POLITICS AND PUMPKINS, POLISH AND POUTS ~

Are you ready to toss your TV out the window?

Rip your phone off wall and throw it out? (If you’re ancient, and still HAVE a landline…)

If you answered “yup,” chances are it’s election season, and never has their been one as polarizing and difficult as this one!

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People who know me know I am passionate about politics.  I do not discuss politics on this site, however, as it’s suppose to be a fun and uplifting place to come.  Politics, at least today’s version, has become a blood sport, pitting family members against each other, as well as friends and co-workers.

So, with help from fellow blogger Shannon Abels, I’ve devised what I think are some solid guidelines to get you through the next few months without losing your mind..

1. Seek out the truth

Often the important issues can’t be summarized in a tweet or news clip.  It takes time and patience and more than just skimming the headlines for you to learn the truth.  Especially with today’s media being, shall we say, agenda’d on both sides.  Be sure you are seeking out reputable sources, and just shut off CNN and FOX New altogether.

2. Converse to gain understanding.

The other day, I had a long political conversation with a Starbucks manager, in her mid-forties.  She was Black, Gay and adopted.  Listening to her, I was able to ascertain why she is voting the way she is, and, even though she and I are not in agreement about a lot of things, I now understand at least where her fears lie, and why she is voting the way she is.  We each have or own things that are really important to us, and no one candidate solves them all. Having civil conversation allows us to at least gain a better understanding of each other.

3. Determine if you have a willing audience for discussion

Nothing appalls me more, from either side, than a  person ASSUMING that everyone thinks like they do. They are the ones who will say at a dinner party “can you imagine the idiots voting for —- and how stupid can you be?” Facebook is different, because you know your audience and can control the privacy settings. But out in public, well, you’ve heard the saying “never assume…It makes an ASS out of U and ME!”  And just because a person lives in a heavily red or heavily blue state, does not mean they don’t think for themselves and follow the majority.

4. Seek depth, not soundbites

Soundbites lack context, but time is valuable: therefore, that is often all we hear or see. Please  be aware that there is always more to the story.

5. Watch or listen to debates

Sometimes, even the greatest pundits can’t cover up the lack of knowledge of a subject, or the extreme ideas or opinions of a candidate.  Truth speaks as candidates debate.

6. Seek out quality information, but less of it.

Read a paper or two, and limit yourself to about 15 minutes a night of political news from as unbiased a source as you can find…hard, I know.  After that, take a deep breath, and shift your focus.

It’s going to be a loooooong season.  Pace yourself, become an EDUCATED voter, then do your civic duty and VOTE!

Pumpkin is up next!

I found what looks to be a delightful recipe for pumpkin brioche in this months edition of  one of my favorite magazines, Victoria..

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This will be a perfect accompaniment to my Bouef Carbonadde recipe ….

http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Classic-Beef-Beer-Stew

It appears to take most of the day to make, but since I am having  guests tonite, I will attempt to make the effort and report back next time!  You can see the above photo, and my “finished product” side by side, and decide for yourself!  The recipe can be found on Victoriamagazine.com

Polish time!  You ladies know about my obsession with nail polish by now, and particularly about Smith and Cult nail polish.  Great wear, easy application with a super flat brush, and THE.BEST.COLORS…

These are the three I love this season…The first is called  “1976” (because it reminded the color chemist of her moms rose gold lame dress from the disco days…I was there in ’76, and Yup! They got it right! )

My other two seasonal favorites are called “Darjeeling Darling”, a gorgeous Autumn green, and “Dark Like Me,” and lovely burgundy.

Buy them at Newman Marcus or here ….http://www.smithandcult.com/nailed-lacquer.html

 

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Pouts!!…Have you seen the new seasonal trend in lip color?  Dark as the night, matted and in your face…(or at least on your lips!)

The new shades are gorgeous…deep plums, blues, violets..colors we’ve never seen on lips..

The problem is, they look AMAZING on young girls, but not so much on “we of the older and wiser generation”..

So I did a little research and found just the one.  By Urban Decay, this line blew me away with color…

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But putting them on my lips was waaaay tooo Bella Lugosi-esque!  Barnabus Collins would dig it, but my family would have been horrified.

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So I settled for one from the Urban Decay line called “Seismic”, that had all the pigment and color of the deep, lovely violet, but with none of the matte, and it was delightfully moisterizer  to boot!

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So now you can talk politics without getting tarred and feathered, bake a delicious pumpkin brioche, have beautifully colored nails AND wear the dark lip trend without being embalmed first!

And you thought you were just reading some little blog post…

 

Have a fantastic Columbus Day Weekend, and Wear Your Crowns! ~

 

 

 

 

 

 

IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE A CROWN WORTHY CHRISTMAS ~

It’s started, whether you like it or not, the holiday shopping season.

Here are a few things I would love to see under MY tree😉

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Feather light, like a warm, soft hug for your feet, cashmere socks are the ultimate luxury. Perfect to wear in your winter boots, these by Garnet Hill are the ones to buy. 100% cashmere, no blends here. Lovely colors, and while expensive, can you put a price on pure happiness??

http://www.garnethill.com/women-27s-cashmere-socks/117684

Next, moisture is your best friend in the harsh New England winters. Your skin needs it, and your nasal passages will thank you as well, for this next gift.

How cute is this portable, aroma diffusing, warm mist humidifier that glows with soft light in the dark?

By Aliexpress.com, at a $31. price point, it’s a great grab gift or stocking stuffer for your girlfriends, or a perfect addition to a chilly college dorm room. Buy two, one for your bed, one for your office..

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The next little slice of Heaven is from UGGS.Com
Cozy yet practical, these shearling, fingerless gloves are indispensable. If you’re like me, and can’t take enough photos of the beauty in the chilly outdoors, OR if you are a teenage girl and glued to Tumbler/Tinder/IG/FB texting, tweeting, etc., etc., and on and on…😩 (look UP once in awhile…It’s a beautiful world!), I digress…..these are for you. You need to keep those busy hands warm, and what better way to do it than with these babies…UGGS really knows how to blend warmth and practicality with style. I love this color, but they come in five…pricey for $145, but then they are UGGS!!

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Next, a great book filled with three of my favorite things…Hope, Optimism and FOOD!

“MY KITCHEN YEAR, 136 Recipes that SAVED MY LIFE”, by Ruth Reichl, is part memoir, part cookbook, (a twofer!)

Ruth was the longtime editor of Gourmet Magazine, loving her job and her life. When the magazine abruptly closed, she was unprepared and lost. Each day was a challenge to rebuild and redefine herself in her midlife, a daunting task. But with a lot of courage, and a KILLER repertoire of comforting recipes, Ruth put one step in front of the other and literally cooked her way to solid ground once again.

I loved her pluck, her spirit, and her recipe for three day short ribs !!! Crown Worthy accomplishment, this book and her comeback❤️

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/my-kitchen-year-ruth-reichl/1120998970

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You need a good candle, or twelve, in the winter, and these are the best on planet Earth. I promise.  By Diptyque Paris, this Feu de Bois candle smells like a crackling fireplace in a country cottage…in the woods…with pine cones..and a glass of champagne…and your honey beside you….can you smell it now😉?? WWW.diptyqueparis.com

Not cheap, but very high quality burn and scent is indescribable. You just have to trust me.  $60. For a large candle, but much class expensive than buying a cottage in the woods!

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Finally, grab your best girlfriends, and give them a gift that will last the Winter,(and help you survive the gloom!)
Plan one night a week, buy some good wine, make some delicious apps, and watch one or two episodes of this HILARIOUS comedy!
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Easily the funniest show I’ve seen in a long time. A perfect “girls night in” show..(which also made my handsome husband laugh out loud, too many times to count), this is the story of two lifelong BFF’s who haven’t been able to count on the men in their lives, so they form their own little family when one gets pregnant. Played BRILLIANTLY by real life besties Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham, you would swear they don’t have a script. Supporting actor Keegan Michael-Key is the maniaclly  funny scene stealer, and ever-still-hunky, Kenny Loggins makes an appearance in the season two finale. (If you watch the series, you see this coming a mile away!)😆

Whoever and however you gift, find the beauty in life this season, and enjoy the magic.

Have a lovely, Crown Worthy weekend ~

MOUTH WATERING MASH-UP ~

I’m a busy gal, as most of you reading this are.  We run from job to family, to other commitments, and wear many hats.

One of the things I like to do to calm myself and get lost in the moment is to bake.  I love baking, but tend to be a baking snob.  I only want to bake if I can use the very best ingredients.  The highest quality chocolate, REAL butter, preferably Irish or French, pure Madagascar vanilla, the freshest fruit, and so on.  Not only does my effort have to look good, it has to taste even better.

My attitude is that I can go to any bakery and get some pretty, mass-produced confection, made with lesser quality ingredients five days ago, with enough preservatives to store it for another decade..or even worse, pre-baked and FROZEN!  SO if I am going to invest my precious free time into baking, it better be the best and produce a worthy result.

I am a good baker, and have had many requests for my goods.  If I love the person, and you know who you are, I always try to comply.  So when my beautiful SIL Franca asked me to make dozens of cupcakes for her gorgeous, soon to be DIL’s shower, I went into experiment mode.  They requested my Limoncello cupcakes and my Strawberry Sweethearts, (ironically another amazing recipe that uses  two box mixes,) featured  recently  here…

https://wearyourcrowns.wordpress.com/2015/02/01/strawberry-sweethearts/

But they also wanted something chocolatey.

I started experimenting, and the other day I stumbled upon a simply life changing mash-up, (a “mash-up” being the act of combining  two known entities to create a third,) that changed how I look at baking.

I was watching an episode of Barefoot Contessa, (LOVE Ina,)  and noticed that she added a secret ingredient, Hershey’s Syrup, to a chocolate cake recipe.

The cake is to die for, recipe here, http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/chocolate-ganache-cupcakes-recipe2.html

I wondered if I could take that to a new level, and yet still produce something incredible, with little time and not too much effort.

I love a challenge.

I went to the grocery and purchased this…..

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Yes, that is a BOX cupcake mix, Duncan Hines Red Velvet…..

Then I came  home and added my own “flavor booster”, this Chocolate Salted Caramel sauce from a jar I had left in the fridge….

I mixed it in ONE BOWL, and it took me three minutes to throw together…..

The result was the most moist, decadent, delicious cupcake I have ever had, and I’ve had them from Boston to Paris and back!

I used my own cream cheese frosting, but the frosting in the box would probably have been perfectly fine because it calls for real butter and cream cheese.

So no more MEASUREING!  No more SIFTING!  No more multiple bowls and spoons and sifters to clean…

And the best darn cupcake I ever ate. Who KNEW?

I call it Salted Caramel Velvet, but you can just call it  “Oh, MY God!!!”

The  Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel sauce is from Stonehill Kitchen and not cheap, but the cupcake mix is, compared to buying ingredients to bake from scratch. I get mine at Whole Foods, but you can order it here

on the Stonewall Kitchen website.

Easy directions…….

In ONE BOWL, beat the eggs, oil, water and mix as per box direction. Then add in  three heaping tablespoons of the chocolate sauce, microwaved for about thirty seconds to soften it.

Bake as per box instructions, and frost with your favorite cream cheese frosting.

 

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and THAT’S IT!

This baking snob has been humbled,  and as Ina would say, “how easy is THAT?”

Have a satisfyingly sweet day ~

 

 

 

 

 

Strawberry Sweethearts ~

DSC_0015 2Happy February!  ANOTHER food post!  These are perfect for this month…Strawberries are great in the markets, and they look somewhat like hearts when used as decoration.

These delicious cupcakes are SO easy to make, but the taste is moist and decadent!

Great for a Valentines Day dinner!

Strawberry Sweethearts –

For the cupcakes –

  • 1 (15.25 ounce)package of French Vanilla cake mix
  • 1/2  package of 3.4 ounce white chocolate pudding mix, Jello brand
  • 1 cup of Chobani Strawberry Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 c vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup diced fresh strawberries (about 10-12 medium berries)
  • 12 strawberries for garnish, sliced in half with leaves in tact
  • a jar of GOOD strawberry preserve, highest quality you can find.

Preheat to 350 degrees.  Line 24 muffin tins with pretty paper liners.

Mix cake mix, pudding mix, yogurt, oil, water, eggs and vanilla in mixer for about two minutes on medium. Then fold in diced strawberries.

Scoop three tablespoons of the batter into each cupcake liner.

Bake in preheated oven for 20-22 minutes, til toothpick comes out clean when inserted.  The cupcakes won’t be perfectly symmetrical when done, but that’s ok.

Allow to cool completely.

Next, using a small melon baller, scoop out a piece from the middle of the cupcake, but make sure you leave enough at the bottom of the cupcake to hold the preserve. Using the same melon baller, scoop some preserver into the center of the cupcake.  One scoop is plenty.  Smooth out the top if some overflows.

Now make a good cream cheese frosting…the is the one I use…http://allrecipes.com/recipe/cream-cheese-frosting-ii/

Spread or pipe the frosting, add one half of a strawberry, and a few candy pearls if you have them.

Enjoy with the ones you love!

Have a brilliant day, heads high~

Super Bowl Munchies, New England Style ~

Another food post!

Snowstorms and Super Bowl Week sing to me of FOOD!

Their will be plenty of time for fashion and health, books and balms….promise.

GLOAT ALERT….Seattle fans beware.

We here in New England are a bit spoiled when it comes to sports teams and championship games….It seems almost every year, our beloved Sox, Bruins, Pats or Celts are in the finals….Ok, maybe not the Celts, but I digress.

The Pats have made us proud with 8 Super Bowl appearances in the past years, and by now, we’ve got our game on when it comes to the big question “What to serve during the Super Bowl?”

I’d say we have it down “Pat”, but that would be cheesy😉

This year,  Brady and our boys are BACK, and Super Bowl XLIX is Sunday!

SO…if you’re having a party, even if you aren’t from New England, here are some great things to serve to a roomful of fans…Pats or otherwise!

I start with a recipe recreated from a Massachusetts institution….The Kowloon Restaurant, and more specifically, their Saugus Wings.

Saugus Wings are the most delicious asian wings you can eat.  Sticky, spicy, rich and sweet, with hints of molasses and hoisin , you can’t eat just one…FullSizeRender 66

While the recipe is a classified secret, I recreated it and it’s a damn good imitation…

Saugus Wings ~

  • 3 pounds of chicken wings tips removed, cut in half (drums and wing separated.)
  • 2 tablespoons veg oil
  • 3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2 whole star anise
  • a cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dark molasses
  • 1 tablespoon dark corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • three scallions, sliced thin for garnish (optional)

Starting with the fat side down, brown the chicken wings in a large non-stick skillet  with the vegetable oil over medium heat, turning once. Do this in a few batches..don’t crown the skillet or the wings will “stew”.

Meanwhile mix together the rest of the ingredients.  When the wings are browned, add them all back to the skillet, add the glaze, and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, covered. Uncover the pan, stir well and cook for about 10 more minutes until the wings are tender and cooked, and the glaze is thickened. Discard the star anise and cinnamon stick, and you’re done.  If you like scallions, sprinkle them over the top, and enjoy!

Note: If you like them less sticky and more crisp, place the glazed wings under the broiler for a minute or two before plattering.

These are addictive, and will be devoured before half time if you put them out early…you have been WARNED!

For dessert, a simple but scrumptious fan favorite is the Homemade Ice Cream Sandwich. Easy to pass around and easy to eat!DSC_0042 2

HOMEMADE ICE CREAM SANDWICHES ~

  • 24 medium sized chocolate chip cookies, store bought or homemade.
  • 1 half gallon salted caramel gelato.  (I use gelato, as it spreads easier and freezes better.)  If you can’t find gelato, really any favorite ice cream will do.
  • A cup of Barefoot Contessa Chocolate Ganache….recipe here  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/chocolate-ganache-recipe.html . Cook this ganache, cool it, and place it in a squeeze bottle.

To Assemble…simply lay a cookie out on a piece of wax paper and using a small ice cream scoop, place one scoop of the gelato or ice cream on a cookie…take a second cookie and GENTLY push it down to spread out the ice cream.

Remove second cookie, and drizzle some ganache on the ice cream with the squeeze bottle.  Replace the second cookie to make a sandwich, place in a freezer container, and freeze immediately.

That’s it!  This recipe makes a dozen, but I have found that they are so good that some, ok many people, have had two so make as many as you can.  They will NOT go to waste!

Whether you are blessed to be from New England or Seattle or blessed to have a houseful of friends and family, enjoy the game, don’t drink and drive, and GO PATS!

What was your favorite Super Bowl half time show?  You know…the one that made you stop eating and race back to the TV? Mine was Bruno Mars, last year….and yours???

 

Blizzard Cooking With Beer ~

Rough couple of days here in Boston.  Blizzard, driving ban, power outages, yada, yada, yada….It’s winter in New England, and we survive.

What we do to make the surviving more fun is we cook, and drink.  Or drink and cook, depending on who you are!

With that in mind, I have two life affirming recipes that combine drinking and cooking.  I call it time management, you can call it delicious!

May I present Guinness Beef Stew and Guinness Gingerbread.FullSizeRender 64Both recipes are deep in flavor, comforting, soul satisfying and delicious.

The Gingerbread recipe is from a Gramercy Tavern recipe adapted on a great food blog, Smitten Kitchen….a dense, dark cake..delicious warmed with a plop of whipped cream..

Like us, dear reader it gets better with age!!

http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2008/12/gramercy-taverns-gingerbread/

The Guinness Stew can be found on another fantastic food blog, Brown Eyed Baker….http://www.browneyedbaker.com/guinness-beef-stew-recipe/

Honestly, where would we be without the Blogosphere, and all the amazing women (and men) that contribute?

If you follow both recipes, there will be a glass left over for the cook!  The family has dinner and dessert, and you have a pre-dinner libation rewarding your efforts!

Wear Your Crowns thinks that’s a Win-Win! ~

 

Salade Salmon , Nicoise, al la Nordstrom

What completes a morning of high energy shopping better than a meal that is not only soul satisfying, but good for your skin, hair, heart and bones!  My favorite all time salad can be found in the Bistro Cafe at Nordstroms, and I have re-created it for you.FullSizeRender 58

 

Its a complete meal of deliciousness, with dijon roasted salmon, haricot verts (or french green beans if you don’t live in France,) kalamata olives, tomatoes, red onion, roasted potatoes, capers, dijon balsamic vinaigrette AND a hard boiled egg to bring it to majestic perfection!

Recipe ~

  • 1 tsp of dijon mustard, 1 tsp honey, and any herb you enjoy with salmon, like chervil or dill, mixed together
  • 1 small salmon filet
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tblsp dijon mustard
  • 1tsp honey or pure maple syrup (NOT the pancake, imitation kind)
  • fresh lemon
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • a handful of haricot vert, sautéed till just tender crisp in a bit of olive oil
  • 6 pitted kalamata olives, halved
  • 1/2 roma tomato diced
  • 1/4 of a small red onion, diced
  • two pan roasted mini yukon potatoes
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 1 hard boiled egg
  • a handful of organic mixed baby greens

Glaze the salmon filet with the honey mustard and herb mixture and grill until pink with slight charring, about five minutes on a stove top or electric grill pan.

Whisk the extra virgin olive oil, mustard, honey, squirt of lemon, pinch of salt and ground of fresh pepper til emulsified, about a minute

Toss the lettuce in a bowl, add the vinaigrette, and mix it through.  Add the rest of the ingredients, toss lightly, plate and savor the GOODNESS with a cold glass of Chardonney or Sancerre Rouge and a girlfriend to chat with!

Then get back to the serious business of bargain hunting ~

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