Green Goddess Dressing

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I made you a bowl of greens.

Eat this while I eat some french fries and cake balls.

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A few weeks ago I made a SANDWICH inspired by Green Goddess Dressing.

What I didn’t tell you about that sandwich was that it was just an excuse to buy soft, white, sandwich bread so I could make myself late night cinnamon-sugar toast.

Uh-huh.

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But!  It turns out that the sandwich inspired me to make the real-deal dressing.

And the dressing inspired me to make this real-deal mess in my kitchen.

(This) Green Goddess Dressing is:

Creamy, tangy, thick, packed with spinach, fresh tarragon, fresh basil, scallions, parsley, mint and mustard.  Lemon too.  It’s thick and delicious.  It’s good for you.  It’s a really great alternative to ranch dressing.  It’s lower in fat and has spinach in it.  I don’t feel nearly as bad about chugging this dressing.

Chugging.

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I tossed this gorgeous dressing on home grown lettuce.  Fresh clipped lettuce.  Lettuce that came from the dirt behind my house.

I, however, did not grow this lettuce.  I have a black thumb.  Not a green thumb.  I have a thumb for making cookies, not for growing green things.

I exchange fresh lettuce for fresh biscuits and slices of cake.

David is a great neighbor and master gardener.  He also talks to my cat through the screen.  My cat talks back.  I like this.

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If you don’t like salad, maybe you’re the kind of person that likes COOKIES.  You probably are.  You look like a cookie person.

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No?  You want a FRUIT CRUMBLE!?  Fine then.  Geez.  Chill out.

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No?  You want a KITTEN?  Come and take him.  We’ll have to arm wrestle for him though… and I totally cheat. So.  Yea.  Let’s do it.

Green Goddess Dressing

makes: 1 1/2 cups dressing

inspired by Epicurious

Print this Recipe!

1 cup non-fat plain yogurt

1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used low fat olive oil mayo)

1 cup loosely packed spinach leaves

small handful fresh tarragon leaves (about 3 tablespoons)

small handful fresh basil leaves

1/3 cup loosely packed flat leaf parsley

1/4 cup diced scallions

2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves

1 small garlic clove

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice plus 1 teaspoon lemon zest

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fit with a blade attachment.  There is no need to chop the spinach or herbs.  The food processor will do all the work for you.  Do be sure to slice the scallions.  Pulse all of the ingredients in the food processor until the begin to combine.  Pulse for 5 seconds at a time until all of the greens are minced and well incorporated into the dressing.  Taste.  Add salt and pepper as necessary.  Add a touch more olive oil or a bit of water to create a thinner consistency.

If you don’t have a food processor, this recipe will also work in a blender.  I chopped all of my herbs and greens before adding to the blender.  This helps ensure that all of the greens break down evenly.  Combine all ingredients and blend.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add water and olive oil to thin the consistency, if desired.

If you don’t have a food processor or a blender, this recipe can be made by hand… with just a little elbow grease.  Finely chop spinach, herbs, scallions and garlic.  Really mince them fine.  Whisk herbs together with the rest of the ingredients.  Really give it a good stirring with the whisk.  Add salt and pepper to taste and serve as a dip of as a salad dressing.

Dressing will last 3 to 4 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

 

Candied Pecan Biscotti

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Today I was totally successful at inspiring frustration and anger in at least several people. At least several. Ooooh my goodness. Have you ever had one of these days?  It’s the kind of day when you think the world (or at least all of the people around you) have gone mad, only to realize that you are the common denominator… meaning that you, in fact, are the common jerk?  I’m completely talking about myself here. You are a kind and lovely person who never loses yourself to angrybears. I am not always as kind… and that’s why you inspire me.

Since I was in a crunchy attitude, I made the appropriate cookies.  These biscotti are crunchy and sweet… and I guarantee that, when served with a bitter cup of black coffee,  they inspire an attitude adjustment.  They help flip the switch.  Yes… I use food to adjust my feelings.  Welcome to my real life living.

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I’d like to now entice you to make candied pecans.  This can go one of two ways.  You may want to attack me with a happy bear hug… or you may want to kick me in the shin.  These nuts are so good, they usually inspire a dramatic response.

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Raw pecans are coated in a sweet and spicy egg white glaze.

It’s a drippy business.

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Candied pecans are crusty, sweet, and crunchy gems.

We’re going to bake up two cups of pecans, but only add about 1 1/2 cups into the biscotti dough.

You see what we did there?  That leaves us 1/2 cup for snacking!

This is a ‘know thyself’ situation…

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Biscotti dough is simple and spiced.

Cinnamon and nutmeg will do the trick.

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Biscotti dough is tenderly moist, but not overly wet.

Could this dough get any nuttier?  It’s a good thing you snacked so hard.

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Biscotti dough is shaped into a perfect and flawless rectangular log of dough.

… or you could just press it into a haphazard rectangle with finger marks all over it, and call it a ready.

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Here is where biscotti magic begins.

The slicing of the cooked and slightly cooled dough.

Here we have a choice.  Flip and double bake the biscotti for a crispy cookie (perfect in you’ve got a crunchy attitude), or single bake them and leave the cookies soft and tender.

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 Pecan studded and sweetly spiced.  These cookies are dry and hard to the tooth.  They do well with a good dip into black coffee.  The toasted pecan flavor makes them alluringly sweet with the candy coating.  Consider these crunchy (attitude adjusting) dipping cookies.

Candied Pecan Biscotti

makes about 2 dozen biscotti

Print this Recipe!

2 cups flour

3/4  teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup granulated sugar

6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla

For Pecans:

1 large egg white

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

2 cups raw pecan halves

Start by making the pecans.  Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk egg white until the whites have foamed into small white bubbles. Add sugar, spices, and salt.  Whisk until thick and opaque. Add pecans and toss to coat. Once thoroughly coated, spoon pecans onto prepared baking sheet. Leave any extra coating in the bowl.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until nuts are fragrant and toasted golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before chopping and incorporating into biscotti batter.

To make the Biscotti:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and arrange two baking racks in the upper portion of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fit with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the down and beat in the egg followed by the egg yolk.  Beat in the vanilla extract.

Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter all at once. With the mixer or just with a spatula, bring all of the ingredients together until a somewhat stiff dough is formed. Fold in 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans.

Divide the dough in two on the two making sheets. Shape each half of dough into a 9-inch long and 1 1/2-inch wide log. Bake the two sheets on two different racks in the oven for 20 minutes.  Rotate the cookie sheets for even baking and bake for 20-25 more minutes until golden and firm to the touch.

Remove from the oven but keep the oven on.  Let biscotti cool until able to handle.  Using a serrated knife, cut logs into 1/2-inch wide diagonal slices.  Place biscotti cut side down on baking sheet and sprinkle with more cinnamon sugar.  Bake again until pale golden, about 10-15 minutes.

Store in an airtight container for up to one week.

Green Israeli Couscous Salad

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You know those mornings when you:

wake up in a panic because you forgot to send an important email…

and wait!  you only slept five hours!  where did all of these zits come from!?  like… seriously.

and the coffee line is surprisingly short, but you spill coffee on your shoes because you’re an absolute bonehead.

and technology is confusing.

but cookies are totally not confusing so you eat like, thirty of them.

and it would be awesome if you could just stay home and hide from things… but the world keeps on spinning… and you keep spilling things… and emails keep coming… and seriously with the text messages!?

You know those days?

when work feels suffocating.  and it’s 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and you’re still trying to pull something out of your day.  well… something besides cookies.

I had that day yesterday.  I just couldn’t turn things right.  It was like slow motion falling, all day long.

It’s ok.  It really is.  Some days are just funktown.

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What turns around these days?

Buying your best friend cupcakes for her birthday.  Yes.  Buying!!!  I already told you it was a rough day!  Geez!  Sometimes bakers buy cupcakes.  That’s real life!

Buy cupcakes.  Light candles.  Pet a fluffy sweet dog named Willy.  Sing Happy Birthday to Miss (dirty 30) Whitney.

Doing nice things for other people totally helps me out of a funky day funk.  It feels good.  Making other people happy is the best distraction there is!  Truly.

Buy cupcakes if you have to.  Eat cookies if things get weird.  Do good things for other people.  Also… try couscous for lunch.  It’ll totally counteract all of the cookies you ate for breakfast, and the cupcakes you’re about to eat after pizzadinner.  Pizzadinner is totally a word.

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Israeli couscous is a toasted pasta shaped like little balls.  It’s different from traditional couscous, in that it’s much larger, really holds it’s shape, and doesn’t clump together.  Tiny pasta balls.  Like tapioca, but more pasta-y.

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I love to turn this couscous into a salad.

I had a theme this go-round.  I wanted everything to be green.

Snap peas.  Raw.  Sliced.  Crisp.  Pretty.

Maybe you want to try asparagus?  Go for it!!

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Green onions and green parsley.  I’m really into parsley.

Maybe you want to try basil and oregano?  Heck yes!

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Big chunks of cucumber too!

What?  You want to use roasted zucchini!?  Why didn’t I think of that?

And lemon.  Lemon should go into everything.

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I toss it all together with lemon juice and olive oil.  Salt and coarse pepper for days.

Feta cheese too… because come on!  Don’t be dumb.

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I thought toasted pistachios were a nice touch too.  They’re green.  I love a theme.

Feel free to play around with the ingredients.

This is just a simple little ditty for a ditty of a day.

 

Green Israeli Couscous Salad

four small or two large servings

Print this Recipe!

3 cups water

1 1/2 cups dry Israeli Couscous

generous pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups sliced snap peas

1 English cucumber, cut into chunks

1/3 cup chopped parsley

1/2 cup sliced green onions

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup roasted and salted pistachios

salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste

about 3 tablespoons olive oil

about 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

In a medium saucepan, bring three cups of water to a boil.  Add a generous pinch of salt, followed by Israeli couscous.  Stir and reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer until couscous is just tender, with a slight bite, about 10 to 13 minutes.

Drain into a fine mesh strainer and rinse with cold water.  Set aside.

Toss cooled couscous with the rest of the ingredients.  Taste and add more salt and pepper as necessary.

Yea… it’s that easy!  Cook couscous and toss it with veggies, herbs, cheese, lemon and olive oil.

Chocolate Peppermint Roll with chocolate ganache

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Own your life.  Own every last bit of it.

Don’t send your Christmas cards out until you’re good and ready.  Wear neon purple tights with a grey dress… why not ?  Go heavy on the gold eyeshadow…tis the season.  Green nail polish?  Go on.   Run through the rain… or sleep in and skip exercise class.

Fashion your cakes into a roll and slice generous portions for yourself, and skinnier portions for other people.  Pretend not to notice what you’re doing.

Whatever it is:  own it!

Maybe you’re one of those people who thinks that rolling a cake is bonkers crazy and waaaaay too hard for you to do.

I’m hear to change your heart and mind.  Ok?  Let’s do this!

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The secret to this roll cake is its spongy texture.

The spongy texture comes from eggs.  Egg yolks and egg whites are separated, beaten in a mixer until thick and stiff, then folded back together.

Want to know the other good news about this cake?

It’s GLUTEN FREE! I know… there’s no flour.  Plain and simple.

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There are some specific things you need to make this cake happen.

There’s 4 ounces of chocolate.  Treat yourself to some fancy chocolate.  It’s worth it for this recipe.

You’ll also need parchment paper.  Essential.  Don’t skip this step.

roll cake

Egg yolks and sugar are beaten until pale and thick then folded with melted chocolate.

Thick and pale yellow egg yolks mixed with glossy brown melted chocolate.  The batter will be thick and fluffy.  Amen.

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Egg whites are beaten to stiff, slightly glossy peaks.  Stiff like this!  Egg whites that stand their ground.

roll cake

The egg whites are folded into the chocolate egg yolk-y mixture.  Folded and folded.  Bit by bit into a fluffy chocolate batter.

Cake batter.  So sweet and innocent.  Just waiting to be baked.

The baked cake come out spongy and light.  It’s just begging to be spread with whipped cream and rolled into a festive shape.

Are you scared of cake cracks?  Sure… this will happen to the best of us.  Just remember… this cake was born to be rolled.

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Spread with a thin layer of peppermint, vanilla bean whipped cream.

Or just crazily spoon the whipped cream into you mouth.  Whatever works.

This is the part that might make you want to hold your breath.

Ok… it makes me want to hold my breath.  Maybe it’s just me.

Let’s roll.

Start rolling the short side of the cake.  A loose roll.  No biggie.

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Use the parchment paper to help you roll.  Use the parchment paper and peel it away.

See that giant crack through the center of the cake.

No biggie.  That’s going to be in the center of the cake.  Stay on your roll!

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Finish with the cake seam side down.

Nevermind that little crack.

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Give yourself, and the cake a little pat on the back.

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Then pour chocolate all over it… all the heck over it.

Crushed candy canes are a lovely last minute garnish.

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Look how pretty you can make life!

Do you see all those cracks in the cake?  Nope… you don’t see em at all.  They’re all folded and rolled up… and covered in whipped cream and chocolate.  Even when things go cracked… whipped cream heals most wounds.

This cake is such a lovely holiday treat.  It’s festive and way way impressive.  It’s so light.  It’s effortless to eat.  It reminds me of fluffy cake ice cream.  So so dang yummy!

Don’t like peppermint?  Feel free to flavor your whipped cream filling with only pure vanilla, with almond extract, or orange zest and extract.

Make it yours.  Own it (then share it)!

Chocolate Peppermint Roll

Makes 1 roll cake, serves about 8

adapted from Joy of Baking

Print this Recipe!

For the Cake:

4 oz semi sweet chocolate, chopped fine

6 large eggs, separated

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

pinch of salt

3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

For the Whipped Filling:

1 1/4 cup heavy cream, cold

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or scrapings from 1 vanilla bean

1-2 teaspoons peppermint extract (start with one teaspoon and add more according to your taste).

For the Ganache:

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate pieces

2/3 cups heavy cream

To make the Cake:

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 17×12-inch baking sheet with butter or vegetable spray.  Line the baking sheet with parchment paper (not foil… definitely parchment), and grease and flour the paper too.  The parchment should overhand the sides of the pan just an inch or so.  Let the baking sheet aside.

It’s easiest to separate egg yolks from egg whites when they are cold.  After separating, allow them about 20 minutes to come to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat together egg yolks and 1/4 cup granulated sugar.  Beat the eggs until they are thick and pale in color.  This usually takes about 5 to 7 minutes at medium-high speed.  The egg yolk mixture will pour in a thick ribbon from the beater, that’s how your know they’ve been beaten enough.

While the eggs are beating, melt the chocolate pieces.  You can melt them in the microwave with low heat for a few seconds, stirring every once in a while as it melts.  I melt chocolate over a double boiler.  Place a few inches of water in a medium pan.  Bring to a simmer.  Place chocolate pieces in a heatproof bowl, and place the bowl over the boiling water.  Stir the chocolate until it is melted completely.  Turn off the heat and carefully remove the bowl from the simmering water.  Allow the chocolate to cool for just a few minutes.

Add the thickened egg yolk mixture to the chocolate mixture.  Gently stir together until just incorporated.  Stir in the vanilla.  The addition of the chocolate to the egg yolk mixture will thicken the egg yolks further, and make the chocolate appear fluffy in texture.  Perfect.  Set aside.

Clean the bowl and whisk attachment of your electric mixer well.  Dry them to insure that no remaining egg yolk is present.  Add the egg whites to the bowl.  Using the whisk attachment, beat on medium speed until frothy, about 2 minutes.  Add the pinch of salt, and gradually add the cream of tartar.  Increase speed to medium-high until soft peaks form.  Gradually add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar while beating.  Allow the mixture to beat until stiff peaks form.

Place the chocolate egg yolk mixture in a large bowl.  Place about 1/3 of the stiff egg whites in the bowl and gently fold.  Use a light hand to sweep the egg whites through the center of the chocolate mixture, up and under.  Fold until just incorporated, but large egg white and chocolate streaks remain.  Add another 1/3 of the egg whites and continue to fold.  The batter will be glossy and fluffy.  This fluff will create the desired sponge texture of the cake, so we want to deflate the egg whites as little as possible.  Fold in the remaining egg whites and gently fold together until just about entirely incorporated.

Immediately transfer the batter to the prepared baking sheet.  Carefully smooth into the pan creating an even thickness.  Don’t fuss with the batter too much.  The more fussing, the more the cake deflates.  If the cake batter doesn’t easily each end to end, then just try to make a even rectangle.  Don’t sweat it.

Bake cake for 15 to 17 minutes.  When done the cake will have a dry top and a spongey, bounce back feel.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

While the cake cools, prepare the whipped cream and ganache.

To make the Whipped Filling:

Place heavy cream in the bowl of an electric stand mixer with the granulated sugar, vanilla and peppermint extract.  Beat to soft, whipped cream peaks.  The whipped cream should hold its shape but still be velvety and spreadable.  Allow to rest in the refrigerator.

To make the Ganache:

Place chocolate pieces in a medium bowl.  Heat cream in a small sauce pan to almost boiling.  The milk will be steaming hot.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate pieces.  Allow to stand for one minute before whisking into a smooth and glossy chocolate sauce.  Allow to rest in the fridge until thickened slightly, about 30 minutes.

To Assemble the Cake:

Allow cake to cool completely.  Remove the cake, using the overhang of parchment paper, from the baking sheet.  Spread with a thin layer of whipped cream filling.  This doesn’t need to be a thick later.  When the cake is rolled, there will be ample filling.

Place the cake so that the 12-inch side is facing you.  We’re going to roll from the short side.

Use the parchment paper to help you.  Don’t worry about creating a tight roll.  This isn’t like rolling cinnamon rolls.  Gently roll the cake, removing the parchment paper as the cake is rolled.  The first roll or two will most likely crack and it’s being folded.  Don’t let this stop you.  This cracking is totally normal.  As the cake roll gets larger, the cake will crack less.

Gently lift cake and place on a clean serving board or plate.  Allow the cake to rest for about 30 minutes in the fridge.

Remove cake from the fridge and drizzle with chocolate ganache.  Allow to chill in the fridge until ready to serve.  Just before serving, garnish the cake with crushed candy canes.  Garnishing before will make the candy cane pieces ooze just a bit.

Cake will last, wrapped in the fridge, for up to 3 days.

Let It Be Sunday!

Let It Be Sunday!

I walked by this house in the Garden District earlier this week when the sun was just going down, people were home from work making dinner for their families… the sky was darkening and street lights were just starting to flicker to life.  This house was bathed in sunset light and streetlamp light.  I thought it looked like a painting.  Dreamy, spooky, mysterious, and vulnerable somehow.  

How has your week been?  Whirlwind madness? Tackling the to-do list like a boss?  Trying hard and mostly not crying about it?  Me too.  

I hope you’re celebrating the end of summer and the beginning of working way too hard until the holidays this weekend.  Let there be bourbon and relaxation (and waffles).  

Here is some of our week.  The internet greatly distilled: 

 This week we’ve been shocked and saddened but the seemingly sudden humanitarian crisis of Syrian refugees.  In fact, it’s not sudden at all. If you don’t understand what’s going on and how it all got so bad, here’s Why People Are Fleeing Syria.

•  The Mother Of All Disasters.  Reading like this has me refreshing my hurricane/earthquake kit (and biting my nails a bit).  

•  I’m going to watch this documentary this weekend:  The True Cost.  The very high price of materialism.  

•  This is good news:  100 Black Men Of Color Greeted Kids On Their First Day Of School

•  “I’m not telling you to make the world better, because I don’t think that progress is necessarily part of the package. I’m just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To try to get the picture. To live recklessly. To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it. To seize the moment.”  – Joan Didion, University of Riverside 1975  •   25 Powerful Commencement Speeches By Women

•  There’s a phone app that will walk us home at night?  It tracks our location, whether we break into a sprint, fall, or veer off our path, and invites friends and family to watch us on our journey.  My only question is, what are we going to do with our rape whistles? 

•  An Oral History Of Me As Told Through My Exes.  She was hot.  She was fun.  

•  Overcoming Love Addiction: One Apple Martini At A Time.  There’s a happy ending

•  Sometimes driving through San Francisco takes my breath away:  The Steepest Streets in San Francisco

•  CEREAL MILK (and all sorts of other good things)!  Apple Jack Cereal Milk Ice Cream with Applejack (Brandy) Caramel Swirl

•  Dana from Minimalist Baker makes such lovely treats.  Now, please put these Vegan Whoopie Pies in my face.  Thanks!

•  Let’s spend some quality time daydreaming about Paris with this lovely book:  Bright Lights Paris by Angie Niles 

•  I won’t get on a plane without my giant Loomed Turkish Pestamel (I LOVE these colors!).  Well… I will get on a plane without one, but I don’t want to.  It’s my security blanket.  Fashionable security. 

•  I appreciate the way Melissa Lanz and The Fresh 20 approaches a cleanse.  It’s called: The Mind Body Reset and I’m trying it for the next 20 days.  Meal plans, inspiration, encouragement, and it’s not about drastic diet, just a reset… I’m into it! 

Have a happy Sunday!  I’m glad you’re here.

xo Joy