Leslie's List: DIY Tote Bag, Friends from College, and a Summer Quinoa Salad

The best things to eat, do, and read this week.
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Leslie's List HERO 2

I'm still two weeks away from a trip to visit family, but it already feels like I'm in full preparation mode, cramming every minute with something productive. More work, more time with friends, more laundry so that I'm ready for a phone-free, wifi-free, quality time-full trip! But somewhere in there, I managed to start a new TV series and devour a book (and an amazing salad). Read on for some of my favorite things from this past week!

Do small
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L.A. has been hot lately, like 100 degrees outside and basically a sauna in the no-A/C greenhouse that my apartment has become. On days when it's too hot to even go for a hike, and the traffic to the beach is miserable, it's forced me to get a little creative with how I spend my Saturdays and take advantage of L.A.'s great indoors. Lately, I've been frequenting a few air-conditioned spots in regular rotation: the L.A. Public Library downtown and Glendale's recently refurbished Brand Library & Art Center (late in life discovery: libraries are not just for homework), the galleries at the Huntington Garden (there's a great exhibit now on science fiction writer Octavia Butler), and The Getty. I'd love to hear: Where are your favorite free indoor spots to go in L.A. when it's too damn hot to do anything else? 

Eat small

At the end of last week, I still had vegetables from my Great Vegetable Delivery (it was the gift that kept on giving in the best of ways) and took to the internet to find a way to finish it up—and not be responsible for an obscene amount of food waste. This hearty farmers' market quinoa salad came to my rescue. Without really following a recipe for the salad itself, I threw in everything we had left—leftover roasted carrots, blanched green beans and snow peas, daikon, roasted purple cauliflower, sprouts!—and tossed it with quinoa, very loosely following the photo as my "recipe." But the part that I followed to a T—and would happily make again—is the toasted pistachio dressing they suggest go with it. Since I already had toasted, shelled pistachios from Trader Joe's, it only took a few seconds to make, and is the perfect pour-over-everything dressing. For an herb, I used rosemary I had on hand, but am already planning on trying it with basil. The pistachio makes it so hearty, almost creamy, and good enough to eat with a spoon—not to mention it's vegan! 

Read small 2
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In general, stories that don't go well for the protagonist make me so uncomfortable I can barely finish them. I had to stop watching Breaking Bad in the third episode because all I wanted was for Walter White to reconcile with his wife, inherit a windfall, and survive cancer (spoiler alert: that's not the direction the show goes). But in the case of Cat Marnell's memoir, How to Murder Your Life, her descent to rock-bottom felt like watching a car crash I couldn't pull myself away from. As an associate editor at Lucky magazine working under the beauty director Jean Godrey-June, Marnell was addicted to drugs, would get wasted at press events, and was, to put it frankly, a hot mess—or, as she puts it, "My brains were so scrambled you could've ordered them for brunch at Sarabeth's." The book is funny, frank (she's basically the female version of Tucker Max, without the misogyny), and shocking, but rewarding in the same way that good gossip is.


Just when I thought the only TV I'd want to talk about this week was the Game of Thrones premiere, this new Netflix show swooped in like a drunk friend at a bar—cringe-worthy, but also hilariously entertaining and, at times, surprisingly insightful. Friends from College takes you into the thick of the messiness, inside jokes, and competition that comes with longtime friends, but also makes me want to start planning a reunion with my own ASAP. Side note: I love Keegan-Michael Key more each year. Just me?

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I think I avoided listening to the extremely popular podcast, TED Radio Hour, for so long because I felt like I already knew what it would be like—I've seen a million TED Talks, so I didn't need to listen to an hour-long edit of them. Turns out, I was right about it being just like a TED Talk, but wrong about just how much I'd enjoy it. This weekend, I listened to the episode Hidden and it blew my mind! If anything, just listen to the first ten minutes. Is it too late to go back to school and become a physicist? 

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Confession: I have a lot of tote bags. Like, maybe twenty tote bags. More tote bags than anyone would ever need, even if they had to buy a grocery store's worth of produce. So what's just one more, right? I love how simple, but beautiful this rubber-bottomed, monogrammed DIY is, and it would make the best gift! Just fill it with a candle, some parchment-wrapped flowers, and bottle of wine and you win the prize for best house-warming gift!