Posts Tagged: Review

Tell the Wolves I’m Home

Tell the Wolves I'm HomeIf I’m a hundred percent honest with you, I’d tell you I don’t read much. Books were something I enjoyed in my youth until schooling and expectations turned books into these heavy things that carried your future. They were not fun and they were a means to an end, always. The joy of books seeped out of me slowly, all through high school and college and as I used them to only hone my skills in other fields after graduation.

But the truth is, books are pretty amazing. They can carry entire stories and place them in your soul like no television series, or movie, or even some life experiences can. And I was reminded when, on a whim, I decided to buy a copy of Tell the Wolves I’m Home. I even remember the moment. I was walking through Target. Unlike most stores, in Target I meander in the aisles for no reason at all. The style of the items they tend to sell just resonates with me. As I was walking around with pillows, throws, shower curtains, and decorative doo-dads swimming around in my eyes, I saw this book on a shelf.

I’m not sure what was so eye-catching about it, or why I had to buy a copy when I got home, but I did.

The general story is that June, a 14 year old girl, loves her uncle Finn, who soon passes from AIDS. She is then approached and befriended by a man her family hates for what he “did” to Finn, and their family. The story follows as everyone begins to face their own demons and become keenly aware of the demons living in the others. After I had read this book I felt like I had just finished opening a Pandora’s box for emotion. It was all so sad but so deeply uplifting at the same time.

I really connected with June, the main character of the book. The way it was written, it was like Brunt reached out and pulled some of the words from my heart and pasted it on the pages.

Here are some of my favorite quotes, pulled from both my personal Kindle highlights and GoodReads by Carol Rifka Brunt from Tell the Wolves I’m Home:

“You can build a whole world around the tiniest of touches.”

“I was in a place where nobody knew my heart even a little bit.”

“I felt like I had proof that not all days are the same length, not all time has the same weight. Proof that there are worlds and worlds and worlds on top of worlds, if you want them to be there.”

“I knew the way lost hopes could be dangerous, how they could turn a person into someone they never thought they’d be.”

“I thought how that was wrong and terrible and beautiful all at the same time.”

“I thought of trying to catch her eye, so she’d know I understood what she’d done, but I decided not to. Everyone needs to think they have secrets.”

“The kinds of things I want don’t cost money.”

I highly recommend this book. I don’t think I have felt this way about a novel since I read Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier.

What We Did : Asheville

 

When Jeremy and I went to Asheville we decided to take a laid back approach to the trip and plan essentially nothing. We did get out in between naps! These are the things we discovered and found worthwhile and worth doing again in the future.

 

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Stone Cottage Garden Homestay

I totally recommend picking something on airbnb while staying in Asheville. The town is eclectic and its residents a fun
reflection of where they live. We stayed in a fairly large home in Candler, NC. The host, Kathleen, was very accommodating and the room was comfortable.

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/284022

Craggy Gardens

One of the best things about Asheville is the really outdoorsy atmosphere. The locals are an active people and there are tons of beautiful places to go hiking.  I suggest you start with Craggy Gardens because it’s not a very intense hike and only about a mile from the parking. You can complete the hike in about 2 hours or so, and the view is spectacular from the top.

You can get more information here.

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North Carolina Arboretum

If you want a peaceful walk and beautiful trails and gardening, check out the arboretum.  It was raining the day we went and we still totally enjoyed it. It’s got a ton of foliage you don’t normally see in Georgia, and enough trail miles to keep you occupied for a couple of hours. It’s definitely romantic.

http://www.ncarboretum.org/

Bascilica of St. Lawrence

Some old world charm lies in this bascilica! It’s got a beautiful oval ceiling capping all the trappings of the catholic church. Stained glass everywhere and tons of religious items, gilded or otherwise. The organ was playing at the time we visited and there weren’t many people. It’s a great stop for an architectural photo op.

http://www.saintlawrencebasilica.org/

 

Rejavanation Cafe

We had many breakfasts and lunches and dinners all over Asheville but two places really stood out enough for me to recommend. First is this nicely sized coffee shop with an excellent, unique menu. It has some standard favorites but some adventurous meals too. Try any of these with your morning coffee:

In the Garden Breakfast Panini
Roasted red peppers, baby spinach, tomatoes, goat cheese, and  pesto aioli, topped with an egg on pressed flatbread.

Lox and Bagel
Lemon dill cream cheese, smoked salmon, tomatoes, cucumbers, capers and onions on an everything bagel.

Apricot Banana Breakfast Panini
Cream cheese, sliced banana and apricot preserves, pressed in a croissant.

French Broad Chocolate Lounge

We tried to come here on Friday night but couldn’t get in because there was a line out the door and down the street. I took that as nothing less than a challenge and the next day we arrived at a non standard hour so we can get in and get some of this in demand chocolate. The menu was extensive and although we each ordered one drink and one dessert each, it was all so rich that neither of us could finish anything. I recommend this place to anyone who loves chocolate! I recommend the following:

Chocolate Truffle Torte
65% cacao bittersweet chocolate, local free range eggs, and organic sweet cream butter. flourless. best served with whipped cream and a tart sauce of local berries.

Oaxaca
A contemporary Mexican hot chocolate with house-ground chocolate, almonds, organic sugar, cinnamon & milk. this is what you\’d get in a chocolate shop on the streets of Oaxaca.

http://frenchbroadchocolates.com/

Grove Arcade

I was honestly disappointed when I stepped in here and discovered that it was not the type of arcade I was expecting. There were no games, coin dispensers or Mortal Kombat in sight. The grove arcade is an indoor mall! I got over myself and was soon going from store to store buying things for my house that I didn’t need. Since there’s a large artist community that resides in Asheville, the furniture and decor has an artsy, eclectic twist (that I love!).  Definitely meander in here for a while and you’re going to find something you  need  on your shelves at home. :)

If you’ve been to Ashville and have some must-do’s let us know! :)

Popsicolor

I love Popsicolor! It’s the latest tool in my little iPhone artbox. I think it provides beautiful results given the right input file. It is a bit picky! I find that  it’s easier on the program, and lends you more control if you make the photo black and white and control the levels before you hand it over to Popsicolor.

I think these would make some fun prints!  Here are the Marriott Marquis and a rack of ties that have been run through the process.

 

Zest

It’s been ages since I last wrote a review! Now that I have my camera with my 24/7 I have more of an opportunity to photograph my eats.  Last Sunday J & I found ourselves in historic Roswell meandering through antique shops and little restaurants. We stopped in at Zest, a trendy little sushi and tapas place in the middle of it all.

I ordered plum wine, a favorite of my mum’s actually.

Wine in a glass is one of the most beautiful things to photograph, in my opinion.  I love how my fingerprint  is super-obvious on the glass.  Oops. It makes the picture more personal right? :]

The truth is this wine was pretty fantastic.  It’s very sweet and a pretty good addition to the tapas we ordered.

The first was a “Chinese Tootsie Roll” which was very think flaky shell around cream cheese and salmon, served with a sweet and spicy sauce. I couldn’t help but focus on the sauce it was soo good.

The insides… delish! Soft, creamy and salmony. Smoked salmon is amazing pretty much always.

The other small plate we ordered was the pork dumplings in sauce.  It was a strange fusion of  an eastern dish with a very american sauce. Think steamed pork gyoza covered in a mushroom gravy.  I can honestly say I was a bit skeptical.

Except… it was delicious.

I am almost never disappointed with my meal at Zest and they certainly kept their standards up! I loved this dish too. The pork was soft and the pasta-y shell was easily eaten with just one fork.

So.. if you’re ever in old Roswell, drop by Zest. The service is fast and the owner is in the restaurant and will recommend some of the best dishes.  And if you’re so kind, drop me a line and invite me to go along because I love it!

Resin

I bought some beautiful resin earrings the other day from this wonderful store.

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This dreamy scriptacular amber pair will go with about half my work wardrobe. :)

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Ive always had a thing for peacock feather-themed stuff and this pair was just begging me to buy them.  Now, this isnt the first time Ive bought something on etsy but its the first time Ive received what Ive bought in really cute packaging! Both earrings came individually housed in their own totally awesome boxes!

I love it when a seller takes the time to make pretty packaging!

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Isnt that just adorable? I loooooove the beads, the butterfly cutout and the wrapping of old dictionary pages. It really lends some class to the plastic cover in which they were delivered and made me doubly excited to open them. Ill be honest, I kept the packaging and will probably use it for gifting something else. It was a wonderful surprise with my purchase. :]

I love the craftmanship that went into each handmade earring set too. Theyre lovely and the findings used were not cheap.  I will likely be a repeat client. :] I have my eye on three more pieces, in fact.  I think they’d make a good gift for anyone who loves to wear something elegant and noticeable.  Make sure you check out her store.

Silk Asian Steak & Seafood

I was part of a group of about 30 people out to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Reservations were made back in December for this past Saturday night (22nd of January).
Once enough people arrived we were seated in a separate room and the waiters started taking drink orders. I ordered a Mango Bellini ($9). If you’ve ever had Mango Lassi it smells exactly like it but when it hits your tongue it’s like a mango champagne. It was quite good. My friend had the Strawberry Lemon Drop ($9) but said it barely had any liquor in it and tasted just like strawberry lemonade. Not worth the price tag.

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Mango Bellini
Silks adaptation of this classic recipe from Harrys Bar in Venice, Mango Purée, Mango Liqueur and Sparkling Wine.
$9

I ordered the Korean Short Rib for dinner and it was DELICIOUS. The beef was so good. Soft, buttery and there was absolutely no need for a knife.  It was succulent and easily the best  beef dish I had in the last six months. This is a real winner. It was served with some kimchi, and some wasabi mashed potatos. I can’t say I enjoyed the wasabi potatos as they were just a little too strong but the kimchi was perfect: The right mix of spicy, pungent and sour.

silk_korean_short_rib

Korean Beef Short Ribs
Tender beef short ribs Korean style; served with wasabi mashed potatoes and kimchi.
$24

Dessert was a plate of green tea ice cream. Not worth it at all. It didn’t even taste as good as the stuff you find in the H-Mart freezers. Neither the flavor of the dairy nor the green tea came out very well.

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Green Tea Ice Cream
$4

Overall the experience was good. The potatoes could use some work and they definitely need to find a new supplier for their ice cream.  The beef made the dinner though. Thinking about it makes me smile. Kudos to the chef for the beef that night.

Final Verdict: 4 stars. Give it a go. It’s a great place to take a date. For current menus go to their website: http://www.silkrestaurant.com/

If you would like to keep tabs on all reviews I do, follow me on Yelp!

Undercover Boss

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While flipping through Netflix during this winter shut-in, the show Undercover Boss scrolled onto my screen. I saw one episode a few months ago at a Hilton Resort in Key Largo  for the company 1-800-Flowers. The premise is that the CEO of a large company goes undercover for a week, performing the entry level jobs with the people that are the foundation of his business.

Through this process, he gains insights into how the company works at that level and what gaps they need to fill to help support their workers.  Sometimes they discover a bad worker and that person always winds up leaving the company. I mean, come on, you just got TOLD by the CEO of your company on national television.  Most of the time, the CEO discovers some amazing workers and at the end of the show grants each of them some sort of extra benefit and recognition.

My favorite was a 7-11 truck driver who had immigrated from Kazakhstan. His attitude was awesome. He was thankful for everything he had and I was inspired. Check out his story:

Amazing Igor

If you havent checked this show out, you should. Its a good one. The entirety of the 2010 season is on Netflix streaming.

Review: P’Cheen

I need to start restaurant reviewing again. I am sooo lazy. Ive gone to so many new restaurants I wanted to review but havent. Well lets start with PCheen.

So my friends and I found ourselves in the Virginia Highlands last Friday. I had an itch to try something new after being at Fados countless times, and scoutmob threw this on my radar.

First thing I learned after arriving: You should get a reservation. Instead of being seated, we were directed to a lounge where we could sit and order drinks while we waited for a table. The restaurant is very dimly lit (making it really hard to take photos since I didnt want to use flash, so please forgive the quality). The bar is long and several couples were sitting and enjoying themselves and their company.

PCheen would be a good place to take a date, as it does make for a good intimate setting.

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The restaurant is U shaped with a bar in the center and theyve got the usual football (non-american) stuff hung everywhere. Yellow lanterns and candles accent most of the corners and art pieces which I found very pleasing to the eye.

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We were seated in about 30 minutes, which was fine since half of us didnt get there until about 10 minutes before our table was ready.  All four of us ordered the Fish N Chips.  I cant say it was bad because after eating Gordon Biersch fish and chips, you know what bad is. I can say youre better off with Fados version of the classic bar dish but you probably won’t be disappointed with this version.

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One of us ordered a Golden Monkey, a beer. (not me, I never quite developed a taste for beer).

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Apparently the verdict on this beer is that its terrible. So… dont order this beer. It was too bitter and hoppy or something. Since I dont drink beer (cause I think it tastes awful, not because I have anything against beer) youll have to trust my compadre on this one.

The shots here are only $3 each. This is definitely a plus since having a few drinks at Fados can really cost you.

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For dessert I had a peanut butter pie. It was small but rich as heck.  I had trouble finishing it.I could almost hear my mother lamenting how it would go straight to my thighs.

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The other option was Apple streusel with vanilla ice cream, also decadent.

Out of ten I give PCheen a 7. The food was okay-good, but it did take forever to come out. Also a thirty minute wait was a little long for the place but it was the Virginia Highlands. The drinks were reasonably priced and good and unlike some other places, you could actually hear your dinner mates.  It’s a good place to unwind if you’re not in a hurry.

Check them out, theyre located in the Virginia Highlands.

Eyes Lips Face : $50 Grab Bag

I don’t usually do make-up reviews,  but being brown and all I can’t help but cue you in on a good deal. This is for you ladies.  I’m crossposting the review from the site. And no, I don’t get anything for doing this. :)

Originally submitted at EyesLipsFace.com

ELF 50 Dollar Set

Fabulous Assortment at the Right Price

Pros: Great Quality, Good Value, Attractive Design   Best Uses: Holiday Gift, Gift For Adult   Describe Yourself: Bargain Hunter, Quality Driven

I bought this set during the 60% once-a-year sale bringing the price down to twenty dollars. At twenty dollars this set is a STEAL. The colors and shimmers included are all mostly neutrals and will go well with most complexions. I’m an Indian girl with skin leaning darker and 90% of the products in this set were usable! The brushes are nice, the eyeshadow palettes pretty much cover any combo of clothing I have. I especially love the bronzers as they arenot strong but add an awesome sheen to your face. You will get a considerable amount of lip products so expect to have lip gloss covered for the rest of the year haha. Anyway the quality is fabulous. I am still in shell shock over how e.l.f. can even offer these items at these prices and make a profit. Anyway, I don’t question good deals. :) Fifty dollars is a good deal but wait for a coupon and this turns into a fabulous deal! Excellent gift too for under 50! I’m a clinique and general sephora girl and I have to say that e.l.f. products really can compete with the big names!

Also, there is a discrepancy in the product that was sent and the one that was listed. I didn’t get any of the lip gloss tins. Instead of three tins I got three eyeshadow duos in green, pink and neutral browns.  I prefer that anyway since I think lipgloss tins are kind of a stupid idea anyway. Why would you want to include your finger in the transfer of lip gloss from your container to your face? I don’t buy tons of makeup and now I’m pretty sure I’m set for a good long time.

Includes: mascara-Black, mascara-brown, nail polish-clear, nail polish-nude, nail polish-pearl pink, nail polish-light red, eye widener, tweezers, eye makeup remover pads,nail polish remover pads, mirror, liquid eyeliner-black, liquid eyeliner-coffee, eyeshadow-butternut, eyes shadow-Nouveau Neutrals, eye shadow-silver lining, eye shadow-drama, candy tin-coconut crazed, candy tin-frosting fanatic candy tin-cherry bomb, all over color stick-pink lemonade, all over color stick-persimmon, eyeliner pencil-midnight, liquid eyeliner-plum, wet gloss mascara-clear, lip liner pencil-mauve luxe, lip liner pencil-spice, new moisture-baby lips, new moisture-cherry tart, super glossy-goddess, super glossy-watermelon, plumping lip glaze-oasis, plumping lip glaze- ruby kiss, hypershine gloss-sugar plum, hypershine gloss-vixen, blush-shy, blush-glow, powder-tone 1, powder-tone 2, powder-tone 3, concealer-tone 1, concealer-tone 2, bronzer -sun kissed, bronzer-warm tan, bronzer-illuminance, total face brush,bronzing brush, eye shadow brush, concealer brush, and lip brush.

iPhone 4 : First Impressions

I got my new iPhone on Tuesday, and so far I love it. Of course, its only been about 24 hours with the device but so far so good.  I dont have the signal problem that people have been complaining about. I was able to sync and activate easily and all my stuff transferred from my old phone seamlessly. No installs not lost data on any of my apps. I did forget to backup my contacts list off the SIM before I activated the new phone like the genius I am but all is remedied now and that was my fault.

Actually, in my cubicle today which is exactly in the center of our huge building, sandwiched between two floors, I was able to receive data a lot more reliably than usual. It hovered at 2 bars of Edge or  1 bar of 3g which is the same as my 3GS. However, after hearing that phone makers are not required to use the carrier provided algorithms for determining bar numbers and each can and do have their own, the idea of bars really means nothing. It falls along the same logical measure that megapixel does as in it is meaningless unless you know some other variables in the equation.

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Anyway, what they say about the display is 100% true. It is like reading on backlit paper sort of. You have to squint and hold the phone an inch from your face to manage to see any individual pixels. My previous HTC Touch Pro had a similarly dense screen, at a lesser 640 x 480 but this one is nicer and clearer.  The camera takes tack sharp photos and motion blur from shaking the phone has been greatly reduced. The front facing camera is cute and I took a couple of pictures of myself today. I can see how this would be useful during travel to MMS my parents or something.

Theres only one thing I love about the iPhone and that is the amazingly fast, no-lag performance. [edit: there -is- lag when you have over 35 apps open and running.  The iPhone doesn't completely terminate any app without you explicitly closing it out. ]  I want my app open within a second of clicking on it. I have yet to see another competitors phone match this performance metric in use-over-time. Memory and CPU management is really done right. I paid even more for a HTC Touch Pro, and I would have to restart it at least every 3-4 days as it would start to slog. I sure dont miss that. I think I restart my iPhone (the 3GS anyway) about once every two months and half the time only because an update needed to be applied.  None of the features of this phone  is new if you look at the market. However, everything Ive used it for it does very, very well. Im not someone thats an Apple fan in general, but the amount of things this phone enables me to do quickly and easily make me a fan of the device.

After selling my 3GS and Ill have actually made money on this upgrade. I sure cant complain about that. Ill be selling my Flip cam too since I compared the image quality between it and the iPhone and the HD video is the same quality.

Hooray! Im happy that the signal attenuation and light sensor issues that seem to be plaguing a lot of users doesnt seem to be happening to me. In fact I had my mind set on pushing the phone around as soon as I got it so I could return it A.S.A.P. and look for something else if it didnt work. I sure wasnt waiting a year to see if theyd fix anything. Especially things Apple isnt even fessing up to. [Edit: Good God, Apple is holding a press conference on Friday…. what could it be? I hope it’s not free “bumpers” because those overpriced livestrong bracelets come in fugly colors anyway)  I couldnt reproduce signal issues even with the horrible signal levels in my cubicle. My case and screen protector are arriving tomorrow so after that it should be a non-issue anyway.

Heres to hoping this device will serve me as well as its predecessor because I love performance and wide-range functionality and thats what Ill keep expecting from this device for the next year.

Review: Kampai

Japanese is one of my favorite cuisines. I love how diverse their food is in both taste and presentation. I have been wanting to get better at food photography and decided to start with my favorite kinds of food. I went to Kampai the other night and had brought my camera along so I could shoot the meal.

The atmosphere is warm and dim with tons of Japanese paraphernalia. The lighting made it a challenge to shoot. Very quiet and comfortable, both traits which I appreciate in a restaurant.  One side of the room houses a long bar where patrons can watch their sushi order completed by a chef. The other half are tables. Off to one side are hibachi rooms where chefs are throwing food in a dinner show. We settled at a table to order our meal.

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The dishes we ordered were Japanese Beef Curry, Spicy Shrimp Yaki Udon, an Eel Roll and a Rainbow Roll.

Unlike most curries I’m used to,  Its not as thick.  The curry is more like a sauce but the flavor is unmistakable. The zing from the spices compliment the beef.  Unlike most Asian restaurants, they didnt skimp on the vegetables. They were fresh and crisp, which was awesome.  You can actually see how fresh they are just by looking at the leaves of the young shoots in the picture.

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While there wasnt as much spice as I would have liked and it leaned more towards sweet than spicy, the shrimp dish was overall still pretty good. There was an ample amount of shrimp and the udon noodles were just the right consistency. Udon noodles have a tendency to get too slimy and gross but they were just the right kind of soft.

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The shrimp were juicy and the flavor was not too strong. Again, the vegetables were delicious. Look at those fat shrimp. :)

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The sushi we ordered had come out right after we started our meals. I love bbq eel and order it almost every time we got out for sushi. Tonight was no exception.

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The eel was really good! If youre familiar with eel, it can really be hit or miss on the flavor but tonights eel was right on the mark. The filling was some sort of crab and cream cheese mixture which really augmented the flavor of roll.

The other roll, the rainbow, I forgot to take a good picture of until it was half eaten. Oops. It still had its cute little flying fish roe topping so I took one anyway.

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It had tuna, salmon, whitefish and avocado topping it throughout its length, hence the name. Its a great way to sample a variety of different fish on one roll.

I highly recommend Kampai. The food is excellent and at a decent price. Dinner was about $11 for the hot meals and $8 for each sushi roll. Usually you order just one or the other but I really wanted to photograph some sushi You can visit Kampai here:

Got a favorite cuisine or restaurant in the area? Id love to check it out.