Five Friday Favorites

This week I’ve stumbled upon a delicious Tuscan chicken skillet recipe, as well as the highly acclaimed Orange is the New Black, and more!

Five Friday Favorites

1. This recipe: Tuscan Chicken Skillet

2. This television show: Orange is the New Black, Season 1. I know I’m quite late to the game, but I just finished up season 1 of this Netflix hit, and I can’t wait to get my hands on season 2.

3. This oversized scarf: Tartan Heavy Scarf

4. This song: “Be Okay” by Oh Honey. Sometimes you just need some reassurance.

5. This quiz: Brad Pitt Movie-Hair Quiz. Turns out I know Brad Pitt’s hairstyles pretty damn well. (13/15) And now I want to watch Fight Club again.

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Book Review: Moloka’i by Alan Brennert

Moloka'i Cover

4 STARS

I love historical fiction. Reading from this genre makes me feel like I’m back in school, but instead of memorizing names and dates I’m learning the most interesting parts of the past through a fictional narrative. For instance, did you know that people who were diagnosed with leprosy in the late 1800s to the early 1900s were essentially exiled to the Hawaiian island of Moloka’i? (And here all I knew about leprosy was that that Lazarus dude from the bible died from it.)

That’s the story Alan Brennert’s new book tells through the experiences of his fictional character Rachel Kalama. When Rachel is seven-years-old, her mother notices rosy patches on her skin. Even though her mother tries to hide it, Rachel is later discovered and forced out of her home, away from her mother, father, brothers and sister, and cast to the leprosy colony at Moloka’i. It’s here that she makes friends, falls in love, finds her faith and grows up—away from everything and everyone she once knew.

Suffice it to say, if you are looking for a happy, upbeat book, Moloka’i is not for you. Although there are many happy moments sprinkled throughout the story, it’s utterly heartbreaking, and a lot happens. Imagine being torn from your family at such a young age, losing your freedom and being forced to live among strangers in a far-away place. You can never leave, not unless you are suddenly cured; you’re trapped. And even though the people of the island are wonderful, it’s unnatural for humans to be tethered to one place forever.

The book was interesting from the very beginning, but after Rachel arrived on the island I didn’t feel very attached to the plot. The story lacked soul. I felt for Rachel and everything she was going through, but I didn’t feel particularly attached to her story. Instead, I just felt as if the author was going through the motions, placing her in situations but not making those moments come alive. It wasn’t until the second half that Brennert’s story finally picks up. Suddenly I was invested and my interest carried all the way through until the end of the book.

Despite learning so much about leprosy, better known as Hansen’s disease, this book takes you on a journey through history. During Rachel’s time on the island, major historical moments take place, including the invention of planes and movies, world wars, and even the overthrowing of Hawaii’s queen. All this change is taking place while Rachel and her friends on Moloka’i simply observe from afar. Get ready for some tears.

Stray Observations
Some spoilers ahead

• Favorite quote: “Fear is good. In the right degree it prevents us from making fools of ourselves. But in the wrong measure it prevents us from fully living. Fear is our boon companion but never our master.”

• Rachel’s father was the sweetest man. I loved how he brought her back a doll from every place he visited. Very clever.

• I enjoyed the theological discussion from the nuns at Rachel’s school. I didn’t feel like it was particularly overdone, but rather addressed questions you know everyone would ask—and still ask—during difficult times: How can such awful things happen to such innocent people?

• Did anyone else wish for Sister Catherine to quit the convent and go live with her family? She was such a good person and deserved so much happiness. She cared so much for those young girls, I just wish she would have cared for herself, too.

• It was beyond touching how Rachel’s husband Kenji wouldn’t leave her behind when he is told he can finally leave the island. But doesn’t anyone else think he should have used his free pass to visit the outside world just once in his life? With the tragic events that follow, it breaks my heart to know that he never got to see outside of Moloka’i as an adult.

• Despite that, at least Rachel was awarded a somewhat happy ending. She finally got to travel and see the world. My heart is breaking all over again.

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My Style: Floral Kimono

Kimono

Near the end of summer I scored a beautiful floral kimono from good ol’ Target. (Oh Target, how I love thee; let me count the ways.) All summer long I had been pinning some gorgeous bohemian looks with this particular trend, so when I found this beautiful print for sale I knew I had scored a good deal.

Even though this is primarily a summer trend, you can still wear it well into fall. It’s lightweight, so enjoy it before it gets too chilly outside. To make it fall appropriate, wear it with a pair of skinny jeans, ankle boots and a long bohemian necklace.

Kimono

Kimono: Target; Shirt: Too old to remember; Jeans: Joe’s from Saks Off Fifth; Boots: Kohl’s; Necklace: Forever 21; Belt: Target; Lipstick: MAC Cosmetics’ Vegas Volt

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5 Couples Costume Ideas

I love Halloween. To an astronomical degree. Every year, when the trees are at their prettiest, everyone—adults included—get the chance to dress up in costume, no judgement allowed, and party. The options are endless, and I love the chance to harness my creativity. I am also very thankful to have a husband who lets me get as creative as I want and even enjoys pitching in with his help and ideas. Every year we dress up as something outlandish, and we tend to lean toward characters from 90s pop culture. Here are five couples costume ideas that you can use for your last-minute Halloween costume. I’ll give you a short run-down on how to put the ladies portion of these costumes together.

Doug and Patti

Doug Funnie and Patti Mayonnaise

You may recall a little Nickelodeon cartoon called Doug. If you don’t, I’m not sure whether we can still be friends. In case you don’t remember, Doug had a crush on Patti in the 90s series, and constantly wrote journal entries about her, among many other awesome musings. Here’s what you’ll need for Patti:

* A blue sweater (thrifted)
* Pink fabric paint (search your local craft store)
* A denim skirt (thrifted)
* Pink sneakers (already owned)
* SPLURGE on a blonde Marilyn Monroe-type wig to finish the look.

Add pink polka dots to your sweater with the fabric paint, and give it enough time to dry (a couple of hours).

Note: In case you were wondering, my husband is wearing a bald cap with brown pipe cleaners sticking out of it to give his hair that cartoonish look. If you recall, Doug had maybe 10 hairs on his head.

Miss Piggy and Gonzo

Miss Piggy and Gonzo

My husband and I don’t always like to dress up as conventional couples. I loved watching the Muppet Babies when I was a kid, and I still insist that Miss Piggy would have been better if paired with Gonzo rather than Kermit. Kermit was rather boring, but Gonzo was always fun and always had Miss Piggy’s back. Thus, our costume. Here’s what you’ll need for Miss Piggy:

* Pink shirt (thrifted)
* Pink skirt (thrifted)
* White lacy socks (costume store)
* Pink flats (already owned)
* Pig nose and ears (costume store)
* White gloves (costume store)
* Pink bow (local craft store)
* SPLURGE on a blonde wig (I reused my wig from the Patti costume!)

I added tulle to the ends of my gloves and sleeves, and also wore a white tulle skirt that I bought from a costume store under my thrifted pink skirt to make it poofy. Finally, add the pink bow to the top of your pig ears and you’re done.

Note: AJ’s Gonzo nose is made out of a hodge podge of fuzzy blue pipe cleaners, as are his ears (or whatever those are on Gonzo’s head).

Mrs Pacman and Ghost

Mrs. Pacman and Ghost

Another evil couple pairing; go figure. I still love playing Mrs. Pacman at old arcades, even when one of the ghosts inevitably defeats me. I think it’s the bow that I love the most. This costume was one of the easiest I’ve ever put together, and one of the most fun to take to parties. I chased the husband around all night! Here’s what you’ll need:

* Black shirt and pants (already owned)
* Red high heels (already owned)
* Red bow (local craft store)
* Yellow taskboard (ask your local craft store)
* Black ribbon (local craft store)
* Red and black sharpie (already owned)

1. Lay out your yellow taskboard and cut out a circle that is big enough to cover your torso. The taskboard I found was not large enough for this purpose, so I cut two pieces together and adhered them with yellow duck tape.

2. Once you have the appropriate-size circle, cut the mouth then, using sharpies or another marker that won’t smear, draw on the lips, eye and eyelashes.

3. Poke two holes near the top of your Pacman face. String a long piece of black ribbon though one hole, wrapping it around your neck and through the second hole. Tie the ends so the Pacman face won’t fall when worn around your neck.

4. Finally, tie your hair up in the red bow to give your costume the finishing touch.

Super Mario and Bowser

Super Mario and Bowser

Once again, the husband and I are enemies. But Super Mario and his arch nemesis Bowser must like each other enough to continuously engage in battle, right? I think so. Another arcade game that both of us cherished as kids, this costume was so much fun to wear. My absolute favorite part about my outfit was the handmade photo booth mustache. All of my friends took photo ops with it throughout the night! Here’s what you’ll need:

* Blue overalls (thrifted)
* Red shirt (local craft store)
* Red baseball cap (local craft store)
* White, yellow and black felt (local craft store)
* White tights (costume store)
* Black flats (already owned)
* White gloves (costume store)
* Long, skinny wooden stick (local craft store)
* Small piece of cardboard (already owned)

1. Cut your yellow felt into two small circles that you will fashion onto your overall straps as giant buttons with either hot glue or safety pins.

2. Cut your white felt into another small circle, and slice out a capital letter “M” in the middle. Hot glue or hand sew this onto your red baseball cap.

3. Finally, cut your black felt into a mustache shape. Cut your wooden stick to the length you want it (I found my stick in the aisle with the model hobby supplies) and hot glue it to the back of your mustache. Then, hot glue a piece of cardboard onto the back, with the stick in between the mustache and the cardboard, to keep the back nice and firm. You don’t want the mustache to hang and look wimpy when posing for photos. (Color the cardboard with black sharpie, if you want to keep it all black, or use all-black cardstock.)

wicked-witch

Elphaba and Fiyero

Most people thought we were dressed up as enemies pitted against each other, but that just isn’t true. For anyone familiar with the Broadway musical Wicked, you know that Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West) and Fiyero (the scarecrow) are madly in love. So take that Romeo and Juliet! After seeing this wonderful musical on Broadway, the husband and I agreed it was the best costume choice for us that year. Here’s what you’ll need:

* Black witch hat (costume store)
* Black witch costume (costume store) or any long black dress with a high collar
* Black cape (costume store)
* Black tights (already owned)
* Black boots (already owned)
* Broom (costume store)
* Green face paint, and lots of it (costume store)
* Green nail polish (beauty store)

This costume relies heavily on the masterful application of face paint and heavy eyeliner. Whatever you do, do not buy the cheap face paint. It will slowly flake off (a lesson the husband learned all too well the year he dressed up as Gonzo). SPLURGE on good quality face paint, and thrift the rest of your outfit to save money elsewhere. Ask your costume store about which brands are the best.

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My Style: Stylishly Comfy

Jogger Pants

I just spent the best $15 of my life. These jogger pants from H&M are super comfortable and, best of all, you can dress them up! Sweat pants that you can wear to work? I am in paradise.

Incredibly inexpensive, I’m not sure about the lifespan of these pants, but I am digging them right now. The shape of the pants especially fits my tall frame: wide in the hips, tight at the ankle. They also have giant pockets, and when are pockets not a bonus? All you need to dress them up is a dressy shirt, a pair of heels and a confident walk.

jogger-pants-1
jogger-pants-3

Jogger Pants: H&M; Shirt: H&M; Shoes: Target; Purse: Marc by Marc Jacobs; Sunglasses: Kate Spade; Earrings: Kate Spade; Bracelet: H&M

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