Friday, March 30, 2012

With Sincere Thanks...

Some days are for just nothing more than a heartfelt thank you.  Some days things seem to come together.  Some days the sun shines warm and you feel good from the inside out.  Some days you just want to pause and take that extra moment to soak it all in - where you've been and where you're going.   Some days are good days.  Happy Friday.  I'll be back next week to recap my Live from Oprah's Lifeclass experience... :)


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Beautiful & Good

Just a picture. 

 Japanese Gardens, Portland Oregon.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Swedish Eye Candy

Taking a break on this hectic morning to share some interior eye candy courtesy of an amazing Swedish Design Blog, Emmas Design Blogg    Cheers!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Addicted to our stories...

No shocker here - I had to do a post about the Season 2 Lifeclass Premiere on OWN.   Did you watch?   How many of us are not achieving what we could be because we are addicted to the stories we tell ourselves.  Those stories become ingrained for years, decades, even a lifetime.  What are you telling yourself?  That you aren't smart enough, deserving enough, athletic enough, creative enough, thin enough....  Or perhaps it's a different story, perhaps it's the story that you use to excuse yourself from living better ----  the family I was born into didn't provide me with a strong foundation, there was too much pressure, we didn't have enough, we had too much.  Stories in which we blame our families, our partners, our relationships, our experiences play over and over in our heads....

The fact is, they are just stories.  They are stories that we tell ourselves over and over to excuse us from something more. And the lesson last night was that we have to let go of those stories so that we can live our to our truest, highest potential.  Stop the negative chatter that confines us to the status quo and s-t-r-e-t-c-h...  We are more capable than we could ever comprehend.


Monday, March 26, 2012

A Couple's Guide to NOLA

My husband and I were in search of a spring getaway - our requirements were simple: somewhere we hadn't been before and warmer weather than New England.   New Orleans had been on my radar screen and the timing seemed right.

We scheduled our trip from Saturday - Tuesday.  If you have the work flexibility, I'd say this was a great way to go.  On Saturday, we could feel the true vibe of a city that loves to party.  We got to enjoy a Sunday Brunch, N'awlins style, but Monday and Tuesday were a bit more reserved....meaning we were able to get the dinner reservations we wanted, cheaper hotel rooms and a little more room to breathe.

We stayed at The International House.  It was a charming boutique hotel, just 2 blocks from the French Quarter.  Far enough away that the police sirens didn't keep you up on Saturday night, but close enough to easily walk back and forth.   It was a great place with an excellent front desk, nice lobby and bar, perfect proximity and nice, clean, modern amenities.
Photo via their website
After check-in, we got down to business.  We were there to experience the New Orleans food!!   I've long heard people rave about it and I will say that it did not disappoint. Some of the best cuisine we've ever eaten and certainly among the best we've had within the US.   There was a sincerity to the food in New Orleans.  People seemed to truly respect it and understand what good cooking is meant to evoke.  The flavors were bold, tasty and well-seasoned everywhere we went.  The service was consistently friendly and attentive and we were never hungry!

Chef John Besh once said, "No matter where in the world our early settlers came from—France, Spain, Senegal, Haiti—and whether free or enslaved, they assimilated into the Creole culture, embracing everything from language to cooking. That’s why our famous simple dishes like gumbo—the West African word for okra—have so many ingredients. Every culture stirred the Creole pot, adding a bit of its own.”  You felt that multi-culture influence throughout the city, in their architecture, their food, their way of life.  It all seemed to be a fantastic and unique blend.  

A few of our real favorites:
Luke - Wonderful French bistro ambiance in this John Besh joint. The shrimp and grits were to die for, as was the Bloody Mary. We missed Happy Hour but apparently they have $0.50 oysters and half-price drinks from 3-6pm.

Afachalaya - this is where we went for Sunday brunch.   It was located in a residential neighborhood within the Garden District but made for a perfect place to spend our Sunday.  We took the street car straight up from St. Charles and walked a few blocks.  It was fun to see a more residential side of New Orleans, passing beautiful southern mansions and gardens as well as some funky shops on Magazine St.   We were glad to get there early because the place filled up fast!  They had an excellent "make your own Bloody Mary Bar" and a great jazz trio.

Cafe Beignet - The perfect NOLA beignet - little fried dough dusted with powdered sugar.  Pair it with a delicious cup of strong coffee and you're ready to go for the afternoon.  It is located on Royal St, one street over from Bourbon.  It's an excellent part of the French Quarter loaded with galleries and antique shops.

Pat O'Briens - Yes, this place is about as touristy as they come, but we felt we had to have at least one Hurricane down in N'awlins.  Don't let the bars on Bourbon fool you with their small front doors, they open up to huge back patios, perfect for hanging out and enjoying a cocktail.
Cochon - Make your reservation ahead of time because this place is packed.  Delicious southern Cajun barbecue style on a quaint street loaded with restaurants and wine bars.  Pretty much every review we read about New Orleans included this place and it did not disappoint!

Merchant - We happened upon this coffee shop/creperie a few blocks from our hotel.  Super modern design and a great reminder of the many layers of New Orleans!

But really, every place we stopped into and grabbed a gumbo or a beer or anything else was superb.  The people were fantastic and seemed to genuinely appreciate the visitors in New Orleans.   It's a very manageable city, easy to walk around, easy to lose yourself in whatever you are there to do ---- a culinary tour, music, art, or just party.   A gem nestled in the deep south of Louisiana, serving as a great reminder of the magic that can happen when we embrace, rather than resist, our differences. We'll be back!    

(images 4 and 5)


Friday, March 23, 2012

Spring cooking

The changing seasons always invites a change of menu planning.  I'm looking forward to a move towards lighter fare.   Roasted asparagus topped with two fried or poached eggs is so simple, balanced and tasty.   In Ferran Adria's book - The Family Meal - he suggests using a simple cookie cutter to trim the edges of the egg for a neater presentation. A smart and simple tip!


Thursday, March 22, 2012


We had the mildest winter I can ever remember.   The unseasonably warm weather continues here in Boston and today they are expecting mid-80's... breaking all of the records!   We've spent many a "springtime" digging out from winter blizzards, beaten down by incessant rains and all around greyness.  Spring has never been Boston's time to shine but 2012 seems to be marching to its own beat....and I don't think anyone is complaining.

It's spring fever.  That is what the name of it is.  And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!  -Mark Twain

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Back home...

Just back from a fantastic Spring getaway.  We headed south to New Orleans for some fantastic food, weather and culture.  More to come...

"New Orleans isn't a city. It's a Petrarchan sonnet. There's no other place on the planet like it. I think it was sawed loose from South America and blown by trade winds across the Caribbean until it affixed itself to the southern rim of the United States." – James Lee Burke


Friday, March 16, 2012

For the Irish

Colin Farrell once said, "being Irish is very much a part of who I am, I take it everywhere with me."  So on this St. Patrick's Weekend and in honor of my paternal grandparents, both of whom were 1st generation Irish, some lovely words...

When You are Old  William Butler Yeats   
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

“He says, you have to study and learn so that you can make up your own mind about history and everything else but you can’t make up an empty mind. Stock your mind, stock your mind. You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.” - Frank McCourt, Angela's Ashes

"Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn." - C.S. Lewis


Thursday, March 15, 2012


Powell's Books, the amazingly huge and wonderful book store in Portland, Oregon, has a dedicated part of their website to Author Q&A's...  It's a great section and somewhere to which I can always go and take something away....



Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Jean Queen

Cameron Diaz --- when it comes to jeans, she's my girl.  From colored denim to tried and true blue jeans...she never seems to miss.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012


There comes a time to accept what is ours.  Accept our faults and our strengths.  Accept our parents. Accept that they were imperfect humans doing the best they could with what they had.  Accept that we don't have to live the same life they did, accept that we do not have to make their mistakes, accept that we have the freedom to live our own life.

Accept that our partner is meant to be a compliment.  Accept that they are not there to sustain us.  Accept that we are connected beings and can generate amazing power through the love we have for each other, but the only thing that binds us is that love. Accept that co-dependency is not the goal.  

Accept true and unconditional love.  Accept it from anyone around us willing to give it to us but turn inward, rather than outward, when we wish we had more.  Accept responsibility.
 "Accept noone's definition of your life; define yourself." - Robert Frost


Monday, March 12, 2012

Bar Keeper's Friend

Just a little Monday morning product review because, you guys, this stuff WORKS.  It should be sold with all All-Clad products.  I had the moment I've been dreading when I accidentally scorched my pretty lil' pan this weekend.  (note - do not let the pan heat up and then pour the oil in it, it will BURN.  The oil must be put in the room temperature pan and then heated... Live and learn!) 

Anyways, all was not lost - thanks to Bar Keeper's Friend and some heavy duty scrubbing.  This stuff works in a way that no other product was able to and it's safe and non-abrasive.  According to my quick research, it is far less toxic than many products available and it's formula has been used since the 1890's.   It is free of phosphates, bleach, ammonia and safe to use in food areas.   A product that is environmentally conscious and works like a charm is deserving of this Monday morning post!   Enjoy your week. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Kitchen Vision

There is so much kitchen eye-candy out there.  Between blogs, websites, and home decor mags you could spend days dedicated to curating the perfect portfolio of kitchen fabulous-ness.  

There's the country kitchen, the sleek kitchen, the retro kitchen and the ornate.  They might be white, wood, colored, eat-in or galley.  My particular aesthetic, you may be starting to notice, is towards soothing tones, natural materials and under-design.

Joslyn over at Simple Lovely, seems to have this gift of introducing sites and resources that always peak my interest.  A few weeks ago she linked us over to this article on Tales of Endearment.  In the collection of photographs was this one of Athena's kitchen.  The casual vibe, the "action" of the kids, the seeming realness captured in the photo made it different than the loads of ones we typically see.  Makes you wonder what we're really looking at when we see a photo of a greatly designed space. it just to make our home a place of sensory satisfaction or is it something else - a daydream of a perfectly designed space and a perfectly fulfilled life....     


Thursday, March 8, 2012

1 Dead in the Attic

I have this little tradition that I quite like.  Before a trip, I like to find a book written on the place I'm going.  That's about the only parameter - it can be fiction/non-fiction.  I read a dense book on the history of Barcelona, really more of a text book than anything else, but it was a great way to gain some context and enjoy the anticipation of the coming trip.

For New Orleans, I ordered Chris Rose's 1 dead in the Attic.  It's proving to be excellent.While I've only just started it, it is shaping up to be a highly worthwhile collection of Post-Katrina stories whether New Orleans is on your radar screen or not.   The tragedy that ensued in the wake of that natural disaster is a critical part of contemporary U.S. history and something from which there is much to learn. 

An excerpt from the introduction,
"...But you didn't have to lose your house, your car, your dog, your job, your marriage, or your grandparents in an attic to suffer the impact of this storm. Unfortunately, most folks around south Louisiana and Mississippi did lose some or all of this.
Others lost less tangible assets: their peace of mind, security, serenity, ability to concentrate, notions of romance, sobriety, sanity, and hope.
The toll it took on me is in the book; I'll not belabor it here other than to say Katrina beat the shit out of me. It beat the shit out of everyone I know. This is our story...."


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Return to Love

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?" 
— Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love


Tuesday, March 6, 2012


   I had the pleasure of reading two articles yesterday.  One was an op-ed piece for the Washington Times written by Olympia Snowe on her recent resignation.   The other, this one from Huffington Post on the continuing battle between working mothers and stay-at-homes.

    Per Senator Snowe, "For change to occur, our leaders must understand that there is not only strength in compromise, courage in conciliation and honor in consensus-building — but also a political reward for following these tenets..."

  and from Ms. Melton, "So, angry, debating ladies... here's the thing. My daughter is watching me AND you to learn what it means to be a woman. And I'd like her to learn that a woman's value is determined less by her career choices and more by how she treats other women, in particular, women who are different than she is. I'd like her to learn that her strength is defined by her honesty and her ability to exist in grey areas without succumbing to masking her insecurities with generalizations or accusations. And I'd like her to learn that the only way to be both graceful and powerful is to dance among the endless definitions of the word woman... and to refuse to organize women into categories, to view ideas in black and white, or to choose sides and come out swinging. Because being a woman is not that easy, and it's not that hard."

 While seemingly different topics, they both touched on the same important premises --- the need for compromise and open-mindedness, a decrease in hostility, and to remember the real goal which unifies us all - progress and fulfillment.


Monday, March 5, 2012

Time is on our side

How often do we say to ourselves, if I only had more time?  If I had more time I'd read more, write more, organize more, cook more, etc. etc.  It was a quiet weekend at home and I found myself with just that --- time. For a moment, I tried to fill it --- the phenomenon of a totally free Saturday day and evening oddly frightening, or at the very least uncomfortable.  And when I realized that there just wasn't a whole to do or to be done, I sat back and soaked it up.  I brought a magazine to Whole Foods and made a healthy lunch for myself.  I browsed, unsuccessfully, for some things I need for the house. I did yoga.  Most importantly, I took my time.... 

It was such a welcome reminder in this overly scheduled, somewhat frantic pace that we all try to keep up with that some weekends are just for us.  The simple and lovely details, the way to truly hear ourselves, can be found in that quiet.  It's important and nothing to run from....



Friday, March 2, 2012

On Marriage - 5:1 Rule

I came across this snip-it from Harriett Lerner's book, Marriage Rules - A manual for the married and coupled up...
a very simple numeric ratio; during courtship, we tend to give our partners five instances of positive reinforcement for every critical or negative interaction. Most married couples criticize each other five times as much as they offer positive feedback. Start counting. Flip your interactions back to the stage of falling in love. Say—out loud—every positive thought that crosses your mind and send your mind in search for more. Dial down the criticism until the ratio is five to one in favor of kindness.

Isn't it wonderful advice?!  I thought so.  So much so that I ordered a copy of the book.   Given how much of our life and our happiness is interwined with the relationship we have with our spouse, it's unfortunate that I don't devote more of my attention towards learning ways to better it.  Too often, I wait for a problem to be en fuego - burning, burning so badly it cannot possibly be overlooked any further, before I give it the attention it deserves.  Here's a good reminder to myself to be proactive and take steps at making a great thing even better. us!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

White and wood

One of my favorite combinations for the home --- white and wood.  Done right, ahhh --- sign me up!

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