannins of the Cabernet Sauvignon to strike a perfect balance.  And at about $8.00 a bottle there's no reason not to give it a try!  C'mon, invite your friends over for a little Menage a Trois this weekend...


Ina's guacamole

I like Guacamole.  Who doesn't?!?  Except people who are allergic to Avocados I guess... Anyway, I've tried quite a few recipes and I have to say that the best I've ever found is by Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa.  And here is her recipe:
Ina Garten's Guacamole
Makes approximately 3 cups
  • 4 ripe Hass avocados
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
  • 8 dashes hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco)
  • 1/2 cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion)
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded, and small-diced
Cut the avocados in half, remove the pits, and scoop the flesh out of their shells into a large bowl. (Ina recommends using your hands.) Immediately add the lemon juice, hot sauce, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper and toss well. Using a sharp knife, slice through the avocados in the bowl until they are finely diced. Add 2/3 of the tomatoes. Mix well and taste for salt and pepper.  Top with the last 1/3 of tomatoes and enjoy!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Air popper

I found myself at the Grocery store last weekend doing something that I'd heretofore not anticipated.  I was buying pre-popped popcorn for my daughters sleepover.  Forget about how silly that is in terms of expense (it was $4.00 for the bag) but let's just take a moment to think about what preservatives must have been sprinkled on there to keep it 'fresh' aka shelf stable!  Yuck.

Well it reminded me that one of the great pleasures of my youth was the ol' air popper.  Remember how much fun it was to watch your parents try to get the corn to shoot into the bowl?  One tiny nudge by you and it would shoot all over... those were the days.  And completely aside from the fun, this corn is much healthier than the microwave and shelf stable stuff.  No added fat, preservatives or anything.  Just fun.

There are a number of different brands and styles ranging from about $20

to $40 if you want to get all fancy. Which you really don't need to.

I don't see the difference but if you're a fan of red, go for it!

Or you could dig the old one out of your parent's garage.  It's probably still there and I'll bet it still works!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Flip flop holder

My darling daughter has inherited a genetic condition.  Ok, maybe it's not exactly genetic given that she's inherited it from her Godmother but still... she sure didn't get it from me!  It's her love of clothes and shoes.  Admittedly, she has great taste and is very strategic about the purchases she makes but nevertheless, the stuff piles up!

We recently went through a huge purge of things which had mysteriously become too small and the clothes are temporarily tamed. But the shoes.  Oh the shoes!  There aren't enough shoe racks in the world for this kiddo and not all shoes are made for conventional racks.

Enter the flip flop holder!  I kid you not.  These things are great.  Perfectly engineered to hold not only flip flops

but a multitude of other things too like, say, cheer bows. 

I know.  This scares me too.

Love them and you can get them here:

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Less visible cork board

When you're busy or have kids then all of those little slips of paper, reminders, invites etc are a fact of life.  You can accept it or drown in a sea of clutter.  Most of us go in one of two directions to tame the unruly beast of paper- we either cover our fridge with stuff held by magnets or we invest in a corkboard. 

Unfortunately for many of us, those beautiful stainless steel appliances we love so much don't support the magnet method.  And so we must seek out the corkboard which offends us least (can you tell I've given up on the idea that said board could actually enhance an area?).  And to this end, I propose the idea of the disappearing notice board.

Next time you're thinking of purchasing one of those lovely but expensive Pottery Barn upholstered beauty with ribbons and tufts consider this:

To create a place to hang those essential slips and notices which won't take over your decor you can simply buy plain cork squares and paint them with the same color as your walls.  And voila!

They're there....

But it's  not. 

I like it.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Free Audiobooks!!

Know what's worse than sitting stuck in traffic? Sitting there so long that you realize you've heard the same song played multiple times on the radio. Or heard the same news story over and over. Now that's annoying.

My solution? I try, whenever possible, to listen to audiobooks when I take long drives. No they're not the solution for your 3 minute drive to the grocer or even when you're picking the kids up from a play date etc but when you'll be in the car for 15 minutes or more, getting lost in a good book while also getting things done can be a happy solution.

But. There's always a but! Audiobooks are expensive! I mean each one can be as expensive as movie tickets for a family of 4 which is not cheap! So what's a girl to do? Ask your local library if they offer electronic resources through Overdrive.

Waaat?!? It's an online system that allows you to 'borrow' e-books, kindle books and Audiobooks from your local library without leaving the comfort of your own home. Just download the program to your computer or even an app to your iPhone, enter your library and library card info and get started!

It's an amazing service and its all free! Give it a try!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Doesn't she make life easier?

You have to give it up to someone who makes a commitment to 365 days of consecutive Crock Pot use and then actually follows through with it!  Major kudos Stephanie O'day!  You can find the blog which chronicles her year at

Or you could also buy the TWO books which she later wrote based upon those recipes.

She's so cool.

Friday, September 21, 2012

TGIF wine conundrum

Oh no not a conundrum Because of the wine, conundrum is the wine!

And it's lovely. Reminds of a beautiful Chenin Blanc but with more body like a Chardonnay but not buttery or heavy like a chard (btw I love me some Chardonnay!)

The only downside to this gorgeous beverage is the price.  The super awesome friends who brought two bottles to my house mentioned that they thought they'd paid about $15 a piece but when I was finally able to locate it at a local store my price was $25!  That's pretty steep in my book.  But, I haven't stopped thinking about it which likely means that there is another beautiful glass (or two!) in my future...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Caprese Salad

While the lazy days of August are past us at this point that doesn't mean it's too late to enjoy some of our favorite summer treats!  For example, the vines are still heavy with all kinds of gorgeous heirloom tomatoes.

So take advantage of these last amazing gifts of the season and make a lovely Caprese salad. Do it. . . Do IT!

Caprese Salad

Heirloom tomatoes
Fresh Mozzarella (in water please!)
Fresh Basil

Cut the tomatoes and Mozzarella into shapes that both make you happy and are reasonable to eat then plate them up with some fresh Basil.  (or not- I didn't have fresh when I made this salad and it was still yummy!)  It's that easy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Parking reminder

Here's an idea:  Instead of wandering aimlessly through the parking lot flashing your cars lights/beeping its horn (or in case of dire confusion pushing your panic button-What?? It was an emergency sorta) Use your phones camera to remember where the heck you've left your car.  Then instead of looking like a forgetful mess, you can pretend you're reading a text from someone cool like Lady Gaga or something while you're jogging your memory.  You're welcome.

Here are some places that my car has been lately...
Logan Airport
Some mall somewhere...

It's an exciting life but someone has to live it!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sharpie on porcelain

I like to buy plates, mugs, platters etc made of plain white porcelain. Why? Am I so boring that I can't think of anything better? Nope. Actually, as usual, there's a rhyme to my reason.

First: everything matches white. Even off white. Go try it. Different shapes, manufacturers and even qualities of white porcelain will always work together.

Second: it gives a cohesive look to anything I do and always highlights the food.

Third: you can play with it. Maybe not juggle, but with a little creativity you can turn your plain white platters etc into the most customized stuff around. Little known fact: you can write in white porcelain with a sharpie and it will not wear off until you clean it with dish washing fluid. Seriously. The one exception is a crazed or cracked finish so ways test on the bottom side or in an inconspicuous place.

See? How cool is that?

And what if you got a set of colored sharpies and went to town? Instant customized china! Let your kids decorate plates for the next thanksgiving or Christmas. Believe me, your family will be snapping pics of your plates faster that you can say cheese.

Oh, and what about that beloved tray you're taking to your neighbor who has yet to return your hedge clippers from 2007?  Write your name on the bottom!  At the very least, you'll be able to claim it later...

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pottery Barn Caterer's Flatware

More than 10 years ago I bought the most beautiful flatware from Pottery Barn.  It was called Lettuce and I was in love with it.  Still am actually. 
Love this!

But when I got divorced, my 12 place settings was cut to 6 and when I finally got around to buying more, I was told that the pattern had been discontinued. 

Usually the solution to this kind of problem is to google the pattern, search places like Replacements Ltd or even Craigslist.  But, it seems I wasn't the only one looking for my beloved pattern.  Hen's teeth are more common- and probably cheaper. 

When I finally grasped the idea that I was going to need to start all over I nearly choked at the prices of everyday flatware.  Selling 12 unused settings of silver that my Grandmother had bought me for my 12th birthday (great gift- NOT) would have just about netted enough to cover a new set of stainless.  Which made me mad.  So, I unwrapped my silver and just started using that.  Btw, it's perfectly good everyday stuff.  Just use Electrolux detergent in your dishwasher, keep it from touching anything stainless and it stays pretty much tarnish free.

But over time I got sick of burning my fingers on teaspoons as I stirred my coffee (silver is amazingly heat conductive) and started to pine away for regular old flatware.  When I resumed my search I found this: the Pottery Barn Caterer's set

At first I was skeptical.  How could it be so nice and so cheap?  Some reviewers said that it rusts a bit over time.  Would I be OK without the salad fork and teaspoons?  There's no way to know without trying so I ordered a set.  And guess what?  I love it!  I bought two more sets and divided them between home and the beach house.  Yes, every once in a while I notice a little spot of tarnish or what looks like rust.  But if you give it a little rub with Bar Keeper's Friend it's as good as new! 

So, if you're looking for a nice set of flatware that won't cost you $50 a place setting, then I recommend considering this set from Pottery Barn.  They now also have the option of purchasing 12 teaspoons or 12 salad forks for an additional $39.50.  Not bad!  

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Isn't she frugal??

This lady is not only a true foodie but a frugal genius.  The fact that she gives you a simple weekly menu plan with shopping list is just the icing on the cake!

Friday, September 14, 2012

TGIF Sangria

Sit back and pay attention because this next recipe is going to change your life!

Ok, maybe not change your life but maybe it'll make your next party that much simpler (and cheaper too now that I think of it. . .) This Sangria recipe is guaranteed to be the best you've ever tasted. No more of the funky Sprite infused stuff. This is a family recipe that will make a believer out of anyone who tastes it.

The Modern Bon Vivant's Sangria


1 jug Carlo Rossi Sangria Wine (trust me it will be good!)
Fruit of your choice- I recommend peaches, pears, plums etc but must include at least 1 apple
2-4 Tbsp Pure Maple Syrup
Optional-Carbonated Water

Dice the fruit into 1/2 inch or smaller pieces and place into the container you will be serving the sangria from or back into the jug (pour off enough wine so that the jug does no overflow). Fill with the wine and add the maple syrup to taste but at least 2 Tbsp.

Mix the fruit with the wine and it is ready to go although it is much better if it sits refrigerated for up to 24 hours. You can stretch this beverage out by adding carbonated water at the last minute to your pitcher or even to the individual glass if you'd like.

Garnish with fruit or just enjoy as it is.  Make lots because it disappears fast...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Super Secret Salmon

To be honest, I never actually saw myself sharing this recipe. I had always envisioned myself entering this into a barbecue 'everything but' competition but never got around to it. Oh well. Here goes anyway...

Christina's Super Secret Salmon Recipe (shh don't tell)

1 lb Salmon
2 Tbsp Stubb's Rosemary Ginger Spice Rub
2 Tbsp Turbanado Sugar

In a small bowl or plate, combine the Ginger Spice Rub and turbonado sugar.

This is the good stuff! 

Apply the mix to the flesh side of the salmon and return to the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes.  This will allow the mixture to adhere to the fish.


Place the fish skin side down on a preheated, greased grill.  Cover and cook on medium high for 10 minutes or until the fish is fully cooked (it should flake easily and be opaque all the way through).
I wish I had an "after" picture for you but the second this Salmon hits the table at my house, it's gone.  Enjoy!
I heard a rumor that Stubb's might be discontinuing this Rosemary Ginger Spice Rub.  Shame on them because it's their best product!  Try searching online or at your local grocer.  If you can't find it, call them directly (800) 227-2283.  Maybe if we all complain then they'll change their minds!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I don't know if you've noticed, but I have a lot of links to Amazon.  A LOT.  "So what's the deal Christina" you ask?  Well the answer is twofold.  Firstly, I am an online shopping addict (admitting you're powerless is the first step.)  And secondly, I'm a real believer in Amazon. 

Maybe my aversion to retail started when my daughter was a baby.  If you've ever ventured into a store- any store- with a small child then you know what I'm talking about.  A quick trip to pick up a $5 Ice Cream Scoop can turn into either a) a $100 useless crap buying spree or b) a complete meltdown.  As a single parent I had nobody to cover me while I went about such errands so I quickly learned that online shopping made life much easier.  True, the shipping costs do add up but that's where Amazon has it all figured out.  I tried to ignore it as long as I could.  No amount of Oprah/Jeff Bezos love fests could convince me to pay an extra $5.00 to get stuff sent to me.  But, when Amazon Prime came around I was in love.

If you are even a semi-frequent online shopper, it really does make sense.  One flat fee of $79 seems like a lot at first but if you really use the service you make out like a bandit.  For example, last summer I made and sent brownies to my daughter at sleep away camp.  The brownies probably cost $1 to make but FedEx charged me $30 to ship them to her!  This summer I got smarter and I sent her treats from Amazon.  Two day shipping= Free.  Problem solved.  There are other benefits too but I'm not here to sell you anything.  Really, I'm not.

Anyway, I do put in links to the places where I personally have purchased stuff I talk about and that is very frequently  You can follow my hyperlinks or not, that's up to you.  But I think there's nothing more annoying than reading about some cool thing then having no clue where to purchase it. 

In the spirit of full disclosure, I am registered with Amazon as an associate so if you did click through my link and buy the items I've talked about then theoretically they are supposed to give me a minuscule referral bonus or something.  But that's not why I do it and I just wanted to let you know.  So, feel free to buy stuff through those links or not.  If you'd rather, click through then open a new window to buy the stuff.  Or just get the info and buy it at your local store.  Either way, you can rest assured that I'm never going to start hocking stuff just for some silly referral.  That's not how I roll.  If I write about it then I own it and endorse it.  Or maybe a friend has it and I think it's cool and I wanted to let you know.    

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Calling London

London Hurricanes that is.

These babies aren't cheap and they're kinda big so they're not right for everyone but if you have enough space then I recommend considering the Crate and Barrel large London Hurricanes. I love mine.  These are the same type that Ina Garten features on her holiday specials.  She perfumes a room not through scented candles, but by filling the base of the hurricane with spices like Star Anise, Cloves and Cinnamon.  She's so smart...

Please excuse my half finished kitchen. I hate it too.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Cool Shooters

No! Not like that! I don't glorify violence! Nor do I do shots but I saw these babies and couldn't pass them up for my 'shot loving' friends. Very unique.  I'll bet they will be fun at the next party!

I got mine at the local liquor store (hello impulse buy!) but you can find them online at Amazon: