Let’s talk social media for a second. Because I have a confession. I used to be scared of it. I was one of the late Facebook adopters, my primary social media channel for years being Linked In. And only because my fellow business school students guilted me into getting an account. After all, isn’t that why we were all paying our hefty MBA price tags? To connect with our peers so that we’d forever have a network of contacts who would one day answer our calls about a new deal, or a new job?

And I was lousy at it, I’ll be the first to admit. I wasn’t a natural connector, I was content to get my degree, and spend the rest of my time hiking in the Berkeley hills, shopping at the farmers’ markets, and learning to cook everything from duck legs to ice cream. While I’m social and outgoing in person, I need a lot of downtime.

Apparently there’s a word for people like me, and it’s gaining popularity with the wild success of Susan Cain’s book “Quiet” (she did a killer TED talk on the subject too if you’re interested). She coined the term “ambivert” – in my case, I’m a Myers Briggs standard issue extrovert with highly introverted qualities.

Which makes social media the best thing since sliced bread. I can connect with people, which is my fundamental extroverted desire, but I can do it during quiet times. When I’m walking my dog, or standing in line at the post office. It fits into my day, seamlessly fills the cracks when I have a few minutes to spare. 

My favorite social media channel by a landslide is Instagram. While Facebook helps me stay connected with people from my past, Instagram is the ideal tool for connecting with people who share my interests today. The dog lovers, the food lovers, the lovers of all things beautiful – colored glass, approaching storms, kids in bright yellow rain boots. Every day is a visual feast.

This month I’m joining a 31 day photo challenge and linking up with friends from around the world as we tag our holiday food with #31daysofyum. We have a pretty awesome crew lined up: The smartest farm-to-table fast casual startup I’ve seen in years, Tractor Foods, the bloggers behind Eat Your Beets, The Wanderlust Kitchen, Omeletta, and Ten Thousandth Spoon, and LA catering whiz Tehra Thorp from T3 Events.

If you’re on Instagram, we’d love it if you joined us too. Just tag your food for the next 31 days with #31daysofyum. Miss a few days? No biggie, it’s just a chance to join in some holiday fever.  And if you haven’t gotten set up with an account yet, drop what you’re doing ASAP and get on it. Trust me when I say that this little app makes me light up and smile or laugh about 17 times per day. Plus or minus a few.

Here are some of my favorite food pics from Instagram over the last month, and an invitation to our challenge at the bottom. Happy December, hope to see you tagging away.

I just canceled out my vegan lunch #banana #nutella #cupcake #oops

Her croissant is eating my macaroon

Below freezing, it's an inside kind day.

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We’re heading into December, and for me that means a lot of things – baking (fruitcake, don’t knock it), the holiday ham and boatloads of mandarin oranges. But there’s another supporting cast member that gets its fair share of attention: pomegranates. Who can resist? The gemlike seeds are so pretty, they make every dish a celebration. Thankfully pomegranate was a hit with the kids, so we’ll see much more of it this year.

ME: Who’s ready for this one?


ME: What is this?

LAUREN: I forgot.

ME: Emma?

EMMA: Um, a Jessica!

ME: Silly girl. Who wants to hold one of the seeds in their hand? It’s beautiful right? It’s like a jeweled fruit. See? You can just open it like this.

LAUREN: Can I try?

ME: Yeah, I’ll give you a whole cluster to work on. What do they look like, these little seeds?

SAM: Doesn’t it look like a jewel?

ME: Yeah, what kind of jewel is red?

LAUREN: A gem?

LAUREN: A diamond?

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guava 080

For some reason it feels weird to be eating guava at this time of year. It seems like summer food, more appropriate for the warmer months; maybe even December or March when people start to jet off to the Caribbean and I need to quell my seething jealousy. But we spied a guava at the grocery store and thought why not. Live dangerously. 

ME: What is this called?

LAUREN: A lemon?

ME: No, not a lemon. What does it feel like?

SAM: It feels like a disgusting banana.

ME: OK, somebody’s a comedian today. What does it feel like?

LAUREN: Well it feels like….

SAM: A banana! (laughing)

LAUREN: It feels kind of rough….and kind of smooth.

EMMA: A banana!

ME: Did you smell it yet?

LAUREN: It smells like salad. Well actually it smells like salad dressing.

ME: Emma wants to smell it.

EMMA: Smells like banana!

ME: What do you think it’s going to look like on the inside?

LAUREN: Well, I think it’s going to look pinkish yellow.

ME: Did you see it?


ME: Well you guessed it!


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Chinese lychee 036

I bought a 2-lb bag of these Chinese lychee off a fruit vendor on the street. When I’d asked him what they were, he responded that they were lychee nuts. I told him that they look nothing like the lychee that I’ve eaten before, but he said “Chinese lychee!” New York charm at its finest.

After eating a bunch of these, I finally decided to Google them, and they’re tough to find, even online. It’s clear why they’re less popular – they’re not nearly as sweet and juicy as their red counterparts. But the kids enjoyed peeling them and ate a few, so all in all, a reasonable success. But if I’m buying lychee again, it won’t be these ones.

ME: What are these called?

LAUREN: Lychee nuts!

ME: What do they look like?

LAUREN: They kind of look like a tiny basketball.

ME: Sam, what do you think?

SAM: It looks like a stretchy thing.

LAUREN: A stretchy ball?

LAUREN: Oh, my God, is there a nut in it?

ME: Yes, but you’re not allergic.

LAUREN: Can I lick it?


LAUREN: Ew, I don’t like it.

EMMA: I like it!

ME: They’re kind of similar to the guineps.

LAUREN: Yeah, they are.

LAUREN: This tastes like an olive a little.

SAM: Actually when I lick it….

EMMA: (Crying)

ME: What happened? Did you bite it?

EMMA: (crying) Yeaaaaah.

ME: Did you hurt your tooth?

EMMA: (crying) Yeaaaaah.

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blood oranges 038

Boo! It’s Halloween. And we actually get to celebrate Halloween this year, unlike last year. For this week’s challenge, the kids were overjoyed to discover that there is actually a fruit called the blood orange. How creepy, and perfectly fitting for this spookiest of weeks. Sam was the most excited by the blood orange, staying at the table long after the others disappeared, talking about blood and brains and other unmentionables.

It was all pretty nauseating, and not the discussion you want to have when you’re eating. But the good news is that despite the off color conversation, the kids loved the blood orange. As do I, good thing we’re heading into its prime season soon…

JESSICA: What does it look like on the outside?

LAUREN: It looks like a real orange….

JESSICA: Hold on, does it look like a real orange?

LAUREN: Well, it’s a little redder.

JESSICA: What’s it going to look like on the inside?

LAUREN: It’s going to look red. Like real blood. And it would look like a vampire’s whole face who’s bleeding because he’s sucking blood.

JESSICA: That’s an excellent description. Sam what do you think it’s going to look like on the inside?

SAM: It’s going to look like fire and then the police will water it out.

JESSICA: Well, let’s take a look (cutting).

LAUREN: I knew it!

JESSICA: What does it look like Emma?

EMMA: Good. It looks like a cookie!

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