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Food The Tastemakers:

An Autumn Salad with Anne Sage

Photography by Monica Wang

“Hi. What’s your name? What do you do?” It’s inescapable, this pressure to define exactly what it is we “do” in life. We attempt to sort out our own identities according to what we learn, and where, the jobs and responsibilities we take on and careers we pursue, and we perceive others as trying to figure out who we are in the same way. Who am I? What satisfies me? How can I be true to myself? What pays the bills? How can I be successful? How can I appear successful? For me, until EyeSwoon, defining and re-defining what I “do” in life has been exhilarating, confusing, hopeful and exhausting.

After many years of swirling around various so-called “careers”, in creating EyeSwoon I’ve come to celebrate embracing all that drives me rather than defining myself by any single pursuit. You don’t have to be just one thing. So when I came to know lifestyle blogger, author, and Renaissance woman Anne Sage, the parallels were immediate. Much like myself, she has an obvious love for cooking and interiors — and take one look at her site and Instagram feed and it’s clear she is highly capable in both arenas. The other commonality: Anne’s life has been filled with experimentation. Among other things, she has tried out interior design school, worked as a chef at a tech startup, launched lifestyle publication Rue Magazine, created and continues to evolve, written decor book “Sage Living“, and recently launched event space and creative studio Light Lab with Caroline and Jayden Lee of Woodnote Photography. As far as I can tell, there is just no mold Anne fits within.

Anne has slowly, steadily carved out a life for herself by doing all the things she enjoys. And while her inspiring, meticulously-curated Instagram feed is proof of her well-defined point of view and command of aesthetics, she still manages to let us in on her life, even–and especially–when it feels far from tidy. The result is visually-pleasing and completely human. In short, it’s beautiful. Here Anne shares the recipe for her kale and quinoa salad in her brand-new Light Lab studio and answers everything we’ve been dying to know about her personal journey and what makes her swoon. Sneak preview–besides Anne’s life mantra, you can also look forward to learning more than you ever wanted to know about the origins of the word “squirrel” — she’s a complete word nerd!

Anne Sage, Light Lab


Tell us about the kale salad recipe you’re sharing with us.

The real hero in this salad is the dressing. It’s so quick and easy, but it never fails to impress! The combination of lemon, garlic, and red pepper adds instant zing to any combination of seasonal ingredients. For a fall twist, I added squash slices as well as roasted grapes–they have a complex sweetness that’s unexpected and frankly, addictive!

Among other topics, you cover both food and design on What draws you to each?

I’m fascinated by the beauty of the human experience and the ways in which we make life worth living for ourselves and the people around us. Food, design, fashion, entertaining–these are all powerful modes of communicating our unique perspective to the world at large. I’m also very nurturing, and nothing says, “I love you” like a thoughtfully-prepared meal or a welcoming place to land!

How does design and creating make you feel in three words?

Present. Engaged. Alive.

Congratulations on your new studio, Light Lab! What’s the focus and how did it come about?

Thanks so much! I started Light Lab with my business partners Caroline and Jayden Lee of Woodnote Photography when we all realized that in order to take our careers to the next level, we needed a bigger place to play than just in our home offices. We’re all very collaborative, so we wanted to create an environment to which all creatives could contribute their energy! We spent 8 months converting an abandoned warehouse in Los Angeles into the multi-use space that it is today, complete with a commercial kitchen, a stylish lounge, and 1000 square feet of open space. In addition to creating our own work there, Light Lab is available to rent for shoots, workshops, events, and more!

We love the muted pink and gray palette of the kitchen and the playful vibe of the seating area. What was the concept behind the decor?

My partner Caroline and I have polar opposite aesthetics–hers is vibrant and colorful whereas mine is more nuanced and subdued–so we asked our friend Sarah Sherman Samuel to translate our divergent tastes into a single, unified design statement. With Sarah’s visionary talent we were able to arrive at a kitchen and lounge that has just enough color for Caroline and just enough neutral texture for me–and that feels like a fresh new design statement all its own!

How would you describe the ethos of

Smart and stylish! Women sometimes feel like they have to choose between being one or the other, and I’m taking a stand for all the gals out there who have big ideas as well as big shoe collections–and are equally passionate about both!

You’re a fellow multi-hyphenate! Tell us a bit about your career trajectory.

It’s been a wild ride! In 2006 I graduated from Stanford with an English degree and moved to Brooklyn to do a masters degree in interior design. I lasted 2 months in the program before realizing that it wasn’t for me, so I left and got a job at a boutique branding firm where I had the priceless opportunity to soak up everything I could about the marriage between consumer strategy and compelling visuals. Simultaneous to that, a mentor suggested I start a blog as a creative outlet and was born! By 2010 the online design community had grown enough that stronger voices were called for, so I started the lifestyle publication Rue Magazine and ran that for two years. (I was also working as a chef for a tech startup at the time!) When the fit at Rue no longer felt right, I left it in the capable hands of my cofounder and moved to Los Angeles where since 2012 I’ve been blogging for myself full time, as well as writing a book, launching Light Lab, and taking on freelance styling and social strategy projects. Phew, busy girl! has been around since 2008. How has it evolved over the years?

I’ve grown ever more committed to honing my own photography and styling skills and creating as much original content as I can. Whether I’m shooting myself or concepting and styling with one of LA’s many gifted photographers, I love birthing new content; and I’m so proud when I scroll through my recent posts and see so many of them offering images and ideas that can’t be found anywhere else.

How did your career and outlook change when you moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles?

I went through a rocky period of questioning both my path and everything on it when I moved. I had to go through a period of deep doubt before recommitting fully to the path I’ve chosen, and I’m so grateful to say that now I’m confident and happy in the life that I’ve created for myself! The LA sunshine certainly doesn’t hurt, either 🙂

You’ve featured more personal writing on the blog in the past couple of years, and we’ve loved reading it. What prompted you to share more of these personal stories?

I take very seriously the responsibility I have to thousands of people who follow along with me on a daily basis, and I know from experience the normalizing power of hearing that someone I respect is struggling with the same things I am. In spite of social media’s best attempts to make it seem otherwise, life is messy–and I’m always honored to hear from readers who tell me that a story I shared made them feel less alone. In truth, I’d love to post even more personal pieces for the blog but because I’m such a perfectionist with my writing they take a very long time to compose! (Side note: I just realized that there’s an inherent irony to what I just said. I’m willing to get messy with my readers, but only if it’s edited and proofread. Ha! Clearly something I get to explore further…)

Favorite current design trend?

Low, blobby ’70s furniture silhouettes and off-putting color palettes that make you stop and think, “Do I love that or hate that?”

One you wish would go away?

There will always be room in my heart for midcentury modern, but I now prefer it in small doses rather than whole rooms that look like the set of Mad Men.

Your book, Sage Living, centers around the idea of mindful decorating. How did this idea come about?

The book was born from an experience I had when I moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I brought nothing with me and lived in an empty apartment for 6 months. I couldn’t bring myself to commit to a single piece of furniture, and it was as through my interior design–or lack thereof, rather–was reflective of the lost and unsure state of my inner life. It occurred to me that if I wanted to find some direction in my life, my decor could be a good place to start!

Life mantra at the moment?

So many! I can’t resist a good mantra. A few current faves:
– The getting is in the giving.
– How you do one thing is how you do everything.
– You are exactly where you’re meant to be.

What makes you swoon more than anything else?

Etymology! I’m a total word nerd and I love learning interesting word origins. Like, did you know that the word “squirrel” comes from a combination of ancient Greek words meaning “shade” and “tail”…because a squirrel’s tail casts a shadow! HOW COOL IS THAT?! (Imagine me jumping up and down and squealing with joy as I tell you this.)

A perfect Sunday is…

Working out with my fiance at The Studio (MDR); refueling with pancakes and scrambled eggs at Superba; shopping at LCD and Tradesmen on Lincoln Boulevard in Venice; grabbing the last rays of sun at Playa del Rey beach, then heading home to walk the dogs, toss together a quick salad, and catch up on our latest Netflix addiction. (Can you tell we’ve refined the perfect Sunday to an art?!)

What’s on the horizon for

We have a lot of fun things happening at Light Lab this fall–brunches and parties and workshops!–so I’ll definitely be sharing about those. I also recently started a new series called “The Science of Fashion” with my friend, the amazing fashion blogger Catherine Sheppard of the Life Styled, in which we break down the logistics of what makes outfits work. And now that I know you guys love those personal posts so much, maybe it’s time I incorporate those more often, too!

Warm Kale and Quinoa Salad

Anne Sage


For the dressing:
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice (about 1 lemon’s worth)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
For the salad:
  • 2 cups red grapes, washed but left on the stem
  • 1 small acorn squash
  • 2 small red onions
  • olive oil spray or 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup raw pine nuts
  • 2 bunches lacinato or purple kale
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup dried quinoa

The Prep

  1. First make the dressing as it tastes best after sitting for at least 30 minutes. Combine ingredients in a blender or food processor and whirl until emulsified. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and grease with olive oil. Slice squash into 1/2 inch rounds, remove seeds, and lay flat in a single layer on baking sheet. Spritz with a little more oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for 30 minutes or until tender, then remove from baking sheet to cooling rack and let cool.
  3. Using the same baking sheet, slice onions into 1/4 inch rounds and repeat roasting process as above. Let cool. To roast the grapes, place bunches (still on stem) onto the baking sheet. Spritz with oil, lightly salt, then bake for 20 minutes or until juice begins to run and grapes start to expand in their skin. Let cool.
  4. Heat a dry pan on the stove over medium heat. Toast pine nuts until lightly browned, stirring frequently to avoid burning. Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel and let cool.
  5. Cook quinoa according to package directions. While quinoa is still hot, assemble the salad. Trim stems from kale and chop the leaves into ribbons. Toss kale with hot quinoa and about 4 tablespoons dressing. Toss in grated cheese. Transfer to serving platter and layer additional ingredients over kale: squash rings, onion slices, grape bunches, and sprinkled pine nuts. Finish with an additional drizzle of dressing, a sprinkle of cheese, and serve!
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