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Here are the haps from the past few days in my life.

I’m running again. It feels as good as running can feel. I kind of loathe running. Some people love it.

I am not one of those people.

I do it.

And then I’m glad I did it.

But I pretty much hate every dang second.

However, I do enjoy listening to music cranked up loud while I torture myself.

Here’s what is motivating each stupid step lately:

The Gossip

I heart Beth Ditto. A beautiful voice, a great sound… a little punky. Loves.

Brit Brit

An old favorite. I love manufactured music. I am not ashamed.

Written by Kesha. Performed by Britney. Makes me hate myself for loving to move to this song so much.

Foster the People

Added them to the mix today. Brad knows the bassist- more on that in the next few days- and I feel like I kind of love this song.

I may become obsessed with it.

We’ll see.

Wednesday, all the Clarke gals got together for lunch and dinner and the spa in between.

It was glorious for all of the right reasons.

1. The spa- Duh.

2. The food- NorthStar Cafe with a Chicken and Avocado Sandwich for lunch and Piada (basically, an Italian Chipotle) for dinner. I left stuffed, but not feeling gross. And can I add we had Orange Leaf yogurt for dessert? Good Stuff People.

Oh gosh. In searching for the links to the restaurants, I just discovered that there is an Orange Leaf less than 5 miles from my house. I. Am. In. Trouble. 

3. The company.

Sisters are great.

These gals are my absolute dearest friends in the whole world.

Want to know what I love most?

Well, everything.

But I love how much fun we have together.

I love that there is no jealousy or competition in our sisterhood- only support, pride, love.  I think that says my parents did something right.

So, I feel incredibly grateful for Jessica, Stephanie and Emily.

Then, my brother went and married the greatest girl ever. So, our sisterhood now also includes my sister-in-law, Jana.

Oh, and my mom came too. She is the original Clarke gal. It was so fun to have her with us for our day out. Plus, she watched Henry allowing me a few glorious hours of focused “me” time. God Bless her.

While spaaaaa-ing it up, I was coerced by two of my sisters into trying the shellac manicure. The shellac manicure gives your painted nails a little more stability, but it doesn’t ruin your nails like acrylic or gel nails do. And the shellac manicure lasts up to three weeks.

I think I love it. My nails look awesome (if I do say so myself). You leave the salon with totally dry nails that you don’t have to worry about smudging or chipping or messing up in any way. I have done dishes, changed diapers, and cleaned the bathroom… and have not had the tiniest of flaws appear in my manicure.

Miracle.

The shellac nails get my stamp of approval. My shellac manicure cost $30. Totally worth it, if ya ask me.

Polished nails, polished lady.

Wow. That picture makes my pinky finger look rather crooked.

I choose to love my crooky little pinky anyhow.

Finally, I have a new favorite salad.

It is as simple as can be. Summery and bright.

This salad comes from Ina Garten. That Ina. She knows how to make good food.

I was eating by myself (sniff, sniff), so this recipe is for uno.

Here is what you need:

Spicy Rocket aka Arugula

Some chopped up Watermelon

Parmesan Cheese

1/2 lemon

(Also a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper)

Pop the arugula, watermelon and parm in a bowl.

Give that salad a squeeze of lemon.

And a drizzle of olive oil.

Give it a sprinkle of salt with your fancy pants shellac nails.

Smile at how pretty they are.

Finish off the salad with black pepper.

I still haven’t figured out how to take a picture of me grinding pepper.

But I’m sure you can imagine it.

So, I won’t worry about it.

Much.

And that’s all I’ve got for ya today.

I’ll leave you with a pic of the Clarke gals after facials, massages and pampering… that is why we all look like shiny grease balls.

Have a great Friday!

XO,

Leah

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Well, who knew?

Turns out I love Ethiopian food.

There is a new-ish joint up the street from our house. It is within walking distance, and yet Brad and I haven’t been until this week.

I have wanted to go, but I was nervous.

I have checked out the menu online, but it was way different sounding than foods I normally enjoy and that made me even more nervous.

But then… I got a first-hand recommendation from my friend Erin. She said that I HAD to go. And that is all it took to get us in the door of Emanu.

All of the dishes at Emanu are served on Injera which is a bread that falls somewhere between a crepe, naan, and a pancake.

This is what Injera looks like:

Our food came just like the picture above. Except that on the giant Injera, all of your main dish is plated.

We ordered some meat and some vegetables.

They have several beef, lamb, and chicken preparations. We chose beef that was spicy and delicious, and the flavors were new yet familiar. It was on the left side of the injera.

On the right side, we ordered a sampling of the vegetables. It included cabbage, greens, yellow lentils, red lentils, and roasted peppers and carrots. I know that does not sound overly exciting.

HOWEVER, each of these vegetables were perfectly cooked and perfectly flavored. Bland does not have a place at Emanu.

In my opinion, the best part of the food is that it is intended to be eaten by hand.

You tear off some of the Injera and pile on the toppings. I did have to use my fork to help me out from time to time.

Emanu is BYOB, so it is a completely affordable meal out. Brad and I left stuffed to the gills for less than $30. The food was so so so good. If you live in the Cincinnati area, I suggest you check this joint out.

Oh, and to top it off, the people that work at Emanu are the loveliest.

If you don’t live in Cincinnati… well, too bad for you.

This is what I was reminded of after finally checking out this restaurant- that new foods are my favorite kinds of foods. I regret that it took me as long as it did to build up the gumption to try something that I hadn’t experienced before. If my fear of the unknown had kept me out of the doors, I would have missed out on my new favorite restaurant.

You are welcome for that little life lesson on this Monday morning.

In other news, Brad and I exchanged Christmas gifts yesterday morning.

Yes, I realize we are early.

However, with our work schedules and impending travel, we wanted to make sure we had a nice leisurely Christmas morning together.

I’ll have more on that later this week, but for now I’ll just say that I am now the proud owner of one of these bad boys:

The Le Creuset 7 quart French Oven.

Sweet Sassy.

I’m attempting slow roasted short ribs tonight. Wish me luck!!

Happy Monday!

And more importantly, Happy Short Work Week to all of you that are working outside of the home!!

XO,

Leah

Last weekend, the main man and I indulged.

Big time.

Permit me to explain.

In March of this year, Brad and I traveled to NYC for our friend’s wedding. My man married our dear friends.

Did you know that the main man can marry and bury people?

In fact, he is marrying my brother and my future sister-in-law this weekend.

But that is a different story for a different day.

Well, our newlywed friends sent us a very generous thank you that funded a fancy pants night out at the best restaurant in our great city.

BOCA.

Be still my heart.

This place gives me a quiver and a palpitation and a bit of sweaty palms.

It is so good.

So, Friday we got all fancified and headed out.

Upon arrival, I ordered a dirty.

With blue cheese stuffed olives.

Oh, Boca.

You, my friend, are starting off of the right foot.

At Boca, you choose either 2 courses or 3 courses plus dessert for a prix fixe price.

I love meals like this.

It encourages appetizers and pasta dishes where an a la carte menu might convince you to stay away.

When it is all bundled together, it is like a super special adult happy meal.

But first, the bread.

That darn grilled bread.

Smoky, garlicky, and a little salty.

Holy moly.

I could have stuffed myself on that alone, but I was committed to pacing myself.

I’m disciplined like that.

From our seat, we could see the excitement that was happening in the kitchen.

I love an open kitchen.

Our first course came.

My husband has had the opportunity to interview Chef David Falk (Boca’s founder and head chef), and David said that Boca was the house that the brussel sprout built.

I know, I know.

Brussel sprouts. Yuck.

But not these.

They are caramelized and served with a day boat scallop with brown butter truffle vinaigrette.

They taste like a savory candy, and they remind me that I am a seriously amateur cook.

Brad started with the grilled bread topped with Goat Cheese and Onion Argo Dolce.

I don’t even know what that means.

I assume it means drool-on-your-chin-delicious.

‘Cause that it is what it was.

Sorry about the blurry pic. I was trying to be a little inconspicuous with my iPhone photos!

Next, came Brad’s pasta dish.

Spicy linguini.

Again.

The drool.

Oh hey there wine.

Nice to see ya.

You are delicious too.

Now, I only ordered two courses while Brad ordered three.

I wanted to make sure I had room to eat every delectable bite of food that I did order.

But because Boca is fabulous, they brought me a complimentary pasta dish so Brad didn’t have to eat alone.

I had one perfect sweet corn ravioli with brown butter and black summer truffle.

Have you ever had a meal that included truffle?

I have, and I’m hooked.

I must order any item that includes them.

And I may or may not have bought a small $12 bottle of white truffle oil at the grocery.

OH. MY. DOG.

Truffles are seriously worth the hype.

Earthy. Savory. Aromatic. Perfect Perfectness.

Whew.

Time for the main course.

I went for the filet.

With swiss chard, rosemary potatoes, king crab (like a big ole’ hunk of the good stuff), bearnaise and bourdelaise sauce.

There is a quite famous steak restaurant here in Cincinnati that is also higher-end and delicious.

This Boca filet blew the other steak out of the water.

Brad had the seared chicken with sausage, artichoke, and vermouth risotto.

If I could make chicken like this, I would eat it three meals a day.

And for dessert.

Dessert was sorbet for Brad:

And a trio of cheesecake, chocolate cake, and creme brulee for me:

I could have died happy after that meal.

Here are my conclusions after dining at Boca.

One, I wish I had the money to eat here everynight.

I don’t.

Two, I wish I had the money to eat here once a month.

I don’t.

Three, I shall start a Boca savings account now.

Four, I love to eat. And I love to cook.

It fills me up.

But man, when it comes to cooking, I really don’t know a whole heck of a lot. I left Boca with such a respect for David Falk, who has trained under master chefs around the world. He has studied, honed, and dare I say perfected his craft.

I love experiencing or seeing someone that is a true master at his or her craft.

It is inspiring.

So, while I know that I’m never going to achieve his types of food (well, at least not without formal training, apprenticeships with chefs around the world, and WAY more hours of practice), I do know that I will continue to work hard at getting better at the things I love.

Work hard.

Love what I work on.

Save pennies for next trip.

It must be sooner rather than later.

Have a great three day weekend.

If you can, take your special someone to somewhere special!

XO,

Leah

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