what we talk about when we talk about food in southeast asia

IMG_9530IMG1231A

It feels good to be here, halfway around the world. It’s winter in Bangkok, and during the day our shirts cling to our backs and all we want to do is crawl into the cool dark and settle there. In the morning we took a private car and toured a steamy city. We covered our shoulders in temples, took off our shoes and quietly prayed. Marveling at a buddha worth forty million dollars and built in 24-carat gold, we stood on a balcony overlooking the city and thought about how far we had to travel to shake home off our feet. Twelve hours separates us from them and it was comforting to know that we celebrated our best moments, traded stories and laughed so hard it hurt when everyone was asleep.

Normally, I travel alone because I like it that way; I prefer the company of solitude that comes with being itinerant. I like being a nameless stranger, one of the many in a car, in a train, swimming deep underwater. Yet this trip, one I’ve taken with two dear friends, has been wonderful. In the early evening I drank fresh watermelon juices with my friend Amber and talked about an old friend from an old life, and I hadn’t thought of this friend in a while, and it felt good to talk about the person I used to be, to be on good terms with her, even if the space between that woman then and this woman now is an incalculable figure.

I watch a movie in my hotel room and Thom Yorke’s “Analyse” comes on, You traveled far/What have you found/That there’s no time/There’s no time/To analyse/To think things through/To make sense. I want to be here longer because when I come home there’s so much to deal with. So many bandaids in need of ripping off. But I try not to think about that. I try not to let my mind go where it wants to go. I try to hold on to this time for as long as I can.

I’m traveling with two friend who light up when it comes to beauty and I go mad for food, and it’s good to know that the two loves have been harmonious. They waited as I raced to a corner to grab a plastic bag of juicy mango dusted with cane sugar and pink salt and watched as I poured water all over my hands outside of the temple because the sweet clung to my fingers. They marveled as my Korean lunch took up nearly our entire table. We’ve had spicy curries, fluffy seafood pancakes, slippery glass noodles and buttery beef. My friend Amber eats all of my kimchi because I can’t tolerate the sourness of it. I watch a man crush pomegranate seeds into a bottle and I drink the juice as it is, tart, a little sweet, completely what I needed in the hot sun.

Tomorrow we leave for a long holiday in Phuket, Ko Phi Phi and who knows where, and I can’t wait to tear into papayas, pineapples and have all of the greenery.

IMG_9515IMG1231A
IMG_9520IMG1231A
IMG_9529IMG1231A
IMG_9522IMG1231A
IMG_9534IMG1231A
IMG_9258IMG1231A

IMG_9341IMG1231A
IMG_9343IMG1231A
IMG_9344IMG1231A
IMG_9345IMG1231A
IMG_9347IMG1231A
IMG_9348IMG1231A
IMG_9268IMG1231A
IMG_9273IMG1231A
IMG_9275IMG1231A

love.life.eat. of the week: we’re not going to say the “G” word

BODY COPY TEXT

It’s been a while since I haven’t used the dreaded “G” word around these parts, but trust that I’ve been doing more than fretting over gluten, lamenting its loss, and subsequently espousing the joys of a gluten-free life, on a daily basis. Not only have I secured a few new clients, I’m planning two incredible trips–Barcelona/Granada/Seville, solo + Korea/Bangkok/Phuket, with friends–and editing my novel for editorial submission come fall.

Suffice it to say, I’ve been a little busy. However, that’s not to say that I haven’t been mindful, if not downright evangelical, about “me-time.” Every week I set aside an afternoon or a whole day devoted relaxing, creating, puttering–recharging the batteries as it were. Not only have I been reading up a storm, but I’ve been photographing my food like mad, and making some minor, virtuous discoveries!

After reading a slew of books on gut health (such is my life), I’m becomming more mindful of what I put in and on my body. As a result, I’m slowly replacing my chemical-rich beauty and home products with more virtuous choices. Case in point, I’ve recently discovered Simply Divine Botanicals by randomly wandering into a shop in the East Village, post-yoga (living the stereotype, friends!). All the products are made locally, are free from toxic chemicals, and theres is an ingredient list I can actually comprehend. I picked up this delicious Lemongrass Body Butter, and I feel as if I’ve been transported back to Thailand. I’ve also stocked up on Aura Cacia’s Tasmanian Lavender Oil, which I use during my brief evening meditation. Most of my beauty products have been replaced with locally-produced providers, and I feel good that I’m striving toward balance between the inward + outward.

Remember when I mentioned that I’ve been snapping up a storm? Some of my photos are for this space, but a lot of them are for my private food diary, of which I share with my nutritionist on a weekly basis. We dissect composition, content and portions — so I try to make the photos as clear and realistic as I possibly can. Granted, snapping evening shots has become murder, however, I took the below photo using Lowel EGO’s Digital Imaging Light. When it comes to digital photography, this is the BEST investment I’ve made, since my images come as close to natural light as possible. Note that the below photo was taken at NINE P.M., people.

Finally, I think I’m the only person who craves fall. I’m not built for summer, so I’ve been curling up in my home with books sporting this sweater. Fake it ’till you make it, I suppose. And while I’m finding my affection for J. Crew has waned (I haven’t shopped there in at least two years because of the acrylic and insane pricing infestations, and when I visited the USQ location recently, I found the on-floor service mediocre, at best), I really love the chunky weight of this blue open cardi.

IMG_7322IMG1231

reframe your thinking: the art of the visual food journal

Untitled

Last night I practiced yoga in front of a setting sun, and my teacher talked about the Ayurvedic notion of Prajnaparadha. Loosely translated from sanskrit it means, “crimes against wisdom”–how we willfully ignore our intuition, the base wisdom which guides us in living a mindful life. I’ll be honest: I’m not an Ayurvedic practitioner nor am I an avid follower of one kind of belief system, however, I’m in tune with myself and my flaws–an ego, when unchecked, can supersede common sense, and a sometimes quiet yearning for anesthesia, for the world to pale down to a dull, sustained drone. The former leads to injury and the latter leads to lack of presence.

Years ago, I fancied myself an advanced yogi, and I remember a class where my teacher, Elena Brower, warned me against going into bound triangle. I wasn’t warm, I wasn’t ready, but I ignored her because, who was she to tell me what my body can and cannot do? And then a snap, a collapse to the ground, a hamstring torn, which would take years to heal. To this day I’m reminded of my ego because I’m still tight on that one leg, still. I don’t imagine that Elena knows the indelible mark she left on me (but do we ever know the marks we leave on people? How a single sentence has the ability to transform, build and bind?), but I remember her taking me aside and talking to me about ambition. How our desire to nail a pose, arrive at a marker, a perception of a life, can be dangerous if we don’t consider the larger scope of things, namely, the importance of the journey and what lies after. So many years later I’m reminded of the crime I committed against a body that wasn’t ready for this shape with its cold limbs, a foot that wasn’t committed to the mat, and a knee that wobbled–and more importantly, how I didn’t exercise common sense.

It’s interesting how I’ve returned to the mat while simultaneously making a commitment to be present with regard to the food I put in my body.

Today I had my first check-in with my remarkable nutritionist, Dana James, which starts with a full-blown analysis of my weight, body fat percentages (by limb–who knew that one leg was heavier than the other?) and dovetails into a detailed analysis of my food journal and the week. Not only was I floored by the fact that I’d lost FIVE POUNDS, but I was more excited about the fact that while this journey has been HARD (people, living without gluten and dairy requires a strategy, a plan and back-up plan, not to mention cravings that are CRUEL), I’m actually FEELING this journey. I’m forcing myself to listen to my body. Why do I want that particular piece of food? Is it because I’m bored, tired, stressed, ambivalent, or is it because I love the contents of this bowl and I seek nourishment?

Do I want to be nourished or numb?

IMG_6958IMG1231

Today I met with a friend who asked me about this space. Will you still bake? Don’t you miss it? I told her that I’m trying to apply the same minimalist thinking I’ve managed to exercise in my home and wardrobe to this space and my body. Take in only the things I love and need. Bake the best croissants and savor one. Eat when my body tells me to. Fill my body with food that gives me pleasure (the juxtaposition of texture! the vibrant colors!). Write only in this space when I have something meaningful and thoughtful to say.

I never thought I would enjoy documenting every meal I make until I realized that the reason I loathed food journals was because I had to be accountable, present, for what I put in my body. To that end, I’ve reframed the notion of writing down what I’m eating into creating a weekly visual diary, most of which I share with my nutritionist because it keeps me honest. Because I’m not carrying measuring cups in my bag when I go to restaurants. Because I want every meal to be a celebration, a fist pump, a victory lap, because out of the most brutal year I’ve had something wonderful has emerged.

I’m present and I’m listening to my body and my heart.

Note: I’m sharing my food journal + experiences as a means to inspire, not as a way to emulate. My program has been designed specifically for me, but I want to remove the stigma of carb addiction and share everything I’m doing and all the lessons learned along the way. While this week’s diary isn’t completely visual, I plan on creating a private photo feed for Dana so she can explore alongside my written entries.

love.life.eat. of the week

Untitled design (3)

Last night I dreamed that seven editors vyed for my manuscript, and I was so excited I rolled over and fell off my bed. I fell OFF MY BED while I was sleeping, people. This is where I’m at this week in case you’re wondering. My manuscript is out with four discerning readers, and so far the feedback has been strong and overwhelmingly positive, although I’m white-knuckling, waiting for my agent’s read with bated breath. That, coupled with a busy week at work and preparations for my upcoming nutritionist appointment (and life change!!!), have me spent. I plan to keep things chill today before I toast my friend Hitha’s 30th birthday this evening.

This week I read this article on the psychology of clutter. An ardent minimalist, I don’t own anything that isn’t functional, useful, or devastatingly beautiful. However, parting with a few pieces in my closet has been difficult because they remind me of a smaller size and a markedly different version of myself. Admittedly, it’s easy to cleave to the image of who we used to be–we romanticize it and focus on the broad strokes (the drape of clothes and the exhilaration we felt in buying them) rather than the particulars (the unhealthy lifestyle, the absence of mindfulness). Over the past few weeks I’ve donated and given away 40% of my wardrobe, and have started the task of rebuilding. Purchasing key pieces for the life I lead now and for the body I have now. Granted, who knows what will happen after my three-month program with the nutritionist, but I’ve got to show up for myself and honor myself the best way I know how–not obsessing over a 25-year-old Felicia. To that end, I’ve made a few, deliberate purchases (slacks, dresses, layering tees and cardigans), and I’m really loving everything at LOFT’s Lou + Grey.

I’ll be candid: I don’t like LOFT. At all. The pieces remind me of a “full on Monet,” where the clothes are wonderful at first glance, but up-close, not so great. I’ve had many LOFT pieces which have not survived a year of wear, and I initially regarded the new collection with trepidation. However, after carefully inspecting the goods (seriously, I’m like a surgeon in the dressing room, turning sweaters inside out), I’ve picked up some of the lightweight cardigans and layering tees (on sale!), as well as this linen dress (it’s slightly sheer, so you’ll need a slip). The pieces are lightweight, perfect for the office, and super supple and soft.

When it comes to books, however, I’m a bit of a collector (read: polar opposite of minimalist). I love the feel of books, the crack of spines and the smell of paper. I WILL NEVER GET AN E-READER, EVER. I purchased two books this week: a delightful illustrated wide-range tale of Julia Child’s life–from her childhood upbringing to her being a WWII spy to her ascension as a cookbook and TV star. My friend + brilliant illustrator, Summer tweeted about this book, and when Summer speaks, I listen.

I’ve also scored Alessandro Baricco’s latest. It’s hard to describe his work, other than to say it reminds me of Borges with his dream-like prose, but Baricco always delivers a potent political or societal message. I’ve read all his books and have been mesmerized by the beauty in them, and I’m excited to dive into Mr. Gwyn.

Finally, after long days at work and brutal workouts, it’s nice to come home to a cool apartment, a sweet kitty, and a hot shower, where I can slather 80 Acres’ soothing lavender scrub–the perfect way to ease myself into slumber.

love.life.eat. of the week

Untitled design

While I’ve always been curvy, the size of my chest has oscillated wildly over the years. In my 20s, I was impossibly thin, and shirts fell the way they would when draped on a mannequin. Part of me misses those days without cleavage, not having to worry about the way tops and dresses fit–I simply wore what I wanted to without thinking about it. Now, that’s all I do. Think about ways in which I can dress around my boobs. And yes, I’ve heard the countless refrains of VIVA LA BOOBS! Celebrate the girls in their glory, and what not, however, that kind of style makes me squirm beyond measure. I’ve always been modest–glamour has never been part of my repertoire–and I much prefer classic cuts, effortless fits, and naturally, the color blue.

Believe me when I say that 90% of my wardrobe is BLUE.

A few weeks ago I tried on every dress in my wardrobe and sighed over the BOOB SITUATION–the fact that nothing fit right because of the size of my chest. So I donated and gave away 40% of my wardrobe, and replaced what was missing with fewer pieces of higher quality. I purchased this classic black dress because I love the fit, drape and back, and the fact that I can dress this down with a cardigan. Boobs secured. In the midst of a rage blackout over my father’s medical condition, I blacked-out and purchased this dress in this pattern from Meg Shops in Williamsburg. I’ve worn this linen dress four times in two weeks and I am in LOVE. I love this dress so much I even considered purchasing it in PINK. Guys, PINK. I have ZERO pink in my wardrobe.

Finally, I purchased this swing trench from Everlane because of the perfect cut, color, and price. It also replaces a less-than-flattering grey trench that I’ve been holding onto for longer than I want to admit.

While some look to their wardrobe as a means to tell a story, my clothes are purely functional. However, my home is a place filled with stories–the nesting dolls from Russia that were nearly confiscated at the airport, the prints from a wonderful photographer I met in Melbourne, the ceramic vase from Mexico, the cashmere scarves from India and linens from Cambodia–and I’ve become a collector of art and items that evoke memories. Although many items I own have been acquired as a result of my travels, I became obsessed with Sivana Skayo’s Intimacy Under the Wires series, specifically this photo. The image has already inspired another trip–one I plan to take this fall.

And finally, I’ve recently acquired an ice-cream maker and naturally I’ve booked two ice cream socials with close friends. Know that I will be making a ton of sweets from the Ample Hills Creamery book.

UPDATE: DO NOT PURCHASE FROM ARTFULLY WALLS. MY PRINT CAME IN HORRIBLE CONDITION, WAS OF CHEAP QUALITY, AND HAD THE WEBSITE BRANDING ALL OVER MY IMAGE. I’M ENRAGED THAT I SPENT $70 AND WAS RIPPED OFF.

ice cream + friendship

Untitled

Today I bought an ice-cream maker, this one to be exact. In my ongoing quest to make my house a place I’d always want to return to, I’ve been slowly accumulating the things that bring me joy and allow me to share my space with those who I love. Over the past few weeks, a steady stream of friends have made their way to my new space {well, newish}–their arms filled with mason jars, cookbooks, and sweets–and I’ve made them roast chicken dinners, crisps topped with Ample Hills salted crack caramel ice cream {I MEAN!}, and pressed bags of rich, sugary cookies and crumble muffins into their empty hands.

Nothing gives me greater joy than cooking a meal for my friends. If you’re in the neighborhood, know that I’ve a banana loaf in the oven or a pie cooling on a rack. Know that my cat will likely bury his face in your shoe or roll around at your feet {he’s got a weird foot thing, don’t ask me}. My fondest memories have been those spent in the company of those who’ve burrowed their way into my heart, and in that space between me opening my door and closing it, there’s a meal. A group of friends eating off one another plate’s or two girlfriends digging their spoons into one another’s cups of ice cream. There’s always, This is soooooo good you have to try it! There’s always, The line might be insane but it’s worth it. There’s always, Felicia, I really love your home. I guess it’s not enough that my house is a home for me, it also has to be a home for others. It has to be the place where my friends leave drowsy, invigorated, sated, inspired, exhilarated, and full.

I’ve had an exhausting week, and today my sweet friend Persia text’d me that she was in my neighborhood for a baby shower and would I be around for a coffee? I’d plan to spend the weekend locked up in my home, baking and writing, but I couldn’t resist a friend who has this incredible ability to make me laugh. So I countered her coffee with an invitation to grab some ice cream, and two hours later we were two women sitting in a park, talking about how our vanilla bean and salted crack caramel cups were just so damn good.

So I bought an ice cream maker and an incredible cookbook, against any sort of rational thinking, because wouldn’t it be more pragmatic to get something else? A multi-tasking machine of some sort? Well, no. This summer, I plan to churn sorbets, gelatos and coconut cones. Coconut milk, caramel cookie, pistachio and hazelnuts, I’m going to make all the dairy for my friends, and all the coconut milk-based ice cream for me. Because who in their right mind would refuse a cone?

IMG_6773IMG1231
IMG_6775IMG1231

love.life.eat. of the week: feeling luxe edition

Untitled design (4)

Chalk it up to giddiness over the fact that after two weeks of paper shuffling, I finally have executed agreements for my next consulting project {can we say pay the rent?!}, but in between meetings today, I slipped into ABC Carpet + Home and went a little bananas over the body products. After my sweet friend, Alyssa, surprised me with a gift of Juara Candlenut Cream, I’ve become OBSESSED. I can’t explain the scent other than to say that you smell clean, like freshly laundered cotton with some nuts thrown in for good measure. And my skin? THE SOFTEST. Worth every penny, my friends. While I was in a purple haze-induced buying spree, I also picked up 80 Acres’ Lavender Body Butter. One word: delicious.

Truth be told, I don’t trust many bloggers. I know that may sound harsh, but after spying a slew of forced sponsored posts and questionable integrity over the years, there are a handful of people whose opinion I really trust. Grace Atwood of Stripes + Sequins is on that short-list, because every product I’ve bought based on her reco is the BUSINESS. Her affection for Tata Harper piqued my interest and I invested in the Rebuilding Moisturizer. For the $$$ I threw down, I pray I fall in love with this product and demand that I be buried with it. I’ll be sure to update you, no doubt. Speaking of Grace, she recently corralled a few lovely ladies to join her in a Chaise class. You guys know I’ve been taking their classes since discovering Class Pass, and I was tickled to meet some new folks, score this necklace as a gift from Bauble Bar, and hole up with my friend Amber after, where I proceeded to hoover all of her carrots and bread products. I’ll be honest and say that the necklace reminds me a bit of a J. Crew necklace I purchased a few seasons back, but the quality of this version is spot-on and definitely easier on the wallet.

Finally, after a BIG GOOP’er eating spree this weekend, I’m determined to introduce more mindful recipes into my repertoire. After thumbing through Kimberley Hasselbrink’s vibrantly-hued and seasonal cookbook, Vibrant Food, I plan to cook through this book like it’s the end of days. Expect to see some virtuous dishes on this space in the coming weeks.

love.life.eat: packing for india edition

Untitled design

Tomorrow I board a plane for India, and I’ve only packed one small rolling bag and two carry-ons for a two-week holiday. You might balk at this; you might talk about all the things I need to bring, but I’ve learned from countless holidays where I’ve had to lug around bags the size of boulders, there is very little I need. Luckily, the fact that the average temperature in Delhi at this time of year is 110F, my choices have pretty much been made for me.

For the next 10 days, I’ll be traveling to Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and Ranthambore. I’ll wake most mornings before dawn and I’ll trek to heritage sites and bengal tiger reserves, so there is little need for me to be fashionable. Yet there is a great need to travel simply and comfortably. To this end, I’ll give you a peek at what I’m packing for my trip.

Clothing + Footwear: I’ve packed seven very thin, breathable shirts, tees and draped open cardis {most of which are from Old Navy + Gap Fit}, 2 pairs of cotton and linen pants {they may look ridiculous, but they sure as hell will be comfortable} and two thin dresses {one linen, one cotton}.

Since most of my days will be spent walking, I’ve packed my sneakers + Supergas {this season I’m rocking a grey pair}.

You might ask what other accessories I’ll be bringing and the answer is: I’m not. I don’t really care how I look when I’m on holiday, rather, I care about what I’m experiencing. And it’ll also be 110F in India.

Entertainment + Brain-Food: Since I spend most of my days on the road and my evenings relaxing, editing photos, blogging and reading, I’ve carted along two books as well as a pile of magazines. Probably the most exciting news {at least for me} before I board that plane is the fact that I’ve broken the 200 page mark on my novel, Follow Me into the Dark. This book feels real and I can’t wait to work on the final section, Part III, when I’m in India.

Tech Gear: Everyone who has ever been to India grabs my arm and talk to me about color, the potency of it, the beauty of it, so I’ve rented the Canon 50mm 1.2F lens for my trip, using it with my 5D Mark II body.

Naturally, I’ve my iPhone {which I’ll only be using when I have access to free Wifi} and my MacBook Air laptop. To make life easier and ensure I don’t blow out my hotel’s power supply, I’ve purchased an adapter. Expect All. The. Pictures.

Skin Survival + Other Toiletries: Since it takes under a minute for me to burn, I’ve packed two bottles of sunscreen, which I will re-applying with every other exhale. I’ve packed my beloved Nyl Serum, which is perfect for when my skin gets slick yet is in need of moisture. All my other beauty products are sample sizes that I’ve procured from my travels. I’ve also packed wet wipes and packets of tissues.

Drugs: After four vaccine shots {tetanus, Hep A were among the four} and a regime of typhoid pills, my doctor prescribe malaria pills, as well as a battery of drugs should I get food poisoning or any other unsightly stomach situation. I’ve also packed TUMS, bandaids, Cortizone, and rubbing alcohol. And you better believe that for a seventeen hour flight, I’ve got Xanax in my carryon. No one wants to hear me scream: WE’RE GOING DOWN!

Food: A lot of my friends poke fun at me for bringing a food bag on the plane, but I don’t care. Using Ziploc bags + tupperware, I’m packing lemon roasted almonds, chocolate covered almonds, dried fruit, edamame, fresh cut veggies, oranges, and one meal, which I’ll be making in the morning. I also have loads of Kind bars and other yummy snacks, which keep me sustained in the event that the airline food is abysmal (which it usually is).

So there you have it! I’m leaving tomorrow, and I’ll be in transit the next two days so expect a batch of posts later on in the week! Wish me safe travels.

love.life.eat. of the week: how not to punch people when you’re sick edition

SHOP

Remember that time when I was sick? When spring broke for a mere second and everyone lost their mind and pranced around in crop tops and aviator shades while I shivered under an avalanche of blankets? Those were the halcyon days when I wanted to stab everyone tweeting gelato photos with an icepick. As one would expect, as soon as the shakes stopped the temperatures dropped, and now I have to practically bark to anyone in a ten-mile radius, I’M NOT CONTAGIOUS ANYMORE!, when I fall into a coughing fit on the subway. While I was sick I was convinced everyone needed to be punched, the world was coming to an end, and setting my novel on fire was a stroke of genius. I should be posting links to cherry-flavored cough medicine, however, I found a few items that brought me solace when I was convinced my death was imminent.

You should know that I rarely get sick, so while I was sporting these insane Gaiam grippy gloves during a Brooklyn Body Burn class, I was confused about two things: 1. Why wasn’t I sweating? 2. Who turned off the volume on the world? After class, I stumbled to the subway, somehow found my way back home, and collapsed on my bed, face-first. That might have been the moment when I realized I had the flu. You should also know that I was still wearing my grippy gloves. GOOD TIMES.

Remember Saturday? 70 degrees? Children yelping and pups strutting? Yeah, I was home practicing self-pity while on the phone with my friend Sarah. During our chat, she clued me into Maisie Jane’s Almond Butter, and can I just say that this butter is PANTS? Free of palm oil and evaporated cane syrup, this nut butter is filing, somehow salty and unbelievably delicious. When I couldn’t fathom eating real food, I laid on my couch and drank smoothies with this butter until I was less homicidal.

When you’re sick, you sweat through dozens of t-shirts, and for me this means showering four times a day. In a hothouse bathroom, whilst contemplating my life and snorting Afrin like it was 2002 and I was doing blow again, I found slathering this Juara Candlenut Body Creme {a sweet surprise gift from a beauty editor friend} incredibly soothing. A week later, I can finally smell this butter and it is glorious.

Finally, today was the first day of a workout where I felt like a normal person. And of course I forgot my plastic water bottle and felt like a hypocritical asshole because I was carting around a plastic water bottle. Thus, I broke down and purchased a BKR bottle and I. LOVE. IT. Not only does the bottle keep my water cool, the grip is fantastic for when I’m lurching over during Pilates class, desperate for a drink.

Status: No longer homicidal. Coughing still.

foodie finds: covet-worthy cookbooks

TAG
Years ago, I remember watching an episode of Nigella Bites, where she opened the doors of her expansive larder to reveal rows of spices, chocolate, tins and exotic foodstuffs from faraway countries — artificats from her life-long affection for food. After I wept over the fact that her larder was the size of most New York apartments, her collection of food souvenirs remained with me. When traveling, I’ve never been the sort who cares for trinkets and knick-knacks. During my visit to South East Asia, my guides were befuddled over the fact that I didn’t want to shop. What kind of American doesn’t crave silk scarves and hand-carved totems? Rather, I asked after the food markets.

Take me to the food, is my constant refrain.

Over the past few years, I’ve curated {oh dear, what an overused word} a collection of spices, biscuits and books that can only be found in the country of origin. While it’s true that you can get everything here, never will I procure six ounces of saffron for $2, or a cookbook from a revered Irish author for $13, on sale. While in Ireland last week, I managed to score three exceptional tomes, of which I found myself obsessively poring over. From cakes to cookies to soothing soups and crisp greens, I can’t wait to cook my way through the books penned by authors from another country. In the midst of the sweet, you’ll also spy a farm-to-table cookbook, Nourished Kitchen, which I received prior to my leaving for Dublin. It’s a fantastic journey back to the roots of our land as well as an impeccable display of delicious, mindful dishes. No doubt you’ll see some recipes from that book on this space in the coming weeks.

Jennifer McGruther’s The Nourished Kitchen | Rachel Allen’s Cake | Rosanne Hewitt-Cromwell’s Like Mam Used to Bake | Clodagh McKenna’s Homemade: Irresistible Homemade Recipes for Every Occasion

love.life.eat of the week

13179143923_781bd3b875_b

1. Sophie Dahl’s exquisite cookbook, Very Fond of Food | 2. Nyl Skincare. Longtime readers of this space know that I love to evangelize small businesses, and I’m privileged to have met the owner of this chemical-free beauty line at one of my consulting gigs. The products are spot-on: the scrubs are fresh and heady with aromatics, the moisturizers are rich and soothing + the serum is my daily salve. As my friend Amber says, get involved | 3. If I were in the market to buy anything accessory-related {I’m not}, I’d acquire this perfect clutch | 4. Yes, these socks are odd-looking, but they seriously work when you’re weeping on a megaformer or pulsing during barre class | 5. Finally, my affection for marble has not abated. I’m currently eyeing these coasters

Sophie Dahl book image credit.

love.life.eat. of the week

Fotor030184749

To say that this week was nothing short of a full-blown tornado would be an understatement. I’m currently settling into my new home, sorting through books and hatching plans to make a virtuous homemade ramen dish this afternoon. I can’t wait to show you snaps of my new home, in progress {coming, promise!}, but in the interim here are a few lovely items that caught my eye this week.

Because I refuse to be beholden to publicists pushing products, I always rely on recommendations from friends whose opinion I trust. While having dinner with the lovely Clara, I kept fawning over her baby alpaca infinity scarf, and believe me when I say that this feels like a blanket around your neck | Since my home is now drenched in wonderful natural light, I decided to take my food photo game to the next level by purchasing this marble slab, which came highly recommended from Emily | When Grace mentioned that this body butter has the texture of marshmallow fluff, I couldn’t resist! After taking a hot shower in my new apartment last night, this butter felt like second skin. So worth the purchase, and I love buying from small businesses |

All the barre classes I’ve taken as of late have started using a variation of these torture devices for thigh + seat work. If you crave burn in your home, wrap one of these around your thighs (just above the knee) and start doing the clamshell. You’ll cry in minutes | Finally, this simple app is saving me in the kitchen as I sometimes bake multiple items at varying cooking times. Download!