Food Swaps: Cooking Substitutions

Even the best cooks sometimes run out of ingredients or simply want to replace an item in a recipe. Luckily there are many tasty alternative ingredients.

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Did you know avocado makes a great substitution for mayo and butter? My Creators Syndicate article breaks down these substitutions and more food swaps, like cooking with prunes, beans and Greek yogurt.

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Most of these substitutions are healthy. Plus they’re practical – some of these items may already be in your pantry or refrigerator which saves you a trip to the grocery store.

What’s your favorite food substitution?

 

Go See “Teen Titans Go to the Movies”

Fun and at times irreverent, “Teen Titans Go to the Movies,” is a cute film that’s appealing to kids and adults.

I attended the preview with my sons and they loved this film.

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The premise is easy to understand: Robin is tired of just being seen as Batman’s sidekick. He wants to star in movies and save the day like all the Justice League superheroes he sees. Robin, paired up with his Teen Titan crew, struggles to be taken seriously in his life and on screen.

Robin wants the movie director, voiced by Kristen Bell to give him a shot as a movie star. She’s reluctant to do so unless the Boy Wonder can have a great adversary. He finds that rival in Slade, played by Will Arnett, who is also “Teen Titans Go to the Movies” producer.

Slade tries to manipulate Robin and the Teen Titans with mind games. But they see beyond his gimmicks. The theme resonates with kids and parents: you don’t have to be a superhero, you just have to be yourself.

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“Teen Titans Go to the Movies” was full of potty humor, fart jokes and booty shaking. The jokes are targeted to kids but much of the humor gets laughs from adults too.

The soundtrack is filled with many great 80’s hits, including Huey Lewis’ “Back in Time.” There’s also an “Upbeat Inspirational Song About Life” by Michael Bolton, which is cheesy, silly and perfect all at the same time.

Teen Titans Go to the Movie,” rated PG, opens Friday, July 27.

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Conan Live at Comic-Con

I had so much fun attending a taping of the Conan show at The Spreckels Theatre during Comic Con.

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Conan tapes four shows in San Diego every July during Comic Con.

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My husband I attended Conan’s final Comic Con-themed episode for this year.

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The episode we watched featured the cast of  the upcoming “Aquaman” movie. The taping last almost an hour an a half.

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What a fun experience!

I’ve watched Conan on TV for years – I love his self-deprecating humor and he didn’t disappoint in-person! Can’t wait for next year’s Conan visit to Comic Con and San Diego.

 

💍 Ready for the Royal Wedding! 💍

The Royal Wedding is days away and I’m swooning over wedding details for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

I love weddings and royal weddings are no exception. They’re large events where no detail is overlooked! I’m looking forward to the Markle’s dress, accessories and her hair/makeup. She’s always very stylish and I’m sure her wedding look won’t disappoint.

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Oleg Cassini and David’s Bridal are celebrating the royal wedding too. They sent me this sparkly crystal cupcake along with this wedding book, “Oleg Cassini The Wedding Dress.”

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I’ve had fun looking through the book and reminiscing about past royal weddings and other notable I Do’s.

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The 320-page book details Cassini designs over the years, including runway looks, the history of wearing white, the significance of wearing a touch of blue, and the history of bridal styles.

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Cassini was also the personal stylist to former first Lady Jackie Kennedy throughout her life. After she wore his strapless empire waist design, the style became a hit. It’s a still the number one dress choice for brides.

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The royal wedding happens this Saturday, May 19. It’s an early day with tv coverage of the nuptials starting at 4:30 am EDT, which for me is 1:30 am PDT. Maybe I’ll just stay up Friday night so I won’t miss a thing!

Are you planning to watch the royal wedding?

Chocolate + Caramels = Yes, Please!

Chocolates are my favorite treat. They’re a great dessert, especially for parties and events, like weddings.

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Recently Fran’s Chocolates sent me their famous salted caramels. These Gray and Smoked Salt Caramels are available in dark and milk chocolate, paired with soft buttery caramel and topped with gray and smoked sea salts.

The caramels look pretty and taste delicious!

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An added bonus? The presentation – box and bow – can be color coordinated.

FullSizeRender 32A tasty and eye-catching option for wedding favors.

 

Something to Savor: Wedding Keepsake Solution

Wedding planning is a special time, full of personal moments shared between the couple. The relationships is filled with keepsakes like love notes, the menu from a special date and tickets to a movie. Now add in a wedding and bridal keepsakes can include engagement photos, save the date cards and swatches of fabric, as well as tokens of affection as well, including cards, lists and notes taken during wedding planning.

It’s easy to see how a couple’s mementos could easily stack up as clutter, unless properly organized. It’s nice to keep all these mementos together, as souvenirs of the courtship and the planning process.

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One stylish storage solution comes from Savor, manufacturers of keepsake boxes. Their Wedding Edition Keepsake Box features two custom-dyed, cloth-covered “You & Me” and “Us” books that open to store away special wedding objects.

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The five drawers inside are designed to stash wedding-goodies like the ring pillow, dried flowers, the garter and more.

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The keepsake comes with folders, pre-printed labels and stickers to customize the box. The boxes come in two color schemes: blue/peach and slate/cream. Savor sent me the slate colored keepsake to check out and it’s pretty and practical.

What a practical, thoughtful way to commemorate a couple’s love story and wedding day!

Savor also makes keepsake boxes for curating memories of babies and kids. All the colorful boxes can neatly stack on bookshelves as memories to be treasured.

 

It’s Panda-monium!

Last week my sons and I got a sneak peak at “Pandas,” an IMAX movie that opens this weekend.

This documentary, which took three years to shoot, has lots of appeal. It’s educational – showing viewers the challenges pandas face in the world in terms of breeding, handling tough terrain and overall survival. Pandas are an endangered species around the world, mostly due to humans developing properties on their land, and the lack of bamboo, their primary food source.

“Pandas” grabs your heart too. It’s hard not to love these cuddling looking bears that we typically only see at the zoo.

When we first meet these cute pandas, they’re newborns, adorable and looking like stuffed animals. We see them cooing as babies and then we watch them – one panda in particular, “Qian Qian,” pronounced Chen Chen – grow up on camera and learn to navigate the world.

The pandas are born at the Chengdu Panda Base in China, a breeding center which has helped breed over 200 baby pandas. In the movie, the scientists interact with the pandas and they explain how they’re tracking the animals and helping them thrive in the wild.

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The movie took three years to shoot. The Chengdu Panda Base, which has helped over 200 baby pandas born during her tenure. Viewers meet the  scientists interacting with the pandas and they explain how they’re tracking the animals and helping them thrive in the wild.

We loved the movie – so fun and interesting. It’s narrated by Kristen Bell – a familiar voice for kids, who recognize her from “Frozen.”

Fun Fact: Giant pandas eat up to 30 pounds of bamboo every day!

We saw the IMAX film at Fleet Science Center in their Heikoff Giant Dome Theater, which has 76-foot wraparound movie screen and 16,000 watts of digital surround sound. Everything looks and feels so close. That experience makes you feel like you’re sitting across from the pandas in the wild in China.

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My sons and I enjoyed playing with the Panda props at Fleet Science Center too!

Fun Fact: Pandas sleep 10 to 16 hours a day! That bamboo they eat isn’t very nutritious and lacks protein, so they don’t have much energy.

“Pandas,” is rated G and opened April 6, 2018. Get tickets.

Check out the trailer below:

Nailed It! Spring Manicure Time

I love a pretty manicure! I almost always wear nail polish and in a variety of colors. I like everything from soft pinks and sexy reds to bold blues and vibrant oranges, and everything in between.

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This spring I’m loving pastels. That’s why I was eager to try the “Bridal Bliss” collection from Zoya. They sent me the complimentary set of polishes, which are available in so many sweet and subtle shades, ranging from creams like “Chantal” to a classic pink named “Bella.”

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I couldn’t decide which polish to use first so I tried something new – I created a mix and match manicure. I used five different shades, one for each finger and repeated the look on both hands.

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For my thumb, I used “McKenna,” a taupe shade; for the index finder, “Rue” a mauve shade; “Abby,” a lavender for my middle finger; a pastel “Blu” for my ring finger; and “Leia,” an opal-toned white/pink for my pinky.

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I love the colors and I’m really happy with this look! Plus, the mani has staying power.  I’ve been typing, doing dishes and running errands and the polish has held up well.

Movie Night: “Sherlock Gnomes”

This week is Spring Break in our house and a movie night is a welcome opportunity for fun.

Movie Night: "Sherlock Gnomes"

Last night, my sons and I got to attend a complimentary preview screening of the new animated kids’ movie, “Sherlock Gnomes.” The movie comes out today and it’s an entertaining film for the whole family.

Here’s the premise: garden gnomes in London are disappearing. Detective Sherlock Gnomes and his sidekick, Watson, along with two gnomes named, Gnomeo and Juliet, are searching for clues to find missing garden gnomes.

Among the highlights:

  • Johnny Depp portrays Sherlock Gnomes. He plays the character with a mix of snark and sophistication and I loved it.

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  • The movie references both “Sherlock Holmes” and “Romeo and Juliet.” My 9-year-old liked how characters from two stories could share the screen. I agree – a nice touch and it familiarizes kids with more literature and characters.

 

  • I really liked how every time Sherlock is thinking about a clue, the screen swirls into a black and white actively-animated dream-like sequence. For example, in one scene, he’s looking at a playing card with a black “9” and a scuff in the corner of the number. He’s trying to remember where he’s seen that “9” and that scuff before. So, in his daydream, we see lots of “9” – the number is in his bed, on an escalator, etc. He’s processing the information and so are we! This daydream is a lovely way of showing kids (and adults) how the brain processes information.

 

  • The movie features lots of Elton John songs and – spoiler alert – in one scene early on in the film, there’s a garden gnome that very much resembles the “Tiny Dancer” singer. At the end credits, I realized Elton John is one of the executive producers of the movie. His music is timeless and I’m happy this is a way to introduce his music to a new generation.

Sherlock Gnomes is rated PG and runs 86 minutes.