GEMOLOGUE – I am always fascinated by industrial look and movements in jewellery. Last week, I was invited to Moda Operandi new space on London’s hidden Grosvenor Crescent Mews to discover Elie Top’s “Mécaniques Célestes” collection.

I have already seen his pieces at the concept store Colette in Paris and instantly fell in love with their signature statement looks. Among the jewels that I was presented with, the one that I adored the most was the Scaphandre pendant in yellow gold and tarnished silver, featuring a rotating sphere that opens up to reveal a diamond-studded globe surrounded by yellow and white gold satellites!


Each piece in the “Mécaniques Célestes” collection can be worn with the rotating gold sphere either closed or open, to reveal the gemstones within. During our conversation Elie described his collection as “a cosmology of jewellery where each piece is itself an entire galaxy”.


Elie Top already has an impressive jewellery journey. He began his career in jewelry design working with legendary Loulou de la Falaise at Yves Saint Laurent, and for the past decade has built on that legacy collaborating closely with Alber Elbaz at Lanvin. Mécaniques Célestes collections includes 11 models: three rings, two bracelets and several earrings, and five one-of-a-kind pieces.


When was your brand founded and where is it produced?

The brand was founded last year in May. We launched the first collection in January in Paris. It’s all produced in France.

What are the distinguishing traits of your jewels? What are you trying to communicate?

I tried to focus on the design itself : it’s all about construction, lines, mécanism. the double aspect closed/opended is the main message: association of the industrial aesthetic outside with the most precious/narrative/emotional part inside so what the women can always decides to show it or not. It’s a story of secret, privacy, mystery.


Your pieces are highly detailed, what is your creative process?

I always work in a very precise way, with industrials sketches then there is an important development phase with new technology, chiefly 3D, which allow to go very far in details and refinements.

What is your earliest memory or experience of jewelry?

Certainly the discovery of the jewels designers of the art-deco period and René Boivin, when I was in my early 20’s.


How did you begin working as a jewellery designer?

My story start with costume jewellery in the haute couture world at YSL with Loulou de la Falaise and Alber Elbaz.

Was there ever any option in your mind other than making jewellery for a living?

To be honest, I ended up in jewelry rather serendipitously .. at first I thought I would design clothes… I never made a carrier plan, I sort of just allowed life to unfold and letting myself to be guided by human encounters and interactions.


Where do you find your inspiration/influences? What are you obsessed with right now?

It can be everywhere even in my kitchen with the everyday life appliances and objects . . Also often in furniture, lighting, machines, architecture and of course antics and ethnics jewels.

What are you currently working on?

The next collection which will be launched in january 2016, but also adding new pieces on the Mecanic Celeste collection.


What must never be forgotten when designing a jewel?

The woman body! the woman herself.

How many collections have you designed? What is your favorite collection/piece and why?

Under my name, this is the first collection, my favorite piece is certainly the cuff, I love his shape, roundness, comfort, and spectacular in the same time: futuristic and medieval.


With which stones do you like to work with? What is “your way” of evaluating stones?

I love hard and semi precious stones: labradorite, rock crystal, calcedony, tourmaline, citrine, quartz etc .. I must admit I have a very subjectiv and aesthetic approach, not impressed by the value.

Which countries or which trips do you remember best? Which one makes you dream?

Rome, when I was 9, and India Rajasthan more recently. I dream of Vietnam, and German forest.


How much do you think one can tell from a woman’s own collection of jewelry?

Certainly a lot ! about her fantasy, witt, taste, social life, artistic interest, and wealth! look at Elisabeth Taylor versus Babe Paley or Mona Bismarck.

What is the distinction between costume and fine jewelry?

Perhaps, the costume is more seasonal (more connected to fashion and its bumps) and fine has a more timeless vocation, more emotional appeal-transmission, love presents, life steps (wedding, engagement..)


What jewelry design schools would you recommend?

I never did one , sorry I don’t know..the best is to start working, and learning directly with the workshop.


GEMOLOGUE by Liza Urla is featuring exquisite global discoveries, trendy urban street style, exclusive interviews and rare jewellery reviews – a celebration of fine jewellery, fashion jewellery and vintage jewellery.

*Photographed by Flit Photography. Styling and Art Direction by GEM-A-PORTER
All photos belong to GEM Kreatives for GEM-A-PORTER. Please credit accordingly when re-posting.
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Masterpiece Gemologue

GEMOLOGUE – I’ve got exciting news about the launch of a new, cutting-edge website dedicated to exquisite lifestyle watches from around the world.

Co-created by my good friend, Alia Bradley, and me – takes you on a journey across the world to meet the outstanding people, the trendsetters of the watch world, whose designs will predict what time will look like tomorrow.

To mark the occasion, we took to the streets of London in true GEMOLOGUE style and headed for the Royal Hospital Chelsea in search of the hottest, collectable bracelet watches at the Masterpiece London Fair – “the leading international cross-collecting fair for art, antiques and design.”

Last year more than 35,000 people attended the Masterpiece London Fair, now in its sixth year, and somewhere in the region of £100 million worth of “art, antiques, design and jewellery were sold.” Alia and I were so excited about this year because there promised to be “museum-quality works with superb provenance from over 150 leading galleries worldwide.”

So off we went to the majestic Royal Hospital Chelsea, home to the Chelsea Pensioners or Men in Scarlet, who can be seen in their colourful jackets making their way down the Royal Hospital Road. This place, with its Christopher Wren architecture, has always been a fascination to me. Commissioned by King Charles II as a place of refuge for soldiers and sailors ‘broken by age or war’, it took 10 years to build and sits on 66 acres of land, tucked in the heart of Chelsea.

Chopard 18 carat white gold bangle watch with a diamond bezel and black opal dial, retiled by Canadian jeweller Birks, circa 1970.

Masterpiece GemologueA rare find and iconic of the 1970s, the Piaget cuff-watch with 18 carat textured gold and a mottled jade nephrite face: £43,000.
Masterpiece Gemologue

Fashioned in the same style as Piaget, a beautiful 18 carat gold EBEL watch with lapis lazuli face: £29,000.

Masterpiece GemologueMasterpiece Gemologue

BUECHE-GIROD watch set in a beautiful 18 carat yellow gold bracelet with intricate link and tiger’s eye face, circa 1970: Under £16,000.

Be sure to check out our new website, for more exciting news on luxury watches.

GEMOLOGUE by Liza Urla is featuring exquisite global discoveries, trendy urban street style, exclusive interviews and rare jewellery reviews – a celebration of fine jewellery, fashion jewellery and vintage jewellery.

*Photographed by Flit Photography. Styling and Art Direction by Liza Urla
All photos belong to GEM Kreatives for GEMOLOGUE. Please credit accordingly when re-posting.
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Food + Fitness Fun this week


Hello my lovely friends! Are my American readers starting to get pumped for the long holiday weekend? I know I am! To get into the spirit, I’ve been enjoying some red, white, and blue oatmeal this week. Just my Perfect Microwave Banana Oatmeal (<—recipe) with some cottage cheese stirred in post-cooking, and topped with fresh berries and some nuts. Delish!

If you’re looking for something to make for a BBQ this weekend, check out my vegan & gluten free no bake blueberry custard pie from last year. See also: Healthy 4th of July BBQ Recipes (the patriotic strawberries at the end of that post are my fave)! And stayed tuned because I’ll be sharing the recipe for this cute (and healthy) cookie cake tomorrow!

4th of july cookie cake 4

Anyway! On the lunch front this week, I came downtown yesterday and today so I’ve been rocking some packed lunches! Yesterday, part 1 of my packed lunch was a big salad with arugula, white beans, avocado, and some of this pre-chopped slaw mix I picked up at Whole Foods the other day. I <3 cabbage – so crunchy and refreshing!

easy healthy packed lunch

For the salad dressing, I threw together a mix of equal parts lime juice and red wine vinegar, plus a splash of the delicious Oliviers & Co garlic olive oil you see above. Great combo!

To enjoy with it, I packed some Cabot cheese (a gift from them awhile ago, but I’d buy it anyway) + crackers (my fave – Blue Diamond Artisan Nut Thins).


As for snacks, I brought some grapes, a clementine, some almonds, and an EPIC Bison Bacon Cranberry Bar. I just discovered EPIC bars on Relay Foods (<—affiliate link for $30 off your first order – if you haven't tried Relay Foods, it's awesome!) the other day when placing an order for a whole bunch of stuff so I threw them into the mix. I really enjoyed it! I've been into savory snacks lately and it hit the spot. I ended up eating some of the almonds and grapes in the morning and more almonds and grapes and the EPIC bar in the afternoon. Saved the clementine for another day!


Since I enjoyed yesterday’s lunch/snacks so much, today’s food is similar. I made the same salad, but minus the beans:


And paired it with some crackers and tuna salad (a packet of tuna mixed with a hefty spoonful of hummus) for some carbs and protein. I’m excited to eat it soon!


For snacks, I grabbed some similar stuff – more almonds, a couple plums and the clementine from yesterday, plus another EPIC bar (chicken sriracha flavor – I just ate it and it was good but yesterday’s was better) and some string beans.

healthy afternoon snacks

The string beans got eaten with the EPIC bar (along with a whole milk iced latte I grabbed on my way in) so I’ll have the almonds and fruit this afternoon!

Want more packed lunch ideas? Check out the packed lunch section of my recipe page.

In fitness news this week, I was supposed to meet Chelsea for SUP on Monday night but the water was moving too quickly after the weekend storms so the boathouse was only allowing kayak rentals. Chelsea ended up getting stuck on the metro anyway (some random delay), so we rescheduled. It was such a lovely night, though, that I decided to go ahead and go kayaking by myself!

key bridge boathouse kayak rental

evening kayak key bridge boathouse

It was wonderful – I’m so glad I went ahead anyway. Proud of myself for just going solo!

key bridge boathouse night kayak

sunset kayak key bridge boathouse

Yesterday’s workout was a morning run with Sokphal!



We decided to run downtown to check out the action. Barriers are starting to be set up already in preparation of the 4th! You can see one of them in the middle of the photo below.


This area will be jam packed with people in a couple days!




Even though we had lovely views, my legs were totally not feeling a run. We took a short walking break during the run (per my request) and then when we hit 3 miles I asked if we could just walk the rest of the way back (about another half or 3/4 mile). Sokphal was cool with it, so we enjoyed walking and chatting the end instead. :) Just one of those days!


We ended with a stretch at Iwo Jima while watching the Marines out practicing. Apparently every Tuesday night in summer they offer a free sunset parade at Iwo Jima! I need to go sometime – here’s more info on the schedule if you’re interested, too.


As for this morning, I was up bright and early again to meet Chelsea for a 6 a.m. class at CrossFit Key Bridge.

crossfit key bridge workout1

Here was what we did today – I love that they always include a group warm up and mobility stuff in their workouts.

crossfit key bridge workout

The coach was good about making sure all of us knew what the moves were/what was going on. Instead of doing the back squat with the bar, the coach had me use a kettlebell due to my mobility issues (my shoulders are so tight it’s hard for me to hold the bar behind me for back squats) during the strength portion. During the conditioning WOD, for the thrusters (squat then stand up and do a press), he had me use dumbbells. Works for me!

Time to get back to tackling my email inbox and prepping for some meetings. Have a good one, my friends!

p.s. Did you guys watch the US Women’s soccer game last night?! SO exciting! My friend Ashley and I discovered they were playing it on a huge screen outdoors in the Mosaic District… perfect night for it. And also the perfect night to enjoy some Dolcezza gelato after… my favorite! :)

mosaic district womens soccer screening

Of interest:

  • A bunch of my Blog Brulee dietitian friends have worked together to create an e-cookbook! If you love southern comfort food but want to learn how to make healthier variations (that still taste good), you’ll love this cookbook from Min, Meme, Rachael and Marisa: Four Southern Staples, Four Ways. It’s only $4.99 right now but I believe the price is increasing this coming weekend, so get on it!

Food + Fitness Fun this week originally appeared on fANNEtastic food | Washington D.C. area Registered Dietitian | Recipes + Healthy Living + Fitness on July 1, 2015.

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Small farms in Cuba: a brief report on my visit

2015-06-13 06.05.39

As noted in an earlier post, I was offline from from June 13-20 on a visit to Cuba with a Food First group visiting small organic farms, rural and urban.

This was my third trip to Cuba. I came with other groups in 1990 and 1992 at the beginning of what Cubans refer to as the “Special Period,” the economic disaster caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of its support for the 1959 Castro revolution, and the U.S. embargo on trade with Cuba.

The embargo also required countries that trade with the U.S. to stop trading with Cuba. For tourists like me, the lingering effects of the embargo are the travel restrictions, the failure of U.S. cell phones to work, and the scarce and slow Internet access. Hence: Offline.

But change is imminent. I heard many Cubans mention December 17, the day of President Obama’s 2014 announcement of resumption of relations with Cuba, as if it ought to be celebrated as a national holiday.

Our group traveled by charter flight from Miami. My first surprise: We were not alone: The Miami airport devotes two entire concourses exclusively to Cuban charter flights. As many as 20 flights every day are packed with people who have families in Cuba, business people, and tourists of one kind or another.

Our group was interested in Cuban agriculture and food systems. This post deals with rural agricultural production. In subsequent posts, I’ll talk about urban farming and what the Cuban food scene looks like.

The USDA provides useful background information and statistics on Cuban agriculture.

The 2015 report has this interesting tidbit: US agricultural exports to Cuba rose from $139.2 million in 1956-58 to $365.3 million in 2012-14.

This, however, does not break the embargo; it is classified as sales, not trade. The Cubans buy agricultural products from us, mostly frozen chicken for people, and soybeans and soybean meal for animal feed.

We did not see much agriculture on this trip. There is plenty of land, but gas, transportation, and tractors are extremely limited. The highway between Havana and Pinar del Rio is well maintained but we saw few cars on it. Horse-drawn carts, yes; cars and trucks, no. And lots of land not in production.

2015-06-17 10.13.09

The reasons for this go beyond the embargo. We heard repeatedly that Cubans don’t like doing agricultural labor: the population is highly educated, is 80% urban, the climate is hot and humid, and Cuban culture does not value that kind of work.

Much of Cuban food is imported. How much? Estimates range from 35% to 85% depending on whether whoever is doing the estimating is for or against the Cuban revolution.

An official of the agriculture ministry told us that Cuba is self-sufficient or nearly so in eggs, mangos, sugar, and tobacco. I took this photo of mangos grown on the remarkable farm in Pinar del Rio established as a model for sustainability by Fernando Funes-Monzote.

2015-06-14 13.08.52

At present, food is grown in Cuba on large farms owned by the state or held by family-owned cooperatives of one kind or another, or on smaller farms that are owned by private individuals or families. Only 70% or so of arable land is in production. The state still has a million hectares to distribute, but has a hard time getting anyone to farm it.

Most production is organic, but not by choice. The embargo makes agricultural inputs unavailable or prohibitively expensive. See, for example, Modern Farmer’s photo-essay on Cuban farming. Rice and potatoes, however, are not organically grown, and neither is most tobacco. We heard from farmers in the exceptionally beautiful Viñales region that tobacco is beginning to be grown organically.

2015-06-16 08.00.38

They are proud of their tobacco. It is used for high-quality cigars and is a major cash crop.

The agricultural situation in Cuba, like much else about the country, is full of contradictions.

Tomorrow: urban farming.


Things I Didn’t Expect To See in This Lifetime

I honestly doubted that I would live to see something like last week’s Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage. View image | I remember the summer of 2000, when Vermont legalized “civil unions,” which allowed gay and lesbian partners to reap the legal benefits of marriage, albeit without using the word marriage. Some people […]


Sweet Corn Sorghum Stuffed Peppers

Sweet Corn Sorghum Stuffed Peppers | @naturallyella

Over the past three years, my patio garden has grown and evolved. I’ve learned so much and every year, I get a bit better at not killing things off. One of the toughest things is battling the hot, valley summer while trying to balance water conservation. This year I installed a drip system that works on a timer, but I’m still carefully monitoring everything (but the initial water bill was nearly half of what it was last year!) It’s both exciting and a bit nerve-wracking because it seems very easy to kill a plant off that was doing well only a week ago.

That being said, I tend to have excellent luck with peppers. I have three plants, a sweet pepper plant, a shisito plant and a poblano plant (primarily to make stuffed peppers). If I had it my way, 90% of stuffed pepper recipes would be made using poblano (this also might be because I’m kind of in love with Chile Relleno). I love the unique flavor and the fact that you’re getting a chili pepper without the intensive heat of some.

These stuffed peppers use one of my favorite stuffing grains: sorghum. Sorghum has such a nice, nutty texture and holds its own with the sweet corn. Of course, if you don’t want to wait for it to cook (it does take a bit longer) or can’t find it, quinoa is usually my second choice for a grain!

See the Recipe.

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Tart Cherry Sports Drink Recipe

tart cherry sports drink (1)

This flavorful and refreshing tart cherry sports drink will rehydrate and refuel – with an added inflammation-busting punch from the tart cherry juice. Thank you to the Cherry Marketing Institute for sponsoring this post!

You guys know by now that I’m a huge tart cherry fan. Through my partnership with the Cherry Marketing Institute this year, I’ve talked about how tart cherries make a delicious, satisfying snack (recipe: Tart Cherry Pie Snack Balls), and how they can help with sleep due to the natural melatonin they contain (recipes/info: Microwave Tart Cherry Oatmeal and Tart Cherry Kale and Feta Stuffed Chicken). This month, I’d like to talk more about their other big benefit, which is especially important to me as a runner: inflammation-busting. Research has shown tart cherries can serve as a natural recovery aid when consumed in the days before and after intensive exercise!

Tart cherries are high in anthocyanins, which are flavonoids that contribute to their sourness, intense red color, and, mostly importantly, their anti-inflammatory health properties. Due to these anthocyanins, tart cherries have been found useful for those suffering from joint paint (arthritis) and gout, and can also help to ease muscle soreness following a hard workout, too. When you’re sore after a workout, this is due to a few things – muscle damage, inflammation, and oxidative stress. The good news is that the anthocyanins in tart cherries seem to help with all three of these!

In fact, studies suggest Montmorency tart cherry juice has the ability to reduce muscle pain and weakness after bouts of intense strength training, as well as after long-distance running. Here is a little overview of the running-specific studies I took from There’s more info over on their website!

  • Faster recovery: Marathon runners who drank Montmorency tart cherry juice five days before, the day of and two days after running experienced a faster recovery of strength compared to those who drank a different beverage. 1

    • In another study Montmorency tart cherry juice helped improve the recovery time after intensive exercise compared to the placebo beverage that was used. 2
  • Decreases muscle pain: Runners in an annual 196-mile relay race in Oregon reported significantly less muscle pain after the race if they drank Montmorency tart cherry juice twice a day the week before and on the day of the long-distance race. 3

After reading about all of tart cherry’s benefits this spring, I actually started bringing dried tart cherries with me as fuel on a few of my long runs, and having a swig of tart cherry juice before and after a run, too. Feel free to take that approach, if you like – or, give this tart cherry sports drink recipe a try. You can enjoy it before, during, or after your run – whichever you prefer! I like doing a little before and a little after, but I think I’m going to pick up a little container that I can fit into my hydration vest so I can fill it with some of this sports drink for any longer runs/hikes this summer. (An entire backpack full of sports drink would be a bit much for me – but a small bottle of it would be perfect as an addition to my water!) If you’re having this after your run, just be sure to pair it with some protein, too.

tart cherry sports drink 4

Joining with the tart cherry juice in this recipe is water, lime juice, honey, and a little salt. I made it with pure maple syrup in place of the honey recently and that was really good, too. You can also leave out the honey/maple syrup if you’re doing a lighter workout/don’t want it as sweet. Your choice!

tart cherry sports drink ingredients

Here’s the recipe. Happy running and inflammation busting!

Tart Cherry Sports Drink

by fANNEtastic food

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Keywords: beverage dairy free gluten-free nut-free soy-free


Ingredients (~3 servings)

  • 2 cups tart cherry juice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey or pure maple syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


  • Place all ingredients in a large jar and shake vigorously until combined.

As you know, I’m not a fan of calorie counting normally, but I know for running-specific recipes it’s helpful to be able to make sure you’re hitting your fueling needs. So here you go! This nutritional information is per serving based on this recipe making 3 servings – and it’s calculated using honey: 140 calories, 36g carbs, 31 g sugar, 0 g fat, 0 g protein, 105 mg sodium, 285 mg potassium.

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p.s. Interested in more sports nutrition info and runner-friendly recipes? Check out my Nutrition for Runners Program.

Tart Cherry Sports Drink Recipe originally appeared on fANNEtastic food | Washington D.C. area Registered Dietitian | Recipes + Healthy Living + Fitness on June 30, 2015.

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