Monday, February 27, 2017

10 Must Have Swimsuits for Summer












With 70 degree weather it's really starting to feel like spring! Seems crazy to not have to wear a coat in Feb. I've started getting excited for my trip to Miami and Jamaica in a few months. I haven't been to Miami in 7 years! I've been working on my swimsuit body for 2 months now. I was really inspired by Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition taking a turn this year showing two plus size women in the edition - Ashley Graham and Hunter McGrady. Two size 12 women: Robyn Lawley and Myla Dalbesio. As well as strong athletes like Simone Biles and  Serena Williams, and the age defining Christie Brinkley! This diversity shows a positive body image message for women of all sizes. The woman who has been the swimsuit director for the magazine for 19 years decided to be brave and post her swimsuit pic with her baby on her hip on Instagram. She created a hashtag for women to do the same at #WhatIModel and #LoveYourSwimsuit.

I rounded up 10 swimsuits that I thought would look great on my curvy figure. Swimsuitsforall has gorgeous swimsuits for every style and their website show pics of customers wearing their suits so you can see how it looks on real bodies. They have such pretty and stylish suits with a one shoulder ruffle, or fringe, or a palm print.  Use my link and you'll get 40% off!

I watched Shark Tank last Friday which featured Sand Cloud's boho beach towels and blankets. Ten percent of each sale goes to nonprofits dedicated to the preservation of marine life. They are made of 100% super soft Turkish cotton that is very lightweight. The seaform blue color is so bright and vibrant!

Also check out Zoya nail polish's new spring collection, these pastel colors will be super pretty at the pool or beach. I'm selling some of my swimsuits on Tradesy.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Spiralized Vegetables



Inspiralized: Turn Vegetables into Healthy, Creative, Satisfying Meals
by Ali Maffucci

Last year I noticed my Giant grocery store had Zucchini Noodles or Zoodles (now all my local groceries are carrying it) so I bought it on a whim. I have never heard of this before so I googled to find recipes for it and came across this amazing book which I borrowed from the library. It's changed the way I look at vegetables. After reading it I purchased a spiralizer. I figured it was cheaper than buying the noodles which cost $6.37 when I can just buy a zucchini and spiralize it myself which I've been doing for eight months now.

The very first zucchini noodle recipe I made was a Zucchini Noodles with Creamy Avocado Pesto. It was so delicious and then I made an Oil-free walnut pesto zucchini noodles. A friend of mine once gave me a tip to use walnuts in pesto instead of pine nuts because it's cheaper and tastes the same. It's been such a creative way to have pasta without pasta by turning zucchini into spaghetti noodles. If you're wondering, once spiralized I put the raw zoodles on the frying pan for a few minutes to soften them up. Spicy Sesame Zoodles is another great dish!

The author of the book doesn't just spiralize zucchini, she also does butternut squash, carrots, sweet potato, broccoli, and exotic vegetables like rutabaga, daikon and celeriac. She explains that "zucchini noodles are helpful for weight loss, thanks to their low calorie and carb count, and high dietary fiber content. They’re also packed with folates, which help your metabolism function properly." If you're trying to low-carb but don't want to eat salads, spiralized vegetables are a great option!  It's a way to turn vegetables into noodles and create fun new recipes with it. To me it's been a perfect way to make healthy low calorie dinners. Because let's face it spiralized veggies are just more exciting than chopped veggies! Plus it looks like a larger volume of food, takes less time to cook and are cut perfectly. Here are some of my recent dinners:

Spiralized Sweet Potato, White Bean and Kale Bake

Bell Pepper Fiesta Skillet

Creamy Spiralized Rutabaga with Cherry Tomatoes and Tofu

Kale, Vegetarian Sausage and Butternut Squash Lasagna

Honey Ginger Tofu and Carrot Rice with Bok Choy


I was very skeptical about the last two dishes. Lasagna noodles made out of butternut squash, how would that taste? Surprisingly tasty and filling! I used Field Roast vegetarian apple sage sausages. This week I'm making a sweet potato noodle lasagna with kale and lentils.

 I had never had baby bok choy before so I probably over cooked it but with the carrot "rice" and tofu, it was another fulfilling meal. I've also made plantain "rice" and beet "rice". The possibilities are endless! Spiralizing vegetables has really encouraged me to try new vegetables and have fun making new creations with them. This year so far I've lost 10 lbs making the switch to spiralized vegetables for dinner. Have you tried spiralized vegetables?


Friday, February 17, 2017

Lion Movie Review


I saw the most magnificent movie last weekend! Lion is based on the book of the true story of  5-year-old Saroo who gets lost riding the train in India and loses his family. He ends up in an orphanage in Calcutta and is adopted by an Australian couple but feels lost not knowing where he came from. More than two decades later, through Google Earth's mapping technology Saroo spends 2 years looking at every railroad station online to see if it reminds me of the one he came from so he can search for his lost family in India.

Starring Dev Patel who you might remember from movies like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Slumdog Millionaire, Nicole Kidman and a wonderful child named Sunny Pawar. Nominated for 6 Oscars including Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Nicole) and Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Dev) although it was mind boggling that nomination didn't go to Sunny.  Eight year old Sunny was originally unable to attend the US premiere of the movie because he was denied a visa. Producers of the film had to make an appeal to Homeland Security, after which Sunny and his father were allowed to come to the US.
                        

I was blown away by this amazing movie! It's definitely a tear jerker. It's such a beautiful film about family and belonging. The movie is so gripping about the  story missing child cases. Did you know that over 80,000 children go missing in India each year? If you saw the film and were engrossed by this, the film's website links you to Indian charities that are trying to help.

The scenes in India are excellent! Sunny's facial expressions alone spoke volumes. No need for words. In fact he didn't speak English during filming of the movie. But I have to say the scenes were the children were being kidnapped from the streets and the orphanage were just so raw. Saroo was very fortunate because most children in his situation did not survive and his survival depended upon using his instincts to avoid people with ulterior motives. 

While we don't see much of Saroo's adopted brother Mantosh (also from India) in the movie, I think he was there to show contrast with two sides of love, loving someone who's easy and someone who isn't as far as parenting goes. If it wasn't for him, Kidman wouldn't have had her compelling scenes. While his disability is not revealed clearly in the movie, my guess was his two meltdowns were due to autism?

In the book Saroo actually had another older brother Kallu and its implied that the loss of the two boys gave the other two children a better future than they wouldn't have had, as the mother could now afford to send those two to school. The sister was able to become a teacher.  The siblings always wanted to help the mother move out of the slums, but the mother refused to go anywhere in case Saroo ever found his way home.
                       

I've been to India four times and for awhile I was really into watching Bollywood movies which typically are 3 hours long with lots of song and dance. But only in the last decade have they started to show kissing. I think that influenced why in Lion you never actually see Saroo kiss his girlfriend on the lips, even though they're in bed. I think they wanted to make the film more marketable in India? I wasn't a fan of Mara Rooney's role of the girlfriend in the movie. I just thought she was  unnecessary and didn't like the importance of her character. Even the poster for the movie makes it look like the movie is about their love story, it's not. I wish the director hadn't chosen to keep focusing on his relationship with his girlfriend instead of his adoptive family.

The music is mostly classical piano and was nominated for a Golden Globe. I loved the song by Sia in the movie called Never Give Up. The Australian scenes were filmed in Tasmania, Australia and the scenery was just gorgeous!  If you want to understand why the film is called "Lion" stay for the end credits, there’s an explanation behind the film title and also you can see some pictures of the real characters of the story.

Lion moved me to tears. I could not recommend it highly enough. This is the best movie I've seen in a long time! You can find it on Netflix in April.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

New Halo Top Flavors!


Halo Top is a healthy ice cream that actually tastes good! I've raved about this ice cream a couple times on my blog before but since they released new flavors I have to rave about it again! Halo Top is a low calorie ice cream sweetened with erythritol (a sweetener naturally found in fruits like pears and grapes) and stevia. I was very skeptical about this ice cream, but it's honestly a game changer. This stuff legitimately tastes like ice cream, not diet cream, or fake cream. Halo Top has this comparison chart on their website for one ½ cup serving to show you how it matches up to other major brands. I went and compared the pistachio flavor on Haagen Dazs and Ben & Jerry's sites for myself and there's just no comparison. Halo Top has just 2 grams of fat vs 17 grams for regular ice cream. It also has much less sugar! It costs $5.69 for a pint.


You can find it at Whole Foods. My favorite flavors are Mint Chip, Chocolate, Vanilla, Oatmeal Cookie, and Red Velvet. The only flavors I wouldn't buy again are s'mores and sea salt caramel as they had a weird taste to them.  Pistachio had zero flavor and black cherry reminded me more of frozen yogurt.


Related Posts:
The best of light ice creams

Monday, February 13, 2017

National Gallery of Art


After 3 years of renovation The National Gallery if Art reopened last fall with 12,250 more square feet for art. The National Gallery is a treasure trove of great art and just celebrated its 75th anniversary. Note it's not a part of the Smithsonian. My mom used to take me here a lot as a child, but this was my first visit in many years. She enjoyed watching all the films they show - classic and contemporary cinema from around the world. Be sure to reserve a lot of time for your visit to enjoy everything as there's so much to see. The new space includes the roof terrace, an outdoor sculpture terrace overlooking Pennsylvania Ave. On the roof is an eye-catcher giant 14.5 foot tall sculpture, an electric cobalt blue "Hahn/Cock" on loan on from the Glenstone Museum.

The museum is made up of two buildings and a sculpture garden that turns into an ice-skating rink in the winter time. The East building focuses on modern art and contemporary artists, while the West building focuses on Renaissance art. They have a good directory so you can focus on the type of art you like. The two buildings connect underground through a concourse walkway. Ten years ago they installed a light sculpture that has 41,000 computer programmed LED lights that run on a program along the 200 foot underground space. This moving walkway connects you to their cafe and gift shop which is huge and a lot of fun to browse through.


Admission is free and the museum offers free Wi-Fi! Handicap parking is allowed right in front of the museum and courtesy wheelchairs are available to borrow. Free concerts are held in the  garden room on Sunday evenings. It's definitely one of the premiere art galleries in the world and always an interesting place to spend a few hours.




Wednesday, February 8, 2017

My Visit to Kate Spade


I went to an event at the Kate Spade store with a group of local bloggers - the Bubbles & Bloggers.  Starting in college, for many years I only rocked Kate Spade bags.  The original owner Kate Spade has since changed her name and sold her company 10 years ago to Liz Claiborne Inc. They still carry beautiful feminine bags in gorgeous colors like the ridley street blanca and floral patterns. What I really like about Kate Spade is that they don't take themselves too seriously so you can find quirky bags with pink flamingos, monkeys, pigs, dinosaurs or rabbit in the hat purse. They also have a line of home decor items that are very chic with gold dots. Their jewelry is very sparkly and they have whimsical key rings. It's a fun brand with fancy dresses and girly shoes with sequin or bows on them. Yes their prices are high but they have lots of sales. The store greets you with neon signs telling you to be happy. 




I love the green Satin Crepe Flutter Sleeve Dress! It also comes in white and black and is on sale now for $279.


Kate Spade makes a stylish Smart Watch that connects to your phone linking through their app. It's slightly thicker than a regular watch and doesn't have a computer screen like an apple watch. No one will ever guess it's a smart watch looking at it. The 12 o'clock is represented with a Kate Spade logo and six o'clock has two champagne glasses. A cluster of crystals above the glasses are combined with a moon. It's compatible with android and iphones. You can put your phone on a shelf, stand back and take a selfie by pushing the button on your phone. When your mom calls the phone's hands will move to one so you know its her calling without having to look at your phone. It can track your sleep, your steps and be your alarm clock. The bottom button will enable you to control music on your phone. It will also countdown to important days and cheer you on when you've consistently hit personal targets each day. It very feminine looking and comes in 4 colors: pink, navy, black and silver for $250.





pink rhinestone monkey ring $98; they also have a flying pig, pink unicorn and purple dinosaur ring






cell phone cases


dinosaur purses

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