Saturday, January 28


I officially quit my job! YAYAYAYAYAYY! Finally! After months of job searching I finally found something that sounds kind of interesting. I'm going to start working for this private jet/private plane concierge service in Santa Monica. Monday is my first day, so we'll see how it goes ;] Although everyone close to me knows how much I hated working at Tada, I did love the people that I worked with (well .. maybe I hated my boss, but he gave me a goodbye and good luck hug on Friday and it kind of melted my heart). I'm going to miss them all! I decided blueberry muffins were as good a way of saying goodbye as any. I got the recipe for these off of one of my favorite cooking blogs, Smitten Kitchen. 

[clockwise from top: all-purpose flour, unsalted butter, lemons, baking soda, blueberries, salt, sour cream, sugar, baking powder, large eggs] 

I took myself over to Target and invested in some mini-muffin pans for this recipe (you can do full size if you prefer, but I wanted to make a ton so everyone could snack on them throughout the day). You can use muffin liners or you can do the parchment paper trick, but I just brushed the sides of the muffin pan with butter because, c'mon - who doesn't like a crispy, buttery crust on their muffins?? 

Start by turning your oven to 375 so it can start heating up. Then use an electric mixer to beat together 5 tbsp. of unsalted butter and ½ c. of sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy (this works best if the butter is softened). Then add in 1 large egg and beat the mixture together well. Next drop in ¾ c. sour cream and ½ tsp. of lemon zest. 

Now in a separate bowl mix together 1 ½ c. all-purpose flour, 1 ½ tsp. baking powder, ¼ tsp. baking soda, and ¼ tsp. salt. The recipe asks you to put this into a sifter and sift it slowly into the wet batter but I don't own a sift so I just added the dry mixture a couple spoonfuls at a time. Mix these together until the flour just disappears. Then fold in ¾ c. blueberries. 

Since I turned these into minis I had to alter the cooking time. The original recipe called for the muffins to cook for 25-30 minutes but in mini-size they only need to cook for about 13-15 minutes. Just keep an eye on them towards the end. 

I am SO glad that I made these! They were amazing (and so easy to make!!!). Let me know how yours turn out ... and if you would tweak the recipe at all! 

Thursday, January 26

Easy Hard-Boiled Eggs

I have never really been a fan of hard-boiled eggs. They have always smelled weird to me and I've never really fantasized about creating any dishes using them. But for some reason I was contemplating what to make for lunch today and I got an instant craving for them! Since I had never made them before I read a ton of ways to make them online and after experimenting a little I think I found the best way to make PERFECT hard-boiled eggs. 

Put your eggs in a sauce pan or pot and cover them with water. Put this on the stove and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling put the top on the pot and reduce the heat to simmering. Set the timer for 10 minutes. When they have cooked for 10 minutes immediately drain the water and put the eggs in a bath of ice water to cool them down faster and to prevent further cooking. 

Et voila! Perfect hard-boiled eggs. They are great to use in salad's when you are took lazy to saute chicken or steak (like I was today).  

Saturday, January 21

Book Club, #1

Talk about twisted endings.


Book: Dark Places
Author: Gillian Flynn

Discussion Questions posed by Gillian Flynn:

1)  “I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ…Draw a picture of my soul and it’d be a scribble with fangs.” What does Libby’s opening narration tell you about how she views herself? Do you agree with her description? 
I think Libby Day is a character with nothing left to lose. Yes she is mean and frequently insulting, but these outbursts are not completely unwarranted. Maybe this is just as much a reminder to herself as it is to the rest of the world not to get too close. 

2)  The Kill Club is a macabre group obsessed with true crimes. Why do you think we are so interested in the murders of people we don’t know? Is the fascination exploitive, or does it serve some purpose? 
I think that people are interested in the murders of people they don’t know because it provides a thrill without the consequences.  It isn’t necessarily exploitive, people sometimes because obsessed with things to defer from their own reality. Look at the members of the Kill Club – you can’t exactly make the argument that they are leading fulfilling lives.

3)  Libby became famous as a victim—how do you think this strange fame affected her? Would she have been better adjusted had she never become famous? 
I think she may have been less jaded had she not become famous, but that doesn’t mean she would have been better adjusted. Since her rise to fame occurred at such a young age I think she began associating her self-worth with the level of her fame. Kind of similar to child actors. I think the childhood fame just added another layer of dysfunction to her life.

4)  What do you think of Patty Day as a mother? Is she doing the best she can, or is she making excuses for herself? What emotions ultimately fuel her choices?  Can you see yourself making the choices she makes? 
The ending actually made me cry because it reminded me so much of my own mom. I’m not saying that my mom would go to the extremes that Patty did, but I think Patty truly did what she thought was best. She acted out of desperation and while her decision might have been irrational and over the top she didn't know what else to do. She didn't have anyone else to turn to. I don't think that I would make the choices she made, but I can't say for sure. I've never been in that kind of debt before or experienced that severe desperation, and probably depression, that Patty felt on a daily basis. 

5) What do you believe is Diondra’s motivation throughout the story? Does it change, or is it consistent? Does her relationship with Ben change him? 
Diondra is a hard nut to crack. Of course her relationship with Ben changes him. Love changes everyone and fictional characters are no exception. I think Diondra's motivation stays relatively consistent throughout the story. Her only motivation is self preservation and regardless of what situation she gets herself into that remains her first and only concern. 

Now I want to hear your answers!
Ps, I read her other novel Sharp Objects and it is just as good so if you like her writing style I highly recommend it. 

Tuesday, January 17


To kick off 2012 I embarked on what I like to call 30 days of yoga. 30 yoga classes over the course of 40 days (initially I wanted to do 30 classes in 30 days but after consulting with my yoga instructor Tad we agreed 30 classes in 40 days would be best for my body). Today is my 15th class (20th day) of this challenge to myself. Although I’ve been playing with yoga since I was about 14, my involvement in the sport (yes I said sport) got more serious when I began working in the UCLA psychophysiology lab with the man who single-handedly proved that consistent yoga practice can put moderate depression in REMISSION. Long story short it has turned into one of my passions. My yoga goal this year is to accomplish this pose:

Vrschikasana (aka Scorpion)

I watched my new friend from yoga class, Bobby, perform this one day and I was awestruck. I can do Pincha Mayurasana, the first step to getting into Scorpion, but I am struggling with taking my feet towards my head.

Pincha Mayurasana (aka Forearm Balance)

I can’t wait to get strong enough to do this pose! Is it nerdy that Bobby’s compliment, “You would make a beautiful Scorpion!” made me smile for days?

What are some of your passions in life? Or some of your goals for 2012?

Ps, for those science/psychology nerds out there the name of the study I worked on is Yoga as a Complementary Treatment of Depression: Effects of Traits and Moods on Treatment Outcome and the investigator is Dr. David Shapiro. You can find the full PDF on Google Scholar. 

Sunday, January 15


One of my favorite things to do in this world is to cook. It’s something I have been doing since I was a little girl. I started back in Arizona with my grandfather in his giant kitchen and it's something I have only fallen in love with more and more as the years have gone by. So this morning I woke up and decided that instead of spending the whole day in bed I was going to try a recipe from the cookbook my grandma gave me for Christmas - Gwyneth Paltrow’s My Father’s Daughter. I am a big fan of Gwynnie (been reading her blog GOOP since 2009) and this recipe proves that she is a woman who knows her way around the kitchen. 

Seeing as how this recipe called for a few bizarre ingredients (spelt flour??) I headed to Whole Foods to stock my kitchen with the ingredients I needed to make these vegan-friendly muffins (I know what you're thinking – vegan?? gross, but just stop bitching and give it a try before you decide it’s disgusting):

[clockwise from top: cinnamon, vanilla extract (optional), unrefined dark brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch, allspice, vegetable oil, soymilk, spelt flour (both white and whole), pure maple syrup, apples, chopped walnuts, salt, whole rolled oats]

Okay, so after preheating the oven to 350 I started by making the crumb topping for the muffins -  ¼ c. white spelt flour, ¼ c. whole spelt flour, ¼ c. whole rolled oats, ¼ c. unrefined dark brown sugar, 2 tsp. ground cinnamon, pinch of salt, 2 tbls. vegetable oil, and 1 tbls. soy milk.


Mix together all of the dry ingredients and then add the soymilk and vegetable oil. Pinch together until the mixture becomes crumbly. (I’ll admit I cheated here. I used whole milk and butter instead of the soymilk and veggie oil.)

Next gather up 1 tbls. cornstarch, 1 c. finely diced peeled apple, ½ c. vegetable oil, ½ c. plus 2 tbls. real maple syrup, ½ c. plus 2 tbls. soy milk, 1 c. white spelt flour, 1 c. whole spelt flour, 2 ¼ tsp. baking powder, ½ tsp. baking soda, ¼ tsp. salt, 2 tsp. cinnamon, ½ tsp. allspice, ½ c. lightly toasted walnuts chopped. 

Toss the apples and cornstarch tother in a bowl and set aside. Also set the toasted walnuts aside. Then in a large bowl mix together the vegetable oil, maple syrup, and soy milk. Slowly sift in the remaining ingredients and whisk together until completely mixed. Finally fold in the apples and walnuts. 

 Of course I forgot to buy muffin liners when I was at the store so instead I just cut up some pieces of parchment paper (5" x 5") and brushed the insides with butter so the muffins wouldn't stick (if you want to stick with the vegan theme vegetable oil works just as well). To make sure none of the dough got between the folds of the parchment paper I ran my fingers along the inside of the paper after I fit them into the cup and creased all of the folds firmly.

Taste test results = GOOD. I think next time I would use more apples and not chop them so finely, but otherwise this is a really good recipe. The muffin is moist and soft on the inside and crispy on the outside, in other words PERFECT texture. They aren’t too sweet and apparently the spelt flour is easier for our tummies to digest. Try this recipe out and let me know what you think! (ps, I think I am going to made another batch using eggs, whole milk, and butter just to see if it makes any difference in flavor.)