Beauty: war of the Sheet Masks

Once a week I have a strong urge to cover my face with a sheetA thin, wet paper sheet that I pull out of a plastic container that fits snugly over my face with holes cut out so that I can still see and breathe. And if they’re good enough for the lady…

photo via Lady Gaga / Instagram

photo via Lady Gaga / Instagram

A friend brought a tub of them back for me from Japan (along with some oil absorbing rice paper tissues and a few paper thin umbrellas) and all I can tell you is that it has Coenzyme Q10 because all the rest of the writing is in Japanese.  And I’m hooked! 

Now we should talk about Korean sheet masks because South Korea has churned out countless sheet masks that are changing the beauty game in a big way. If Paris is known for perfume, South Korea might just be known for the fanatic devotion to skincare, with 10-step routines being just a matter of course.  I’m only six steps behind.  Sheet masks are a BIG, BIG DEAL!

You’ve seen a wall of them at Sephora.  Of all the options, it’s hard to tell which one’s going to do exactly what, mostly because, well, they’re in Korean, so we picked five of the best out there, all locally sourced from NYC’s Koreatown, and broke it down for y’all. Sheet up, people. Don’t be scared.

Most “Oh Cool” Idea sheet2

TonyMoly Rice Mask Sheet 

The gimmick here is that the mask itself isn’t cotton or paper–it’s actual rice paper. The kind you delight to see stretched out over your late-night Seamless spring rolls. The kind you douse in peanut sauce. And, if you’ve ever bought them yourself (unlimited rolls 24/7!) you know that they undergo rapid change from pantry to plate — starting out crusty and brittle, then, after a few minutes in liquid, soft, jellyfish-like, rollable (but also, like using long stretches of tape), is liable to twist up and stick to itself. Unlike other masks, this one doesn’t come already marinated in essence–the liquid is in a separate pouch, which you dump onto the rice paper three minutes before impact with your face. It’s good, healthy, interactive, multi-step fun. The rice paper gels up and sticks to skin better than many of its cotton counterparts. The serum’s pretty strongly scented, making it hard to eat my quinoa-and-soy-sauce without also getting a cross-breeze of gardenia in there. But the effects were undeniable–a plumped-up deep nourishment that, even though I didn’t sleep in it, made my skin look better well into the next day. Five stars.

Best Target-Area Mask sheet3

Glam Rock Abracadabra Mask

This isn’t the full-face horror show sheet mask you’re used to–this one’s actually (stand by to be totally shocked) got a little who-is-that-masked-stranger sex appeal. It’s an eye mask, set in the shape of a good masquerade-meets-Zorrotype mask, with little lacy designs festooning its little jellyfish-y body. Good for spot-treating your world-weary eyes that have seen too much banditry or world-saving the night before. If you don’t want to commit to the whole shebang of a sheet mask, slap one of these on and your eyebags deflate, puffiness is un-puffed, and the whole area is blessed and forgiven, so you never have to reveal your true identity as a Secretly Hungover Person living unknown amongst an unsuspecting office.

Best All-Around Nourishing sheet4Leaders Coconut Gel Mask with Broccoli 

The Leaders brand is, as my K-beauty junkie friend describes it, “the Korean Clinique,” highly dermatologically trustworthy with like little icons of beakers on the back of packaging. This is the thickest of the masks here–not a strip of saturated cotton but a full-face-adhering slab of gel, like a Dr. Scholl’s sole insert for your face. It gloms on and really stays put–you can walk around, do chores (lol throwback–remember chores?!) and get a glass of water (one imagines coconut is suggested). No cruciferous odor detected, but healthy benefits were nonetheless conferred. This mask is so intensely nourishing that you get this fully saturated face, totally drunken with hydration. The next morning was the best–my forehead lines reduced (for the time being), general tone evener, skin texture firm and supple to the touch. Are you gellin’?

Best In Claysheet5TonyMoly Egg Pore Tightening Pack Mask

Clay masks do not, that I’ve seen, come in sheet form. So if you want pore-tightening and that sense of all manner of impurity being sucked out of your skin by precision-placed mini vortexes, this is the mask for you. In the (admittedly sort of adorable) container, the kaolin-based formula starts out as a fluffy mousse, smears on like a cream, and dries and tightens like a good clay mask should. It doesn’t flake off, but sort of balls up on your face when it can tighten no more. No Queen Helene like-the-deserts-miss-the-rain cracked earth face here. You’ll have skin that’s cleaned out and calmed down, not further reddened and parched. Give it a shot on oily, black- or white-heady spots. Out with the old, in with the.egg.

Best In Showsheet6Benton Snail Bee High Content Mask Pack 

Arguably the Gold Standard of Korean sheet masks. It feels light, has no heavy fragrance, and is jam-packed with tiny-creature ingredients like snail secretion and bee venom, floating in a solvent of super-soothing camellia sinensis leaf extract (tea, sort of) and aloe juice. Peel it off in front of mirror and you can almost hear that chorus-of-angels note that happens in movies when a minor miracle occurs or John Stamos enters the frame (“Ahhhhhh!”). Count on this mask for instant skin-brightening and -soothing effects. If you’re planning on wearing anything red and don’t want your face to match, do this first. With the mask’s heavy load of skin-brightening arbutin, one could imagine one’s freckles lightening over time with continued use, although there’s also a strong argument to be made for being proud of your adorable freckles. Plus, it’s on the cheaper side too, even for sheet masks. Stock up–go crazy.  

They’re really cheap, they do the trick but admittedly the above one makes me want to gaga!

Source: for 5 best By Trace Barnhill for

Style – Falling “head over heels” for Boots

I hearts1hearts1LOVE FALL BOOTS.  It’s one if not the only reason to love Fall.

Adam Katz Sinding

Adam Katz Sinding

I put on a pair for the first time in a looong time and they felt so uncomfortable following several months of wearing only flip flops and open toe sandals.  I graduated to wearing loafers & ballarina flats so my feet would slowly adjust because it’s only a matter of time before high heel shoes for dressing up & feeling sexy (flats can be sexy too) will follow. There used to be a time when high heels were everyday wear but not now.  I’m much more boring sensible now.

plain, simple, functional, go-with-anything, stylish - covers all the basics!

plain, simple, functional, go-with-anything, stylish – covers all the basics.  READ: NEED!

 I made a few smart choices (read: sales at the end of last wiinter) so I’m pretty good with my collection this time around.  I have everything from sexy suede over the knee high heeled boots (I will have to drive or be driven from door to door in those) to sexy leather low-heeled over the knee boots to bohemian wedge fringed boots to low heeled funky cowboy boots in red no less (I forgot I had them, it’s love all over again).

Shown here, the best gorgeous Fall Boots for savvy shoppers.

Suede Over The Knee Boots, ASOS $108

Suede Over The Knee Boots, ASOS $108

Analise Bootie, UGG $200

Analise Bootie, UGG $200  I find these to be not so Uggly after all.

Suede Boots, Lord and Taylor $179

Suede Boots, Lord and Taylor $179

We’ve all been there: You finally track down the perfect pair of boots for fall, only to find the price tag is far from realistic. Determined to avoid this fate, we set out to find chic silhouettes for no more than $200 and found a dozen slammin’ styles that have the power to transform your entire fall look.

Fringe Ankle Boots - Zara, $120

Fringe Ankle Boots – Zara, $120

Snake finish Booties, Mango - $80

Snake finish Booties, Mango – $80

Snaffle Ankle Boot, Miss Selfridge $70

Snaffle Ankle Boot, Miss Selfridge $70

High Heel Boots, Ivanka Trump $169

High Heel Boots, Ivanka Trump $169

Snake Ankle Boots, Topshop $70

Snake Ankle Boots, Topshop $70

Jodhpur Boots, H&M $50

Jodhpur Boots, H&M $50

Black Over The Knee Boot, River Island $150

Black Over The Knee Boot, River Island $150

Matte Chelsea Rain Boot, J.Crew $68

Matte Chelsea Rain Boot, J.Crew $68

Karlia Booties, Calvin Klein $189

Karlia Booties, Calvin Klein $189

Source for boots (narrowed down from a larger selection): Rachel Zoe Report

It’s not just me, it’s her. Rachel is a real stylist so if she claims these as fashionable for Fall, you know it to be true. But I tend to agree.

There’s so many styles to have FUN with and keep fairly comfortable at the same time.

Do you have a favourite?

Food: Perch Restaurant

Well…it is a little off the beaten path as far as fine dining goes, but there’s definitely some perks to be found at PerchPerch1a new restaurant perched atop the alma mater society (AMS) building at UBC.  I said that I like to discover places that are out of the ordinary but I wasn’t expecting this.perch7


Tuna Appies

I went to the opening on a beautiful sunny afternoon yesterday where we were able to enjoy sitting outside on the roof deck patio with a view of the Northshore mountains.  I rode my scooter so parking was a cinch.  I was also curious about a reasonably priced upmarket restaurant on UBC’s Point Grey campus that anyone, not just students can go to.


It will be interesting to see how this restaurant makes out because of the location and it being upscale.

With decent prices students may be able to enjoy fine dining more than before. But the idea is not to limit the restaurant to only students, university staff & faculty, but to include residents from surrounding neighbourhoods.  If there is any indication of the quality in general from the platters that were being served, it will be quite good.

mixing up a most unusual margarity - with toasted sesame seeds. He used Jimador Tequila

mixing up a most unusual margarita – with toasted sesame seeds & Jimador Tequila

Overall the prices for large plate dishes cost anywhere from $13 to $24 while a similar meal downtown will run you ten dollars more.

I took a photo of a sample menu to show you below.perch11

my companions and I

They’re open for private functions too as the restaurant can hold up to 300 people, 180 seated.  They have a nice lounge and of course the outdoor patio and the menu is West Coast Cuisine with focus on fresh local ingredients.  We were given a tour of the roof top garden where fresh produce is grown so the chef does not have very far to go to bring it from farm to table.  I really like that, and some of the original ideas on the food + drink menu.perch3Parking?? That’s another thing to deal with unless you bike, bus or ride a scooter.  You will most likely have to walk a few blocks.  If that’s not a big deal for you, you might want to give it a try for something unique.  And if you can get your head past the fact that you’ll be dining on a university campus, especially if you come from downtown or kitsilano.  But why not try something different?  If anything it will make you feel like you’re back on campus but the food is much much better.

sample menu

sample menu – see the bone marrow with the Flank Steak at the bottom (see what I was saying?)

For date night?  Hmmmm……  

Photos: d. king

SUNday FUNday – Unleashed!

Giving thanks for the many ways God’s creatures’ enrich and bless our lives

Cher & Trigger

My friends Cher & Trigger 

I took my dog to church today for “blessing the animals.” He enjoyed the outing but I don’t think he’ll be begging to go back.  People brought their dogs, a cat and someone brought a stuffed chicken.

Jia Jia with my friend Colleen

Jia Jia with half of my friend Colleen

We are not religious but we can be spiritual.  If we had to choose a religion I think we’d consider ourselves to be Foodists above everything else.  Nevertheless a little churchgoing never hurt anyone and I have to give thanks to my furry little friends for keeping me safe and sane.  I really believe we are of service to each other and I can’t imagine life without them.

Tammy's Terrific Trio

Tammy’s Terrific Trio

This world can sometimes be a terrible place but animals make it better.  It’s a known fact that animals provide therapy and taking them to senior’s homes and prisons helps to calm people and make them happier.church2

Here is a little excerpt from a prayer called “Blessing the Animals”

Bless these creatures who come to us as a blessing

Fashioned of fur or feather or fin,

Formed of flesh that breathes with your own breath,

Bless them who can’t themselves

Around our hearts who twine themselves through our days

Who companion us in our labour

Who call us to come and play.

Bless them who will never be entirely tamed

And so remind us that you love what is wild,

That you rejoice in what lives close to the earth,

That your heart beats in the heart of those creatures

chuchchurch10You have entrusted to our care.

Can you really envision a world without animals?  I can’t!

I’m blessed to have Jia Jia & Jack (on occasion) in my life plus all the other neighbourhood animals that come around from time to time.

I met another Preast.  Her name is Tammy (below) and she has a company called “Love on a Leash” which provides trusted dog care services with a DogSafe overnight and vacation care environment, first aid and daily walks (including group walks).  You can visit her at:

At Tartine

At Tartine

AFTER that we  went for coffee & dessert at Tartine Bakery on Davie St.  They were so busy they didn’t even realize there were two dogs inside the cafe. Bless them!

AFTER that I met Mimi from Mélange Home Design and Décor.  Her vision is to encapsulate a certain mixture of luxurious, vintage, and modern organic designs which I’ll be putting on this blog very soon.    A sampling:


Teaser: how can you resist TOM FORD and  especially these stylish coffee table Books?

I hope you had a magnificent weekend.

AFTER that, I walked home

AFTER that, I walked home on a gorgeous summer Fall day.

THANKSGIVING is coming up very soooon!  We have to give thanks all over again.

I’m all for that!

Photos: d. king

Feel-good Friday: the Dinner Date

A perfect dinner date is where those involved leave happier than when they first walked indate3

 Ohh…the importance of romance.  I was invited to a casually elegant little “nest in the city” the other night.  A delightful evening.

Il Nido at 780 Thurlow St (just slightly off Robson)

Il Nido at 780 Thurlow St (just slightly off Robson) in Vancouver, BC

It may be Friday, but enjoying a romantic dinner date can be any day of the week.  And it should be!  It doesn’t mean you have to go out but if you do I recommend a cozy place with friendly service, attention to detail and delicious tasting food.  A good wine list always helps and Italian is always high up on my list.  I’m talking about Il Nido which has been around for a long time in Vancouver, a little off the beaten path.

Appetizer of grilled calamari in rich tomato sauce, 2 year aged proscuitto with melon & pickled garnish and meatballs in sauce.

Starters: grilled calamari in rich tomato sauce, 2 year aged proscuitto with melon & pickled garnish and meatballs in sauce.  Of course, Prosecco.

Owner Franco Felice (who’s last name joyfully translates to happy in Latin) has been
providing Northern Italian fare in the same location for 28 years. Sometimes we have to refresh ourselves and revisit one of Vancouver’s little hidden gems.

Grilled Salmon, homemade Gnocchi and Osso bucco Lamb

Grilled Salmon, homemade Gnocchi and Osso bucco Lamb with a nice Malbec.

Sure, we can try the latest crop of trendy spots which there seems to be no lack of in this city, but sometimes we want something tried and true, something with integrity and staying power.  A place that won’t let us down.  A place like Il Nido.   

In house made Tiramisu & chocolate torte with ice cream in raspberry puree

In house made Tiramisu & Torta al Cioccolato with vanilla gelato, raspberry coulis & a perfect cappuccino.

I met some very intriguing people who offered thought-provoking conversation and sampled an excellent menu there.  So like I said, they were the perfect dinner dates – it doesn’t have to be just one!

Something else to consider:

an app to help you choose your “perfect” date night or evening out with friends

The weekly affair:

The Dinner Party is a weekly affair where lovely host Andrea connects fabulous singles of like minds, in Vancouver and beyond. First date stress and pressure, be gone!

Be charming, be engaging, but most importantly, be yourself.  So she says!date1

Photo credits: Lady & the Tramp; Disney.  Restaurant; d. king

beauty – from the inside out

INNER BEAUTY is more relevant now than ever

so why are we still obsessed with outer beauty?

so why are we still so obsessed with outer beauty?

While we can always try to cover up our tiny flaws and imperfections with makeup correctors & concealers, and enhance our complexion with blush and bronzer, nothing beats a real lit from within healthy glow that comes from eating healthy foods, drinking lots of water and limiting alcohol intake.

It seems that our beauty routine lately is becoming a lot less traditional and a lot more ingestible. We don’t really need a lot of expensive night creams to do the trick if we live a relatively healthy lifestyle that includes exercise and lots of sleep. I believe in the arsenal of a common sense routine mixed with a few tried and true products. 

I want to introduce you to five of the latest beauty products on the market meant to make you more beautiful from the inside out  picks that are sure to blur the line between your kitchen cabinet and your vanity.

Starting with..1) Drinkable Hyaluronic Acid

Drinkable Hyaluronic Acid Spike your favorite drink with 2 teaspoons of this liquid hyaluronic acid to plump your complexion and keep skin hydrated. The Hyaluronic Molecule, Fountain $30

Spike your favorite drink with 2 teaspoons of this liquid hyaluronic acid to plump your complexion and keep skin hydrated.
The Hyaluronic Molecule, Fountain $30

2) Powdered Collagen

Mix a sachet of this marine-based powder with smoothies, coffee, water (or any other beverage of choice) to naturally boost collagen production and maintain healthy hair, skin and nails. Gratitude Package, Vida Glow $50

Mix a sachet of this marine-based powder with smoothies, coffee, water (or any other beverage of choice) to naturally boost collagen production and maintain healthy hair, skin and nails.
Gratitude Package, Vida Glow $50

3)  Drinkable Free Radical-Fighter

Drinkable Free Radical-Fighter This cocktail of organic coconut water, aloe vera and lemon myrtle hydrate the body from the inside-out to combat dry, dull skin, fine lines and also fights free-radical damage caused by environmental stressors. Inner Beauty Boost, The Beauty Chef $40

Drinkable Free Radical-Fighter
This cocktail of organic coconut water, aloe vera and lemon myrtle hydrate the body from the inside-out to combat dry, dull skin, fine lines and also fights free-radical damage caused by environmental stressors.
Inner Beauty Boost, The Beauty Chef $40

4) Skin-Perfecting Pills For Oily Skin

Skin-Perfecting Pills For Oily Skin 2 antioxidant and omega-infused capsules per day repair skin, boost hydration and help regulate oil production. It's also suitable for vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diets. Vegan Omega 3-6-9 Supplements, Zelens $50

2 antioxidant and omega-infused capsules per day repair skin, boost hydration and help regulate oil production. It’s also suitable for vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diets.
Vegan Omega 3-6-9 Supplements, Zelens $50

5) All-Around Beauty Booster

When mixed into a beverage, this powdered mix of raw vegetables, fruits, herbs, nuts, and seaweed increases collagen and silica production and hydrates and strengthens skin, hair and nails. Beauty Dust, Moon Juice $65

When mixed into a beverage, this powdered mix of raw vegetables, fruits, herbs, nuts, and seaweed increases collagen and silica production and hydrates and strengthens skin, hair and nails.
Beauty Dust, Moon Juice $65

I’m not promoting these products as I haven’t tried any of them and don’t intend to  – just that it’s interesting to find out how the market may be changing.  With so many things out there it’s hard to decide what to choose – you have to be selective.  I did come across a vegan chocolate bar that claims to slow the formation of wrinkles and sagging skin – hell, I’m all for that one!

Never mind the saying “you are what you eat”  – I’m changing it to “you are what you live” –  it’s much broader and more forgiving.

What do you think about that?

Style – the casting world of Prada

The ULTIMATE “get”

Prada Fall 2015 campaign

Prada Fall 2015 campaign – google images

The Models

While many shows have remarkable casts, for models both new and established, Prada remains the ultimate “get.” The prestige and visibility that come from being on the Prada runway is incomparable—whether you’re a newcomer having your first big moment or a star returning after a lengthy hiatus. As a result, Prada’s castings have become the barometer by which other shows are judged, as well as an arbiter of industry beauty norms. If you want to get a feel for the current modeling look du jour, a glance at Prada’s run of show is all that’s needed.

Getty Images

Getty Images – Prada spring 2016

The Actors

While models make up the majority of Prada’s runway, the brand’s menswear advertising has long relied on art house actors, enlisting everyone from conventional cuties Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Ben Whishaw to acting luminaries like Gary OldmanHarvey Keitel, and Christoph Waltz. At the fittingly theatrical Fall 2012 show, worlds collided when OldmanAdrien BrodyWillem Dafoe, and Jamie Bell unexpectedly took to the runway alongside male models like Arthur Gosse and Victor Nylander.

Jamie Bell, Willem Dafoe, Adrien Brody, Prada Fall 2012 Photo: Monica Feudi /

Jamie Bell, Willem Dafoe, Adrien Brody, Prada Fall 2012
Photo: Monica Feudi /

The Exclusives
Prada consistently launches careers, and though not every model selected for a Prada exclusive contract goes on to greatness, the brand’s success rate is enviable. Those chosen to open the show, walk in it exclusively, or debut via a Prada campaign are essentially winners of modeling’s golden ticket, and many now-famous names got their first break via Prada. Miuccia Prada gave a contract to a leggy Czech named Karolina Kurkova before she turned 16, and enlisted her to walk Prada and its sister brand, Miu Miu. In 2005, Prada opened with Sasha Pivovarova, a then-unknown Russian art student who would go on to represent the brand for six consecutive seasons. Long before she was omnipresent in ads for Céline, Daria Werbowy was successful when opening Prada’s Spring 2004 show and landed a contract. Models like Suvi KoponenKatlin Aas, Lindsey Wixson, Arizona Muse, Vanessa Axente,Maartje Verhoef, and Amanda Murphy all came into their own with appearances at Prada. Even this season’s key catwalkers, like Lineisy Montero and Willow Hand, began with—you guessed it—Prada.

WATCH the Prada Spring 2016 ready-to-wear show Note:(if you’re receiving this post via e-mail please click on the title at the very top of this page & scroll down to view):

Source: Janelle Okwodu for Vogue

Food – slow cooked Mexican Mole

Aside from Tamales, Mole (MOH-lay) is one of my favourite Mexican dishes. 

my mole sauce. Plate brought back from a day trip from San Diego to Ensenada (pretty coastal city in Mexico, the third-largest in Baja California.)

my mole sauce on one of the plates I brought back from a day trip from San Diego to Ensenada (a pretty coastal city in Mexico, the third-largest in Baja California) for great Mexican seafood

Mole is Mexico’s national dish although many Mexican restaurants don’t even have it on their menu.  It may simply be a sauce but one that is not so simple to make. 

 NEVER say NEVER!  I said I’d never make it again but I did, just the other day.  I made the most delicious Mexican Mole with chicken in my slow cooker.  I have to brag about it because it was really as good as any I’ve had before.  Wow…what a statement to make.  I’m good with it though because it really was.  The only other time I made mole was when a Mexican friend came to my house and instructed me how to.  It was a lengthy process that I wasn’t prepared for with too many ingredients, too much assembling, washing, soaking, chopping, frying, blending, mess and cleanup involved.  When I told another Mexican friend that I recently made mole she was surprised.  She said, “hell, I just open up a can of  DOÑA MARÍA®  and serve it over chicken and riceToo much work to make it from scratch.” 

 but then;

I found a recipe that intrigued me because it involved making it in a slow cooker.  My slow cooker has made it out of the garage and occupies priority space on my countertop now as I’ve re-discovered some fantastic flavourful dishes to make in it.  Anyway, I adapted the original recipe slightly (see my notes, it helps to be resourceful) using only what I had in house.  I didn’t go out to pick up any ingredients as I had pretty much everything on hand including the chicken breasts and I felt lazy.  I was ready to attempt it again.  It was worth it. Here goes:


  • 4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 12) *my notes: (I used a package of 8 skinless, boneless chicken breasts cut in half but gave one of them to my dog sans chipotle, so actually 7)
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes
  • 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped *my notes (I used good quality dehydrated chopped onion instead which worked well when rubbed onto the chicken).
  • 2 dried ancho chiles, stemmed *my notes (didn’t have ancho – used extra chipotle chile in adobo sauce instead – you can find the cans in the exotic food section of almost any store and once you open it, it tends to keep a long time refrigerated).
  • 1 large chipotle chile in adobo sauce *my notes (see above – I used less than half a can in total).
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup raisins

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (1/2 cup)  *my notes (I only had unsweetened, semi-sweet and 70% so I used semi-sweet chocolate chips but just a bit less than ½ cup since they’re sweeter).  Later I added a small handful of the 70% (melted first in the microwave) to make the colour darker & add richness.  “I prefer my men, chocolate, and coffee to be rich.”  Ha, couldn’t resist saying that.

  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled *my notes (I used good quality minced garlic from California – also rubbed on the chicken).
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Fresh cilantro leaves, for serving *my notes (I used chopped green onion)


  1. Recipe says to first season chicken with salt *My Notes (I rubbed coarse kosher salt, minced garlic, chopped dehydrated onion and a bit of *McCormick Cocoa Chili Blend “great new find” on the chicken pieces) and place in a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker.20150925_115629
  2. In a blender (or preferably food processor), puree tomatoes, onion, ancho and chipotle chiles, almonds, raisins, chocolate, garlic, oil, cumin, and cinnamon until smooth.mole2
  3. Add tomato mixture to slow cooker, cover, and cook on high until chicken is tender, 4 hours (or 8 hours on low). *my notes (I started 2 hours on high, and switched to low for 4 hours). I added extra dry garlic & onion sprinkles to the mix to make up for the lack of fresh.  This coming from someone who just finished using fresh garlic braids from Gilroy, the garlic capital of California.
  4. Serve chicken and sauce over rice, topped with cilantro. Tortillas optional.mole1


As you can see, i adapted the recipe quite a bit for what I had on hand – but it worked out fabulously.  be careful to use the *right chocolate though.  you can substitute semi-sweet for bittersweet but only if you must, never with unsweetened or milk chocolate. I served it over rice with tiny tortillas (warmed up in the oven) on the side.  You may want to try the original knowing that you can do either.

*Substituting Chocolate

The good news is this: bittersweet and semisweet are very similar. Bittersweet chocolate is often now labeled “dark chocolate” and clearly lists the percentage of chocolate. That percentage tells you how sweet the chocolate will be: chocolate labeled “70% chocolate” contains 30% sugar, “60% chocolate” contains 40% sugar, and so on.  Semisweet chocolate tends to be higher in sugar than bittersweet or dark chocolate, but there can be overlap.

The bottom line: if your recipe calls for bittersweet chocolate, you can use dark or semisweet, and when using semisweet, you can go just a little light on the sugar (for baking purposes that is).

Have you made Mole?

Original recipe: Martha Stewart

ART in a Heartbeat

Balloons always remind me of birthday parties or open houses.  A cause for celebration!balloons5

An art installation of 100,000 white balloon clusters, sculpted into the shape of magnificent clouds…or one glorious bubble bath.

Let me explain….Covent Gardens has commissioned French artist Charles Pétillon, famous for his playful balloon ‘invasions’, to create his first ever installation in a public space called “Heartbeat.” A pulsating light beams into the installation a little like a heartbeat which is meaning to indicate the notion of Covent Garden as one of London’s most central structures. balloons3

An incredibly photographic display.  Wish I were there to see it in person.  But just like a heartbeat… has come and gone.

And just like a heart…balloons break

Photo: d. king (Kits Beach)

Photo: d. king (Kits Beach)

Other photos: google images