I’m Kristina - freelance graphic designer, backyard farmer, cookbook reader, project starter, and new mom to a gorgeous little boy.

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Archive for September, 2010

September 30, 2010

real homegrown tomatoes

A few mornings ago, Dashiell and I were walking back from Peets after a run and I stopped to ask one of our neighbors about her tomatoes. We live in a neighborhood that was for a long time a little Japanese community, where everyone has fruit trees and vegetable gardens in their backyards. One of the older, original residents grows tomatoes in her front planter and I’ve been watching them all summer. She DOESN’T sucker her tomatoes as she goes. And of course I’ve been thinking, well, how can hers be any good???

But then Tuesday she was out there raking up the stems and leaves she’d just removed, now that her plants are huge and bearing fruit. I had to ask. She’s clearly been doing this for decades and must know something the rest of us don’t.

So she says that she pulls off all the extra branches and leaves after the plants have fruited. AND she picks the tomatoes when they’re green and lets them ripen inside the house. She sent me along with a bag full to try.

They were delicious. I had one on a bagel in the morning and for dinner we had caprese (of course) and a raw zucchini salad with tomatoes and pinenuts.

I’m thinking of trying the indoor ripening. Seems like it would take the threat of mealiness out of the equation, since they’re not getting any water while they ripen? I love relying on old pros for advice. And they’re always so eager to share. Next year. Next year my tomatoes will be stupendous.

September 29, 2010

Costa Rica suggestions

So we’re going to Costa Rica in February for a dear dear friend’s wedding. Yay! International travel! Very exciting. The wedding is in Manuel Antonio, where I’ve actually spent a little time before, so during the week before the wedding we’d like to rent a house somewhere else and just relax on the beach as a family.

Our current, very loose plans are to spend that week in Montezuma. Has anyone been there? It’s supposed to be a nice little hippie/surf/yoga town that meets all of our requirements. Ie. houses for rent, a beach, an organic cafe and plenty of Imperial beer. Bonus points for hikes to waterfalls close by. And perhaps most importantly, it’s only a few hours from San Jose. We’re trying to avoid long days in the car, especially because Costa Rican roads aren’t the most reliable. From there it’s only 3 or so more hours down to Manuel Antonio, which is definitely doable.

So what I’m asking is, do any of your have 1) other recommendations for towns that also meet our criteria and/or 2) if you’ve been to Montezuma do you have any recs if we do end up staying there? An excellent 2 bedroom house to rent would be an especially good tip. You guys always seem to come up with good advice.

September 28, 2010

Tuscan White Bean Soup

It seems absolutely ludicrous to be posting a recipe for bean soup at the moment. It is SWELTERING in LA. It was 101 at my house yesterday, which is less than a mile from the ocean. And today it’s a lower temperature, but as humid as an orchid greenhouse. I would no more eat soup than put on a fur coat and run laps around an asphalt parking lot. But I’ve been meaning to post this forever and I’m aware that some places in the country are actually experiencing fall and cooler weather and maybe even soup.

I made this recipe up from the top of a take away container from the Zinc Cafe. It was delicious when we had their version in May and it was equally delicious when I made it last month at home. I added kale, because everything is better with kale, but other than that I just followed the ingredients listed on the lid.

Tuscan White Bean Soup with Kale

Adapted from the Zinc Cafe in Corona Del Mar

2 cups (more or less) dried cannelleni beans
soaked overnight in plenty of filtered water

1/4 c olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 – 1.5 cups carrots cut to a small dice

8 (or so) ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

1-3 bunches tuscan kale, de-ribbed and blanced in salted water for a few minutes and drained.

2 springs rosemary
a lot of fresh thyme
leaves from a few springs of oregano
pinch of red chili flakes

salt and pepper

Beans: after soaking overnight, bring to a boil and then simmer until soft, about 1 1/2 hours. Once the beans are done, add 1 T of salt so the broth and beans taste delicious on their own. (Do not drain or discard broth).

Cook onions and garlic in olive oil over medium heat with a pinch of salt until soft. Add rosemary, thyme, and oregano (all chopped however you like). Then add carrots and cook until mixture is soft and tastes good. Add salt and pepper if necessary (as Alice Waters always instructs) so the mixture tastes good as you go. When aromatics are tasty, add tomatoes and juice. It is my personal opinion that peeling, seeding and chopping tomatoes is basically kitchen heroics, and not altogether necessary. But it does make for a prettier, unseedy soup. And it’s really not that bad. Finally add a pinch of chili flakes. Cook until well mixed.

Add cooked beans and enough broth to make a good soup. If you don’t have enough broth, add more water. Bring to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer. Stir in kale.

Taste soup. Add salt and pepper if necessary and garnish with parmesan when serving.

This is even better the next day, though you may have to add a bit more liquid after it has soaked in the refrigerator over night. I decided to skip the vegetable broth and instead use the bean cooking liquid, but you could make stock first if you’re so inclined.

Those of you in So. Cal, tuck this away for December when it’s cooler out. I promise it is delicious.

September 27, 2010

Catching up

Ooh, last week was crazy. Apologies for the lack of posting. Getting ready for Hitched took up every moment of my non-mommy time. But it was such a cute event. We’ll be posting photos and projects on 100 Layer Cake all week, but for now here’s just a teensy peek:

(Heirloom LA cocktails… yum yum.)

I had the most fun arranging flowers for our table.

And because I’m a week behind, I haven’t even posted about the Heath LA Craft Bazaar from last weekend. It was great too. So many lovely things, including tiles and little wooden toys and Matteo linens for practically a song.

And Krank Press, who I love.

Just when I was giving in to the pretty light of fall, (and beets and squash at the market), it’s super summer all of a sudden again. Or for the first time all year, actually.

AND, a birth center opened up literally in our neighborhood. Isn’t that crazy? We loved the UCLA midwives, but I’m definitely curious what the Sanctuary Birth Center has to offer for our next babe. It’s going to be an amazing resource for families around West LA. Very very exciting. But here’s my question: What does a birth center offer that a home birth doesn’t?

More this week, for sure.

September 24, 2010

7 months

So, ultimate mommy cliche coming… it goes soooooo fast. I was anticipating the 6 month mark so much, because it seemed like a huge milestone somehow. That he would sleep and be extra cute and all sorts of things. And he is and does and miraculously started taking a bottle among other things. But then I sort of imagined that things would pause for a while. That he would stay 6 months for a bit so we could just take it all in.

Turns out no. He’s 7 months today. And I’m kind of freaking out.

He likes rolling in the grass and feeling things with his fingers and chewing on sticks.

Oh and starting two days ago, he crawls. Luckily he’s still a little wobbly and not very fast, but things are changing around our house.

He’s discovered he can go where he wants (even if it takes a while) and he can get into everything. He especially likes baby’s breath. Turns out it’s excellent baby entertainment. The grabbing and ripping and then attempting to eat the little flowers.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend. I’m so looking forward to NOT having Hitched projects covering every surface of our house. But it was incredibly fun and soooooooooooooo cute. Back with more pics next week. (Of Hitched, not my baby. Don’t worry.)

September 21, 2010

The best baby tees – on mega sale

Moms, listen here. Go as fast as humanly possibly to MilkShop and purchase enough C&C California tees to last through your baby’s first 3-4 years.

They are the PERFECT t-shirt. Super soft, great colors and they’re nice and long so you don’t have to worry about bare bellies always creeping out.

I bought 6 last week and I think I’m going in for my second round. They’re $5 each right now, which is literally cheaper than they’d be used at a consignment store.

BTW, my baby is officially better dressed than I am. He has new designer sportswear and I have spitty old rags. But these are the sacrifices we make, aren’t they?

September 17, 2010


…is my parents’ 33rd anniversary. To celebrate they are in Peru hiking the Inca Trail, wearing baby alpaca knit caps, and feasting on Guinea pig. And I will say this, in honor of my parents and all parents out there:

You can never truly understand how much your parents love you until you have a child of your own.

(Here they are hanging with their first grandbaby in Yosemite.)

My appreciation for the job of parenthood (quite obviously) has grown one thousand fold over the last six months. Sometimes I can almost feel my heart breaking for my parents when I think about what it must have been like raising my brother and I. Not that we were bad. We were probably average in terms of bad vs. goodness, but just the sheer emotion that goes into practically everything you do for your children must have been exhausting, exhilarating, and at times heart-wrenching. Every time we fought or bumped our heads or went off to camp or even to a friend’s house for the night, I’m sure a little piece of their hearts went with us.

And I sort of understood that in an intellectual way, but not in the entirely raw way I understand it now. It’s just a different kind of love, that I wouldn’t trade for anything in whole wide universe.

This weekend I will be recovering from a cold, which I caught from my baby. Thank you baby. I will take anything you want to give me.

September 16, 2010

The best yoga mats & a good cause

I don’t normally post stuff like this because it doesn’t involve delicious food or pretty projects or pictures of my baby. But because my brother-in-law Sky is the CEO of Manduka, maker of the best mats in the universe, I must. (He’s also the doting husband of beautiful Melanie.) I’m sure some of you out there are big yoga peeps and if you are, you probably already know all about the coveted black mat that will last your entire life. Their other mats are great too and come in much yummier colors.

This month, in honor of their very pretty new website and Yoga Aid this weekend, Manduka is giving 10% off all online purchases, PLUS they’re donating an extra 10% of all sales to Yoga Aid. Which is an organization that essentially raises money through people practicing yoga and gives it to a number of different charities around the world.

If you happen to be in the market for a new mat, now would be the time to get one!

Use the promo code GIVELOVE for the entire month of September.

September 16, 2010

Liberty scraps from the mail

Fabric, I love thee. Even though I am barely competent with my sewing machine and have learned that sewing things yourself, while satisfying, is not necessarily less expensive than buying them premade.

I was hunting around Etsy for some bits for our Hitched decor and found this lovely Liberty print with tiny white leaves. Which I thought was black and white. So I purchased it, along with 2 other little pieces for good measure. Once you’re paying for shipping from the UK, you might as well add a few extras to your purchase, after all.

And then my little package came in the mail yesterday (which I had already forgotten about, is that a sign of a problem?), and my perfect B&W Liberty print is actually navy. But still very very pretty. And by some stroke of luck, I actually picked two other patterns that make up the perfect trio.

If only I were a quilter, and had about 23 times as much fabric, I’d be set. So the question is, what do I do with these? Again, if I had a girl baby the possibilities would be virtually endless. But I don’t. Any ideas? I’m actually don’t mind just keeping them close to my breast and adoring them for their perfect, soft, silky cotton-ness. But I would also like to actually make something from them one day.

September 15, 2010

vintage bath toys

My mom saves everything. EVERYTHING. She has a whole box of baby clothes (mostly mine, which wouldn’t be great for a little boy), and little blankets and things that my grandma made. Among which she found our Fisher Price bath toys. Which as it turns out are a huge hit even on the rug in the living room.

Dashiell doesn’t have room for toys in his bath at the moment, since he bathes in a big bucket. But we’re getting close to moving on to the real bath and then I’m sure these will excellent entertainment.

Do you know what’s even better about these? They were made in the US in 1974 (which is curious since I was born 4 years later) and they’re not the scary kind of plastic that everything is made of today. And, as part of our greener home mission, it’s always good to reuse instead of buy new.

Here comes the giant baby, capsizing his little boats and torturing the captain.

Delicious, as always.