when you’re desperate for a lazy weekend in connecticut


After what felt like an Odyssean week, rife with back-to-back conference calls, meetings and a slew of important decisions to make, I want nothing more than to lie in the grass and feast on cherries. So when my oldest and dearest friend invited me for a long, leisurely weekend of berry picking, grilling and frolicking in her new outdoor pool, I packed a bag, penned an email to my colleagues and booked a sister for my SOPHIE. In a few short hours I will leave the office to cruise on Amtrak to end up three hours away from the city…and I CANNOT WAIT!

Much like Kris of Young, Married Chic, I would never set foot in someone’s home without a gift. Whether I’m in my home and or a guest in someone else’s, I am the perennial entertainer. A few weeks ago a friend was in my neighborhood and asked if she could pop by for a few hours? I made her a pistachio loaf cake and brewed tea. My dearest friend invites me over for the weekend? I’m packing Barbie dolls for her little girl and something sweet for her mom.

I’ve got a few hours to kill until I hit Amtrak, so I plan on snagging a few items from Haven’s Kitchen (think Ovenly cookies, homemade granola in mason jars, mini spoons and tea) and a fat bunch of blooms.

What do you bring as a house gift? Any creative baskets? Would love to hear your thoughts!



no, you haven’t landed in the twilight zone!


However, you are humbly and graciously welcome in my new home, Love. Life. Eat. For nearly a decade I’ve been blogging about writing, myself, writing, myself, myself, myself, and I’ve finally decided to take the lens away from myself and focus on my passion — food and entertaining. In this new space, you’ll see video food technique, my culinary adventures (read: mishaps) in the kitchen, snaps of places that I’m loving and a look inside my apartment of which I’m finally making into a home.

Your love, support, emails and kind words over the years are what have inspired me to make this leap, and over the next few weeks I’ll be tinkering with the window dressing, getting your feedback, and trying to create my own virtual home.

lovely living
home decor

home decor: a home of one’s own

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There was a time when home was merely a place where my mail had been forwarded. Home was an apartment with four barren walls and no affection. Home was a place stripped of all life, a windowsill where cacti withered, a repository for castaway furniture from ruined relationships. As someone who has lived an itinerant life in the confines of New York City, I never gave thought to establishing roots. I never considered what it would feel like to settle, to leave a mark, to make a house an actual home.

Brief parenthetical: While I was in Cambodia I devoted some thought on the notion of bucket lists. I’ve always hated the term, always loathed the wretched, endless lists scrawled across so many hopeful blogs. Part of me wanted to strip down an endless list to a focused commitment to the things and people for which I feel most passionate. And as I’ve had the privileged to have so many shining lights in my life, dear friends who have quietly nudged or ferociously pushed me to places I felt too dangerous and uncertain to go, I’ve benefitted from people who see beyond what’s in front of me. People who can definitively say, THIS IS WHAT YOU SHOULD BE DOING.

The result? I’ve committed to light the way for one of my friends. I’ve had the great joy of working with Christine White, one of the most humble, caring and stylish people I know. There’s something truly honest and authentic about her affection for how one can imbue simple beauty into their lives. Her style is playful, whimsical, delightful — always with an eye toward value. Christine is the sort of person who can pull together an outfit fashioned of Zara and H&M, but will find a way to truly make it her own. In a host of copy-cat, fame-seeking personal style bloggers, Christine is a gust of refreshing air breathing life into a home, kitchen and closet worth coveting.

Christine is gifted, and what better way to celebrate her innate talent than to PAY HER TO PURSUE HER PASSION.

I’ve challenged my former colleague and friend to help me decorate my home. Granted this is a difficult challenge as I’m a difficult, fickle person who is ALWAYS BUSY, but she’s been patient and thoughtful throughout this wonderful journey. After our intake session where she scanned my home, took measurements, inquired about color schemes and fabrics, I sent her a Pinterest board filled with homes that I adored. Minimalist, warm, luxe — I abhor clutter and seek out comfort. And did I mention that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE BLUE?

And this is precisely what Chris did. She created vision boards for each room, along with floor plans and we’ve gone shopping! After seven years of deliberation, I’ve finally invested in a BLUE COUCH!

Over the next few months, you’ll see how my home will be transformed from a den of collected items to a space worth loving.


dining alfresco with healthy eats + treats!


Truth be told, nothing gives me more joy than entertaining. The flurry of activity — the menu, table dressing, napkins, music and the placement of my kitty (SOPH!) — is akin to a minor victory and a major rebirth. Over dinner plans are hatched, ideas are born and friendships are intensified. It’s a wonderful thing to celebrate the ones you love with food, and I had the great privilege last weekend to open my home to my work team. For nearly four hours, we laughed, traded stories and chowed down. All work talk was verboten, rather this evening was devoted to building bonds within our team.

And can we talk about the menu?! I’m a firm believer that you can entertain with healthy food without sacrificing flavor. And what better way to reward your virtuosity than with a slice of crumble blueberry pie??!

Kicking if off, I made a homemade orecchiette pasta with roasted cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Halve grape tomatoes, coat them in salt, pepper and olive oil and roast on 375F for 10-12 minutes. Add al dente pasta, fat balls of cheese and fresh basil for the finish. This salad is divine pipping hot or room temperature. Although I made the pasta from scratch, box will absolutely do.

Turning up the volume on a fruit salad, I decided to toss in some salty prosciutto and it was an UNEQUIVOCAL WIN. For maximum flavor and texture play, toss in watermelon, grapes and raspberries with a basil chiffonade. For the dressing, I mixed in a tablespoon of honey, 5 tablespoons of garlic-infused olive oil, juice of a lime, and salt/pepper. Mix and dress the salad.

A bowl of pipping hot edamame with sea salt, a kale salad with spinach, coconut chunks, blueberries and sundried tomatoes dressed in olive oil is the perfect segue into the blueberry pie crumble.

And what a cinch! I used a store-bought organic pie crust. For the filling, I used 1 1/2 cup of blueberries, 1 tablespoon of rhubarb syrup and 3/4 cup of cane sugar. For the crumble, I mixed 3/4 all-purpose flour, 6 tablespoons of butter, 1/2 cup of cane sugar and 1 tsp of cinnamon.

The result? A famished team feasting on delicious, wholesome chow; a well-fed team cackling on volume ten on a cool Sunday evening; a happy team traveling home with oodles and oodles of food.



pie + tart recipes, sweet recipes

french pastry in the kitchen: blueberry galette

blueberry galette

You are thirty-six and this is your life. There was a time when you sat on the ledge, knees pressed up against the glass, waiting for the gloaming. Nightfall is your time. On the radio the disc-jockey plays “Sunday, Bloody Sunday,” and you turn the volume up to ten. Many of your friends tell you that you’re like this — a volume ten. In response, you feign agreement. Create diversions. Down the hall the motley lot open and slam metal doors, kicking tight shirts out of the closet, busy in the thick of a pre-game, sloe-gin buzz. You are past the Zima stage and knee-deep in Absolut. You haven’t yet acquired a taste for wine because vodka is cheap and always gets the job done. Inside your room your roommate plays puppeteer; she plays out the night before she hits the gates, flashes her ID. She’s deliberate this way. She folds the creases in her shirts this way.

You contemplate escape. A house in the woods. Four walls, a thatched roof, a little garden that grows beets. But then you remember you hate beets and the fiction is ruined, so you listen to your roommate drone on about this boy on the crew team, and this puts you to thinking of Brooklyn and how the word crew held an entirely different meaning. You’re so quiet, so withdrawn into the recesses of the glass, watching all of your friends travel in packs toward the bar that sells fifty-cent drafts that you don’t notice your roommate shaking your shoulder. What do you think?

What if this, this life, was not what was intended? What if we were meant for something other? Felicia, you’re funny, she says. Everyone seems to think you’re funny. Everyone but you. You wonder if this friendship will last beyond the confines of four years in the Bronx.

Your roommate plays “The Fly” and shimmies her hips, and you decide that you like the bloody song better.

Years later you’re in bar called 1020. It’s turning out to be one of those nights that starts one way and ends another. You’re wearing this plaid wool skirt and red sweater and someone asks you if you know how to shoot pool. In response you say that pool was your mother’s game — you don’t touch the stuff. You’re funny. Did anyone ever tell you that? On the way to the bathroom you bump into the woman who will alter you. She will be the one on the phone that day in February when you tell her that you have the shakes. That you’ve got to quit the drink. That there’s no other way. And she will pull you out of the dark country and into the light — this woman will alter. Organizational managers call these people change agents. But that night you exchange an excuse me, because it’s not yet time. You’re not ready for her, yet.

A few years later you meet her again, in Russia, and you talk about pills. You trade black-outs and highs like baseball cards. She annoys you with the constant gum-smacking and penchant for erratic fidgeting, but something about her unnerves you, puts your heart on pause, and for the next six years she is the whole of your world.

You remember that cab ride downtown and how you both fall back on old stories to fill the large spaces. Over the past few months the ground has opened up between the two of you — you can feel the reverberation, the splintering, the fissuring — and you can’t stop it. There was a definitive moment when you stopped needing her; you must have become a stranger to her, barely an apparition of the single self you both used to be. And the one story you both long to tell — the heartbreaking ending to the story of us — you couldn’t. Where are the words? How do we form them? How do you measure the end of a great love? How do you quietly drift? So instead you tell a story, like you always do, and she says, You’re funny. But this is not.

And when your mother phones, a crackling voice over a telephone line, a voice of over a decade past, it is your college roommate who makes you watch funny movies until you laugh out the tears. It’s she who listens as you weep into a phone receiver, and holds your hard through the dark spaces. She is the one friend who you never imagined would endure, but does. She is the one friend who is a constant, the beloved who remains.

You are thirty-six and this is your life. And you think about your dearest friend, Elizabeth, who is that great quiet love that has not altered. And as you bake this pastry, you somehow think of all of this — the past and present and back again — and how this one friend knew you when you thought it smart to dump wisticher sauce in an Italian lasagna.

Look how far you’ve come.

Blueberry Crumble Galette (Recipe courtesy of Country Cleaver), with alterations.
Pie Crust: 1 9-in pie
3/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
6 tbsp butter, cut into cubes and frozen
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup iced water

Pie Filling:
1 1/2 cups blueberries
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tsp rhubarb (or maple) syrup
1 egg white, for brushing pie crust

Crumble Topping:
1/2 cup rolled oats
5 tbsp cold butter, cubed
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup dark brown sugar

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.

For Pie Crust:
Although you can blitz this to the size of small peas in a food processor, inspired by old memories, I decided to give this a go by hand. In a large bowl, cut the dough with a pastry cutter or use a fork and spoon. What you’re trying to do is incorporate the butter, flour and water until a dough starts to form. Once you have a mass that starts to cling together, remove the dough form from the bowl. On a well-floured surface, knead together dough for 2-3 minutes. Roll out dough on a floured surface until the crust is about 12″ in diameter. Place dough onto a large square of parchment paper and set parchment and rolled dough into a large cookie sheet.

In the middle of the round of pie crust, pour the blueberry mixture into the middle. Corral blueberries into the middle in a mound. Fold outer edges of the pie crust over the berries to contain them. Brush edges of the pie crust with egg whites.

Crumble Topping:
In a medium bowl, combine all crumble topping ingredients by hand by massaging the butter into the oat and sugar mixture. You want the consistency of fat peas. Pour over the blueberry galette and allow to fall into the cracks and crevices of the blueberries.

Bake galette in the cast iron for about 30 minutes or until the crumble and the crust is golden brown. Allow to cool for 20 minutes in the cast iron once it has been removed from the oven. Slice while warm and serve with ice cream.


lovely living

spinning + brunching in new york city!

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Spend a lazy weekend in New York, and you’ll spy a parade of pooches and hoards of people dining al fresco, eating brunch. Back in the day brunch was simply another excuse to get drunk during the day, but now that I’ve embarked on a life free of alcohol I’ve been more discerning about the places I want to patron because I can’t realize on the taste bud anesthesia that only a bottle of wine can bring.

A creature of habit, I tend to cleave a handful of haunts — many of which are within walking distance of my gym. After years of ranting about the EVILS of spinning, I found myself taking a class with my friend and falling rapturously in love. Once I got over the pain of sitting on an uncomfortable bike for 45 minutes I began to feel energized, re-charged and cleansed after my cycling class. There’s something cathartic about being in a dark room, pushing yourself to your limits — being on the verge — and then leaving, soaking wet, and stepping out into the warm light of day.


For the past few weeks I’ve made in my routine to start my Saturday with a cycle class and a brunch catch-up with a close friend. Lately, I’ve been obsessed with Doma Na Rohu. From the hand-crafted ceramic mugs and dishes to the cranberry tea on tap to the fluffy eggs and lingonberry preserves, there’s no shortage of flavor in this airy, rustic brunch spot. You’ll find the freshest ingredients, local produce, organic eggs and a menu that’s full on flavor and easy on your pocket.

But if you’re looking for the hot hotcake spot, look no further than Clinton Street Bakery. A LES institution, you’ll find the fluffiest pancakes (they whip their whites into a mousse-like consistency to get aerated cakes), locally-sourced ingredients, and the finest chicken and waffles you’ve ever laid your eyes on. Granted the wait is Odyssean, but believe me when I say that the hotcakes, carefully crafted crumble muffins, and applewood smoked bacon ARE WORTH IT. What I love about Clinton Street Bakery is the lack of trickery. They’re not trying to re-invent breakfast, they’re not trying to be a hero — their goal is simply to make the classics BETTER.


bravery in the kitchen: strawberry rhubarb crumble

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Know that my intentions were pure and virtuous as I hit the kitchen on a sweltering Saturday, inspired by my all-day food styling class, in pursuit of a crumble. I’d purchased fresh rhubarb and strawberries from the farmer’s market and I was delirious about creating a recipe, from scratch.

And then it all fell apart.

It might be helpful to recognize that some glassware can’t be used in the oven. Mid-way through the baking process, I checked on the crumble to find shards of glass scattered inside the oven, and filling oozed on the rack. Naturally, as one would expect, my smoke alarm went off, my cat fled into the bedroom, and I spent the greater part of ten minutes on top of a chair swatting at said alarm with a towel.

I’m not done. Not by a long shot.

I tried to place the half-baked crumble into another dish and it was a HOT MESS. Literally. I also found it somewhat suspicious that there was entirely too much liquid compared to the dry ingredients, and it dawned on me that I’d used TOO MUCH FRUIT. And like any good baker, I fell into a deep denial, shoved my crap pie back into the oven and set the timer.

Unfortunately, the crumble wasn’t the masterpiece I expected. It was tasty and much better cold, but the filling completely overpowered the crust and the appearance — well, not even a Canon 5D Mark III can make this a beauty. SIGH.

After another round of tinkering, I got the adjustments right but it was entirely too dark to snap a photo. However, the day wasn’t lost because I created something from scratch, I conceived of a new way to make a crumble and I had fun doing it. Often we see perfect and pristine photographs of earthy delights, yet a great deal of us FAIL in the kitchen. And I think it’s important to show and share those mishaps, as well. We should do more of it.

So, after much grief and joy, I present…The Rhubarb Strawberry Crumble.

For the Crumble:
3/4 cup almond flour
3/4 cup cane sugar
1/2 cup oats (please don’t use instant oats or oatmeal)
1/3 cup plain Greek yoghurt
3 tbsp butter

For the Filling:
2 cups chopped rhubarb, chopped 1/2 inch dice
2 cups strawberries, chopped in half, stems removed
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp rhubarb syrup
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Pre-heat your oven to 375F. In a medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients and add stir in the yoghurt with a wooden spoon and spatula. With your hands, work the cold butter into the mixture until you get the consistency of large clumps of peas. You want to ensure that the dry ingredients bind and cohere, so while the yoghurt is a terrific start, the butter will give you that tight bind and incredible flavor, which makes a crumble sing. Once the topping is ready set aside.

In a medium bowl, toss the rhubarb and strawberries with the syrup, vinegar and sugar until all of the fruit is completely covered.

In a 9inch pie dish, add the filling and ensure that it is evenly distributed in the dish. Add the crumble and bake at 375F for 45 minutes until your topping is crispy and golden and your filling is bubbling and oozing.

Serve hot with ice-cream!



pie + tart recipes sweet recipes
new york eats

sweet eats: ovenly: greenpoint, brooklyn

Ovenly is the sort of place I’d open if I had money in the bank and a penchant for dealing with people like me who come in and fawn over the pastries, snap copious amounts of photographs and chat vanilla crumble crusts with the owner. Ovenly is the sort of place people dream of owning — a postage stamp of real estate that is home to domed pistachio muffins, passion iced-teas and piping-hot strawberry pie. Who can resist a pie cooling? Not me, I assure you, and I’m glad I made the ODYSSEAN trek from my home in Brooklyn to Greenpoint (ah, the G TRAIN JOYS!) — the word-of-mouth on this kitchen is that good.

From minimalist, ceramic tables and elegant iron chairs to a counter chockfull of crumbling chocolate chip cookies samples, dusted with sea salt for good measure, you’ll feel as if you’re in a home away from home — if only your home were this cool and fragrant with pastry. Although the space begs you to settle down with a newspaper, the goods are the true stars of the proverbial show. Currant rosemary scones are subtly sweet and woody, peanut butter cookies are crumbly and perfect, and the honey mustard in the cheddar scones truly delivers maximum flavor. You’ll find unexpected flavor combinations and texture plays, and you can taste the love that went into each scone, the care imbued in each cookie. The goods are golden.

Simply put Ovenly is absolutely, unequivocally, worth the trek. Check out their website for more information, and if you’re in Brooklyn make Ovenly your essential dessert visit.

foodie finds

a day of magic: cooking + food styling with la tartine gourmande @ haven’s kitchen, nyc



Today was a day worth photographing, literally. This morning I woke giddy, tossed the comforter aside and got my camera ready for a full day of snapping, savoring, and styling with one of my revered home cooks, La Tartine Gourmande. It was 2007 when I discovered her site, and I remembered poring over her recipes, awestruck by the freshness of the photography, the whimsy of the styling (the bowls!), and recipes that were always, simply, delovely. As a self-taught baker and improvisational cook, I found Béatrice Peltre intimidating, unattainable — she was French!, she had a camera worth coveting, and was making pastries I’d only dreamed of baking. But over the years I followed her evolution, and witnessed photos that were less stylized and more rustic and elegant. And in the time I grew as well. I had quietly mastered yeast, perfected the chocolate mousse and burned a few cookies and toughened some muffins along the way.

I also shifted from a simple point-and-shoot camera to a complicated DSLR, and learned the meaning of the words: aperture, depth of field, ISO, f/stop, shooting raw, bokeh — and as one would expect, I fumbled and got frustrated and took hundreds and hundreds of photographs to find my hero. Someone once told me that being a photographer isn’t necessarily about tools and technique, rather it is about falling rapturously in love with your subject. So I guess it’s safe to say that this blog has become an ode to food, a sonnet about its color, texture, shape and taste.

However, love is tough and tricky and tumultuous, and I sometimes find myself furious that I didn’t capture the right shot; I wasn’t able to show you through a photograph how hearty that multi-grain loaf was. How the preserves practically melted into the loaf. HOW I TOOK A PICTURE OF A JAR OF JAM WITH ITS GODDAMN PRICE-TAG AFFIXED FRONT AND CENTER.


So instead of the usual routine, I invested in an all-day food styling and photography class with one of my culinary loves at Haven’s Kitchen. And from the moment I set foot in the simple, refined space, I started swooning. From the lavender bundles and lemon soaps to vintage white restaurant plates and artisanal teas to stacks of fabric napkins and peonies tied with twine, you can’t help but want to pack up your bags and set up a pup-tent in the kitchen. Suffice to say, Haven’s Kitchen is a foodies’ paradise.

And then there was Bea — and she was charming, self-effacing, French, kind, patient, and obsessed with all the details. Over the course of the day I learned that I should always shoot with an ISO of 100 while always, always adjusting my aperture and shutter speed. Olive oil can provide sheen, while a spray bottle and ice-bath are perfection for keeping veggies crisp and mouth-watering. I learned that food composition was about simplicity, lack of clutter, and a determined focus — it’s never helpful to have your eyes distracted by too much color, texture and contrast. And most of all, I learned that while I adore Bea’s photos, the photos I take are from my perspective, my point-of-view, and are sometimes a little over-exposed. I like the white-out, the freshness of it. I love colors that pop a little more than they should, and today I experimented (as you can see from the PILES OF PHOTOS in this post) with a tripod (oh my), with darker lighting, and with a lot of cropping.

But let’s not forget the food! There was so much of it. From piles of French, Australian and UK magazines showcasing the stylings of the world’s greatest gastronomic art directors to the strawberry tiramisus and piles of tartines made with ricotta and heaps of vegetables and buttery prosciutto, I found myself shooting and consuming delicious, flavorful food.

Not only do I absolutely need to fix everything in Bea’s cookbook, La Tartine Gourmande: Recipes for an Inspired Life, I need to ferret out inspiration from all sorts of places. I need to experiment, to play, to fail — all of this will lead me to what’s next.

I believe this to be true.

So what do you guys think of the photos? I’d love to hear your thoughts + feedback + TIPS!