30 October 2009

It's giant squash season!

Kind of gives a new meaning to the phrase "baby vegetables."
Not so teensy.

29 October 2009

ready for halloween?

Apparently, my neighbors are! What I spied on the short walk home:

Did you see the floating ghosts? The skeleton pirates walking the plank? At first I thought the pirate ship was some kind of Burning Man relic someone hauled home from the desert (a common sight around this town) ...that's how early this craziness went up. But, no. It's just that our new neighborhood takes holiday decor SERIOUSLY. These two houses are just a small sampling.

Dang, duly noted, people. We'll try harder next year.

28 October 2009

birthday gift

In addition to flowers and some kitchen-y stuff that I was seriously craving/needing/wanting, The Mister came through with an "awww"-worthy gift... he printed and framed the above photo of a recent snuggly moment. The best kind of gift.


...is my birthday. Number 36. I have to say that life is pretty good... I love my marriage, my son, my home, my friends, family, where we live, plans we have for the future. Moments of warm, golden bliss are--happily--frequent around here these days. I try my hardest to soak them up, remembering what to hold tight in my hands and what to let blow away in the wind.

Sometimes, on these milestone days, it's good to stop, sit for a moment and think about where I am. Right at this moment.

So, after writing about life through plants before, I'm trying out another meme (got this one from Chez Larsson), to document where I am today. If I keep this blogging thing up, maybe I'll do it again next birthday.

Outside my window... San Francisco skyscrapers. Old statue-encrusted relics of oil empires... and slick, glassy mid-century towers.

I am thinking... about the 3 heirloom apple trees I just ordered for Spring planting. Pretty, tissue-paper blossoms, gorgeous fruit and lots of baking.

I am thankful for... my son's health. Every eyelash that drifts onto my cheek, I toss it over my shoulder for his health and happiness.

From the kitchen... Champagne and Indian food -- tonight!

I am wearing... my workday uniform

I am creating... children's toy packaging

I am going... to Capitola for Jacky's first Halloween

I am reading... magazines about gardening. It's only October and I simply cannot wait for Spring planting.

I am hoping... for cooperative, coordinated child models this morning.

I am hearing... the soft hush of office air. The calm before the storm.

Around the house... we are happy. Lots of laughter and silly songs.

One of my favorite things... walking through the backyard (AKA construction zone) with Jacky, showing him flowers, pulling weeds and letting him touch dirt, gravel and stone.

A few plans for the rest of the week... celebrate quietly tonight with family, cross a thousand things off my work to-do list, and the ever-helpful Nels is coming on Friday to work on our backyard.

A picture to share... baby legs! I simply can't get enough of 'em.

27 October 2009

pizza of the week

I returned home today from a photoshoot (those are loooong days. But not as long as it could have been--I just missed that nightmare by 5 minutes) and The Mister had made a fresh batch of pizza dough. Hooray! Dinner was decided for tonight, and 6 more dough nuggets were tucked into the freezer.

My Pizza of the Week is a Fall classic, adapted from a recipe in the Chez Panisse Vegetables cookbook. That delicious recipe calls for butternut squash, but I adapted it for some leftover Delicata squash.

  • a brushing of garlic-infused olive oil
  • tiny bit of mozzarella
  • tiny bit of fontina
  • diced roasted Delicata squash
  • Then, after baking add: chopped parsley, squirt of lemon juice, fried sage leaves, swirl of good olive oil... bit of salad on the side!

26 October 2009

the weekend, pictorially


- Act 1 -
Early birthday dinner at Chez Panisse

More on this later, but let me just say... wow. And yum.

- Act 2 -
Vining plant reconnaissance at Flora Grubb

beautiful white passiflora

Thunbergia 'Sunlady'

- Act 3 -
Kristen's birthday outing to the Marin Coast

Finally got to visit K's top-secret favorite place, for an ocean-front picnic with friends... and goats and chickens. We'll be back!
(photo: Stephen Somerhalter via Flickr)

- Act 4 -
Time to paint the house

We've done the impossible: two designers have managed to pick three color options with minimal fuss, deliberation, debate, etc. Amazing.

- Act 5 -
The best toys are not toys at all

Take one out-of-use "little baby" car seat... add a silly kid... some faceplants... repeat for laughs!


22 October 2009

yay forts!

Two things:

1) How great is our nanny? Not only did she build Jacky a totally cool fort -- especially in a week when he's trying to shake a nasty cold -- but she sent me a photo of the happy little guy to brighten my day at work. I was right in the midst of reviewing child model headshots (don't ask) and there was my sweet little snuggler, happy as a clam. Awwww.

2) Duuuude, he's so obsessed with that wooden spoon. He takes it on walks, to the playground, to meals, to bed (or he tries at least)... etc etc. Nope, he doesn't like binkies and doesn't have a "lovie" or a "blankie." He has a spoon.

21 October 2009

lunchtime reading: ancestry

Wow, amazing article, documents and interactive feature on Michelle Obama's ancestry, which was just recently researched and partially pieced together. From slavery, emancipation, northward migration... to the White House. I love this type of stuff, but this story took my breath away. While I was eating soup... that's no small feat.

20 October 2009

workday uniform

I'm a big believer in uniforms. (I'm a product of public schools, so I guess I don't have any school uniform repulsion.)

Uniforms make life easy. Now, I'm not talking about those fashion-y people who wear all black every day. Or have a closet full of the same perfect, crisp white shirts. Or Steve Jobs for that matter -- what's up with all the black mock turtlenecks?

I just want a cute, modular wardrobe that I can not think about, and just throw something on while herding a speed-crawling 10-month-old.

Actually, I think my workday uniform is more like an equation:


First, it's all about the tunic...

then, add some of those skinny jeans, leggings, whathaveyou (don't worry, the tunic prevents "overexposure")
then, for Fall, add boots... flats otherwise
top it all off with a cozy scarf...

...and a cute tote bag for your book, lunch, water, stuff

This one's from Hayden-Harnett... it's SO great. I have it in navy, and check out the lining:

so cute it hurts.

SO... classy ladies (and gents)... what's your uniform? Uniforms: thumbs up or down?

(all items, except for tote, are from Anthropologie. Not to say that I shop there THAT much, but I... kinda... sorta..... do. A little.)

19 October 2009

7 (planty) things

In my short blogging career, I've never been tagged for (nor responded to) any memes. You know, the "7 random things about me" type of thing... I actually kind of like the idea of a set piece that everyone responds to. It's an interesting foil. Of course, blogging is already inherently personal, but I find I learn a couple of special, new tidbits about someone by reading their curated list of "stuff."

So, I'm dipping my toe in.

Gayla, over at You Grow Girl, wrote her "7 things" about her 7 favorite (non-edible) plants. And then "tagged" all her readers. I love Gayla's site, so how could I not? And, it turns out, a little self-reflection through plants was interesting, to read (hers) and to write (mine). Turns out, at this point in my gardening career, I get my hands dirty for two main reasons: 1) when it's edible, I do it for the huge, unending challenge... and, of course, the good eats; 2) for inedibles, aside from some recent favorites, it seems I garden to commune with the past, with people that I miss deeply. For me, it's healing.

So, here are my 7 Planty Things...


(L-R) agave lophantha 'Quadricolor', agave colorata, agave geminaflora 'Rasta Man'

A recent favorite. Seriously, how cool are agaves? There are the big, HUGE types that are six or more feet around, which live for a very long time... then, as a final gasp, send up a massive 40' flower spike... and then die. Wow. They make an impression: the first time I saw our last house, the main thing I noticed out front was a gigantic agave with a towering flower spike. I think it was one of the reasons I wanted to live there. Beautiful.

Of course, there are many, many types of agaves. Not all huge and not all full-sun. My three agave amigos, pictured above, are all shade-tolerating and will be fine in small pots. Just right for our front porch.


I actually don't have any of this family in my home yet, but each time I see a Bromeliad, I am floored by their variety ...and audacity. Case in point, the above specimen (I forgot the note the name. Anyone?), which I saw at Flora Grubb. Kristen and I both circled it, oooed and ahhhhed, amazed at the glowing red and yellow flower spike. Wow. Maybe I don't have one because I'm not sure I'm worthy.

Anthuriums (a plant with little penises! Ha!)

I'm not sure why I chose this plant, but I've come to love it. I bought it on a whim one day at IKEA of all places, a few apartments ago, when I lived alone. My place was new, and I decided I needed a plant. I plunked it in my cart, along with serving dishes and bargain champagne glasses. I wasn't really gardening at the time (no space). I did my best with this guy, but I don't think the light was right. Something was off and it wasn't flowering. Time passed. I figured this was the way of my penis-y plant: not very penis-y, that is, ahem.

Then, in the Summer of 2006, my Dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I relocated for a month or so down in San Diego to help him in his last days. Upon my eventual return home, drained and heartbroken, the first thing that met my gaze was the little Anthurium-that-could, sporting three or four beautiful, glossy red blooms, with more on the way. I was shocked... and grateful. It was such a needed bit of beauty. These days, two homes later, Mr Penis lives on our breakfast table, bathed in southern light. Happy boy.


I guess there's a teensy bit of fancy-hat, genteel gardener in me. Mostly, these days, I develop serious crushes on succulents, and all other low-water, low-maintenance, graphic, modern-looking beauties. But. I also love roses. I love their fragrance, the cool, tender feel of their blossoms, that bees love them, too. One of my favorite parts of Golden Gate Park is the Rose Garden... I took Jacky on a picnic there and he sniffed the flowers with me. Heaven.

I think my love for roses is originally grounded in memories of my parents. They were avid suburban rose growers. My Dad even grafted branches of one onto another, yielding bushes which bear (to this day) blooms of a few different colors. I never joined in on the gardening back then, but I have abstract, fuzzy memories of my parents toiling in the front, side and back yards all day in the hot Southern California sun, doing God knows what (from my perspective then). Transplanting, mulching, pruning, soaking, grafting. These were the mysterious garden-y words they used, which I only understand now.

After both of my parents were gone, I decided I wanted--needed--to start gardening to maintain a connection to them. I bought three bareroot roses... soaked them in the bathtub, carefully splayed their twiggy root crowns out in pots, watered them dutifully and waged war against little green slugs and aphids. Despite all the work, the roses have turned out to be my gateway plants. By the following year, the entire back deck of our last house was covered in plants, mostly edible.


Of course, marigolds are genius companion plants, assisting and protecting food crops. And, they're a perfect goldenrod color. Like a monk's robe.

But the real reason I like this plant is more personal. This is the first plant that I ever grew. My mom gave me some seeds, soil and an empty egg carton. They germinated and we placed the baby plants in the sunny front yard. How cool is that? My plants weren't relegated to the "kid patch" somewhere else -- they were placed right up front. I love the idea of kids gardening... my kid, if he's interested... maybe he'll also get his fingers dirty with some tiny marigold seeds.


This one's pretty simple, and also tied to memories. Bougainvillea is everywhere in San Diego, and it suggests to me the best thing about Southern California... arid, Mediterranean weather... open, Mexican-style patios... trickling fountains, white stucco and blue skies. I love my life in Northern California, but you can't get the SoCal outta me.


And, finally for Planty Thing #7... Scent is really something important to me. I'm seduced by it, especially in the garden. Lavender, sadly, has become a little over-exposed in recent years... before green tea was the "flavor" of choice for all consumer products (hand soap? hair dye? weight loss pills?), remember when lavender was the go-to flavor/scent/theme? Poor ancient, hardworking lavender. No matter, though... I will always love lavender. The look of the bushes, and the masses of happy bees they attract to my garden.

And so...
Eventhough I have something like .00001% as many readers as Gayla does, I'll follow her lead (because what's a meme if it's not passed along)... How about you? What are your 7 Planty (or other) Things? List them in the comments or post about them somewhere and let me know. I really want to know! :]

All photos are mine, except for marigolds (rist2796 via Flickr) and bougainvillea (Rebeca Mello via Flickr)

13 October 2009

3 / 11

"hi." this is the typical photo I find on a new camera from Toby. funny man.

Today is our third anniversary, Toby and me. Eleven years together total (eh, we take our time.)

Toby, if you know him, is a hoot. He's the guy with a million stories, he knows why the sky is blue (the real, science-y reason), and he knows his Helvetica from his Comic Sans. He also, turns out, is an incredible father who's a natural at nurturing and making up silly songs. All the good stuff. And, he makes me a big mug of Oolong tea every morning.

He's also a formidable dominos opponent. Which is how we're spending our anniversary tonight. A little take-out, a little bubbly and "nominos." It's our happy-place activity... we've played dominos all over the world: Home... Honduras, Italy, France, Argentina, Uruguay, Palm Springs, Montana, Mexico, Key West, Little Cayman, England, Spain, Australia, etc etc etc. Hopefully, we'll add to this list again soon... with a certain little someone.

the best scuba buddy a girl could want...

new father, going in for an early cuddle...

expert baby entertainer...

see? happy baby!

mmm, cuddles...

and, last but definitely not least... kitchen builder, house fixer-upper, garden-digger... my hero.


the boy, 10.5 months

After being home (or on the road) with Jacky for 1.5 weeks straight... today I'm back at work. And I'm missing the little man.

So, I snagged some of Toby's new photos. Little guy's growing up so fast. 10.5 months old! How did that happen??

When we look in the mirror together, he's very shy. But, on his own in the Dallas hotel room, he was SO into that "other" baby in the mirror...

Groggy face, fresh from a nap. He gets bed-head now! Awwwwww....

Mister Mover. Looking for pretty kitty, no doubt.

12 October 2009

the weekend, pictorially

Wow, I skipped from one weekend to another... I had the week off work, and I guess that turned into a blogging hiatus, too. Things have been busy around these parts. Coming off the trip to Dallas, we took a moment to breathe... and then jumped right back on Project Backyard. More trenches were dug, a concrete pad for stairs was poured (complete with kitty footprints--isn't that required?), our beautiful pavers were delivered with about a ton of sand and gravel... later this week, we'll be laying a patio and 50 feet of walkway! Phew. But, I'm getting ahead of myself.


- Act 1 -
Unpacking the bins

Apparently, produce is fascinating to little ones. Either that, or Jacky is trying to tell me he'd like some saxophone lessons... He closely inspected mixed peppers, oranges, lemons, beets, peaches. I tickled his nose with parsley and thyme. More fun than I ever would have guessed.

- Act 2 -
Friday cocktail!

Now that we finally found our cocktail shaker (hiding in plain view, of course) I think I'll institute Friday cocktails around here. Nice, huh?

This week's poison: Orange-basil fancy drink thingy (yep, made that up)
For two, combine in shaker: juice of 3 oranges & 2 limes, couple sprigs of basil (we used plain + lemon basil), 2 shots of light Cuban rum (real stuff! from trip to Cayman Islands), good squirt of raw agave nectar. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into fancy glasses. Garnish with basil leaves and lime slices. TGIF.

- Act 3 -
Pizza of the week

I had a hankering for something simple, so mine was a classic quattro formaggi. As always, half for dinner with salad. Repeat for next day's lunch. Mmm.


06 October 2009

the weekend, executive summary version

So, we flew to Dallas... (thanks for the airplane tips! We did OK... some happy times, some sleepy times, some teary times... no ear trauma, thank you Nancy :) And people around us actually slept. So, all in all, an OK first plane ride, I'd say.)

Anyway, Dallas. I worked all weekend. Toby and Jacky cruised Target and Whole Foods, played in the hotel room and dodged raindrops. We're beat. So, no big weekend pictorial this week :)

But, there's always pizza! See, people... this is how utterly easy the pizza thing is. We stumbled off the airplane, pulled pizza dough nuggets out of the freezer, took a nap and then got dinner ready in a pinch.

So, I had to post this one because 1) it seems weird; but 2) it was DELICIOUS!!! I had half last night with salad and half today for lunch. Yum.

Kind of a boring photo, but here you go. Try this, it was goooooood.

Pizza of the Week: sauceless, but with a brushing of garlic olive oil... plus carmelized red onion, thyme, fontina, gorgonzola, and walnuts. Followed by the tiniest drizzle of good balsamic vinegar after it came out of the oven.
Yep, nuts on a pizza! With vinegar!
No, I'm not pregnant :)

What is it? Do we smell??

My demographic can't get no love, it seems. One after another, my favorite magazines are shuttered. First, Bluelines... then Domino*... now Gourmet. GOURMET MAGAZINE, people!

But, unlike those newer magazines, Gourmet has a real history. More than just food porn, it also featured really good writing about food and culture. Plus exciting, spot-on recipes. Cool photography. It was practically the guidebook for America putting down the can opener and waking up to good food. Since 1941! Sigh.

The ridiculous decision to close this institution was announced yesterday. Having spent that day on a plane (and then recovering), I didn't hear the news until today. I was feeding Jacky breakfast while listening to NPR. "What??!! SH*T! No!!!!!! Stupid Condé Nast! Bad Condé Nast" was my response. Maybe something worse. (No, I don't normally swear while lovingly spooning food into the baby's mouth.)

Anyway, what the heck?? Is my demographic really that insignificant or frugal or just uninteresting that our magazines can't be profitable? Having worked at a magazine in the past, I know that it's all about selling ad pages at us, in the hopes that we buy stuff. But, I feel like we spend money (the collective "we"). We buy stuff! We're worthy, dangit.

*On the positive side, if you miss Domino, check out the new, all-online Lonny magazine. My in-the-know friend Kristen says that it's "pretty much the WHOLE Domino magazine team. Plus, Grace Bonney from design*sponge." I just glanced at it this morning, and it looks awfully familiar. In a wonderful way.

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