Category Archives: Uncategorized

I’m (Still) With Her

Image result for hillary clinton

On the morning of Tuesday, November 8, 2016, my husband and I signed all the paperwork to begin our journey of starting a family. I’m 37, and we live in a city only two hours away from a country that’s had travel restrictions in place for months due to the Zika virus. Egg freezing and IVF seemed like the most logical option for us as we thought about our future family. Driving back from the appointment, I marveled about how amazing it was that we even had that choice: thanks to so many people fighting for women’s rights and reproductive freedoms, we could choose when and how to start our family. How incredible it was, I said, that we’d someday be able to tell our kids that we started to build our family on the same day our country would elect its first woman president of the United States.

When I was little, I wanted to be the first woman president. Long before I set out on a path of politics, healthcare and marketing, I believed that I could be anything I wanted to be, because I knew I was smart, talented and capable. In my 15 years as a professional, and my 37 years as a woman, I’ve had doubts that those qualities were enough to lead me to success. And last night, the country I live in confirmed that.

This election cycle has been a circus of absurdity from day one of Donald Trump’s ridiculous, gold-plated presidential candidacy announcement. I’ve watched with morbid fascination as he insulted, demeaned, trivialized and lied his way through situation after situation, all the while gaining supporters and the admiration of those who claim to like the way he “tells it like it is.” The media could barely keep up with him: the minute they focused on one point that seemed certain to lead to his ruin, he was off and running in another, more horrible direction. Every time I thought “this will end him,” he proved me wrong. Throughout it, I grew more and more mystified: how the fuck was he doing this??? All the while, Hillary Clinton, a woman with more experience, talent and knowledge than perhaps any other presidential candidate in this lifetime – who was, I’m sure, thinking the same goddamn thing – kept her cool. And do you know why she had to? Because she’s a woman.

Let’s not mince words: it fucking sucks to be a woman in a man’s world. I say that because that’s my truth. I know what it’s like to be in a professional setting as the only woman in a room full of men, knowing you are just as smart, confident and capable as them – if not more so – and still know inherently that I needed to “know my role.” Be a little more demure. Laugh a little more than necessary at their jokes. Let them man-splain something to me that I already knew better than they did. Because it’s one thing to be smart, talented and capable. But it’s another thing to let on that you know you are.

Quick poll: how many men have had a stranger or co-worker come up to them and, unsolicited, tell you to “smile!” Zero? That’s how many I’d guess. On the contrary, the amount of times this has happened to me in both my professional and personal life is too many to count. It’s as if I exist, to a certain group of strangers, for no other reason than to look nice and make them feel good about themselves. It doesn’t matter why I’m not smiling: maybe I’m thinking about how to work through a crisis situation, maybe it’s just my resting bitch face. No matter. If you’re a certain kind of guy and I’m in your eyeline looking anything other than pleasant, it’s your obligation to tell me to look nicer for you. I’m not your equal. I’m your object.

With this election, this country has commanded women to “smile.” They have said that yes, they know who Donald Trump is. They acknowledge his hatred, his lies, his corruption, his charade of “character,” his homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny and racism. A large part of America is grateful to him for validating these qualities they share, for giving their hatred a voice. But another large part of the population looked at all of this and shrugged all, “Meh. Still better than a woman.”

Why don’t you like Hillary? Emails. Benghazi. “Corruption.” This is bullshit. You don’t like her because of who she is. You call her “dishonest” and “arrogant” when she displays the same qualities that could and would get a man elected. You don’t like the way she looks. She isn’t smiley enough. She doesn’t know her role.

Driving home yesterday, I thought about all those meetings when I was the only woman in a room full of men. I thought about all the times I’d been labeled a bitch when a man could have exhibited the same decisiveness and strength and been applauded for it. I thought about how hard I’ve worked to get where I am and how tough I’ve had to be to get over what people think of me when I knew what I was doing was right, if unpopular. I thought about when I was passed over for a job that was given to a man less qualified than me. I thought about all the times I discovered I was being paid tens of thousands less to do the same job that a male coworker was doing, even though I was working harder. And I imagined with hope our country electing Hillary Rodham Clinton as its president and all of that beginning to change.

Instead, by electing Trump as president, this country told me that my value is less because I am a woman. I can be as smart, confident, talented and capable as you can imagine, but it doesn’t ultimately matter because this is still a boys’ club. I am angry and I am deeply sad. I am heartbroken for Hillary, for our generations of young women and for the future of this country.

My (ever-patient, loving, supportive, super-smart and handsome) husband is an environmental journalist. I’m a healthcare professional living in the state of Texas who wants to start a family. What does this presidency mean for our careers? What does it mean for our lives? How can we bring a child into a world of ruin when we’ve both worked so hard to create positive change within it? Donald Trump has repeatedly come out against everything we are and everything we work to further. And the country I live in looked at all he stood for and said “Yup. Let a man do the man’s job, no matter who that man actually is.” I know that we’re going to have to work ten times harder now to prove ourselves and create any sort of positive change. Maybe that will start tomorrow, because I sure don’t have it in me today.

For now, America, I guess we’ll just grin and bear it.

Blood Orange Citrus Salad with Honey, Basil and Sea Salt


CS2

Winter in San Antonio has been…not terrible. While the poor East Coast is getting Snowzilla’ed, we’re outside enjoying the sunshine. And Central Market is currently having their Citrus Celebration, which features about 60 different kinds of grapefruit, oranges, lemons, etc. It’s beautiful and delicious and makes me happy every time I set foot in that store.

This salad is perfect as either an appetizer or a dessert. Blood oranges are seasonal, and sweeter than a typical orange, but the addition of a little drizzle of honey, some flaked citrus salt (if you have it, if not, regular salt will work too) and some julienned basil is the most amazing combination. So many flavors!!

BLOOD ORANGE CITRUS SALAD WITH HONEY, BASIL AND SEA SALT (Serves 2)

  • Two blood oranges
  • Local honey, approx. 1 tsp. per salad
  • 7-8 basil leaves
  • Pinch of flaked citrus salt or regular sea salt
  1. Cut off the top and bottom of the orange, so it can stand on one end. Then, carefully remove the skin with a sharp knife, making sure you don’t cut away too much of the orange.

FullSizeRender

2. Cut orange into slices, width-wise, and arrange on a plate.

3. Drizzle with honey, sprinkle with sea salt and top with julienned basil. Serve immediately.

CS3

citrus

Look at all this citrus!!! Come on!!

San Antonio – AndWhatIDid (for the past two months, at least)

It’s been a a little while, I know. This transition to San Antonio over the past two months has been just that…a transition. Both my job and Brendan’s are going really well, we’re finally getting the hang of the layout of this city, we’ve had some serious eats at some awesome restaurants, we’ve been doing a lot of cool activities but best of all, we’ve been doing it together. It’s a good thing he’s my best friend since we have been spending a LOT of time together. Making friends in a new city is harder than I remembered, but maybe I’m just missing my friends and my family. In any event, it’s been great to be living in a city again – we’re taking advantage of it. Here’s what we’ve been doing, next up is what (and where) we’ve been eating.

Moving day morning snuggles with Colly, Mom and Murray before hitting the road.

IMG_1476 IMG_1481  IMG_1489 IMG_1490

IMG_1484

Co-pilot game strong since 1997

Traveling through the southern states, spent a night in Knoxville and another in New Orleans – first time for both! Tennessee is so much prettier than I expected it to be and New Orleans was like Vegas for me: a quick trip in and out, some good eats, a little fun, cross it off the list.

IMG_1496  IMG_1497 IMG_1504 IMG_1520 IMG_1541 IMG_1549

Got to San Antonio after three days of driving and almost three weeks away from Bren.

IMG_1554 IMG_1558

La Crema for less than $10 a bottle at Trader Joe’s? Shopping at Anthropologie  in my city? Two reasons I love San Antonio.

IMG_1586 IMG_1616

La Fonda quickly became one of our favorite places for its around-the-corner location, awesome food and the enormous Live Oak canopy on the backyard patio. Also awesome: scoring box seats to the Rampage, the rosemary in this city that grows like San Antonio was Seattle, “Ice Houses”, which are basically outdoor bars in every neighborhood.

IMG_1647 IMG_1654 IMG_1667 IMG_1765

Brendan: bed hog, camping enthusiast and belated birthday-celebrator.

IMG_1775 IMG_1781 IMG_1807 IMG_1814 IMG_1819 IMG_1818

Before we moved here, everyone was all “Ohhh, the River Walk!”, and I thought, “How good could this possibly be?”  It really is. The Museum Reach portion of it, with art installations every block or so, is probably my favorite part, but the whole thing is just so beautiful and unique. It’s probably my favorite piece about living in San Antonio.

IMG_1841 IMG_1843 IMG_1844

Went back to Colorado to surprise Brendan’s family and his grandparents for Thanksgiving. They’re all such great people and I’m so excited they’re going to be my in-laws.

IMG_1969

Love that man. <3

IMG_1956 IMG_1985 IMG_2010 IMG_2073 IMG_1994 IMG_2014 IMG_2040 IMG_2080

IMG_2088

Brendan and I stayed up until 4 a.m. one night, DEAD SOBER, to finish this puzzle we’d started a little before midnight.

San Antonio’s music scene may not be as well-known as Austin’s, but it’s strong. I love having the option of walking to shows just about any night of the week. Architecture in this city is also pretty incredible – Brendan’s office building is gorgeous, and are you kidding me with that Majestic Theatre???

IMG_0040 IMG_0015 IMG_0002 IMG_2103

The Octopus Project at Paper Tiger, Tamale Fest at The Pearl, Christmas Tree cutting.

IMG_0041 IMG_0050 IMG_0057 IMG_0061 IMG_0063 IMG_0079

The sunset here on my Dad’s birthday, wedding venue dreaming (8.6.16 in Breckenridge – check out that view!!), lit-up Cinderella carriages downtown, San Antonio Museum of Art, concert in a cave (which my environmental-journalist-fiance called his best date ever), 108 sun salutations in honor of the winter solstice.

IMG_0111 IMG_0112 IMG_0168 IMG_0229 IMG_0218 IMG_0236 IMG_0238 IMG_0260 IMG_0262 IMG_0278 IMG_0279 IMG_0290

Such thoughtful Christmas gifts from my cousins, how Christmas looks via Skype when Delta delays your flight a full TWO DAYS, ON CHRISTMAS, so your only alternative is to cancel your flight home and stay in Texas (don’t even get me started, I had a fullblown meltdown), Christmas weekend in Austin, where we ate the best Italian food I’ve had so far in this state, visited these ancient springs and saw a seven-months pregnant woman juggle a table, a vase and two of her three children, ON HER FEET. #KeepAustinWeird

IMG_0374

Don’t worry. I saved him.

IMG_0296 IMG_0332 IMG_0324 IMG_0361 IMG_0363 IMG_0371 IMG_0378 IMG_0383

Coming up next – AndWhatIAte. San Antonio is so much more than tacos!!

 

Texas, y’all

IMG_1058

…as in two days until I begin the three-day drive to San Antonio. Brendan and I both got great new jobs, amazingly found an apartment in adorable Tobin Hill in a whirlwind 72-hour tour of the city, had some serious Texas eats and explored what’s going to be our new home. Or, I guess, what’s going to be mine, since Bren’s been down there for more than a week now.

Today, since this has been a pretty emotional rollercoaster, I have really mixed feelings about going. NEPA is my home, and home to the people I love most in the world (with the exclusion of JBG, of course). I’m going to miss my parents, my sister and my girlfriends more than I can express. But I’m also excited about starting this new life with the love of my life, living in a city (and an awesome one, at that) again for the first time in years, stepping up my career and watching Bren do the same with his, exploring a whole new part of the country and most of all, doing all this together. There’s nobody else I’d rather be with.

In the meantime, though, I’m loving the time I’ve been spending with my family and my girlfriends. They’re some of the greatest people in the world, and I’m just so lucky and grateful. We’ve been in each other’s lives for decades, and their support, encouragement and love is unparalleled. I’m really going to miss them but I’m so fortunate to have spent all this time with them. Ugh, let’s just get this purgatory “transition” time over with already!!!! On another note, if anyone has tips for things to do or how to meet people in San Antonio, I’m all ears, because Bren and I are going to need it!

Three days in San Antonio to do everything:

IMG_1078   IMG_1045

IMG_1089   IMG_1121IMG_1132 IMG_1107

Our engagement dinner at my parents’ house:

IMG_0823 IMG_0821IMG_0822 IMG_0834 IMG_0830 IMG_0827    IMG_0816

Birthdays, last day of work, Steamtown Marathon Sunday, Race for the Cure, Indigo Girls:

IMG_1158 IMG_1175 IMG_1221 IMG_1390 IMG_1387 IMG_1378  IMG_1364 IMG_1355 IMG_1352 IMG_1349 IMG_1333 IMG_1327 IMG_1301 IMG_1220 IMG_1217 IMG_1205 IMG_0881 IMG_0843 IMG_0997 IMG_1414

 

I love you and I’ll miss you, NEPA!

 

French Green Bean Salad



FullSizeRender (3)

French Green Beans are one of my favorite foods in France. To be clear: these are not green beans, those chunky, crunchy, scowl-inducing veggies your mom used to make you eat as a kid. These are French Green Beans, or haricots verts, slender little delicate beans that are delicious on their own or quickly blanched and then tossed with some carrot sticks, a couple beet greens and that dijon-spiked, shallot-based classic french vinaigrette. This is not a salad. This is an event.  Enjoy.

FRENCH GREEN BEAN SALAD (Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side)

  • 1 lb. French Green Beans
  • 1/4 C. matchstick carrots
  • 1/2 C. beet greens (no more – the beans are the star of this, not the greens)
  • Classic French Vinaigrette

1.Blanch your green beans. You do this by gently boiling some salted water in a large pot, then throwing the beans in for no more than 2 minutes, or until the beans have a little bend to them, but aren’t soggy. Test them pretty often, so you make sure you get the right texture – it’s key to the salad.

FullSizeRender_1 (2)

2. Have an ice bath ready, and when the beans are ready, quickly drain them in a colander and dunk them in the ice bath so they stop cooking. 

3. Drain the beans and pat them dry. Toss with 3/4 of the vinaigrette, then add the carrots and beet greens, and toss with the rest of the vinaigrette.

FullSizeRender_3 (2) FullSizeRender_1 (3)

4. Serve immediately and enjoy. J’adore les haricots verts!

FullSizeRender_1

 

Love, Love, Love (is all we need)

IMG_0740

When I answered the phone at work one day in December 2013, I never thought the voice on the other end was that of the man I’d eventually marry. Journalist Brendan Gibbons, despite our eleven year age gap, complete resistance on both of our parts to falling in love with each other because we were “trying to be practical about this,” different backgrounds, interests and life experiences (so far) is, without question, the love of my life. And we’re engaged.

I’ve been in a lot of relationships, with a lot of different kinds of guys. At some point, I tried to convince myself that I was willing to settle for “less than.” But that kind of thinking can only carry you so far, and now, after nearly two years with Bren, I finally know what it’s like to be with a man who challenges me, excites me, thrills me and loves me so deeply and whole-heartedly that I can’t believe I ever tried to convince myself I wanted anything less. Of course we drive each other crazy sometimes, but there’s nobody else I respect or admire more, or who I have more fun with. He’s the best guy I’ve ever known, and I’m so grateful we’re going to spend our lives together. It’s going to be an incredible adventure.

JBG, thank you for loving me the way you do. I’m the luckiest.

IMG_0152

IMG_6549 IMG_1980

IMG_2067 IMG_2166IMG_0305IMG_6483

IMG_6477 IMG_6408

photo 5 IMG_0766

Classic French Vinaigrette



FullSizeRender_2

I have tried and failed to duplicate that French vinaigrette – the real kind, the Paris kind – for years now. When we went to Paris in July, I made it my mission to figure it out. Every place we went that served something with the right flavor, I asked them what was in it. Vinegar and olive oil were usually the response, until one waitress hooked me up. This. This is the one.

  • 1 tbsp. sherry vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped shallot
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tbsp. good whole-grain dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp. fresh black pepper
  • 1/4 c. EVOO

1.Combine vinegars with the shallot and garlic. Let sit for 15 minutes – this mellows the flavors and sweetens it, somehow? It’s awesome.

FullSizeRender

2. After 15 minutes, whisk in the mustard and the salt and pepper.

FullSizeRender

3. Whisking constantly, drizzle in the EVOO until combined.

4. Taste and season. Serve with just about anything.

FullSizeRender_1

 

Classic Pesto


IMG_0703

When I lived in Boston, I was part of a cooking club with some of my girlfriends, and the first thing we ever made was a Pesto, which I instantly fell in love with. There’s something so perfectly end-of-summery about it, and while it doesn’t keep all that long, you can freeze it in an ice-cube tray and then pop out little ice-cube portions of pesto whenever you get a craving. Brendan and I found these enormous, gorgeous bunches of basil at the Farmer’s Market on Friday, so I threw together this pesto. We’ve been eating it all weekend. Pestoooo.

CLASSIC PESTO (Makes about 2 cups)

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, tightly packed (just leaves, not stems)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 C. EVOO
  • good pinch kosher salt, to taste
  • Squeeze of lemon, to taste
  1. Toast the pine nuts. Just put them in a skillet over medium heat and cook for about 5 minutes, shaking pretty frequently to rotate them. Keep a close eye on them so they don’t burn.
  2. Add basil leaves to a food processor (there’s no getting around having one of these to make pesto) along with the garlic and pine nuts, and pulse a couple times until it’s combined.IMG_0687

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Add cheese, pulse again until combined, scraping down the sides with a spatula. With the processor running, slowly add the EVOO until it’s all blended.

IMG_0691 IMG_0692

 

3. Season with kosher salt and a squeeze of lemon to taste. We’ve had this on pasta, toast and as a base for a breakfast sammie. So good.

IMG_0705

 

  • A postscript – August was…interesting. There’ve been some real moments and challenges, but all I can say is how grateful I am for all the people in my life who love me, especially the support of Brendan, my family, and Pam and Mark G. I know I’ve been posting a lot less, but I had to take a break for a little while to kind of get my voice back. September is going to be one of the most decisive months of my life, but I’m going to keep writing through it. Lots to come. xo

– Fin –

After a week of some of the best days of my life, we headed down to Bordeaux for wine-tasting and villa-staying. THIS PLACE.

We stayed at Relais Franc Mayne, which is one of the prettiest places I’ve ever stayed in my life. Waking up in the morning and opening the windows onto the vineyards was like being in a dream.

IMG_9442 IMG_9414 IMG_9413 IMG_9407 IMG_9423 IMG_9445

Most of St. Emilion sits on top of caves. The limestone has been mined and going underground into them was seriously trippy.

IMG_9452 IMG_9464

Our first tasting was at Chateau Canon, which is owned by the Chanel family. Afterwards, we went to the oldest winery in St. Emilion, Couvent des Jacobins. The hostess was lovely and the wines were out of this world. Sometimes I think about the fact that this is an actual job and wonder why I didn’t know about it back in college. Dream life.

IMG_9483 IMG_9492 IMG_9484

My mom, making a wish for my dad.

IMG_9495 IMG_9497 IMG_9499 IMG_9502 IMG_9503 IMG_9514

I mean, even the bathroom at that hotel was amazing.

And the dinnerrrrr we went to that night. Good grief. Wild mushroom risotto with local black truffles, crispy sea bass with root vegetables, and that dessert platter!!!

IMG_9515 IMG_9518 IMG_9519 IMG_9520 IMG_9522 IMG_9523

I really think I could be totally fine with coming down to a breakfast like this in a setting like this every day of my life.

IMG_9537 IMG_9539 IMG_9540 IMG_9541 IMG_9558 IMG_9560 IMG_9562 IMG_9564

The next day was so special. We’d been chatting with Alice, the communications liaison at Chatea Rauzan-Segla, for months. She’d been so helpful in setting up tours and details for us, and she was even lovelier in person.

IMG_9570 IMG_9576 IMG_9578 IMG_9583 IMG_9589 IMG_9595 IMG_9593 IMG_9608

Wine tasting in that little tower room overlooking the vineyard was such a moment.

IMG_9611 IMG_9612 IMG_9606 IMG_9616 IMG_9633

And lunch. I averaged about 20,000 steps a day, and barely ate any carbs, so ended up actually losing weight on this trip. Goddamnit, France, you’re magical.

IMG_9639 IMG_9640 IMG_9641 IMG_9642 IMG_9663 IMG_9662  IMG_9673 IMG_9668

After touring Chateua Pichon-Longueville, we headed to Le Grand Hotel De Bordeaux.

IMG_9685 IMG_9683IMG_9686

Colly and I had dinner and walked around a bit – such a cute city. The next day we headed back to Paris.

IMG_9700 IMG_9736 IMG_9741

Mom finally got her ham and cheese on a baguette!

We stayed at Hotel du Louvre, which is where I stayed with my parents when they came to visit me when I lived in Paris. I love this place. Those balconies!! We went out to do a little shopping and then stopped for dinner at Cafe de Flore, which needs no introduction. Ended up sitting next to Ivry Gitlis, who flirted relentlessly with my mom and was generally adorable and charming.

IMG_9750 IMG_9753 IMG_9765 IMG_9781 IMG_9787 IMG_9773 IMG_9793 IMG_9799 IMG_9802 IMG_9807 IMG_9808

When we came back to the hotel, we had a little rose on the balcony and waited for about 30 minutes for the staff to bring up ice, which never came, so we left to go to Willi’s Wine Bar. Willi’s is a classic and used to be one of my favorite places when I lived there. It’s so cute and the wine is (obviously) amazing. Rose for days!!!

IMG_9815 IMG_9816

IMG_9939 IMG_9938 IMG_9936 IMG_9935

IMG_9826 IMG_9845 IMG_9847

When we came back that night, I just stood on the balcony for a long time and watched the city go by below me. I don’t know when the next time I’ll be back here, and I really wanted to soak it all in.

Sleepy sisters and Paris morning views.

IMG_9852 IMG_9853

My mom and my sister went shopping, and I went for a run around my old neighborhood to have a little moment at some of my favorite places. This ended up being more emotional than I thought, and when I was sitting at the boat pond I was pretty overwhelmed with joy and gratitude. I thought about who I used to be the last time I was here, and who I am now, and how grateful I am for all the experiences and people that have happened in my life over the past 15 years. As a 21 year old living in Paris, I had no idea what was in store for me. I’ve lived in some of the best places in this world, shared such happy moments with my family, raised millions for children’s charities, maintained friendships going on close to 20 years now, and have really just lived my life. At 36, I’m grateful I’m happy. I’m in love with the greatest guy I’ve ever known, I’m surrounded by a community and people that mean so much to me, the people I love most in my life are healthy and happy themselves, and there’s so much on the horizon. Paris puts things into perspective for me. This trip was no exception.

IMG_9860 IMG_9868 IMG_9872 IMG_9879 IMG_9890 IMG_9931IMG_9896 IMG_9898 IMG_9899 IMG_9904 IMG_9906 IMG_9908 IMG_9913

Finally, after one last day of walking around to some of our favorite places, we headed home. I got emotional in the airport, hugging my mom and telling her that this had been one of the best weeks of my entire life. I just couldn’t be luckier and I couldn’t be happier that my mom and my little sister and I got to spend that time together. I’m getting teary-eyed just writing this! Paris strikes something really fundamental for me, and it recharged me in a way I forgot about. I’m proud to be this 36 year old woman, but I needed a shot of that 21 year old girl I used to be.

IMG_9919 IMG_9926

Not going to lie, it was tough to come home. But coming home to this and the arms of the man who I love most of all made it easier. Here’s hoping I’ll see you soon, Paris!

IMG_9943