February 23, 2012

A No French Onion Soup Anniversary

 

This week, I celebrated my 12th wedding anniversary (17th, if you count all the years we’ve been together). Having an anniversary right after Valentine’s Day, it’s a little anti-climatic, but still another great reason to book reservations at my favorite LA restaurant, The Little Door!

For weeks, I fantasized about what I was going to eat at this French/Mediterranean abode that is as romantic as you can get for a restaurant. If I had to choose an eaterie to live in, this would be it. The decor is just gorgeous, especially at night. The twinkling lights glowing against the inside foliage that grows along the walls and up the ceiling. I feel calm whenever I’m there, except once the bill arrives (!).

The Little Door is super popular among the celeb set; Halle Berry, Courtney Cox, Cindy Crawford have all dined at either The Little Door or its next door brassiere, The Little Next Door, which is even cuter. There, you can dine al fresco and if you squint your eyes while listening to your French accented waiter rattle off the specials, you’ll feel right in the center of Paris.

But I don’t go to The Little Door for celeb sightings, I go for its French Onion Soup. Or so I thought. Once I took my seat and started studying the menu, I noticed my FOS was not on it. I was sure they’d make it anyway, but when I asked the waiter, Jason, he told me I’d have to go next door for it. Tonight, it was all about Moroccan Chicken Harissa Soup.

Crushed, but not without an appetite, I managed to spoon the Harissa into my mouth instead (which was amazing).

A part of me wishes we’d made reservations at The Little Next Door to enjoy some sweet onion goodness. But next time, I’ll know.

For now, I’ll make the following recipe to tie me over until my next trip to my French/Mediterranean home away from home.

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large red onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 (48 fluid ounce) can chicken broth
  • 1 (14 ounce) can beef broth
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 thick slices French or Italian bread
  • 8 slices Gruyere or Swiss cheese slices, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup shredded Asiago or mozzarella cheese, room temperature
  • 4 pinches paprika

Directions

  1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Stir in salt, red onions and sweet onions. Cook 35 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are caramelized and almost syrupy.
  2. Mix chicken broth, beef broth, red wine and Worcestershire sauce into pot. Bundle the parsley, thyme, and bay leaf with twine and place in pot. Simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove and discard the herbs. Reduce the heat to low, mix in vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Cover and keep over low heat to stay hot while you prepare the bread.
  3. Preheat oven broiler. Arrange bread slices on a baking sheet and broil 3 minutes, turning once, until well toasted on both sides. Remove from heat; do not turn off broiler.
  4. Arrange 4 large oven safe bowls or crocks on a rimmed baking sheet. Fill each bowl 2/3 full with hot soup. Top each bowl with 1 slice toasted bread, 2 slice Gruyere cheese and 1/4 of the Asiago or mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle a little bit of paprika over the top of each one.
  5. Broil 5 minutes, or until bubbly and golden brown. As it softens, the cheese will cascade over the sides of the crock and form a beautifully melted crusty seal. Serve immediately!

 

Source: allrecipes.com

 

 

 

February 17, 2012

Great Moments In Music

 

 

 

 

 

During a family road trip back in the late 1990’s, my father had made a mix CD of songs that not only induced tears, but was also sung by a group of powerful, strong female vocalists. The CD ranged from Bonnie Raitt to Aretha Franklin; “I Can’t Make You Love Me” to “Natural Woman,” and everything in between. About 2 hours into the mix, the last and final song began with nothing but a voice. That voice was Whitney Houston, and that song was “I Will Always Love You.”

Having heard the song before, I knew that there was a build up, and that the final verse gave me chills each time I heard it. I then declared that next to Ms. Houston, I would be the only other person allowed to sing this song in the car. My attempts at hitting Whitney’s in-human notes were laughable, albeit adorable (if I do say so myself)  My dramatic hand gestures I had learned from a re-run of “Vh1’s: Behind The Music”. Pair that with flailing around like a boy on fire and I gave the term “flaming” a whole new meaning.

I then declared this as my go-to karaoke song, to which my family commenced the eye-roll in unison. I would never come close to  sounding like Whitney- even Whitney on a bad day.  And part of that is a testament to her voice: truly incomparable.

 -Stan Salas, Customer Service Connoisseur and Contributing Blogger

January 31, 2012

5 Ways to Dazzle Your Valentine

 
1. Shimmer and Shine

For a radiant, beautiful sparkle, tap this magical “powder puff on a stick” along your decolletage. Bella IL Fiore’s Shimmer Powder Puff is filled with glistening gold body powder. He won’t be able to keep his hands off!

 

2. Up Your Batting Average
To perfect your come-hither glances, create long, luscious lashes with Besame Cosmetics Gingerbread Black Mascara. Rich and velvety, this luxurious formula is strong in pigment, water resistant, and protein enriched. The mascara wand separates and lengthens each last and doesn’t clump. The vintage gold cases are decorated with Besame’s signature chrysanthemums.
3. Dramatize Your Eyes
Nothing adds sex appeal to your gaze like a perfectly lined eyelid. It lifts your entire eye and adds definition to your face. Ooh La La Liner in Noir by Bella IL Fiore offers precise coloring in the lines thanks to a handy click-pen, smudge tip and hidden sharpener. 
4. Get Cheeky
Recreate that “first kiss flush”! Swipe Besame’s Crimson Cream Rouge along the apples of your cheeks with your fingertips and you’ll be beaming with an instant rosy, natural glow. The weightless formula blends beautifully with any skin tone. Packaged in a vintage styled recyclable tin.

5. Pucker Up
For an irresistible set of smackers, showcase your smile with a classic semi-matte red lipstick by Besame. Their Classic Color Lipstick Collection contains a variety of reds perfect to suit any skin type. All formulas are highly pigmented to be used as full strength or as a stain for a more natural look. Besame’s silky semi-matte finish glides on smooth for an indelible, feather-proof look. All lipsticks are housed in a petite size 1940′s style gold bullet casing.


January 30, 2012

Sarina’s “Unique” Story

 

(In Sue Wong at Pierre Gagnaire)

It’s hard to believe that only weeks ago we were in Paris celebrating our 2 year anniversary…strolling along the Seine, sipping café au lait and noshing on croissants. Our days did not start without a proper le petit dejeuner consisting of assorted pastries, baguettes, cheeses and the proper accoutrements to which to spread on these marvels.

We caught the 6pm flight out of JFK and landed in Paris at around 7:30am. Exhausted, weary and struggling to adjust to the new time zone, we dragged our corpses into a taxi at the airport. As we approached the epicenter of the city, I couldn’t help but notice the impeccably dressed locals.  Whether they were bicycling to work, taking out their dogs for a stroll, or like us – experiencing the city – they were absolutely polished.  It was the cusp of the summer transition into fall.   It was still somewhat warm out, but the crisp note in the air was still felt.  I in my denim shorts & J’ador cochon t shirt seemed rather out of place among the dark trench coats and wool blazers, but fortunately for us…the weather fluctuated so much that the addition of a sweater to a summer dress was enough to get me through the temperamental days.  I had a bevy of Unique Vintage dresses in my arsenal.

On our first day, we decided to stroll along the Seine to take in the local scenery.  My Bernie Dexter cherry swing dress certainly stood out against the stark black and gray hues that the locals were sporting.  I remember that day like it was yesterday.  The weather was mild in the beginning but quickly turned into a blissful 70 degrees as the evening drew to a close.  My dress was perfect.

After a sensational first day of sight seeing and an absolutely wonderful anniversary meal at Pierre Gagnaire our first night, my husband and I could not sleep a wink.

We woke up bright and early the next morning and wandered down to our Le Comptoir du Relais for another comforting feast of ham, comte, and fresh croissants with preserves.

I felt beautiful in my Bernie Dexter wiggle dress.  It was a hit with the locals.  I was actually mistaken for a local myself, which was a compliment unto itself.

A visit to the Eiffel Tower was also a must of course for any visitor.  It was absolutely breath taking.  I’m still kicking myself for not reserving tickets to actually go up to the top, but from what I was able to see from my vantage point – it was beautiful, just beautiful.

We had spent hours just walking around and taking in the scenery, breathing in what we could to make these memories last.  Seeing these pictures again make me long for Paris even more.  It’s such a magical city.

After 4 glorious fun filled days in Paris, it was time to take the show on the road.  We rented a car in the city and drove from Paris to Champagne through Dijon, Lyon where after a week’s worth of driving, ended in our final destination – Milan.

Unique Vintage helped me through the scorching 100 degrees days in Italy.  And boy was I glad I brought my Bernie Dexter playsuit with me.  Again, also a hit with the locals!

I felt like a starlet when random strangers asked to take pictures with me.  Little ole me…wow, what a feeling that was!  Surely ones that I’ll never forget for quite some time.I could go on and on and on about the amazing wonderful journey we had but this 1000 word narrative about my dresses would turn into a journal.  Ha-ha.

I hope you enjoyed reading this story as much as I enjoyed sharing it with you.  It was truly a trip of a lifetime.  And what more was that not only was I able to celebrate it with my best friend, my husband, but one of my favorite clothing companies as well.  Thank you Unique Vintage for helping me make memories these possible.

xo, Sarina Harnett, www.ihrtporkfat.com

January 23, 2012

Making a Vision Board

 

Illustration by David Pohl

 

This weekend, I went to a vision board making party. I’d been invited to these things in the past and always turned my nose up at them because honestly, I thought they were completely lame. I know who I am and what I want out of life. I don’t need to sit around with a bunch of people, kumbaya-ing and cutting out pictures and sayings from magazines that “speak to me”.

However, this time around I decided to be more open-minded and give it a try. I do have some goals for myself this year and thought, what the heck, if I put them on a poster board, then they’ll stare me in the face, and perhaps, I’ll even get to them.

My friend held the event at Hands-on Third, which is a craft studio in Los Angeles. When I got there, about 10 women were seated along a table and rifling through hundreds of magazines from Money to Self and the now defunct Dwell. They were scouring for positive images, sayings, quotes, words, anything that reinforced what they want in life for themselves. HEALTHY, CONTENTMENT, SAVINGS, pics of yoga-posing blissful women in spandex, abundant lush gardens, a bride and a groom, a cherubic baby, a house.

After downing some white wine, I delved right in. Between catching up with this group of old friends, the eclectic iPhone music mix of Journey, Dreamgirls and Nicki Minaj, I must have cut out about 100 pics and words. I don’t think my board was the most visually stimulating of the bunch, but it does speak to ME. I’m going to hang it in my office to remind me what I want for 2012. I think I’m going to get to them, too.

Below, I have reposted an article about vision boards from the ubiquitous queen of positivity, Oprah. Even if you come from the same camp as me and think this kind of stuff is cheese ball, try to push yourself out of your comfort zone. You may find yourself accomplishing goals this year that you only dream of.

xo, Robin

What The Heck’s A Vision Board—and How Can It Change Your Life?
By Martha Beck
O, The Oprah Magazine  |  From the June 2010 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine

Read more:http://www.oprah.com/spirit/How-to-Make-a-Vision-Board-Find-Your-Life-Ambition-Martha-Beck

 

January 20, 2012

Great Moments In Music

 

When I was younger, romance seemed a lot like the moon; it had a dark side and seemed as though it was a lifetime away.  If true romance was to be my Everest, then Etta James was going to be my soundtrack.

I couldn’t pinpoint the exact first time I had heard Etta’s “At Last.”  The problem was that every time I heard it, I greeted it as though it were an old friend.  With its lush strings and Etta’s rich lyrics, the song has the ability to still give me chills.  The song itself feels as though it was lighting captured in a bottle; a portrait of a landscape that is now only a memory.

Etta James will never truly be gone.  A songstress that can evoke some of life’s most complex emotions into words is a person who will last forever. And perhaps Etta James is the voice inside of all of us.

Etta James: “At Last”

1938- 2012

 -Stan Salas, Customer Service Connoisseur and Contributing Blogger