August Hits List!

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Narrowing down my favorites for the month of August proved to be a somewhat daunting task. With Autumn right around the corner, these last few weeks have been spent frantically trying to hold onto the final days of Summer and savoring the last bit of everything that came with these hot, hazy afternoons and evenings before they transition into some much needed cooler, crisper weather.

August saw me clearing out and using up the last of my Summertime skincare, hair care and makeup in order to make room for my more Fall-appropriate beauty finds- and my wardrobe and accessories have slowly but surely begun evolving from bright florals and tropical tones to more subtle neutrals and rich jewel hues. I’m packing up my maxi dresses, poolside sarongs and beach-friendly sandals and unloading my cozy cardigans, lightweight tights and ankle boots.

Autumn is by far my favorite season- without a doubt- but I’m not quite ready to let go of Summer just yet (Reason #5,342 why I belong on the West Coast!)

I digress. Apart from lots of products loaded with SPF and/or Aloe Vera- here are a few of my miscellaneous favorites from August 2016!

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When I initially dipped back into being a brunette last month, I knew my hair care routine would have to change. I’d have to stop using my shampoos and conditioners designed specifically for red hair (including a couple that actually deposit some color with each wash) in order to keep my chocolate shade from changing or fading out right away. I also didn’t want to break the bank by continuing to purchase pricier products, either- which was part of the reason I went back to my natural color to begin with. I wanted to save some of my money that was otherwise going towards expensive dye/highlight appointments every few weeks (red is the hardest color to maintain, after all!)

I stumbled on the new “Whole Blends” line from GARNIER purely by accident while I was looking for a shampoo that didn’t have red or orange tint to it. My curiosity was piqued by the natural ingredients for each formula (there’s six “Whole Blends” collections to choose from depending on your needs/concerns) and the price had me sold then and there. Lately I’ve been loving the hydrating Coconut Water & Vanilla Milk shampoo, which I only use a couple times a week- and which makes my hair feel clean and soft- not dried out or brittle.

All of the “Whole Blends” masks are great, too- although I think my favorite right now is the “Honey Treasures” one. It deeply conditions and de-tangles my curls and leaves my hair looking and feeling healthy and strong- and it smells awesome.

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During the recent heat wave we had here in Massachusetts- it felt like no amount of fans or air conditioning helped- and I found myself resorting to laying in my bathtub in semi-chilly water as a last ditch effort to cool off and try to relax. I could have used bath bombs to make the experience a bit more pampering- but they tend to work better in hotter water and the idea of even a lukewarm bath nearly had me in tears.

Instead, I turned to bath salts- and specifically the ones from the San Francisco Salt Company– to help me unwind and keep heat stroke away. While I am able to order different types of salts at SFSC’s website, there’s actually a location not far from me where I can choose and package my own depending on the type of fragrance I want. The blue and gold mix pictured above is a blend of ocean-inspired scents and a hint of mimosa- the perfect combination for a Summer send-off, if you ask me. The salts soften my skin and make my entire bathroom smell heavenly.

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I’d like to think I’m pretty open-minded about nearly anything and everything- even things I don’t fully or completely understand or practice- like witchcraft, spells and/or stones. I find those things fascinating nonetheless, and during my recent trip to Mystic, Connecticut- I ended up strolling into the Mystical Elements store in Mystic Village to take a look around. These spell jar candles from Artemisia Botanicals caught my attention almost immediately- not only because of how potent (but nice!) they smelled- but because I thought they’d make cute gifts, too. There’s different candles for a variety of purposes: good health, love, protection, and strength- but I thought this money one was a nice fit considering my desire to move out West.

While I haven’t gotten around to following the instructions on this candle to see if it works and if a fortune comes my way in the near future just yet- it smells nice enough where even if it doesn’t work- at least my home will have a pretty fragrance lingering throughout it for a while.

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I’ve owned the same grey, faux-leather wallet for approximately 6/7 years now- and even when it only recently began falling apart at the seams (literally)– I refused to replace it. It wasn’t until it broke completely, beyond repair and quite embarrassing and disgusting looking- when I traded it in for this new smaller, brighter and more compact wallet from Spartina 449.

The size of this wallet caused me to do a long overdue clean-out of old cards and passes I no longer had use for as I moved all of my stuff over to it- but it still comfortably fits my necessities. Best of all? I love the pattern on this wallet and the pineapple emblem on it’s magnetic clasp. Even though Fall is on it’s way, this will still give me a little bit of Summer every time I reach into my purse.

And with all the photograph-able favorites well, photographed- let’s move onto the other things I loved in August!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

  • “Fear The Walking Dead” – As much of a fan of the original ‘The Walking Dead’ as I am, it took me a little while to get into this slow-paced spin-off when it first premiered last year. Since then, it’s definitely picked up speed on the action and suspense- and the characters have become more developed and interesting to watch. The second half of season two recently premiered (after a pretty disappointing mid-season finale)– and it’s already showing a bit more promise. I hope it keeps up!
  • ‘Catfish’ – This show might be my guiltiest of guilty pleasures. I’ve been low-key obsessing over this series for five seasons now- each one getting more and more insane and over-the-top- but I can’t stop. I love me some trashy (probably scripted) reality TV. Nev and Max and their bromance for the ages are so entertaining to watch- and the twists always leave me laughing and furiously taking to social media to discuss. The second half of the season premiered this past month and it’s been AWESOME.

– TECH/APPS/GAMES –

  • Snapchat – The last thing I need is an app that gives random guys the capability to send me unsolicited dick pics (even if it’s just for a few seconds at a time) but Sean got me to finally cave and now I’m addicted to Snapchat just like the rest of the world. I have way too much fun fooling around with the filters and messenger.

Have it? Add me! My username is LegallyAshley!

– MISCELLANEOUS –

  • Starbucks’ Iced Coconut Milk Mocha Macchiato – While I am absolutely ready to dive right into some salted caramel mocha (and maybe even some pumpkin spice even though I don’t particularly like the taste)– I’m going to miss this Summertime drink I’ve been chugging nearly every day since it made it’s debut at Starbucks. It’s sweet, creamy and refreshing- and it gives me just enough of a caffeine kick to keep me going without giving me the jitters. I have a feeling I’m going to need to find a recipe to make these at home when Starbucks inevitably removes them from the menu.

And I think that’s it for my August favorites! I’m ready to recap the month of August overall with my upcoming ‘In A Nutshell’ post and prepare to welcome September, Autumn- and a cross-country vacation!

Feel free to share your August favorites!

xx

Love and Marriage

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The Dynamic Duo!

For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you probably know by now that my longtime best girl-friend, Sam, got married over the weekend in an absolutely beautiful ceremony (and followed up by a kickass reception) at the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, Massachusetts. I’m still so overjoyed for her and her husband, Vern- and I’m sending them my love as they embark on their honeymoon in Barcelona this week.

Anyone who has known me for a long time knows that from 2004-2012, Sam and I were pretty much attached at the hip. We went everywhere and did everything together after a chance first meeting at a $2 Killers show (seriously) in Boston a couple of months after I’d finished high school. We knew- even back then- that we had a unique and special bond. Since that night (where our friends who had accompanied us to the concert patiently waited outside while Sam and I talked for HOURS after the show), we’ve been through a lot together: love, loss, career changes, moving to new places, breakups, drunken debauchery- and Sam’s heroic recovery after battling and beating cancer. She’s a warrior woman who never lost her sense of humor- even in the most trying of times- and I have always admired the hell out of that.

She was, and is, my “partner in crime”- even though our careers, families, respective relationships, distance and overall craziness of life as we get older has made it a bit more difficult to see each other as often as we used to. The wedding this past Saturday was actually the first time I’ve seen Sam and her family in close to a couple of years- but it was like no time had passed at all. We picked up right where we left off and it was an absolute thrill to get to catch up with her, her parents, siblings and friends- and I’m so honored I got to be a part of such a lovely and special occasion.

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Despite the unfortunate circumstances of my recent breakup- I’m thankfully not completely jaded when it comes to love and relationships just yet. Being swept up in Sam’s wedding got me thinking of how I’d like my own to go someday (if I ever get married, of course)– and I’m pretty sure I’m still set on a quickie, stress-free Vegas wedding (with Elvis included in some way, shape or form.) Weddings are all about the person you’re marrying and yourself, of course- so the least amount of work I’d have to do and the less pressure on everyone for everything to be completely and 100% perfect all day- the better. Just me, whoever I’m marrying- maybe some friends and family who could make the trip- and Elvis.

Oddly enough, I’m supposed to be in Vegas at the end of next month for a few days- so you never know… (Hi, mom- if you’re reading this!)

With just a couple more weeks left in Summer 2016 (I know- as much as I love Fall- I’m going to miss this season so much!), I’m preparing my plans for Autumn and- ugh– impending Winter, but not before I squeeze in a few more Summertime activities, first!

I’ve got a couple more posts planned for August before we launch into September. They’ll be up shortly!

xx

Quick Eats: Snack-Safe Chocolate-Chip Cookie Dough

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Do you like the taste of raw cookie dough but dislike the danger of salmonella that comes with it whenever you sneak a spoonful while you’re baking? Then do I have good news for you! In what is probably one of the quickest, easiest recipes I’ve stumbled across (three steps and only a handful of ingredients? Yes please!)– I have found an egg-free, safe-to-snack-on, and absolutely delicious alternative to raw cookie dough that tastes EXACTLY like the real thing.

Maybe even better than the real thing, actually.

Don’t believe me? Here’s the recipe. Try it fr yourself and see what you think!

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WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1½ sticks butter, at room temperature
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅔ cup light brown sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2¾ cups almond flour
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chocolate chips

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OKAY, HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter with the sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine.

2. Add the almond flour and salt; mix to combine. Add the chocolate chips and mix just until evenly incorporated.

3. The cookie dough can be served immediately or refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to serve (for up to a week).

That is legitimately all you need to do to make these. That’s it. The entire process takes roughly 30 minutes and then you’ve got yourself enough edible cookie dough to last you a week (or an hour, depending on how hungry you’re feeling.)

Want to take this recipe a step further? Try rolling some of the dough into balls, dunking them in melted milk/dark chocolate, and then freezing them for a couple of hours or overnight. You’ll get yourself some chilled chocolate-covered cookie dough bites when the chocolate coating hardens!

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xx

Day Off Date!

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The last time I traveled down to Mystic, Connecticut was in the Summer of 2014 in the days following my return from San Diego Comic-Con. My friend Stef and I had gone down for the day to visit the aquarium and the neighboring Mystic Village for some shopping  before we finished up with dinner at Daniel Packer Inne. Since then, I’ve been meaning to head back to spend some time in Mystic’s downtown area- which is lined with independently owned businesses, boutiques, cafes, and restaurants- but I’ve just never found the time.

Last Tuesday, one of the hottest days of the Summer so far (although this past week had been brutal temperature, humidity, and severe weather-wise), I used my day off to finally make the trip back to Mystic- solo, this time- for an afternoon by the river.

While I was there, I managed to scratch one more thing off of my bucket list: I finally had a slice of pizza at Mystic Pizza. Yes, the one made famous by the 1988 Julia Roberts movie of the same name.

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While the exterior of Mystic Pizza is straight out of the movie- the inside is much tinier and lined with a lot more movie memorabilia and souvenirs for sale. It’s cute, but still maintains a “local” vibe- which I like. I ordered two slices of pepperoni pizza, which were made fresh- and was kindly seated at a booth in the adjacent restaurant area when the main part of the pizzeria was filled up with people on their lunch breaks and I couldn’t find a spot to sit and eat- and it tasted pretty good!

The employees at Mystic Pizza are all super sweet, too- and the fact that they were playing the movie on the TVs in the restaurant was a nice touch. I’d nearly forgotten how fantastically cheesy that film was.

After lunch, I went for a stroll downtown- stopping to window shop at Peppergass and Tulip and Once A Sale, Forever A Sea before grabbing an iced latte at Bartleby’s Cafe and making my way towards Mystic Village to pick up a couple of gifts for friends and family.

After a long, hot, and lazy afternoon- I took the back roads all the way home to enjoy some more picturesque scenery.

Overall, it was a lovely day. I’d love to head back to Mystic when the weather cools down a bit and spend more time outdoors- maybe even take a harbor cruise to pass the time when I know I won’t roast under the sun!

Oddly enough, this week marks the beginning of a mini-vacation for me that I didn’t know about until recently. I had a few unexpected days off at work starting today that run through the end of the week- so I’m looking forward to taking a couple more day trips before it’s time to head back to my office next Monday!

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xx

My Guide to Surviving Boston Comic-Con.

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Thanks to Rodney at Nerd Caliber (http://www.nerdcaliber.com/) for making me look tough at this year's 'Walker Stalker' Convention!

Thanks to Rodney at Nerd Caliber (http://www.nerdcaliber.com/) for making me look tough at this year’s ‘Walker Stalker’ Convention!

The very first genre-specific convention I ever attended was an annual horror-themed one, “Rock & Shock”, located in my hometown in Central Massachusetts when I was in my early twenties. I had gone for one very specific reason- to meet one of my favorite actors, Malcolm McDowell- and have him sign my very old and very beat up copy of “A Clockwork Orange” book.

I had never been to any type of comic convention before that. I was an avid fan of certain types of movies, video games, comics and books- but most conventions were far away- too far to get to- or seemed expensive. I discovered “Rock & Shock” completely by accident and can vividly remember excitedly heading over to my hometown’s event center after I had left work for the evening- clutching my book under my arm the entire time.

And it was there that a love affair was born- not between Malcolm McDowell and myself (although he really is the coolest)– but between myself and comic conventions and the people who attend them. While at “Rock & Shock” that night- I encountered so many passionate fans, incredible artists, fantastic cosplay- and way too much fun merchandise- that I knew right then and there I was hooked. I felt like I belonged- like I had a place where my enthusiasm for certain things and genres was not only welcomed- but matched by others, too.

I started attending “Rock & Shock” every year. Then I ventured out to Boston Comic-Con, Rhode Island Comic-Con, Super MegaFest, Walker Stalker, New York Comic-Con- and I even managed to make my way to mother of all conventions- San Diego Comic-Con- in 2014, where I tried my hand at cosplay for the first time and which was undoubtedly one of the most fun experiences of my life.

While I wouldn’t consider myself a seasoned veteran of the comic-convention circuits- I’m also by no means an amateur anymore. I cosplay regularly, I know where to go and what time to be there to get the best spots for panels/Q&As, and the typically stressful photo op process is now a breeze.

With Boston Comic-Con taking place over the course of this coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday- I thought I’d share some of my tips and tricks to getting through the weekend (relatively) unscathed- and share some of the more fun local events planned to coincide with the convention for those who don’t want to spend the entire weekend walking the floor of the Artists Alley or vendor booths.

PLAN AHEAD: This one sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how often some people skip this step and find themselves scrambling around later on. Whether you’re making a costume or heading to the convention in your regular clothes- give yourself plenty of time to prepare so you’re not left frantically getting your things together the night before. Make sure you get your tickets in advance, set aside some time to work on any costumes/props so that they’re not just done in time- but completed early– and bookmark the convention’s official website. Not only that, but be sure to check the site regularly- since changes/cancellations/rules and regulations/and schedules can be posted and updated sporadically. HERE’S the schedule (for panels, contests and events) for this year’s BCC. Make a mental (or written) list of the things you definitely want to see- and get to the line early to snag yourself a seat.

Also, for the cosplayers- familiarize yourself with the rules for costumes/props. There’s nothing worse than working your ass off making something you’re really proud of, only to be denied entry to the convention because your costume/prop is made with the wrong type of material or doesn’t meet safety standards.

CONSIDER THE ELEMENTS: Regardless of whether or not you’re attending the convention in a costume- make sure to take the weather and temperature into consideration. Your Deadpool costume is awesome- but it’s also hotter than the surface of the sun that day. Or you spend hours perfecting your Daenerys Targaryen hair and makeup- but it’s pouring outside. Don’t risk heat stroke or ruining your stuff with water damage by not doing your research! The convention, from what I’ve seen over the years, is pretty lenient about letting people change/touch up in the bathrooms- so keep your wig in a plastic bag until you’re safely inside where it’s dry or keep your mask off until you’re within reach of air conditioning. Trust me- you’ll be happy you did and you’ll still look great.

One more from Nerd Caliber! (http://www.nerdcaliber.com/)

One more from Nerd Caliber! (http://www.nerdcaliber.com/)

EAT AHEAD OF TIME: You’ve worked overtime and you’ve put money aside for weeks leading up to the convention so you can buy some limited edition gear or memorabilia. So tell me why you’d blow some of that hard earned cash on $15 nachos or a $8 soda? Come on. It’s no secret that food vendors at any and all conventions put astronomical price tags on their snacks since they know they’ll make bank on hungry attendees who need to refuel. Save yourself some time and money and eat a decent (and filling) meal before you head over to the convention center. It’ll get you through the majority of your day. Need to hydrate? There are water fountains in the convention center and they work just fine.

SHOP AROUND: I love FUNKO figurines as much as the next person, and that Harley Quinn shirt is practically screaming my name- but what one booth charges $40 for, another booth across the convention center might be charging way less for the same exact product. While I have a few local companies I trust and shop with religiously- it never hurts to take a spin around the vendor area a couple of times- especially when you’re looking for items that aren’t necessarily hard to come by and aren’t considered limited edition or rare. Keep your eyes open and browse before you make a selection on merchandise.

REALIZE CELEBRITY PHOTO OPS ARE INSANELY FAST: I know doing an elaborate and fun pose with your favorite celebrity guest at a convention sounds almost too good to be true- but please keep in mind there’s going to be a long line of people thinking the same exact thing and that the guest, the staff, and the coordinators of the event have a pretty strict schedule to adhere to. Celebrity photo ops last about 5-10 seconds and you move right along so the next person can get their picture taken. The best thing you can do is smile and make sure you don’t blink or sneeze when the flash goes off so your 8 x 10 glossy print comes out fabulous.

Don’t get too discouraged, though. A lot of guests are really cool about posing for selfies/photos at their respective booths when they’re doing signings and meeting fans. You’ll also get more time to talk to them- but, you know- just don’t be clingy or anything.

BE RESPECTFUL OF COSPLAYERS – AND SPEAK UP IF YOU SEE ANYONE NOT BEING RESPECTFUL: There’s a lot of incredible handmade costumes/props to marvel at every year at various conventions- and you may want to take photos of some of those costumes/props- but please be sure to ask, first! Sometimes folks are heading to a panel or a photo op. Sometimes they’re trying to find some water or a restroom- and they may not have time to stop and pose. It’s always a polite and appreciated move to ask if you can take a photo, first (plus- they would probably want to pose so their stuff looks good in the picture- so give them a heads up!) rather than just snapping away when they’re unprepared or not interested.

And in a related note- always, always ALWAYS be respectful of the cosplayers. Be careful if you’re touching their stuff. Don’t gawk or grope. Don’t make inappropriate comments. Don’t behave like a pig, basically- and if you see someone acting like that- notify security immediately. People dress up for conventions for fun- not to be harassed or objectified. Stand up for them if you see anyone being less than courteous towards them.

FINALLY, HAVE FUN AND TAKE A BREAK IF YOU NEED ONE: I get it. You’ve been walking around- to and from panels, around the vendor booths, to the celebrity area, etc- and you’re exhausted. There are wall to wall people and you may start to feel a little overwhelmed. It’s okay! I’ve been there. Everyone has been there- and probably more than once, too. The point of a convention is to have a good time. Enjoy yourself! Don’t stress out about things too much. If you missed a panel, a Q&A, or couldn’t find that one artist you were trying to track down- it’s not the end of the world. You’re doing the best you can with the time you have in the convention center!

And if you need a break- take one. Don’t hesitate. There are plenty of places to sit down, cool off, and recharge without having to go outside or go home and risk not being allowed re-entry for the day/weekend. Find the designated resting spots and utilize them as much as you need to.

In addition to the scheduled events inside the convention center- there’s almost always things happening in and around the city to commemorate the weekend, too. Different bars and restaurants have deals (and additional discounts/specials for those of you who show up in costume!) so it’s always worth checking out Boston Comic-Con’s official FACEBOOK PAGE for info/active promotions.

One event in particular that’s going to be pretty great is the Star Trek/Boston Comic-Con themed night at Fenway Park on Friday. While the event is sold out at the moment, it doesn’t hurt to check out sites like StubHub for those last minute cancellations and freed up tickets.

From the MLB’s website for the event:

Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek and the kick off of Boston Comic Con at Fenway Park on Friday, August 12th. The Boston Comic Con is the largest comic book and pop culture convention in New England (held from August 12-14th at The Seaport World Trade Center). Fans who purchase tickets through this special offer will receive this limited-edition Captain Kirk Red Sox figurine. Be sure to get here early to see the original Captain Kirk, William Shatner, join us to throw out the first pitch, compliments of Boston Comic Con!

It may be hard to see the photo of the Captain Kirk figurine on the website, but seriously- how funny is this thing?

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That alone is worth heading down to Yawkey Way for.

With all that being said, I’m ready to grab my Lucille prop and strap on my leather boots to dress up like Negan from ‘The Walking Dead’ again. I’ll be popping in and out of the convention throughout the weekend- so if anyone sees me- come say hello! Don’t let the bat wrapped in barbed wire scare you away!

I hope those attending have a phenomenal time! Have fun and stay safe, everybody!

xx

Quick Eats: Bloomin’ Onions

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I’m just going to throw this out there in the hopes I don’t scare off any potential future dating opportunities- but I love foods and ingredients that smell pretty strong. Garlic? Can’t get enough of it. Feta cheese? 100% yes. Onions? Pile them on anything and everything and I’ll eat them with no questions asked. I keep an extra toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss in my car as backup and I always have gum and/or mints in my bag because of my penchant for ordering or cooking up the most potent of dishes. They’re just such a guilty-but-not-guilty pleasure for me.

In regards to onions- the only thing I think I love more than raw onions on my burgers, sandwiches or sliced into my salads is any variation of fried onions. Onion rings, onion strings- and blooming onions, especially- are one of my favorite appetizers to pick at. When I spotted this recipe for homemade blooming onions, courtesy of PureWow– I knew I had to give them a try (and then probably eat all of them in one sitting.)

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WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

FOR THE ONIONS:

  • 2 pounds cipollini onions, peeled
  • 1½ cups buttermilk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • Vegetable oil, as needed for frying

FOR THE DIPPING SAUCE:

  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

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OKAY, HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

1. MAKE THE DIPPING SAUCE: In a medium bowl, whisk the sour cream with the mayonnaise, horseradish, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper to combine. Set aside.

2. SCORE THE ONIONS: Slice an onion in half vertically, but don’t cut all the way through to the base. The idea is to keep the bottom intact. Turn the onion 45 degrees, slice vertically again and repeat until you end up with what looks like little rectangles of onion, still attached at the base. Repeat with the remaining onions.

3. Loosen the onions a little by wiggling them around to separate the pieces slightly and create space between them. Place the buttermilk in a shallow dish and then add the onions to it. Toss well and massage the onions to get the buttermilk into the score marks.

4. MAKE THE SEASONING: In a medium-size shallow dish, whisk the flour with the salt, pepper, garlic powder, cayenne and baking powder to combine.

5. Heat 3 inches of oil in a wide pot over medium-high heat until it reads 350°F on a thermometer.

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6. DREDGE THE ONIONS: Working one at a time, remove an onion from the buttermilk and dredge fully in the flour mixture, working again to make sure the breading gets into the score marks.

7. COOK THE ONIONS: Working in batches, fry the onions until they’re golden and crisp, flipping them over halfway through cooking, about 8 to 10 minutes. Set the cooked onions on paper towels to absorb the excess oil.

8. Serve immediately with the dipping sauce.

Despite coating and frying these up in vegetable oil, these onions didn’t come out overly greasy at all. They were perfectly crisped all the way through- with just the right amount of tenderness at the center to keep them flavorful (without tasting too much like the seasoning) and not too dry. The dipping sauce was also fantastic. A little tangy- but it complimented the onions perfectly.

I’m really looking forward to whipping these up again the next time I have a group of people over, since I know they’ll be a big hit!

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xx

“I guess the coastal air gets a girl to reflect…”

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TLSP20161

The very first time I met Alex Turner, I was 20 years old and visiting NYC while the Arctic Monkeys were touring North America to promote their debut album, ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’. I was waiting to leave a hotel lobby with a couple of friends of mine from their road crew to head out to dinner plans we had made when Alex came off of the elevator and we were introduced.

What I remember most about Alex back then was how baby-faced and young he appeared. We were the same age, but he seemed years younger. He was shy, soft-spoken, polite and had a couple of pimples (I did too- which was a relief)– but never, not once- did he ever strike me as a “rock star”. He was simply Alex from Sheffield. A nice kid in a band that wrote catchy songs and was in the same boat as me in the sense that we were in one of the most exciting cities in the world- but still weren’t old enough to legally get into bars.

Over the years, I’d seen Alex plenty of more times. We laughed and took what is undoubtedly the most unflattering photo of either one of us while I was in London for Reading Festival years ago. We talked music and food backstage at a gig in San Diego after I’d turned 21- and whenever he and the Arctic Monkeys would visit Boston (and specifically the House of Blues)– there would almost always be a competitive bowling tournament next door after the show where the band, the crew, myself, and anyone else who tagged along would pound a few drinks and slide around in bowling shoes until closing time.

Even though his appearance changed from youthful-looking, mop-headed kid into a more put together and handsome adult man- I still always thought of him as Alex from Sheffield. Even when he thrashed around on stage. He was never a “rock star”.

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Then I saw Alex and Miles Kane perform as The Last Shadow Puppets this past Sunday at the House of Blues in Boston, and that perception entirely changed. I suddenly understood the crowd- FILLED with shrieking women professing their undying love for Alex- and why they were so frenzied. Gone was the shy, soft-spoken kid I’d met years ago- and in his place was a loud, exciting and provocative rock star. Right there before my eyes.

It was a trip.

The show was impressive and pretty incredible- and I’ve been loving the new album, ‘Everything You’ve Come To Expect’ that they were/are promoting with this current tour. Their opening act, Cameron Avery- was really fun, too. I enjoyed his set very much.

Since Sunday night post-show at the HOB, I’ve been working and trying to get my sleep schedule back on track since these past couple of weeks have consisted of a tremendous amount of staying out late and getting up obscenely early. Tuesday, my usual day off- was spent lazily lounging around my best friend’s new apartment in Melrose- watching “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” episodes on Netflix, napping, fooling around on Snapchat (I just downloaded it for the first time and I’m having way too much fun with it) and only exerting myself when it came time to load up on Mexican food and banana split sundaes.

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So, so good. I love my days off!

I’m looking forward to this weekend, since I have a couple of recipes I’ll be trying my hand at- and a trip to Mystic, Connecticut I’ve been meaning to take for a few weeks now.

I’ll be sure to bring my camera with me since the town and it’s surrounding areas are really beautiful in the late Summertime.

xx

July 2016: In a Nutshell.

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"This is Lucille- and she. is. awesome." Me as Negan for 'Walker Stalker: Boston'! 7/30/16

“This is Lucille- and she. is. awesome.” Me as Negan for ‘Walker Stalker: Boston’! 7/30/16

Oh, July- you had me worried for a second there. I was really, REALLY concerned that despite my best efforts- you were going to turn into “June 2016: Part II” and be something I looked back on at some point in the future with sadness and maybe a little anger. I was worried you were going to carry on my baggage from my breakup last month and just toss it everywhere- maybe even into the month of August, too.

… But you surprised me in the most pleasant of ways and ended up being a wonderful, fun, and most important of all- empowering– month for me. I can’t thank the stars and the cosmos enough for showing me some mercy and giving me the strength and clarity I so desperately needed (with the help of good friends, good music, and new and unexpected opportunities!) to get me through my rough patch and give me a renewed sense of purpose and optimism.

Not that long ago, I’d written about my mini-epiphany following a lovely couple of days spent in Connecticut where I caught up with beloved friends and watched The Killers put on one hell of a show- an experience that recharged me after I’d been running on empty for what felt like so long.

Well, in the days that followed- while I was still on cloud nine- I was contacted about new and potential prospects for me on the opposite coast (specifically Las Vegas and San Diego.) I’m currently looking into each of them, doing my usual weighing of the pros and cons before I take any kind of step forward in either direction. I don’t want to get ahead of myself- but I’m undeniably excited. I’d put off the idea of moving anywhere near the West Coast anytime soon since I felt tethered here in Massachusetts- but now that I’m feeling liberated (and have the unyielding support of my friends and family who only want to see me happy and successful)– it’s nice to know that it could actually happen, after all.

Legally Brunette?

Legally Brunette?

I also pulled an unexpected move in recent days to celebrate the changes in my life and went back to brunette- dying my hair a lovely chocolate color. I don’t know how many of you have seen the first “Sex and the City” movie (I LOVE IT) where Carrie, post-being left jilted at the altar- dyes her trademark blonde hair considerably darker- but I can assure you that’s what I felt like when I was leaving the salon. I kept doing double-takes at my reflection. I didn’t recognize myself at first!

I don’t know what the new hair color is going to do for the “Legally Redhead” name (I mean, there are still some red highlights in there, so, technically…?) but I’m not going to stress about it too much right now. I like the way it looks and that’s all that matters to me.

To finish giving July a much-deserved sweet send-off- I’ll be heading over to the House of Blues tonight to check out a gig by The Last Shadow Puppets. This comes right after I spent yesterday at The Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel for the annual “Fan Fest/Walker Stalker” convention where I finally got the chance to show off my completed Negan costume. Although I was looking, I didn’t see any other women dressed as the character (but if any ladies were there and dressed as Negan- I want to see how great you looked!) but I did see quite a few men and boys swinging their Lucilles around. It was fun- whenever any of us would run into each other- we’d tap our bats together. It sort of became an unofficial handshake or high-five throughout the day.

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The definitive highlight of my afternoon was finally meeting David Morrissey. I’ve been a big fan of his prior to ‘The Walking Dead’ but he’d never attended a convention anywhere around here before. He was an absolute sweetheart (and very tall!) and it was an honor to get to pose with him and speak with him about his extensive and impressive body of work.

And we all know how much I love Josh McDermitt. It’s always a party whenever that guy is around. I was going to take a photo of me using my Lucille prop with him- but he sort of turned the tables on that one- as evidenced above.

Speaking of photos- I was completely STUNNED at the amount of people who stopped me to request a photo with me (specifically me looking like I was about to bash their heads in with my bat.) It was seriously so much fun and I hope that everyone enjoyed their pictures as much as I enjoyed posing for them! I’m really looking forward to bringing the costume back for August’s Boston Comic-Con. It’s definitely one of my favorites I’ve put together over the years!

Apart from BCC- what else do I have planned for August? Well, it’s the last full month of the Summer before we slip into the Fall (and I reach maximum power since it’s my favorite season)– so I’d like to try and spend as much time as possible outdoors- in the sun and on the beach. I have a few more Summer-esque recipes to share, a giveaway to commemorate the wind-down of the season, and a couple of day trips/weekends out of state scheduled that should be fun to document and share with everyone.

Cheers to an incredible and much-needed month that was, and to even better and brighter days in August!

xx

July Hits List!

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July’s collection of items may not look like much, I know- but I assure you- this month was not without a TON of things that I loved. Some of them were just a bit more difficult to photograph- like the feeling I got watching the sunset over the Boston skyline on my friend’s balcony one last time before they move to a new apartment outside the city this coming weekend, or how nice it felt wading and swimming in the lukewarm waves at the beach this past Sunday- or how my heart swelled with all sorts of emotions as I watched The Killers perform ‘Smile Like You Mean It’ to an arena packed with people last week.

July was all about emotions: some bad, but thankfully most of them good- and many of my more “material” favorites were carried over from May and June (like my lightweight BB creams, hair care, and clothing)– but I did pick a couple more things to highlight for this month- like some bits and pieces from my Negan(ette) costume I’m debuting at the ‘Walker Stalker: Boston’ convention tomorrow!

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The most important part of my costume, of course, was the Lucille replica- and considering there are strict weapons/props guidelines in effect at the convention- I wanted my version to look as realistic as possible while still being safe enough to carry and swing around. I turned to Etsy’s own Creepy Twists Productions for assistance- and I was not disappointed at all. This hard foam and leather version of Negan’s weapon of choice is so cool looking, and so unbelievably sturdy. I was blown away the first time I held it- and I know it’s going to look bad ass in my photos. I can’t wait!

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For skincare in July, I kept it as simple and as basic as possible- although I had a couple of new additions to my regimen. For my face, this cooling and refreshing mist from Happy Spritz (which I received in a recent POPSUGAR box) has been a lifesaver. The temperatures have been uncomfortably scorching hot here in New England over the past couple of days- so this facial spray is a Godsend when I feel like my face is about to melt right off. It instantly cools me down and softens my skin. Also? It smells REALLY good. Totally calming.

And while having a cooled off face is great- I gotta’ make sure the rest of my body doesn’t burn up when I’m out in the sun, too. I try not to be overtly “choosy” when it comes to sunscreen- but I’ve been highly appreciative of this waterproof, sweat-proof and non-greasy SPF 100 spray from Banana Boat lately. I spent an entire afternoon at the beach this past weekend- in and out of the water- and I applied this liberally throughout my day. I didn’t get burned in the slightest. Considering how pale and sensitive my skin is to the elements- that’s a huge deal for me.

And now, for the miscellaneous stuff!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

  • San Diego Comic-Con ’16 Recaps – I came for ‘The Walking Dead’ season 7 trailer, but I stayed for all the behind the scenes footage and updates from Marvel, ‘Game of Thrones’, and the cosplay community. As much fun as I had when I attended SDCC a couple of years ago- catching the recaps at the end of the day is WAAAAY more convenient than having to race from panel to panel (while in costume) or wait in line after line for hours at a time.

… I’d love to be in San Diego for some Mexican food or In-N-Out, though…

  • ‘Stranger Things’ – I know I vowed to spend more time outdoors in the month of July, but- c’mon- this Netflix series is/was SO good. Winona Ryder is forever my girl-crush and I loved her even more as I binge-watched this homage to my favorite horror films from the ’80s.

– TECH/APPS/GAMES –

  • Pokémon Go – I don’t have this app (yet), but I know plenty of people who do and I truly think it’s amazing how the country- as divided as we are at times- can unite for one common goal: catching imaginary monsters with our phones. It’s so fun to watch kids (and adults) race around and play this game together. I’m not being sarcastic, either- I genuinely love it- and the memes that have been created since the game’s launch have been hilarious.

And that, my friends- is my Hits List for July 2016! I’ll be wrapping up the overall month in a nice little post this coming Sunday before I head out to see The Last Shadow Puppets at House of Blues- but I’m really excited to see what makes the cut in August!

‘Til next time!

xx

POPSUGAR Must Have Box: July 2016.

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With the month of July wrapping up and a crazy weekend ahead of me (the ‘Walker Stalker’ convention and one of my favorite bands- The Last Shadow Puppets- are both rolling through town this coming Saturday and Sunday!) I wanted to take some time to share what I received in my one and only true love of a subscription service- my POPSUGAR ‘Must Have’ Box- before I shared the rest of my monthly favorites in my usual ‘Hits List!’ post a little later on this week prior to diving head first into my plans and preparing for the month of August!

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I had already received notice of the words/inspirations for July’s theme well in advance, but had made it a point to try and remain as spoiler-free as possible until the actual box arrived at my door so I could be surprised as I opened it. I was pretty excited to see what POPSUGAR had curated based on their choice of inspirations for this month, though: SUNNY, RETRO, FUN, VINTAGE, PLAYFUL, CHEEKY (ooh!) and WARM.

As usual, they did not disappoint.

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Now that I’m starting to feel like my old self again, I’ve been finally getting around to RSVPing to those backyard BBQs, pool parties and bonfires that I’ve been putting off while I worked through some stuff and started the healing process. I’ve even contemplated throwing a party of my own before the Summer ends- and I thought this set of cloth emoji napkins from House of Pom would come in handy when I’m playing bartender and whipping up drinks for everyone.

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The heat and the humidity has been brutal these past couple of weeks- moreso on my hair than anything else- and I’ve resorted to just pulling it back or tying it up in the morning after my shower to save myself a ton of unnecessary aggravation throughout the day. I’ve been loving this silky black and white scarf from Michael Stars since it arrived in July’s ‘Must Have’ box. It keeps my curls off of my face while still looking chic and in-season- and I know that once Fall rolls in and the cooler weather comes with it, it’ll make a comfortable wrap for my neck, too!

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The very first item from July’s ‘Must Have’ Box to get some serious use was this ADORABLE inflatable swan drink holder from SUNNYLIFE. I brought this guy to the beach with some friends and I over this past weekend to assist with keeping our water, iced teas (and hard ciders- ahem…) secure and close by whether we were on the sand or splashing in the waves.

I browsed SUNNYLIFE’s website and I have fallen head over heels in love with their gigantic rafts- particularly the ice cream cone and watermelon slice floats. They are way too cute- and I feel I could definitely use one for when I’m lounging in the pool during the final weeks of Summer.

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I love subtle details- and I try to incorporate them with my ensembles. Pops of color? Unexpected patterns? A little bling? I’m all about it- and I’m all about this pineapple pin from PINTRILL, too. I’ve been fastening this thing to my shirts and headbands in recent days and even though it’s small- a lot of people have noticed it!

PINTRILL has such a huge assortment of other pins available for purchase, too- so I’m sure I’ll be picking up a few more for future use.

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Hi. My eyebrows are currently staging a mutiny against my face (I’m due to get them taken care of tonight after work, but still)– and this multi-purpose illuminator from European Wax Center couldn’t have arrived at a more convenient time. I’ve been using this lightweight crayon to detract attention away from my wayward brows and give myself a more glowing, shimmery complexion along my cheekbones, my lips, and the inner corners of my eyes. This thing works wonders- and I’m going to keep it around for the next time I wait a little too long for a waxing/tweezers to stage an intervention for me.

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Also on the agenda tonight when I’m getting my brows re-shaped? Touching up my hair. The sun and stress has taken a toll on my strands (say that five times fast) lately- and my roots are in desperate need of some TLC. Fortunately, this non-sticky and non-greasy color protecting ‘Hair in the Sun’ styling cream from SACHAJUAN has played a crucial role in keeping my curls from turning straight-up pink (or as orange as it’s tube) since I received it in this month’s ‘Must Have’ box.

I’ve been using this cream hand-in-hand with a leave-in conditioner- and it’s kept my frizz manageable and the remaining red in my hair as strong and as vibrant as ever between salon visits.

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I will never, ever say no to any food that POPSUGAR sends me. It’s always so good. I don’t know what “retro” potato chips are supposed to taste like- but I look forward to finding out during my lunch break today since I’m packing these kettle crisps from Joe Tea in my bag to take with me when I go to tackle the day!

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Apart from an advertisement for the European Wax Center’s beauty line- July’s ‘Must Have’ Box also included a $20 gift card from TROVE– a customizable jewelry shop. Their stuff looks a little pricey at first glance (but very pretty!)– so having the $20 credit is a nice thing. I’m in the market for a new ring to add to my collection- and some of the ones I’m seeing on their website are pretty tempting!

POPSUGAR can consider this month’s ‘Must Have’ box another success. I really enjoyed everything I received- and I thought each item fit very well into July’s theme/inspirations.

Since August is the sort of “unofficial” end to the Summer- I’m really excited to see what they have in store next month to send off the season!

xx