Life Lately

Oh poor blog, I am so sorry for abandoning ye. But you’ve always been in my heart, I promise!

A month ago I started a new job at New jobs generally tend to take up a lot of time, but when you LOVE your new job, they take up even more time without you realizing, because you are enjoying every second of it.

But I have been squeezing in some cooking to my crazy new life, and promise to share recipes soon! To tide you over, here are some delicious adventures I’ve had lately:

Australian gluten free treatsEnjoying gluten-free treats my mom brought me all the way from Australia (those chocolate cookies are crumbly but goooood.)

Gluten free chocolate cupcakesSpending the weekend in Atlanta with a bunch of my closest friends from college, staying with a friend’s parents who happen to be gluten-free and whose mom made this INCREDIBLE chocolate cupcake with chocolate mousse, marshmallow, and chocolate fudge.

Halloween sushiEnjoying my new gluten-free-friendly cafeteria (GF bread! GF signs on everything I can eat! GF soy sauce!), which gets really into the holidays.

Potato pastaTrying new (to me) restaurants in NYC with gluten-free options, like this pasta made out of potatoes at Sauce.

ABC kitchen And trying fancy restaurants too, like ABC Cocina. My best friend and I made a pact to try new restaurants each weekend, rather than continuously going to our old standbys. Best pact ever.

Too Much of a Good Thing

When 2013 started, I decided that I had good feelings about 2013. I decided that i was going to make sure those good feelings happened by pushing my tendency to PROCRASTINATE ALL THE THINGS! aside and be active in making moves to change the things I wanted changed, because while there are a lot of things you can wait around and drag your feet about, ensuring positive change in your life is not one of them. And so I did, what with the exercise and the glutens and all that, and some other things that I have not written about here because the Internet is everywhere, forever and maybe some things don’t need to go up on it, etc. etc. ANYWAY. I also felt like good things were going to happen in 2013 because I kicked it off by traveling to LA for the very first time, and I love travel, and perhaps it would be a year of travel.

And it has been. Not only did I go to LA for the first time, but then I went for the second time, and I’ll be going for the third time very soon, all in the space of one year (and I may even go a fourth time if I make New Years in LA a Thing). I went to Israel. I went on my very first business trip, to Dallas. I went to lots of driving-distance places for lots of weddings. And I loved it all. BUT (here’s the but you knew was coming since I started this post), so much of it piled on top of each other has led to me truly understanding what too much of a good thing really means, beyond eating too much cake. In the past five weeks I have gotten to spend exactly one weekend sleeping at my apartment the whole time, doing whatever I wanted the whole time. I’ve been gone at least one weekend every month all year. I kind of feel like all I do lately is pack and unpack suitcases. Even my love of making packing lists has started to lose its appeal; I’ve been reusing lists, which I never do, because I like making them so much.

I am not complaining about all this, exactly. I have truly loved every place I’ve been to in 2013, I have truly loved celebrating every marriage, I have truly loved all the new people I have met along the way. I am so, so grateful to be so fortunate to be able to do all of this. I am, quite simply, tired. Ever since I went to Blissdom in March and listened to a talk about introverts and extroverts, it’s become clear to me that I’m not quite a textbook extrovert. I need quiet time. I do love to be doing things and be surrounded by at least one other person 90 percent of the time, that is absolutely true. But I need time to myself, to not be doing anything but whatever it is I want to do alone, whether that’s a good walk around New York or watching TV or reading a book, and travel has been getting in the way of that. I guess my next active betterment changes project for 2013 needs to be making sure I find that time within the traveling, because I do still want to maybe go to LA for New Years again, and I do want to visit Torie in Chicago this year, and when I make this third trip to LA I am getting there early so I can see friends, and I do still want to have new experiences and try new things and meet new people and continue to take advantage of all the opportunities I am so very lucky to have. I just need to be able to find the best way to do it all for me.

I really wish there had been a class in college about how to be a proper grownup, because I have no idea. But, I guess no one else does either.

Lest I leave you on a complete Debbie Downer note, here is a photo of a sign I saw last weekend, which I thought was hilarious until I got to the beach and saw that the ocean was LITERALLY MADE OF SEAWEED. Get well soon, ocean.
watch out for seaweed

Little Things I’m Loving, July Edition

Continuing (aka, actually sticking with) the series I started last month about little things around the world/Internet that I am really into lately – go me! I hereby present the July edition:
shorts collage

Patterned shorts (these are from Madewell and the Gap). I actually own none of them.

Orphan Black, which is the best show on television that you’re not watching. All of season one is available on BBC America on demand right now (and iTunes, obviously). It’s riveting, has incredible acting, and is so very marathonable. Seriously, go watch it, then come back and tell me how much you love it.

This post by my friend Feifei that every intern needs to read.

Puppies. I’m trying to hold out for my 30th birthday to get one (theoretically I’ll be more responsible by then), but my friendsdogs are making this hard.

The fact that I “paid” for my trip to LA using air miles that I earned myself, and that I managed to finagle myself a free upgrade to economy plus. And that I even did it. I am a terrible flyer despite all my traveling, and it’s a big deal for me that I can now manage such a long flight by myself.


This piece my friend Chris wrote about the DOMA and Prop 8 rulings. Also, his wedding is going to be magazine-worthy, I can feel it.

Trader Joe’s, because they seem to have more new gluten free products every time I go.

These pictures of Snape.

Fonuts. All I want is a New York location.

Gluten Free Travel: Los Angeles Edition

Just when I started to get comfortable being gluten free in New York, I hit a travel-filled few weeks in my calendar. While my trip to Cape Cod involved some Googling, advanced planning, and a lot of potato chips, I didn’t think any big-city trips would be a problem, and I was right. I spent the long July 4th weekend in LA visiting one of my best friends, and had not one speck of trouble finding gluten free things to eat! (I also ate avocado at nearly every meal, as Californians love to add it to everything. I am 100 percent okay with this.)

la fonuts 1Here are some recommendations–even if you’re not GF, all these restaurants are awesome. Special thanks to my friend Sally (who doesn’t have a blog yet, so read her stuff on, who hosted me and took me to all these places!

Gluten free tacosLa Sandia is in the middle of the mall in Santa Monica, but don’t let that fool you, because this place is awesome. While all of the tacos were gluten free, our waiter was gluten free himself and told me which ones he found upset his stomach sometimes vs. which ones never did. Really helpful, and I tried a pork taco I wouldn’t have picked otherwise (and loved it).

Malibu WinesPromise me when you go to LA you’ll pack yourself a gluten free picnic and go to Malibu Wines. Since they don’t offer their own food you’re guaranteed to have a GF time, and the setting is just so delightful and peaceful. Also, the Bachelor house is down the block, which is a selling point for a lot of people apparently.

Gluten free burger at the CounterThis burger at The Counter (multiple locations) was so good that I didn’t even notice the gluten-free-ness of the bun (if you’ve ever had gluten-free bread, you know exactly what I mean). You can put whatever toppings you want on it, and even order it as a salad if you want to skip the GF bun altogether. Also, they have gluten free beer, so you can feel like a proper American again. AND! They apparently have a New York location! In Times Square though so sadface.

800 Degrees pizza, gluten freeClearly I love choose-your-own adventure type food. 800 Degrees (Westwood) is also that kind of place, and offers gluten-free crust to coat with your choice of lots of hard-to-choose-between toppings. (While they do awesomely keep the GF dough separate, only use GF flour on it, make it on special boards, and change their gloves, there is lots of regular flour in the air, so I wouldn’t come here if you have celiac.) The pizza also reheats well.

tacos from la escuelaMOAR TACOS! We ate a lot of Mexican, but these tacos from Escuela Taqueria (West Hollywood) were definitely my favorite. Everything was incredibly flavorful, and incredibly cheap too! (That top one is roasted poblanos and cheese, and the bottom is carne asada.) It’s a BYOB spot as well.

Donut sundae from Fonuts, gluten freeYou guys. Let’s talk about Fonuts. Fonuts (West Hollywood) is the greatest donut shop on Earth. They do both regular and gluten free donuts, and I loved ordering the gluten free flavors even when I ate gluten. They are essentially cake in the shape of a donut (not cakey donuts, there’s a difference–Sally is not a donut person but likes these). This chocolate one is BOMB, and is even better when you have it in the form of a Fonut sundae, which is everything you’ve ever dreamed of and more. If they ever open one in NYC (and they should) I will get so fat. And happy. I may or may not have crammed a box of half a dozen of them into my carry on…

Friends setAlso gluten free? CENTRAL PERK. I have never geeked out so much in all my life, except maybe when I went to Harry Potter world. The $50 price tag on the Warner Brothers VIP tour is completely worth it for this alone.

Other places I’d recommend:
Food Lab (West Hollywood) – they have an omelet with potatoes IN IT. Enough said.
Kiku Sushi (Larchmont) – as soon as I told the waitress I was gluten free, she brought me GF soy sauce without my asking, and looked over my order to make sure all my choices were safe for me
Hugo’s (multiple locations) – menu clearly marks GF options (as well as other restrictions)
Cook’s County (West Hollywood) – lots of egg dishes available at brunch (but everyone’s pastries around you will make you sad)
Mendocino Farms (West Hollywood) – good gluten-free bread and will check all dressings/sauces/etc. for you on anything

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go eat one of my slightly squished Fonuts.

One Month Gluten Free Down, At Least Five More to Go!

I survived my first month of being gluten free!


Thanks for being gluten free, brisket.

A lot of people have asked me what’s surprised me most about going gluten free. The honest answer is the roller coaster of emotions I’ve felt. I was truly, utterly miserable for the first 10 or so days, both physically and mentally. One month in, it’s more just the practicalities that annoy me; mainly, the fact that gluten free bread sucks no matter how you slice it (ba-dum-ching), and how annoying it is to travel anywhere further than around the city. I have to pack oodles of snacks for the beach alone, and that’s just an hour away. Longer travel gets way more complicated. I went on a road trip to Cape Cod this weekend for a family wedding, and had a very sad lunch on the road of a gluten-free muffin top I’d packed, the fries from a McDonald’s happy meal, and a few apple slices. I hadn’t even thought about how unfriendly rest stops would be.

(On the bright side, the wedding included the iiiincredible slow-BBQed brisket you see up above, and some iiiincredible exuberant dance moves from all members of my family, below.)

Dancing at

The “adults” were on the dance floor more than the “kids.”

My next travels are to Los Angeles, which I’m pretty sure has even more gluten free options than New York. My main concern is, like the road to Cape Cod, the actual traveling. The flight to LA is almost six hours long, and when you factor in travel to the airport and getting there with enough time, that’s about nine hours that I have to plan for, and I’m not the kind of person that can be tided over by a large lunch. I think the best assumption is to factor on the airport not having a single gluten-free snack. I’m sure that’s not actually the case, but I’d rather have too much food than be starving. Right now I’m thinking of packing a small bag of chips (Cape Cod brand, obviously), a Larabar (did you know those were gluten free??), another granola-y type bar or a banana, and some string cheese (frozen for an hour or so, to stay cold).

Gluten free folks, what do you usually pack when you travel?

Awesome Things I Did in Israel

Believe it or not, I did do things besides eat while I was in Israel (but mostly I ate). This trip was a very different experience from my Birthright-Taglit experience of five and a half years ago–much more relaxing, much more low key, and more information-absorby since now I am old and mature etc etc. Here are some of the highlights, including a lot of less-common sites:
CakeIsTheOnlyThingThatMatters.comThis was the view from our hotel room in Tel Aviv, one I did not get the least bit sick of in the week we were there. My previous trip to Israel was in the winter and we only spent about 5 hours in Tel Aviv, so it felt like being somewhere I had never been at all before. We made it to the beach almost every day we were in the city. It’s really the only thing NYC is missing.
CakeIsTheOnlyThingThatMatters.comEvery Tuesday and Friday the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv features block after block of handmade jewelry, Judaica and crafts. I got myself some great jewelry, and while I didn’t buy this sculpture, it was one of my favorite items at the shouk.
CakeIsTheOnlyThingThatMatters.comEven though Tel Aviv is not a religious city, not much is open on Saturdays, so we went to the museum. They had all these great quotes (mostly in English) covering the atrium.
CakeIsTheOnlyThingThatMatters.comMy mom and I spent Mother’s Day in Haifa, which has some really beautiful and spectacular views. We also got spectacularly lost multiple times. (Also, Israel water made my hair spectacularly curly. Can I import it?) Here we are at the top of the famous Baha’i Gardens…
CakeIsTheOnlyThingThatMatters.comAnd here we are at the bottom, one of the only three places we were allowed to go. We didn’t learn until we got to Haifa around 1pm that there’s only one tour a day of the full gardens, and that it leaves at noon. What we saw was still quite beautiful, but we started reading the guidebook a lot more carefully after that.

I’d talk about finding out way to the train station when we left, but I’ll just get PTFD (Post Traumatic Frustration Disorder), so let’s just leave it at that pretty photo.
CakeIsTheOnlyThingThatMatters.comThis is what the sunset is like over the Mediterranean, and the view from our hotel lobby, where they gave out bowls of pretzels and had free chocolate. Zen.
CakeIsTheOnlyThingThatMatters.comTel Aviv is a relatively modern city, but Jaffa at its southern tip is so old that I am 95 percent sure it’s mentioned in the bible. I love wandering teeny old streets like this.
CakeIsTheOnlyThingThatMatters.comObviously I had to include this obligatory shot. For those of you who have never been to the Dead Sea, this is what happens. It’s literally impossible not to float. The salinity of the regular ocean is something like 2 percent, while the Dead Sea is more than 30. It is for this reason that you should not rub Dead Sea mud on your face, because if you accidentally get the water in your eyes while rinsing it off you will be utterly miserable. Floating, however, is awesome.
CakeIsTheOnlyThingThatMatters.comHere is why hiring a private tour guide is totally, 100 percent worth it. This is the view from the top of the Austrian Hospice in the Arab Quarter of the old city in Jerusalem. We didn’t even know this existed, and it was so unassuming from the outside that even if we had we would have walked right past it. We stopped here for a snack before taking a tour of the tunnels under the Western Wall, which actually run along the full length of the wall and offer glimpses of an ancient mikvah (ritual bath) and aqueduct, everything at least 2,000 years old. I couldn’t stop touching the walls in amazement.

TL;DR version: I need to go back to Israel ASAP.

Awesome Things I Ate in Israel (Spoiler Alert: Lots of Gluten)

As I explained in my last post, I recently spent 10 days in Israel with my mom. My best friend since high school, Adit, graduated med school (she did an American program in Tel Aviv), so I built a nice long vacation around her graduation, with a week in Tel Aviv followed by four days in Jerusalem. It was incredible, much needed, and so happy and stress-reducing.

Here’s how you know my trip to Israel was truly wonderful: I didn’t even remember to take pictures of most of my favorite things that I ate because I was just too busy eating them, too busy being relaxed, and too busy being mostly unplugged from social media to think about sharing them. Therefore, my apologies for not capturing for you the wonder that is Israeli salad with chunks of fried haloumi cheese, which I ate three times in 10 days, the glory that is an Israeli breakfast, and more. But here are some highlights of the food I did manage to capture, much of it chock-full of gluten as I enjoyed my last month hurrah with it (and it was a good idea because oh my God the bread in Israel, you guys):
CakeIsTheOnlyThingThatMatters.comWe took an overnight flight that left NYC late and thus didn’t get in to Tel Aviv until around 4pm, which was actually perfect, because we definitely wouldn’t have had energy for a full day after uncomfortable plane sleep (extended legroom seats may be good for pillow-on-the-tray-table-sleep position, but still isn’t comfortable). We took a long walk and ended up at the gluteniest sounding restaurant for dinner (that’s a basil brioche up there, kids), but it actually had a note on the menu that they offered gluten-free options!
CakeIsTheOnlyThingThatMatters.comThe froyo craze is alive and well in Israel too, but their toppings are different than those in the U.S. They have way more fruit options (my mom loved the dates), and assorted crunchy cereals rather than the crazy candy options you see at Pinkberry or 16 Handles (I still got chocolate chips though, don’t worry).
CakeIsTheOnlyThingThatMatters.comAdit took us to one of the best fish restaurants in Tel Aviv, Benny Hadayag. Before you even order, they bring you this spread of vegetables, dips, and salads. This isn’t even all of them–they literally could not all fit in the photo frame. My favorites were the fried cauliflower and the carrots, both toward the bottom of this photo, but everything was incredible. You then order fish based on the weights of the fish available and how many people you are, which lead us to order “sea wolf.” I still don’t know what it is, but it was good, despite it staring at me for half the meal.
Oh, and in case we hadn’t eaten enough yet, it came with smashed baked potato and onion rings.
CakeIsTheOnlyThingThatMatters.comAll the coke bottles in Israel have popular names on them (this one says Daniel). Obviously no Alies, but I bet if they did this in the states I’d get one.
CakeIsTheOnlyThingThatMatters.comI know they recently started selling Magnum ice cream in the U.S., but it still feels like a special foreign treat to me. When I spent a week in Barcelona with my friend Sharon in the summer of 2009 we worked our way through everything they offered. In this particular instance, I sat there for a few minutes trying to guess the bar flavor by the wrapper color before I just randomly picked these. As soon as I paid I a) remembered that I can read Hebrew and that chocolate is the same in both languages and b) realized that if you lifted the flap they had the flavor in English. Luckily I love chocolate. We ate these at the Dead Sea (pictures to come in my next post), and all the super skinny girls were staring at me and my giant ice cream, I assume out of jealousy. Fact: calories don’t count on vacation.
CakeIsTheOnlyThingThatMatters.comI can’t believe I never took a full set of photos of Israeli breakfast. And yes, photos, plural, is necessary. Here’s what Israeli breakfast includes every morning: an omelet station, shakshuka (eggs baked in spicy tomato sauce), pancakes, savory pastries like cheese-filled bourekas, sweet pastries like croissants, assorted coffee/pound cakes, many different salads, hummus, yogurts, lots of different cheeses, any kind of bread you could want (including pita), fruits (both fresh and dried), cereals, and coffee and juice. It truly puts American continental breakfasts to shame. Everything (like all the food) is fresh and delicious, and you can have as much of everything as you want. I may or may not have made an egg sandwich using bourekas one morning…and clearly one morning I had hot chocolate cake.
CakeIsTheOnlyThingThatMatters.comObviously, they love chickpeas in all their forms in the Middle East. This hummus and falafel were from a restaurant in the Arab Quarter in the old city of Jerusalem, a place I probably never would have gone if not for the guide we had hired for the day (when I went to Israel on Birthright five and a half years ago we were forbidden from entering it, but that’s a discussion for another day). It was some of the best hummus I’ve had, but what I found most interesting was that the Coca Cola cans sold in this part of Jerusalem are in Arabic, not Hebrew, while we were maybe 100 feet away from the Jewish quarter. I’m sure you could use that as a metaphor for Jerusalem as a whole, but that’s a second discussion for a second other day.
Cake is the only thing that mattersWhile Tel Aviv barely has any kosher restaurants (I ate crab ravioli at a French restaurant called Brasserie, with the best bread of all of the Middle East, there one night), almost every restaurant in Jerusalem is kosher, which means they either serve a dairy-based menu OR a meat-based menu. This is from one of our meat meals at a restaurant called Joy. The lamb kabobs (aka meatballs) were really good, but that bulgur you see there had some sort of white berry in it and was truly fantastic. I think I ate every single grain. (Not pictured: our chocolate souffle which came with soy ice cream, which even with vanilla bean flecks is really just not even close to the real thing.)
cake is the only thing that mattersThis, you guys. This is my new favorite place to buy snacks in the entire world. It’s a small Jerusalem chain called English Cake that sells every kind of pastry you could want. One counter has savory ones (pictured here), with bourekas and other treats with every kind of (vegetarian/dairy) filling you could want, while the other side has sweet ones. I tried lots of different pastries of both varieties, but my favorite by far was the pizza rolls on the bottom left. The reason so many are missing in this photo is because I bought 8 or so to bring home with me. If going gluten-free works and I stick with it, the next time I go to Israel I might have to cheat briefly with these alone (and the bread at the French restaurant).

Next post: all the cool stuff I did while in Israel! I miss it already.

Where on Earth Have I Been?

In Israel!
cake is the only thing that matters

I promise I didn’t forget about you, little blog and the three or so people who read you! Wifi in Israel is very expensive and not so great for uploading pictures when you can find some free signals. I’ll be posting in two parts about the trip soon: part one will be food (it was a glutenfest for sure, but there was a surprising amount that wasn’t) and part two will be sights, so stay tuned!

Blogging Conferences Are Awesome

first business trip
I spent this past weekend in Dallas at the annual Blissdom conference. My company sent me (baby’s very first business trip!), so as you can see above and below I made sure I behaved with decorum and a businesslike demeanor at all times.
gaylord texan blissdom

Ha! You guys, this is the beauty of going to blogging conferences, specifically ones that focus on mom bloggers. Everyone is so nice, positive, and ready to have a good time! While my main purposes for going were to support and connect with bloggers we work with, and meet some fabulous new ones (and I did do a lot of that), I attended a decent number of sessions and learned a lot of lessons even non-moms can use, like how to set boundaries for yourself, how not to use technology, and am now reading a really fascinating book about introverts and extroverts. I had an incredible time and I cannot say enough about how wonderful it was to have in-person conversations with the women (and men!) I e-mail with daily.

But luckily, these sessions were really nicely spread out so I had time to do not-so-worky things. Like eat enough Mexican food to feed a large family (seriously, I ate this for 2 meals and one snack, and then ate fresh Mexican the next day),
mexicanSee a performance by Second City (where Tina Fey and Amy Poehler got their starts!),
second cityAnd go on a total gluten-binge and eat this cookie that was literally bigger than my face.
cookieAlso: having your own hotel room is THE BEST. You can do things like colonize one of the beds to be the holder of all your stuff, use up all the hangers in the closet, leave the bathroom door open, not worry about running out of towels, watch a lot of HGTV, and even order room service while streaming college basketball on your laptop.
room serviceIn short: Blissdom is great, mom bloggers are the best (and, for those of you unfamiliar with them, not at all what you’re thinking), and I’m so glad I got to binge on real* Mexican food in all its glory before going gluten-free.

*Fact: Mexican food in Texas > Mexican food in New York.