2010 September | Somewhere in Middle America

Yesterday’s post about the difficulty I faced while making sloppy joes generated a bunch of responses on Twitter and Facebook. Apparently there are a ton of tricks out of there to prevent one’s eyes from burning and watering while chopping onions. They range from simple (sticking out your tongue) to bizarre (hold two matches between your lips). Sadly, none involve a Slap Chop. I kinda really want a Slap Chop.

@redsesame The irritant is attracted to moisture, hence the eyes. Run water or (what I do) stick out your tongue while you chop.

@cjohnson397 try eating a piece of bread while cutting onions, it helps

@trinniedoo wear sunglasses!

@BowsandSparrows Here’s my tip…get your man to chop the onion for you. Or…that freezer trick seems to work.

@YoungestSenior Wear contact lenses. Or even better, wear these http://bit.ly/90w7YE (PS Have not tried the second option)

@modernemotive Set up the plan J + I have. He preps, I cook. Works for us.

@Blisser My mom always told me to put lime juice on the knife before chopping onions.

@ControlledChaos Chew gum. It’s supposed to work, according to Rachel Ray (and for the most part it does).

And from some Facebook friends:

Erica: Put two matches – sulfur side out – in your mouth. So that they are hanging out of your mouth. The sulfur keeps the “onion air” out of your eyes (very technical, I know).

Justin: I try to only breathe through my mouth, which helps. Some say that chopping next to a sink with cold running water can help too. But really, and not to sound crass, chopping faster is the best way to avoid the tears! Check out this technique – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDjNl5gs4nM

Sonia: Put a slice of bread (folded in half) in your mouth. It absorbs the onion smell and prevents you from breathing out of your mouth. Sounds silly but it works!

Jennifer: Wear goggles – you know…chopping = snorkeling

Do you have a favorite tip?

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When J returned home from his deployment last week, I resolved to alleviate him from dinner-making duties more frequently. Since he enjoys cooking, I do what I can to stay out of the kitchen. However, I’m working on being more domestic and think it’s important that we share responsibilities. (Plus, I’m hoping that if I cook dinner, I can get him to clean the bathrooms, another unpleasant chore.)

Following through on my promise, last night I prepared sloppy joes using a recipe I found on Design*Sponge. The hardest part was dicing the onion. I am not too handy with a knife–which is probably why I prefer baking to cooking. Measuring cups are much safer than knives. If we owned a Slap Chop I would definitely use it, but J considers that cheating, so we don’t.

I wonder if the Slap Chop also prevents “onion eyes.” My eyes were seriously stinging for an hour after we ate. Next time a recipe calls for an onion, I’m going to follow @mediagirl77‘s suggestion: Put the onion in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before chopping. Has anybody tried that?

And as if she were reading my mind, my friend Bridgett this morning posted another trick on her Facebook page. She said that cutting an onion by an open flame will prevent you from crying. Is that true?

How do you prevent tearing up while chopping onions? Wearing goggles? Chewing gum? Avoiding cooking all together?

PS: Is it impossible for you hear the words “sloppy joe” without thinking of Adam Sandler or is it just me?

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I’ve never been interested in jumping on the toning sneaker bandwagon. For the longest time, Sketchers Shape-ups were the only option, and, honestly, they were not what I’d consider stylish footwear. Plus, I had serious doubts that they even worked.

But then I came across the New Balance TrueBalance 1100 in the September issue of Whole Living. Without the rounded wedge sole of the Shape-ups or the bulbous balance ball bottoms of the Reebok EasyTone, the sleek TrueBalance did not look as obvious as their counterparts, despite claiming similar toning results. They almost appeared — dare I say it? — cool. (I’m referring to the black and grey ones, not the pair in the image above.)

Still not convinced that, on their own, a pair of sneakers could magically tone my muscles and burn additional calories, I checked in with my trainer to see if wearing them while lifting weights and doing cardio could enhance the benefits of those activities. (Yes, I have a personal trainer. Trainers in Omaha cost WAY less than trainers in major metropolitan areas). His response, in a nutshell: No. He called all of those types of sneakers gimmicky.

However, if I was looking for added benefits from a sneaker, he recommended I check out the Nike Free Run+. Their design helps strengthen your foot and required your body to work harder for balance stabilization.

What do you think about toning sneakers? Would you wear them?

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This may beat their treadmill routine.

OK Go has the best videos, don’t you think?

Five weeks ago I went to Alicia Clark for a Brazilian Blowout. How did I choose Alicia? First, I go to her sister-in-law for my color, and I trust my colorist implicitly. Second, my research indicated that Alicia and her colleagues are the only stylists in Omaha who were classroom certified to perform the Brazilian Blowout. Why would I trust somebody to put chemicals in my hair if they haven’t received all the necessary training?

So here’s what my hair looked like the morning I went in for the treatment:

Letting my hair air dry without any product produces mostly wavy hair, as you can see. If you look closely you’ll notice a fine halo of frizz encircling my head. My hair is also pretty thick, so it generally takes a good 20 minutes to blow dry straight–and I still need to run a Chi through it afterward to minimize frizz.

The Brazilian Blowout process took about 1 hour and 45 minutes. To my surprise, my hair was not stick straight when Alicia was finished; however, it was a million times easier to straighten. She literally dried it with just a hairdryer and her fingers, and the results looked better than what I would do with a round brush and a flat iron.  It was incredibly smooth and shiny and felt thinner, too.

This is what my hair looks like now if I let it air dry without using any product:

There’s a noticeable difference, isn’t there? To me, it just looks healthier. I don’t mind the wave, although I typically use a hairdryer to blow it straight. However, now I don’t need a flat iron to finish the job, which means it takes less time to get ready in the morning. My hair no longer “grows” as the humidity increases, although it does tend to get oilier more quickly than it used to. (The downside to thin, flat hair is that is lays closer to your scalp and collects more oil, which is strange to me, as I’ve always had very dry hair.)

Would I get the treatment again? Absolutely. But I have no idea when that will be. Alicia told me it usually wears out in 10-12 weeks. Other people have said that their keratin treatments have lasted as long as 3-5 months. But is the Brazilian Blowout the same as a Brazilian Keratin treatment? No clue. I’ve heard mixed answers. Alicia said the keratin is permanent and has formaldehyde in it, whereas the Brazilian Blowout does not, making it healthier for your hair. Then again, people have been using the words interchangeably, so maybe there is no real difference. Do you know?

The biggest change, though, has been my confidence. It’s a universal fact that a good hair day can significantly improve your mood, whereas a bad hair day can shatter it. When I have silky smooth straight hair with fresh blond highlights, I literally feel like Jennifer Aniston, who has, in my opinion, the best hair in Hollywood. It’s like I’m suddenly more sophisticated and put together, and I even notice I carry myself differently. You know what I’m talking about, right?

Have you gotten a Brazilian Blowout? What did you think of your results?

So I’m watching “Bang for Your Buck” on HGTV this weekend, and the always adorable David Bromstad remarks that a ceiling fan in a master bedroom makes the room look a little cheap. Yes, an elegant chandelier in a master bedroom would definitely make the space appear more luxurious, but what if you like (or need) a cool breeze to help you sleep?

Now, I’m not a huge fan of ceiling fans (pun intended). For the most part, I find them to be an eyesore. But my husband insisted we have one in our bedroom and our kitchen, and I let him win that fight. They may not be my favorite, but I can’t argue that they aren’t functional.

Can somebody explain to me…Why do designers despise ceiling fans?

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Today I’m officially 30-and-a-half, so I figure it’s time I gave some serious thought to my belated birthday gift. I’m owed a 30th birthday gift because I wasn’t sure what to ask for when I hit the milestone in March, but I realized over the summer that I’d really like an aquamarine ring to mark the occasion. Clearly, this isn’t a new idea, as I also wanted a piece of jewelry with my birthstone for my 29th birthday. Needless to say, I didn’t get it. (Ahem, husband. You read the blog, right?)

This year, however, I prefer a chunky cocktail ring rather than a set of simple stacking rings that I would wear everyday on my right hand. I’m totally obsessing over this amethyst Marco Bicego Jaipur ring. I love the textured band, which almost looks like faux bois. I was told it comes in blue topaz which looks like aquamarine (kind of), but I can’t find an image online. Unfortunately, it’s way out of our price range…and it’s not aquamarine.

My second favorite ring is this Conroy & Wilcox 18K aquamarine ring. The organic rough-and-tumbled look of the stone makes it casual, yet the size of it makes it a statement piece. But, alas, it’s also way too expensive.

After an extensive search on Etsy for a more affordable aquamarine ring, I stumbled upon Garnet Girl Designs. Her 14K Rock Fetish aquamarine ring might be the perfect compromise. I love the matte finish of the band and the large faceted stone. However, I worry that the color of the aquamarine may not be as intense a shade of blue as I would want, especially since I can’t see it in person before buying. But, the bluer the stone, the higher the price, so I may just have to settle for a paler aquamarine.

I suppose an alternative option would be to buy a loose aquamarine stone and commission somebody to build a ring around it. I wonder how much it would cost to go down that route…

Some of my friends hate their birthstone (hey, J & L, there’s nothing wrong with peridot!), but I love mine…I just don’t love how expensive it is!

How do you feel about your birthstone? Would you want a piece of jewelry with your birthstone in it?

Today I’m over on Elizabeth Anne Designs Living sharing a simple anti-aging skin regimen I learned from my dermatologist.

Curious? Hop on over, and join the conversation.

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I’ve gotta take a moment to brag about my brother-in-law. After a grueling and emotionally exhausting audition process, he just earned a spot in the orchestra for the renowned Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Yay, V!

Although I grew up outside of New  York City, I’ve never seen the Rockettes perform. I know that the Rockettes are an institution, but, for my Jewish family, the Christmas Spectacular was never at the top of our list of shows to see (and we’ve seen a lot of Broadway musicals). I wonder why? Hmm…

So 2010 is the year I will finally see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, and I’m can’t wait. I asked my BIL if he would play a wrong note very loudly so I could pick him out of the pit, but I don’t think he’ll oblige.

Have you seen the Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring The Rockettes?

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If this doesn’t put a smile on your face, I’m not sure we can be friends anymore.