My French Lunch Break

While studying abroad in Cannes I grew to appreciate the importance the French place on their "dejeuner" (lunch). French lunch breaks are commonly 2 hours in order to give people time to truly relax from work, cook and enjoy their most extravagant meal of the day. This blog is dedicated to the idea of taking some extra time in the middle of each day to truly appreciate the gifts of food, nature, friendship, family, art and health.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Bon Bini

Aruba - "one happy island" as the tagline says. Mon amour and I are on vacation here - our first real vacation together. It's been five days now, and I am amazed at how the island life has transformed my stressed out, overwhelmed self into a calm, natural, and truly happy me. The transformation some sun, sea and love can make... 

I think it is all too easy to get caught up in the corporate world, working from 8am to 6:30pm, and forget that we NEED nature in our lives. The insane colors here--bright turquoise water contrasted against pearly white sand; neon green lizards against a blazing pink sunset. They're enough to make you "ah" at the wonder that is the world around us. 

And those are just sights - let alone the refreshing feeling of floating around the warm Caribbean water, the sharp taste of salt on your lips. I love letting my hair go wild and curly in the humidity and never changing out of my bathing suit. I don't think I've ever done that for so many days in a row. 

It is good to explore and remember that there are other ways to live. I hadn't even used my passport since returning from France four years ago. But I am determined to spend more time traveling and exploring. I love it so much, and what good is all the hard work without the reward of a vacation doing what you love?

I had such a different mindset when I came home from living in France. And I think that mindset faded away with all the craziness of life and work. But this week has reminded me of the importance of slowing down and truly enjoying life. I'm lucky to be with someone who shares that desire to travel and explore, and I can't wait for all of our adventures together. 

Maybe it's cliche to have these realizations on vacation on an island, but hey you have to take realizations as they come right? Last night we sat in the hot tub on the roof of our hotel and just took in the beauty of the stars blanketing the whole island, and I felt the kind of peace and happiness that I want to feel every day. So when stress creeps in, I'm going to go back to that moment and just let it all go. 

Because after all, life is beautiful. 

<3 Lyssa 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


It's funny how at one moment in life you can be so heartbroken over someone and then looking back you realize how much better off you are without that person. And it's even better when that person is making an idiot of himself along the way ;) Karma people, it's no joke. Glad I can look back and say, "Ha!" 

Monday, May 6, 2013

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Those of you who know me know that I never planned to end up staying in the OC after graduation to work in Anaheim. But one dream job offer later, here I am! Growing up, I never spent much time in Anaheim besides going to Disneyland. Three and a half years of working there has taught me the lay of the land though...or at least the best lunch spots! (Come on Francophiles, that's all that matters right??)

So in honor of all the hole-in-the-wall eateries that have fed me so well these past few years, I thought I'd do a round up of the "Best Lunch Break Locations in Anaheim, CA." 

Punjabi Tandoor - Mm, mm Indian! I found this spot on Yelp and fell in love the first time I visited with my roommate. Now I've gotten everyone at work addicted, and I think every person who works at the restaurant knows me. At lunch they have combo deals that include two curry dishes, rice and naan. I always add a samosa as well. My top vegetarian picks are the Nav Rattan Korma (mixed vegetables) and the Bengan Bhartha (eggplant), and boyfriend loves the Chicken Tikka Masala. 

Cortina's - Family-owned Italian at its very best. I had lunch here on the very first day of my internship, and I probably still come back about three times a month. They have the best ingredients--fresh bread, amazing olives, incredible marinara sauce. And they also sell all of their ingredients their Italian market next door! I'm a weirdo, so my favorite meal here is the Eggplant Parmesan Sandwich with no cheese and marinara sauce instead of meat sauce (and yes, they know my order when I walk in). But everything is delicious--pizza, salads, pasta--you can't go wrong. NOTE: Cortina's is closed on Tuesdays. 

Papa Hassan's - When I studied in Europe, I lived on falafel! It was so readily available and so delicious everywhere you went. But I've found it tough to find a falafel joint that rivals my European finds--that is until I found Papa Hassan's. The restaurant used to be located right by Chapman in Orange, but after a kitchen fire they relocated to Anaheim (all the better for me now!). Don't let the trashy strip mall deceive you though, the food is just as amazing as ever! And I always leave with a smile after chatting with the super friendly employees. My top pick is the Veggie Sandwich with a side of french fries. 

Thuyen Vien (aka Pho Veggie) - Vegan Pho, what?? This place is SUCH a hole in the wall, but they have a huge menu of amazing vietnamese food that is entirely vegan. Their ingredients are fresh and the flavors are incredible. It's the perfect spot for a chilly day (except on Mondays when they are closed). And the owner is the cutest man in the entire world. I recommend the Egg Rolls (served with fresh lettuce and mint leaves) and the Royal Noodle Soup. My mission is to eventually try something else, but those two items are just so good! 

Gypsy Den - Hippies (like me) are welcome at this trendy joint in the newly re-vamped Historic Downtown Anaheim area. One of three locations in Orange County, this spot blends vintage and modern seamlessly with a gorgeous outdoor patio to boot. I've been a Gypsy Den fan for a while, so I was beyond excited when they opened in Anaheim. I love coming here on a nice day to sit outside and enjoy their Stuffed Avocados (I fill them with the Quinoa Salad and the Orzo Salad). It's tough to pick a favorite here, but if you're hungry I'd always go with the (vegan) Mushroom Bacon Burger - with a side of BBQ sauce. Oh and their Vanilla Chai Tea Latte - to die for! 

And that's a wrap my foodie friends! Now visit Anaheim and chow down ;) 

<3 Lyssa 

Truth #2

Hearing the person you love say "i love you" is truly the best thing ever. It never ceases to make my heart melt...and i'm surprised and overwhelmed by it every time.

<3 <3 <3

Saturday, February 2, 2013

She's Gone Country

Growing up my family's idea of vacation was spending three weeks camping up in Northern California at a preserve called Lake of the Springs. Camping...well, let's just say it's not exactly my scene. Don't get me wrong, there were some awesome moments like star gazing out on the lake in the warm summer nights and spending hours and hours reading in the shade of the 100+ year old trees. But when my Dad busted out the fishing pole, that's when I needed a getaway. 

I think I was probably 10 when I first discovered that each morning in the club house an older woman with a thick Southern accent and a heavily sequined blouse would round up "the ladies" whose husbands were out fishing and teach line dancing lessons! Now THIS was right up my alley. The pace was a little slow--we were lucky to get through one dance in an hour--but hey it was way better than being out on the dock! And so, despite the apparent age gap between me and my classmates, I would show up each morning and rock out to country jams with Marilyn and Eleanor. Then on Saturday night a live band would play out by the lake and we would show off our moves! So cool right? 

All those summers raised me to love country music and especially line dancing. We stopped going camping a few years ago, but I've recently gotten back in touch with my line dancing roots thanks to all the country bars that have popped up around Orange County. Compared to the trashy night clubs where you will undoubtedly be violated by multiple drunk guys who will never remember your name, I much prefer the country bar scene where you LINE dance in your own little space and the dancing actually requires skill and practice. There's also something so cavalier about a man rocking cowboy boots and a hat who actually comes up to you, face-to-face, and asks you to two-step :)

In honor of this country love, thought I'd do a quick round-up (no pun intended) of local line dancing bars and YouTube tutorials for a few of the most popular dances. Just in case any of you want to trade in your heels and skirts for some plaid and cowboy boots ;) 

In Cahoots - Fulleton, CA 
Cover: $5 for 21+, $10 for 18+ on Wednesdays 
Open: Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday 
Ambience: Down home country. A little rough around the edges, but just right for line dancing.
Crowd: Mix of young and old with one thing in common--line dancing skills! 

The Ranch - Anaheim, CA 
Cover: $5 before 10pm, $10 after 10pm 
Open: Monday-Sunday 
Ambience: Swanky country (including a disco ball made of rhinestone guitars!). The facility is new with lots of nice ranch-inspired details. 
Crowd: Older in the early evening and younger after 9pm. A mix of line dance pros and newbies, both rocking cowboy hats and boots. 


Y'all come back now!

<3 Lyssa

Monday, January 7, 2013

Flu Season 101

After spending the past five debilitating days surrounded by mountains of tissue, used tea cups, Vick's VapoRub and Mucinex...I can finally function again! (almost) 100% normally. Yup, the flu caught me at last--it's been a couple years. 

I'm the worst sick person...mostly because I'm hyper productive and can't stand being forced to lay there and do nothing while mutant viruses invade my body. People who can amaze me. Poor boyfriend got a rude awakening to my "woe is me" sickness attitude when he sweetly took care of me. 

But alas, about 20 chick flicks and many, many episodes of Bones later, I am myself again! (it feels like a miracle even though it's quite inconsequential)

This flu, more than any I can remember, reminded me to appreciate the little things about being healthy. Yeah climbing a mountain is awesome, but what about breathing through your nose! I mean, that feels pretty incredible after you've been stuffed up for days. And sleeping through the night without waking up coughing--there should be a trophy for that. 

Ok, ok we get the point. Being healthy should not be taken for granted. So tonight I sang a song out loud (with my newly regained voice!), took lots of deep breaths and watched the sunset from my bedroom window. And it was glorious. 

So germs, I'm good for a while ;) 


<3 Lyssa 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Truth #1

Truth: I envy my mom's ability to say whatever is on her mind without concern of judgment.  For example, cute boy at church is named Michael so she goes "I love the name Michael. When I was little I used to name all my Ken dolls Michael."

<3 Lyssa