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Summer Series: Boozy Popsicles

Blueberry Mojito Popsicles. Click HERE for recipe.
Do you know what’s better than a popsicle? A popsicle with alcohol. Why didn’t the world think of this earlier? Don’t kid yourself, this is a recent phenomenon. It’s right up there with the glorious invention of Uber, Instagram and Pinterest. And Netflix. And Hulu. And digital magazine subscriptions. Isn’t life grand these days? Now if only I could just have a GPS tracking system inserted under Gracie’s skin, all would be good in the world. But let’s be happy with what we do have, popsicles… Boozy popsicles.

We are a popsicle family. Growing up, there were more popsicles in our house than fruit. It was my mother’s only bargaining tool. “If you stop hitting your brother with your tennis racket, I’ll let you guys have popsicles.” My mother had us, all three of us brats, before she was 24 years old. I think she married Mr. O’Connell when she was like 19 years old. Children raising children. Good thing she was rich otherwise it would’ve been a scene straight out of “Teen Mom.”

We lived in a neighborhood where there was an ice cream truck that came around every afternoon during the summer. Pure childhood bliss. Isn’t it amazing the thrill it gives a child (even an adult) to hear the sound of the bells and the music of an ice cream truck. The good news is that our ice cream truck man wasn’t a child molester or at least we don’t think he was, but he probably was because they all are. However, all we cared about were those popsicles. We probably had 10 boxes of fudgesicles in our freezer at home but we just wanted those Bombpop popsicles from the ice cream truck. My little brother, sister and I would wait on our porch gripping our dollars in our dirty little hands, just waiting for the sound of the ice cream truck. The second we heard it we would start running with our dog, chasing that truck, worried that he wasn’t going to stop. Why were we so worried? We were his best customers, and he knew it. Of course he was going to stop but we still panicked. We would run barefoot with our crazy little dog after that ice cream truck. We were screaming, the dog was barking and the ice cream man would taunt us and park at the end of the block (next to that kid’s house who killed his parents or neighbors, I forgot which), secretly laughing that he caused severe anxiety in the O’Connell children.

Once we had those popsicles in our disgusting little paws, we would head directly to our backyard because my mother wouldn’t let us in the house with popsicles. My mother was usually decorating something and would kill us if our cherry popsicles dripped all over her Pierre Deux sofa even if it was in the family room where children are supposed to be! No resentment here. :-)

Instead, we retreated to the steps off of our back porch leading to the backyard. That’s where the air conditioner unit was and it blew out hot air and we cuddled up next to it in our bathing suits licking our freezing cold popsicles. After that we would just throw the popsicle sticks on the ground and go about our merry way causing destruction in our wake. We were complete hellions and if you don’t believe me, just ask any of our neighbors. We put up a good front though, my sister and I in our Florence Eiseman dresses and knee socks, my brother in his little blazer, but no one was safe in our house. Mostly babysitters. My little brother once locked himself in the bathroom and cut his finger with a butter knife and flung the blood all over the walls of the bathroom just to scare the babysitter. Needless to say she never came back. Other babysitters would just stand there in horror as we climbed to the tops of trees, rode the handlebars of our bikes, performed death defying gymnastics in the front yard and circus tricks in the backyard. There were lots of stitches, bloodied noses and tetanus shots at our house. My parents just ended up hiring a nurse as our nanny… To triage. My aunt, who I hate, was also a nurse and would come over to our house and try to give us throat cultures and wonder if she should call the authorities.

It’s not my parents fault though. My father was just busy getting richer and my mother was busy painting the dining room French blue. I do remember repercussions, but they just didn’t stick. We had our sweet side though… My sister would play with her Mrs. Beasley dolls, I would quietly and incessantly read Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle novels, and my brother would just be fucking adorable. My mother would drop us off at First and Calvary Presbyterian Sunday school every single Sunday just to get a much-needed one hour break from us and I guess God just seeped in by osmosis and we all three turned out okay... But that's debatable.

Brat # 1, 2 and 3, the dog and my mother. Isn't my mother pretty? Her eyes are closed... She's probably asleep.
If I can think of anyone who needed an adult popsicle, it would be my mother. But the funny thing is that she doesn’t drink alcohol “because it makes her cough.” Eye roll.

But for the rest of us adults, alcohol laced popsicles hit the spot and are slightly chicer than standing around at a summer barbecue sipping a Real Housewives of New York Ramona Singer Pinot Grigio.

Let’s take a look at some recipes…
 Rum and Coke Popsicles. Click HERE for recipe.
 Citrus Basil Mojito Popsicles. Click HERE for recipe.
 Coconut Cinnamon Amaretto Popsicles. Click HERE for recipe.
 Bloody Mary Popsicles. Click HERE for recipe.
 Mint Julep Popsicles. Click HERE for recipe.
 Blackberry Chèvre Bourbon Popsicles. Click HERE for recipe.

Gin and Tonic Pomegranate Popsicles. Click HERE for recipe.

Voilà! Adult popsicles. Stay tuned for my last installment of my summer series. Your girl, Ellie, is heading to Provence on Friday to wind down summer in Europe and start my official decline into the depression of fall in Paris even if it is très jolie. The good news is that my husband announced last night that I could “move to Provence if I wanted to.” I guess my week of fake crying, empty threats and the silent treatment worked. Take note girls. While I am in Provence, I will beg my girlfriend Madame B, our host for the weekend, if I can take photos of her big fat South of France mansion because I know you guys will love it. Keep your fingers crossed! I am taking the train with Gracie and my caregivers and David and 400 pieces of luggage, extra breathing machines, cough assist machines, feeding tube formula and my beloved Haelen 951. This should be interesting.

Yes, after the incident a few days ago regarding the terrorist trying to kill everyone on the Paris bound train, I started to worry a little bit about my upcoming train ride. But then I remembered an email that I received from my friend Carol who passed away from ALS last year. It’s kind of morbidly funny but just stick with me. She was in such pain and so miserable about how ALS affected her life. She wasn’t exactly jovial like me but I liked her anyway because sometimes her outward thoughts were my inner thoughts. Anyway, she wrote me an email and said, “Sometimes I wish a mad man would just burst through my living room and shoot me in the back of the head.” Let me interpret: sometimes with ALS you just wish it would all be over in a second. So I thought, “Well if another crazy man boards our train… So be it.” It’s kind of liberating to have this attitude. But with my luck, I’m sure I would survive. :-)

Bon week-end! It’s the last weekend of summer, so enjoy it!

Summer Series: Fish Tacos!

Summer is not over! Don’t pack up the beach chairs or barbecues yet! We officially have another week to enjoy. This week I’ve really been thinking about my life in California and how wonderful it was. Why did I leave? I’ve been thinking a lot about it for numerous reasons. First of all, I used to think that I enjoyed the four seasons… Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. But, it turns out, that was just a theory. A romantic theory. I like the idea of the three other seasons but I only really like summer. I’d like to spend the winter season skiing and celebrating Christmas in Aspen… For a week. I would like to spend the fall season watching the leaves changing colors and having Thanksgiving in New Hampshire… For week. I would like to spend the spring season watching the tulips and having salmon en croûte for Easter in Paris… For a week. But that’s it, the other 49 weeks of the year, I’d like to be on a beach having fish tacos.

There’s just something golden about spending one’s life barefoot in jeans and a T-shirt with a bikini underneath, salty hair, sunkissed skin, sandy feet eating a fish taco and drinking and icy cold beer. To me, that is heaven.

There’s a lot of chatter about the perfect fish taco. Which fish is best? What’s the best batter? Grilled or fried? 1 tortilla or two? Flour or corn? Accoutrements? And the sauce! The mighty sauce. So many choices.

I thought it would be fun to break it all down and overly discuss it, shall we?
Bon Appétit magazine breaks it down in six steps:

The Keys to Perfect Fish Tacos
1. Flaky Fish
Any white flaky fish will do (think black sea bass, mahi-mahi, grouper, hake), but we love red snapper. It’s classic and sustainable, and its firm fillets stand up to the heat.
2. A Good Fry
Since its earliest days in Baja California, Mexico, the fish taco has starred fried (not grilled!) fish.
3. Bubbly Batter
Carbonation’s tiny bubbles make the crispiest coating. Some swear by beer, but we found that club soda lets the fish’s flavor shine.
4. Rice Flour Power
This alt-flour lightens the batter significantly—think tempura, not fish and chips.
5. Slaw’s the Law
Some iterations use unadulterated shredded cabbage, which lends crunch, but is low on flavor. When it’s tossed with refreshing jicama and a creamy, lime-spiked dressing, it delivers on both fronts.
6. Twice the Tortillas
Corn tortillas are the authentic pick, and we stack them two per taco for a sturdier bite. Char them (see step 5) to bring out the corn’s nuttiness.

Merci Bon Appétit!

Which fish to use?
Halibut, mahi-mahi, tilapia, swordfish, salmon, even shrimp.

Now we need to talk about accoutrements. What do you add? Here’s a good list to get you started:
Mango salsa, kiwi salsa, avocados, pico de gallo, salsa Verde, roasted corn salsa, cilantro and lime, cabbage with jicama, roasted peppers, black bean salsa, pineapple salsa, cucumber salsa, green cabbage, marinated red cabbage…

The sauce is the icing on the cake and there are so many varieties:
Lime cilantro sauce, avocado cream sauce, jalapeno cream sauce, chipotle cream sauce, citrus Southwestern sauce, remoulade sauce…

Okay, now let’s take a look at some recipes…

 Chipotle Shrimp  Tacos. Click HERE for recipe.
 Crispy Salmon Fish Tacos. Click HERE for recipe.

Blackened Fish Tacos with Avocado-Cilantro Sauce. Click HERE for recipe.
Voilà! Fish tacos! Stay tuned for the next summer series. Hint: Laced

*Something you don’t know about me? The second reason I was starting to question my life in France was the incident over the weekend involving the terrorist on the Paris bound train. I’m sure you’ve heard about it… Moroccan terrorist with weapons on a French high-speed train, taken down by brave Americans and one Brit? This alone made me want to move back to the states. But then, after that, I decided that America has its downfalls as well. For example, I saw on the news that female Viagra was approved by the FDA in the US. You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. Here I am, paralyzed with ALS, with ALS compassionate drugs or orphan drugs NOT approved by the FDA, and I am sure hundreds of millions of dollars were set aside for the research and FDA approval of female Viagra! It’s shameful not just for people with ALS but what about Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer and every other cancer cancer cancer. But by all means, let’s approve female Viagra.

Summer Series: Mprint Swimwear

Once upon a time there was a boy and a girl who created the hippest, coolest bikini line… And fell in love.

The boy is my nephew. The girl is his girlfriend. The bikini line is Mprint Swimwear.

Together Cody and Suzanne design the bathing suits that everyone’s talking about. It’s not a tattoo, it’s a tantoo! Check it out…

Lovesick Santa Barbara Suit
(inspired by moi!)
Shave Ice Suit
 Lovesick Malibooty Suit
 Tangerine Sunrise Suit

Honu in Sea Mist Suit

 Sea Hippy

Obviously these suits are not for all of us (because I’m over 20 years old, kinda fat and have a feeding tube), but as they say, “The kids love it.”

The endearing part about this story is about its founders, Cody and Suzanne. Cody is my sister’s firstborn son (she has three boys, bless her heart). Cody’s father is Dennis Dragon of The Surf Punks. Don’t know who they are? Well, they happen to be the quintessential beach band, famous in Southern California as the coolest band alive…. Back in the day. They coined the phrase, “Locals Only and No Fat Chicks.” Lovely, I know. Cody was born and raised on the beach (Santa Barbara, Malibu and Hawaii), blonde hair, bright blue eyes, sandy feet and hardly ever out of a bathing suit or without his boogie board… Just like his father, Dennis. I’m pretty sure there was a pre-wedding argument over whether or not Dennis would be allowed to wear his swim trunks to the wedding. Thankfully, my sister won that argument, but barely. My sister tried to make Cody, and Dennis for that matter, preppy handbook WASP’s like herself, but it didn’t take. Cody and Dennis lived for the beach, the surf and the sunshine and hardly wore shoes. It’s in their blood.

Cody and Dennis Malibu, California
Cody Laguna Beach, California

 Surf Punks Album circa 1982
Cody had a rough few teenage years, trying to find his place in the world, and as we all know, it’s not always easy. My sister wanted Cody to go to college and probably be an investment banker. Cody’s father probably wanted him to go into the music business. Cody didn’t know what he wanted to do and there was a lot of push and pull, advice given, advice ignored until Cody just hit rock bottom.

My sister never gave up trying to point Cody in the right direction (I just wanted to punch him) but sometimes kids need to fall, get bruised, pick themselves up and march forward.

Enter Suzanne. She is a kind, sweet, darling young entrepreneur, wise beyond her tender years. Suzanne met Cody and just believed in him. She gave him the confidence, the stability and the love (not to imply that my sister didn’t) to pull himself up out of his rut and focus on a goal as only a gorgeous girlfriend can do. (Sometimes no matter how much a mother can mother, sometimes it takes an outside force to change a direction.) That goal happened to be Mprint Swimwear. Suzanne had the brilliant idea for the bikini line and Cody helped her take it to a new level. It turns out that Cody is a great businessman. Who knew! Apparently all the years he was busy being a douche bag teenager, he had his eyes and ears open to the world and everything that my sister ever preached to him actually sunk in. It’s like he had a built-in business degree, marketing degree, finance degree and web developer degree not to mention an eye for fashion design and a respect for social media. Suzanne and Cody make the perfect team. Trust me, our whole family let out a collective exhale when we finally realized that, “Cody’s got this.” This was his calling… He combined his love for the beach life with his business acumen and together with Suzanne, Mprint Swimwear just keeps reaching for the stars. I could not be more proud of my nephew, Cody. He has matured into a responsible, well mannered, driven, charming young man that I absolutely adore. By the way, I have six nephews and one niece and they are all delicious. #LuckyAuntie.

 Suzanne Silva, Founder and CEO, Mprint Swimwear

 Cody Dragon, COO, Mprint Swimwear
It’s always summer somewhere and Cody and Suzanne just keep coming up with more brilliant ideas season after season. A couple summers ago Cody and I did some brainstorming and we thought it would be cute to have a maternity line of swimsuits. One piece black strapless suit with a little Mprint baby foot cut out for the belly? What do you think?

Because Cody and Suzanne are cool, they are offering everyone a 10% discount off their first MPrint swimsuit. Call your daughters, nieces and (age-appropriate) granddaughters! Just go to the website,, choose your favorite suit, check out and use promotional code: Ellie.

There is one more week of summer so let’s milk it! Stay tuned for the next Summer Series. Hint: pescado.

Summer Series: A Pop of Color

There is nothing more summery or happier than the subject of today’s blog post. The summer after I graduated high school, before I started college, I took a summer job at one of the happiest places on earth. The Ivy Restaurant. For those who know about The Ivy, you know. You know how great it is. For those of you who don’t know, I’m gonna tell you how great it is.

How did I even know about The Ivy Restaurant all the way in West LA living in the boondocks of Malibu? My mother, of course. She was knee-deep in decorating our house and would spend most of her days at the Big Blue Whale, the design mecca of Los Angeles. When I wasn’t in school, my mother would take me with her to choose fabrics, furniture, flooring etc. After all of my hard work as a child slave, she would treat me to lunch at The Ivy as it was only a hop skip and jump away from The Design Center.

The Ivy is a little charming restaurant smack dab in the middle of everything that I hate about Los Angeles.… Trendy shops, flashy cars, paparazzi junkies, denim bars, giant boobs, inflated lips, spectacular egos, fake gilt and bad hardwood floors. If you can weed your way through all of that and get to The Ivy, your journey was worth it. The Ivy transports you to somewhere better… A combination of English country, French Provençal and Italian Dolce Vita.

My job at The Ivy, albeit short-lived because I had to go to stupid college, was hostess with the mostess. The best time at The Ivy is in the morning when no customers are there. I would arrive at 10 AM, have a delicious warm milky café au lait, head upstairs to the offices and start fielding phone calls from assistants of celebrities who wanted to have lunch at The Ivy. I would mostly roll my eyes and wonder why movie stars were considered the end-all and be-all (except Catherine Deneuve, obviously, because she is the end-all and be-all). I secretly wished that the restaurant was only filled with my friends and my idea of superstars… Decorators. But alas, this wasn’t to happen and the restaurant was filled every day with the Who’s Who of Los Angeles (and my friend’s hoity-toity mothers). I just pretended like they weren’t there and I had this little restaurant all to myself admiring every inch of it.

My favorite part of the day was just before the customers arrived and lunch was served for the staff. Home-cooked, warm, homey, family-style lunches with all of the waiters, office staff and kitchen staff. Fresh fish with rice, grilled vegetables with herbs and of course The Ivy famous apple tarte tartin. After that, the circus began. I doubt there has never been a day when The Ivy has never been at full capacity. You just can’t beat its charm. Little brick cottage, aged picket fence, patio filled with well loved furniture, vintage French linens, terra-cotta pots filled with hot pink and red geraniums, little pots of violets. And roses roses roses!

The cozy interior painted with mustard yellow walls, blue willow platters on the walls, fireplace (even if it’s Southern California), cozy chairs and checks and florals everywhere. It’s basically the house of your well-traveled eclectic European great aunt. In reality, it’s the brainchild of owner Lynn Von Kersting and her husband, chef Ron Irving.


And then there is the menu! An eclectic mix of American and Italian cuisine which just translates to delicious. If you’re going to spend your whole day in superficial LA, you might as well start it right at The Ivy with organic coffee (of course) and a Santa Barbara Crab Benedict with Homemade Sriracha English Muffin with Herbed Hollandaise Sauce.


If I were you, after buying 14 pairs of skinny jeans at the neighborhood shops, head back to The Ivy for the best lunch in Los Angeles while repeating a few Hail Marys begging God to forgive you for your momentary lapse into “the scene” and your momentary questioning of, “Should I get Juvenderm?” Don’t beat yourself up too badly, we’ve all been there. If you didn’t crumble and buy the quintessential “I might be a prostitute” Louboutin 8 inch high heels, reward yourself with the natural beef hamburger with, bacon, brie, and crispy basil on a homemade sun-dried tomato brioche bun with truffle French fries and garlic-basil aioli (but only after you’ve had the famous Ivy crabcakes). Wash all of this down with The Ivy gimlet made with vodka, fresh lime and homegrown mint. Or try my husband’s favorite Cajun Bloody Mary with fiery red and green peppers grown in the restaurant’s garden. My daughter Gracie’s favorite is the made-to-order Caesar salad. I don't care if you are a supermodel or a movie star, it would be a sin to forgo the desserts. Homemade Profiteroles with homemade pistachio, caramel, and praline gelato with house specialty hot fudge sauce. And don’t forget that Apple Tarte Tartin.


One thing I wish I would have bought and dragged to Paris with me is The Ivy dinnerware. Hand-painted florals on earthy ceramic. Couldn’t be more charming.

If you love the look of this whole restaurant, you will be pleased to know that just next door, yes next door, you can basically “shop the look” at the Ivy owned, Indigo Seas shop. I like to call this “my happy place.” An explosion of color and cultures, Indigo Seas will brighten any mood. Turquoise linen chairs, hot pink pillows, red metal buckets filled with bougainvillea, vintage paintings, eclectic accessories and everything you might need to bring The Ivy home to you. Indigo Seas’ Instagram account is candy for your eyes! Follow HERE. Take a look.


But wait, there’s more, the good just keeps getting better. The Ivy also has another restaurant at the beach called, surprise, Ivy at the Shore.

There is also a darling Ivy owned sidewalk café, Dolce Isola, where you can pop in for a delicious well priced lunch and mouthwatering desserts in the same Ivy environment.

Even if you’ve been to The Ivy once or 1000 times, it never loses its charm. My dream would be to reserve the whole restaurant, invite all y’all, have one too many Gimlet’s, order one of everything on the menu and then go next door and blow all of my money on furniture and accessories at Indigo Seas.

Sound like a plan?
Only a little bit of summer left. Boo-hoo, but it ain’t over yet. Stay tuned for the next Summer Series. Hint: Maillot.