Friday, November 30, 2012

And I'm Off!

And I'm off!

Tomorrow morning I leave for New York (yes, AGAIN - ha)! I'll be there for one night, staying with my sister, and then early Sunday I head off to the airport to meet my group - aka, my 35 new best friends :)

We got our itinerary a few days ago and it looks amazing - we'll be doing all the awesome stuff normal Birthright trips do (riding camels, hiking Masada, visiting Yad Vashem, touring Independence Hall, staying on a kibbutz) but because this is a special culinary trip, we're also doing a ton of other awesome stuff, some of which I've never done before - like going to wineries and olive oil factories, meeting with Israeli chefs, doing a scavenger hunt of the famous Jerusalem farmer's market... it's going to be amazing!

This print, part of a series by David Klein, hangs on the wall in our bedroom. I see it every morning when I wake up and it makes me smile - and think of my favorite place!

If you miss me, please check my Instagram (@queenjord) - I will be posting lots of pictures, most likely of hummus & pita, Israeli flags, and my smiling face on top of a camel. And I'll be back in two weeks with plenty of stories to tell and pictures to share!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The 2012 JMS Hanukkah Wish List!


The Festival of Lights is just a little over a week away, and I figured it was high time I put out the infamous JMS Hanukkah wish list :) (For those of you who are new here, I invite you to view past lists here, here, and here.)

This year, I will be in Israel for all of Hanukkah, which I'm actually really excited about - I've celebrated lots of other Jewish holidays there but Hanukkah is a new one for me so I can't wait to experience it there. Because I'm leaving in just a couple days, I've been dashing around like a crazy person picking up gifts and wrapping presents for my loved ones here so they can open them while I'm gone!

Anyway - let's just get down to business, shall we? I thought long and hard about what I wanted and in the end, here's what I came up with...


ONE: Maybe the cutest set of pajamas I've ever seen? These are from Target but I swear the gold polka dots make them look like they are by Kate Spade!

TWO: I tried on this dress at J.Crew last week and fell in love. It was crazy flattering and I loved the little raised velvet polka dots - such a cute detail.

THREE: As a lover of beauty products, I'm really intrigued by the idea of a Birchbox subscription, but I'd probably never bite the bullet and buy my own. That's why it would make the perfect gift!

FOUR: Ever since I discovered artist Lulie Wallace I've loved every single of of her pieces. It's high time I own one, don't you think? I love her use of turquoise and hot pink - my two favorite colors - not to mention the abstract yet modern quality of the blooms she paints.

FIVE: This unique flower vase is equal parts rustic and chic - the perfect centerpiece. Pop a bloom in each mini vase and you're good to go! 

SIX: You all know how much I love to cook, and this new release by a blogger I read religiously is a must have. Smitten Kitchen comes out with THE most delicious sounding recipes - I want to add this cookbook to my collection stat!

SEVEN: Funnily enough, this little gold LOVE paperweight was on my list last year too! I have a feeling this time my sister is going to come through :)

EIGHT: I have been drooling over the Joie Huntley Tote for MONTHS. It's lightweight, sophisticated, neutral - everything I want in a new bag. Obsessed is an understatement!

NINE: A friend of mine posted this hilarious t-shirt on my Facebook wall a couple days ago and I laughed out loud. I think I need it - don't you agree!?

Fingers crossed some of these things make their way to me come Hanukkah! I'll keep you all posted. In the meantime, do tell - what are YOU hoping to open this holiday season!?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving Wrap-Up

I'm back from New York after a fun week spent with the fam! What about you - did you have a good Thanksgiving?!

It was nice hanging out with everyone and it was nice relaxing on the East Coast but to be perfectly honest, my favorite part of the weekend was enjoying the cold weather. I finally got to wear a coat! It's still 70 degrees and perfectly warm in Los Angeles. #boo

I didn't take a ton of pictures this time around but I thought I'd share the few that I did take - apologies if you saw some of these already on Instagram...

When we first landed, we headed to the city for a couple days before heading to Long Island. After sleeping off the red-eye, Mommy and I walked to Eataly for lunch... but first she had to make a quick stop at every jewelry cart we passed by. Like a moth to a flame I tell you. There is literally no doubt who's child she is!


Speaking of children, I FINALLY got the chance to meet my dear friend Elianna's babies! Her twins are eight months old and they are adorable. I love babies so much.


Once I took the train into Long Island, I got to spend lots of time with my aunt, uncle, grandma, and cousins. My brilliant scholar of a cousin made this little shopping list - I couldn't help make fun of him :) Shortly after taking this picture I may have added a fifth item to the list - "A better eduk8shun." I crack myself up.


While we were crossing off those weird items from the list in Target, I spied the most amazing thing I've ever seen - my future child. Full out ROCKING those sunglasses and a tiny leopard fur cape, I shit you not when I say I almost kidnapped her. She was literally SASHAYING down the center aisle of Target like she owned the place!!!


My contribution to the Thanksgiving meal? I made stuffing based on this recipe - it was DELICIOUS! I'll definitely be making it again next year. I was also assigned the task of setting the tables for our 20+ guests - here is my little tableau mid-set up!


We truly had a bountiful feast - turkey, brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, two kinds of stuffing, sweet potato casserole, macaroni & cheese, cornbread, cranberry sauce... and everything was delicious. Props to the chefs - here they are posing by the buffet!


Here are the Silverman ladies before diggin' in! I am so thankful for them :)


The night before we flew home, Bailey and I went with my cousin and his girlfriend (hi Michele!) out for a night of bowling! It was seriously so fun. I love spending time with my sister one-on-one with no boyfriends, cell phones, or other distractions :)


All in all, a very nice trip indeed :) Now I will try and enjoy the next few days at home before heading out on my next trip... Israel!!!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Day To Be Thankful

I cannot believe it's Thanksgiving. This year has seriously flown by so fast. 2012 has had quite a few ups and downs but at the end of the day, I know I am a very lucky girl, and I am very grateful for the life I have. 


I loved the list I posted last year about all the things I was thankful for - so here is this year's version! 

 I am thankful for...
My health and happiness
A roof over my head.
Clothes on my body.
Food in my belly.
A supportive and loving community.

Not to mention some of the fun stuff that makes life so amazing:
Spicy tuna on crispy rice.
My iPhone - and Facetime with my best friends!
Shopping online. 
Swedish Fish.
The Drybar.
Visiting the Brentwood Farmer's Market every Sunday morning.
The fact that I finally learned how to cook!
Starbucks Chai Lattes and fountain Diet Coke.
Getting to decorate my new apartment so it feels like home.
My friends' adorable babies that they let me hold and snuggle and kiss.
Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, and Max Greenfield.
Sequin blazers, sparkly ballet flats, and glitter nail polish.
Date nights!
Our ridiculously comfortable king-sized bed.
Salted caramel ice cream.
Reality television.

And most importantly: my wonderful, adorable boyfriend who makes me laugh every single day and is the best roommate ever, my amazing, hilarious friends who are there for me no matter what, and the best, most supportive family in the world.

And in light of what is going on on the other side of the world, I am especially thankful for Israel. My thoughts and prayers are with my friends and loved ones living there as well as the brave IDF soldiers who protect our land and our people every day. I am so thankful that I live in a country where I feel safe and secure, and I can only pray that next year at this time, the people of Israel will be lucky enough to be thankful for the same.

Wishing you and your loved ones a very Happy Thanksgiving! 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Homemade Penne Ala Vodka Sauce

Hallelujah, it's finally cold in Los Angeles! About time, too. I've been dying to wear some of my fall  wardrobe and have seriously loved wearing sweater and jackets and boots the past few days! 

Another thing I'm enjoying? Cooking some nice comforting meals. There really isn't anything like standing over a simmering pot making something warm and tasty when it's cold outside!

Are you guys familiar with Smitten Kitchen? It's a famous cooking blog written by Deb Perelman, who is a supremely talented home cook based out of Los Angeles. She posts ridiculously delicious recipes all the time, and whenever I find one that I just can't stop drooling over, I go ahead and try to make it. 

Case in point - last week, it was chilly out, and I knew I wanted to make something cozy and comforting and carb-y. Deb's Penne Ala Vodka (actually based on a Rachael Ray recipe) sounded mightyyyyy fine - so I decided to do it!

First step - I gathered my ingredients together. Now, from the start I knew I had to make a couple edits to her recipe, because I didn't have everything she used, and I really didn't want to change out of pajamas and leave the house to go to the market. I've listed my changes to her recipe below in red:


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, once around the pan in a slow stream
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced - I used four cloves! I think the garlickier, the better :)
2 shallots, minced - I used one white onion instead of shallots
1 cup vodka
1 cup chicken stock 
1 can crushed tomatoes (32 ounces) - I used two cans of whole peeled tomatoes instead.
Coarse salt and pepper
16 ounces pasta, such as penne rigate
1/2 cup heavy cream
20 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn - I didn't have basil - I used a dried herb blend instead

Please visit the recipe for full instructions, but here are some fun pictures of the cooking process! 

Heating up the olive oil and butter:


Sauteeing the onions and garlic:


Adding vodka, tomatoes, chicken stock, and herbs:


Time for a splash of cream!


Letting the vodka cream sauce simmer before a final salt & pepper seasoning:


And voila! I served the final product over penne along with some grilled chicken sausage and onions. Let me tell you, I had one happy boyfriend!


A couple things - as you can see, mine was obviously chunkier than it should have been, due to my using whole tomatoes instead of crushed tomatoes. Next time, I'll definitely use the crushed tomatoes, but if you want to use whole ones like I did, I'd suggest pureeing them with a hand/immersion blender. I also don't think the sauce needed as much chicken broth - mine had a ton of liquid. Next time I'll use half a cup of broth or none at all. Finally, I didn't mind the onion in place of the shallots, and the extra garlic was fantastic, I'd recommend an extra clove or two in yours if you make it!

Have you ever made pasta sauce from scratch before? I can't wait to do it again soon! 

Monday, November 12, 2012

My Tried and True Travel Staples

So here is some fun news for a Monday - I'm going to Israel!!!

You longtime readers will remember that several years ago, I staffed a bunch of Birthright trips to Israel and had the time of my life introducing groups of young Jews to the country I love so much (you can read some recaps of my trips here, here, and here.) With all this time on my hands lately, I decided to find the silver lining in my situation and called a friend in Israel to see if there were any open spots for staffers this winter. And lucky for me, there was!

The most exciting thing? This is no ordinary Birthright trip. This one is a special trip with a special theme - CULINARY! That means in addition to leading 40 young Jews throughout Israel for a free ten-day trip to get them in touch with their roots and doing all the normal things like hiking, touring, sightseeing, visiting museums, etc, we'll also be doing a ton of things related specifically to food - visiting outdoor farmer's markets, touring a winery and an olive oil factory, cooking food for soldiers on an army base.... the list goes on. Needless to say, I cannot wait!!!

I leave in about three weeks, so I've already begun making packing lists to stay organized. I always get asked questions by people about what to pack for Birthright, so I thought I'd make a little list and show ya'll what I bring along with me. These are not Israel-specific, though, so if you're going on a trip out of the country anywhere where you might be doing a lot of walking, you might want to take a look too! 

These are all things that I've brought along multiple times on my previous trips - you might call them my "tried and true" travel staples:


one: Perhaps the most important travel essential of them all! I always pack a small empty duffel inside my larger suitcase. Inevitably, by the end of the trip, it will come home full - either stuffed with fun souveniers or just loaded with dirty laundry! You'll be glad you made room for it. I always take my large LeSportsac weekender and pack it flat underneath all my clothes.

two: Don't forget your travel converters or your camera will die right as you line up the perfect shot! Mine are nowhere near as classy as this one (in fact mine may have been stolen from Polish hostels) but this DVF one comes in a snazzy case. I kind of love it.

three: Don't waste time dragging around a big heavy purse. Instead go with a small light messenger bag - preferably one with tons of zippered pockets. I won this awesome Gigi New York python crossbody bag in a blog giveaway earlier this year and it couldn't be more perfect for travel!

four: For the times when I'll be off the bus for a long time and want to carry more stuff than will fit in my purse (notebook, folders, ipad, water bottles), this is my go-to bag. Fits everything, has a zippered top, and comes in a million colors - this Longchamp tote will be your new best friend.

five: The weather in Israel in December/January is notoriously unpredictable. Pack a tiny umbrella and you'll be happy when it rains. Pack a tiny LEOPARD umbrella and you'll be even happier. 

six: Once we've been on a bus for a few hours, everyone inevitably falls asleep. I like waking them up by blasting some music - so I have to have some portable speakers with me! These are from Crate & Barrel of all places - I am loving the lime green!

seven: My favorite travel shoe - I have several pairs of classic Tom's in a bunch of different colors and always bring at least a few pairs. These are particularly great for Israel, what with all the cobblestones, and look cute with skinny jeans and leggings alike. 

eight: Oops, I forgot to number it - but this Gap parka is a definite must-pack. Lightweight but warm, it'll still look good if it gets a little wrinkled in your bag! I have a similar one and love it!

What do you think of my tried and true travel staples? I'd love to hear yours if you have any other suggestions!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Election Is Over. Let's Talk About Leopard Print.

Well, I'll just say that last night was a great night. I am proud to live in a country that chose to go forward.

When they announced Obama had won, I burst into tears, Rami jumped off the couch and started cheering, and then he kissed me forty-five times. And then I made brownies to celebrate! :)

But way before the brownies (and the pizza... oops) and the victory, R and I were sitting on the couch watching election results come in when my phone buzzed with a text. It was my friend Serena's little sister Abbie:

"My friends and I keep debating about whether or not you can wear brown/tan leopard print during the day. I found these leopard print leggings but they think I can only wear them at night. Thought you would be the best person to ask. What are your thoughts? And I think my friends (who all read your blog) would approve if you post a discussion on your blog."

Abbie - WISH GRANTED. I am truly flattered that I am considered the go-to authority on leopard print related matters. I've worked long and hard to get to the point where my opinion is solicited for such vital things!

Truthfully, this is a no-brainer for me. As I immediately responded to Abbie and as I'm proud to state here, leopard is OF COURSE acceptable during the day. In fact, I am known to say that "leopard is a neutral!" I wear leopard print during the day all the time - some of my favorite items include a leopard chiffon blouse, several leopard dresses, a giant leopard tote bag, and of course, way too many pairs of leopard print shoes. 

But enough about me. Let's see what I came up with for Abbie!


Option #1: A super classy way to wear leopard is to pair it with black and white - you'd be surprised by how neutral it'll feel! I'd wear the leggings with a thin white tissue t-shirt (long or short sleeve) and a super soft black cashmere scarf, with a basic pair of black ballet flats (Tory Burch Eddie's are by far my favorite - so comfortable!).

Option #2: If you want to funk up your leopard a little bit, try it with some color! A go-to in my closet is my denim chambray button down shirt, which would look adorable with leopard leggings. Add some sassy pink suede loafers and a big brown leather bag (how cute is this Gap one!?) and you're good to go!

Basically what I'm trying to say, Ab, is that your new leopard print leggings can ABSOLUTELY be worn during the day. Mazel tov to you on entering the world of leopard print! We've all been waiting for you :)

Anyone else have a fashion question for me? Bring it on!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I'm Voting Today.

I'm voting today.

I'm voting for human rights. I'm voting for equality. 

I'm voting because I believe, with every fiber of my being, that every single person in this country deserves to marry the person they love. I'm voting because my body is mine and no one on earth has the right to tell me what I can or cannot do with it.

I'm voting against discrimination, hatred, and bigotry.

I'm voting for change. I'm voting for progress. 

But most importantly, I'm voting. And I urge you to do the same.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Not Shopping. Just Drooling.

Obviously, I'm not doing a ton of shopping these days. But hey - a girl can look, can't she!?

Besides, it'll be Hanukkah before you know it. And we all know I love a personal gift guide - you know, to make it easy on my friends and fam, really help them narrow it down :)

Here are some things I'm loving lately:


One: Such a good price for such a sassy pair of shoes! Love me some leopard boots.
Two: What a chic set of gold stacking bowls!
Three: Shiny, rainbow-y, opal-y prettiness? This Dara Ettinger for Baublebar pendant is amazing.
Four: I always love me some stripes. This Madewell dress would be cute in any season!
Five: I've loved this little pink LOVE paperweight from the moment I laid eyes on it!
Six: Is this Nate Berkus for Target vase adorable or what? No, I'm not over chevron prints yet.
Seven: The cutest polka dot cloth napkins I've ever seen.
Eight: these Z.Gallerie perfume prints are so pretty and so reasonably priced! 

Which one is your favorite? I cannot tell a lie, that Baublebar necklace may or may not be in my online shopping cart as we speak... but I also love that Nate Berkus chevron vase in a major way. Ah, decisions, decisions.

Hope you all have a great weekend! I'm actually heading to Vegas this afternoon for a little girls weekend with my mom and my best friend :) Fun times ahead!