Top Knots and Curly Locks

Thursday, July 30, 2015

July Book Review

Because of my New Month Resolutions for July, I didn't read as many books this month.  I read 4 though which is up 1 from last year!

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
I read this book for the first time last year, but the sequel came out this year so, of course, I had to reread the first book.  This book is so relatable; the main character, Lara Jean Song, writes letters to guys she's had a crush on -- ahem, this sounds familiar to me ;) -- as her way of "getting over" them.  When her 5 letters accidentally get mailed, you can imagine her embarrassment.  A fake relationship is quickly formed with one of the guys as a way to really drive in the fact that she's over all of the crushes, even though she may not really be.  Things get complicated when feelings turn real and rumors are spread.  It's an easy read and I loved it just as much the second time around.

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
The second book picks up right where the first one left off as Lara Jean decides to turn the fake relationship she was in into a real one.  However, insecurities creep in when the boyfriend starts spending time with his ex-girlfriend and drama follows.  Mix that in with the fact that one of the boys Lara Jean wrote a letter to comes back into the picture.  I didn't think this book was quite as good as the first one, but it was still enjoyable and a quick, easy read.

Blueberry Muffin Murder by Joanne Fluke
It's time for the winter carnival in Lake Eden and a celebrity chef comes to town for the festivities.  When the celebrity is found murdered in Hannah's bakery, she jumps into action to catch the killer.  Again, this series is a light-hearted mystery.  (Is that even such a thing?  Well, it is now!) The books are easy reads and I feel as though I'm friends with all of the characters.  I love working alongside Hannah to figure out whodunnit???

Lemon Meringue Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke
If only I'd have read this book a few weeks earlier in July because it takes place around July 4th!  I like this book in the series because the person who was murdered is someone we were introduced to earlier in the series and not just a new character brought in to be killed off.  These are fun reads and the recipes included sound delicious!

What books have you read this month?  I'm always up for suggestions!  Be sure to follow me on Goodreads to keep up with all my reads!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Healthy Red Lobster Biscuits

Do you like Red Lobster Biscuits?  Do you wish they were healthy?  If you answered yes to either question read on!  I present to you a grain-free version of a restaurant favorite!  Fair warning: you might want to double -- or triple -- the recipe!  It only makes six and they'll be gone in no time.  No one has to know they're healthy.  I gave them to my dad and didn't tell him they're healthy and he raved about them.  Each biscuit is 130 calories and only has 3 grams of carbs!

1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp. almond flour
2 tbsp. coconut flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1 egg
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

For topping:
2 tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. Italian seasoning
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix dry ingredients
Add in egg and whipping cream
Drop 2 tablespoons per biscuits onto an ungreased sheet lined with parchment paper
Bake 16-20 minutes, or until golden brown
While biscuits are baking, mix up topping ingredients
Once removed from oven, brush biscuit with topping

Monday, July 27, 2015

NYC Part 2

My family left the city Thursday and I headed to Spanish Harlem to stay with a friend.  We ordered Seamless for the first time and this was our order ... for two people!

Friday, I headed back into midtown for a networking event.  I picked up Earl of Sandwich and took it back to my hotel room to eat while getting ready.

Feeling all professional as I headed out to my networking event.

And this is what it looks like to make someone appear professional.

After the event, I walked around Times Square and saw this guy.  He can deliver those flowers to my hotel room! ;)  He has one lucky significant other.

Saturday consisted of lots of walking around midtown.  This was my lunch before I went and saw the off-Broadway show Of Good Stock.

Ohmygosh, ladies, this sushi was so good!  And I don't even like sushi!  I found a vegan sushi place called Beyond Sushi.  This was the La Fiesta and it was black rice, avocado, chayote pickled jalapeƱo, cilantro and a chili mango sauce.  DELICIOUS!

Saturday evening my friend and I went to see That Bachelorette Show.  It's a spoof of The Bachelorette where the audience gets to vote on who "wins."  It was such a spoof that there was a pilot (ahem, Jake), a farmer (remember Chris?), a doctor (just like Travis!) and even a guy who made his entrance on a skateboard (Jef, much?).  During the "group dates" the bachelors come out into the audience and dance with them.  It was a fun experience and would be a blast for a bachelorette party.

I finally broke down and bought tickets to see Jim Parsons in An Act of God.  It was hilarious!  I don't know how it's possible, but Jim is even more adorable in real life than he is on TV.  I just love him!  During the show, they rewrite the 10 commandments.  I felt guilty for laughing, but it was just so funny.

After the show, I went to church at Hillsong.  If you're in the NYC or LA area, I recommend checking out this church.  It was such a great service and by the end of the first prayer I was in tears.  I can't tell you the last time I've been moved like that in a church service.  The sermon was entitled "All I Do is Win" and talked about how with Jesus on our side, we've already won.

Once the service ended, I went to see Penn & Teller on Broadway.  Guys, I know magic isn't real, but I don't get how they do it.  I was amazed the whole show at all the different tricks.

Monday was my last day in the city and I met a friend from college, who was also in town, at the Freedom Tower.  This was my first time visiting since the tower has been completed.

We visited the museum and I found this map and got chills.  Paul Ambrose was from my hometown and was on Flight 77.  This map shows where the flight turned around, right over Huntington.  It's been nearly 14 years since the attack and I never knew this.  How fitting is it that Paul's last flight turned around right over his hometown?  Cue the waterworks.

This beam of steel was the point of impact on the North Tower.  The museum is powerful and it's hard to believe the items in it are real.  They're so mangled and look like something you'd see in a modern art exhibit.

"No day shall erase you from the memory of time." -- Virgil

"The Survivors' Stairs"

This is the memorial urn and has the name of every person who died in the attack.  Out of all the sides that could be facing me, this side did...the side with Paul Ambrose's name...the victim from my hometown.  Cue the chills again.

The antenna from the North Tower.

One of the firetrucks that responded to the scene.

After the museum, we went to the observation deck and went to the 100th floor.

What a view!

The Statue of Liberty.

We ordered from Seamless again for dinner that night and I sadly packed my bags to get ready for my flight home the next day.  Until next time, New York City!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday Favorites: NYC Edition

I'm linking up with NarciAndrea and Erika to share this week's Friday Favorites! 

Even though I've been going nonstop since getting to the city, I discovered Love, Lust or Run on TLC.  I love it, lust after the new clothes and want to run to Stacy London and have her go shopping with me!  I'm staying with a friend and we binge watched it last night.  I'd never heard of it before, but I love a good makeover story and instantly became hooked.

I mentioned this show yesterday and I cannot say enough good things about this show.  Playbill's synopsis of the show says: "Jordan Berman would love to be in love, but that's easier said than done.  So until he meets Mr. Right, we wards off lonely nights with his trio of close-knit girlfriends.  But as singles' nights turn into bachelorette parties, Jordan finds that supporting the ones you love can be just as impossible as finding love itself."  As someone who is always a bridesmaid, (4 times in 16 months!) never a bride, I totally related to this show.  I recommend that anyone who is single or feeling lost in life see this show.  I laughed the entire first act and cried the second act.  It's not just a show about trying to find love, it's about trying to find your way in life and navigating friendships after "I do" is said.  If you're in the NYC area, this show is a must see before it closes August 16th.

There is nothing like a Shake Shack burger.  Nothing.  No trip to the city is complete without a visit there.  I always get a cheeseburger with ketchup, mustard and onions with a side of fries.  At Shake Shack, they offer a dessert called a "concrete," it's custard and you can mix in flavors.  Mom and I usually get a vanilla base and add in peanut butter and marshmallow fluff.

There is free kayaking on the Hudson offered almost every day in the city.  There's something so peaceful about taking a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and being out on the river.  I haven't been yet this trip, this is a picture from 2012.  This is such a great experience and better yet -- it's free!  To find out more information and find a location, check out the Downtown Boat House website.

I love visiting the Freedom Tower when I'm in town.  This is such a special, serene place.  Security may be worse than TSA, but it's well worth the screening.  I took this picture back in 2012 and it has been the background on my laptop ever since.  There is such a calmness at the site and it is so quiet.  You can tell that visitors really respect the memorial and are touched by it.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

NYC Part 1

My little cousin makes this face when she's really excited so I decided I should make it to since I was excited to get to NYC.

Greetings from New York City -- one of my most favorite cities ever!  We (my mom, her friend and her two daughters) drove all day Saturday and spent the night in New Jersey.  Then we woke up early and drove to Secaucus to catch a train into the city.  We hit the ground running and have not stopped.

How cute is my Momma?  Between her backpack, braces and packed food, she looks like a little kid!

On our way to the train station, we passed this Goya factory and Mom and I got really excited.  When you're half-Cuban and live in West Virginia, you live off of frozen Goya products until you can get the real deal.

We tried our luck at the lottery for Book of Mormon, but we failed.

Instead, we climbed all 60 of these stairs to go see a show Off-Broadway called Perfect Crime.  I noticed a sign for it as we walked to our hotel room and it said it was for fans of CSI.  Since I love Law and Order it caught my attention and we ended up seeing it.  The show was good and we talked about it all evening picking up on little things that turned out to be clues and discussing motives.

While we were at the show, this happened.

As we headed to catch the subway to go to dinner, we passed two soccer fields set up in Times Square for a street soccer tournament.

How cute is this?  We passed this near Union Square as we walked around before dinner.

Dinner was at Max Brenner's, a place known for their chocolate.  I had a skirt steak sandwich with cocoa and chili powder dusted fries...

... and this.  A chocolate pizza with peanut butter and marshmallows!

And that, my friends, was day 1.  Day 2 started out with New York bagels!  I was so excited to get my hands on one, I didn't take a picture.  Mom and I tried the stand-by line for The View, but we didn't get in.  We headed back to the hotel where I picked up Emily and we went to the lower east side to see Sir Ian McKellen and Laura Linney talk about their new movie, Mr. Holmes.

After seeing him talk, I've decided I want Ian McKellen to be my adopted grandpa.  He was hilarious!  While the livestream was going on, the fire alarm went off and without missing a beat he said, "Oh, I forgot to put my cigarette out."

After the talk, we all split up again.  This time, Mom and I went to lunch and stumbled upon this place, 99 Miles to Philly.  We split a cheesesteak and fries and they were both delicious.

We found a resale shop and across from it was this cute little thing.  It's called Founders Castle and it looks like a castle or cathedral, but it's not attached to anything.

After a little shopping, I headed back to the hotel to take a nap before heading to Central Park to see Lip Sync Battle live.

This was just some of the line.

I saw on Twitter the night before Julianne and Derek Hough post they were going to do the battle.  I love the Houghs and missed Derek in the Rockette's spring show.  (We had tickets, but it was after his injury so he didn't perform.)

Doug E. Fresh came out and interacted with the crowd before the show started.

Then the show started and out came LL Cool J!

And Chrissy Teigen!

Then out came Julianne and Derek!  Derek performed "Can't Hold Us" by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis and Julianne did Tubthumping (I Get Knocked Down) by Chumbawamba.

While Julianne and Derek changed clothes, we got a "sneak peek" of what is still to come this season on the actual show.  Abbi Jacobson from Broad City performed "And I Am Telling You" from Dreamgirls.

While her co-star Ilana Glazer performed "It's Raining Men".

Then Hoda surprised the crowd and came out with her champion belt.

Julianne reprised her title-winning rendition of "I Just Had Sex" by The Lonely Island ft. Akron.

This was Derek during the performance, hiding under his jacket, trying not to watch.

Derek responded with "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" by The Darkness.

These two are seriously even more gorgeous in person!

In the end, Derek won.  Julianne says it's now time for the best 2 out of 3.

As we were headed to get show tickets the next day, I saw this truck and found it really funny.  I've never seen anything like it before.

Mom and I went to a sample sale that had Free People and Havianas.

Our hotel offered a free wine and cheese hour so before we went to our show, I took advantage of it.  Maybe it's because I'd had so much junk food this trip or maybe it's because I was hungry but the cheese and fruit were both so good!

The food setup.

They even offered live music to go along with the wine and cheese.

For dinner, we went to our favorite pizzeria, John's!

The restaurant was an old cathedral and is gorgeous inside.

Yesterday, we went to two different shows so we stayed pretty busy.  I saw Amazing Grace and an Off-Broadway play Significant Other.  I've taken it pretty easy today.  Everyone else left and it's just me in the city now.  I'm going to a networking event tomorrow night and I'm very excited about it!