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Shop Talk, Power Bars and Women.Design.Build

I went to this really cool workshop the other night presented by a great little non-profit here in Austin called Women.Design.Build.  They have once monthly events “shop talks” that my friends and I really like to attend.  It is all women, and the shop talk lessons are about anything from power tools, to learning how to work on your car, to what we did this week – learning the different elements in design around plating and presenting food.

The girls at Women.Design.Build do a fantastic job introducing interesting topics and always find approachable, fun professionals to present.

So, in this Food Design Shop Talk we met with the owner/head Chef at Portabla, Chef Jon Shea.

Apparently there are 5 elements in food design: height, tightness, negative space, asymmetry/symmetry and color.  Who knew?  He gave us vivid examples of each and then started the meal with salads.

After our first course, we teamed up with our neighbor and tried our own hand at plating using the 5 elements.  Chef Jon set up our mise en place and we got started on creating our own Portobello mushroom masterpieces..

*And for a moment of full disclosure…I have no idea if i used mise en place correctly in that last sentence.  I grasp the concept of mise en place, but throwing the French word in a (probably) grammatically incorrect anglaise sentence might have made it weird.  This is where I ask for your patience and also for your imagination.  I am new to mise en place-ing.

This was my team’s shot:

Not bad, right?  There we have delicately laid the sliced Portobello on a bed of tangy and savory marinara with roasted garlic.  Garnished with fresh chopped basil and mozzarella (dairy-free), breadcrumbs (gluten-free) with a drizzling of balsamic reduction.  Yep.  Fancy!  Still didn’t win, however.  Which, incidentally my partner and I were just a tad bit preoccupied with..  We wanted to win the gift certificates to Portabla they were giving away, dang it!

This is who won.  I think, anyway.  I had a glass of wine or two by then..

Then, we designed dessert.  So…. Here’s the deal.  When I went to this I was trying to be gluten-free.  My friend, who was also my partner is gluten-free as well as dairy free.  My other friend who is a gluten-free/soy-free/dairy free chef was also there.  So, our dessert options in situations like these are limited in a way.  Bring in gluten-free “bars”!  What are these? They are kinda weird-looking, and needed an explanation – I think.  You know what they tasted like?  Remember when Power Bars first came out in the 90s?  They were chalky and…and…and..I don’t know.  Something.  That is what these reminded me of.

Anyway..  Here was our shot at dessert…with the weird gluten-free/dairy free chocolate bars. We didn’t win with this one either.  My chef-y friend did with her architectural, gluten-free masterpiece.  Another drink down and I didn’t take a picture of the winner..


Have to tell you though, the other teams got the Portabla chocolate cake because they clearly didn’t have high maintenance food issues like Team Jessica over here..  And, it looked amazing.  And, they said it was amazing.  And, we were all a bit jealous.  But, thankful that we got to play like the rest of the kids because the sweet ladies at Women.Design. Build made concessions for us.

A shot of the whole group with Chef Jon delicately critiquing our use of the elements:   (Mise en place in full effect in the foreground.  Can’t get enough of that.)

I also thought I would use this as an opportunity to show how cute my friends looked that evening.  I think it takes real talent to look good in 150 degree heat like we are STILL having here in Austin..

Sarah is on the left – you can find her and more information about her earth-conscious interior design and consulting company at: Ecologique Design

You should try her recipe for homemade deodorant.  Aluminum and paraben free!

And Celina is on the right – Find out about her and her bakery, called Food Smarty, here.

To get your hands on her baked goods, go to the contact page of her website, or visit The Barton Creek Farmers Market, Taco Deli, People’s Pharmacy, and Zhi Tea.  Coming soon to Whole Foods!

Check out Women.Design.Build when you get a chance.  And, for you chicky Austin-ites – come next time!



I went on a trip. A marriage, an art fair and a bible reading.

Just traveled to The Land of Enchantment and was thoroughly enchanted.

One of my best friends got married at the magnificent Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe which contains this amazing spiral staircase that no one knows who built it and no one knows how they built it and it is really, really old.  I was asked to read a bible verse in the wedding, which I did without stumbling (much) and without a snicker from any of my friends in the audience (“You?? Reading from the Bible??  Surely you jest!”)  The weather was AMAZING and refreshing.

Who doesn’t like to celebrate with old friends, read the bible in front of 150 people and then dance to Katy Perry with a champagne flute full of prosecco?  Sounds like a party to me!!

Anyway, the last day we were there, we went to this cool little art fair.  Check out the pics below:

That city is so cool. And this was definitely where are the cool kids were.  Great music, people walking around with their kids and dogs, poems being read aloud and awesome art installations.  And there was not one, but two stilt walkers.  When was the last time you saw someone walking on stilts?  A long ass time ago – right?  Still kinda freaky, gotta say.

This was one of my favorites..  It’s a big nest.  Sorry about the scale – but to give you an idea, I could have easily fit inside of it.

Go to Santa Fe, and stay at The Hotel Santa Fe.


Rocker-Outer Challenge and Some Karen O for good measure

Here is how I feel.. Well, I feel a lot of things (hello, heart on sleeve – emotional blurter-outer)  But this is how I feel about individual fashion..

I challenge you this… Are you ready?

When you get dressed for a night out or for an event or even for work – take a risk.  Your risks can start out small.   And your risks are different from other people’s risks.  We’re all different!  (Catching a theme here – I will spell it out – WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT).   Anyway, wear a color you don’t normally wear.. Wear a shape you don’t normally subscribe to.  But take a risk that isn’t you..

I don’t take many risks – in life, in relationships, or otherwise.  I just don’t.  Do you??

But, every. single. time. I reach out and wear something that is just slightly – like 10-30% different than what I normally wear – I swear (you can imagine me swearing to whatever energy based thing you subscribe to, or just plain baby Jesus – I don’t care) I get more compliments than normal.  I tell my clients, if you are questioning your outfit a little – like 10%.. You are perfect.

For example – I wore a red vintage tunic-y thing with a frilly slip that had 3 (THREE) layers of eyelet ruffles, black tights and motorcycle boots.  It was a bit of a stretch and I had to distract myself from obsessing about it in in the car on the way to meet my friends that I hadn’t seen in years.   You know what I got for the evening?  “You look like a rock and roll Raggedy Ann” (they meant it positively) and I had 6 (SERIOUSLY SIX – I totally counted) women strangers come up to me, stop me mid- whiskey sip and tell me that they “LOVED” my outfit.  Dudes were another thing- even more flattering.  Got asked to costume a movie that night and most importantly to me.. BF was like “Darlin’ – totally digging on your good girl gone kinda bad vibe thing-y”.

Do it.  Try it.  Let me know.  You can email me your outfit and ask me if it works – I will tell you, honestly.   And,  if you are really brave and you want me to – I will post on my website your photos of YOU taking a risk and getting good feedback from my other readers..  Challenge!!!  TA DA!

And, you should know I have been to therapy and attend therapy, and studied to be a therapist for years – so I totally know how to tell you no-way-Jose without making you feel like a dork.  I won’t leave ya hangin’ either, boo – I will give you suggestions. We’re all about positivity up in this joint, yo’.

Most importantly with anything – just have confidence and rock it the eff out.



Yeah Yeah Yeahs..  Karen O – risk taker-rocker-the-effer-outer.  You can totally do this, you may just want to wear a skirt over them there red tights and don’t drape yourselves allovers a dude with a Ramones tee on. Or, maybe you do want to drape yourself all over a dude in a Ramones tee? Just remember to keep them there legs togethers, like Miss O.

PS – I heart thems.  And I used to see Ms O around my neighborhood in LALA and I got to work with her at my old gig.  She looked as rad in person.  Trust.


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