Texas, y’all

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…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:

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Our engagement dinner at my parents’ house:

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

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I love you and I’ll miss you, NEPA!

 

French Green Bean Salad



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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.

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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.

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

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Love, Love, Love (is all we need)

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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.

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Classic French Vinaigrette



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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.

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

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

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

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Classic Pesto


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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.

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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.

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  • 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.

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

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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.

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My mom, making a wish for my dad.

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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!!!

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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!!!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Paris, Part Deux

…In which my mom and sister go to the Chanel Couture show, we meet Terry de Gunzburg, sit next to Lenny Kravitz at lunch, enjoy the Musee d’Orsay and travel to begin some serious wine-tasting in Bordeaux. 

Pretty much everyone should start off their day like this. La Maison Favart has one of the best and prettiest showers I’ve ever experienced in their Carmen suite, and a breakfast worthy of the same adjectives.

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And then, NBD, my mom and my sister went to the Chanel Couture Week show. Seriously unreal. The crowd was amazing, the show was completely over the top (so I hear) and my mom got to cross one of the top items off her bucket list. I hung out for almost an hour after dropping them off to people-watch (who were among the best-dressed crowd of my life) despite being dressed in neon workout gear and enduring a solid 45 minutes of papparazzi screaming at me in French, ‘GET OUT OF THE SHOT!!!”  Oh, settle down, crazies.

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Paris, Part Un

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I haven’t been back here since I was 21 years old, but it didn’t take long for me to remember why this is my favorite city in the world.

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Angelina’s has the world’s best hot chocolate, and their salads aren’t too shabby either.

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The boat pond in Tuilleries is my favorite place in the world. I could (and have) sit here for hours and just soak it all in.

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My old street!

My mom and my sister, to make a very long story short, were invited to the Chanel show during Couture Week. I’ve rarely seen my mom more excited than when their invitations (which, without question, I’m sure were more expensive than the cost of an entire wedding) were delivered to our hotel.

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The Hinchey girls a Paris!

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Oooh, la la

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Honestly, I don’t know why I always seem to get so lax about posting during the summer, but it’s probably because there’s so much more going on.

For example.

Late Sunday night, I got back from a 10-day trip to France with my mom and my little sister. We spent a couple days in Paris, went down to Bordeaux for wine-tasting, then back up to Paris again. I used to live there in college, and I hadn’t been back since, and honestly, I forgot about how much that city makes me feel. Everything is so vibrant and beautiful and exciting and – most importantly – grounding in a way I can’t even fully describe. Paris brings out the best in me.

This was the first girls’ trip my mom anIMG_9909d sister and I have taken in a really long time, and we had a blast. We had experiences, dinners and wine among the best of my life, scenery that could have been out of a movie and I also got some serious quality time with two of the people I love most in the world.

This post is a two-parter, for sure. It may actually end up being a three-parter, since I just spent 40 minutes editing pictures and I’m not even to Bordeaux yet (and I’m still on Paris time, which means it’s 8.18 p.m. EST and I’m exhausted.) Happy Bastille Day, France!

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Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie




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Ohhhh, the Nutribullet is just about the best thing I’ve ever purchased in my life. It makes eating (or drinking, I guess) healthy the easiest thing ever. Brendan and I have a smoothie every morning, and if I don’t, I feel like I’m missing something all day long.  This smoothie tastes as if it has 4 times the calories than it actually does.

CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY SMOOTHIE  (makes 1)

  • 3 ice cubes
  • Almond milk (1 cup)
  • 1/4 c. frozen strawberries
  • 1 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. honey (I’ve been using Newkirk Honey, which is locally made and 100% incredible)

Blend everything together really well. Serve with a straw and enjoy.

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