Clarity

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I woke up at 3:31 am on Wednesday to the news that Donald Trump was our next President. The emotions that came over me were ones I haven’t felt since another date etched in my memory: Tuesday, December 6th 2005, the day I discovered my then-husband was cheating on me. When I saw the results, I started to shake uncontrollably. I ran to the bathroom as the feeling of nausea set in. And I cried. For the second time in my life, it felt like the very core of my existence was being taken from me. Everything I knew to be right and true in the world no longer existed.

I studied politics at Mount Holyoke College. The oldest all-women’s college in the country. As a double major in Politics and African-American Studies, my studies focused on the vast inequalities that exist in this country. I chose this course of studies because I believed it was our responsibility as a country to take care of those less fortunate, especially our children. I spent four years sharpening my view points, attending lectures by the likes of Cornell West, Lani Guinier, Jonathan Kozol, Bernie Sanders and even Wayne LaPierre of the NRA. I thought it was important to hear all sides. It helps with critical thinking and understanding that many times the answers aren’t black and white.

The plan was to become a lawyer, after devoting two years to Teach for America. But I graduated school with over $80,000 worth of college debt in the form of private loans that wouldn’t be forgiven if I went into public service. My monthly loan payments were over $1,000 and thus I had to join corporate America after graduation and work a second job on the weekends to make ends meet. I landed my first job after college at a prestigious law firm because my then boyfriend’s father golfed with an executive at Gillette who was friends with a partner at the firm. My credentials weren’t really important; it was just one white guy trying to help another white friend out. And this, dear readers, is why I am where I am today.

The role of our government is this: to form a more perfect union; to establish justice; to insure domestic tranquility; to promote the general welfare; and to secure the blessings of liberty. I voted in the Democratic primary for Bernie Sanders because I believed he was the best candidate to ensure the role of government. I knew firsthand that not everyone has a story like me or could make the choices I have made based on where I lived and the people I knew. Many around me, including my mother, were shocked to hear I wasn’t supporting Hillary Clinton. Yes, it would be amazing to nominate the first female president, but I believed she was engrossed in the business of Washington, D.C. To be honest, the fact that she stayed with Bill after the Monica Lewinsky scandal {and others} made my heart break for her. But to think she needed to stay with a man to rise to political power questioned my ideas of feminism.

However, when Bernie lost the nomination, I knew what I had to do. Support our candidate. Because, whether we want to admit it or not, to stay home on Election Day would send a sexist, bigoted, racist, homophobic man to the presidency and that just wasn’t an option. I thought that everything Trump said and did during the campaign went against the moral compass of what this country was founded on.

How shocked I was to be proven wrong. Nearly 46% of Americans didn’t show up to the polls to vote on Tuesday. People. As citizens in this great country of ours, it is OUR DEMOCRATIC DUTY to vote. If you don’t like either candidate, I get it. I didn’t either. But I knew that if I didn’t use my voice to vote, the other side would win. And now three days into a Trump-elect reality, the hatred and bigotry has become rampant. I think about it and tears just start to flow.

Moments ago I saw a clip of a man who said he wrote in a candidate and left the poll with a clear conscious. How anyone could have a clear conscious after the hatred and bigotry that has transpired since Trump’s election is beyond me. The truly mind-blowing piece of this all is that 53% of white woman voted for Donald Trump. A man who has been married three times, has had numerous allegations of sexual harassment filed against him and who literally said “grab them by the pussy” when video cameras were around. I know Hillary is part of the establishment and has an email problem, but really? Couldn’t we have taken one for the global team here?

The most important thing to remember is that we elect a President who surrounds him or herself with a group of advisers who help shape policy change in this county. And nominates individuals to the Supreme Court. Because of inaction, everything is now on the table. Universal healthcare, gun laws, climate change, disability benefits, political asylum.

We are a divided country. People have lost their jobs. Have less than ever before. But we are part of a global community. We need to participate. We need to listen to those around us. We need to open our hearts and our eyes to what suffering is and looks like. We need to act {here is a list of organization that need our help}.

For all those who didn’t participate, I am not blaming this one on you. But please take the time to understand how our system works. One day I hope we will have proportional representation in our elected offices and that third-party candidates won’t take from the popular vote. Until then, please understand the rules of the game and what your inaction means. Let’s be honest. For many of us, life won’t change much. Count your blessings. But for others, everything changed Tuesday night. Let’s understand that and help them through these next four years.

*Photo Credit: image from Instagram from notes left in the New York City subway to inspire hope. 

 

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Hello, dear readers! Wow, I can’t believe it has been so long since I last posted. I know I’ve promised you again and again that I would be better at this whole blogging thing. Truth is, there just aren’t enough hours in the day. My promise to you is this… when I have something exciting to share, I will do so here. Deal?

Now onto some exciting stuff… The Atelier Workshop, which I had the pleasure of attending in NYC earlier this fall.  I first learned of it through the Instagram feed of Joann Pai of Slice of Pai. I discovered her feed while doing my research for our spring trip to Paris and instantly fell in love with her aesthetic {and her passport stamps}. After confirming I was free the first weekend of October, I signed up and counted down the minutes till the class. I was a little nervous as I’ve never taken a photography class in my life. But, my  little sis’ let me borrow her ‘fancy’ camera so I wouldn’t be the only one in the class with my trusty iPhone 6.

Although there were a few changes to our itinerary, I just had a feeling that this workshop was going to be everything. And I am pleased to say, IT WAS! The other teachers were Gabriel Cabrera, food stylist guru from Vancouver and Jodi Moreno, natural food chef and blogger at What’s Cooking Good Looking. Here they are… the best teachers ever!

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The workshop kicked off at Jodi’s apartment in the Village on Saturday morning. I, of course, was the first to arrive as I was a little nervous, but instantly felt at home when I walked through her door. Of course the breakfast spread was to-die for and her home, beautiful. There were seven additional students, who traveled much farther than Boston {San Francisco + Oklahoma} and they could not have been sweeter.

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The first day we talked quite a bit about light and composition. Two key factors to taking the perfect photo. After an amazing lunch by Jodi, we ventured to the Union Square Farmers Market, where our assignment was to pick some products that inspired us. My partner and I decided on the beautiful radishes and decided to make the traditional french bite of radishes, butter, bread and some sea salt. With a little style direction from Gabriel, I was quite pleased with the finished product.

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Our Sunday session was held at an amazing studio on the Lower West Side/Chinatown. The white walls, white brick, it was a dream. The morning focused on creating your own style. Gabriel and Joann both shared their personal styles and how they developed them over time. Their suggestion – start gathering images that you like and create your brand/vision. I’ll share my inspiration book with you shortly.

Next, it was all about styling a pie. With a few tips on using the ‘fancy’ camera, I was shocked by the difference in quality. Just take a look at the two images below. One taken with my iPhone and one with my sis’ camera.

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Clearly a new ‘fancy’ camera is on my Christmas list.

Here are a few more snaps from the workshop. I hope you like them!

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Not bad for a newbie, right? I can’t wait to see how my skills unfold and all that I’m able to create. Thanks for being part of my journey!

Wanderlust Wednesday

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Happy Wednesday! I hope you enjoyed last week’s post on our getaway to Shelter Island. As promised, I wanted to share a few spots located to the north and south of the island that should not be missed.

The North Fork

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Shelter Island is nestled between the North and South Forks of Long Island. And the two couldn’t be more different, which we realized the moment we got off the Cross Town Ferry in Orient Point. Driving along Route 25 to Greenport to catch the 7 minute ferry to Shelter Island, we felt like we were in a place where time stops. Farm lands, vineyards, a lavender farm. It was just so peaceful. Between Orient Point and Greenport is East Marion, where we decided to stop at Fork & Anchor, a delightful general store, to grab a sandwich before heading to the island. I ordered the green goddess chicken salad and instantly regretted not getting the crispy chicken with sriracha mayo. Oh well. In addition to pastries, sandwiches, coffee and provisions, F&A offers adorable picnic boxes that you can order ahead to bring to the vineyards or the beach. While waiting for our sandwiches, several customers were picking up their orders. What a great idea!

Greenport seems to be where much of the activity is on the North Fork. They have a wonderful carousel on the water, a traditional NY style bakery, and a delicious coffee shop.

Our favorite find on the North Fork was The North Fork Table & Inn in Southold. We have our waiter at Vine Street Cafe to thank for the recommendation. Our meal was delicious and the setting, just beautiful to toast our last night of vacation.

For more ideas on places to visit in North Fork, make sure to check out GoNorthFork and check out their Instagram feed as well.

The South Fork (aka The Hamptons)

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Our last day on Shelter Island was a bit overcast so we decided to hop on The South Ferry to go explore the South Fork. After our 5 minutes boat ride, we arrived in North Haven, a short 10 minute drive to Sag Harbor, the first destination on our itinerary. Sag Harbor has a super cute downtown with great shops, restaurants and a retro cinema. A few favorites include: The Styleliner by Joey Wolffer {she also opened up a small shop on Nantucket this summer} featuring some of the best boho dresses and jackets and sylvester & co. , MONC XIII and Jayson Home for some incredible finds for your home. We also stopped by the recently opened Grindstone Coffee and Donuts. The coffee was delicious but the brioche style donuts a bit too greasy for my taste. The one spot we wanted to try was Wölffer Kitchen but sadly we had to catch our ferry back to reality that night.

After walking around Sag Harbor, we got in the car and headed east to Amagansett, which may just be my favorite town in The Hamptons. From lunch at The Lobster Roll to shopping at The Line, to exploring the farm lands at Amber Waves, this little town has everything.

Sadly, we had to cut our visit short to catch our ferry in Orient Point back to New London so we couldn’t head into Montauk to visit The Surf Lodge and Navy Beach. However, we were able to squeeze in a quick stop at the Bhumi Farms farm stand in East Hampton to load up on some fresh produce to take home. The blueberries were out of this world delicious. And the photo opps, plentiful. I swear, I see this place in nearly every editorial spread these days!

So there you have you it. A little bit about both forks at the end of Long Island. So close yet so vastly different in terms of people watching, shops and real estate prices. I think that Shelter Island, though, may just be the perfect mix of both.

 

Tuesday Travel

Shelter Island

How can it be that we only have two weeks left of summer?!?!? I hope you’ve enjoyed every minute of it so far. I know we have! This week, I wanted to share the highlights of one of our favorite weekend getaways to date… Shelter Island, which many refer to as the “Un-Hamptons.” Located about 150 south of Boston, Shelter Island is nestled between the North and South forks of Long Island, accessible only by boat. As an island girl, I was quite excited for this little adventure. And let me tell you, it didn’t disappoint.

We planned this getaway with our dear friends R + T and you can check out all our pics on Instagram #MRKTShelter.

Stay

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When planning a weekend getaway, the hotel options really guide my decision-making process. When I heard that David Bowd of Provincetown’s Salt Hotels was opening The Chequit last May, I knew it would be a place I needed to check-out. Fast forward to finding a summer getaway in-between Boston and NYC, Shelter Island rose to the top of the list. We booked this past April, right before the hotel received its acclaim on the Conde Nast Hot List. And well deserved honor indeed.

The restored hotel, built as a religious retreat in 1872, features 31 bedrooms, designed in a soothing palate of grey, pale pink and a splash of yellow {a favorite color combo}. The fixtures are brass, the floors adorned with beautiful Turkish throw rugs and they even provide you with a sun hat and blue Turkish towel for the beach.

After our stay at Salt House Inn last year, I knew we were in for a treat with the daily breakfast. Each morning, from 8 am to 10:30 am, the staff sets out an impressive breakfast buffet, including granola, yogurt, tea cakes, juices, coffee and a savory egg dish. It’s all so good.

Even better, the hotel offers a delicious restaurant {might I suggest the tuna tartare bites}, coffee shop, should you need a latte fix and a delightfully curated shop. I purchased the cutest tote {featured below #saltstyle}, a paddle board set for the beach and some new hair ties.

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I have a firm belief: If you’re on island time, you go to the beach! Luckily, we were able to purchase a beach parking pass at the hotel that allowed us to explore several. $40 for the week… what a deal.

We spent our afternoons lounging in the sun at Shell Beach and Hay Beach {our favorite} and checked out the Sunday scene at Sunset Beach, hotelier Andre Balazs’s St.Tropez-style hangout. For as chill as Shelter Island is, if you want the scene, go here.

Should you not love to hang at the beach for hours, make sure to check out the Mashomack Preserve for some great walking trails. But remember your bug spray. We sadly had to cut our walk short. Looking for a way to stay hydrated? Head over to Shelter Island Craft Brewing. My beer of choice was their Nude Beach, a plum ale featuring local beach plums, honey, lemon verbena and hops.

Eat

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The food on Shelter Island did not disappoint. Some of our favorite spots included:

Marie Eiffel Market – From the breakfast treats to the fish tacos, to the view on their back porch, Marie Eiffel is not to be missed. Jonathan Adler and Jerry Seinfeld are fans too! The perfect place to grab lunch before hitting the beach.

Vine Street Cafe – Shelter Island’s fine dining destination. Order the fried chicken. It’s amazing. Skip on dessert from the restaurant and go around the corner to their market for a brownie and coconut sorbet to go. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Maria’s Kitchen – Located next to the Shelter Island Craft Brewing, this little spot had some delicious tacos. The corn tortillas are amazing and so fresh.

Shop

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Sylvester Manor Farm Stand – Our favorite little farm stand on the island with beautiful views.

Dabney Lee – Across the street from Marie Eiffel, Dabney Lee has a beautiful collection of goods for the home and got you. Loved the Parrot Design Studio Shelter Island print.

Black Cat Books  – The best used book store ever. Don’t miss it!

Check back next Tuesday as I’ll be sharing some favorite spots we hit along the North Fork and throughout The Hamptons.

In the Kitchen

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Happy Friday, sweet readers. We’ve made it through another week! And in anticipation of another beautiful weekend ahead of us, I thought I’d share another easy and delicious dish to highlight one of my favorite summer vegetables… tomatoes.

Have a last-minute BBQ to attend? I suggest you make this. I made it for my book club ladies a few weeks back and they all begged for the recipe before they left. I promise, everyone will love it!

Tomato and Cheese Tartlett

Ingredients

  • Frozen pie shell
  • 1 Tbs. whole grain mustard
  • 1 quart cherry tomatoes (quartered)
  • 1 1/4 cups Fontina cheese (shredded)
  • Handful of parsley
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Olive oil/salt + pepper
  • 1 egg/water {for egg wash}

Directions

Preheat over to 375 degrees. Remove frozen pie shell from freezer and brush with 1-2 tablespoons of whole grain mustard. Place a layer of the shredded Fontina cheese over the mustard, followed by a layer of the quartered tomatoes. Repeat this twice and finish with another layer of cheese.

Make an egg wash by whisking together 1 egg with about a tablespoon of water and brush the pie edges with a pastry brush. Place in over and bake for 45 minutes till cheese is bubbly and crust is golden brown.

While the tart is baking, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and one peeled clove of garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Transfer the garlic infused olive oil to your mini food processor and add in a handful of parsley and salt/pepper. Pulse until it forms a paste.

As the tart cools, spread this parsley/garlic paste on top.

A special thanks to my Mom for this recipe. As the Office Administrator for Sustainable Nantucket, she works alongside farmers and growers who are working to build  a more locally based, self-reliant food economy on the island. This recipe was shared at one of her events a few years back. I know it will be in my recipe collection for years to come!

Summer Bucket List

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I can’t believe this is the 4th Summer Bucket List.  I must admit, I seem to have the hardest time crossing things off my summer lists. You know why? I really love just lounging on the beach. But, since I’m one for tradition, let’s get started on my 2016 Summer Bucket List.

  1. Go Camping. We are heading up to Vermont in a few weeks so let’s hope I get to spend an evening in a sleeping bag sleeping under the stars!
  2. Get on the Water. And by on the water, I mean, getting myself on a stand-up paddle board.
  3. Create a New Signature Cocktail. During these warm summer nights, I tend towards the same cocktail: Hendricks with a San Pellegrino Grapefruit, elderflower liquor and a squeeze of lime. We have a bar set that just sits on the bar so I need to start muddling away and coming up with some interesting and delicious combinations.
  4. Explore the Other Islands. Block Island, Boston Harbor Islands, Shelter Island, Martha’s Vineyard… it’s time to see what these other islands have to offer.
  5. Host a Labor Day BBQ. This will most certainly happen as we have rented a house on the island for the week of Labor Day. Just ordered the invitations last night so can’t wait to start the menu planning for this. Any suggestions for a BBQ must have?

What’s on your summer bucket list? Would love to hear!

{And should you want to see my prior ones, here they are: 2013, 2014, and 2015 }

Wednesday Wanderlust

Chicago

Oh Chicago! You really are one fantastic city. You have the charm of my beloved Boston and the big city feel of my one and only NYC. Your lake is majestic, your skyline breathtaking, and your people so kind. Thank you for a wonderful Memorial Day visit. We can’t wait to visit you again!

Stay

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When K and I decided to travel to Chicago this past Memorial Day weekend, I was torn between staying at the newly opened Soho House Chicago in the West Loop and Public Chicago in the Gold Coast. The decision was made easy when I learned that my request for a holiday weekend at the Soho House was not fulfilled. So Public is was.

With 285 rooms, this hotel is much larger than we typically like to stay at. The rooms are tastefully designed by Ian Schrager and the common areas on the first floor are beautiful, including a coffee bar, a library den and a movie room. However, I must be honest and say I was a bit unimpressed with our experience. We heard our neighbors, the bathroom was tiny and had few amenities {no robes, only 2 towels and lackluster products} and the accent chair in our room was dirty and stained. Thankfully we had lots to see {and eat} so there wasn’t much time spend relaxing in our room.

Eat

Eat Chicago

While I was disappointed with our hotel of choice, the food in Chicago did not disappoint. My favorites include:

Little Goat – Located in the West Loop, Little Goat should not be missed. We had our first breakfast here and loved every single delicious bite. We started with their enormous ooey gooey cinnabun and shared the Kimchee + Bacon + Eggs + Pancakes Asian Styke BreakfastTasty Thing. This is the actual name… I promise! And the service was fantastic. We asked our waiter, who had just been in Boston oddly enough, his not to miss spots. Fortunately, we had dinner reservations at his top spot. Score!

The Winchester – Located in East Village, we enjoyed a leisurely Sunday brunch here. The interior is beautiful and my cocktail of Allagash white and grapefruit juice with a salt rim was delightful. A perfect neighborhood spot!

Doughnut Vault – I’m a total sucker for a good doughnut and the old-fashion buttermilk glazed is all I’ve been thinking about since I left. So good.

Floriole – Located in charming Lincoln Park, Floriole is the bakery of my dreams. And although we didn’t visit on this most recent trip, I have indulged in the pastries at this french inspired cafe more times than I’d like to admit!

Milk & Honey Cafe – Located in the eclectic Wicker Park neighborhood, I would refer to Milk & Hone as the Flour Bakery of the midwest. Great sandwiches, pastries and plenty of room to eat. It really is a place where “fresh and goodness meet!”

avec -Meaning with in French, avec was initially designed as the place to enjoy a light bite before your meal at critically acclaimed Blackbird next door. However, avec has now become the place to go for your meal. A dinner reservation is nearly impossible to get so we opted for lunch, which I highly recommend. The chorizo stuffed dates with bacon in a piquillo pepper-tomato sauce is worth every calorie.

Big Star -The place for tacos in the Windy City. Located in Wicker Park, right by the L, this is a great place for meeting up with friends. They have a huge patio and the beer list is quite impressive.

Piece Brewery + Pizza – Although Chicago is known for it’s deep dish, I’m a thin crust girl so highly recommend this local establishment with musical roots. Just guess who is a part owner? Rick Nielsen from Cheap Trick!

The Bristol – Located in Bucktown, The Bristol is that neighborhood spot I wish we had in Boston. Good comfort food, tasty cocktails and friendly staff. You can’t go wrong.

Girl & the Goat – You all remember Stephanie Izard from Top Chef, right? With her winnings, she opened up this Must-go spot in her hometown. If you can’t score a reservation, Little Goat is hers as well.

Ruxbin – “People who love to eat are always the best people.” One of my favorite quotes from Julia Child and the introduction to the menu at this Chicago gem in Noble Square. Ruxbin’s concept is a curated, family style meal. You pick two small plates, two large and two desserts. Meals arrive on the most beautiful pieces of pottery that are available for purchase here. The chickpea pierogi with apple, zurek, celery leaf, and radish bonito has moved onto my top 5 best dishes I’ve ever had list.

Maudes Liquor Bar – Located down the street from Girl & the Goat, this is a romantic spot to grab an after dinner drink and dessert. The chocolate mouse was sinfully smooth.

The Allis – The most well designed bar I’ve ever been to. I literally could move right in. They also offer afternoon tea service. A must!

Another must is a Chicago hot dog. We had ours down on the waterfront from a street vendor but I’m told the best place to go is Downtown Dogs. The poppy seed bun, relish, mustard and celery salt make you realize you don’t need ketchup after all!

A few places that we didn’t make it to but are on the list for next time include: Mott Street, Parson’s Chicken and & Fish, The Hampton Social and Fat Rice.

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Besides eating my way through a city, I always like to take in a bit of history and a bit of culture. I highly recommend an Architectural Boat Tour, a walk around Millenium Park and Cloud Gate and a visit to The Art Institute.

And if time allows, get tickets to a comedy show a Second City Not sure I’ve ever laughted so hard in my life.

Can’t wait to see you again, Chi-town!

 

In the Kitchen

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Hello sweet readers! Apologies for my long silence these past few weeks. I wish I could tell you I was off traveling to exotic places but sadly I’ve just been overwhelmed. The change of season often does this to me. Luckily, I’ve been cooking and reading up a storm so have lots to share over the coming days.

For this week’s In the Kitchen I’m excited to share a super delicious and super easy summer dessert. As pictured in the photo above, I used plums and blueberries but you can really substitute any of the beautiful summer fruit available right now: blackberries, cherries, nectarines. Let your imagination run free!

The prep time on this is literally 15 minutes. And I promise, your guests will be asking for seconds!

Plum and Blueberry Clafoutis

Ingredients

  • 6 plums
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 2/3 cup of sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla extract

Directions

Heat over to 350 degrees and butter a baking dish or cast iron skillet. I use my Emily Henry rectangular baker, which doesn’t need much greasing at all.

Cut 6 plums into 1/4 inch wedges {leave skins on} and toss with blueberries and 1/3 cup of sugar.

Whisk eggs, remaining sugar, flour and salt. Combine milk and vanilla and whisk into egg mixture.

Arrange fruit in baking dish and pour in batter. Bake for 60 minutes or until the clafoutis is just set. To serve, dust with powdered sugar and serve with your favorite vanilla ice cream.

 

Book Club

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There are stories that will forever remain in your heart. This one, by Paul Kalanithi, is one of those. Imagine being on the cusp of your dream job. Years of school and training and residency. The finish line so close. And then, to be diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. It was through this unfortunate turn of events in which this memoir was born. Take the time and read this moving story. Discover for yourself what makes a virtuous and meaningful life. Time, as Paul shares with us, is fleeting. No amount of schooling or training or praying can change that.

“There is a moment, a cusp, when the sum of gathered experience is worn down by the details of living. We are never so wise as when we live in this moment.”

 

Places

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The dining scene in Boston just keeps getting better and better, which makes me a very happy girl. Last Friday, K and I were finally able to score a dinner reservation to Tiger Mama, Tiffani Faison’s second eatery in Boston. And let me tell you. She hit it out of the park with this one {pun intended as it is around the corner from Fenway Park}. I would describe the menu as Tiffani’s love letter to Southeast Asia, a region that she describes on the website as having “some of the most effortlessly brilliant food, the kindest people and the most beautiful sights the world has to offer.”

We started our dining experience with the red snapper crudo with puffed rice {with just the right amount of heat}, followed by the roasted beets, the crispy pork lettuce wraps and finished up with the chicken curry. Every bite was even more exciting than the last. Tiger Mama, like many these days, is adhering to the small plate trend. Our sweet server suggested 2-3 plates per person. We ordered 4 and I think it was just the right amount of food {knowing that we had SoCo ice cream in the freezer helped too}.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the cocktail program, which is quite impressive and the living green wall. It’s amazing. Need a little more info to pull the trigger and make a reservation? Check out this review from the Boston Globe.

Tiger Mama. A welcome addition to the Boston food scene and one I hope will continue to shine for many, many years!