I love all things French.  All of them.  And their pastries are real high on the list… just behind their wine and their food and their nonchalance.  My absolutely lovely friend Heidi Ryder gave me this beautiful book, Sweet Paris.  Because I love France.  Because I love pretty pictures.  Because she knew there would be some sweets in it for her pretty face icon smile The Eclair Mission: Attempt 1, The Complete & Utter Failure

Clearly, I made my first attempt from this book on one of the toughest pastries included… the éclair.  And it was a disaster.   Well, a delicious disaster, but a disaster none the less.   The pastry didn’t rise.  It was dense and not airy at all.  The filling was lumpy.  I ran it through a sieve and it was fine… but that shouldn’t have happened!  The ganache was delicious, but ganache is always delicious.  So I’ll take the win on the ganache, but it’s not really the most thrilling victory… how can you go wrong with chocolate, sugar and butter!?

I’ve done some research and I think I’m figuring out what went wrong.  Over the next few weeks I’ll be attempting a few other recipes, combining a few different methods and, fingers crossed, coming up with some worthy of the most nonchalant Parisian.

Eclairs 0001 The Eclair Mission: Attempt 1, The Complete & Utter Failure

These guys were so sad and lifeless the filling had to sit on top icon sad The Eclair Mission: Attempt 1, The Complete & Utter Failure
Eclairs 0002 The Eclair Mission: Attempt 1, The Complete & Utter Failure
Eclairs 0003 The Eclair Mission: Attempt 1, The Complete & Utter Failure
Eclairs 0004 The Eclair Mission: Attempt 1, The Complete & Utter Failure

At the end of the day, sugar & chocoalte with my morning coffee isn’t the worst way to start a day.  Or get through a day.  Or end a day.

If you want to make your own attempt, and tell me where I might have gone wrong, this is the recipe I followed word for word.


Classic French Chocolate Eclairs


For the Choux Pastry

2.25 fl oz water

2.25 fl oz whole milk

2 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 tablespoon caster (superfine) sugar

pinch of fine sea salt

3.5 oz plain (all purpose) flour, sieved

4 eggs, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a large baking sheet with baking paper.  Put the water, milk, butter, sugar and salt into a saucepan and bring to the boil.  Take off the heat and slowly fold in the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon until smooth.

Return to a medium heat and stir with a wooden spoon for about 2 minutes until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the eggs, beaten, one at a time until you hae a smooth, dropping consistency.  Spoon the mixture into a large piping bag fitted with a 0.5 inch plain nozzle and leave for 5 minutes or so to cool and stiffen slightly.

Pipe 10 large, sausage-shaped eclair shells about 6 inches long on to the baking sheet, spacing them 2 inches apart to allow room to expand.  Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden brown, then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.  Do not open the oven door during baking, or they will collapse.


For the Chocolate Filling

1 vanilla pod

12 fl oz whole milk

6 egg yolks

3.5 oz caster (superfine) sugar

1.75 oz heavy cream

1 oz all-purpose flour, sifted

1 oz corn starch, sifted

1 oz bittersweet dark chocolate

0.5 oz unsweetened cocoa powder

Slit the vanilla pod lengthwise with a small sharp knife and scrape out the seeds.  Add them, along with the pod, to the milk in a suitable saucepan.  Bring almost to the boil, being careful not to let it burn, then fish out the vanilla pod.

In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks and sugar until creamy.  Add the cream, plain flour and cornflour, and whisk well until smooth.  Slowly pour the hot milk into this mixture, whisking constantly.

Return the milk mixture to the saucepan and bring almost to the boil once more, whisking all the time to prevent any lumps from forming.  Reduce the heat and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes over a very low heat, while continuing to whisk, then pour the mixture into a bowl and cover with cling film to prevent a skin from forming.  Set aside to cool.

(If you prefer a vanilla filling, skip this step!) Melt the chocolate in a separate heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water until there are no lumps.  Pour the melted chocolate into the filling spoon in the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth.  Then leave to cool completely.

Transfer the filling to a piping bag fitted with a 0.5 inch nozzle.  Using the tip of the nozzle, pierce the underside of the eclairs in three places along the length and gently squeeze in the filling as evenly as possible.


For the Glaze

5.5 oz bittersweet dark chocolate

2.25 unsalted butter

1.75 icing (confectioners) sugar

2 fl oz water

Melt the chocolate in the same way as above.  When melted, add the butter and sugar, whisking continuously until it looks shiny and creamy.  Remove from the heat, leave to cool for 10 minutes, then dip each éclair in the icing and smooth over using a spatula.  Wait until the icing hardens before serving .




As I’m aging, I realize that I sometimes need the caffeine jolt to get myself going.  I’ve never needed it before, but now there are days I just can’t get out of my own way.  The coffee helps :-)  And if I need to help myself get through the “ahh, it would be kind of nice to curl up on the couch” mood so that I can actually get myself out of the house and speak to other humans for an evening, this little concoction helps!   Perfect to give me a teeny jolt and remind myself that getting out of my gym clothes can encourage a world of good!

This particular one does need a little bit of forward thinking with the coffee ice cubes and cold coffee.  But, if you’re short on time, the cubes are a lovely touch, but not entirely necessary either!  And if your coffee is hot, make it super strong, then add ice.  The ice will melt and mellow the strength while chilling the temperature.
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Caffeinated Cocktails (Makes 1 Cocktail)

2 oz vodka

2 oz cold coffee

1 oz Baileys

1 oz Chambord

4 iced coffee cubes

Add ingredients to a shaker.  Shake. Pour into a glass, add coffee ice cubes. Enjoy!

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Something about watermelon makes me know that it’s summertime.  And with the temperatures heading into the eighties next week, I’m guessing that we’re all up in it already.  What!?  Already!?  How does that happen every year?

So, something simple.  Something refreshing.  Something light, but not so light that it’s tasteless.  Here you are folks.  And with a sweet macaroon, it’s the perfect summer snack.  Enjoy!
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Fresh Watermelon Summer

2 oz Vodka

2 oz fresh watermelon juice

1 oz Monin Raspberry syurp

1/2 lime

Add all vodka, juice & syurp to a shaker with ice.  Squeeze in the juice from 1/2 a lime.  Shake and strain into a glass.  Garnish with a lime slice.  Enjoy!

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Last week I spent a lovely few days in New York City.   I had to go for work (a little of the lovely I shot is here & here), but was so lucky to pack in lots of food and lots of fun with my Aunt!   This year I’ll get to spend some time in the Big Apple on three separate occasions.  Three!  Such a lucky year for me :-)   On this trip, I felt for the first time that I could belong to this city. Beyond just a walking through the city and seeing it with the eyes of a tourist!  Instead of just following someone else through the subway system, I learned how to do it on my own.  I even got all the way to New Jersey… through all kinds of trains and systems.  (For those of you who know me in real life, you realize that this is INCREDIBLE!)  I’m going back to places that I love and discovering new ones that I know I’ll be visiting again.  Love love love.

So, below are a few Instagram images, and a few of my favorite recommendations from this trip.  Basically, eat, drink, run, repeat.  Enjoy!
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Coffee Cocktails 0003 New York Has My Heart
Coffee Cocktails 0004 New York Has My Heart


Buvette – In March we went for dinner, in May we went for brunch.  Both incredible!  Very French, VERY tiny, very adorable.  Literally, the smallest table I’ve ever had the pleasure of gobbling up such delicious food.  It’s real tight, but the food makes the squeeze more than worth it!

Locanda Verde – My Aunt frequents Locanda Verde on the regular.  Breakfast, brunch, dinner, all of it.  Fantastic Italian food in a gorgeous setting.  The Sheeps Milk Ricotta, I have dreams about it.

Rosemarys - It’s brand new, they don’t take reservations unless you’re a large group and it’s packed.  Get there early and snag a table.  Every single bottle of wine is $40 (and they’re delicious), the decor is perfect and the food is amazing.  Definitely more on the contemporary side of Italian.  Delicious.

To Do

Fundraisers – One of the best ways to feel like you’re part of a community!  Look online, see what you can see and buy tickets to a fundraiser.  New York is so full of events centered on food and wine, I’m jealous at the abundance!  We went to a wine tasting and silent auction for Wheeling Forward.  We had so much fun, bought a ridiculous amount of wine and benefited an amazing group that helps disabled people achieve amazing goals.

Motown The Musical – I’m feel like this can’t be true, but I can’t for the life of me remember ever seeing a Broadway show actually in New York.  One of my clients works on Motown The Musical and so generously snagged us seats.  It’s incredible!  So much fun, such great music… I laughed, I cried.  Was a lovely way to spend Sunday afternoon!

Running – I’ve become one of those people that makes running shoes for every trip.  I’m not sure when or how this happened, but I kind of enjoy it.  Gives me a whole new outlook on a new city.   And New York has some really great places to run.  This trip we did a bit of The Westside Highway and a good chunk of The Highline.  Both incredible places to run!

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It feels like summer time y’all.  At least here in SoCal where temps are reaching the mid-70′s on a regular basis and the famers markets are full of juicy fruits!  Our fridge is absolutely overflowing with strawberries at the moment and I needed to do something with them that wasn’t stuffing a pie and then eating the whole delicious mess on my own.  So, to the juicer they went and with the addition of gin and elderflower, they will be consumed pretty quickly I’d guess.

This pretty cocktail is just begging to stretch out on lawn chair and enjoy the last bits of sunshine this evening.  Happy summertime!
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Summertime Strawberry Cocktail

2 oz Gin

2.5 oz Strawberry Juice

1 oz St. Germaine

1 sprig mint

Remove mint leaves from stalk and clap between your hands to release the mint oils.  Drop into a shaker filled with ice.  Add gin, strawberry juice and St. Germaine.  Shake and strain into a coupe.  Garnish with a mint leaf.

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April 2, 2013 Travel Photography


Travelling, well, anywhere, is my jam.  It’s all I want to do with my time and I find myself on Kayak.com more than anywhere else these days.  As a photographer, it comes very naturally to shoot, well, everything, when I’m on vacation.  But I’ve never really shared it, other than on my blogs.   I barely even print it for myself!  So I was thrilled when I walked into Bobs Espresso Bar for the first time.  It’s a great new coffee shop in my neighborhood and I’m so happy to have a new place to grab a latte.  So, as we were chatting with Bob, he mentioned he’d be doing an artist of the month series.  And this kid, is April!   I’m so thrilled to see my travel work on a wall that’s not in my house!   If you’re in the NoHo area, stop by, take a look & settle in with a delicious coffee!

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I woke up this morning with a bit of time to spare before my 8:30 gym class.   I thought I’d read a quick chapter and then head out.  Then I decided to keep reading and hit the 9:30 class.  Then I gave up all hope that I would be leaving my bed before I finished this INCREDIBLE  book.   Five hours later, I flipped the last page to realize I was littered in tissues and absolutely starving.  I literally couldn’t put it down.   I cursed Jessica for recommending it and throwing my entire day into an unproductive mess.  And then I thanked her for making my heart so full I can barely contain it.  (How does she do that!?)  Seriously, read this post, then go buy this book.

mebeforeyou Flipping Pages: Me Before You

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Before we dive into this gem, a couple of questions:

1. Do you have a 2-3 day stretch of time in which you can neglect all responsibilities and do nothing but devour this book?

2. Are you stocked up on Kleenex?

If you’ve answered “yes” to both of the above, please proceed. You will not be sorry. You will cry buckets. You will question whether or not you’re living your life to its fullest potential. You will realize (but not care) that you’ve accomplished nothing between the time you opened this book to the time you finished it. Nothing.

Me Before You is about Louisa, whose life has stalled. She still lives with her parents, who depend on her salary to live, and has just been laid off from her job as a waitress in a coffee shop. She’s got no ambition, no dreams beyond not letting her family starve. So, she takes a job as a caregiver to Will, who’s only recently had an accident which left him a quadraplegic. He is also suddenly living with his parents, after leading a life of non-stop adventure, promise and privilege. Though the two are from the same country village, their paths would never have crossed if Will wasn’t suddenly dependent on others for even the simplest of tasks. Forced to spend countless hours together, the two eventually explore together what it would take for each of them to lead a full and happy life.

This is the sweetest, most emotional and hopeful book I’ve come across in a long time. Before you’ve reached the 100th page, you find that you care about the characters in it as much as you care about the real people in your life. And you desperately want for them to find whatever it is they’re looking for. Because of that, you cannot stop reading, even though it might be past midnight and you have to work in the morning, or maybe you forgot to eat all day and you’re trying to feed yourself without taking your eyes off the page and you’re not so great at finding your mouth with a fork. No, you’ll keep reading. Everything else can wait. xo, Jessica

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My very first 13.1!  It was crazy, ridiculous, and amazing!  I can definitely understand why people say your first 5K is a gateway drug. Last Sunday went a little something like this…

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5:30 am The alarm goes off and I realize that I’ve been tossing and turning because I dreamt that I missed the race.  Apparently, I am excited to run 13.1 miles in 29 degree weather.  I question my sanity.

6:30 am We head to the subway to Central Park, the start line.   I am wearing a long sleeved running shirt, my OAR singlet, a running jacket, another long sleeved running shirt, a cotton long sleeved shirt borrowed from a lovely neighbor, running pants, two pairs of gloves, a little hat and a trash bag.  The trash bag makes me feel ridiculous, or like Bradley Cooper.  I can’t decide.  I worry about freezing to death.

7:00 am My Aunt Jill and I stand in a bathroom for 25 minutes with a handful of other runners.  It is the only “warm” place in Central Park.

7:25 am We head to the corrals to wait.   The gun sounds at 7:30 am and the first runners start!  We stand there for another 25 minutes.  As we start walking toward the start line, the elite runners pass us.  It’s been 28 minutes and they’re already exiting the park.   They’ve run 6 miles.  We haven’t even started  yet.

7:50 am As the starting line looms, I shed two layers and my trash bag.  I realize that my toes are asleep.  Apparently they haven’t left the apartment yet.  I think that perhaps this is a good thing.  If I can’t feel my feet, they can’t hurt me.
NYC Half Marathon 0005 Running, Running, Running

8:02 am We start!

Mile 0-2  I feel so good!  The CNN tower reminds me that it’s 29 degrees and I realize it’s not so bad while I’m running.  I think I maybe wouldn’t mind living in NYC and could probably handle the cold.  And the snow.  My toes have not yet joined me.  MapMyRun tells me that the first mile was 9:47 and I feel proud.

Mile 2 There’s my toes!  I thank them for getting out of bed.

Mile 3 I decided to wear two pairs of gloves.  One for warmth, one for protection.  I take off the under layer because my hands are sweating and stuff them in my pockets.  I realize that purchasing the running jacket was a super good move.  There’s a hill, and I want to kill myself.

Mile 5 The second pair of gloves has to come off because I’m sweating to death.

Mile 6 I’m still running under 10:00 pace and I can’t even believe it.  I realize that I like racing and I think “I could totally run a marathon!”  I’m excited about it.

NYC Half Marathon 0002 Running, Running, Running

Mile 7 Out of the park and down to Times Square.  This is really kind of fun.  I take pictures of myself running because I’m bored out of my mind.

Mile 8 We run across 42nd Street and the wind coming off the water is frigid.  I curl up in my jacket and curse the cold! MapMyRun tells me I did this one in 8:39.  I’m pretty sure it’s lying.

Mile 9-11 I realize that running is very very boring.  The West Side Highway is real pretty, and there are more cheering fans.  One guy with a sign that says “This is the most boring parade I’ve ever seen” makes me giggle.  I was a little unsure before, but now I’m positive.  MapMyRun is coutning mileage faster than I’m running them, so I think I’m further along than I actual am.  I’m mad at it.

Mile 12 This race is never going to be over.  I feel really good, and I think I could definitely run a full marathon, but I realize i wouldn’t even be half way finished yet.  It’s heartbreaking.  At the 20 KM mark, I hit unrun territory, the furthest distance in my short running career.  I give myself a pat on the back.
NYC Half Marathon 0003 Running, Running, Running

Mile 13.1  Done done done done done!  I can’t believe it!   MapMyRun says 2:11:40, with a 9:45 pace.  I am astounded with myself!  (As I should have been.  It’s been lying to me.  Actual stats are 2:13:36 with 10:12 pace.  I’ll take it.)
NYC Half Marathon 0004 Running, Running, Running

I’m so proud!  I call Chris and he doesn’t answer.  I curse him in my mind for still sleeping when I’ve done something incredible and I want to share it with him!   I call my Mom and am so happy to relay the good news!  She reminds me about that time I ran track in high school and managed to sit out nearly every single race I was supposed to run because I’m not so good at running.

That runners high, it’s definitely true.  I feel excellent!   It’s such an amazing way to become part of a city, to experience it in a way that you just don’t get being a tourist.  You really feel that you’re discovering it differently, and that you’re part of something within this community.  It’s an incredible feeling and I would so highly recommend it!

For this race I raised money for the Organization for Autism Research.  As a team, we raised $32,190, I was responsible for $2,175 and am so incredibly proud!  Thank you all for your donations and your support!

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afterglow 300x300 Its here!  Its here!

I’m embarking on a 13.1 mile adventure on Sunday.  Through rain, snow & cold.  While the wet cold is definitely weighing on my mind, I’m mostly super thrilled that this training is going to be OVER soon!   The last few weeks I’ve found myself negotiating with, well, myself.  Do I actually have to go run 10.5 miles?!  Maybe if I just do 9.  Or, if I just push it off until a liiiittle later in the afternoon.  I’ve done it, but begrudgingly.  And on Sunday it will be all worth it as I cross the finish line with a slightly faster pace than in October and (fingers crossed) bones that are warm and cozy!  Wish me luck!

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March 13, 2013 BroBros Baby Shower


I’m not going to lie, I hate baby showers.  The cutesy colors and the games (especially the games!) and the present opening (Ok, maybe not the presents because baby clothes are just too cute).   But generally, baby showers are not my favorite thing in the world to do.  So, when Jess & I threw a shower celebratory luncheon for our dear friend Natalie, we wanted to keep it clean, sophisticated and generally adult themed.  A black, white & gold palate.  A menu full of good Southern comfort food.  And some of the most wonderful ladies.  What more could you ask for!?

The shower was featured on On To Baby this week!   You can see it here!
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