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, November 8, 2011

Fall Finds

A while ago i shared my autumn wish list...
here's what actually made the cut.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I Say I Like Autumn

I should really be banned from online shopping.

Nevertheless I spent today's late afternoon lunch break creating my Autumn Wish List...

Sadie Ankle Boots from Anthrpologie

Nicoletta Blouse from Anthropologie

Jones Patchwork Quilt from Urban Outfitters

Summer Frock Apron from Anthropologie

Antique Trunk to DIY into a funky coffee table 
(idea courtesy of the Venice House) 

Spring Leaves Throw Pillow from Home Centric

Vintage Wood Calendar Chalkboard from Urban Outfitters


Monday, September 5, 2011

Berkeley Love

Just a week after my San Francisco adventures, I journeyed back up north to visit to one of my oldest and closest friends in Berkeley. The trip was wonderful, beyond wonderful really. I have so much love for the Berkeley area and all it's pedestrian & vegan friendliness. If the opportunity presents itself, I'd quite enjoy living there one day. 

Not surprisingly, my friend has amazing taste in food and atmosphere, and she took me to some incredible spots that I just have to mention. 

Razan's Organic Kitchen: Your typical hole-in-the-wall, with all the design quirks to go with it. Everything from their Tofu Shish Kebab Wrap to their made-to-order Vegetable Soup will knock your vegetarian socks off. I recommend sitting upstairs by the window. 

Guerilla Cafe: "Coffee and Vibes" A funky joint with a modern groove feel. Perfect for breakfast or you can stop by for live music in the evenings. We opted for the Waffle of the Day special (Apple & Plum Waffle with apple syrup that day) and were anything but disappointed. 

La Farine: A heavenly French bakery with a wide assortment of breads and pastries. There's just one long farm-style table inside so you get to mingle with fellow pastry connoisseurs. Highly recommend the Lemon Oatmeal Cookies. 

The Meadows: Just a couple doors down from La Farine, the flower arrangements here are stunning to see and smell. The perfect place to pick up a unique bouquet.


Cafe Intermezzo: SALAD HEAVEN. Seriously, the largest and most amazing salad I've ever had. My friend and I shared the vegetarian-friendly Chef Salad, but there are tons of options, all of which looked incredible. Love the tree in the middle of the restaurant too. 

Venus: Go with a friend and split the Vegetarian Omlette and the Luxury Flapjacks (made with fresh raspberries and chocolate chunks). It's the perfect (though not the healthiest) Sunday brunch blend of savory and sweet. 

La Note: Two words...Ratatouille Omelette. It is absolutely INCREDIBLE. From the vibrant flavors to the homey corner cafe atmosphere, this place takes me back to France every time I visit. When I'm rich and famous, I'll fly up to Berkeley just to have breakfast here. 

Time to book another trip to Berkeley I think...

<3 Lyssa 

Up, Up and Away

A couple weeks ago I took off on a mini-vacation to San Francisco to visit friends and volunteer at the Outside Lands music festival. It was the first time I'd been on an airplane since flying back from Cannes my sophomore year of college, and I could barely contain my excitement. 

Suffice it to say, Outside Lands wasn't all it was cracked up to be (ended with me stranded in Golden Gate Park at 10:30pm alone with no cell phone--if that's any indication). Fortunately, the rest of my trip was very enjoyable, particularly exploring the restaurant & shopping scene in Palo Alto and Downtown Stanford with my good friend. Here are some of my new favorite spots to enjoy a French lunch break in Nor Cal...


Dolce France: Authentic French Bakery in Palo Alto owned and managed by a wonderful French man. Best Chai Latte I've ever had and amazing Banana & Nutella Crepes. 

Stanford Shopping Center: A gorgeous outdoor mall with a wide variety of stores. Finally purchased my first pair of Toms (in Academy Plaid) at the Nordstroms there. 


Crepevine: Huge selection of savory & sweet crepes (and more) in the quaint Downtown Stanford area. Bustling with customers on a Sunday afternoon--great for people watching and feasting. 

Coupa Cafe: If I went to Stanford, I'd live here. Amazing Chai Tea Latte (second only to Dolce), an eclectic atmosphere and customer base, and ample indoor & outdoor seating. 

Cheers to Nor Cal! 

<3 Lyssa


Thank you, Book City Jackets. I couldn't agree more. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Foolish Me

It's amazing to me how dance can so perfectly convey deep and complicated emotions, sometimes through the simplest of movements. This performance from last week's episode of So You Think You Can Dance left me with tears in my eyes and a heavy heart, but also in awe of the artistic power of dance. 

In just two minutes I felt swept back to the excruciating pain I felt a few months ago when my first serious relationship ended with a complete betrayal of my trust, both by the boy I cared so deeply for and a person I had previously considered one of my closest friends. The lyrics to this song (Fool of Me by Meshell Ndegeocello) are so piercing and terribly accurate. You can feel the soul and hurt in her voice when she sings. So many of us allow ourselves to be made the fool by giving our whole hearts to someone only to be pinned up against a wall of lies and abuse in the end. I hate it. 

But I suppose it's only through suffering that we learn how to protect ourselves and break through those walls to find people who truly care. It's difficult though--so difficult when such a great majority of people have no qualms about making choices that sacrifice the well being of those around them. Relationships are such complicated, twisted journeys... I'm far from understanding them, but at least I think I know better than to let someone make a fool of me again. 

<3 Lyssa

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Confessions of a Bachelorette

Confession: I watch The Bachelorette. Who knows why such trashy television is so addicting, but it is! I follow the relationships throughout the season, get attached to my favorite guy and cheer him on to the end, even though I know that a TV show competition is a horrible place to find love and most likely it won't work out. I guess you could call it my Monday night french lunch break, because it's my time to just rest my brain and indulge in something so ridiculous you can't help but enjoy it. 

This Monday was the finale, and naturally (being my planner self) I invited my friends over for a little themed viewing party. So themed in fact, that we even made cocktails in honor of each of the top two men...

"The JP" aka Sex on the Beach
(for obvious reasons) 

And "The Ben-elicious Sangria" 
(in honor of Ben F's wine making profession)  

Yes, this is extremely lame and further qualifies me as a complete nerd, but I just had to share. Hope you get a kick out of it ;)

<3 Lyssa

PS- SO glad she chose JP!!!!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Outside Lands

I applied to be a volunteer at this year's Outside Lands music festival in San Francisco, and I just found out today that my application was accepted!! Just a chance to get out of the OC and take a trip to SF will be awesome, let alone getting a free day pass to Outside Lands in exchange for a six hour volunteer shift! So excited, just had to share :) 

<3 Lyssa

PS- the Outside Lands website is awesome...mad graphic design skills on that team

Ghandi Bowl & Thai Stir Fry

After seeing Julie and Julia, I'll admit that I was tempted to buy Julia Child's cookbook and try out the daily cooking challenge myself. 

...then I remembered that I'm a vegetarian who hates cheese (who could barely eat anything in France) and reality overcame my lofty dream. 

Fortunately, there are now entirely vegan cookbooks--my favorite of which is the Native Foods Restaurant Cookbook. I bought my own copy last summer after discovering the Native Foods restaurants, and I am now challenging myself to make a new recipe from the book every couple weeks (sorry Julie & Julia fans, a recipe a day is just too much).
Last week I got started with an indian curry dish--deemed The Ghandi Bowl by Chef Tanya. My new blender had its inaugural use as I blended up a lime green curry consisting of everything from cilantro to maple syrup to soy sauce to curry powder. I had my doubts about this array of ingredients, but when poured atop a plate of biryani rice, grilled tempeh and sauteed veggies, this curry sauce is heavenly. Simply garnish the dish with some green onion and dried cranberries and you have yourself a vegan bowl Ghandi himself would devour. 
Those who know me know I'm quite the practical thinker, so it's not surprising that I scoured the cookbook for recipes that contained some of the same ingredients as the Ghandi Bowl so I could make two meals in one week and not waste ingredients. The Thai Stir Fry turned out to be a great match! Tuesday night I broke out the cutting board and got my cook on once again. This stir fry is similar to a pad thai--complete with peanuts and bean sprouts. I had the pleasure of sharing the meal with my fantastic roommate over a glass of wine. Based on our crumb-free plates and vow to make the dish again soon, I'd say this cooking adventure was a success. 

Two recipes down...many to go. Cheers! 

<3 Lyssa

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

LA Creative Mornings (at night)

A few weeks ago, I ventured to LA for a creative escape day...
Started out with a trip to 212 Pier, a funky coffee shop in Santa Monica that friends of mine had given rave reviews. After this first visit, I'd definitely vouch for their espresso smoothie and the quirky style/ambience of the place (check out the view from our second story table above). After our caffeine fix we walked down to the beach and people watched then grabbed lunch and shopped around a bit. The Santa Monica boutiques are always a nice change of pace from the sprawling shopping centers of Orange County.
Then it was off to Ford & Ching in Chinatown for a Creative Morning (at Night) post modern right? Creative Mornings are free design lecture series sponsored by Swiss Miss that take place monthly in various cities throughout the world. This special "at night" version served as part-Creative Morning, part-Dwell on Design Conference Launch Party. The speaker was David Trubridge, renowned New Zealand lighting and furniture designer. The ambience of the Ford & Ching studio was perfect for the event. There was free food, wine and cocktails and an eclectic collection of creatives to mingle with. Best of all was David's presentation, which far exceeded my expectations. Here are a few of my favorite takeaways...
  • The creative process should flow through art, design and craft to be complete...
    • Art is where your heart lies. Then you have to develop a vocabulary for expressing what is in your heart.
    • With that vocabulary, you have something to design with. There must be an element of you in our design. The design is the structure of your artistic vocabulary.
    • As a craftsman, you refine that design.
  • The brain naturally works best right, left, right; just like the art, design, craft creative process
  • We must pay attention to "new" vs. "novelty" when it comes to design--novelty is not original
  • Cultural design connects all three elements of the creative process, and is like good food--it nourishes you so you don't constantly crave more
  • Find inspiration in nature, but don't go looking for inspiration in nature. Simply be in nature and the inspiration will come. 
With creative juices flowing and our minds open to new sources of inspiration, we ventured to our final stop for the day...The Last Bookstore in downtown LA. The owners of this gargantuan used book store believe, like I do, that the printed book holds special value and that it should not be replaced by the newly popularized e-readers. With Borders, my former employer, recently announcing bankruptcy, it is refreshing to find a used book store that is still thriving. I had eagerly awaited my visit here, and the store did not disappoint! I got lost among the high shelves and became immersed in the worn pages of classics and contemporaries. I left with a bag full of great finds, including some of the owner's suggestions (one of which he bought for me!). For all you bookworms out there, I highly recommend a visit.
Many books to read and much to think about the next time I approach a creative project...

<3 Lyssa

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Where LA Fitness Went Wrong

You know what I hate more than anything--obnoxious sales people... Let me tell you why.

So, I have always loved dancing. I've taken classes since age 3, and I just find it to be a great way to increase physical and emotional health. I've been missing dance terribly since graduating, so I decided to check out some nearby gyms that offer classes to get my dance fix. I made my list of gyms to check out and was happy to find a mailer from LA Fitness offering a free 7-Day Pass in the mail Friday. I researched the class schedule at the nearby location in Orange and decided to try out Zumba and Pilates this morning. 

So I forced myself out of bed bright and early and headed to the gym. The staff was very helpful in getting me checked in quickly so I could make it to the class on time and just requested I check back in afterwards. The Zumba class wasn't bad--not quite as fun as the one I took at 24 Hour, but still a good workout. But the Pilates class was awesome! The teacher was great and it meshed well with my Pilates background. I walked out off the class feeling great and pretty psyched about LA Fitness overall.

Then my experience went downhill...I walked up to the desk of the sales rep I'd spoken to earlier--Victor to be precise--and he asked me how the classes were. I began explaining that the Zumba class was not as good as I'd expected but the Pilates class was great and before I could finish my sentence he cuts me off saying, "Great! Yes, our classes are all much better than other gyms like 24 Hour. So should we get you signed up for a membership??" Granted this guy hadn't even toured me around the gym or asked me a single question about myself before going in for the close! I was so taken aback...aren't sales reps supposed to listen and make you feel heard to get you to want to buy??
I proceeded to explain that I just really wanted to do the 7-Day Trial, try some classes and then make a decision at the end of the week. Well, Victor wasn't cool with that. He went on to give me some nonsense about not being able to get the special monthly deal the flyer offered unless I signed up the day I brought the flyer in even though the flyer clearly advertised that you could give the gym a try and then benefit from the summer special. Sorry Victor--I'm not that stupid. By now, I was just angry, and I called him out on his backwards argument. Of course, five minutes later he was offering me some bigger and better deal with a 5-day money back guarantee. When I declined the offer, sticking to my guns on wanting to use my 7 day pass first, he asks if the money is the issue in a very condescending voice insinuating that I wouldn't have the money for the first payment. Not a good move. I rebutted saying I did not appreciate his comments or feeling pressured and would just like to redeem my 7 day pass and leave. Well now Victor felt bad so he promised that his "amazing" deal would still be valid at the end of my trial...surprise, surprise. He walked me to the door, still never having toured me or so much as asking me a single question about why I was looking to join a gym...

Needless to say I left feeling angry and totally turned off from LA Fitness

So, if anyone from the LA Fitness sales team comes across this blog, here's my advice: All you need to do to make people want to join your gym is provide a great gym experience and invite potential members to share that great experience. It is seriously as easy as that. If you provide great classes, quality facilities, nice equipment and friendly, helpful staff, people WILL join because that is what everyone looks for in a gym. BUT, if you try to push memberships down people's throats through impersonal, aggressive sales pitches, I guarantee you will turn people away. Nowadays people hate being sold. They like to assess their options and feel free to choose whatever suits them best. So when you advertise a free 7 day trial in the mail, DON"T use it as a trick to get people in the door and then guilt them into signing up. Give them a free trial, no strings attached. It may take a little longer for people to make up their minds, but they will be so much more inclined to sign up. It's called content marketing, and it works

So LA Fitness, start treating me like a person instead of a potential commission check, and maybe I'll reconsider. 

In Search of Vinyls

After quite the adventure to meet up with the girl selling it, this funky record player is now the newest and coolest addition to my apartment! Now just need to grow my vinyl collection...

Suggestions for cool vinyl shops in the OC/LA area?

<3 Lyssa

Dejeuner de la Semaine: Vegan on Wheels

As a vegetarian who hates cheese, it is rare for me to be able to order anything off a menu--extremely rare. And the food truck menus are generally no exception, except in the case of Seabirds! This heavenly restaurant on wheels is all vegan, all the time. Their menu changes every day and only features a few items, but rest assured you will never find an ounce of meat or cheese in any dish. Fantastic right??
Needless to say, trying Seabirds has been on my list of things to do for quite some time, and today I finally got the chance when I visited the Farmer's Market at the Great Park. My veggie friend and I perused the quaint fruit stands, sampled pita from the overly friendly hummus stand man and finally arrived at the food truck arena. From Seabirds' chalk board menu we selected the California Burrito and the Beer Battered Avocado Tacos--opting to share so we could both try each. We took our food over to the picnic area, packed with families and couples enjoying some live music by a rockin' band--complete with a trombone, trumpet and sax! 
As we sang along to "Sweet Caroline" we savored every last bite of our much-awaited meal. We both decided the California Burrito took the prize for the day. It had french fries (weird right?), BBQ seasoned "carne asada," guacamole and vegan sour cream; and it was GREAT. The avocado tacos were noteworthy as well--the fried avocado and the signature Seabirds sauce were the best ingredients for sure. 

It was a vegan recipe for a perfect sunday lunch :) 

I wonder what the French think of the food truck craze...??


Monday, June 27, 2011


"Good food nourishes you while junk food leaves you constantly craving more"
Homemade Salad + Hummus + Sheephearder's Bread 

Indian Feast from Punjabi Tandoor in Anaheim-highly recommend
(Buy One, Get One Lunch Specials on Tuesday if you mention Yelp!)

I'd put these lunches in the "good food" category...though I must say I'm craving them right now...

<3 Lyss

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Now Stop...Fiesta Time

What does one do with a produce drawer full of veggies and one perfectly ripe avocado in the fruit basket? Throw herself a little fiesta of course! 
So I chopped up some veggies for fajitas and diced ingredients for my guacamole. There's nothing quite like fresh guac...a perfectly ripe avacado, onion, tomato, sea salt, a good squeeze of lemon and you've got perfection in a bowl (at least in my opinion). 
A bowl of black beans and a couple grilled corn tortillas and my veggie fiesta fajitas were complete.
Through I admire the French for most things when it comes to cuisine, their take on "Mexi-Cannes" food left me pretty disappointed. So here's to growing up in Southern California with an appreciation for authentic mexican food. Nothing compares. 

Cooking therapy; that's my french lunch break.

<3 Lyssa 

Parisian Ponders

Tonight I sat in row two of theater eleven at an Orange County theater but felt transported back to France thanks to the film stylings of one Woody Allen with his newest flick, Midnight in Paris. A blockbuster or academy award, but a well-made, well-casted smart comedy with spot-on reflections on the varying reactions to Paris by Americans...yes. 

The backdrop of Paris just makes everything better and kicking off a movie with a five minute reel of glamourous arial and street shots of the magical city was a great editing decision. I was immediately reminiscing my trip there and got caught up in that intangible longing to travel again. That longing makes you (or at least me) identify with the protagonist who is jaded by the LA film industry and aspires to move to Paris and write a novel instead of another lack-luster script. Without spoiling the tale, suffice it to say that there are many road blocks between him and this "perfect plan"--one being himself and his inability to believe in his talent and embrace the present. 

So I'll admit it, I totally share that inkling towards nostalgia and the romance of years past with Owen Wilson's character (Gill). I don't know how many times I've thought, "I would have been so much happier growing up in Europe in the 20's." I find myself daydreaming about life in other cities of the United States constantly thinking how much better  things must be there. In reality, I live in California where the sun mostly always shines, the beach is 15 minutes away and there is an infinite variety of anything you could ask for. I need to take a hint from Gill's discoveries and embrace my current situation and the potential for inspiration just outside my balcony. 

But while embracing the now is an excellent ideal to live by (thank you Buddha), I think find it equally important to study and appreciate the remember what life was like without the internet and how a hand-crafted letter could be the your only contact with a lover or friend for months upon months. Learning and growing from the past is never too old-fashioned in my book. 

But enough of my thoughts. There was one line from the movie that I just loved and thought I'd share: "All cowardice comes from not loving, or not loving well enough." Ernest Hemingway's character  shares this thought while he tells Gill how true love should make a man forget his fear of death and feel immortal, even if just for fleeting instants now and then. I find this concept curious and interesting to ponder. I hope you do too... 

A $6 "trip" back to Paris and a chance to hear the french language in all it's that's what I call a French lunch break ;) 

<3 Lyssa