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.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Off-Broadway Goats and Artsy Folks

This weekend I ventured outside my comfort zone and visited Chance Theater, a fantastic black box theater in Anaheim Hills to see The Goat or Who Is Sylvia? with some friends. Without giving anything away, let's just say the play leaves no moral boundary uncrossed. Through its stream of consciousness style and highly intelligent prose, this play tests our moral boundaries and questions where those boundaries originated in the first place through the use of hyperbole. 

The sheer talent of the four actors on the intimate black box stage alone left me in awe by the final bow. I rediscovered that I have such respect for actors who perform in such close proximity to their audiences and never waiver for a second from their characters. Yes off-Broadway theater may not be for everyone, but sometimes it is worth stepping outside the box (and into the black box) to challenge the mind with something entirely new. Being around intellectual, artistically-oriented people for an evening is also surprisingly refreshing. 

So whether it's theaters or goats or a conversation with an artist, find some escape from the norm this week. I assure you it will challenge your mind and broaden your horizons. 

<3 Lyssa

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dejeuner de la Semaine: Ruby's Veggie Burger and Oreo Shake

Despite my love for my new Native Foods cookbook, my schedule this week simply did not lend itself to grocery shopping or cooking an elaborate meal. So, this week's Dejeuner de la Semaine is about (shh don't tell the French) a lunch out! (at a very American style restaurant nonetheless...) 

Monday was Ruby's Birthday Celebration and they celebrated by offering their classic RubyBurger and Fries for only $2.80! Surprisingly, my whole department at my internship was free to go to lunch together! So we all helped Ruby's celebrate and indulged in burgers (some veggie), fries, and milk shakes and shared stories about our weekends and our childhoods and anything else on our mind at the time. It was the perfect way to break up the day and enjoy laughing and relaxing with the people I work with every day. Definitely a lunch break worth blogging about :) 

<3 Lyssa

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dejeuner de la Semaine: Thai Spice Stir Fry

As promised, this lunch of the week includes my new favorite spice: the Thai Spice blend from Cost Plus World Market! I took a recipe from the Native Foods Restaurant Cook Book (which I just received in the mail and am so excited about!!) for Thai marinade, which calls for 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup lime juice, and 1/4 cup maple syrup (weird right?!) and added the Thai Spice for an extra kick. I marinaded my tofu in this very interestingly scented concoction while grilling up a plethora of veggies (onion, yellow squash, zucchini, broccoli, and carrots to be exact). I threw in some peanuts  for the special Thai touch and then added the tofu and remaining marinade to the mix. About 5 minutes later I plated this sizzling stir fry with Trader Joes Harvest Grain Blend and enjoyed a very unique and colorful Thai Spice meal. The verdict: while my veggie selection kind of eliminated the traditional Thai taste, I still cannot wait to make this meal again! And makes great leftovers for work lunches :) Next week promises to be a full recipe from my new cookbook, so check in next Tuesday!

<3 Lyssa

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Breath of Summer

Today I stepped outside at 8:45pm and my bare feet were pleasantly surprised to encounter concrete still warm from the heat of the day. I was bombarded by that heavy summer air, which I have decided to call the breath of summer, that just envelops you body and soul and reminds you to value the slower pace of summer and the heat of the sun on your back during the day and the perfection of summer nights under the stars. I was drawn in and decided to leave the comfort of my PJs and pillow on the couch and venture outside for a walk around a campus and town that I am so familiar with, but for some reason seemed so different on this first true summer night. It was the best decision I have made in a while, and I just thought I'd share in the hopes that some of you seize the opportunity to be outside these next few days and give yourselves time to really appreciate the breath of summer. You won't regret it.

<3 Lyssa

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dejeuner de la Semaine: Courgette Quiche (with a twist)

With my extra time this summer I've decided to indulge in a personal passion that is rarely realized due to busy schedules and limited funds: cooking! A french lunch break is nothing without the time and energy that goes into creating a meal that truly deserves the praise: "Magnifique!" At the ripe age of 21 I think it's about time to branch out of my 5-6 safe dinner options and develop my own recipe book and kitchen skill set. So I began this weekend with an indulgent afternoon at one of my favorite stores: Cost Plus World Market.  For some reason this store has a way of enveloping me in its unique and eclectic atmosphere and making hours fly by without notice. This time, I strayed into the food corner and found myself lost amongst the colorful arrays of spices on aisle three. After filling my basket to the brim with every spice I had come across in my Vegetarian cookbook I decided I probably shouldn't spend my entire pay check on spices I will rarely use, so I more strategically selected some spices I don't think my kitchen would be complete without. The bright orange Thai Spice is definitely my favorite! 
With spices in hand and cooking inspiration at heart, I went straight to work the next morning and created the Dejeuner de la Semaine (or Lunch of the Week): My very own "Courgette Quiche With a Twist." I drew from a recipe in my Vegetarian Cookbook and added my own twist by substituting a more Italian crust made with olive oil and adding tomatoes and crimini mushrooms to the veggie selection while removing the cheese (for all you new readers, despite my love for France, I must admit that I strongly despise cheese). The result...a delicious meal to start a Sunday with and watch Spain's victory in the World Cup over! And it only took about 2 hours total including prep time, cook time, and clean-up time! One recipe conquered, now on to incorporating that amazing Thai Spice next week!


<3 Lyssa

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Vegan Variety

I had a lunch break today that would make anyone from France proud and felt it was worth sharing. My boss took me to this great mall called The Camp in Costa Mesa, which can only be described as fantastic. The ambience begins the minute you pull into the parking space labeled "simplify" instead of "33" or "14." From there, you are led towards the stores and restuarants with vintage signage remniscent of a camp gound or ranch that has seen many generations of campers come and go. The stores all match the earthy, warm atmosphere and include plant shops, artisan boutiques, a yoga studio, and (my new personal favorite) Native Foods. Native Foods, located in a yurt with tables surrounding the inside and outside curves, has a well-stocked menu of any vegan dish you could ask for. I indulged in the Rockin' Moroccan bowl and was blown away by the flavorful "Native Chicken" and variety of veggies. My boss and I sat outside in the sun and soaked in the peaceful atmosphere of The Camp, and I wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of the afternoon napping in the hammock just outside the restaurant under the trees. I returned to the office feeling calmed and ready to take on the rest of the day with a much more positive attitude. That is the beauty of a great french lunch break!

Monday, May 17, 2010

People Watching

Today as I ate lunch at 3rd St. Promenade in Santa Monica I was reminded of how much I love to people watch! There are so many unique characters out there, especially in LA, and I think it's important to be observant and appreciative of the people around us and what their stories are. I saw everything from a man painted silver dancing robot-style for a little extra money to a guy with this great dog called a South African Mastiff to adorable little kids running around the dinosaur-shaped topiaries. I could pass hours on end just making up stories as to why people are where they are at any given time--it's a great way to spend a lunch break!

So next time you're out and about, people watch! And share some of the stories you make up, I'm interested :)

<3 Lyssa

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Gold in the Air of Summer

Not only is this a good Kings of Convenience song, it is my mantra for these next couple weeks. I recently did a colors personality exercise at a retreat and learned that I embody the color GOLD, meaning that I live by to-do lists, thrive in organized environments, love shopping for planners, feel most comfortable when things are planned out, and am extremely detail-oriented. For those of you who know me, this description fits me to a T. In addition to the golds, there are the Oranges: the energetic, competitive, constantly up-beat people who always have their hands raised in class and have a random idea for what to do on a Friday night, the Blues: the calm, caring, compassionate people who will always be there to listen with great advice and a shoulder to cry on, and the Greens: the analytical, logical people who weigh every option before making a decision and are great in leadership positions. I think it's so important to remember that there are these differences amongst people: they determine the way we learn, the way we think, the way we handle problems, and the way we see the world. Too often we are tempted to mold ourselves to fit whatever group of friends or social environment we are in, and although this is important to a certain degree we still have to know the kind of person we are inherently and embrace that.

Yes, I am a bit of a nerd. Yes I LOVE school supply shopping and getting a new planner is like Christmas for me. Yes the idea of doing something completely out of the blue kind of freaks me out. But these qualities make me a responsible person and a loyal friend, two things I value highly. So my advice: know your color and embrace your color, because it takes a little bit of every color to make anything work and luckily, we all go together quite nicely :)

Another thing I learned during this exercise was that when you are stressed your second most prominent color comes out--mine is blue. With the end of the school year rapidly approaching and deadlines piling up I have been beyond stressed and very emotional, which is where the "air of summer" comes in... It helps so much to remember that in a couple weeks everything will be finished and I will embark on my last real summer break, which is already filled with promise and opportunity.

I have plans to share an apartment with a great friend, work full time in the Marketing Department at Fairmont and really be able to feel more integrated in the department, experience new places in Orange County and LA, take a trip to San Francisco, celebrate one of my best friend's wedding, and, most importantly, RELAX! Summer is truly a magical time of year, and the promise of the coming months is a great motivation to keep you going. What are your summer plans? Let your Gold side shine through and make a list :)

<3 Lyssa

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Delicious AND Nutritious

Dinner Tonight: Salad with sugar snap peas, carrots, cucumber, avocado, and a little Mediterranean Hummus. On the side, a cup of Lentil Soup and some Naan. What a great way to kick off the weekend :)

Whether your meal is healthy or an out-of-this world indulgence, enjoy it! Take time to eat and appreciate your food and the preparation that went into it. Food should never be taken for granted. 

<3 Lyssa

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Every Now and Then...Be a G(l)eek!!

Sometimes you just have to seize those moments to sing in the shower, dance down the sidewalk towards class, or jump around the apartment while drying the dishes. It is such a good release to blast some good music (I highly recommend the Pandora GLEE CAST STATION...AMAZING!!) and be a complete dork every so often.

The return of Glee inspired me to do so tonight! For those of you who don't know, Glee follows the life of a high school Glee Club (aka Show Choir) in Ohio and adds lots of bright colors, random yet fantastic bursts into song and dance, and high school drama. It is basically the story of my high school life as a very dedicated member of Hart High School's Show Choir.

Every episode makes me reminisce the intense day-long competitions, weekly rehearsals, and very talented people characteristic to my choir groups. More than anything, every episode makes me smile and sing aloud for the rest of the evening. I encourage you to check it out if you haven't yet. Or if show choir isn't quite your cup of team find some other show or movie that immediately puts a smile on your face and just take one hour to be truly content.

This week, be a Gleek!!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Invest In Yourself

Invest In Yourself. This philosophy is clearly in line with the purpose of this blog, and I have decided I need to start living by it more. It's been far too easy these past few weeks to sacrifice sleep and eating well and obviously blogging in order to finish all of the projects and homework I had. This only resulted in feeling exhausted and stressed, so I am going to commit to turn over a new leaf and really contemplate what I can commit to while still having time to invest in myself.

I started this weekend by cleaning my apartment to make it an aesthetically appealing place to live and study. Then at the grocery store I suppressed my Americanized urge to "stock up" on non-perishables in place of fresh produce so I don't have to go shopping as often and emulated the French by just buying the produce I need for the week and promising myself to make another trip next weekend. This not only makes the grocery bill significantly lower, but forces me to use the produce while it's fresh and avoid eating all microwaveable meals. Then I made a plan for each meal this week to make sure I can use all the groceries and I won't be throwing out food when it spoils in a couple weeks.

I went all out with my first meal of the week (pictured above) researching how to cook tofu like the pros and throwing in lots of veggies to my stir fry. Sharing the meal with my amazing roommate Telli while we exchanged stories about our weekends made it even better! Good food and good conversation always complement each other beautifully.

Here's to investing in ourselves. If you feel so inclined, share some suggestions or stories of little things you did to make yourself a happier, healthier person.

<3 Lyssa

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It's the Little Things...

My life has been insanely busy lately, but I am trying every day to remember to appreciate the little things in life to help myself get through each crazy day. Here are some of the little things that made me smile these past couple weeks :)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Optimism about The Office

So I am currently working as the Marketing Intern for a private school chain, and I work almost three full days a week, business attire and all. Fortunately I love my internship so far, but it definitely makes me think about what life will be like in a year when I am a graduate and have a real job! It is exciting and scary and nerve-racking all at once. I have been a student for so long that I just can't imagine not going to school anymore.

Watching The Office tonight (I'm a little behind and had to catch up in preparation for this Thursday's episode when Pam has her baby!!) and talking to my friend Candice made me think even more about the dynamics of the office environment and how each person truly has a unique niche and personality that they bring to the team as a whole.

One particular character from my internship office that stands out is this adorable woman Hilda. She worked at one of our elementary schools as the lunch lady for upwards of 40 years and then was offered an office job in our reprographics department. She is now 85 but still fit as a fiddle! I worked with her this morning to help stuff envelopes to be mailed and she is just so sweet and knowledgeable and genuinely interested in everything you have to say. I have such respect for her, and I hope to spend some quality lunch breaks getting to know her better and hearing more about her time working for the school and all the children she met and inspired.

I think the thing that tugged at my heart strings most about Hilda is that she reminds me so much of my Grandma, who I just recently lost in August. I had such a close relationship with my Grandma, and I would spend hours at her house enthralled by the stories of her youth and how different things used to be. I miss her every single day, and spending time with Hilda really reminded me of that. So I thought I'd share this picture which I cherish so much with all of you. She and my grandpa were madly in love from age 16 on, and this picture captures that beautifully. More of my Grandma's and Hilda's stories will be included on this blog soon :)

Have a lovely Wednesday everyone!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Musical Inspiration-The Script

"Soul is not a black thing or a white thing, it's a human thing"
--Mark (member of The Script)

My life would not be the same without music. It is an art form that has the power to change my mood, to give me the energy to wake up each morning (yes my alarm clock tone is Tik Tok right now...), and great lyrics can even make me take on a new perspective. My roommate Telli recently introduced me to this Irish band, The Script, and I am obsessed, so I wanted to share their artistic talent on this blog. Take a listen to "The Man Who Can't Be Moved" during your lunch break and see if you agree! I am definitely biased based on my love of the Irish, but I think the lyrics are great.

"'Cause if one day you wake up and find that you're missing me 
And your heart starts to wonder where on this earth I could be 
Thinkin maybe you'll come back here to the place that we'd meet 
And you'll see me waiting for you on our corner of the street 
So I'm not moving, I'm not moving"

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mardi Gras!

I can't believe it's already the start of Lent! My, my how time flies. But before deciding what to give up or, even better, what kind act to do each day, Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras MUST be observed :)

So this time last year, as you can see, I was being attacked with silly string by crazy French people on the streets of Nice at the real Carnival... And although that's pretty difficult to live up to, I did have a rather indulgent and truly American Mardi Gras this year nonetheless.

Let's just say it involved a late-night dinner at In-N-Out with Miss Nicole Fait, and it was delicious!

For all you vegetarians who don't like cheese out there (yeah that might just be me but you never know), here is how to make In-N-Out vegetarian friendly:

STEP 1: Grill a Morning Star Marsala Veggie Burger to perfection in the comfort of your own apartment
STEP 2: Place grilled veggie burger in a ziploc bag
STEP 3: Drive as quickly as possible to the nearest In-N-Out
STEP 4: Order fries, a chocolate shake, and a "veggie burger" (essentially a hamburger without the patty)
STEP 5: Upon receiving your food, insert the cooked veggie burger patty into the In-N-Out style "veggie burger"
STEP 6: Eat to your heart's content leaving no fry behind!

So that was my Mardi Gras, what did you do to celebrate??

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Hi My Name is Alyssa and I Am a Klutz...

So let's just admit it, not ALL lunch breaks can be wonderful and inspirational and relaxing and much as we wish they were.

Case in point: my lunch break at my internship yesterday. I brought my lunch (fantastic frozen veggie enchiladas from Trader Joes) and as the time neared noon I began to anxiously anticipate my meal. Of course, at exactly 12:00 I clocked out, brought my lunch into the kitchen and patiently waited my turn for the microwave. After cooking this heavenly mexican feast for 3 minutes, I went to take it out (bare handed) and was quite unpleasantly surprised to find that the temperature of the container had become MUCH hotter than my hands were able to handle. So in true survival mode, my hands released the container and the veggie enchiladas spilled out all over the kitchen floor and the sauce burned my hand in the process...

So I was left lunch-less, with a huge mess to clean up and a burned hand... Luckily the other people eating in the kitchen at the time were so sweet and helped me clean it up and even shared their lunches with me! Just proof of how compassionate people can be, even when they don't know you very well :)

I suppose the French would say that's my punishment for being lazy and bringing a frozen meal for lunch, and trust me French food experts if I had time I would most certainly make a fancy homemade meal. Let's just hope I can get through tomorrow's lunch break without quite so much embarrassment...

Here's to all you klutzes out there!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Hidden Art at Super Bowl Sunday

In addition to the fact that the Saints dominated the game (props to Tracy Porter for that incredible interception!!), being a PR/Advertising major encouraged me to pay particularly close attention to the multi-million dollar advertisements. Perhaps it's the bias my major causes, but I am inclined to believe that some advertisements truly qualify as art.

So...which artistic advertising attempt won the position of #1 Super Bowl Commercial in my book?

Parisian Love -by Google

French-inspired and an adorable concept--so perfect for my blog :) Cheers to the creativity of advertising and the tradition of a great American sport.

My Memory...

To practice what I preached in my previous post, here's a fond memory I share with one of my loved ones, Miss Alexandra (aka Ma Petite Coloc). As roommates in France we became great friends and traveled to many a foreign country together. We were fortunate enough to stumble upon 10 pound tickets to see Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet performed in The Globe Theater itself during our second trip to London in May 2009. Although we had to stand for three hours straight, seeing Shakespeare's most renowned play, performed mere inches from us in the theater he set it in, was absolutely incredible! I have never appreciated the true beauty and flow of Shakespeare's prose and the fantastic talent of actors until this performance. It is a memory I will always cherish. 

Share yours! 

Quote of the Week

"Is love a tender thing? It is too rough, too rude, too boisterous, and it pricks like a thorn"                
                        -William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
 With Valentines Day quickly approaching, who better than Shakespeare himself to remind us the love is never as simplistic as we all wish it was. Love all too often leads to heartache and suffering, however it is my opinion that our most lasting contribution to the world lies in the relationships we develop with those we love--those few treasured friends, family members, and lovers that will stand by our side no matter what the circumstance and keep a picture or letter or memory of us with them at all times. To quote Moulin Rouge,
"the greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return"
So to all you star-crossed lovers, rather than dwell upon the rough, rude, and boisterous moments your loved ones cause you, recall a fond memory and share it, either here or with the person or just in a journal, to remind yourself that love is most certainly a tender thing.