31 December 2011

new year wishes and intentions

When I was young (or simply a little younger), the turn of a new year was major... it was a chance for transformation. It just took the right resolutions or dreaming up a new regimen. Remember the Seventeen magazine covers?--"new year, new you!!" Oh, the power of turning the calendar. And, it was exciting, right? When I was a kid, I'd always be up at midnight, even if that meant "napping" and then making my parents promise to wake me just before the ball dropped and our next-door neighbor fired his antique gun. Bang! New year, new you.

This year--little person willing--I'm sure I'll be fast asleep at midnight. Now, it's not so much about the clock striking midnight. Rather, a successful new year begins with little moments and actions leading up to the big moment. A clean home, laundry done, purse cleaned out of all the junk/receipts/little boy undies I have stashed in there. There'll be a nice meal: raclette has become our tradition. I like the idea of a clean start, emphasis on CLEAN. We'll take down the tree and clean out the fridge. On the first morning of 2012, we'll (hopefully) have a delicious and happy breakfast. We'll go outside in the crisp air. I might get an hour or two of solo garden-clearing time.

And then I'll turn to what's next. Not really resolutions, more like intentions? Hopes.

Here's what I have so far:

- Listen & focus when I'm with the little dude. Simple, right? And, not very original. But, oh, the last few months of 2011 were a doozy of over-scheduling for me. Classic year one of a new business. Way too often I was spending QT with Jacky and composing multi-threaded, crazy to-do lists in my head. And feeling guilty at the same moment, and then making more lists. Ugh.

- The garden goes (more) perennial. I'm getting a little more realistic with my garden-planning and a bigger chunk of the yard needs to be on auto-pilot. Out with quite so many from-seed, high-maintenance annual veggies, and in with artichokes (part deux), asparagus, raspberries, pretty flowers, etc. I was getting sad that I don't see a ton of gardening time in my future, but I'm really, really into this new plan.

- More blogging, and different blogging. Do you ever feel like a lot of blogging has turned into mostly advice, tips and recommendations? Actually, I love this in some people's blogs (and I've learned so much), but I'm guilty of believing that unless I have something to tell/teach/show, I don't have a blog post (unless I have a pic of baby buns or something!). Which is silly, and too much pressure. Some of my favorite blogs--like, the ones I absolutely check in on first, aside from those written by people I know or "know"--are more like a journal of thoughts and photos. The odd recipe thrown in, maybe a quiet link to a good idea here or there. It's more like what I want this space to be... more for posterity, more of a mood or moment, less like a magazine column. Am I making sense?? We'll see how I do.

- Better meal-planning. Pretty obvious! Lately, we've been down to pasta dishes A, B or C. Which are good, but still...

- A good read beside a crackling fire. Step one: get the chimney inspected (later, maybe get a gas insert); step two: try to get Toby to agree to one no-TV night per week. Just quiet reading time. It's heaven for me and I crave it.

- Quilting. A) finish Jacky's farm quilt; B) make a summer (I love a realistic deadline!) quilt from the Liberty of London mini rainbow fabric packs I gifted myself. I am too good to me sometimes :)

- Be more old-fashioned. Ha. But, I mean: send thank-you notes and birthday cards and just-because cards. Stuff like that. A birthday text is so these days, but I want to take a step back. I want to do unto others....

So, that's where I'm pointing myself for the big, magical moment. I'll be tucked in, cozy and warm, and the new year, new me can quietly begin. I hope your 2012 starts with a smile, a kiss or a nice dream, friends.

2011 was a pretty good one for me, especially since it included meeting (or re-meeting) or simply visiting with, a few of you. I have high hopes for 2012 to continue in much the same way :)


11 December 2011

jack's axe

a quick birthday recap, from the awesome handmade (by daddy) birthday gift department...

leftover baltic birch plywood + jigsaw + a bit of routing and sanding =


puffy doggy-head stickers are all the adornment needed.
did someone say guitar solo?!?

07 December 2011

guest post... edible holidays!

Peeps, my dear friend Nancy of The Goat and The Kid is doing an all-out Christmas extravaganza of guest posts this week, and today my post is up! It's about food, natch. Giving holiday food... my favorite type of gift.

the gift of breakfast!

06 December 2011

yin & yang | onyx & orb

Dark and light. Pain and pleasure.

It's been tough around here lately. Over the weekend, Toby's slightly sore back turned into a full-blown seize-up. The really bad kind: stuck on the floor, waves of spasms and pain. Fast-forward through an ambulance call, an ER visit and finally the right drugs. He's home and getting very slowly better. We're just trying to ride it out, but it's a tough to have my usually very able parenting partner out of commission. And in pain. That's been hard to watch.

So, today... the nanny is here, Jacky is off to the zoo, I can turn back to some making, and Toby can rest. We're stable and "normal" is making an appearance here and there.

And there's a nice distraction, a good way to start the day: Onyx & Orb, a Brooklyn-based online shop (and friends of my brother), has launched their Winter site, featuring some exclusives I created for them last month. It feels good to see work come to fruition. Things are moving forward.

01 December 2011

december: what's in store

Hello December! Woah. How did we get here so fast? Seems like I just quit my job the other day, though that was back in March. I threw my hat into the Etsy ring in September, and now... it's (gulp) time for my first official craft fair: Renegade Holiday!

I've done trade shows before (actually, just the exhibit design part, no selling) so I kind of know what to expect, but this is SO different... it's personal. It's nerve-wracking. It's SUPER exciting!

It would make my year if anyone reading this who lives in the Bay Area (or will be in SF for fun!) comes to see me and my little Willow Ship booth. Toby's been sawing and nailing for weeks in the garage, helping me build my "environment"... and I've been keeping myself splattered with paint, doing my part.

So, whee! Come visit me! Renegade is so fun and wouldn't you love to give awesome handmade gifts this year? I'll be booth #230. How official.

And, finally, I want some input. Is it OK for me to talk about "work stuff" on this blog? I don't want my blog friends to ever get the icky impression that I'm selling at them, as I started this blog way before I ever considered selling anything. I've been considering starting a separate site to just talk shop, but keeping two blogs is, frankly, a little daunting. But I would do it if necessary.

How about a little quiz? My first! Totally anonymous, though feel free to leave a comment too. (And does anyone know how to insert quizzes that look a little... nicer?)


29 November 2011


Today is my sweet, busy boy's 3rd birthday! We have A THREE in the house. He can't quite make his fingers show the number, but on the inside, he knows he's getting into Big Boy Land, and he loves it. And we love him. More than words or photos can ever say. He is ours and we are so completely his.

* * * * * * * *

On his last day being two, I snapped a few of this busy little maker, engaged in one of his top tasks: "zesting" play-doh. Never knew you could zest the stuff, but shows what I know. It's a very serious business!

23 November 2011

thoughts and thanks

tastes like autumn

I was going to write a long list of all the things that I'm feeling thankful for this Autumn, my favorite of seasons. You know, I do love a list. But there are so many particulars that just gathering my thoughts on the matter was overwhelming. My thanks, today at least, won't submit to lining up and standing still. How about a little ramble instead?

I'm thankful for the big stuff: my two best guys, my brothers and the rest of our scattered family, still-crisp memories of my parents, my in-laws and their family's open arms, plus dear friends: old, new, those I see, and those I read. You make me smile, think, laugh and weep. I'm thankful for a warm home that is ours, ours, ours. A space to garden that brings so much inspiration, but will wait for me patiently when I need to be elsewhere.

for the love of sticks, part 1

But there's also the little things: a boy who recites books to me at bedtime, a big mug of tea each morning from Toby, golden-pink sunrises, bread and butter, my mom's sewing machine, podcasts while I work, a husband that likes to cook together, a husband who toils in the woodshop/garage on my endless list of projects, a kitty who's chosen to be brave around a certain enthusiastic boy.

soft invasion

I'm thankful for health and an able body that can make, do and deliver. Not to mention the health of those I can't imagine living without.

I hope you all have a very warm and delicious Thanksgiving! We're heading south for the big dinner, followed by a muddy tromp in the woods for an enormous tree. My favorite part.

Until next week!

warm glow on a chilly, wet night

21 November 2011

a heart of blown glass

Friends, you may remember an happily unfolding tale of adoption that I mentioned earlier? Alicia's thousands of readers have been following along, watching the happy preparations for a so, so intensely-wanted baby girl. It's been exhilarating to watch two people prepare to be parents, to actually become parents in the readying, the anticipating, the loving.

But, as Alicia says, things fell apart. Three words that sound mild, but are nothing but in meaning. I've been walking around today with a hole in my heart, now that I know how the story has changed, has ended. I've been thinking of Alicia and Andy all day and wanted to share their story... It's a sad one to be sure, but it's actually so full of love, and Alicia's writing just sears.

[edit: ooooops. late-night writing snafu: should probably include the link!]

Read Alicia's post here.

20 November 2011

from 180 minutes to zero

sleepy beach baby

I might be totally mistaken, it might be just a phase, but we appear to be... sigh... done with naps.

dun dun dun.

And, I won't sugar coat it: moving onto (yet to be mastered) Quiet Time is a big change in our house. Not long ago, Jacky was the king, the dominator of solid 3-hour naps. Oh the to-do list warfare I used to wage during those hours of silence and not being needed. I think his nap length was pretty unusual for an almost-3, but my, how I came to count on it anyway. I would tuck that boy in, close the door, and tip-toe off to feats of cooking, cleaning, gardening (thank you long-range baby monitor), or maybe a thought-out bit of blogging.

All this whining aside, I'm starting to catch glimpses of a silvery lining. I'll start with the obvious.

Like, 1) he's growing up. Duh. It's awesome. There's a fascinating big boy emerging out of little-ness, and dropping the nap is all bout growing. I embrace it.

2) once the novelty of Big Boy Quiet Time (it's all about marketing) wears off, he might embrace the "quiet" part a bit and conk the heck out.

3) finally, more of a challenge, but so worth it, I imagine: I'm going to have to do some of the stuff I'd previously bang out during naps while he's up. Like, I'm kinda amazed but I managed to bust out the sewing machine and we sewed a new blanket for his bed, kinda together-like. He helped, he learned, no one lost it or got a finger zig-zagged. We cook small things together and he can keep a little busy while I tackle a small task.... But I hope where we're headed is that my role as a keeper of a home can emerge out of the shadows of nap time, and be a familiar sight for Jacky. I'd like him to see me making, doing more. I feel like that's a healthy example. And, frankly it's a good challenge for me.

02 November 2011

< pause >

back to beach

Where I am right now (not on a beach)...

Tired. Slight overwhelm. Too many deep thoughts (none of them blog-ready). I need a breather, friends. You know when you just know you need a new mode, mindset, perspective? That's where I am. I'll be back soon.


28 October 2011

anatomy of a birthday, 38th edition

5:00 am - Wakey wakey, courtesy of a toddler babbling loudly in next room (followed by a cozy bed attack). I tell myself, someday he'll bring me breakfast in bed, at a sane hour.

AM -

Tea and presents. A few sorely needed (ok, wanted) kitchen implements plus Ferran Adria's The Family Meal cookbook.

(WOW, I love this book: scrumptious food + stunning book design (check out the Amazon page views. My kind of stuff.). After seeing the No Reservations episode about the last days of El Bulli, my interest was seriously piqued. Like, before: eh, that place is probably amazing, but... really. Not on my radar. To now: wow, tell me more. Oh, and the book isn't about cooking as a family, it's about the (incredible) food they serve to the staff each night. Everyone should eat that well.)

Breakfast. Jacky requests a mid-meal reading of "A Birthday for Frances" but he really just wants us to sing the "Happy Chompo to me!" part. So we skip to that page, over and over.

Birthday Lowes run! Yeah, I never thought I'd type that either. Looking for materials for something very exciting coming up. Eeeeep!

Lunch - my once-a-year crab cake sandwich (not homemade). Oy, so GOOD, so RICH.

Texts, emails and cards to open. Including a super unexpected card from a wonderful lady I know only from her blog and emails. Seriously fun (thank you!).

PM -

A little work, but I don't mind, I actually like it. I think that says something. Compare it to last year, when I worked all day on stuff I don't remember and ate a cup of soup alone at my desk. I said to myself: next year, different.

Blogging: um, hello. You know it's a good birthday when you manage not to touch the computer until mid-afternoon. But then I might be the rare type of computer user who both likes to blog and read blogs, AND tries desperately to avoid the laptop.

Acupuncture. Yes.

Dinner chez nous (of course). Toby and I are trying our hand at Breton-style buckwheat crepes, like they used to serve at the dear, departed Ti Couz (bummed!). I might make some Green Goddess dressing for a salad. And, Toby has promised me some of THESE COOKIES. I cannot wait.

Finally, back to bed. Ahh.

23 October 2011

pizza | BLT! (ish)

BLT pizza

First off, I just updated the master dough recipe. Again! Toby made a tweak recently out of necessity: we only had this much tipo '00' flour, so he grabbed some whole wheat pastry flour to make up the difference. The result? More please. A smidge of whole wheat makes me feel a little better about the rest of the snowy white flour, but if I'm honest, the real reason I dig it is the texture: a delicately crispy exterior with a very tender, airy interior. It's seriously getting there, people.

So, check it out. And make some pizza. Your people will love you for it.

BLT pizza

OK, this week's pizza. Can I just say BLT? Uh huh. Well, pretty much. I didn't cook lettuce in the oven--I subbed basil instead, tucked under the cheese and julienned, sprinkled on top.

This is a pretty unapologetically Summery pizza, right in the middle of October. But then, it's our season right now for eating sweet Sungold tomatoes, basil... outside... with flip-flops and shorts... and limeade. You know, dinner tonight.

BLT pizza
hello, Fall light


BLT-ish Pizza!

basic pizza recipe + tomato sauce + basil leaves to cover (i.e., lots)
+ shredded mozzarella
+ halved sungold (or other small sweet) tomatoes
+ cooked bacon, chopped roughly
drizzle with olive oil, especially exposed dough. sprinkle with salt.
bake per recipe.
garnish with grated parmesan, julienned basil.
slice and devour.


And... because it think all his pizzas are adorable (he decorates them himself... the dump method), I give you Jacky's creation from tonight. Not a "plain cheese" man, his feature lots of ingredients. No matter how many I prep for him... there's always room for "one more?"

jacky's pizza

ps -- 300th post! What?

19 October 2011

the power of making

A little mid-week inspiration... (and, gosh I miss London.)

Power of Making from Victoria and Albert Museum on Vimeo.


18 October 2011

monday, monday

Some Mondays--our "Jacky & Mama play day," to fill as we wish--have a definite set of plans. We get out of the house early, lunch packed and a destination in mind. Some Mondays don't: we putter about in the garden and are surprised by lunch cravings.

Yesterday, we started out with a plan. Jacky loves Muir Woods... a long drive through the city, over the beautiful GG bridge, through the twisty Marin roads to The Big Trees. But, this time, is was not to be. Too late of a start... too many people... no place to park. Not a good day to visit the touristy (at times) woods.

So we pressed on. A pretty, meandering drive ended at a gorgeous beach. Muir Woods gave way to Muir Beach. And, so be it. We didn't have swimsuits, beach blankets or sand toys. But, we had a lunch, a towel found in the car... and lots of time for cuddles and beach-gazing. Little dude had a big weekend with his cousins and some time to be still and quiet was in order. For both of us.

sleepy beach baby


my beautiful boy

best beach outfit ever

12 October 2011

stuff I like

So I got a text from Nancy today... all appears to be well and the healing can begin. YES. Since she's probably now nested deep into the couch, watching Dance Moms or something equally therapeutic, let's leave these life and death issues for a moment.

I wanna tell you 'bout some STUFF. Stuff I like. Stuff on Etsy. Of course.

Know what the problem with selling on Etsy is? The ol' Paypal balance builds up a little (my family and I are OK with that part) but it's just OH SO easy to justify a "for moi" purchase now and then from said balance. (It's rare, trust me!) Click click. Me want. It's like when you work in an office and someone's constantly coming by with chocolate bars for sale. But, not crappy fundraiser chocolate (sorry)... really insane, crazy good chocolate. With artisanal, magical sea salt on top. Or something like that.

Here's a (very) short list of my current workplace temptations.

Theater Clouds by Elly MacKay.
Beautiful, dreamy, haunting images. Elly builds this magic out of illustrated paper and then photographs these scenes in her miniature "theater." You know when you see someone's work and you're like... Oh man. That looks so amazing and FUN to do. Wish I made that. Ya know? This is that for me, eventhough it's so different from what I know how to make. I don't normally pine for a day in someone's studio just to see how they do what they do, but I wish I could see Elly's magic in the making.

Minature Houses by The Haunted Hollow Tree.
Growing up, our house wasn't religious. Actually, our house was a bit of a mix: Jewish father and Lutheran mother... but they weren't observant, to be honest. Probably one generation removed from observance, in both cases. Religion was introduced to me as a "if you're interested, here's what some people believe... see what you think" type of thing. Casual. But! Putting out the Nativity Scene at Christmas was a cherished ritual of mine. Maybe it was the miniature scale, the ritual of carefully unwrapping it and the fussy arranging it demanded, whatever. I liked it. At this stage in my life, I'm gravitating more toward arranging these sweet, restrained dwellings in a winter village. Can't you see it?

2012 12-Month Calendar by Leah Duncan
OK, I already own this one. Gotta say, I just love Leah's work. I totally relate to her abstract/geometric work (like this calendar), but am in awe of her more figurative work: mystical llamas and bisons? Cool.

And finally... cashmere undies (by sartoria)! Oh yes I did.
Need I expound upon these little bits of genius? No, I think not. They speak for themselves. Yes, please.

11 October 2011

the amazing lady vs the dangerous gene

My dear friend Nancy. Nanny. The Goat.

Sigh. Where to begin? She's more than a friend, she's like a bright, shining light to me, her family and so many others. We met more than half our lives ago, on the steps of our college dorm, on check-in day (backstory), and we've been bonded so deeply every since. I love that lady.

Today she's recovering from having, as she puts it, her "junk" removed. She's funny like that. And she's brave: today, she intentionally entered menopause at the age of 38.

Why? Read this. And this. Cancer has terrorized both of our families too often. My feeling is: whatever it takes to stay healthy and around. Whatever it takes. Wouldn't everyone want a chance like this?

It's been emotional for her to close the door on the childbearing years--and everything that means to women, mothers or not--but she's taking that beast to the mat today.

Go, Nanny, go. Put on those sweats, climb onto the couch and watch something super trashy.

05 October 2011

a lemon-y reminder for you and me

I can't believe it, but... it's time. Time to carefully cut the peel off pounds and pounds of lemons and make embarrassingly large booze purchases. Yes, it's time to start your holiday limoncello batches. Yes, indeed.

Here's the deets, from last year's reminder post.

We're stopping by the in-laws this weekend for a few hours, so I plan on raiding their Meyer lemon tree. That is, if the neighborhood kids haven't beat me to it. Pretty sure they're not making holiday hooch, so stand aside children. Your parents will thank me.

Oh, also. If you join me in the limoncello venture this year, let me update you: last year, we went with mostly Everclear in our batch, which is just so much better. It makes a final product with absolutely no risk of freezing (limoncello should be stored in the freezer--the first year we made it, we used only vodka and it went slushy.). EC stays icy cold and totally pourable.

Yes, I know Everclear has a very tacky reputation, but just remember: the recipe calls for a good quantity of simple syrup, which cuts the alcohol content to a non-lethal level. And, you'll give the employees at BevMo something to ponder. Dayyaaaamm, that Mom likes to party. ;)

04 October 2011

balance and the beach

Um. Hi. Hello.

Normally, I'm not a believer in apologizing for a lack of posts. You know, it is what it is... and (I think) it's (to me) frankly a (slightly) boring read. (Yep, that was the most parenthetical sentence. Gosh, I hate offending.)

Oh, but sometimes... sometimes it just feels correct to acknowledge that things sometimes get a little crazy. A little off kilter. Even though it's technically "for fun," blogging sometimes gets included in my long list of commitments/have-to-do's/things left undone that I think about when trying to sleep. Sometimes it's a long, tiring list.

Well, suffice it to say, things have been a little nutty around here lately. Some of it, in a very good way. But, that very nice development has created other INTEREST, which leads to opportunities. Which leads this lady to too many Yes's sometimes. My goodness, I'm still learning how to say No.

Because, truth be told... my journey away from a desk job and that structure/lack of control is an exercise in saying No. I'm trying to say Yes to a different rhythm to life and working. One that places the peace of my household at the front of the line. Because, let me tell you: when Mama is stressed, everything really sucks for everyone.

So, I've been stressed and stretched. Kicking myself for letting my new work sitch so quickly catch up and resemble my old work sitch. Ugh.

But, hello. Here I am. I'm sitting here, catching up with my "want to do's," which include thinking and writing right now, and in a few minutes, tackling some reasonable tasks... because I'm practicing using the word No.

Oh, it's a process.

Because, when I say No, I can say Yes to balance, time and peaceful days.

Like this beautiful, misty day I've been meaning to show you for too long and almost shelved. You saw a sneak peak last time I clicked "publish"... and here's some more from our favorite spot down the coast. Must reserve time for more of this.

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