It’s All About Me…for a moment…

Salad Nicoise

Yesterday, I had to drive to Pasadena to have Madison, my Golden Lab, go to a ‘doggie car wash’ or in veterinarian dermatology speak, Therapeutic Oxygen Bath, a treatment for her skin condition. We chose this organic solution over daily injectable antibiotics that carry the risk of kidney damage.

Quick back story…we boarded Madison at the vet’s because Berkeley, our million dollar, bionic Australian Shepard, has a non-malignant tumor in her liver along with other related issues and we wanted a doctor close at hand while we selfishly traversed South Africa without them. Berkeley came home in perfect shape, but Madison left with a parting gift of a skin infection, picked up from another dog…don’t know if it was from a one night stand (girls just wanna have fun), but she was infected…now we start dealing with mounting bills for Madison. My daughter, Courtny didn’t cost this much. What you do for love!

So, now I have added a new agenda item. Twice a week,  I have to navigate Los Angeles freeways and travel to the vet in Pasadena. I take Lincoln Blvd., left onto the 10 East to the 110 North to the 2 North to the 134 East to the 210 E and right on San Gabriel Blvd. (My Saturday Night Live version of “The Californians… LA traffic at its meanest…talk about stressful.)

This journey made me contemplate a moment of relaxation. Aren’t we all mentally and physically stressed…does a bear shit in the woods?!  Ladies and gentlemen, we sometimes need to idle our engines, take a personal mental hygiene break and self-indulge. Many of us are so busy taking care of others, working long hours, trying to be perfect while attempting to get ahead that we neglect ourselves. We are all consumed by life’s rigors, moving (you know who you are so listen up!), raising children and keeping them happy, healthy and functioning, sacrificing our bodies for 5 inch heels, or fretting about making ends meet financially…. I say that occasionally, IT IS OK TO BE ALL ABOUT ME!

Here are some sources to give you a few precious moments of relaxation and bliss…alone. I know that sex with a partner can be curative, but this is flying solo (don’t go there).

“Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag”…James Browne at Equinox, 201 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, will rock your body and massage away every ache and pain in a serene environment. The Equinox Spa is on the top floor in Santa Monica and if you are a member, you receive a discount.

James at the massage Place at 245 Main Street in Venice is a budget version and excellent. No guilt at the end with this 90 minute massage…a truly delicious bargain at $67. I must advise you to proceed with caution as all therapists are not top notch. I had a message at the Massage Place in Brentwood and asked for deep tissue…end result, he cracked my rib.

I have yet to find a bargain massage in NY, but the masseuse’s at Reebok on Columbus and 67th Street are all incredible. The best chair massages are at Pinky’s on the upper west side, 275 Amsterdam and 73rd Street. A neck, shoulder and back massage for 20 minutes is under $30.

In NYC, I am exfoliated, scrubbed and massaged by the best facialist, but she is very busy. She only uses Eminence products so I do, as well. Check out Eminence. It was founded in Hungary in 1958 and they only use natural, organic ingredients which they source worldwide. Their night creams are fabulous and the blueberry soy and mango smell so good that your bedmate may be tempted to lick your face!

Arcona 425 Broadway in Santa Monica, entrance on 5th Street, gives a very good facial and has an interesting menu of treatments. 50 minute facials are $85.

If money is an issue, take a Pilates class from Marti Bradley in Santa Monica…the best Pilates instructor I have ever taken. Try a class at Pop Physique at 1335 4th Street, Santa Monica. The first class is discounted.

Ride your bike or rent one for a nominal charge (rentals available in and by Central Park, Columbus Circle, and Toga Bikes at 110 West End Avenue and 64th Street). Take a leisurely pedal along Hudson River Park in NYC which is a 550-acre riverside park located on the west side of Manhattan between Battery Park and West 59th Street.  It is the largest Park to undergo construction in NYC since Central Park was created. End up at the picturesque viewing point near the Staten Island Ferry, offering an incredible view of the Statute of Liberty. During your ride, take in the new World Trade Center building, up close and personal. On the way back, stop on Christopher Street for a coffee or lunch on Hudson (Red Farm and Frankies Sputino are there), an easy and close 2 block pedal off the path.

There are a plethora of manicure/pedicure spots in NYC and LA. I sometimes dabble in gel nails and highly recommend Mandy at Karen’s Nail Salon on Lexington between 61st and 62nd, second floor. Karen’s frequently offers a great deal on Groupon. They text you an appointment reminder. Pedicures are also very good.

On trendy Montana Avenue in Santa Monica there are many nail salons. My new fav is Tracy’s at 1210 Montana. It’s clean, offers a huge selection of colors, gels are only $30 and they do not charge for removing old gels if you are re-gellin’. It is cash only, but they do have an ATM on site. Kim is my manicurist of choice…she is excellent and a real sweetie. I also recommend Christine at iSpa Lane across the street at 1117 Montana for mani/pedi. She works Thursday-Sunday.

Spa pedicures cost approximately $40 and entitle you to an hour of soaking, extra foot and leg massaging and often a moisturizing leg masque. Tracy’s basic pedicure is less expensive, but there are add on’s such as $5 for every 5 minutes of massage and an additional charge for sea salt scrub for rough heels.

Close your eyes and relax unless you want to settle in with Star Magazine and read all about the antics of the gossip rag icons, the Krazy Kardashians and their newest addition, North West….please, do us all a favor and head north to Canada!

Take a moment and languish in the solitary, self-indulged you…Now, what about an evening repast…

Salad Nicoise

Prep most ingredients beforehand to maintain that Zen feeling while making dinner.

  • 1 can white meat tuna packed in water
  • Arugula
  • Tomatoes-cut and season with kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Avocado
  • Capers
  • EVOO
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Garbanzo beans
  • French string beans
  • Lemon
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Bag of small Yukon gold potatoes or any type of small potatoes

Marinate tuna in Vermouth, capers and teaspoon of caper juice for at least 12 hours in refrigerator. Cover. Fill small pot half way with salted water and bring to boil. Add potatoes and boil until slightly tender. I slice potatoes into small slices and saute in salt and pepper and PAM until golden brown. Usually, potatoes in a Nicoise are served boiled and chilled. Sauteing adds more zest as I think boiled potatoes are tasteless famine fare. Boil string beans in a frying pan filled halfway with salted water. Bring to boil, add beans and boil for 1 minute. Drain. Chill.

Plating: place arugula on large plate and drizzle with beaten dressing consisting of balsamic vinegar, EVOO, capers, dash of caper juice (grainy Grey Poupon mustard is optional), Arrange tomatoes, avocado, string beans, garbanzo beans around the plate, Place marinated tuna in middle of plate and top with lemon zest. Garnish salad with fresh lemon juice and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

This Salad Nicoise is tres bien…Bon Appetit!

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