Bake Pies, Make People Happy by Jesse Bluma at Pointe Viven

Bake Pies, Make People Happy.

"In many ways, home cooking is even more creative than what chefs do, because we improvise. We also have the fun of cooking together with our children or with friends. And there is a satisfaction of giving pleasure and comfort to others with something we have cooked ourselves."
-Marion Cunningham

Marion Cunningham was responsible for revising The Fannie Farmer Cookbook and she wrote her own cookbooks, such as Learning to Cook.  Despite an extremely challenging childhood, Cunningham graduated school, got married, became a housewife and mother, and later in life became an accomplished cook, earning a position with famed cookbook author James Beard.  

Holidays, such as Thanksgiving, or any day for that matter is time for gratitude.  Making family and friends happy with your cooking or the gift of baked goods, pies, cookies, and more creates good times and memories.  Surrounding ourselves with people that like to laugh, are genuine, and enjoy food too is always a good thing.  Certainly, apple pie is a genuine gift of cookery.

This is the apple pie I made this week.  The recipe includes the best quality ingredients and a time-tested flaky crust.  If you are making your own pies or purchasing pies for loved ones, the ingredients matter.  The process of making pie is also important to ensure the pies are made well and taste delectable.  The dough must be formed and rolled evenly into two rounds and perfectly transferred into the pie dish.  The filling must be thoughtfully mixed.  The top dough must successfully crown the pie to ensure the filling is contained.  At the end, the pie must be baked and watched with care.

As Marion Cunningham declared, the art and science of cookery is a creative endeavor.  Baking and cooking pies or other goods for family and friends is also fun and an excellent way to demonstrate gratitude.  Thank you to all those that have been loyal supporters and fans.  My business originated when I started selling homemade chocolates around age 10.  Jesse Bluma at Pointe Viven liberates taste in cookery, culture, and community, provides gourmet goods made with organic ingredients, inspired by the culinary worlds of California, Central, and South America, and engages in a community of customers and readers with lifestyle content, reviews, and expertise.

Bake Pies, Make People Happy!

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Honoring the Birthday of a Friend

Honoring the Birthday of a Friend

The grieving process is a journey.  Every journey of life is heavy and burdensome at times.  It also has vast highs with laughs, good times, and smiles.  As well as everything in-between.  When we form friendships the potential, nay inevitability, is there for troughs and valleys.  Intellectually we know those heavy times are temporary.  There is an ebb and flow and we know we are not alone in the process.  

Sandy Jane Leifer is the friend central to a deeper understanding of that for me.  You no doubt have someone else in mind.  The memories we have of our friends, like Sandy, the times we spent, and ohhh those stories are integral to our lives.  By remembering a friend that has passed or by taking some action to honor his or her birthday we keep those memories alive.  Sandy was a mother, a grandmother, and a teacher.  A gentle, strong, and down-to-earth spirit with a memorable giggle and laugh.  How fitting she continues to teach and be an example for others.  The memories we have of our friends, the relationships, and legacies we built with those that have passed on are blessings.

In “Thanksgiving”, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “For each new morning with its light, For rest and shelter of the night, For health and food, For love and friends, For everything Thy goodness sends.”  Forming friendships with great people produces many gifts.  Taking time to recognize those gifts may be something you wish to do too.  Sandy gave me a plant when my grandmother died.  A Dragon Tree.  This was at the beginning of our friendship.  Over the years the small Dragon Tree, resembling a palm, grew and grew.  It grew strong and tall over time, as the years progressed, over holidays, challenging days at work, dinners of the month, and fun times out.  The Dragon Tree, as Sandy, has been strong, amazing, and graceful in the face of harsh weather, drought, and hard rains.  A year ago though the Dragon Tree was looking weary.  And Sandy passed away.  In a turn of events, this month, Sandy’s birthday month, the Dragon Tree sprouted anew.  No doubt you have many wonderful stories of your loved one as well.

“We cannot count our friends, nor say How many praise us day by day.  Each one of us has friends that he Has yet to meet and really know, Who guard him, wheresoe'er they be, From harm and slander's cruel blow.  They help to light our path with cheer,  Although they pass as strangers here.”  This verse from Edgar A. Guest’s “The Unknown Friend” is a reminder that friendship is a journey.  Friendship is a teacher.  By honoring our friends and their birthdays we show appreciation for those lessons.  Every friendship is different and can be honored in a different manner.  Sandy loved dolphins.  They were her sign.  These majestic aquatic animals have streamlined bodies, are highly social, and energetically jump and play.  Today I am honoring Sandy’s birthday by walking down to the beach to look for dolphins.

The following activities may be ways you wish to honor your friend on his or her birthday. 

1.  Get your mind and body quiet to take a precious moment to remember your friend.

2.  Visit the family of your friend, send a card, a special treat, or make a phone call to send your love.  

3.  Visit your friend’s grave on your own or with other friends.  You may also wish to ask if any of the family members would also like to attend.  

4.  Plant a tree or flowers in memory of your friend.

5.  Take action.  Volunteer for a charity or foundation that your friend supported or that is related to your friend’s passing.

6.  Donate to a charity or foundation.  For example, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

7.  Read.  The grieving process requires us to be mindful of ourselves and others going through the steps as well.  Seek professional literature and services as required from a doctor, psychologist, or clergyman.  Take heart in knowing the stress subsides over time and in knowing  healing and reconciliation awaits, “and I heard a great voice out of the heaven, saying, `Lo, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and He will tabernacle with them, and they shall be His peoples, and God Himself shall be with them -- their God, and God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, and the death shall not be any more, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor shall there be any more pain, because the first things did go away.’” (Revelation 21:3-4)

Today, I honor Sandy’s birthday by looking for those magical dolphins at the beach and by making a donation to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.  

“At BCRF, we have one driving goal: to double the rate of progress towards longer lives and better outcomes. To double our annual investment in innovative research.  To double down on our promise to be the end of breast cancer.  Your generous gift advances the world's most promising research, bringing us one step closer to achieving our goal.  It also supports more than 250 scientists around the globe as they pursue research that will accelerate progress and transform lives.”

Credits:  Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emerson, Collected Verse of Edgar Guest NY:Buccaneer Books, 1976, 16, file:///Downloads/178_What%20About%20Death%20and%20Dying.PDF

Authenticity Rules Here: D’Vine Restaurant Review by Jesse Bluma

Authenticity Rules Here:  D’Vine Restaurant Review

A handsome restaurant with brick walls, dark wood doors, and expansive bar.  D'Vine is firmly established in a historic downtown with distinctive shops, entertainment, and rail transportation.  Chef Walid Alarja passionately and intrinsically utilizes ingredients from his culinary and cultural roots of Bethlehem and Alexandria, Egypt.  D'Vine is an elevated experience because of Walid’s effective use of fresh, farm-to-table foodstuff, specifically the vegetables and herbs.  The menu is thoughtfully and purposely focused with items created with flavor in mind.  Founders, Walid Alarja and Lena Quezada, have created a Mediterranean menu of deliciousness.  

“Our amazing Mediterranean dishes are traditional and healthy.  Think savory spices, tantalizing sauces, house dressings and meat served fresh off the grill.  A truly unparalleled dining experience.  In the Middle East, to eat is to feast and in doing so we evoke a sense of celebration.  Our select menu is prepared with fresh ingredients and the love that only a family owned and operated restaurant can offer.  We invite you to go on a culinary experience with relax and enjoy a treat for all your senses, at D'Vine. ”

It was a pleasure to have a personal tasting provided by Chef Alarja and Lena Quezada.  The restaurant is located in a historic district, with an outdoor patio, large picture windows, an expansive ceiling, a main dining room, and larger room for parties.  The servers quickly greeted me and got me seated.  Throughout my meal the servers were friendly, helpful, knowledgeable about the menu, and anticipated when I was ready for drinks.  The suggested homemade beet juice was perfect to pair with my meal.  D'Vine is an excellently developed restaurant with its notable architecture, smart decor, well planned menu, and neatly presented staff.

At the center table Lena and I discussed the various menu items.  D'Vine collaborates with suppliers to ensure dishes are prepared with fresh, quality, seasonal ingredients.  Chef Alarja and I discussed the bounty of ingredients readily available throughout the year in California.  Additionally, ingredients are available from Mexico and South America.  This is because countries such as Brazil and Chile have large populations of people of Lebanese, Arab, and Syrian ancestry.  To some customers, the dishes will read as authentic.  To others, the dishes will be understood as warm, bright, and fresh.  Tabouleh—salad mix of cracked wheat, tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, lemon juice, and house spices.  Kubeh—fried cracked wheat beef and lamb crust, stuffed with minced beef onions, pine nuts, and spices.  Lamb kebab—grilled, marinated chunks of lamb on a skewer.  The lure of these dishes does not disappoint.  

D'Vine specializes in genuine dishes, locally sourced, created by a graduate of the French Culinary Institute.  An excellent choice for a romantic date, happy hour with friends, or event.  Chef Alarja and Lena Quezada have a robust emphasis on quality that is exhibited through their menu, hospitality, and staffing choices.  Several factors go into an effective dining experience.  As Chef Alarja explained, he relocated to the United States to be near his children that had immigrated before him.  As a father, restauranteur, and genuine person, Alarja understands the art of cookery, the importance his own family, as well as treating others like “family”.  Restaurants are as much about the people at the table as those that serve, cook, and prepare.  It is hard work and this chef has the drive to make it happen.

My Recommendations

1.  The restaurant is located at 132 West Commonwealth Avenue, Fullerton, California 92832.  This is a walkable distance from several local shops and a drivable distance from local colleges, businesses, museums, and theaters.  There is an adjacent parking lot to the restaurant and public parking located throughout the area.  

2.  The ample main dining room provides an excellent view of the bar and kitchen.  Peak times occur on weekends and during special events in the city.  Make reservations to ensure a table.

3.  The menu at D'Vine has an impressible range of choices featuring items such cold mezza (small dishes), hot mezza, entrees, desserts, drinks, and cocktails.  The following were my favorites. 

Homemade beet juice

Pita chips served with olive oil and za’atar (an aromatic and warm spice blend)

Cucumber Yogurt Salad:  chopped cucumbers, fresh mint, house spices mixed with yogurt

Beet Salad:  red beets, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt

Cheese Fatayer:  lightly fried dough stuffed with Mediterranean cheeses

Spinach Fatayer:  baked homemade dough stuffed with spinach, onions, and spices

Chicken Shawarma:  grilled, thinly sliced marinated chicken

Garlic sauce:  raw garlic, lemon, and salt

Kefta:  grilled, ground beef and lamb with finely chopped onions, parsley, and house spices on a skewer

Layalee Lubnan:  an amazingly aromatic dessert that is made of a semolina pudding. Topped with a layer of whipped cream and a drizzled with fresh ground pistachios and sugar syrup.

Visit the D’Vine website at

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D'Vine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Disclaimer:  The restaurant in this review has given the reviewer complimentary food and drink. This has in no way influenced the reviewer’s opinion.  Quality and content is the standard.

Credits:  dvineexperience. com, facebook. com/dvinefullerton

Fitness and Living Jigsaw: Number 11 by Jesse Bluma at Pointe Viven

Fitness and Living Jigsaw:  Number 11

What signs of better strength, wellness, and living have you seen since Fitness and Living Jigsaw: Number 10?

Remind yourself again:  You deserve to live well and be well.  Making fitness and good nutrition a routine, a habit, and expression of how you respect yourself is essential to developing a desire to get moving and stay moving.  

It is imperative to understand the power of health and wellness.  One of the most critical factors in the process of physical, mental, and emotional wellness is you.  Your creativity, choices, workout equipment, awareness of your own abilities, evaluation of health goals, and execution of good habits is essential.  Execution and implementation can be a challenge, although without implementing the proper healthy habits all the reading of exercise articles will not make you physically stronger.  Rather than a specific plan, this article supplies guidelines, inspiration, and ideas to spark your interest.

Often I am asked about my routine for healthy living and how I maintain good fitness, especially when I am regularly baking, cooking, and always on the hunt for excellent restaurants.  No big secrets here.  I eat well, get a good amount of sleep, rest, and give my body and mind a good workout.  If anyone knows a thing or two about fitness and nutrition, it’s me.  And if I can do it, you can too.  A background of teaching health and physical education, as well as a lifelong interest in nutrition, has been essential to maintain an excellent level of fitness, energy, and strength for me.  

Models, actors, athletes.  The images we see in ads, movies, and media can influence our goals and perceptions.  Keep in mind the people in those professions spend a lot of time and have a lot of time to look their best.  Or computer graphics best.  Rather than focusing on images in media, focus on health and wellness for the mind, body, and soul.  We all approach fitness at various levels, perspectives, and habits based upon previous experiences and family environment.  Take a moment to reflect upon good values, the ideas you hold close, that will be the center of what gets you physically fit.  Structure your day, fight for the time to eat well and get physically fit.  Work toward betterment, not perfection.  Be prepared to respond in life.  That means being ready to plan out options and alternatives to preserve your health and wellness.  We all know life is a continual journey, full of difficulties and blessings.  Put on some good music, turn up the volume, and get liberated from those unhealthy habits.  

Working out is not enough for our bodies.  Diet, what you eat, what you buy at the store and bring home to your kitchen, is highly significant to strong abs and obliques.  Purchase and prepare foods that satiate your appetite.  Eat seasonally and enjoy the monthly flavors.  Your fitness routine also needs variety.  Mix up your activities.  Sleep is also key.  The body, mind, and soul need rest and revitalizing.  Sometimes preparing yourself is the key.  Remind yourself in verbal or written form to workout the next day or after work.  Repeat that reminder each night before you go to bed.  This mantra may be the key to applying the health and wellness information you know to do. 

Eat.  Enjoy.  Satiate.  Satisfy.  Get nutrients.  Deal with emotions.  Make something beautiful to make your belly happy.  Breathe.  Those daily habits make a difference.  In my book, candy, cakes, cookies, and desserts are not the devil.  Too many sweets and too often is not good.  Not to worry though.  Take a breath.  If you get off the path of healthy living, I’m confident you can do better next time.  As David S. Ludwig, MD, PhD stated, “Overeating doesn't make us fat.  The process of becoming fat makes us overeat.  In other words, hunger and overeating are the consequences of an underlying problem.  Follow a simple lifestyle prescription focused on enjoyable physical activities, sleep, and stress relief to improve metabolism and support permanent behavior change.”

Leaning Pushups

Dumbbell Fly

As part of improving flexibility, agility, and coordination change up your routine with leaning pushups or dumbbell flys.  Begin with either activity and then work up to doing more of that exercise.  You may find doing variations on your movements or speed and distances make working out more interesting for you and you may see better results.  

Leaning pushups are key to your fitness program.  The pectoralis major is the thick chest muscle of the trunk that provides for shoulder movement.  While the pectoralis minor is located in the upper-side rib that provides for tilt and rotation of the scapula (shoulder blade).  If beginning an exercise program, seek out an excellent trainer that can teach you proper and effective technique.  Wall or leaning pushups are performed in the standing position an arm’s distance from a wall or railing.  The palms of the hands are placed shoulder-distance apart and elbows pointed down.  It is essential to keep the core muscles tight and aligned during this exercise.  Ignore the rumors.  Pushups and leaning pushups are good for men and women alike to build strength.  

Dumbbell flys are another significant option to develop upper body strength.  This activity works the back muscles, shoulders, spine, and arms.  Proper technique and choice of weights is important to gain the most out of the activity and prevent injury.  Select the proper size dumbbells or weights for you.  Stretching the chest, arms, hands, knees, hips, and feet before utilizing weights is also necessary to prevent injury.  Dumbbell flys are performed in standing position with one weight in each hand and legs about hip-width apart.  Proper posture must be maintained.  Begin with a weight in your left hand held at the side of your left hip and a weight in your right hand held next to the side of your right hip.  Then lift the dumbbells up, back of hand facing up, in a synchronized manner away from your body in an arc.  Bring the weights back to your sides.  Repeat.

Join with your family and friends today.  Find a locale to work out that gets you inspired.  Then return here and share your progress, tips, and what you learned.  Please remember all information is of a general nature and is furnished only for education.  See a doctor or medical professional for your own personal fitness advice.

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Note: All information is of a general nature and is furnished only for education.  See a doctor or medical professional for your own personal fitness advice.  Use of this information is at your own risk in regard to any losses, liabilities, injuries or damages resulting from any and all claims.

Credits:, Image courtesy of [lkunl] at, Image courtesy of [stockimages] at, Image courtesy of [photostock] at, Credits:, Image courtesy of [lkunl] at, Image courtesy of [stockimages] at, Image courtesy of [nenetus] at,   Image courtesy of [JanPietruszka] at, KiropraktorCentrum,,, Image courtesy of stockimages at, Image courtesy of stockimages at, Image courtesy of franky242 at, Image courtesy of Ambro at, nenetus at

Gourmet Integrity: green2Go Restaurant Review by Jesse Bluma

Gourmet Integrity:  green2Go Restaurant

Update:  green2GO has unfortunately closed.

Gourmet integrity with equipoise.  green2Go Restaurant is rooted in Orange County, California.  The founders of g2G Burgers Salads and Bowls smartly and instinctively draw upon ingredients from Southern California.  This fast-casual restaurant is an elevated experience because of its craft beer and wine bar, bakery, and gracious owners.  g2G offers thoughtful dining and artful menu items created with sustainability, health, and taste in mind.  Restaurateurs, Anita Allison and Joulia Kallah, have struck an impressive chord with the community and culinary world.

“green2Go is committed to changing today's food culture.  Starting with our first restaurant in Brea California, our goal is to provide clean, delicious, beautifully prepared and affordable food in a sustainable and environmentally responsible way.  We are proud to support local and organic community farmers, artisans and ranchers who value organic and humane practices.”

I had the pleasure to have a personal tasting at g2G with owner Anita Allison.  The restaurant is adorned with paintings on the upper wall by local artists, a cozy bar at the front, a to-go section near the cash register, and ample tables.  Anita greeted me with a big smile and we got right to the bar.  The perfect place to begin a menu tasting. 

We chatted about the various beer and wine options.  g2G partners with local brewers and offers limited-edition, seasonal, and ever changing India Pale Ale (IPA), stouts, lagers, and varieties of wine such as cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, and rosé.  A beer flight is a smart choice.  This gives you the opportunity to enjoy four different beers.  The Stone Xocoveza Mocha Stout’s chocolate, cinnamon, and chile pepper notes make this a flavorful beer, especially in concert the tacos or other Latin items on the menu.  Best of all the chocolate cake or cobbler.   The Barely Forge Patsy has a pleasant bitterness.  A beer well enjoyed with a sweet and salty dish.  The Mother Earth Honcho Hefe has a beautiful warm flavor.  The banana and clove phenols pair well with salads, vegetable dishes, chips and guacamole.

Anita and I made our way over to a table next to the large windows looking outside.  A customer at the table kitty-corner from us was celebrating the birthday of her young son.  Big smile, early walker.  Anita made sure the family got dessert to celebrate.  We continued our conversation, chatting about menu items, family, travels, and more.  Anita mentioned the mission of green2Go Burgers Salads and Bowls is to provide “fast food made healthy”.  This is exhibited in the mindful sourcing of ingredients, handmade dressings, and clean cuisine.  A restaurant for families with the same values in mind.  It is wholesome fast food.

g2G Restaurant specializes in organic, locally sourced, and delicious dishes.  An excellent choice for lunch, after school meal, or dinner.  Anita Allison and Joulia Kallah have a strong focus and intent that is demonstrated through their dishes, management relationship with long time employees, and customers.  When you read the menu descriptions, you comprehend the ingredients, flavors, and cuisine.  Santa Barbara Smoked Salmon Panini with Goat Cheese Frommage and Caramelized Onions.  Grass Fed Bison Burger with 1000 Island Dressing.  Veggie Taco Seasonal with Stir-Fried Seasonal Veggies.

Anita’s formative years in Philadelphia, London, and Dubai before planting roots and starting a family in Southern California is invaluable to understanding cuisine, flavors, and food.  It is also evident Joulia Kallah brings her experience as a mom, recipe developer, and years in the hospitality industry to satiate the tastes of customers.  What is on the horizon for these two?  Anita tells me locations across the globe and in airports.  If you get the opportunity to meet Anita as I did, you will soon realize her positive attitude and drive is contagious.  “Eat to live well” is their motto and these two model that well.

My Recommendations

1.  The restaurant is located at 2435 East Imperial Highway Brea, California 92821.  This is a walkable distance from many shops and a drivable distance from California State University Fullerton, Brea Mall, golf courses, and business parks.  

2.  The window seats are a perfect place to dine.  Start at the bar located near the front door for a drink.  Then make your way over to a table.

3.  The menu at green2Go Burgers Salads and Bowls has an array of choices featuring items such as burgers, salads, vegetarian options, and desserts.  The following were my favorites.  

Beer Flight

Santa Barbara Smoked Salmon Panini:  Goat Cheese Frommage and Caramelized Onions

Poke Martini:  Ahi Tuna Served Raw

Chips and Guacamole 

Seasonal Berry Cobbler:  Streusel. Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.  *Order at the beginning of your meal to allow for preparation time.

Fairtrade Organic Chocolate Flourless Cake:  Organic Berries. Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Assorted Gluten Free Cookies 

Banana Bread Brûlée:  Organic Ingredients (Gluten-Free) and lots of Ripe Bananas

Visit the g2G Restaurant website at

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Green2go Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Disclaimer:  The restaurant in this review has given the reviewer complimentary food and drink. This has in no way influenced the reviewer’s opinion.  Quality and content is the standard.

Credits:  facebook. com/pg/liveg2g, livegreen2go .com


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