November 1, 2013
I love fall. I mean, I know *everybody* loves fall. But seriously, I think it’s my spirit season. We certainly have plenty of warm days ahead of us here in Southern California, yet I can’t help feeling slightly desperate to put away the sunscreen and popsicles (okay, probably not the popsicles) to enjoy sweaters, chilly bright mornings, tea in the afternoon, soups, holidays, whiskey cocktails, and the like.
Though full disclosure, I’m always excited about the next season, no matter which is coming up.
I love the opening line of Peter Rabbit and the Pumpkin Patch, a book we’ve been reading very often over the last few weeks:
“After suffering through the stifling heat of summertime, the cool, crisp air of autumn always makes one feel more lively.”
Doesn’t that sum things up so nicely? Fall is so much about being inspired for me. I’ve been feeling that so much lately, but also a bit disappointed with how little time I really have to cook and grow and create like I used to do. Then I remind myself of how I’m growing little boys now, which is a project that is so mind-blowingly rewarding (also incredibly challenging) that I am mostly okay with not being able to do it all.
Doing it all… hmm. There’s been a lot of talk about that recently, hasn’t there? I know I find myself assuming that everyone else IS while I am not. This brilliant opinion piece in the New York Times that my dear friend Laura passed on to me is a pretty perfect analysis of how I feel about this issue. Frankly I’m just bored hearing about it. We have what we have. I like to try to remember that it’s more than enough.
In the same vein, this even more brilliant article on Instagram and self esteem is a poignant reminder to me of how best to approach your relationship with social media. If you haven’t read it, you really should. Thanks to the always insightful Lily for sharing it on her blog.
(Clearly these things have been on my mind a lot of late.)
Brock and I have been married for 5 years this month. FIVE YEARS! Wow. When I look back at our wedding, no matter how much fun I know we were having then, I would never not for one second want to trade those days for what we have now. But that sure was a good night.
I made these outstanding slow roasted, oil poached tomatoes from the most perfect late season San Marzanos. We still have some in the fridge and I’ve been nibbling on them for treats. They are like candy.
Also made some essential toy investments recently. After sorting through our current collection, of course. I do love purging toys. Play food, where have you been all my life? And because my boys are obsessed with our broom and mop, I got them one of each in their size. Of course I really need two of each because they will forever want what the other has, it seems.
This cuff is pretty perfect.
I heart this family newborn shoot we featured on 100 Layer Cakelet. Baby. Want. WAIT! Have. Hormones are crazy things, aren’t they?
Also some of my favorite books for parents and favorite books for fall are over on the 100 Layer Cake family blog too.
Which as you might have guessed is generally where I spend my blogging time right now. But the thing is? I really miss it here. Sharing parties and costumes and family photography is fun and all, but I miss my teeny tiny corner of the internet. I think, with the arrival of fall, I will make a more more earnest effort to be here more often. At Crafting Community I met two sweet ladies (Hey Melissa, hey Adrienne!) who stopped and said hi because they’d been reading this blog since BEFORE I WAS MARRIED. (Did I mention it’s been five years?) I was 1) shocked and 2) completely flattered and humbled that anyone still knew that my blog existed. I hope I can pick up where I left off soon. I hope some of you will still be out there.
If you are,
(Photos from our annual trip to the best pumpkin patch ever on the way out to Palm Springs.)
September 27, 2013
Kay so these? If you’re a crazy mom like me and measure your worth by the number of vegetables you can convince your children to eat, these are for you. Beets! In popsicle form! Imagine the vitamins.
Plus they have organic greek yogurt for a nice protein boost. And they’re yummy. In kind of an earthy way. But I swear your kids won’t even notice. That’s the beauty of the popsicle.
Recipe is up on 100 Layer Cakelet!
July 24, 2013
His party is up on 100 Layer Cakelet for your viewing pleasure (along with a cute shoot we did for Ergo, if you can’t get enough of him), but here are a few photos after the party was cleaned up that evening. A nice bookend to the photos I posted of Dash the night before.
Is he not looking at me like, “Um mom, I was totally using that cart.”?
Loves to stand, does not love to walk.
I seriously wish you guys could all see how he crawls. Crab, spider, side-winder, even orangoutang. But definitely not your standard baby motion.
July 18, 2013
We’ve been having a good time this summer. That is for sure. I just dumped a bunch of photos into iPhoto off of my big camera so I can post Forrest’s birthday party over on Cakelet (did I mention he turned one?!), and I found these. From the night before when Dash was helping us blow up balloons and get things ready for the next day.
I love him.
That’s all. For now.
June 10, 2013
This salad was a pretty happy accident. It’s inspired by one that Melanie showed me how to make years ago, that I’ve been making faithfully every summer since. But I made a few changes to it this time, mostly because I didn’t have everything on hand and sometimes I just cannot bear to get in the car and go to the store. Especially when we have so much growing out back at the moment. You’ll see by the only photo I snapped, we (I) devoured it.
We’ve been trying to have Sunday dinner as a family in the backyard. I love it. But sometimes I don’t start prepping in time and before we know it it’s 5:30 and the kids need to eat and it’s overwhelming to try to feed 4 of us in 1/2 an hour. But I was determined last Sunday. I started prepping early in the day (slicing and salting zucchini, boiling french lentils) and by 5 I was throwing together this salad. The original recipe calls for tomatoes (and squash, basil, and walnuts), but I didn’t have them. And was starting to despair that it wouldn’t be delicious enough to even eat, let alone BLOG.
And then kitchen magic happened. It was a true necessity = invention moment. Be warned, as per my ongoing discussions with Jamie via Instagram, my recipes are loose. But believe in your own approximate measurements! You can always add salt or acid at the end if you need it. And note, you need an hour of resting time for the zucchini before you can move ahead with the salad so plan accordingly. Here goes:
First zucchini of summer salad
(You know, when you’re crazy excited to eat them?)
3-4 zucchini and squash
coarse sea salt
1 big-ish shallot, minced
lemon juice and/or white wine vinegar
pinch of sugar (maybe, I kind of forget)
yummy olive oil
chopped, toasted walnuts
mint, basil, or any other herbs you have around
Thinly slice zucchini and squash, preferably with a mandolin. I do this right into the colander, but if you don’t, set the slices in a colander and then sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Let sit for an hour (or more), preferably in the sink or over a plate to collect the drips. At this point I like to wander off and do something else for a while, especially if I’ve started the squash early enough in the day. But you could just plunge ahead with your prep.
While the zukes are resting, make the dressing. Combine the shallot and vinegar with a hearty pinch of sea salt in a large bowl. How much vinegar? Enough to generously cover the shallots. You’re making enough dressing for the whole salad, so however much you think you need. (Do you hate me? I would.) Now, I normally use lemon juice here. But I didn’t have a lemon so I decided to be brave and try vinegar. It’s possible that this is the key, I’m not sure. But I do encourage you to try the vinegar if you’re up for it. If you prefer lemon, you can go for that too. I usually do.
Let the shallots macerate in the vinegar for 10 minutes or so. Again, longer is fine. I’m mostly sure I added a teeny bit of sugar to the mixture too because I was afraid of the vinegar. Give it a go, I bet it won’t hurt. When the shallots have sufficiently softened, whisk in a few glugs of good quality olive oil. Whisk whisk whisk. Then taste. If it tastes good, time to move on! If it needs a bit more of something, add it.
You’ll probably finish the dressing well before the squash is ready. If so, do something else. Or you could prep the other ingredients so it’s not a mad, messy rush at the end. How novel! One day I will learn about that. Wash and pick through arugula (straight out of the garden is the best, but it comes with caterpillars and dirt and such). Toast the walnuts. Clean and chop the herbs. Or leave them whole if you’re lazy like me.
When you’re ready to move on, rinse the salt from the zucchini. Re-whisk the dressing if it’s been sitting too long. Add the squash to the dressing in the bowl. Mix it up well and taste. Maybe add the herbs too. At this point I left it alone again for a bit. I was making a lentil salad too and setting the table and drinking a beer and such so it wasn’t totally on purpose, but I do think it helped to develop flavor, you know? Kind of like lightly pickling the zuke slices. When you’re nearly ready to eat, add the arugula, avocado, and walnuts. It should be pretty darn tasty at this point. If not, you can always add a bit more salt, some pepper, some lemon juice, some olive oil… whatever you think is missing.
Truthfully I’m not sure why this salad was so darn good. But it just was! I think part of it was the my expectations were reeeeal low, since I was missing the key ingredient. And also (not to be too too annoying about growing food), it makes a huge difference when your veggies and herbs come from the dirt and go straight into the kitchen. Can’t even compare your own bright, fresh squash to the sad ones you find at the grocery store. And don’t even get me started on arugula. It’s a whole different green when you grow it yourself.
That being said, who wants squash? Because they are getting mighty sad on my kitchen counter.
May 28, 2013
AKA, this guy right here.
He’s our semi-Italian baby, according to his older brother, who has been experimenting with nonsense sounds a lot recently. Which is really funny and fun, but also confusing because sometimes I think I’m just not understanding what he’s saying. And then he smiles and I know he’s trying to trick me. I love his face when he’s trying to play the jokester. One day we heard him calling his little brother “Forrpist”, and then soon it was “Forrpist di Gahtti”. We’re rolling with it.
And Forrest. Ahem, Mr. Di Gahtti as I’ve started calling him, he’s really coming into his own. He crawls FAST with one knee and one foot, just like a very busy spider (another nickname courtesy of big bro), he stands and sits and stands and sits over and over again. He babbles and chortles and watches and thinks and does. He throws balls clear across the room. And taught himself to crawl down stairs when I wasn’t looking. (EEEE!) He’s such a headstrong little guy already. Second babies, it seems, just figure it out.
He has 6 little teeth, all new in the last month. I adore his toothy little smile. And his thighs and toes and strawberry hair and the way he says “buh-by” to every airplane that he sees. And that he’s actually turning into kind of a snuggly guy. I love that he buries his head between my shoulder and my chin and rests there for a few minutes to regroup.
Also, he’s going to be one in 4 weeks. ONE. I am not ready.
PS. Hi! I’m not even going to talk about how long it’s been since I’ve posted. Just know that I always have this tab open on my computer but the time, oh the time. Or lack of it. Volumes could be written on “the balance”. I haven’t found it just yet. But I’m trying. And I do know that it feels really good to be here. More soon.
April 8, 2013
I do not love spring. I love what it represents, to be sure. I love the new buds forming, the light scented air, the possibility of warmer days and nights, daylight savings time… But generally spring is windy and it tricks you into thinking it’s warm because the sun is out, but really it’s cold. And I find the whole season just slightly irritating.
But the garden is starting to come back to life, after nearly a year of neglect. That little Forrest. His arrival put a few of my hobbies on hold for a while.
This little box under our bedroom window just keeps going. I add new plants in every once in a while. It’s one of my favorites.
Dashie and I have been working on a little sedum garden outside my office door.
These guys are huge. And just about to flower now.
More succulents. They’re everywhere.
Ah the favas. We’ve started harvesting. Yum.
Artichoke plants so grey this photo looks black and white. Can’t wait for the babies to arrive.
Kumquats for days. I think this year I’m going to make marmalade.
Found a broken bird’s egg in front of the back door. Nature isn’t always kind.
Then there’s this little kumquat. I love him so much.
January 30, 2013
Oh, also THIS has been happening. We launched a mom/baby/family blog on 100 Layer Cake! It’s called 100 Layer Cakelet and (obviously) I’m thrilled to have a new project. Exactly what I need – a new project. But this one is really really fun.
We want 100 Layer Cakelet to be a beautiful, inspiring, and practical place for all you mamas out there. We keep thinking, you obsess about your wedding for one year… but you obsess about your family for the rest of your life. Shouldn’t there be a pretty place to share all the great celebrations and projects and moments that revolve around family? Yes!
I’d love any suggestions you guys have too! Pop over and check it out.
And while you’re over there, you might consider visiting the the Pop-Up Shop where you can book a family shoot with Max Wanger. He took pictures of our family a few summers ago and I absolutely treasure the photos he took. I know there must be a few of you out there who wouldn’t mind a set of photos by Max & Friends.
Don’t be strangers over there, kay?
(And thank you all for your suggestions about family dinners!)
January 14, 2013
I’m not big on new year’s resolutions, I have to admit. But I LOVE the possibility that the start of a new year brings. Magically, with the turn of a page on the calendar, the slate is clean and we can start fresh. Don’t you wish we could be in this mental state more than one time a year?
One thing I’m working on for 2013 is making better family dinners. Meaning dinners that the kids will eat and we will eat, even if we don’t do it together nearly enough. Sara and I were discussing the importance of actually planning meals and ingredients ahead of time, and it has me motivated to put a little more effort into that part of our life again. I know I never wrote the post on what it was (and is) like to become a family of four, but you can probably guess by my lack of posting that it’s been a wee bit challenging. My friend Jessica and I, who have kids who are exactly the same age, call those early days and months “the dark ages”. Need I say more?
But thanks to the new year, we’re having a bit of a Renaissance around our house. Things are brighter, and easier, and more fun. And part of that is knowing what we’re going to eat for dinner, instead of frantically throwing something together 10 minutes before the kids need to eat. The key right now is that I know Dashiell will eat it (mostly), that I can grind it up for Forrest, and that Brock and I will also actually enjoy it once they’re both happily asleep.
Here are some of my go-tos:
Red lentil soup – popularized in our house when Jora made it for lunch at her house a year ago. It’s delicious, flexible, fast, and with very little thought, you can always have the ingredients on hand. I make it a point to keep a jar of tomato paste, dry red lentils and a few onions in stock at all times.
Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce (with pasta) – Again insanely delicious, especially for it’s simplicity and ease to prepare. I always have at least one can of San Marzano tomatoes in the cupboard for just this recipe. We eat it with pasta, a veg and a crunchy kale salad, or just by the spoonful.
Spaghetti Squash casserole – I use the basic recipe from True Food Kitchen, but instead of a can of pureed tomatoes, use Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce! Makes it extra yum. Plus I throw in extra veggies or even tofu, if I want to get crazy. This was actually Forrest’s first non-baby food and he literally scarfed it down. (More on feeding the second baby in a later post. Hopefully?) Last night I made it with bits of kale and since I didn’t have enough mozzarella on hand, I filled it out with cheddar. Flexibility is the key here ’cause I can’t always be driving to the store when I’m missing one measly ingredient.
Taco bar – Which entails a giant pot of homemade beans, corn tortillas, a crispy cabbage salad and whatever toppings we have on hand. Salsa, guac, cheese, and cilantro are actually plenty for a yummy dinner. (This doesn’t work quite as well for Forrest, but he doesn’t mind mashed up beans with some seasoning.)
Melanie’s Tortilla Soup – Easy as pie to prepare, especially if I have left over pinto beans on hand (though canned works fine too). Meets all criteria, especially the kid one. They both love it.
Quinoa Cakes – I make these all the time and it turns out that once you have the basic binding ingredients down, you can use whatever you want to fill it out. I’ve used brown rice when I didn’t have any quinoa ready. I’ve add bits of kale or chard, cooked lentils, different cheeses, kernels of fresh corn, peas… really it’s very flexible. The kids eat them alone (I pick one apart for little Forr, since he doesn’t have any teeth just yet), and we usually eat them with a salad. I like leftovers for lunch with avocado and fresh mint on the side.
Homemade pizza (using Blake’s secret crust recipe) – I probs don’t need to really ‘splain this one much. Pizza = delish for everyone. Except Forrest. Admittedly we haven’t made it in the last month or so since he starting eating real food, but if he’s anything like his brother and my husband, it’s only a matter time.
Now I want to hear what you all make for your families. As you can see, we could use a few more options. Any must-trys? Would love a good enchilada recipe, if anyone has one.
November 19, 2012
I’m not entirely sure what to call these actually. The only thing that’s certain is that I love them and I begged my friend Julie to send me the big pics from her phone so I could share them. Do any of you follow Julie on Instagram? She’s an incredibly creative lady and an exceptionally great home chef, who used to blog but has since forsaken it for IG. We can’t blame her, can we?
She started a little series ages ago making patterns with her spoils from the Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings. It’s evolved into a really beautiful little piece of the social media megasphere… one that I look forward to every week. (No pressure or anything, Jules!)
Since lots of you like to cook, I thought you might find her creations inspiring. Wouldn’t you love to hang prints of these in your kitchen??? Maybe if we give Julie enough encouragement, she’ll start an etsy shop and sell them to us. Hellooooo super sweet and simple holiday gifts for the chef on your list.
There are soooo many. Here’s a bunch that I love:
Would you buy, or what!?
Thanks so much, Julie!