This Chocolate Cross Wants To Wish You A Happy Sunday

I don’t remember seeing chocolate crosses around Easter before, because, ya know, it’s a little weird to eat something that someone was nailed to. But I was walking through CVS and saw this little gem…

Hungry, anyone?

Greens That Fill You Up And Taste So Savory: Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Did you all know that brussel sprouts are actually spelled brussels sprouts? I did not know this, but it’s because they were popular in Brussels, Belgium. (Hence brussels sprouts, not brussel sprouts, kinda nifty.)

So these brussels sprouts, as it turns out, not only have a cool name origin, but are also just super delicious. As a kid, I always ate my veggies, and I liked them, so maybe I’ve got a soft spot when it comes to brussels sprouts. Truth is I can’t help it: They’re so filling, so tasty, and when cooked just right, you totally forget you’re eating veggies.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts Recipe

So begins my veggie journey. I’ve been trying to cook more veggies and stay healthy, and something I learned from my recent diet is that if you’re going to pick a time to eat carbs, it should be early on in the day. Meaning that at night time, pairing whatever you’re eating with veggies is a solid plan.

I was cooking up salmon, and decided to add some brussels into the mix. It took me roughly 5 minutes to throw it all together, and then all I had to do was let it cook in the oven. So easy, and so pretty on a plate too!

Brussel Sprouts
Here’s what you’ll need:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts:
  • 1 lb bag of brussels sprouts
  • 1/3 cup of Italian salad dressing
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil
Directions:
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Wash the sprouts, then cut off the hard, stalky ends, and halve the remaining sprout. (They may fall apart a bit, but that’s totally OK!)
  3. Line a glass pan, or oven-safe dish, with aluminum foil.
  4. Place the halved sprouts in the pan, and feel free to pile them onto each other. Then drizzle on the Italian dressing, olive oil, and generously coat with salt and pepper.
  5. Combine the ingredients with a large spoon until well coated. Feel free to use more dressing if it’s looking a bit sparse.
  6. Pop the pan in the oven for 25-30 minutes, and voila! Delicious crisp and tender brussels sprouts.

5 Things That Have Made My Life So Much Happier (And Pampered)

The-Raven-Spa

Few things in life make me happier than feeling pampered. This year has definitely been one where I’ve come to a point in my life and career where I can afford to spoil myself a bit more. (#blessed) And since the start of 2014, I’ve been making an effort to do just that. I’m going to share some of the things I’ve been doing that I absolutely love:

  • My new facialist, Kristen, at Lula Mini Spa in Atwater village has totally changed my skin for the better.

I’ve always had problematic skin, (my face is dry, but my eyes are oily, and I break out constantly) and because of that, I’ve been getting facials on and off since I was 16. The problem has been that since I’ve moved a lot in the past (from Florida to Boston to New York to Los Angeles), it’s not always easy to keep up with a consistent routine at the same place. And now that I’m living in Los Feliz, I wanted to find someone close by.

Kristen is like some kind of skin angel sent down from heaven to make me feel better about my life choices. The location itself is kind of funky and small. It’s just one long room, no reception area, and you get seen right away. But because of that, your skin gets so much personal attention. Kristen explains every product she’s using and why it will help, and while a mask sets, she massages your arms and feet as an added bonus. I have been getting a microderm facial, and Kristen changes up the products and routine each time depending on how my skin is behaving. It’s just amazing.

I got the Fizzini as a Christmas gift, and I now almost exclusively drink seltzer water. It’s so refreshing, especially now that it’s in the 80s in Los Angeles. Plus the whole thing is super compact and takes up minimal counter space.

My friend Lizzy has been singing this place’s praises for the past year, but it wasn’t until I moved close to a location in Eagle Rock that I’ve actually gone to it. The prepackaged meals for 1-2 people are so yummy, and FRESH, as the store’s name implies. It’s been saving me so much time to just heat one up. My favorite so far was a spinach risotto meal. So fresh, so easy. (OK, I’ll stop.)

  • The unbelievably relaxing massages at The Raven Spa in Silverlake.

Again, been getting facials since high school, which means I’m a bit of a spa junkie. So I was ecstatic when I found a massage place that blew me away. This is another cozy retreat, with lots of Trader Joe’s snacks to nibble on while you wait, but once you’re in the room you never want to leave. I think it’s entirely based on the masseuses they have, all of which are amazing. But my favorite is an older Asian woman who looks, from first glance, like a typical grandmother, but whose hands suggest that she might be a goddess.

  • Bar Method in Silverlake kicks my butt in the best way possible.

Kristina is the best instructor I’ve had so far. She basically does this thing where she tricks you into doing a workout that’s extremely challenging and will make you want to die a little, but does it in a way where you want to do it FOR HER. Like, I want to work harder because she told me I should. I don’t know how, and I don’t know why, but thank you Kristina, for making my booty better.

Things I Learned About Marriage From “House Of Cards”

It took me roughly a month, but I finally finished watching Season 2 of House of Cards. (Warning: If you haven’t seen any of Season 2 yet and you don’t want any spoilers, this is the time for you to stop reading.)

House of Cards

Here’s what I learned about married life from Frank and Claire:

  • Smoke. Smoke some more. And then smoke again. It’s sexy.
  • If your husband kills his mistress/reporter confidant, don’t ask questions.
  • Invite your husband’s coworkers over for dinner. Serve BBQ. Make them feel bad by flaunting how well your marriage functions, and then manipulate them into going to therapy.
  • The occasional threesome with your bodyguard is an easy way to spice up your love life. (Especially if said bodyguard has just cut open his hand and had a bit too much bourbon.)

House of Cards Threesome

  • The couple who runs (physically) together, wins together.
  • And if running isn’t an option, there’s always that weird rowing machine.
  • Also, the couple who calculates other people’s demise together will likely take over the Oval office.

Thank you, House of Cards, for a thoroughly enjoyable Season 2, as well as all the life lessons. (They’ve been noted.)

 

 

How I’m Learning To Deal With Change (Kinda)

E is leaving to start shooting his pilot, and I’m SO excited beyond belief. I’m not lying when I say that. This whole process of getting it picked up by CW, watching him go through casting the series regulars, and hearing him talk about budgets and script changes has been fascinating and fun. I couldn’t be prouder of him. And it’s all been smooth sailing…

Until I realized that THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING.

Change Jar

As someone who really loves to control things, it’s been insanely difficult to let go of that control. E leaves tonight to spend three weeks in New Mexico on his pilot. I want E’s pilot to go well. I want it to get picked up and go to series. I want it to get all of the attention it so rightfully deserves. I want his time filming the pilot to be some of the best days of his life. But because I can’t control any of that, the rest of my life became somewhat paralyzing for me. 

I haven’t been able to write. Or if I do write, it’s like barely anything is coming out. I’ve been procrastinating a lot, which isn’t like me, and finding plenty of excuses to just do nothing. It’s as if by not blogging regularly, and not doing my morning writing, I am somehow delaying the process of him leaving. Like, if I stop doing the things that always propel me forward, time will slow and things won’t actually change. As much as I was trying to protect myself, I think in some ways I also thought I was protecting E from the unknown WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN?!

In reality, of course, things have changed: E is still about to leave, and I’ve all but stopped my own personal writing. It’s only now, the day that he’s leaving, that I’ve been able to fully recognize what I was doing and why I was doing it. The WHAT being that I had backed myself into a corner. The WHY being that I was trying to fortify us both against the unknown.

I think seeing E pack his things this morning really snapped me out of it. This is happening. I have no idea what’s going to come. And the only thing we can both do is our best. E will be amazing in New Mexico, and he has a phenomenal team of people helping him create his dream show. And I need to be supportive, and accept that some things are simply out of my control.

I will drive E to the airport tonight, and I will come home and try not to worry about what’s to come. I think I can sometimes get so wrapped up in thinking about the future, that I often forget to just live in what’s happening right now.

I don’t know if this is something other people have experienced. A lot of times, when I realize just how much change affects me, I really wish I didn’t feel the need to know what’s going to happen. But I have no idea how to fix that part of myself, or if it needs fixing at all. I just know that all I can do is move forward and stop trying to control it all. If only because I can’t control it. (Also, to quote Sheryl Crow, maybe a change will do me good!)

The Very Best Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies To Make Your Heart Sing

I spent the past week or so on a diet. Yes, a diet. Not because I wanted to lose huge amounts of weight, but because I’d stopped fitting into my jeans, which is a bit of a problem.

My very good friend Tommy cooked for me during that week. He’s a personal chef, and he was able to figure out how to wean me off of things like sugar, oils, heavy fats, and cook food for me that still tasted like food. He delivered all of my meals every three days: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. All I had to do was open up the tupperware and heat up whatever he’d made me. It was kind of nice, actually, to not have to worry about cooking for awhile.
Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
I won’t lie to you, there were three days where I wasn’t allowed to eat any sugar or oils, and I kind of thought I’d somehow fallen into the seventh gate of hell. But after that, things were much better. The food Tommy cooked had FAT. And SOME sugar. It was like he beat me down, just to build me back up again. And, best of all, by the end of it I was able to fit into my jeans, and not suck it in. So, that mission WAS accomplished.

Of course, a few days after the diet had ended, all I wanted to do was make cookies and gorge. (Totally diet friendly, right?) I went over to one of my favorite cooking blogs, The Pioneer Woman, and found a recipe for Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies. Now those sounded great and all, but I’d been living for the past week off of kale and lean proteins. I needed CHOCOLATE. So I added my own thing to this recipe and holy guacamole, these cookies were everything I needed and more.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies:
  • 1 cup of softened butter
  • 1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups of brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla
  • 1.5 cups of flour
  • 3 cups of old fashioned oats
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Directions:
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the butter, eggs, and vanilla. Whip those up with a whisky until well combined.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, flour, salt, and baking soda. Mix until well combined.
  3. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix them together. Then slowly add in the oats one cup at a time.
  4. Once the oats are well combined, sprinkle in two nice handfuls of chocolate chips. (Or three, ya know, if you’re feeling frisky.)
  5. Line a baking sheet with wax paper or foil, and drop 1 inch wide balls of dough onto the sheet.
  6. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, or until they start to look golden.
  7. Take them out of the oven, and add them to ice cream. (Did I mention I also ate these with ice cream? One scoop of coffee, and one scoop of peanut butter are key here.)