September 27, 2012 Heading East


NYC 2 Heading East

I love NYC.  I mean, it’s energy, it’s culture, it’s grit.  I love it all and I love that I get to go at least once a year!   Every year my family convenes in this incredible city for a long weekend.  We eat, we shop, we eat some more and then we exercise.  It’s become a tradition to run the Tunnel to Towers race.  It follows the path Stephen Siller, and FDNY firefighter took on 9-11 from Brooklyn, through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and up to the World Trade Center.  It’s incredibly emotional and a really powerful thing.   Fire fighters and police officers come from around the world to run, most of them in their full gear, just as Stephen Siller did.  There are flags, cheerleaders, bands and some amazing patriotism.

On our first run in 2010, Chris shot some amazing footage of the race and you can see the video here.  Still brings tears to my eyes.

If you’re going to be in the NYC area this Sunday, you should definitely come out!  It will definitely be one of the more amazing things you’ll ever do.

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September 17, 2012 Cocktail Hour: Sgroppino


Although it doesn’t quite feel like it in Los Angeles yet, it seems that summer is coming to a close.  The nights are longer, there’s the tiniest hint of a chill in the air, and the roads are packed with little ones heading to and from school.  So, as a last ode to a wonderful summer, Jess made a sgroppino for me.  Mario Batali touts it as the perfect way to “untie the knot” from a deliciously filling dinner.  And I couldn’t agree more!   It’s the perfect concoction to sip on the back porch at the end of a long day.  Enjoy!

End of Summer 1 Cocktail Hour: Sgroppino




1 cup vodka

1 pint lemon gelato

1/2 bottle of prosecco

1 cup ice cups


Pour all ingredients into a blender and blend until frothy and smooth.  Pour into chilled champagne flutes or coupes.

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Sometimes, Jess recommends books to me that really make me wonder about her.  How could she possibly enjoy this?  Or think that I might enjoy it?  A teen romance?!  And then I read it, because she has never ever steered me wrong.  This book is fantastic.  It makes me wish I had been this girl when I was in high school.  Or even known that I could have been this girl in high school!

Oh, and just a note… this book is incredibly heavy!  It’s not that big, but it’s super heavy.  One of those that you think you should buy for an e-reader, but the illustrations are so good, you really must see it in full color!

Skirball 057 Flipping Pages: Why We Broke Up

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Hey Everybody! Summer is officially OVER and this week’s got me looking forward to Autumn (or the extended summer we have here in LA) and looking backward with longing at what used to be my favorite time of year: Back to School. It’s sick, I know, but I used to get excited at the promise of new assignments, fresh school supplies and end-of-summer gossip (I went to school when people were much less technologically connected). I thought we should read something that takes us back to that time, when the week after Labor Day meant new beginnings and cool breezes and being a grown-up was something to be put off for as long as possible.

Full-Disclosure: this is a Young Adult book. But that’s ok! We were all Young Adults once…not so long ago! I’m not sure what it was about this book that piqued my interest. Perhaps it was the illustrations by one of my favorites, Maira Kalman. Or I just have strong urges to revisit those formative years of my youth and remember what it was like for everything to be so downright new. Why We Broke Up is a letter from Min to her former boyfriend, Ed, detailing all the ways their short love affair was just plain wrong. I love that Daniel Handler, sometimes also known as Lemony Snicket, so totally nails what it’s like to be a confused and yet very cool teenage girl. Ed repeatedly tells Min she’s “not like other girls.” In fact, she is. She could be any of us, really. She meets a popular guy at a party, he pursues her, she is completely enchanted by him and blind to some pretty huge warning signs.

After I read this little gem, I had a marathon session of My So-Called Life episodes, an old favorite that shares so much in common with the book. The show aired when I was a sophomore in high school, and it was truly the first time I saw characters on television that could’ve been plucked straight from the halls of my school. The show beautifully represented what it was like to be a teenager in the late 90′s and it was refreshing to finally see that I wasn’t alone out there, that whatever I was going through was fairly normal. So sad that they only filmed one season! (And what’s even more disturbing: I found myself identifying with the parents in the show this time around! Noooo!) The entire season is available on Netflix, Amazon and iTunes, so definitely catch it if you haven’t already!

xo, Jessica


There’s a Tumblr page that people can post their own break-up stories on…adorbs!
This page is a collection of posts that Daniel has responded to…hilarious!

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I have a beautiful Pinterest board full of amazing looking desserts.  Things that literally make my mouth water.  But I hate making anything on it unless I have other people to eat it.  Otherwise, I definitely make a few trips to the kitchen while I’m supposed to be working to nibble.  And if I nibble all day long, all of the dessert disappears.

But recently, I just had to make something.  I wanted to bake!  Even though there was no where to take it!  So, I opened up my Pinterest app, took a quick spin through the board, threw my finger down and landed on this beautiful Cherry Cake.  Decided there would be less nibbling if I made cupcakes instead (and I could force Chris to take some to his office!)  Deeelicious!   So good!  They are now all gone. Opps.

cupcakes 001 In The Kitchen: Cherry Cupcakes

Cherry cake

Adapted From Call Me Cupcake
100 g softened butter

1 3/4 sugar

1 cup milk

1/2 tsp vanilla powder or 1/2 vanilla bean

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 large egg whites

2 tbsp kirsch liqueur

Handful of fresh cherries

Pink food coloring


1. Heat oven to 175° (350F).

2. Butter and flour two 15 cm/6 inch baking pans.

3. Beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add milk and vanilla powder (or scrape out the seeds in the vanilla bean). Mix until smooth. Set aside.

4. Measure flour and baking powder in a bowl and mix it with the butter mixture. Add the egg whites and mix for 2 minutes. Add kirsch and mix until smooth. Divide the cake batter evenly between two bowls and dye with pink food coloring into two different pink shades.

5. Pour the batter into the two prepared pans. Add some pitted and sliced cherries to one of the cakes (or both if you want to).

6. Bake the cakes for about 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.


Buttercream Frosting

Adapted From The Food Network

2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 to 2 tablespoons milk


In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.

Add vanilla and milk and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more milk if needed for spreading consistency.

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September 3, 2012 In The Kitchen: Smoothies


I’ve been eating the same thing for breakfast every day for about six months.  I thought I would get bored.  I thought I’d be over it.  But it’s so freakin’ tasty I actually get excited for it.  Excited for vegetables for breakfast!?  What?!  Turns out, smoothies are delicious.

I juice whatever I happen to have in the fridge at the beginning of the week.  Kale, broccoli, apples, pears, zucchini… anything that I think will have a lot of liquid.  Then I put half of it in an airtight bottle and freeze the other half into ice cubes.  Makes breakfast super easy every morning.  A few ice cubes, spinach, berries, avocado, banana and enough juice to blend it all together.  Done & done and healthy :-)  I always make sure to add either a banana, half an avocado or mango, or all three actually.  They make the results so smooth & creamy.  Honestly, I sometimes consider how healthy this can actually be because it’s so delicious.

smoothie 001 In The Kitchen: Smoothies


Smoothie, Makes 2


5 Frozen Juice Cubes

Handful of Spinach

Handful of berries (strawberries, blueberries or raspberries are my favorite!)

1 banana, 1/2 avocado or 1 mango (or two, or three)

Fresh Vegetable Juice (enough to blend everything together)

Throw it all in the blender and let it whirl!

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Le Divorce took me right back to France.   But it made me feel that I was actually French.  Or, at least learning a lot about the French.  She does such an amazing job of demonstrating the cultural differences between Americans & the French.  Makes me want to pack up and move!

Well, until that happens, I can drink some tea and nosh on a few Madeleines.  They are so simple, so delicious, so light, so amazing.  I want to take a nap on a Madeleine.  It would be heaven!

Jess adapted the receipe from a Laduree book, Laduree: The Sweet Recipes. Just a note, if you’re looking for an amazing gift, this book is it!   It’s so beautiful you almost don’t want to ruin it by opening it too wide.  It comes in a beautiful box, wrapped in tissue paper.  It’s thick, fluffy and gilded.  Ridiculous.


cupcakes 0022 In The Kitchen: Madeleines

cupcakes 0032 In The Kitchen: Madeleines

cupcakes 0042 In The Kitchen: Madeleines

cupcakes 0052 In The Kitchen: Madeleines

Adapted from Laduree: The Sweet Recipes

Makes 24 individual madeleines or 60 mini madeleines.


2 lemons, unwaxed

3/4 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar

1 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp cake flour, plus extra flour for moulds

2 tsp baking powder

12 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, plus extra for moulds

4 eggs

1 2/3 honey


Prepare madeleine dough one day ahead.

1. Using a grater, remove zest from the lemons. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine sugar with lemon zest. In a separate bowl, sift together flour and baking powder. Gently melt the butter in a separate bowl.

2. Add eggs and honey to the lemon and sugar mixture and whip until pale and frothy. Gently fold in the flour mixture until just combined. Add the melted butter and combine. Refrigerate batter for a minimum of 12 hours in a closed container.

3. The following day, melt 1 1/2 tbsp of butter and using a pastry brush, butter the moulds. Refrigerate for 15 min to allow butter to harden. Lightly dust them with flour, turn upside down and tap out any excess flour. If you do not fill the moulds immediately, return them to the refrigerator.

4. Preheat oven to 390 degrees. Fill moulds 3/4 to the top with batter. Place in the oven and bake: mini madeleines for 5-6 minutes, regular madeleines for 8-10 minutes. When golden, remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before removing from moulds.

Serve madeleines luke warm. If you do not plan on serving them right after baking, allow to cool and store in an airtight container, so they will stay soft and moist. Even if you’re using nonstick moulds, it’s still necessary to butter and flour them.

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I have a French problem.  I am obsessed with all things French.  The food, the language, the culture, the cafes.  All of it.  So, when Jessica recommended Le Divorce I was super excited.  But when her copy had Kate Hudson & Naomi Watts on the cover, I was concerned.  How good could this book be!?  Turns out, real good.  If your copy has Kate Hudson on the cover, push through it and flip through.  It’s delicious!

ledivorce Flipping Pages: Le Divorce

Le Divorce by Diane Johnson

Isn’t Paris delicious? Let’s go there right now. Zero airfare required. Actually, this novel is more than 10 years old, so you can get a paperback for about the cost of two coffees. Score! (Unfortunately, it might have Kate Hudson and Naomi Watts on the cover, from the film adaptation. I recently watched it again, and I have to say, it’s not as bad as I remember. Hudson is horribly mis-cast, but it’s a Merchant Ivory film…how bad can it really be?)

Le Divorce is about Isabel, an American girl who moves to Paris to help her sister, Roxy, during her pregnancy and through the birth of her second child. When Isabel arrives in the city, she finds that Roxy’s upper-crusty husband’s run out on her and is living with another woman (also married to someone else) . It’s all quite scandalous, as he’s left Roxy pregnant with a toddler in tow. His family knows the whole story and the way they handle things is very French. As in, they act like nothing has happened, more or less. Things start to get a bit prickly when the matter of a divorce is raised, along with the separation of their assets. They have practically nothing, except a painting Roxy took to Paris with her from her parent’s home in Santa Barbara. Questions are raised about the value and authenticity of the painting and both the American and French families become involved in the struggle over this piece of art that Roxy has loved since she was young. Toward the end, the book becomes very suspenseful, which I didn’t expect, but thoroughly enjoyed. Nestled in with all of this intrigue is Isabel’s coming of age. You know the story. American Girl in Paris. Sowing her wild oats…all those cliches. Cliches that are fun to read about, it turns out. She has several affairs (one most notably with a much older man), learns to form an opinion and live on her own, becomes a “citizen of the world”. We see everything through her eyes. Her American, impossibly young and incredibly self-centered eyes. And she’s hilarious. She reminds me of myself around the time I visited Paris for the first time, a 21-year-old who thought she had things figured out, but turned out to know nearly nothing at all. (Here’s a picture of me, chewing gum like a teenager. Sigh.)

Jess 1024x647 Flipping Pages: Le Divorce

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August 24, 2012 Wanderlusting: Madrid


Two days in hot Barcelona, and we headed to even hotter Madrid.  The architecture is so absolutely incredible in Madrid.  It’s so beautiful and I wish I could wander the streets and just shoot.  Except that it was 105 degrees and I mostly just wanted to die.  So, we wandered, we siesta’d, we drank cava and we took many cold showers!

Chris has always wanted to take a high speed train.  It’s on his bucket list!  So, even though it’s a lot more expensive, and even though it was kind of a pain to get the tickets, we took the train from Barcelona to Madrid.  But, I will say it was so much easier than flying!   You just walk on, sit, and then walk off!  So much less painful than flying!

Hands down, my favorite thing about Madrid was the markets.  There are so many of them, each one more fabulous than the last.   We actually went to Mercado de San Anton twice.  I loved El Brillante for the Bocadillo de Calamares… they were heavenly!  And, taking our cue from Hemingway, Cerveceria Alemana for the coldest beer in town.

I feel like I would really love Madrid had we been even the tiniest bit comfortable… maybe we go back soon? icon smile Wanderlusting: Madrid

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And thus ends our summer European adventure!  Next up, Fall in Paris to run my first half marathon!  I just started training and I’m pretty much dreading long-run-Thursdays!

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I hate ordering a caipirinha at a bar because, well, I never remember quite how to say it.  It always falls out of my mouth, a pile of i’s.  Something about it always gets me tied up.  But it’s usually worth it.  Because it’s incredibly delicious!

Caipirinha’s are Brazilian, and just the thing to perk Dr. Marina Singh up after a long day in the Amazon.  Ha!  They’re made with cachaça, lime & sugar.  Something so simple that tastes so incredibly complex.  It’s light & refreshing, a perfect way to round out a hot summer day!

caiprinhia 001 Cocktail Hour: Caipirinha

… Caipirinha

2 oz cachaça

Juice of 1 lime

four lime wedges

2 tablespoons simple syrup

Squeeze the lime wedges into a glass with ice.  Add cachaça, lime juice & simple syrup.  Stir to combine.  Enjoy!

note – you can use sugar instead of simple syrup, but it never dissolves quite as nicely!

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State of Wonder was one of the first books that Jess recommended for me.  It made me fall in love with reading again after a, ahem, seven year hiatus.  It’s fun and fascinating and the story unfolds so beautifully.  A must read!

stateofwonder Flipping Pages: State Of Wonder

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Oooooh…let’s go on an adventure! Into the heart of the Amazon (not my sadly beloved e-commerce site, which wouldn’t count for much of an adventure, unless we planned on making a purchase large enough to stop hearts)! Let’s venture deep into the heart of the jungle with one of my very favorite authors, Ann Patchett. I promise you I will not write the words “jungle” and “fever” together in this post. Crossing heart, hoping to whatever. Although, malaria is a huge issue raised in this lovely romp of a book. But in a more serious way. Seriously.

In State of Wonder, we meet Dr. Marina Singh, a pharmaceutical researcher whose colleague dies after he’s sent into the Amazon to check up on yet another researcher’s progress in developing a valuable mystery drug. The details of her colleague’s death are unclear, his progress unreported. The big guns at the company she works for are anxious to get the famously brilliant and notoriously secretive Dr. Swenson under their control, to begin making lots of money off of her discoveries. So, Marina follows in her dead co-worker’s footsteps, traveling to Brasil and tracking Dr. Swenson all the way to a tiny undiscovered and completely sheltered community deep in the Amazon. We all read Conrad’s Heart of Darkness in high school, right? There are echoes of that story here, but it’s far from an adaptation. There’s mystery and a good bit of suspense around Dr. Swenson’s work. What has she found in the jungle? Will it change the world and modern medicine forever? Was she involved in the death of Marina’s colleague?

I don’t want to say much more and spoil everything for you, but let me just say: this book is just so much fun. I like to travel as much as the next gal, but I don’t have the guts to get on a dingy and disappear into the jungle. Bad stuff happens there. Stuff no one will ever know about. No thanks! I’d rather read about it. Maybe that’s a tiny part of why I loved this book so much. And why you might, too.

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