Saturday, April 26, 2014

Closet cleaning: Ace & Jig

I'm selling my Ace & Jig reversible robe on LoGE, if anyone is interested!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Some things never change.

Like the fact that, despite (and maybe because) life circumstances change, there will always be a major part of me aching to travel and/or live abroad.

And beautiful white lace blouses are a requisite uniform for warmer weather.  (This one, along with other wares at Myth & Symbol, is 15% off with code: SPRING. Until April 22nd at least.)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Getting back to normal.

Long work weeks throw off my routine.  One of the first things I did after the meetings, to get my routine back on track, was to bake.  Bake a cake or pie, and all seems right with the world, at least for a little while. 

Two favorites currently on rotation: some kind of pear tart, either on puff pastry or in galette form, and a simple strawberry skillet pie. 

For the pear tart/galette, sometimes I just take puff pastry and throw on pear slices, spiced with cardamom, cinnamon, vanilla, and sugar.  Other times, I make a frangipane (almond cream) base and then throw pears on it.  And still other times, particularly when I'm feeling less lazy, I do a frangipane base, pear slices, and then drizzle a ginger/vanilla glaze on top.  I've adapted the recipe from a few places, primarily from Amanda's Fait Tout blog.

Pear Tart
Recipe adapted from Fait Tout

1 sheet frozen puff-pastry (about 9" x 9"), thawed
1 1/2 pears, sliced thinly, skin on
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger 
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

If you'd like a frangipane base, you'll also need:
1/3 cup ground almond meal
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (I usually put in a little more)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • Pre-heat the oven to 400F.
  • Make frangipane base by combining ground almond meal, sugar, egg, butter, cardamom and flour in a mixer or food processor. Blend until a creamy, smooth paste is formed. Set aside.
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan. Turn off heat, then add vanilla extract, cinnamon and grated ginger. Let cool slightly. Set aside.
  • Cut your pastry into a rough 9" x 5" rectangle. Score all four edges of the pastry sheet (about 1/4" from the edge). 
  • With a pastry brush, spread some of the butter/vanilla/cinnamon/ginger mixture on the puff pastry, making sure to stay within the boundaries of the scored lines. Then top with frangipane base.
  • Arrange the pears over the frangipane, brush the tops of the pear liberally with the remaining butter/vanilla/cinnamon/ginger mixture. Brush the edges with eggwash. 
  • Bake at 400F for about 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the top of the pears are caramelized.
  • Let cool for 10 minutes.

For the strawberry skillet pie, I use a simple recipe, found here, though I tend to also throw ground cardamom into the crumble mixture.  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Today: On Sezane, human rights lawyering, and wearing lipstick.

I can tell the crazy weeks of planning and meetings are over because just as soon as I stepped out of the office of a certain Middle Eastern/North Africa delegation, out went thoughts of human rights and international law. What came rushing in were thoughts of Spring: cotton/linen dresses from Ace & Jig; bright sandals that have been hiding in my closet; and this collection from Sezane, a French label that I have yet to try out.

Growing up in southern California, I, like many others, was taught to appreciate certain material possessions. At the same time, I remember gleaning the message that serious, substantial women do not patently relish makeup and beautiful clothes.

This messaging--that smart women do not spend time gushing over beautiful clothing--has somehow continued in my current line of work.  What I find refreshing is that I meet more and more amazing women who dispel this notion all together. That struck me this week, as I was surrounded by international human rights lawyers, many wearing gorgeous frocks and bright lips.  It made my heart sing.

In my previous life in Portland in corporate law, I remember meeting a woman who harkened back to her early years as a lawyer.  Then, she recalled, she had to play down her femininity, opting for masculine wear that demonstrated that she was "one of the boys."  She commented quizzically on how the times had changed, how young female lawyers were now so "free" to look "so feminine."

I could go on and on, as this messaging really peeves me, though I ought to be getting ready for work. These days, I am thinking more about femininity and what values I will pass on to my daughter.  I'll save that for another post.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

My best meals in Istanbul

Turkey, last July, seems so long ago!  Ethan and I were previously talking about taking a one-year anniversary trip to Kyrgyzstan.  But that's not going to happen this year.  So I'll have to rely on my memories of Turkey until that next big vacation.

Today I am thinking about my two favorite meals in one of my favorite cities, Istanbul.  The first was at Meze by Lemon Tree, which is an intimate restaurant, tucked away on a small cobblestone street in the trendy Beyoglu neighborhood.  Because it was Ramadan, and I was too hungry to wait until 8pm to eat, we had the entire restaurant to ourselves for most of our meal.  

But my best meal was Ciya Sofrasi, on the Asian side of Istanbul, via a ferry ride and a walk through a bustling market, where olives, antiques, olive soap, and fish are peddled.  The New Yorker wrote an article about the cafeteria-style restaurant, here. It's kind of a legend.  Dishes rotate every day and I've heard mixed reviews depending on what is on offer. But we must have been lucky, because I loved everything I ordered--and I ordered a lot: stews of lamb and okra, eggplant things, and mezes that made my mouth water.  I finished off the meal with rosemary tea and a plate of kunefe, a sweet cheese pastry.

And finally, the Uighur restaurant we visited (cannot remember the name) also deserves an honorable mention.  We searched for this restaurant and it took us two separate trips before we finally found it.  In honor of Ramadan, the fare was a prix fixe of lamb kabobs heavily spiced with cumin and lagman pulled noodles, among other things.  I felt like I was back in Kashgar, China. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014


 both images via

The sun is out this weekend. It has been a balmy 78 degrees.  Too bad this week was one of those crazy previously-caffeinated, oft-frenetic weeks, where I'm holed up in a certain international institution's buildings for 10-13 hours a day.  I'm simply exhausted.

I mean, there's often a lot of good in these weeks.  One night, I caught up with R, who I initially met in Bangkok and who works all over the world on reproductive rights.  Joining us was another R, who I met on this "human rights bus," years ago, as I was monitoring a trial in Cambodia.  The night wore on, with stories of travels/election monitoring in Armenia, and recent work trips to Nepal, and exchange of gossip from post-Cambodia days.

So a wonderful thing about these hellish weeks is that I get to see friends and colleagues from all over the world.  I'm reminded that there is a small, but strong, global community working on these issues.  In between cursing as I run around this and that meeting, I am struck by the realization that I'm lucky to be doing this type of international work, strange a niche as it may be.

But right now, I'm just at the point of physical exhaustion.  I keep telling myself that I just need to get through a few more days of meetings, and then maybe, just maybe, I'll take several days off and find a reason to buy an Ace & Jig dress.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Documenting a walk: Spring has sprung.

Images from today's walk around the National Mall. 
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