Confessions of a Former Redken Model

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Gina’s Hair among the cherry blossoms at Potomac Park, Washington DC. Photo by Karen S. Nutini. Edit by Gina Genis

“I can’t go out to dinner tonight. I have to wash my hair”. This sounds like a flimsy excuse a woman uses to get out of a date. In my case, it’s no excuse.

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Gina’s Hair along the Riverwalk, SW DC. Photo by Karen S. Nutini. Edit by Gina Genis

My hair controls me. Sometimes I feel like nothing more than a host body my hair can survive on. It is a long unruly mess that I expect birds to nest in someday. In fact, birds are drawn to it. I cannot count how many times they have plopped a poop on my hair. True story: I was once driving 50 mph down Venice Blvd in Culver City, CA with my sun roof open. A seagull flying high above decided to take a poop, and believe it or not, it came through the sunroof and splatted all over my hair, hand and gear shift stick.

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Seagulls looking for their target. Photo by Karen S. Nutini. Edit by Gina Genis

Gina Photographing at Potomac Park along the Washington Channel

Gina’s Hair in the wind making it difficult to photograph the Washington Channel. Photo by Karen S. Nutini. Edit by Gina Genis

My hair takes a good portion of the evening to wash and dry. From shampoo to blow dry, its an easy 2-3 hours depending on how much conditioning  and blow drying is necessary on that particular night. More is needed in wet and humid conditions, less when the air is dry. Humidity turns my head into a massive, frizzy Lion King mane that is not my best look. Someday I will figure out how many hours of my life have been spent caring for my hair. I’ll bet it’s more than the time I spend eating.

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Gina’s Hair during a photo shoot

My hair is like wearing a blanket. Nice in winter, but I overheat in summer. It is braided 50% of the time due to high humidity or the need to keep it off my neck, which seems to be the temperature gauge for my whole body. I have been asked “why don’t you cut it off?” I tried that once. It was a disaster. There is not a product out there that prevents my hair from frizzing out in to a scene out of a horror film. When it is long I can put it in an elegant braid and I’m good to go.

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Starting a long, loose braid

I know it’s time to cut my hair when I’m walking down a city street on a windy day and my hair pulls me back by catching on a newspaper rack. I recently chopped off 10″.

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All tangled up

Here’s a secret. I use to be a Redken model. The hair product company loved my hair because they found it was indestructible. In fact, they would do 5 different colors and 5 different styles all in one day. We would start with my hair at waist length, cut, color and style, and repeat this 4 more times. When we finished, my hair would be shoulder length and medium brown or red. It is so strong, there was no damage at all. The only problem was my head felt like it had been to they gym after not exercising for two years. So sore I couldn’t brush or even touch it for at least a week.

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The Flip Off

Redken use to fly a stylist named Jeffrey all the way from Canada to Los Angeles to work on my hair because he understood it so well. On one occasion, at a runway show at the Bonaventure Hotel in LA, Jeffrey finished cutting my hair and wanted a “big hair” look. He turned me over to an assistant saying “don’t do a thing to her hair. It will explode on it’s own”. Needless to say I don’t need shampoos with volume enhancers.

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Contemplation. Or – thinking about which evening to give up to wash and dry

Next time you wish you had long, thick hair, remind yourself how envious I am of you being able to step in and out of a shower and have your hair completely dry in 15 minutes.

 

Cherry Blossoms Along the Tidal Basin

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Cherry Blossoms frame the Jefferson Memorial across the Tidal Basin

It’s here. The time of year when the trees turn pink and white with an explosion of cherry blossoms. DC is never more lovely. Each day, after work, I take a stroll to the Tidal Basin, camera on my neck looking for photo ops. It is true the cold snap DC experienced after the unseasonably warm February destroyed many of the blossoms, but it is still a photographer’s dream. *Note: I originally posted this article on March 29, 2017. On April 1, my friend and professional photographer, Karen S. Nutini and I visited the cherry blossoms at Potomac Park. This time we got playful with my hair. Take a look at the last three photos.

Cherry Blossoms and a Book

A woman unknowingly strikes a perfect pose in my viewfinder

There are tents set up with food, live music, gift shop and information booth. Be aware the parking lot has been appropriated by these tents, so there is no parking nearby. I suggest public transportation, Capital Bikeshare or car share. Be prepared for crowded conditions. Everyone wants to experience the beauty. There are many tourists from other countries, so put on your hospitality hat and be kind and helpful.

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Cherry Blossoms bring many people to the Tidal Basin

The DC cherry blossoms have a long history of more than 100 years. Click this link to find out more about the Cherry Blossom Festival and History.

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The Washington Monument and Cherry Blossoms

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Jefferson Memorial and Cherry Blossoms

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Cherry Blossoms looking over the Tidal Basin

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A black and white version of the Cherry Blossoms and the Jefferson Memorial

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Another black and white version of the Cherry Blossoms

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A view of the Tidal Basin towards SW DC with the Wharf Development on the far right

Make sure you visit the Tidal Basin soon. The blossoms are fading quickly. I’d love to see some of your photos.

Gina Photographing at Potomac Park along the Washington Channel

Gina photographing the Cherry Blossoms at Potomac Park

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Gina’s Hair among the Cherry Blossoms

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The ultimate hair adornment – Cherry Blossoms

Women’s March On Washington DC

January 21, 2017 is now marked in history as the day women (and men) gathered in cities all over the world to stand up for women’s rights.  From equal pay to reproductive rights, over 500,000 voices in DC alone demanded to be heard. Speakers included Gloria Steinem, Michael Moore, Angela Davis, Alicia Keys, Ashley Judd, and so many more who inspired the crowds. There were over 4 hours of speeches before the March began.  Signs were colorful, funny, poignant, and sometimes angry. The gray, chilly day did not dampen the energy of determined people to stand for hours and walk over 1 mile in unity. The color pink predominated and stood out strongly against the drab sky. Here are some of the sights from Washington DC. All images © Gina Genis. Sharing permitted with credit.

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Rosie the Riveter lives on in Destinee Cushing, a stylist specializing in vintage hair styles

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I miraculously bumped in to my friends from Arlington

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A minority of people protested the protesters

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A minority of people protested the protesters

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A minority of people protested the protesters

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Wall to wall people

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Military presence keeps the people safe with the Capitol Building in the background

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The Washington Monument Oversees the Crowds

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People Perched in Trees

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Bubbles of Hope

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Before the March started

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The Port-a-Potty lines

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Capitol Bike Share was overwhelmed

Turn Your Leftover Holiday Turkey Into a Tasty Soup

Turn your turkey leftovers in to a healthy and hearty soup

Tasty Turkey Leftover Soup with Pita Chips and Hummus

I can’t get enough turkey with all the yummy side dishes that go with it. I always want leftovers, but sometimes there’s not enough to fill a plate with slices of meat with stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. I have developed a recipe for a very tasty turkey and vegetable soup that is quick and easy to make. You can turn a small amount of turkey leftovers into 8 servings of this soup. I use my crock pot so I can throw all the ingredients in not have to baby sit a big pot on the stove.

This is what you need:

Turn your turkey leftovers in to a healthy and hearty soup

Ingredients for Tasty Turkey Leftover Soup

Turkey leftovers – as much as you want to throw in

1 – 12 oz package of mixed vegetables. I like the carrot, broccoli, cauliflower blend but you can use any mix you like.

About 10 Fingerling potatoes. The purple, red and yellow colors of these small potatoes give the soup a festive look. You can also use any other kind of potato that is readily available.

1 shallot or small onion

3 cloves of garlic

8 cups of water

8 teaspoons of chicken base. See the photo for my favorite brand. It is a concentrated paste instead of the dry bullion cubes. I think it has better flavor.

1 teaspoon each of the following dried spices; Thyme, Rosemary and Marjoram

3 bay leaves

1/8 teaspoon of black pepper (optional)

1/8 teaspoon of salt (optional). I use the low sodium chicken base, so I add a small amount of salt. If you use the full sodium chicken base, do not add salt. There is plenty of salt in the base already.

This is how you prepare your soup:

*Pour the water in the crock pot, add the chicken base

*Chop the fingerling potatoes, garlic, and shallot, add to the crock pot. Add vegetables.

Turn your turkey leftovers in to a healthy and hearty soup

The Chopped Fingerling Potatoes

Turn your turkey leftovers in to a healthy and hearty soup

The Chopped Garlic and Shallot

*Add all of the spices

*Set your crock pot on high for the soup to be finished in about 6 hours or on low if you are going to be at work all day and need a longer cooking time.

*Stir the soup to make sure the chicken base is thoroughly dissolved and evenly spread in the soup. Add the turkey leftovers when the soup in finished. Since the turkey is already cooked, all you need to do is heat it up. It won’t take long to get hot when the soup is finished and at maximum heat.

*Let your finished soup cool then serve with crusty bread or my favorite, pita chips and hummus.

This soup is great as a stand alone vegetable soup too. You don’t need turkey to enjoy it all year round.

Boring Boots? Decorate Them With Your Old Jewelry

Decorate your old boots

My plain and tired boots

Don’t you love when green leaves turn to gold and the temperature drops enough to bring your boots to the front of your closet? I get bored with the ones I’ve had for years, but they are broken in to the point of irreplaceable comfort. A new pair of boots can’t walk me all over DC without hurting my feet.

So what do I do? I dig through my jewelry box. Just like my boots, I get tired of old costume jewelry when I buy new pieces. It’s easy to give your worn boots a second life with the bling from your necklaces and pins. I get excited about my shoes all over again and I’m comfortable at the same time. My friends think I buy new boots every year, but all I do is add the jewels.

Decorate your old boots

Some Jewelry I don’t wear anymore

Since the holidays are upon us, it’s the perfect time to stylize your boots. I buy ankle length pants to show them off. Pairing your newly decorated boots with a velvet skirt adds a unique element all your own. Get creative and let your style shine through.

Decorate your old boots

I’m in love with my boots all over again

If you can’t help yourself and really want a brand new pair of boots, buy a color instead of black or brown. I love blue knee-high boots with my jeans because they make my legs look longer when there is one color from waist to ankle. For fun, I pair red or purple boots with an all black outfit. Olive green suede is always classy with cream or brown. Then add your personal touch of jewels, and you are looking like a Vogue cover.

Homemade Chocolate Peppermint Patties – The Perfect Treat

Peppermint Patties

Homemade Chocolate Peppermint Patties

I have a passion for peppermint patties. It doesn’t matter what time of year. In summer, I like to keep them in the refrigerator and pop a couple in my mouth when the temperature and humidity slap me in the face. In winter, the dark chocolate enriches the minty morsel and is a great companion for a late afternoon cup or coffee or tea.

I recently decided to try making them myself. It is surprisingly quick and easy. If you’d like to give it a go, here’s what you need and how you make them.

Peppermint Patties

Ingredients for Homemade Peppermint Patties

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup softened Butter

1/3 cup Light Corn Syrup – you can substitute this for a healthier ingredient if you like

1 tsp Peppermint Extract

3 cups Powered Sugar

2 cups Ghiradelli Premium Chocolate Semi-Sweet Baking Chips

2 tablespoons Nonpareil Color Decorating Sprinkles (optional)

TOOLS: mixing bowl, fork, wax paper, 2 cup glass measuring cup, 40 mini baking cups (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Combine butter, corn syrup, peppermint extract and powered sugar in a mixing bowl. Mix the ingredients together with whatever tool you like – electric mixer, electric whisk, or just you own hands if you like – until the ingredients are fully blended and form a sticky dough.

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The blended ingredients

2. Pinch a piece of the dough, roll it into a circle in your palms, then flatten it to the size of a quarter or half-dollar. Place these pieces on wax paper. You can use a flat tray under the wax paper for stability and convenience if you like. You will be able to make approximate 40 patties depending on how large or small you roll them. When you finish, put the patties in the freezer for 15 minutes. The patties need to be very cold so they don’t melt when you dip them in the melted chocolate. Get the mini baking cups ready.

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Quarter-size patties on wax paper ready for the freezer

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Mini baking cups

3. Melt 2 cups of baking chips in a glass container in the microwave for 1 minute 20 seconds. Stir them until well blended. Let cool for 1 minute.

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Melted chocolate

4. Take the patties out of the freezer and dip each one in chocolate, coating both sides. Use the fork to dip and bring them out of the chocolate. Tap off excess chocolate. Place each one in a mini baking cup. Sprinkle with nonpareils for decoration and color. *Note* I like using the baking cups because they keep the chocolate from getting all over the place. The first time I tried this recipe, I got myself and the kitchen covered in dripping chocolate. The clean up took longer than making the peppermint patties. Mini baking cups keep it quick and clean.

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Dip the patties in the chocolate

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Place patties in mini baking cups

Peppermint Patties

Sprinkle with Nonpareils

5. Serve cold or at room temperature. You can remove them from the mini baking cups before serving if you like.

*Tip* If you have extra chocolate left over, don’t discard it. Heat it up again and pour in some milk for a rich, delicious cup of hot chocolate.

Store the peppermint patties in an air tight container in the freezer, refrigerator, or at room temperature.

You can make these for school fundraisers, office parties, holiday parties, or as a hostess gift. Last and certainly not least, remember to keep some for yourself.

 

 

 

Gina’s Savory Italian Topping – Big On Yum Factor

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The Yum Factor in my Savory Italian Topping can’t be beat

Everyone has a “go to” meal that is fast to prepare, tasty, and easy to clean up. Today, I will share mine with you. I call it Savory Italian Topping because I use it on almost everything I eat. It adds a punch of flavor to meat, fish, chicken, potatoes, scrambled eggs, crusty bread, and just about anything you can imagine. It’s a guiltless recipe because it is low fat and low cholesterol. I always have a fresh batch in my refrigerator.

Here’s how you make it. You will need the following ingredients which are all easy to find.

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Ingredients for Gina’s Savory Italian Topping

2 cups of Grape Tomatoes, cut in half

1 cup of whole pitted Kalmata Olives, cut in half

3 tablespoons of Olive Oil

3 tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar (I happen to love balsamic, so I use equal parts to the olive oil. If you don’t like it as much as I do, cut back to 2 tablespoons)

3 cloves of Garlic

1 small Shallot (small white or brown onion will work as well)

Pinch of Salt

Pinch of Pepper

If you can find the following ingredients fresh, all the better. I made this recipe in fall when my balcony garden has withered, so I am using dried ingredients. Here’s the info for both fresh or dried:

Dried: mix oregano, basil, rosemary, in equal amounts until you have 1 1/2 teaspoons of all three mixed together. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.

Fresh: 4 medium size basil leaves, 3 medium size oregano leaves, 1 sprig of Rosemary. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.

Let’s start cooking.

1. Use a 10″ or 12″ skillet and add the olive oil and balsamic vinegar

2. Chop the garlic and shallot and add it to the skillet

3. Add the oregano, basil, rosemary, salt and pepper.

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Ten inch skillet with olive oil, balsamic, oregano, rosemary, basil, salt and pepper

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Chopped garlic and shallot

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Kalmata olives and grape tomatoes cut in half

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All of the ingredients together in the skillet

Turn your stove on to a medium-low heat. I use number 3 setting. Cover with a grease splatter cover so the olive oil doesn’t get all over you or your stove. Set your kitchen timer for 8 minutes and stir at least 4 times throughout the cooking period.

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Set your kitchen timer for 8 minutes

Your batch of Gina’s Savory Italian Topping is finished after 8 minutes and the ingredients are caramelized. The entire cooking process only takes about 12 minutes and you have a batch of topping that you can use whenever you want.

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Gina’s Savory Italian Topping is finished after 8 minutes

Store this topping in a glass container because the tomatoes will stain plastic an orange color. Put it in the refrigerator and bring it out to heat up whenever you want.

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Store Gina’s Savory Italian Topping in a glass container

By now you should be hungry. Just the aroma of garlic and shallots is enough to make your mouth water. Use it on turkey burgers, hash browns and scrambled eggs, with crusty bread, on cheese slices, with baked chicken, or use your imagination. Please let me know if you have a new way of eating this delicious topping. I’d love to hear it.