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.

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...??