RIP Michele Ferrero, Creator of Nutella

Nutella RiP

Michele Ferrero, Italian entrepreneur, chocolate manufacturer and creator of Nutella, the chocolate hazelnut spread beloved the world over, passed away quietly at the age of 89 on Valentine’s Day.  Many a scrumptious recipe has been developed (not to mention a blog post written) and a diet hastily broken by this delightfully sinful concoction.  Some of my favorite ways of indulging in Nutella are spreading it on a rice cake topped with raspberries, or swirling it on pancakes, sliced strawberries or English muffins. Of course, spooning it straight out of the jar works too.  And although I’ve never baked with Nutella, this Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction might get me to put down the spoon and get out the baking sheet.
Rest in peace Mr. Ferrero; regardless of how I get my Nutella fix, my spoon salutes you.

 

nutella with raspberries

Looking for more Nutella recipes? Check out Nutella: The 30 Best Recipes. Do you have a favorite recipe involving Nutella? Let me know in the comments!

“Born In The Wild”? My Teen Says No, Thank You!

Have you seen the ads for the new Lifetime reality series “Born in the Wild”? According to their website, in this new series “families take one step beyond homebirth and make the powerful choice to experience childbirth in the great outdoors. No inductions, no epidurals…just expectant mothers facing and giving birth in the arms of Mother Nature. They’ll take on the unique challenges of their natural environment, tackling every obstacle the wilderness can dish out in order to realize their dream of an outdoor birth.”
Okay.
Quite possibly the best birth control video ever, my 14-year-old son thought the commercial was pretty graphic, which depicts a woman laying in “Mother Nature’s arms” (aka the dirt), with the baby literally bursting out of her vajayjay (the action was blurred but it was pretty obvious what was going on). “I can’t unsee that!!” he moaned, covering his eyes with his hands and worrying aloud about the possibility of retinal scarring. Unable to hide my amusement, I quipped, “Hey, what goes in must come out, right?”
Clearly horrified that perhaps I was about to launch into yet another TED talk (Terrifyingly Embarrassing Discussion) about human sexual reproduction (and all its attendant responsibilities and consequences), he deftly dodged the conversation by profusely apologizing for any pain and suffering he caused me during his birth. Considering that he was born into the arms of a fully licensed medical professional in a nice clean hospital and with the assistance of an epidural, his apology was accepted. He is however trying to figure out how to block the Lifetime channel from our TV lineup. And taking mercy on the poor guy, I tabled any further discussion on this topic for another day.
The show premieres on Tuesday, March 3rd at 10 pm on Lifetime.  My son won’t be watching. Will you? Let me know in the comments!

My Valentine From Supermodel Cindy Crawford

Cindy Crawford2
On this Valentine’s Day I was so thrilled to receive a Valentine, a love letter if you will, from none other than supermodel Cindy Crawford!
Okay, so maybe she didn’t send a Valentine to me personally, but with her non-retouched photos in the April 2015 issue of Marie Claire magazine I feel she’s sending every 40+ woman a major dose of love.  For every woman who’s tired of looking at all the nipped, tucked, tweaked, airbrushed and photoshopped images in magazines, Cindy’s photos are a revealing reality check. In fact, except for the ads, the issue will feature 100% non-retouched photos – imagine that!
Cindy shows us what being 48 years old with two children really looks like – and it’s beautiful.
Will you be buying the April issue of Marie Claire magazine? Let me know in the comments!

happy-valentines-day-2015-greetings

For the ‘Sandwich Generation’ – What to Consider When Choosing a Nursing Home

Like many across the country, my family is part of the ‘Sandwich Generation’. According to a 2013 Pew research report, “nearly half (47 percent) of adults in their 40s and 50s have a parent age 65 or older and are either raising a young child or financially supporting a grown child (age 18 or older).” Being in that position means that sometimes difficult choices have to be made. After much consideration, my mother-in-law, who suffers from late stage dementia, was recently placed in a nursing home. Up until that point she was receiving care in her own home, but a recent illness sparked the realization that she would be better cared for in a nursing facility. After that conclusion was reached  another wrenching decision had to be made: where would she go? The Alzheimer’s Association has an excellent checklist of questions to ask and things to look for when choosing a facility. For example, in the section regarding services provided at the nursing facility, questions include:

  • Do you have an Alzheimer’s program? If so, is it designated as a Special Care Unit, which means the facility is specifically licensed by the state as a special unit?
  • What types of behavioral issues are you able to handle?
  • Do you keep documentation of all the behavior interventions you use? (Interventions are those things the staff should try in order to change or handle Mom’s behavior BEFORE they suggest medication as a solution.)
  • Are there written materials that explain the types of care provided at the facility and the associated costs?
  • Is there an active resident and family council that Mom and I can participate in?
  • Do you offer transportation services to doctor’s offices, dental appointments, etc.?
  • What services are available without leaving the building, such as dental care, vision care, podiatry services, hearing services, hair/beauty salon? Who pays for these services?
  • Are rehabilitation services available, such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy or recreational therapy?

Other sections with questions and things to notice include:

  • The building and environment
  • Resident rooms
  • Resident appearance
  • Dining and meal service
  • Activities
  • Costs
  • Staff
  • Family responsibilities

Please bookmark this checklist for future reference.  The Alzheimer’s Association has a wealth of information regarding care and support, research, and advocacy.  If you have Alzheimer’s in your family (family history can be a risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease), consider having a discussion about the type of care you would like to receive if at some point it becomes necessary. Having a plan can be helpful during an incredibly stressful time.

Watch “The Nursing Home Decision – Memory and Alzheimer’s Disease” from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine:

 

alzheimers-association-logo1Are you part of the Sandwich Generation?  How are you handling it – do you have any tips or suggestions? Let me know in the comments.

 

 

 

I Drive a Volkswagen, but I Love the Acura RDX Commercial (Thanks to Blondie)

Blondie collageIf you were a teenager in the 1980s then you’ll remember Debbie Harry, the platinum-haired songstress known as Blondie. Her waifish prettiness and punk chic edge made girls want to be her and boys fall in love with her. As a medium skin toned, curly-haired brunette there was no way I could imitate the Blondie look, but I copied her signature red pout whenever I could (which means when my mom wasn’t looking). Even my husband has confessed that Blondie was his first celebrity crush.
Call Me, One Way or Another, and Heart of Glass were among the songs that made up the soundtrack of my teenage years. So when I heard the hit Rapture (performed by Chelsea Ranger) featured in the Acura RDX car commercial I felt A) old and B) delighted. I love this song and the commercial is fun (featuring Fab Five Freddy in the boardroom!) Of course I know all the words so singing is mandatory whenever the commercial airs despite my teenage son’s protests (‘Just don’t sing, Mom. Please.’) Here it is, feel free to sing away!  I know I always will.
I love my Volkswagen Passat, but when my lease is up maybe we’ll talk, Acura. Because there’s always room for more Blondie, check out the original Rapture:

‘Uptown Funk’ Goes To School – How an Assignment Turned Into a Viral Video

This week my son had a project due in his music appreciation class. His subject was British musician Mark Ronson, whose collaboration with Bruno Mars resulted in the wildly popular hit ‘Uptown Funk’.  It’s a good thing I love this song – because of his project, I’ve heard it about 50,000 times in the past few days! Apparently Dallas high-school theater teacher Scot Pankey thought it was pretty popular too, because he assigned the song to his students, and the result is a video that’s gone viral (my son and his buddy did a PowerPoint presentation that got an ‘A’ but did not go viral). Here’s the joyous performance by the teacher and his students:

And the video even got a shout-out on Twitter from none other than Bruno Mars himself:

 

 

Pretty cool, huh? Break out your Chucks and Saint Laurent and check out the original video performed by Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson – you’re welcome. :)

Dove Hair Shows Curly Girls Some Love!

Like so many women, I’d spent decades beating my naturally curly hair into straight submission – creams, gels, blow drying, flat irons – I used whatever products were available in a salon, beauty supply store or infomercial to transform my curly locks into straight, shiny, flowing tresses. I had my hair relaxed every 8 weeks, and that led to deep conditioning treatments to counteract all the damage I was subjecting my hair to – all in pursuit of that holy grail called straight hair!
I was in my late 40s when I finally had the confidence to just say screw it, curly hair don’t care! Not to mention that I was risking repetitive motion injury with every turn of that round brush during blow drying. But my curly hair game was truly on when we went on a jam-packed sightseeing trip to Italy.  We were on the go from 7 a.m. in the morning to 9 p.m. at night, and I realized that nobody at the Colosseum cared that my hair wasn’t straight.  I wasn’t turned away at the gates of Vatican City by the Swiss Guard because my head was covered in ringlets.  And what did I see in paintings at the museums? A lot of ladies rocking curly hair!  Thank you, Raphael and Melozzo da Forli!

Art curly collage

Suddenly it was more important to get an early start exploring the ruins of Pompeii than spend an hour blow drying and flat-ironing my hair in the morning.  It’s been nearly four years since I last straightened my hair, and embracing my curls has been easier than I thought it would be, and so much healthier for my hair.
So I was delighted to see Dove’s new curly hair campaign, Love Your Curls.  This campaign focuses on helping young girls embrace their curly texture, from tight coils to loose waves.  We can’t control how the hair grows out of our heads, so it’s nice to see a company like Dove acknowledge that curly hair is beautiful too!  Check out the video below:

Are you a curly hair enthusiast? Stop by NaturallyCurly.com for tips on curly hair care and my Pinterest board for curly hairstyles for both men and women. Also check out my profile on CurlyNikki.com, where you’ll find tips on unleashing your inner curly girl, product reviews and more.
curls varying lengths

My hair at varying lengths during my curly journey!

Maintaining curly hair is infinitely easier with the right cut and products.  I highly recommend getting a haircut at a salon that specializes in curly hair. I go to Devachan Salon, but many salons around the country have hair stylists who are certified in the Devachan or Ouidad cutting technique. While I mostly use Devachan products, I also like Dove Nourishing Curls Whipped Cream MousseNYC Curls, LA Looks, Pantene’s Curly Hair line, and Ouidad products.  Here are the products I use in my curly hair routine:
I start with DevaCurl No-Poo, a non-lathering conditioning cleanser. I continue with DevaCurl One Condition, an ultra-creamy formula that’s great for all curl types. I rinse out most of the conditioner, leaving a light coating, lean forward and with my hair still soaking wet (I do this in the shower), scrunch my hair upwards and apply DevaCurl Ultra Defining Gel,  starting at the roots and work it through to the tips, then scrunch upwards again. I then let my hair air dry or use the DevaCurl Diffuser attachment on my blow dryer if I need to speed up the drying process. Check out more of my curly hair favorites here.
How do you maintain your curly locks or are you still thinking about making the transition? Let me know in the comments!