Wifey

Nobody's Little Mrs.

Autumn’s End: A Pumpkin Spice Latte and a Stroll

Autumn around Town: Pumpkin Spice Style
It’s difficult to believe, but autumn is almost officially over. Once we’re into turkey leftovers and the holiday shopping season has officially begun, it is full-on winter. 
So before the week is up, take a last walk around town, admire what last leaves of the fall foliage are still hanging on. Enjoy the gorgeous fall colors that surround us, grab a latte–pumpkin spice or otherwise–and breathe in the final days of autumn. 
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In the Kitchen: Migas

Perfect Ingredients: Migas

My first time eating Migas was only about a year ago, and even though I had no idea what a great plate of Migas tasted like, I knew that I wasn’t sampling the best. But I knew that I would love it when I tasted it, which in fact, was the case months later when I finally had the real deal. Delicious!–honestly I could eat Migas every day. So of course, the next step was to find a good recipe to recreate the scrumptiousness at home.

 
I found a few different versions–from Gwyneth Paltrow’s recipe in her book It’s All Easy: Delicious Weekday Recipes for the Super-Busy Home Cook, to Ree Drummond’s (aka the Pioneer Woman) from her website (also available in her first cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl ), to a slew of random online cooking sites, and even a recipe on the package of the corn tortillas I bought!
 
Ultimately, I liked the simplicity of Gwyneth’s recipe and  tweaked it just a tiny bit.  It’s so delicious and so easy, I suspect I’ll be eating it pretty often!
 
MIGAS (makes 1 serving)
 
1. Add about 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil to a nonstick pan (at least 8″ in diameter)

2. Heat oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking (when a bead of water “dances” in the pan),  places 2 corn tortillas (cut into wedges) in the oil, along with 1 Tbsp of chopped white onion (or more to test). 

3. Pan fry the  tortilla wedges/saute the onions, until the wedges start to crisp and onions soften.

4. Crack two eggs directly into the pan and, with a wooden spatula, scramble the eggs together with the tortillas and onions. (Optional, you may also add crumbled chorizo at this point if you wish.)

5. When eggs are almost cooked, season with salt and pepper, sprinkle to cilantro (to taste) and add crumbled Cotija cheese (a couple of Tbsp). (Gwyneth suggested Queso Fresco, which is also very good. Cotija is drier and a bit more crumbly, so it’s a matter of taste.)

6. Transfer entire contents of pan to a plate, and top with your choice–sliced fresh avocado, pico de gallo, fresh salsa. Garnish with crumbled cheese (Cotija or Queso Fresco) and cilantro.
 
If you have your own favorite Migas recipe, please share it–I’d love to try more variations. If you try this quick recipe, let me know how it turns out!
 
Sig.Melaina
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Shelf Life: The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger

The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger

 

There are many novels that tell the tale of a love story, a marriage, a breakup, a divorce–intimate tales of emotion and relationships. But when it comes to divorce, one thing that people often forget–or for that matter, never even consider–is that it’s not about emotions at all. Divorce is about business. Yes, of course, we are often emotional about divorce, but the reality is that it is, at it’s core, a business and legal matter. With that in mind, it was refreshing to read The Divorce Papers, by Susan Rieger, which is the story of a high-profile divorce, told through the literal papers of the divorce–letters, emails, legal documents and filings, pages from the law books of the fictional locale of “Narragansett,” etc. 

 

The book brings out the best and the worst of it’s characters, much like an actual divorce does to those involved, and it offers many moments of much-needed (in the book and in real life!) comic relief. It manages to be both heartfelt and humorous and I felt engaged and invested in the futures of Mia (the client) and Sophie (her lawyer).  Rieger kept me reading and I’m glad she did. 

 

Sig.Melaina

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Party OR Politics? Party.

The election is over, and whatever your vote, whatever your opinion, whoever your choice for President, I think it’s time we gathered with friends and family–especially those who have tested our patience over these last months–and have a party free of  “Parties.”

Here are some things to enhance the festivities . . .

 

WEAR:

Make sure your guests know that the only things you’re serving are cocktails & escapism.

What’s your choice? Party Preference t-shirt by WILDFOX

 

PREPARE:

Shake it up in style with a gold-accented  retro cocktail shaker.

New York Dot Cocktail Shaker by Kate Spade

SERVE:

Let your guests know that no matter who they voted for, you still think they’re fab . . .

Fabulous Cocktail Glass, by Easy Tiger

CREATE:

We can’t always get what we want from politics, but from the bar, well . . . the possibilities are endless!

Mrs. Lilien’s Cocktail Swatchbook

GROOVE:

The DC-set TV series Scandal has a soundtrack of classic music, heavy on the Motown; sure to get everyone dancing rather than debating.

Music from the TV Series “Scandal”

So whatever happens in the weeks, months, and indeed, years to come, remember . . .

  • we have it better than pretty much most other places on earth
  • we have each other
  • and it’s always happy hour somewhere.

Cheers!

Sig.Melaina

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Tried and True Beauty

If you’re anything like me you love trying new beauty products (and you also probably have a drawer full of products that completely missed the mark). But of the years, some of the best, most consistent products I’ve used have been around for a long time and for good reason. A few of these are drugstore items, some are designer, but all of them are worth keeping on hand.

 

From left to right, top to bottom:

 
1. Kiehl’s Creme de Corps is a very rich, luxurious body lotion that you skin will just drink right in. A little goes a long way, so while it’s somewhat pricey, it will las you a while. It also comes in a thicker, cream version, available in a tub, which is great for deep moisturizing for hands, feet, knees, and elbows. The bottle pictured is the original Creme de Corps, but the product has now grown into a product line including a moisturizing creme (in a jar) and new scents.
2. Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant  Also a very rich cream, this product from Elizabeth Arden is glycerin-based, so it’s more like vaseline, and works wonders with very dry skin. You can use it on your face (though I would be very sparing–just a dab will do), hands, and lips. It’s great if you ever moisturize your hand and feet overnight with gloves and socks. 
3. Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque This is a great drugstore classic. (They have updated the packaging design though, and I’m not a huge fan of the retro styling; which is odd, because normally I like retro looks.) It actually does smell a bit minty and it certainly is very green, but most of all it does wonders to clear blackheads, and shrink pores. You’re just a few dollars away from clear pores and fresher skin. (I have also been known to use it as an overnight spot treatment for blemishes if I don’t have my regular treatments on hand and found it to work well in that capacity, too.)
4. Mario Badescu Cucumber Cleansing Lotion Mario Badescu was the first place I ever went to have a facial as a teenager in New York and the first “grown-up” skin care products I ever used. I like the Cucumber Cleansing Lotion because it is refreshing and cooling on the skin–and though it’s a rather gentle cleanser, it’s a very effective one as well. These days I use more potent, anti-aging cleansers, but I like to keep some of this on hand for days when I want to take it easy on my skin.
5. Mario Badescu Drying Lotion You may have seen similar products to Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion, but this is the original, real deal. The key to using this is simple–Do Not Shake! The type on the label is terribly small, so I would’t blame you if you skipped it, but this product is not meant to be shaken. Using a cotton swab to dip into the bottom, you then just dot  it onto blemishes overnight (or when you’re not leaving the house). I will caution you to be careful of getting carried away and dotting every tiny blemish you see; it is after all a drying product and you don’t want to trade a blemish for dry skin. Not to mention you don’t want to go to bed looking like constellations in the night sky.
6. Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion This moisturizer from Clinique is a staple. It’s lightweight and gentle, works well for all skin types, and is perfect for summer/warm weather use. Clinique has since added a richer, Dramatically Different Moisturizing Cream, which would be better for very dry skin, or in winter/cold weather.
7. Elizabeth Arden Millenium Eye Renewal Cream I love this eye cream. It’s rich and balm-y, but not too rich to be too heavy for the sensitive skin around our eyes. Best of all, it really does improve the look of fine lines and wrinkles around. 
8. Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Lipcare Stick The Eight Hour line expanded to include this lip care stick, and I love keeping this in my purse for an extra dose of moisture. The line also includes a small pot of Eight Hour Lip Balm which is great, but sometimes a lipstick is easier.
9. Rosebud Lip Salve Keep one in your car, one in your purse, and one on your bedside table. This salve will keep your lips soft and smooth–and give you a just the subtlest tint of rose. 
10. Benefit Benetint I am a big fan of liquid makeup and Benetint is perfect for adding a rosy glow to your skin. As light as water, you won’t even feel like you’re wearing makeup. It’s great anytime–and you can easily use it with makeup–but alone it’s just right for active days, outdoors or in.
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11. Benefit Lemon Aid If you’re like me–you have very translucent skin around your eyes and you don’t like to wear eye makeup daily–then this product is a must-have. Used alone, this lemon-colored cream spreads smoothly over your eyelid and instantly brightening your eyes and hiding any natural shadows and darkness. Alternately, used under eye makeup it provides a beautiful base for long-lasting color.
12. Maybelline Great Lash Mascara I don’t even think this one needs an explanation. It was likely your first mascara and it’s still one of the best.
13. Givenchy Kajal Eyeliner This smooth black liner is perfect for a smokey eye or for my favorite look, a simple swipe along the upper lashes for a winged “cat eye” look.
14. and 15.  NARS “Jungle Red” Lipstick and NARS “Jungle Red” Nail Polish An “it” color since its inclusion in the 1939 move The Women, NARS “Jungle Red” is a beautiful, deep red color that will go with everything. Always.
16.  Chanel No. 5 Eau de Parfum The classic of classics, there’s really nothing I can say about Chanel No. 5 that hasn’t been said in the nearly one hundred years since its release. It’s definitely not for everyone, but everyone should be familiar with this legendary scent.
17. Clarins Beauty Flash Balm Pretty much the first-ever “BB” cream, this beautiful cream give a perfect dewey glow to your skin. Sound counterintuitive, but use just a tiny bit over your makeup.
18. Benefit High Beam Far and away my favorite highlighter, the pink tone reflects light beautifully. A great year-round addition to your beauty routine, it works when your pale or have that just-back-from-vacation color. This liquid is applied with a nail polish-sized brush so it’s easily applied and blended. You can apply it as a final touch over your makeup, or alone if you’re going makeup-free.
19. Guerlain Meteorites These little round light-reflecting beads have been around for a long time–so you may have memories of your mom using them. They provide a powder finish and highlighting in one. Over the years they’ve been refined and now come in several shades to compliment your skin, as well as a bronzing shade. 
20. Essie “Ballet Slippers” Nail Polish When I first started getting manicures this was my go-to color. Pale, but not white; pink, but not too girly, it gives a natural but elegant look for day-to-night wear.
21. Lolita Lempicka Eau de Parfum I discovered the original Lolita Lempicka fragrance in the duty-free shop in at Pearson Airport in Toronto and I have loved it now for well over a decade. Created with elegant floral notes of Ivy, Aniseed, and Violet; complimented by aromas of Cherry, Vanilla, Praline, and Tonka Bean; and finished with Iris and Musk, this floral scent is a classic. Lolita Lempicka has expanded its fragrance collection over the years, so if the original scent is not your style, you’ll likely find another to suit your tastes.

 
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Gifts for Your Mom(s)

Don't Forget Mother's Day!

 

 

I know you’re probably busy mixing mint juleps for your Kentucky Derby party today, but before post time, be sure that you’re ready for Mother’s Day tomorrow. If you haven’t yet, there’s still time to find the right gift to celebrate the mom(s) in your life!

Happy Mother’s Day–to all the many and varied kinds of mothers out there!

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Shelf Life: January and February

I’ve made some headway on my Shelf Life Catch-Up goals. (Not a lot, but some.)

Here are some quick reviews:

FICTION (Novella):

The Grownup, by Gillian Flynn

I’ve been rapt by everything of Gillian Flynn’s that I’ve read, and this novella is no exception. In the span of a mere 62 pages, Flynn manages to draw you in, make you curious, give you goosebumps, surprise you, and make you question everything. And then make you question everything again. Her characters are so well-developed they are recognizable, knowable, but all untrustworthy enough to keep you questioning them well past the last page.

 

NONFICTION:

Being Relational: The Seven Ways to Quality Interaction and Lasting Change
by Louise Phipps Senft and William 
Sent

(Technically, I read this in the fall, but I’ve referred back to it so many times since I’m not willing to take it off the shelf just yet.) Whether you are looking to improve your business, social, or personal relationships, Being Relational should be at the top of your reading list.  A self-improvement book on the surface, it carries a very important message about the good that can come for all when, instead focusing on “winning” in our dealings with others, we focus on sharing the win with the other party (or parties) involved–on creating a win-win result in every interaction.  Taking the spotlight off the transaction and putting it on the relationship, the Senfts (who, between them, have decades of experience as mediators and negotiators) have outlined not only a way to improve our personal experience, but a philosophy that can change our society one relationship at a time.

HUMOR/ANIMALS:

Plumdog, by Emma Chichester Clark

Meet Plum, a “whoosell” (Whippet, Poodle, Jack Russell mix). At times, brave, at times crafty, and always lovable, Plum has been entertaining readers with his stories and antics on the blog Emma keeps for him (of the same name). But whether or not you are familiar with his blog, you will love Plumdog, the beautifully full-color illustrated (by Ms. Clark) diary of a year in the life of Plum. Starting with his new year resolutions (which include “To be braver” and “Not to unstuff my new toys immediately”) and throughout the seasons you will fall in love with Plum and become remarkably involved in his four-legged life and learn a thing or two from his personal dogma.

 

 

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Shelf Life: Catching Up

The point of books is to have way too many but to always feel you never have enough.

-Louise Erdrich

I read the quote above a couple of months ago and I can completely relate. If that is the point of books, then I get it.  In fact, if the shelves and stacks and boxes of books that I see at every turn in my home are testament, I live it.

For as long as I can remember I have been a bibliophile. I love books–everything about them. Most of all I love falling into them and losing myself, learning something, or being inspired. Sometimes even all three.

I am never without reading material and usually I read a couple of things simultaneously. I know that reading more than one book at a time sounds odd to some, but I have fiction books that I read before bed or when I need a break from work or when I have some time to relax;  not to mention non-fiction that I read for business reasons, health research, educational purposes, etc. And I always have something on me to read if I find myself with a few  minutes to spare, waiting on someone or something, or if I need a brief escape.

I devour magazines of all kinds, literary journals,  and my daily Wall Street Journal (on paper, thank you very much). And though I thought I would never succumb, I did eventually buy an e-reader years ago, which has since been augmented by apps on my tablet and smartphone, so I really always have reading material on hand.  (I also keep a book of short stories in my car. . . just in case.)

Sometimes, all of this reading makes me feel like I might come to a similar end as Cervantes’ Don Quixote, who “from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”

With all my reading, you’d think I wouldn’t have an unread book in the house. But I do have a few. Actually, more than a few. Okay, okay . . . a lot more than a few. I’m know I’m not the only reader out there who has a hard time keeping up with their “to read” list.

But lately, the reading I do for my work as a book editor has taken up so much time that my pleasure reading has waned, much to my dismay. The bookcase in my office is overfull and I have stacks in other rooms as well. Books are almost literally closing in around me. It seems the occasion to catch up on my reading is long overdue. No time like the present, I say.

So, starting with my office bookcase, I’m going to make an effort to catch up–or at least make a significant dent in my ever-growing cumulative page count.

Here’s what my bookcase looks like now:

FullSizeRender-6

I know . . . overwhelming.

After removing the books I’ve read, and some of my reference books,  this is what i looks like:

Bookcase2

I’ve left some reference books as well as some volumes that I’ve read but refer to from time to time on the shelves, but those only take up about two shelves.

Still  plenty  to read.

And that’s what I’m going to do. Read. . . . .More. . . . A lot more.

I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions. But  in the case of my reading backlog, I think I owe it to my bookshelf to commit to reading, if not all, then at least a lion’s share of the volumes still waiting. So come January, get ready for more reviews and recommendations and hopefully, we’ll watch the bookshelf’s unread contents will slowly dwindle together.

Wish me luck!

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No Weekend Getaway at Sara Taylor’s THE SHORE

TheShore.SaraTaylor

When I first started reading Sara Taylor’s The Shore, I was unsure what to expect, but one thing it could never have been was a peaceful escape in an idyllic island community.

Spanning centuries, Taylor follows two island families through generations as they survive the struggles of poverty, isolation, and the burdens of community.

At times it’s easy to forget that the stories are interconnected, each perfectly able to stand on its own. (Thankfully for me the author includes family trees at the front of the book for reference.)

The Shore‘s characters are real people, their emotions, desires, worries, insecurities, strengths, and weaknesses all masterfully crafted by Taylor. The relationships between the characters are portrayed with taut and meaningful dialogue, which exposes their fragility and tenuous nature.

It’s not always an easy read–characters experience domestic violence, drug abuse, rape, and and an epidemic, for example. And there’s a deep sense of loneliness in many of the characters that comes through very clearly.

Most significant, though, is the relationship that the residents have with the Shore itself. All of the characters are, each in their own way, bound to the land and the generations of family history. It is a love-hate relationship that in no small part defines them all.

 

Sig.Melaina

 

 

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If Wishes Were Horses . . .

iF-WISHES-were-horses-art-two2

The first time I heard this expression “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride,” I didn’t get it right away–I thought I was missing something. Then I realized it tells us “don’t bother simply wishing for something if you’re not going to do anything about making it happen.” In other words, wishes alone are folly.

Sounds like good advice. After all, a wish is often described as a “goal without a plan,” and I don’t know about you, but in my experience, not having a plan is a terrible plan.

CarefulWishGenie

Then there’s the cautionary proverb that tells us to be careful what we wish for, lest we get it.

It’s true we need to take actual care in choosing our words. Our words are powerful because they are expressions of our thoughts, and because they become our actions. Our actions determine our reality.

When talking about wishes, it’s difficult to forget the traditions of wishing upon shooting stars or breaking off the better half of the wishbone on a Thanksgiving turkey.  Think about that, though–the idea of having a wish come true is considered so unrealistic that it’s been  simply left up to the random chance of seeing the elusive shooting star or having a better grip on the fourth Thursday of November.

So I’ve tried to not use the word wish so often. I’ve curbed that kind of thinking and made an effort to replace it with a thought process that is more creative, one that will help me actually create my life the way I want to live it.

In practical terms, there’s no more waiting for opportunities to present themselves, no more wishing for things or experiences; there is only creating the opportunities for myself and making my own plans.

But I don’t mean to imply that wishes are bad,  or that I’ve stopped wishing. Having a wish or a dream is important–anything really is possible. It’s just that I think it’s a good idea to do more than wish. Only sometimes it can be difficult to remember that . . .  old habits do indeed die hard.

Wish necklace

Recently I came across this necklace in a shop.

And as much as I had been thinking about wishes, it made me smile.

There is was–a way to remind myself that wishes are good–and pretty. But they are things of which we must be conscious, with which  we must be careful, and which we should actively wear if we want to see them realized.

So, yes, I bought it.

And when I put it on I think about what I wish for, what my goals are.

Most importantly, I think about how I make wishes, and what I will do to make my wishes and goals as real as the one around my neck.

Sig.Melaina

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