sweetbitter

I didn’t think I would enjoy this novel, but it surprised me. It’s about a small town girl named, who moves to New York City and happens to find herself in the culinary world- trying to not only navigate the hierarchy of waitstaff, bar staff, hostesses and managers, but also how she fits in. Tess gets involved in a dysfunctional love triangle as she tries to find herself.  There are lessons to be learned in her attempt to grow up and enter the real world.  I could not put this one down- highly recommend. 41aQco98MpL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

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baked french fries

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I have a serious love affair with the potato. You can give me one in any form- fried, roasted, baked, boiled…I love my potatoes and cannot be without them. If you know me, you know that potatoes are one of my greatest weaknesses. I cannot say no to a bag of potato chips. I will not be that person who says they want salad on the side when ordering at a restaurant- when given the choice of salad or fries, I will always pick the fries- and no, not the sweet potato fries.

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I’ve been making my own fries for years now by baking them. When I was younger, Mom would fry them up for us and I remember how addictive every last salty ketchup drenched bite was. Now that I’m older and try to be a little healthier, I don’t make the fried version. I actually don’t like frying food- (eating it is a different matter).

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IMG_4929 (1).jpgThis recipe has the extra step of par boiling the potatoes which I think is the reason why they come out so nice and crispy on the outside. So much so that you could even fool a french fry novice into thinking they’ve been fried.

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Ingredients:

2-3 russet potatoes

3-4 tbsp olive oil

salt

Method:

Heat oven to 450 degrees F.

Cut your potatoes to desired thickness and place in a large pot and cover with an inch or two of water. Set heat to high and set timer for 10 minutes. Drain the potatoes after 10 minutes.

Coat a large baking sheet with foil and  2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil.

Drain your potatoes and immediately spread them on oiled baking sheet in one layer. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and roast for 20 minutes, until golden underneath. Toss potatoes around return them to the oven for another 5 minutes- 10 minutes.

Season with more salt while they’re hot and enjoy!

recipe adapted from the smitten kitchen 

 

 

an equal music by vikram seth

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I assumed it would be extremely difficult to write about music , but Vikram Seth has written so beautifully about it in this moving novel, that I find it hard to believe he isn’t a musician himself. The novel itself takes place in breath taking romantic cities like London, Vienna and Venice, which left me longing to be back in Europe.

Vikram Seth writes: ”Music to me is dearer even than speech.” His love for music shines in his ability to describe it better than anything I have ever read. This novel is elegantly written and the ending did not fail to touch me.

Seth describes different relationships, the ones we have with others and the one we have with our musical instruments. I have a new found respect for my sitar and can’t imagine life without it. I now have a deeper respect not only for music, but also for all the sounds around us that we so easily take for granted.

I can’t wait to read more of his work.

 

my world.

As it gets colder, I find myself looking forward to coming home more and more after work- to relax, unwind and be with my family. Here’s the roundup of what I’ve been loving lately:

Dissolving Boundaries by Anoushka Shankar: This song is from her album Land of Gold, which we saw live a few months ago at City Winery. Listening to the album again recently, I am pretty blown away by how innovative it is. This song stands out to me, but they are all worth listening to. It was my favorite among the ones she performed that night.

Aaj jaane ki Zid na Karo by Arijit Singh: Lately I find myself listening to a beautuflly sung song asking who’s the singer? More often than not, I find out that it’s Arijit Singh. I guess I am a little late in discovering this voice, but I greatly enjoy the emotion with which he sings. His rendition of this ghazal is a particular favorite of mine and has been on repeat.

Arrival:  This film is definitely not what I thought it would be about. It is thought provoking and I found it especially interesting, as a Speech and Language Pathologist. The idea of language and communication plays a large role here, as well as the concept of time. I think this is my favorite movie of 2016.

Passengers: I wasn’t expecting to like this movie as much as I did! I don’t want to give away too much but the concept is very interesting. You will have a conversation with your loved one about this one all the way home.

La La Land:  If you like music and if you like love stories, then you will love this movie. I love everything about this movie EXCEPT for the ending! Also let’s not forget that it won every Golden Globe award that it was nominated for.

an equal music– I am about 200 pages into this book and have been enjoying it very much. I wouldn’t call it a light read and it did take me some time to get into it, but the writing is very impressive. This is my first Vikram Seth read and I’m looking forward to reading more of his work.

AERIN Rose Hand And Body Cream- This was gifted to me by a dear friend for Christmas and I’ve been using it every evening post showering. The rose scent is subtle yet lingers just long enough. I also love the lip balm by the brand. Their products are indulgent but so worth it.

Farmacy Honey Potion Renewing Antioxidant Hydration Mask: I am obsessed with this mask! It has replaced pretty much all my other masks. See my review here.

The Book of Awakening Inspiration Cards: After having read the book I knew I had to get these inspirational cards. I like choosing one at random every morning and when I have the time, to do some reflective writing. It’s a peaceful way to start the day.

Elements of pizza: I purchased this cookbook for my husband and we have been enjoying the best homemade pizza ever since. Being a natural baker, he is no novice to baking his own pizza from scratch, but after discovering this book, his pizza game has elevated.  His thoughts: “A Neapolitan pizza requires much less yeast than you would expect. Overall the ingredients are quite simple and it’s just a matter of technique. Lastly, a pizza stone is essential”. The results? You will have to come over one of these days to find out! I don’t think I can ever eat pizza that hasn’t been made by him ever again. (Unless he takes me back to Italy).

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Sincerely, 

Surleen 

 

 

winter lip care

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My lips are telling me it it’s winter! Here are some of my favorite lip products for the winter months- I find myself reaching for one of these at any given time of the day. There’s nothing I dislike more than when my lips are feeling dry or chapped and these lip products have been in my lip rotation and are winter lip saviors.

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Tony Moly lip balm: I like to keep this lip balm on my makeup dresser and use it before getting ready in the mornings. I love how moisturizing it is, its subtle honey scent and how it wears well under lipstick or gloss.

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Nuxe Reve De Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm: This is a great balm to use as part of a nightly routine, as it does not budge at all. I wake up to hydrated and soft lips. This is for lips that are quite dry or chapped since it is really thick and intense.

Nivea Lip Care A Kiss of Milk and Honey Soothing Lip Care:   This lip balm is perfect to keep in your purse, work bag, or pocket because it’s texture is light weight yet very hydrating. I also love the scent.

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment Sunscreen SPF 15:  Fresh makes such high quality products and this lip balm is no exception. I have gone through many of these and like to apply this as I head out.

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Rosebud Perfume Co.Minted Rose Lip Balm: This has been a staple on my bedside table for years now. I can’t be without it and have one in my travel kit as well. My mom has been using the same little tin for years now!

Lush lip balms- These are not my favorite lip balms because I don’t find them to be as hydrating as the ones I’ve listed above. They do the trick but need to be reapplied very often. They smell nice and have a smooth texture. They are very travel friendly since they take up such little space.

What do you like to apply to your winter lips?

Sincerely,

Surleen

 

 

3 new beauty products for the new year

 I wanted to step my skincare game for the new year, and though I love my current skincare routine, I think these products will really enhance my current routine. I’ve fallen in love with this face mask, dark spot correcting serum, and eye cream and am so excited to use them this year as part of my regular skincare routine!

Farmacy Honey Potion Renewing Antioxidant Hydration Mask:

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This has quickly become my favorite face mask. I’ve used it three times now and have been enjoying the entire experience of this mask- it feels like a luxurious treatment. The texture is that of a jelly or balm, similar to honey but not quite as sticky.  As soon as you start to massage it onto your hands, it gently warms up and transforms into a rich cream. After ten minutes, I use a cool washcloth to remove before rinsing my face. Not only does this mask feel like an absolute pampering treat, it leaves my skin soft, smooth and nourished. I have yet to find a mask as relaxing and pamper worthy as this one. Highly recommend for any skin type.

The first time I used this mask, I felt a tingling sensation when I began to rinse it off.  Using a cool washcloth first alleviated that sensation and I did not feel it again the second time I used. The tingling had lasted for a few minutes, but did not cause any redness or allergic reaction. 

CLINIQUE Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector & Optimizer:

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I am so excited to see how this serum works for my skin with time- but so far I have been loving it. Here is a brief description-

“Clinique’s two-pronged approach to lasting brightness and even tone. Our clinical-strength serum with CL-302 complex is proven to help reverse the appearance of dark spots and blemish marks starting in four weeks. Plus a soothing optimizer keeps skin calm, helping it better resist future darkening. Dispensed in ideal balance via a unique dual-chamber pump.”

I think the dual chamber pump is really neat! This serum has an amazingly silky texture, which is exactly how my skin feels when I apply this. I use moisture surge after this sinks in and so far I am LOVING this combination. It’s been a while since I’ve regularly used a serum so I am hoping this is the one for me.

belif Peat Miracle Revital Eye Cream:

I recently got myself a sample of this eye cream, after hearing many wonderful reviews. Having used up my sample, I was very impressed with the texture of this cream. I love the thickness of it and how well it absorbs into my eye area. I’ve been using it in the mornings before applying makeup and at night. I have been enjoying it and will be purchasing the full size. I also like the subtle scent!

Wishing you a beautiful 2017!

Sincerely,

Surleen

 

 

 

 

my 2017 reading list

I can’t wait to dig into these books this year. I feel like I always have a long list of books to read, but this year I have narrowed it down to the ones I see myself actually reading and enjoying. My rule is if 50 pages into a book, I am not interested, I abandon it. This seems to work well for me. How do you keep track of what books you want to read?

 

Holding Up the Universe (Jennifer Niven)

When Breath Becomes Air (Paul Kalanithi)

Swing Time (Zadie Smith)

We Were Liars (E. Lockhart)

An Equal Music (Vikram Seth)

Today Will Be Different (Maria Semple)

The True Name (Osho)

The Sun Is Also a Star (Nicola Yoon)

The Gene: An Intimate History (Siddhartha Mukherjee)

The Nest   (Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney)

Here I am  ( Jonathan Saffran Foer)

The hopefuls (Jennifer Close)

What else do you recommend??

Sincerely,

Surleen

 

 

Spaghetti aglio e olio (midnight spaghetti)

Disclaimer: I have never made this dish. I fell in love with it years ago at our then favorite Italian restaurant (which has now closed down- thanks New York City), and since then my husband makes it for me whenever I ask him to.

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The other night we were up pretty late and You’ve got mail was on TV. As we were watching and it approached midnight, I realized I was hungry so of course my husband volunteered to make this for me. He explained that there’s a reason why they call this “midnight pasta”. I have to admit, there’s something really special about having this on the couch, served up in a small bowl rather than a dinner plate, at midnight while watching one of my favorite movies shot in New York- on the Upper West Side nonetheless.

recipe courtesy: Ina Garten

Ingredients:

Kosher salt
1 pound dried spaghetti, such as DeCecco
1/3 cup good olive oil
8 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package. Set aside 1 1/2 cups of the pasta cooking water before you drain the pasta.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a pot large enough to hold the pasta, such as a 12-inch saute pan or a large, shallow pot. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until it just begins to turn golden on the edges-don’t overcook it! Add the red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds more. Carefully add the reserved pasta-cooking water to the garlic and oil and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, add 1 teaspoon of salt, and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by about a third.
Add the drained pasta to the garlic sauce and toss. Off the heat, add the parsley and Parmesan and toss well. Allow the pasta to rest off the heat for 5 minutes for the sauce to be absorbed. Taste for seasoning and serve warm with extra Parmesan on the side.

I will forever request this dish- because not only does he make it better than anyone else, but because every bite is full of love.

 

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