Balanced Breakfast Smoothie

When I’m working early it’s so hard for me to eat before work.  I’m definitely one of those people who just isn’t hungry at 6:45 in the morning.  However, I know how important it is to start the day with something.  My solution has been a basic yet balanced smoothie.

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Ingredients

1 sliced, frozen banana
1 cup almond milk
1 tbl almond butter
1 scoop protein powder
2 cups spinach

Method 

Blend it all in a blender! Layer frozen banana pieces and almond milk beneath spinach leaves for best results.

 

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December Book Club

Book Club

I have a ton of books on my list this month:

Candide – What I’m reading right now.  Candide is like a parody of the tale of an aristocrat.  It’s very short and fun to read.

An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good – A humorous book about an 88 year old Swedish woman murders anyone who gets in her way.

Faithful Place – A 19-year-old man plans to run away with his girlfriend but she never shows up at the train station, he assumes she left him until 22 years later when her suitcase is discovered in an abandoned house.  Don’t you want to read this book now?

Small Fry – I am eager to read this memoir about Lisa-Brennan Jobs, the daughter of Steve Jobs.
Damnation Island – A history of Riker’s Island and how New York treated the poor, mentally ill, and criminal.

Art Thinking – This book is a practical guide to navigating creative self-employment with advice detailing how the worlds of creativity and commerce collide.

December Shopping List

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What I’m buying this month reflects how inspired I am to get organized.  Label makers, bins and bags, two planners!  I am working on organize my coat closet (and I plan to post about it on my blog once it’s done, stay tuned).  I replaced all my mismatched plastic and wire hangers with these nice wooden ones from IKEA.  They cost $4.50 for a set of 8.  I bought two sets to have enough for our coats and extras for guests.  For less than $10, my coat closet already looks so much more put together.  Next, I want to buy three metal locker bins to hold winter accessories, shoe care items, and reusable grocery bags.  I like these ones from Schoolhouse, but this one from H&M is cheaper and comes in black.

On a recent trip to Chicago I picked up this jacket and a flannel shirt from Uniqlo that I absolutely love.  I ordered a second flannel shirts because they are so comfortable and flattering.  The jacket comes in twelve colors, but I just got basic black.  I order this zip pouch from Everlane on Black Friday, but I’m still waiting for it to get here.  I love organizing my bag or backpack with pouches.  This bag from Muji is great because it opens flat.  I think this would be useful for travel toiletries or electronics.

My new favorite personal care product this month is Cetaphil’s Cleansing Cloths.  They are the first make up remover wipe that does not leave my skin feeling irritated and itchy.  The wipes are also reasonably priced and widely available.  I like keeping a travel sized packet in my purse to touch up any smudged eye make up.  I ordered, but did not love, Glossier’s Milk Jelly Cleanser.  I think it smells unpleasant, like plastic.  I think I’ll stick to Philosophy Purity for face wash, my favorite for the last eight years.  So far the only product from Glossier I really love is boy brow, which I use almost every day.

With a new year around the corner I had to buy a new planner.  Through and since college I’ve been using Moleskine’s Weekly Horizontal Planner, but this year I opted for the pocket-sized with a different lay out, which I like because one side is for appointments and the other is for notes or to-do lists.  The other planner I’me excited to try is this task planner which helps organize goals and projects.

Best Advent Calendars of 2018

Over the weekend we ran into Target for a few basics and were shocked to be greeted with an overwhelming amount Christmas. Peppermint everything!  Artificial Trees!  Stocking-stuffer end caps!  Honestly, it was all too much for me.  I’m not, strictly speaking, much of a holidays person.  I think most holiday decor is clutter.  I don’t feel bad about not being ready for the holidays, it’s only the second week in November.  That being said, I’ve noticed an interesting trend online lately:  Advent calendars for literally everything.  Growing up, we never had an advent calendar, so it isn’t a tradition I feel really strongly about.  Typically I think these calendars have chocolate candies inside, but I found calendars for basically everything but.  I do think that it’s a neat way to try out a new brand because you are essentially paying for 25 samples of their products.  Here’s a round up of some of coolest ones I found: 

Food: 

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Bonne Maman 

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Ginvent Calendar 

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Coffee

Beauty: 

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Net-A-Porter 25 Days of Beauty 

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Jo Malone 

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Kiehl’s 

Miscellaneous: 

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Lego 

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Diptyque 

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H&M Jewelry 

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Socks

Apple Tart

Apple Tart 

Recently I made an apple tart that I really liked.  It wasn’t too sweet and the thin layer of apples made for a great balance of crust and filling.  Another reason why I like the tart format is because it is less indulgent than a piece of pie, because there is a little less crust and filling.  Aside from the time it takes to peel the apples, the tart came together very quickly.  This is a pretty adaptable recipe so if you want it more or less sweet, feel free to adjust the amount of sugar.

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Ingredients 

Crust

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. Sugar
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 c butter (1 stick), cubed
1/4 c cold water

Filling

4-5 Granny Smith or other Tart Apples, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tbl of brown sugar
1 tbl of butter, cut in pieces
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Topping

4 tbl butter, cubbed
3/4 c flour
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Flakey sea salt
Method 

Start with the crust.  I cube the butter first, then, put it in a bowl and stick it in the freezer while I measure out the other ingredients.  It won’t freeze while it hangs out there for a few minutes, but it will stay nicely chilled.  Next, mix the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl.  Add the butter and either with your hands, a mixer, a pastry blender, a food processor, etc.  incorporate the butter until the mixture is course, but some pea-sized pieces of butter remain.  Add the water and mix until it holds together.  Shape the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and pop it into the fridge for about an hour to chill.

In the same bowl that I use to make the crust, I will start to make the topping.  The topping recipe is pretty… open to interpretation.  The key elements are flour, brown sugar, butter, and salt, but I add to the crumble until it looks, feels, and tastes right. Sometimes I add oatmeal, different spices (maybe some cardamom, or cloves?), nuts, etc. In this case, I think walnuts work really well. The end result is sort of like wet sand.  If it’s too wet, add flour, and if it’s too floury, add butter.  I use a similar method to the pie crust – first add all the dry ingredients and mix well, then incorporate the butter.  Once a good consistency and taste is achieved, cover the bowl and pop it in the fridge.

Peeling and prepping the apples is probably the most time consuming task.  I really think it is worth it to put effort into slicing the apples into reasonably equal pieces and arranging them in the tart, even though it will be covered with topping.  After peeling the apples, I cut 1/4” slices.  I piled all the slices into a bowl and doused them with brown sugar, pieces of butter, cinnamon, and a tiny pinch of salt.  After stirring to incorporate, I let the apples macerate for at least 30 minute, stirring occasionally.

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Finally, it’s time to assemble the pie.  Start by pre-heating the oven to 350F.  Roll out the dough into a disc about two inches larger than the pan.  Then, roll it back onto the rolling pin and slowly unfurl it over the pan.  I gently lift the overhang and use my fingers to make sure the dough is nestled in the fluted edges of the pan, and finish by trimming the excess. Arrange the apples.  I think of the tart like the face of a clock and start by putting a few at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock and then filling in the gaps.  Repeat with the inner circle.  This also makes it really easy to cut and serve.  Drizzle the apples with the juices left from maceration and add crumble topping.  Bakes at 350F for 45-55 minutes.

 

Helpful Tools: 

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Baking Mat, Oven Thermometer, Tart Pan.

November Shopping List

November Shopping List

Cardamom & Black Tea Soap, Wash Cloth, A313, Canon Camera, Make Lip And Cheek Stick, Cashmere Crewneck, Everlane Bag, Trench Coat, Earl Grey Tea

My picks for this month are a little scattered.  I know that phones have really great cameras built in, but I still love using a real camera.  Most of the photos I take for my blog are done with a Canon G16 or Rebel DSLR.  I also like to take a camera with me when I travel.  Anyway, rather than upgrade my phone this year, I’d rather upgrade my camera.  They last longer than a phone and take better pictures.  I love the classic look of the Canon G9X Mark II.  I’m also considering a Fujifilm X100F.

I recently ordered A313, a French retinol product.  I’m still trying it out and plan to write a review soon.  My beauty regime has grown simpler over time.  I like products like this lip and cheek stick by Make.  Anymore, I only wear a little boy brow from Glossier, mascara, a cream blush, and Smith’s Rosebud Salve.  I like products that can be applied without a brush because it makes for easy touch-ups on the go.

This month I’m only looking to add a few things to my closet.  I want to pick up a basic cashmere crew neck in charcoal and upgrade my old trench coat.  I’m curious about this new bag from Everlane.  I like that it holds as much as a tote but is worn as a crossbody.

Book Club

Book Club

Right now I’m itching to read The Library Book by Susan Orlean.  I absolutely love libraries and can’t wait to read her book about the 1986 fire that destroyed hundreds of thousands of books in the Los Angeles Public Library.

This year, I’ve been trying to read more fiction.  I’m always more interested in reading non-fiction and have to force myself to pick out novels.  But, I never regret reading fiction once I’m actually into the book.  I recently heard an interview with Gary Shteyngart that made me curious about his latest book, Lake Success.  It’s a story about a someone with a seemingly perfect life losing it all.  Here is the podcast episode, which also includes a great interview with Lisa Brennan-Jobs, daughter of Steve Jobs.

 

Cooking with My Paris Kitchen

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Some of my favorite recipes have come from David Lebovitz’s blog, but truthfully I have never cracked open one of his many books.  I love the writing on his blog, and the food is always excellent.  His Tomato Tart is my favorite way to use the best-of-summer tomatoes.  David also has great Instagram stories.  I love seeing the messy honesty of his recipe testing, antiquing, and exploring.  

I read his cookbook cover to cover, because My Paris Kitchen is much more than lists of ingredients and instructions.  His stories about traditions, dinner parties, lessons learned, and his life in France make the book worth reading, even without the recipes.  After studying French during high school and college and doing a study abroad, France has had a special place in my heart.  Lebovitz’s anecdotes about French culture brought back a lot of my special memories.  My Paris Kitchen is worth reading, even if you don’t plan on cooking any of the recipes.  

The cooking is a little advanced with a lot of specialty ingredients, but Lebovitz encourages readers to used their judgement and focus on intuition and senses rather than precisely following exact details.  Which I did, liberally.  It took me a while to pick the recipes I wanted to cook, but ultimately I ended up going for recipes that included ingredients I already had on hand to cut down on the shopping I’d have to do.  

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The Israeil Couscous has become a fast favorite for us, but I did have to make two major substitutions.  While I always have plenty of lemons on hand, I have never preserved one.  Rather than letting a lemon brine in salt for a week, I just used zest and extra salt.  I’m sure it’s not as complex of a flavor, but it was still delicious.  Next, I substituted walnuts for pistachios.  Honestly, I just wasn’t going to shell any amount of pistachios, and I already had walnuts on hand.  I am curious to try the recipe as Lebovitz intended, but I hope he would be proud of my ingenuity.  And it turned out great.  I have already made the salad again.  I like to make it on a day off and bring it to work for lunch.  

The chocolate mousse recipe has often been hailed as one of Lebovitz’s best.  He recently demonstrated the recipe on Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street.  During my time in France, I remember buying cups of Mousse au Chocolat from the grocery store.  It was stocked near the yogurt in little plastic cups.  It’s one of my favorite desserts and only takes a few ingredients.  Honestly I don’t know why I never made it before.  The hardest part is waiting for the mousse to set (it needs to sit for eight hours).  Lebovitz’s version is way better than anything found in a plastic cup. 

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I have never made dry caramel before, and it was a little nerve wrecking.  It took two tires to get it right, but the payoff was worth it.  The caramel and salted butter made the chocolate mousse so much more interesting than it would have been as just a chocolate one.  The mousse is so light in texture but extremely rich — an intense and delicious dessert.  Eating the mousse was so indulgent, it was like eating chocolate frosting.  Because it is so rich, a little goes a long way.  We divided it into six portions but should have done eight.

 

I found that the recipes in My Paris Kitchen are better suited to special occasions and weekend projects than everyday cooking.  Many of the recipes required specialty ingredients that would take some effort to hunt down.  The food is also very indulgent -lots of fat, butter, cream, meat, cheese, etc – not foods I want to eat every day.  Lebovitz tells a story with each recipe that compels the reader to try it out, no matter how complicated or expensive or caloric it might be.  

Spooky Streaming 

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When I first started going out with Rob, I had barely seen any horror movies.  We spent our first October together watching the classics: The Thing, Alien, Night of the Living Dead, Evil Dead, Halloween, etc.  Now, every year at this time, we watch horror films new and old.  Here are some of the best ones we’ve streamed on Netflix this October. 

Continue reading “Spooky Streaming “

October Shopping List

Some of my finds for this month:

October Shopping List

Public Goods Gift Set, Emerald Top, Black Booties, Cognac Mules, Black Turtleneck, Essie Nail Polish, Amber Glass Bottles, Black Serving Utensils, Bird Tray, Hello Notecards, Cognac Leather Wallet, Black Lantern, Wooden Cutting Board, Candle, Graphic Pillow Cover, Natural Blanket, Notebook, Reusable Bag

In my closet, I’ve added a few rich seasonal colors in classic pieces.  My clothing is heavily informed by timeless classics.  I usually dress in neutrals, but buy a piece or two for the season, like this emerald top from H&M.  For fall, I think a classic black ankle boot works with everything.  I am living in these mules from Madewell, because they are easy to kick on and dress up or down.  I’m obsessed with the leather wallet from Sézane, I love the color and simple design.
Our apartment is pretty minimal and modern, but I like warming it up for the season with natural elements like the wooden cutting board and the natural throw blanket.  I also like black accents to catch the eye, like these black serving utensils and the black lantern.  The lantern reminds me of the ones I saw outside restaurants in Stockholm at night.  I think simple things like changing out toss pillows and small accents make the apartment feel seasonal, but don’t hit you over the head with it.

I decant our soap into these amber glass bottles, I love eliminating branded packaging whenever possible. I am curious to try Public Goods, an online company that offers personal care and home products in minimalist packaging.  The products are clean (environmentally friendly and non-toxic).  With a subscription to Public Goods the products are very affordable.  It’s a brand I’m curious to try.