28 February 2011

project 365 | 2011 | Week 8

02 19 11
02 19 11 | Some serious stuff
Homemade body lotion. It cures The Winter.

02 20 11
02 20 11 | Pretty & thorny
New Lisbon lemon tree from Flora Grubb.
A housewarming gift from Aunt Sue & Uncle Verne. (thanks!)

02 21 11
02 21 11 | Mmm, mmm healthy
Sara's delicious zucchini muffins.
I added a big handful of raw quinoa for crunch. Looks like tiny confetti.

02 22 11
02 22 11 | Sunburst
I'm on a blood orange bender.

02 23 11
02 23 11 | Peaceful mornings can happen
I cook breakfast, he reads. Sometimes sings!

02 24 11
02 24 11 | Homeward bound
Some evenings, the five stops from work to home go so fast.
This was not one of those nights. Antsy-pants.

02 25 11
02 25 11 | After the rains
There is much helping to be done in the garden.

25 February 2011

home remedies for sad snifflers

Little dude has a cold. Not an extremely terrible one, but it's enough. You know, coughing, snot faucet, crabbiness, lethargy mixed with bouts of mania! Fun times. Truth be told, it wasn't all bad: I was treated to a rare 15-minute mellow cuddle session this morning... but of course duly rewarded with irrational screaming about who-remembers-what in the backyard. You know.

lavender + chamomile olive oil
lavender + chamomile olive oil

Anyway, I'm not a fan of medicating for something minor like a sniffly cold, so I like to try home remedies of the natural/herbal variety. Today, Mr Snotty got his first diluted cup of Throat Coat (I heart, thanks Rebecca!) with lemon and honey (he now hearts too). And he was treated to an aromatherapy herbal soak that I will be using for my next cold -- see below for recipe.

I have super fond memories of the cold/flu-care I got as a kid: Vicks vapo-rub on my chest, cool washcloths on my forehead, humidifier, 7up or juice with a straw, cozy blankets, warm kitties on the bed, etc.

So, what are your favorite home remedies for sniffle monsters? I'd love to expand my arsenal--I mean, cozy mama toolkit. Any good ideas?


Here's the cold-ease bath soak I gave the little man tonight. It smelled so amazing; just being in the steamy bathroom was therapy enough for me. Ahh. Sleep tight, little guy.

Cold-ease Bath Soak
inspired by Organic Body Care Recipes by Stephanie Tourles

:: 3 tsp. base oil like jojoba, e.v. olive oil, etc*
:: 3 drops each: lavender, rosemary, roman chamomile, rose geranium, tea tree essential oils

Mix together and add to running warm bath water. Soak, breathe in and relax.

*My base oil, pictured, is extra virgin olive oil steeped for one month with dried chamomile and lavender flowers. Smells SO AMAZING, I can't even tell you.


lavender + chamomile olive oil
lavender + chamomile olive oil

23 February 2011

blood orange winter salad

blood oranges

Gahhh... beautiful, no? Pardon my food crush, but blood oranges are just so magnificent. Delicious and sultry. Where we are, they just came into season, and not a day too soon. I love them.

We eat them as-is... we shellac wild salmon with a soy-blood orange glaze (shall I post?)... Last year, I sliced them into Lillet cocktails when the weather turned warm. This year, I can't wait to try the Chez Panisse upside-down blood orange cake that Alice Q posted recently... and of course there are hearty winter salads. So far, every day this week for lunch, people. So, so good.

winter salad


Blood Orange Winter Salad
This isn't so much a recipe as a list of prepped ingredients... you can scale it up or down to suit your number of eaters.

:: Roasted beets, cooled, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks
--> To roast: chop off tops (save for another use!), wrap each beet in foil and roast at 400˚ until easily pierced with a paring knife. I do about 3 bunches at once; they keep really well in the fridge.

:: Blood orange(s), carefully cut peel off with a paring knife and slice into 1/4"-thick rounds.
--> I usually go with 1 small-medium orange per person.

:: Walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

:: Good blue cheese
--> I like Point Reyes Original Blue

:: Cooked quinoa

:: Cilantro

:: Poppy seed-honey dressing
--> I've been keeping a container full of this stuff on hand at all times. Jacky likes it too. On beets, no less. (Yes, I'm elated!)


21 February 2011

project 365 | 2011 | Week 7

02 12 11
02 12 11 | Morning, NYC
Last day of work; looking promising.

02 13 11
02 13 11 | Mama, Me & The Monkey
Photo of a photo, Brooklyn.
Max has a handful of great photos of our parents, some I had never seen until recently.
This one, I love love love.
Jacky thinks it's of him, me and his sock monkey. Which I also love.

02 14 11
02 14 11 | Valentine's desert: Molten chocolate cake-lets.
Victory: made it home in time to cook dinner for Toby (it was my turn).

02 15 11
02 15 11 | Bench rest
Dough on its way to deliciousness.

02 16 11
02 16 11 | Sizzle, pop
When the 3-seed dough hits the 500-degree cast iron, I have just a moment
to slash the "X" score on top before the sesame seeds start popping like crazy.
Like, watch your face, arms, etc. Somehow I had time for a photo?

02 17 11
02 17 11 | Gifted dinner
Heidi's winter pasta (plus Italian sausage), made with two gifts brought back from Eataly
for Toby: beautiful twisted pasta and a chunk of the BEST parmigiano-reggiano.

02 18 11
02 18 11 | Little, big
A very rainy day led us across the street to the rec center, which usually bustles with
"basketball guys" who shout, run and have hilariously squeaky shoes
-- on this day, totally empty. We made a picnic out of a mid-morning snack
in the center of the court. Hee hee.

18 February 2011

tasting notes | NYC

I'm back and slowly reinserting myself into our normal routine. Actually, it hasn't been normal, since I haven't set foot downtown all week... so I've gotten some serious snuggle and play time with Mister Man. Or, "tut tut," as he's been calling himself lately.


Anyway, the trip to NY was for work, but my boss and I had a strong feeling (hope!) that things would go smoothly and we'd have time for some outings of the food variety. They did, and we did.

Here's a (somewhat edited!) list, in chronological order... have you been to any of these places? Let me know!


NYC eating | early Feb 2011

Ace Hotel lobby... Friday breakfast. We grabbed Stumptown coffee (Americano for me) and a breakfast sandwich (broccoli, egg & cheese--YUM) from No. 7 Sub Shop. Luckily New Yorkers don't seem to get up too early, so we had our pick of oh-so comfy seats in the hotel lobby. The decor is so wonderful in a clubby-meets-steampunk style, and we stayed for a loooong time, and left for our work day pretty relaxed. A first.

Eataly... Friday dinner. So, I overheard a couple of NY'ers saying a couple of sour words about this Italian food mecca, but I'm like... dude, it's awesome. Lighten up! It's like a little, tiny vacation to Italy: my own personal "happy place." And, not to say that this place is tiny: there's like 12 aisles of pasta, a whole section of nutella-like substances. A couple of restaurants and coffee/wine bars. We started at the standing mozzarella bar with prosecco and fresh cheese, while we waited for our table at the pasta/pizza place. Once seated we were in legit pasta heaven. After we were seduced by delicious cheese and delicate salad starters, out came the perfect pasta. My cacio e pepe was just incredible. Simple but so flavorful. So happy.

The Breslin at the Ace Hotel... Saturday breaky. Serious breaky. Yep, back to the Ace. We weren't even staying there; it's just a comfortable place to hang out. And The Breslin is amazing. Such interesting, satisfying breakfast options, from a "full English" to a mind-blowing lentils and egg dish. Wow. I got the bubble and squeak special, and it was as good as I imagine The Two Fat Ladies would make. (Ah, RIP Jennifer.) We sat in a curtained booth and, once again, lingered and lingered before starting work.

Joseph Leonard... Saturday late lunch. Perhaps my favorite find? Being done early with work (yesss), Robin and I camped out in a cozy window in the West Village, eating a second brunch of the day, sipping milky tea and talking about kids, life, etc. Just lovely. Needless to say, we lingered. Maybe it was the friendly waitstaff, or it might have been the people-watching: no less than THREE couples of identically dressed people walked by, delighting everyone inside the restaurant. And by delighting, I mean inspiring shrieks of laughter. Refill, please.

Brooklyn Flea... Sunday afternoon snacks. I checked out of my hotel and subway'd over to Brooklyn to see how my baby brother is living these days. Awww, so good to see him on his new turf. We sipped tea at his cozy place, then stepped out to the nearby Brooklyn Flea... I bought a botanical print, then sampled a wicked pickle from McClure Pickles (really spicy, really good), then headed downstairs for an Anthony Bourdain-style grazing (i.e., walking around, noshing), albeit on a MUCH smaller scale. How does he EAT that much? We ate some spinach pies from a vendor I'm not sure of, and then tried some Asia Dogs (I had The Vinh (banh-mi style) on a veggie dog). There was also some crazy, inventive iced tea somewhere too.

Mmm mmm, good.


Max, Lulu

16 February 2011

frugal & green | homemade liquid laundry soap

I have a couple of days off work this week, and I've been doing a little purging and sorting every day. A carload of stuff went to the Goodwill, and I bagged up most of our plastic food storage containers, in favor of a new Pyrex set we invested in. Feels so good, and I can open the lazy-susan cabinet without everything falling out. Nice.

We've been trying to re-work how our house runs lately, in a couple of ways: paring down our monthly expenses (i.e., being more frugal... more on that later) and trying to green up a little more. Stuff like buying many more things in bulk than we used to, simply trying to avoid excess containers and waste.

I've also been trying my hand at using bulk supplies to make some of the products we use regularly. As I mentioned before, my nightstand has been stacked with books on natural housekeeping. So, maybe I'll share my own take on liquid laundry soap? It works really well, is super cheap to make, and I just keep refilling the sexy Method pump bottle we already had on hand. And our local co-op has a big drum of Dr Bronners, so I can refill that ingredient without waste, as well.

Anyone else doing this or have a good laundry "recipe"?

I pretty much hate doing laundry, and this stuff makes me excited to do the wash. Crazy, huh.


Liquid Laundry Soap
adapted from The Naturally Clean Home

Combine in a pump bottle:

2-1/4 c. liquid castile soap (e.g., Dr Bronner's--what can't you use this stuff for?).
   --> I used about 2/3 unscented, 1/3 lavender
1/4 c. distilled vinegar
1 T. vegetable glycerine
3/4 c. water

We don't like very smelly laundry products (we usually go free/clear, but my version is very light on scent), so we don't add any additional essential oils. But you could: Start with unscented castile soap and add maybe 10 drops of something nice?

Give the bottle a quick shake before using, and use about 1/4 c. per load. From my Method pump bottle, I use approx. 6-10 squirts.


If you're interested, I could share some other green-home hacks like this?? Let me know!

15 February 2011

project 365 | 2011 | Week 6

From Spring-like SF, to NYC, and back to rainy SF Winter. Oh sooo good to be home. Hope you've had a great week!

02 05 11
02 05 11 | Happiness is...
caramelized red onion + Emmenthaler and dijon mustard.

02 06 11
02 06 11 | Sunrise with cotton candy.

02 07 11
02 07 11 | Succulents...
they think it's spring.

02 08 11
02 08 11 | Winter
portrait of a dinner well-made.

02 09 11
02 09 11 | Dreamy.
SF Ballet with Kristen. (Thanks!)

02 10 11
02 10 11 | Arrived.
Circle scarf, me & the city. Awaiting room service.

02 11 11
02 11 11 | Eataly!
If only I had room in my tiny carry-on.

[photo by Robin]

10 February 2011

what she packed

If you see me in the airport looking a little smug, I'll apologize. Heck, I'll buy you a cup of coffee. But, can you blame me? 72 hours in snowy NYC fits into one modest (but perfect) Hayden-Harnett tote.


My strategy: a few pairs of warm, winter-weight leggings... stuffed into my trusty La Canadienne boots... covered with various dresses... which either go over or under a handful of striped (see, I wasn't kidding about stripes!) boat-neck shirts/sweaters. Plus a few other dress options for dinners. All topped with my new BFF: the huge, mushy circle scarf.


Clockwise from top left: knotted Alice Temperley t-shirt; bell-sleeved French Connection dress; my "sweats in a dress" (it's that comfy) Curlycue paisley dress; 3 striped shirts/sweaters (randoms and H&M), basic Gap camisole and slip, just-in-case fancier purse (containing undies), La Canadienne boots, H&M black racer-back dress, Gap jammies (stripes!), My Favorite Piece of Clothing: perfect APC wrap A-line skirt, various leggings from American Apparel and Gap, the Circle Scarf and new knitted gloves from American Apparel.

I'm missing a layer, right? Yes, I'm bringing a ridiculously puffy jacket (too enormous/embarrassing to photograph) and some ugly but functional Smartwool socks... oh and the cute pink cashmere hat atop the packed bag. Almost forgot.

Radically pared-down toiletries/makeup go in the purse. TSA, I'm ready for you.

Now someone has to pry me away from cute kid and husband... and all this glorious California sunshine.

Last time I left town for work, it was so hard:

08 February 2011

my nightstand, lately

my nightstand

When it comes to reading, I am far from monogamous. Husbands, yes. Books, never.

I get little crushes on books, obsess over them for a few days or weeks, and then perhaps hop around a little, returning to the crush in due time. You too? I have a feeling lots of people have the same dirty habit.

Anything look familiar above? Perhaps. If not, allow me to make introductions, beginning at the bottom of the stack.


Tartine Bread | Chad Robertson
Regular readers will be well acquainted with my recent love of bread-baking. Even if the author of this book wasn't a neighbor and friend of my brother, I'd still be super bullish on this book. The bread that it teaches you to make, in short, is amazing. It's beautiful, soulful bread and it tastes so good you'll want to bring it as a hostess gift everywhere you're invited. Like I do.

Organic Body Care Recipes | Stephanie Tourles
Wow. This book deserves a full post of its own, which I promise very soon. It's jam-packed full of info on basic ingredients for amazing face-care products, body creams, salves, teas, etc. For the past few years, I've used what I consider to be the best (i.e., natural, safe & amazingly effective) face cream. At $42 per jar, I wondered if I could use the same raw ingredients and make something similar. I'm still trying, and I don't know if I'll get there, but this book shows you how to make similarly amazing creams and other wonderful stuff for yourself, kids (baby powder!) and friends.

Forgotten Skills of Cooking | Darina Allen
They say she's the Julia Child of Ireland. All I know is this book takes you from foraging to fermentation. And some butchery, which some are into and some not. And lots of traditional herbal info. And baking. With a very charming introduction that paints a portrait of "how things used to be" in Ireland's home kitchens. It's like a thread back to how people used to cook, how they used to know how to function in the kitchen with confidence and inherited knowledge. It's insanely informative, inspiring and I absolutely love it.

The Naturally Clean Home | Karyn Seigel-Maier
Since we bought our current home, I've made a point of buying only the "good" home cleaning supplies. You know, Method and all that. Then I started to have second thoughts: basic ingredients (i.e., vinegars, lemon, essential oils) clean really well... and have you seen how many mystery ingredients are in those fancy cleaners? Hmmm. This book is, like the Tourles book above, super inspiring and liberating. I've since refilled our fancy Method laundry detergent bottle with a homemade mixture that functions exactly the same. For pennies. Next up: compostable homemade cleaning wipes.

Simplicity Parenting | Kim John Payne, M. ED.
I know parenting philosophy is a touchy subject. I for one, do not enjoy other parents interfering with my parenting, but I was holding out on recommending this great book to friends out of fear of the above for far too long. This is a cool book. Based in some Waldorf thinking, it advocates simplicity (things, life, schedules) and rhythm to help you achieve or simply maintain the peaceful, positive family life you want. We were already doing some of the ideas by instinct: Toby has always believed in daily/weekly rituals and rhythm, and I've definitely come to embrace them, too. But, there are other simplification strategies that we've looked into as well. Stuff like, smoothing transition times, dealing with underlying sources of anxiety in children, preventing overstimulation and overscheduling. I like it.

The Little House Cookbook | Barbara M. Walker
I am a lover of all things LHOP. Let's just get that out there. One of things I love best about the books is the cooking and domestic descriptions. Ma's weekly housekeeping rhythm, especially: baking one day, washing another, then mending, cleaning, etc. This cookbook refers to the series of novels, picking out the culinary passages and illustrating them as recipes. Lots of old methods and tastes (vinegar and sugar on lettuce, anyone?), but also a charming intro description of the 19th century home kitchen, cellar, and vegetable garden.

Radical Homemakers | Shannon Hayes
This one could be a full post in itself. Where to begin. Let's just say this: this is probably one of the most important books I've read in recent years, and it's also a book I'm a little ambivalent about. Jora (domestic goddess herself) originally turned me on to this book and I dove in with enthusiasm: I have serious misgivings about all the "stuff" we've been told we need to buy, I really enjoy learning to make things myself, and feel like we've gotten to a bad place with our relationships with faceless corporations: the ones which feed us, employ us, etc. That said, this book with a great central idea--self-reliance--does itself a disservice with a bit too much hyperbole for my taste. I also was deeply troubled by the chapter on health insurance and end-of-life care: too glib by half. Somehow, though, it remains an important book in my life. Once upon a time, I worked full time (plus) and had/made zero time to take care of my life, my house, everything. I figured the answer was to devote more money to paying someone to take care of my life. Clean my house (mind you, I was single without a family), do my laundry, buy my groceries, etc. Basically, add more cost to my bottom line... so I could work more. Somehow, that made sense to me, once upon a time. Now, my perspective is quite the opposite: find a way to work less and have more of a life. A life, that is, rooted in the home. In using my own skills to provide for our family (OK, Toby's skills, too). That may require a lot more DIY, but if you're someone who likes learning, isn't doing for yourself a lot more relevant?

The Origins of Fruits & Vegetables | Jonathan Roberts
And now for something lighter! Being a bit of an info nerd, this book appeals hugely. Did you know that most berries (strawberries, blackberries, etc) originated from the same parent plant and then mutated in wildly distinct directions? I originally heard of this book from Gayla, and as she put it, it contains the kind of topics that plant geeks dream of chatting about at cocktail parties. With other plant geeks, naturally.

The River cottage Family Cookbook | Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall & Fizz Carr
Quite simply, I want Jacky to grow up excited about food and cooking. That may involve keeping him engaged in the vegetable garden (yay!) and it may involve bringing him nearer and nearer the stove (eeek), but I really hope it happens. And I'm looking to books for inspiration and ideas. This is a cute, informative, very British book with authentic photos. It's written so that all members of the family can use it at their own level. Very charming.

Make Your Place: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills | Raleigh Briggs
Consider this one a cross between Organic Body Care Recipes and The Naturally Clean Home -- but WAY more punk-rock. Ms Briggs hand-wrote and illustrated this kick ass, zine-y book, and it's apparently become a cult fave. Lots a great info and frank advice. And each page looks like a wonderful note from a friend, complete with cute doodles and hand-drawn type.


So, anyone else read these books? Or have any new ones to recommend? Clearly, I need more :)

06 February 2011

project 365 | 2011 | Week 5

01 29 11
01 29 11 :: Hello Elna
Getting to know my mom's sewing machine.
This is the same bit of Swiss engineering that brought forth
many outfits and costumes in my family growing up.

01 30 11
01 30 11 :: Having a soak.
Pretty soup-makings.

01 31 11
01 31 11 :: The bread window.
Sunny and warm enough these days.

02 01 11
02 01 11 :: The helmet.
Somebody has a trick trike.
And a helmet that, some days, doesn't come off till bathtime.

02 02 11
02 02 11 :: Entertaining a toddler.
Whatever it takes.

02 03 11
02 03 11 :: Correspondence.
Master Jackson reviews his letters over breaky.

02 04 11
02 04 11 :: Friday walk in the canyon.
Keeping an eye out for coyotes and cute dogs.

03 February 2011

I just went in for leggings...

I swear. What can I say, I'm out of practice... I loathe shopping, in general. For one thing, the instant BFF'ing on the part of sales clerks is like nails on my chalkboard. (Maybe I can be a tad grumpy?!)

But, next week I'm heading to NYC for work, straight into the Snowpocalypse (dun dun dun), and the internets are saying I'm going to freeze my hiney off. Hence, Robin and I headed into American Apparel today for some "winter weight" leggings. Which, in hindsight, sounds like they'll make you look like you ate cookies all winter... thankfully, they're just super warm leggings.

OK. It started badly: one pair of leggings turned into three... plus some clothes for Jacky (a Helvetica "J" shirt? Oh, OK.) and some other airplane-friendly stuff for me. (Do I really need more sailor-striped tops? What kind of question is that.) Then some cute gloves... and maybe a scarf? I have a boat-load of scarves, but this is The Snowpocalypse, people. Not too many years ago, we were caught in a blizzard at 4:30am and my neck got wind-burned. Never again.

So, I picked up something very soft... something labeled a "circle scarf"--but I was confused: this was just a MONSTROUS pile of sweatery fabric. Nearly a whole bolt of fabric, it seemed. But we held it up, and it was a HUGE tube of sweatery fabric... that you can wrap, twist, drape, hood and house yourself with.


Yes, circle/infinity scarves are not super new... but you could live in this thing. It practically doubles as a sleeping bag. It was totally worth dealing with all the skeezy-basement-porn imagery in the store to find my new BFF.

Is anyone doing a uniform project with this thing yet??

01 February 2011

monday lunch | winter salad

winter salad

Mondays are my get-stuff-done days: laundry, groceries, gardening, house-cleaning, cooking for the week, etc. I've been known to knock out a shocking list of household chores on Mondays... but some days, once the little dude is down for his nap, having a nice, healthy lunch is an accomplishment unto itself. The rest will get figured out after that.

This is the satisfying, seasonal and--dare I say--frugal lunch I pulled together a couple Mondays ago. Some red cabbage was tempting me with its vitamins and color... we have tons of apples... walnuts from the Fall... and some chicken from Saturday night's spatchcocked bird. And, for some reason I've been on a poppy seed kick lately, hence the dressing.

Truth be told, this is basically a cross between a slaw and a chopped salad, but it was really satisfying. And lunch isn't lunch lately without a toasted slice of home-baked seeded bread.


Red Cabbage, Apples & Walnut Salad with Poppy Seed-Honey Dressing

Make the dressing:

Poppy Seed-Honey Dressing
(adapted from The Joy of Cooking)

1 T. honey
3 T. cider vinegar
1 shallot, minced
1 T. dijon mustard
1 t. poppy seeds
S&P to taste
2 T. olive oil

Whisk together in a small bowl. Yield: 2/3 c., which is enough for a number of servings.

For one serving, assemble the following base ingredients and dress with a couple of spoonfuls of dressing, or to taste, then toss well:

1 c. shredded red cabbage (a mandoline is key here: you want it very fine)
1/4 apple, thinly sliced
1/4 c. walnuts, chopped and toasted
1/4 c. shredded cooked chicken
1 T. crumbled blue cheese


best bread in a while
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