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Friday, October 9, 2015

Product Review: Vivo Diamond Collection White Diamond Moisture Complex

Recently, I was shopping in the Boise Town Square Mall in Boise, Idaho and a man working one of those central mall kiosks approached me with a sample packet of Vivo, Diamond Collection, White Diamond Moisture Complex.  I reached out to take it, and then he said "Mam, can I talk to you a minuted?", and I said "no" and kept walking with the sample.  That's how I roll.  I don't like the high pressure techniques that has become the norm for these mall kiosks.

I took the sample home with me and a few days later applied it to my face, neck and the V area of my upper chest.

First impressions?  Strongly overly perfumed.  I mean...ick.  It was hard for me to leave on and tolerate the strong smell.  It was sticky and a bit gummy.  It eventually mostly absorbed but it took a while.  The next day I had some breakout on my face.  So.  I'm unimpressed.  I'm even less impressed when I looked on the website and saw that it carried a $100 price tag for about 9.5 oz.  Although, the same company, off-website is selling it for $15 on Amazon.  So go figure.  I don't know what that means.

It has a few interesting ingredients and a whole lot of crap ingredients:
Aqua, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Diamond Powder, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Betaine, Isopropyl Myristate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Cetearyl Glucoside, Butyrospermum Parkii Oil, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Dimethicone, Petrolatum, Sodium PCA, Ascorbic Acid, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, Polyacrylamide, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Laureth-7, Fragrance, Disodium EDTA, BHT, Methylisothiazolinone, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate

 Do you use this product regularly?  What do you think?  Sure, it is perhaps unfair to base a review on a sample...but that's what samples are for, right?  To impress you enough to get you to buy them?  Epic Fail.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Movie Review: The Expendables 3

We rented The Expendables 3 (2014) from Netflix.  Wow...another remarkably star-studded cast including:  Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Antonio Banderas, Jet Li, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren, Kelsey Grammer, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Kellan Lutz, Ronda Rousey, Glen Powell, Victor Ortiz, Robert Davi, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Could you pack a few more box-office draws into a single movie?  Well...good thing they did.  To me, that's about all it had going for it.

As best I can explain it, in this installment the co-founder of the team (Mel Gibson's character) is working hard to destroy the team ever since he went more "commercial" with his skills and the team is down in numbers, aging, being put on the bench, and new recruits are being brought in to fight him.

I say best as I can explain it because honestly, to me, this installment was solid action and very little story.  For me, it became boring in it's over-the-top violence.  Rated PG-13 in this installment, vs R as the previous films were, there is less detail and gore to the violence, but that doesn't stop it from being one dead body after another.  One site claims there are 343 kills in this film (221 in the first, and 489 in the second).  I don't know if those numbers are accurate, but dang...a lot of it.

So for me, the star-studdedness didn't make up for the lack of story, and the lack of acting and the predominance of violence and murder.  And uh...yeah...if you have kids...consider it.  I would not take my kids to any of these films no matter what they are rated.  I think action films like this are for adults only.  But that's just me.

Watch the preview below or via this link.  There are some good songs on the soundtrack...but...yeah...that's all I got. You can watch the entire flick on YouTube I believe.  Did you see it?  What did you think?

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Book Review: The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

The Winter Sea (2008) by Susanna Kearsley, is a work of historical fiction/romance.  Set primarily in Scotland, the story covers the invadsion of the Jacobite fleet of French and Scottish soldiers in the spring of 1708, which nearly succeeded in landing the exiled James Stewart in Scotland to reclaim his crown.

Set in "present day", a successful historical fiction writer begins to research her next book and begins to feel inexplicable, magnetic pulls to certain areas and resources that don't seem to fit with the genealogy or the historic research she has uncovered to date.   She begins to believe that she is receiving the genetic memories of her ancestors who are connected to the story and allows them to write their story through her.

I find the topic of genetic memory absolutely fascinating.  The last book I read by Susanna Kearsley, Firebird, also had a somewhat supernatural theme involving spirits.  Both books held my attention due to those two themes.  I will confess that I am not even remotely a fan of historical fiction for the most part.  This book was 527 pages long and for me, that was about 200 pages too long.  The details of her historic research bogged down the two story lines and to me, seemed indulgent proof of her efforts rather than fitting well within the 1700's story line and the present day story line.  I found myself skipping pages during what for me, were dry patches of historical facts just for facts sake.  Those areas felt more textbook than novel and they lost me entirely.  So it really will depend on what it is about her books that hold your interest.  My mom wasn't a huge fan of either one.  I'm a marginal fan simply because the background topics of the supernatural drew me in.

The romantic portion of the book were moving and not filled with gratuitous sex, nor were they wholly predictable.  Those bits all seemed to fit with both the present day story and the 1700's story, and even subtly linked the two.

Have you read either book?  What did you think?

Friday, October 2, 2015

Recipe: Spinach Artichoke Dip Pasta

Photo Courtesy of 12 Tomatoes
I saw this recipe on Facebook.  Maybe I was hungry, or crazy at the time, but it looked good.  Issue is, I barely can get the man to eat spinach and...I'm not even sure if he's ever TRIED an artichoke, much less had a dish full of them.  This could be a disaster.  I'm thawing out some precooked elk burger as we speak that might help make it go down the hatch a little easier for him.  Not for me...I hate elk.  See?  We all have our food issues.  First the recipe as written, then my experience, adjustments, mistakes and results.  I got the recipe from 12 Tomatoes who apparently adapted it from Will Cook For Smiles (the link for them is at the bottom of the recipe).

Spinach Artichoke Dip Pasta

Serves 8
  • 1 pound butterfly pasta
  • 2 (10 oz.) bags frozen spinach, thawed and drained (or use fresh)
  • 2 (14 oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350º F and bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
  2. Cook pasta according to packaging directions, or until al dente, then drain and set aside.
  3. Heat 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant.
  4. Add drained (or fresh) spinach and cook until coated in garlic butter (and/or wilted).
  5. Season generously with salt and pepper, then transfer spinach to a plate and set aside.
  6. Add artichoke hearts to skillet and cook until browned. Then remove and set aside.
  7. Melt remaining butter and sprinkle in flour. Cook, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes, or until roux is smooth and paste-like.
  8. Continue to stir and slowly pour in whole milk. Let cook for 3-5 minutes, then mix in mozzarella. Stir until sauce is smooth.
  9. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
  10. Return spinach and artichokes to sauce, then fold in pasta. Transfer everything to a large baking dish, then sprinkle parmesan cheese over the top and place dish in oven.
  11. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly, then remove from oven and serve hot.
Recipe adapted from Will Cook For Smiles

Well, I don't know what butterfly pasta is, but it sure looks a lot like bow tie pasta or Farfale.  So that's what I got.  I squeezed and re chopped the chopped spinach to make it smaller for the palate of the spinach phobe.  I did likewise with the artichokes.  If it turns out he doesn't like them, a giant mouthful of one won't help.

I found that the spinach wanted to stick to the pan (it wasn't a non-stick pan, it was the same pan I cooked the pasta in...less dishes to wash).  I also found that the artichoke hearts didn't want to brown, they just wanted to make the bottom of the pan look all burned.  So I did my best.  It called for the pan to be on medium-high and mine was set to less than that but it still seemed plenty hot.  Temps will vary I'm sure.

When making the white sauce/cheese sauce step, mine got super thick super fast...again, maybe my temp was too high.  So I added milk...quite a bit more milk.  I had only purchased a pint bottle of whole milk because we don't drink whole milk.  So the milk I added was 2%.

After adding all the bits and bobs back to the pan, it still seemed dry and sticky, so I kept adding milk until it was the consistency I wanted, knowing it would stiffen up yet more once it spent time in the oven.

Results?  Well, mixed.  I think it gets too gluey in the oven.  IF I make it again, I will skip the oven stage (which just dirties and extra pan anyway), and serve it right after I mix it all up.  The noodles continued to sponge up moisture from the sauce during the bake and I like a creamier, vs firmer casserole.  This was firm as in cut it into squares vs spoon out a creamy substance.  Hubby seemed OK with the was just on the edge of too spinachy for him.  Time will tell if I will make it again.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Trip Advisor Contest. Help me Win a Trip!!

OK, today is the day for you to start voting.

Here's the deal.  Trip Advisor put out a call for travelers to submit a video that was one minute or less in length describing how Trip Advisor helped you discover a travel gem.  The prize is a trip of your choice for two to Marrakesh, Siem Reap, Istanbul, Hanoi or Prague.

If I win a trip, that means I can do more travel blogging on the Thelma and Louise or Dobbie and Baboo travel adventure series!

Check out the videos and vote for your favorite.  Even if it isn't me...but I hope it is.  I know under the criteria of video quality I barely rate.  I barely know how to operate a computer so making a video was a challenge of monumental proportions, the chaos of which I could never begin to explain.  Suffice to say...what you see is the absolute best I was able to do with the skill set I have.  And I'm an introvert.  I far prefer to WRITE than star in a video.  OMG...every time I hit "record" I would freeze like a deer in the headlights and have mini anxiety attacks.  This was NOT an easy process for me.  But to travel...I'll do it.

I'm going to try to embed the video here, but  This is the link you need to click to vote and I think you only have until October 11, 2015 to place your vote.

I'll try to post the video here...

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Recipe: Crock Pot Loaded baked Potato Soup

Photo Courtesy of The Country Cook
I saw this recipe on Facebook and thought it looked good.  We'll see how it goes.  It comes courtesy of The Country Cook.  Be sure to check out their web page and Facebook page for more great recipes.

At the end of the month, I was looking for some cheap things to make.  This works because I already had some cooked bacon on hand (which I try to do for recipes since I hate cooking bacon AND making a meal with it).  It is a stretch, because hubby doesn't like soup and he loves meat.  There will be lots of one and nearly none of the other.

It's really very easy to make...even for me.

Crock Pot Loaded Baked Potato Soup

4 lbs. potatoes (red skin, russet or yukon gold), peeled and cubed
1/2 c. onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 (14 oz.) cans chicken broth
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups half and half
Garnish: shredded cheddar cheese, cooked and crumbled bacon, sliced green onions
Layer cubed potatoes in a lightly greased (I sprayed mine with nonstick spray) 5-quart slow cooker.

Top with chopped onion, garlic and celery (if using).

Add chicken broth, salt and pepper. Broth will not completely cover potatoes.
Cover and cook on low setting for 8 hours or until potatoes are tender.

Mash mixture with a potato masher. (I don’t mash it completely because I still want some visible potato chunks in there).

Stir in half and half. Cover and cook on high setting 20 more minutes, or until mixture is thoroughly heated. Ladle into bowls and garnish with favorite toppings.

Cook’s Notes: If you really want to cut down on some of the chopping, try using a bag of Southern Style frozen hash browns (by Ore-Ida, they are cubed shaped potatoes). 
I used russets for this recipe because I bought an 8 lb bag of them with the intention of doing some other things with them this week.  And they were cheap.  And the store was basically out of everything else I thought of.
If you know me, you know I don't muck about with a half a cup of onion.  I used a whole onion.  That's how I roll.  I don't want to stink up the fridge with left over raw onion that's only gonna get slimey anyway.
It's pretty easy to cut stuff up and layer it into the crock, pour on the liquid and be done.  My crock is apparently a bit on the low temp side, so I cooked mine on high all day and even still, my potatoes could have been a tad softer.
At the final countdown, I'm realizing this soup is a bit more runny than I want, and probably not going to trip hubby's trigger, so I toss in a couple of cups of organic instant mashed potatoes to thicken things up.  I think it was a good idea.  Keep that in mind.
Most of the time, I say to Hell with garnishes...they just jack up the total cost of a dish and just don't matter to me.  But in this case, they make the dish.  It's amazing how just a sprinkle of finely chopped bacon, a sprinkle of cheese and a sprinkle of chopped green onion give a lot of bang in flavor without having had to use a ton of them to create the dish.  Without it, really you just have lumpy, soupy potatoes.  Not that hubby would touch it if I did, but this would also be good with some chopped clams tossed in at the last.
I'll keep the recipe around and try it again.  I'm not sure if it will make it's way to a fave, but we'll see.  Or maybe when he goes hunting I'll make it and toss in the clams.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Movie Review: Behind the Candelabra

Behind the Candelabra (2013), based on the 1988 memoir by Scott Thorson, chronicles the last 10 years in the life of famed pianist Liberace.

I grew up seeing Liberace on television.  I always thought him odd, but fun to watch.  He seemed to have a good sense of how to use his oddity to his advantage.  Sort of like Elton John, before Elton John hit the radar.

In this HBO film, his excesses in spending, narcissism, and his denied homosexuality play out for the world to see what some suspected, but that he never openly admitted.  If you don't know of Liberace, read up on him a bit.  Fascinating guy.

The film won 11 prime time Emmy Awards and several others.  Liberace is played by Michael Douglas who does a fantastic job, at least of embodying the character as I remember him.  Matt Damon plays his live-in lover (and as a cover, chauffeur/secretary).  Also notable if you keep your eyes open is the role of Liberace's mother played by Debbie Reynolds, and his plastic surgeon played by Rob Lowe.
Dan Aykroyd plays Liberace's manager and pretty much is Dan Aykroyd as himself in anything else you've ever seen him in.  Good acting...but one-dimensional as himself.

I was always curious about this film when I first became aware of it due to having known of Liberace growing up.  I lived in Tahoe for a time and just up the road from where I worked was a jewelry store called The Jewelry Factory where Sammy Davis Jr, and Liberace were touted to have had some of their outlandish jewelry crafted.  I've been in that store and it was part jewelry store, party museum, with photos and possessions of both.  I'm also often curious about how an actor takes on the role of impersonating a famous person and how well they embody the roll.  Michael Douglas did an incredible job.

The movie is rated R for some language, drug use, strong sexual content, nudity, and a few scenes showing plastic facial surgery.  We rented the DVD via Netflix, but I bet it is probably available to watch on YouTube.  Watch the trailer below or via this link.