"She could never go back and make some of the details pretty. All she could do was move forward and make the whole beautiful" -Terri St. Cloud
When I was a little girl, I loved waking up to my mom’s green pancakes on St. Patrick’s Day and going to bed after a traditional dinner of corned beef and cabbage and green mashed potatoes with my parents. At school, my fellow classmates and I would always be decked out in green in an effort to avoid getting pinched. While I still wear green and enjoy foods tinted with food coloring, somewhere along the years my green Sprite turned into green beer, and while March 17th is still a day filled with laughter and cheer, for me St. Patrick’s Day has become a day to reflect on luck and celebrate good fortune.
I don’t need a four leaf clover to know that I’m lucky. While I’ve been fortunate in my career, travels, locations and adventures, we all know that it’s the people and relationships that we develop along the way that make us truly blessed. I thank God all the time for my incredible family and amazing friends. Amazing of course doesn’t do these people justice. They are my joy. They are my love. They are my everything.
These are the people that have stood by me through thick and thin. They are the ones who belted out “Callin’ Baton Rouge” at the top of their lungs at 6:30am on the way to cheerleading practice in high school. The ones who explored San Francisco with me during the USC weekender, escaping the misty rain in the warmth of the Cha Cha Cha. They share vacations, laughs, meals, phone calls, weddings, tears, uncertainties, celebrations, and send cards ‘just because’. They light up my life. They help me each and every day to learn, grow and eventually evolve into a better version of me. And each time that I find myself unsure of myself, my decisions or the path that I have chosen in life, I am reminded by these same people… my people… that I’m right where I’m meant to be.
I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve such an incredible network of friends and confidants, but I am so proud of each and every one of them and the bonds that we have built over the years, drinks, laughter and tears. Some have been in my life since birth, loving me before I was even born. Others I met through work, school or friends, and a few relationships were made in more interesting and unconventional ways. Regardless of how, why or when our paths initially crossed, I am so thankful that they did.
This St. Patrick’s Day, I was lucky enough to celebrate with a variety of great friends from different aspects of life, including an impromptu visit with Gray, who is nothing short of a ray of sunshine in my life. When I wasn’t out and about braving the crazier-than-usual New York bar scene, I managed to find time to do what I love most – puttering around in the kitchen. Fully embracing the theme of the hour, my experiments resulted in a three layer Green Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Mint Chocolate Oreo Truffles.
Now, if only I could add a great metabolism to the list of things I’m so lucky to have…. :)
Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!
One of the perks of moving to New York was supposed to be experiencing real east coast seasons. Crisp, colorful Falls, frosty white Winters, colorful Springs and even the toasty humid Summers. While I love and appreciate the mild climate back home in the Bay Area, the seasons here have excited me for the last couple of years. That is up until this Winter of course, which never happened at all. Aside from a few fleeting flurries, it’s as if Fall transitioned straight into Spring, bypassing snow days and hot toddies and all of the other quintessential winter perks. Although I’m disappointed to have missed out on a true New York winter this year, I enjoyed today’s heat wave and was inspired to make a fresh and summery dish for dinner.
Rewinding back to a couple of days ago… I came across a puzzling item in the produce section of a local market that I’d never seen before: a white eggplant. I was amused and intrigued enough to buy one, though entirely unsure of what I was going to do with it. I’m not great with eggplants, but I do love them grilled. So on the way home from the gym today in this unseasonably warm weather, I picked up some red and yellow tomatoes, corn, mint and basil. I chopped, diced and mixed the ingredients with a touch of olive oil, salt and pepper, and topped the grilled white eggplant discs with the bright and colorful mixture. It was simple, fresh and served as a perfect compliment to the lovely weather.
Browsing the produce at Whole Foods last week, I couldn’t resist splurging on a few blood oranges. They are one of my favorite fruits… as beautiful and colorful as they are robust in flavor. At the time, I wasn’t quite sure whether they were going to be incorporated into a pie, mixed with salad greens or whether they were destined to be enjoyed on their own. Waking up on Sunday morning however, I knew exactly what to do with them. Like any normal twenty-something girl (or a sensible girl of any age, really), I almost always have a bottle of champagne chilled in the fridge as a “just in case” measure. You know, just in case company drops in around cocktail hour…….. just in case my roommate and I feel like having a pajama dance party…… or in this particular situation, just in case I wake up and feel like a mimosa! And a delicious blood orange mimosas was exactly what this girl needed to pull herself out of bed after a night out on the town! Gemma wasn’t complaining either when I brought her one in bed :)
While I could have happily enjoyed these and these alone for breakfast, I felt it was best to find something to pair with my delicious liquid libations. Continuing with the citrus theme, I sectioned two halves of a grapefruit, sprinkled them with a touch of brown sugar and threw them under the broiler for 5 minutes to carmelize the sugars. The outcome was a perfectly decadent and refreshing dish.
It was delicious! The only dilemma was what to do with the remaining juice left in the bottom of the grapefruit.
I was too sweet to just toss aside, so I did what I have to assume anyone would do…. and added it to my mimosa to make what has to be the best breakfast beverage of all time – the blood orange and caramelized grapefruit mimosa!
Meals like this remind me that life isn’t just good…. it’s fabulous!
New York kitchens are notoriously neglected. In fact, many New Yorkers have never even turned their ovens on, opting to use the space to store out-of-season clothes. And while my oven has never been used as a closet, I too have been enjoying fewer and fewer home-cooked meals. While I’ve loved trying new restaurants and enjoy having every type of food imaginable delivered right to my couch, I have really missed cooking. Which is why I am elated that I got back into gear and tried out three new recipes this weekend. The last couple of days have been amazing. I took care of errands that have been on my to-do list for months, enjoyed a night out on the town with Gemma, did some serious damage to my Visa at HomeGoods, caught up on the phone with fabulous friends (shout-out, Amy!), and I even managed to get to the gym. Twice! Which was necessary so that I could indulge in the creamy meyer lemon & ricotta tart that I made this afternoon.
The only thing better than playing around in my kitchen is photographing my results with my new Canon Rebel T2i! I finally splurged on a fabulous DSLR, and though I’m still a novice, I’m capturing some pretty decent shots. But enough about my new toy, let’s get back to the food :)
I’ve always harbored a passion for meyer lemons, and have noticed an abundance of meyer-based recipes populating on Pinterest.
From the moment that I saw it on Pinterest a few weeks back, I have been dying to make a Meyer Lemon and Ricotta Tart. I’d never made a tart, let alone a home-made crust. It was a delicious adventure that I’m looking forward to repeating again… perhaps in the summertime.
The custard was a delicious and easy mix of fresh ricotta, granulated sugar, meyer lemon juice, blood orange juice, grated lemon peel, vanilla extract, sour cream, heavy cream, eggs, and coconut flour (substituted for almond flour). It’s certainly not a diet-friendly dish, but if you’re going to break a diet – this is certainly the way to do it.
The most difficult part of the whole process was waiting for it to come out of the oven! I have to say, it turned out perfectly. Enjoy the photos, and if you find yourself inclined to try this recipe out yourself (and I highly recommend that you do), you can find the original recipe at one of my favorite food blogs, Fresh New England.
I’ve always been an “I see the glass as half full” type of gal… perhaps to a fault. In moments of frustration, my mother has referred to me as a “Pollyanna”. As a young girl, I didn’t know exactly what a “Pollyanna” was, but I got the gist and had a feeling that I liked being one. And a couple of decades later, I still do. Now I’m not always like this. I, along with the general population, am known to submit to feelings of frustration, irritation and anxiety. I almost always cuss out loud when I stub my toe, and in moments of weakness am guilty of sending strong, negative thoughts to anyone that cuts me in line or steals a parking spot that I was patiently and clearly waiting for.
All this said, in the grand scheme of my life these occurrences are a rarity, most likely because I simply don’t see the point in sweating the small stuff. I can let my good spirits be ruined by somebody who spills their drink on my new jacket without so much as a fleeting apology, or I can grab a napkin, blot, shrug it off and move on with my night. My point is that these moments offer us a choice. Life is ultimately made up of a series of decisions, and the opportunities to make them. I recently read that the first thing a person should do when they wake in the morning is to think of something that they’re thankful for, and it will start their day off in the right direction. The book also suggests that we utilize moments of waiting (whether it be for a train, an elevator, or in line at the store), to think of other things for which you are grateful. Having recently put this into practice, I’ve found that it truly works. The more that I count my blessings, the happier that I am. Why spend my time focusing on all of the things in life that I don’t have when I am blessed with so much?
I am, by nature, a seeker of the silver lining and a believer that I am in control of my own happiness. And if I’m right, you are too. Take a moment to smile. Thank your bus driver, stop to observe someone holding a door for a stranger, and be grateful for the person who taps you on the shoulder because you dropped that five dollar bill.
Nobody said that life was perfect, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be incredible. We only get one life to live… why not make it a happy one?
There are few days more sobering than the fleeting moments that make up the 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks. Like most Americans, I have found that each anniversary brings with it a heightened sense of sensitivity and awareness. And living in New York on the 10th anniversary of the attacks is no exception. While I still noticed people pushing their way into elevators before others could get off and other situations that could have benefited from a bit of patience, I’ve observed a noticeable and refreshing connection and a heightened sense of concern among strangers, neighbors and friends alike.
To say that New York is an incredible place to live is stating the obvious. And while I don’t see myself settling down and raising a family here, it is a city in which I feel most fortunate to reside – particularly at this time in my life. I’ve experienced wonder, excitement, beauty and a sobering sense of loneliness – though overall I am more than happy, and satisfied with the life that I am leading and the decisions that have brought me here. My time on the East Coast hasn’t been easy, but it has been exciting, and the challenges that I’ve faced have only helped me to grow into a better “me”. And walking through this city on this fateful day, I have never felt more fortunate or appreciative of all of the blessings that life has brought my way.
I am thankful for my family and friends, and for each and every person that has fought, and continues to fight for the freedom that allows me to explore who I am and who I am meant to be. I remain blessed and humbled, and will sign off with some of my favorite lyrics courtesy of the Zac Brown Band. Yes, the song may be about fried chicken and the simple pleasures in life, but I always feel proud to be an American when I hear them sing:
“I thank God for my life, and for the stars and stripes. May freedom forever fly… let it ring. Salute the ones who’ve died, the ones that give their lives so we don’t have to sacrifice all the things we love…”
God Bless America.
I’ve never been a big soda drinker, and usually only indulge myself after a particularly aggressive night on the town. This is something I’ve been thankful for ever since an ad campaign sponsored by the New York City department of health emerged late last year. Televisions, subway cars and bus stops were suddenly populated with grotesque images, boldly addressing the health risks associated with drinking soda and other sugary beverages.
The content was successfully alarming (click here and see for yourself). While many were disgusted and criticized their claims, I found the whole thing to be fascinating. Could drinking a single can of soda every day really make you gain 10 pounds of fat in a year? I’m skeptical. And are there really 16 packets of sugar in a 20 ounce soda? Ten months later, I remain intrigued. The campaign was short-lived, quietly and mysteriously disappearing shortly after it surfaced. While this naturally caused me to question the validity of the shocking allegations, those very images keep me from reaching for that inviting, refreshing ice-cold Coke. As opposed to “pouring on the pounds”, I think I’ll stick to water and drink myself thin. Cheers!