My Favorite Lamp.

June 30, 2008

Now, we all know how incredibly important lighting is. It can make or break a room. The wrong lighting can make people look tired and old and make everything in the room look dingy. The right light can, well, just make everyone feel happy. Almost as important as the light in a room is the design of the lamp itself. I am in love with the Tolomeo lamps from DWR. We have two floor lamps in the living room, and the cutest "Micro" size on my nightstand. I cannot imagine any decor that would not look great with a Tolomeo. It is sort of the perfect crisp white button-down shirt (which I have never found, by the way) of lamps. Here, take a look at it in our bedroom:

(Thanks to Pittsy for the beautiful hydrangea.)

Me With the Babes.

B took this picture of us while on a little walk in our yard. I just love it. It really captures the essence of C-Man.

Just Trying to Improve the Everyday.

June 28, 2008

I am always looking for ways to make the ordinary things in life a little more elegant. Sometimes the ideas come from other people or the pages of a favorite magazine, but many times they come to me when I travel....there is something about the fresh perspective you get when you are away from home, especially in a completely different culture. I was lucky enough to live for a short time in Italy, and with a woman who was an artist. She was an incredible cook (lots of recipes to share here sometime), but I most enjoyed her personal style and flair for Italian life. One small thing she did was keep a simple, yet beautiful capped bottle of water cooling in her refrigerator at all times. The bottle was functional, yes, but elegant enough to slide onto the table beside her delicious food, fresh flowers, and bottles of wine. The cool water somehow tasted better being poured from that glass bottle than it does from a plastic bottle or even a pitcher. I found one just like Verita's awhile back at Sur la Table and have been using it ever since. I wouldn't even think to mention it here, but people always comment when I pour them a glass of water from it. Again, it is just a little something special serving an ordinary, everyday purpose. {Sur la Table's website sells the bottles in a set of 4. The bottles would be beautiful with juice or wine in them as well.}

Cocktail Friday

June 27, 2008

In the spirit of Hair Thursday, I would like to institute "Cocktail Friday" over here at Domestic Reflections. At least for the summer. It's not too early in the day, is it? After all, it's 5 o'clock somewhere.

We first had this cocktail over at the swanky Starlite Lounge. I guess it's an old favorite from Region (R.I.P.). As it turns out, when you combine prosecco, limoncello, lemon and mint, life doesn't get more refreshing! I promise it will not disappoint.

Lemon Mint Prosecco Refresher
(makes one drink)

3-4 mint leaves
1 oz. lemon juice
1/2 t. sugar
2 oz. limoncello

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the mint, lemon juice and sugar. Add limoncello and some ice. Cover and shake back and forth over your shoulder. If you shake it up and down, you will look like an idiot (someone told me that once and I never forgot). You want to look very cool making this drink. Pour the mixture with the ice into a tall, narrow glass. Top with Prosecco. Chill out.

{I will try to post photos of the drinks normally. Today, I think my husband might be suspicious if I started shaking cocktails at this hour.}

How To Throw a Summer Solstice Party

June 26, 2008

When B and I moved in to our new house this past December, we immediately started talking about what type of annual party we wanted to have. After all, one of the reasons we love our house so much is because it is, in our minds at least, a fantastic party house. So, we began debating: December just has waaaayyyyyy to much competition. July 4th? Too cliche. We already have friends that have a great Oktoberfest tradition. Then we thought of our favorite day of the year: the Summer Solstice. There is something so invigorating about the longest day of the year, and the fact that it falls at the beginning of summer....when all the excitement and trips days at the beach and BBQs lie ahead. I think the feeling is mostly just a hold-over from all those years of being in school. The beginning of summer is just the happiest time of the year. So, we installed the First Annual Summer Solstice Party (and belated Housewarming) and people responded with lots of enthusiasm! Here are a few things I learned about throwing this party:

1. Get someone else to do most of the cooking and then add a few homemade dishes (even if this means enlisting friends to help you out). I am such a foodie, that this is hard to do. My inclination is to start recipe-searching and menu-planning and grocery shopping and cooking, as soon as we decide to have the party. Alas, life with two kids under the age of three does not allow this. Unless. I want to have a nervous break-down and get a divorce. This time I was smart. I was dead-set on enjoying the party, rather than stressing myself out trying to cook and bake and clean and decorate for two weeks. And so I did enjoy it! Immensely! I had everything catered and then made an appetizer or two and a couple of desserts.

2. Get yourself a for each kid if possible! This was key. There is enough to do running around playing hostess without having to shift a baby from hip to hip and chasing a toddler while he threatens to jump in the pool. I am lucky enough to have a super sweet 16 year-old girl who lives across the street, and who brought a friend (!) with (!) her (!) to help us with both of our kids and to help with other kids who came.
3. Lighting is so, so important all the time, but especially at a party. In addition to lots of tea lights strewn about the inside, you need something outside too. If you don't want to shell out the money for some of these (we didn't), hurry and get your self some of these babies from IKEA. The IKEA in San Diego is sold out, but you can find some on eBay, I'm pretty sure. They are great because there is no candle to worry about lighting and blowing out (or worse yet, starting a fire). You just pop in a couple of AAA batteries and you are good to go. Scatter them all over the place....especially in the areas you want people to go. We had them on table tops, on the steps to our upper deck, down by the pool, etc.

4. Serve beer, wine and ONE cocktail. Too many choices for drinks (or food) paralyze people. Haven't you ever been to a party where someone says, "What would you like to drink? We have everything." I'm always like, "Errrr, uhhhhh, can't you just pick something for me?" Because it was the hottest day of the year, we served a little Vinho Verde (a refreshing lightly effervescent white from Portugal -- B, and thus my kids, are Portuguese), a nice dry rose, assorted beers and classic lime margaritas. Of course, we had Izze sodas, Pellegrino and iced sun tea for those wanting non-alcoholic options (huh??). Oh, and this is important, put the drink table away from the food area. It gets people to spread out and go into areas they might not naturally venture to (check out the IKEA lanterns on the windowsill).
5. If you can, get some live music. Now, I doubt we will do this every year, but this year was splurge-worthy. It was the first big party at our new house...the house we spent all of last year remodeling, we had a new baby, and we had a few other things to celebrate as well. So, I convinced B to let me book the ultra-fabulous Mattson 2. They are simply the most perfect jazz duo....22 year-old identical twins with a great retro and grown-up style. The kind of cute guys who respond with "Cool!" and "Rad!" to everything you say. Please, if you do anything today, check them out right here. Here they are setting up:

6. Use real glasses if at all possible. Now, I know what you are thinking, because it is exactly what I was thinking before last Saturday. Too expensive, too breakable, too many dishes to wash, too...too (is that a real phrase?). There is also the problem of storage. All I can say is it is so worth it to drink out of REAL glasses (especially if you are serving wine) than to drink out of the Costco-high-school-keg-party-red-jumbo-cups. I went to IKEA and bought the Svepa glasses on Emily's recommendation. The 7 ounce ones are 12 for $4.99, they are stackable (at least 4 high), they all fit in my dishwasher at one time, and only one glass broke during the whole party! I don't want to hear any more arguments. See here how pretty they stack up?

7. As an alternative to paper or plastic (or heaven forbid, styrofoam) plates and utensils, consider the Veneerware line by Bambu. Heck, it's what Molly used for her rehearsal dinner. They are simply a classier, more elegant disposable alternative. Most importantly, they biodegrade in something like 4-6 months. Here's a photo with the Veneerware.

8. Lastly, get yourself a kick-ass friend like Miss Alice Q. She saved our bacon. She came over a couple of hours before the party started, just when we were hitting a wall (it was in the 100s and the air conditioner had quit on us) and both kids were cranky (I will never reveal for sure, but the parents may have also been bickering). She came in, took charge, organized, rearranged, tidied, shooed us into the showers to get ready, and generally got our house party-perfect. (Plus, these are all her photos!) I really want to give a big shout out to her.

Hope to see you all next year at the 2nd Annual!

Evil, Evil Plastic

June 25, 2008

In my never-ending quest to remove and replace all plastic from my kids' lives, I've come across two things I'd like to share. First, at Whole Foods the other day, I picked up the cutest set of bamboo silverware just the right size for chubby little hands, and a matching bowl that is perfect for a little rice cereal and peaches or some yogurt and honey. You get the picture. Next, I came across a GREAT website for BPA, PVC and Phthalate-free kids things like bottles, sippy cups, teethers, toys, etc. {Baby J's teether in the photo from yesterday is from this store.} It takes the research and guess-work out of the process of buying these necessary things for kids. I don't know about you, but I find it all very confusing....some plastic good, some bad, read the numbers on the bottom of the item?? {By the way, I can't figure out if melamine is safe....does anyone know?} Do yourself a favor and check out The Soft Landing. Turns out, they carry the bamboo bowl and utensils too!

Method Just Always Gets It Right

I have waxed poetic about Method Home products before, and I'll do it again. The new-ish kid line has the best scent EVER. Fuzzy Peach. Doesn't that just connote lots of baby head sniffing? This stuff really makes my baby girl smell just like a real peach -- not the sticky sweet fake "peach" smell. Real, juicy, ripe peach. And it comes in a cute little otter-shaped bottle to boot. And of course, it promises no "numbing agents, parabens, or phthalates." I don't even know what all of those are, but they sound scary, don't they? And because I am into shameless baby photo sharing, here is a picture of my little peach. She just started sitting up by herself. Go ahead, take a sniff.

I've Been Tagged!

June 24, 2008

Remember the cool site I told you all about.... Farmhouse Wares ? Well, the lovely owner Betsy tagged me with a few questions, so here goes:

What did you do 10 years ago?

I was finishing up law school, and although I didn't fully comprehend it at the time, getting ready for some big life changes. I had also just returned from a study-abroad program in Florence, during which I met one of my best, life-long friends. (Hi Elise!)

Five items on your to-do list:

{Ooooohhhh, I just love lists}

1. Clean off my desk (I know, boring, but I have way too many stacks!)

2. Take the kids to the Del Mar Fair

3. Plan several dinner parties for the summer (before every body's schedules get too booked up)

4. Get a babysitter for Friday night

5. Write several thank you notes

Snacks I enjoy:

Chips and (spicy) salsa, cheese, salt and vinegar potato chips, salami, and occasionally, a spoonful of Nutella straight from the jar. {I would just throw in here that the place I do my best snacking is at my friend Nichole's house....she always has the best little noshes sitting around! Have you ever tried Boursin Cheese spread on the Everything Bagel Chips from Trader Joe's? That's one of her delicious little creations.}

What would you do if you were a billionaire?

I would for sure get a fabulous home in Italy...perhaps in Liguria. There would be lots and lots of travel, with friends and family joining in (after I retire them, of course). And oh yeah, a HUGE shopping spree.

Places I would live:

Almost anywhere in Italy (see above), Napa Valley, San Francisco, Austin, TX. But I really, really, really love living where I live now.

Jobs I have had:

--Hostess at the Hungry Hunter. Yeah, baby.
--Waitress at way too many restaurants, mostly ones that make you smell like fajitas by the end of the night!
--Attorney at a couple of private law firms.
-- Housewife/SAHM/domestic engineer/homemaker/domestic goddess extraordinaire (I'm sure my husband would add: "with a very bad attitude")
--To be continued........

{ 5 People I am tagging }

-- Alice
-- Sarah
-- Emily
-- Jenna
-- Joslyn

(Rules: Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.)

I'm Bringing Nighties Back

June 23, 2008

I'll admit it. I have slipped into the habit of wearing what we call around our house, "scrubbies." You know, the old yoga pants and t-shirt routine? Not very sexy, or even attractive for that matter. Sometimes the outfit is worse, much, much worse..... Lately, however, I've been inspired to dig out all my nighties and wear those around the house. Maybe it's the heat, maybe it's watching too many old movies, maybe it's just that I'm trying to "try" in my marriage, if you know what I mean. But these nighties happen to be the best way to be comfortable, look half-way decent and stay cool. By the way, I am not talking lingerie here -- no itchy Victoria's Secret numbers that pinch and pull at you in all the wrong places. These are comfy, pretty, feminine, but practical little things (and not so short that I can't bend over to pick a screaming toddler off the floor). Also, I think I like calling them "chemises." Sounds so French. Here are some I have my eye on:

This one is so sweet, with its little quilted bandeau top.

I like that this one is made out of T-shirt material, and is cute enough to look like a sundress!

This appeals to the old-fashioned housewife in me. And the little drawstring at the waist helps things get cinched in a bit, which most of us can benefit from, right?

I'm really liking the look of this caftan. Plus, I'd just love to be able to say, "Let me slip into my caftan."

Here is a good classic style. I like it in the color "milk."

I have loved American Apparel for a long time. It got me through two pregnancies without making me look like a matronly tented blob. This slip works as a nightie or as a beach cover-up. You can also wear it over leggings if you are into that 80's look.

Now go get yourself a chemise right now! Your kids, husbands, housemates, roommates, whatever, will thank you!

Dealing With This Heat

June 22, 2008

Are you like I am? I'm always looking for something comfortable and cool for my kids to sleep in when it's blazing hot like this. {I like to put them in something more than just a diaper because I worry they'll tug it off when they're sleeping....and well, I REALLY can't be bothered to change and wash sheets in this weather.} I have found the perfect solution. Ecoland has super basic organic cotton underthings for babies, toddlers and grown-ups. Whole Foods has sold their stuff for a couple years now, so C-Man lives in these get-ups all summer the long....that is, when he is not running around "au naturel." I just love the little cotton undies and tanks -- not too loose, not too tight, and they come in just white and "natural." The bottoms can be used over a diaper as well. Simple, comfortable, cool, perfect. Now I'm going to have to try a set in my size. Excuse me while I go dunk my head in a bucket of ice water.

Jessica Seinfeld Has Nothing on Me

June 20, 2008

So, I never really got into the whole "Deceptively Delicious" and "Sneaky Chef" style of cooking for kids. I admit the idea of sneaking veggies into my unsuspecting toddler's food is intriguing, but I don't want C-Man to think he's gotten away with not eating veggies. Plus I am lazy. I don't want to spend my Sunday evening prepping, steaming, pureeing and freezing vegetables, just to make him separate meals from us all week long. {And I'm sorry, I know Jerry likes the brownies and all, but I don't really want to eat that food. I want real, grown-up brownies. With bittersweet chocolate and espresso powder in them.}

But. I have been making J-Baby all sorts of baby food (because that's all she can eat at this point, after all), so I happen to have lots of cubes of veggies in the freezer right now (more on that later). So...the other day I was making C-Man one of his smoothies, which normallly consists of frozen bananas, goat milk and flax oil. Sometimes I will add other fruit if I have it on hand. He loves these things. And there was this frozen butternut squash looking at me. So I threw in a cube. And Charlie gulped it up. And you know what? I felt like such a sneaky little deceptively delicious! I am going to be adding frozen steamed golden beets to his smoothie today. Shhhh. Don't tell him.

New Salad Obsession

June 19, 2008

I am funny about food. I rarely get excited to make recipes more than once, but every once in awhile I will become obsessed with a dish and make it days and days in a row. This rarely happens, but it happened this week. On Tuesday night, we had an all-around lovely meal at Supper Club, but the salad was what I couldn't get enough of. While furiously stuffing my face, I asked Wendi how to make it. I proceeded to go to the market the very next day and buy all of the ingredients. I highly recommend you seek out wild arugula. The taste difference is huge. We are lucky enough to have a garden that is spilling over with the stuff right now, so this recipe came just in time.

Arugula Salad with Grilled Peaches and Goat Cheese
(from Cooking Light)

1 salad-bowl full of arugula, preferably wild

3 peaches, sliced (not too thick, not too thin)

a walnut-sized nub of goat cheese (I like Laura Chenel)

3-4 slices prosciutto

1/3 c. olive oil (approximately)

1/3 c. balsamic vinegar

2 T. honey

Grill peach slices until grill marks appear. You want the peaches to stay firm. Saute the prosciutto in a skillet over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes (until crisp). Crumble when cooled. Bring balsamic vinegar and honey to a boil in a saucepan and simmer until reduced by half -- it will thicken slightly. Cool. Toss arugula, grilled peaches and olive oil in a salad bowl. Toss again with the cooled vinegar mixture. Crumble goat cheese and prosciutto over the top and serve. Oh my goodness, this is good!


June 17, 2008

That is the tag line of an online store that I am just loving right now, but it may as well be the tag line for my approach to day-to-day living. I really want to share this site with you all -- it is simply too great to keep to myself. Farmhouse Wares offers a "fresh, new country style has an inviting vintage feel with an eco-friendly twist." I know the design world right now is all about mid-century modern (which I love), but sometimes I crave something a little more comfortable and home-spun. Farmhouse Wares speaks to that for me. Check out these goodies:

Aren't these the absolute perfect glasses from which to sip an icy margarita? And they are made from actual recycled Sol Cerveza bottles from Mexico. Next up:

Now, I have no idea if this fly trap actually works, but isn't it so much more appealing than those sticky, chemical-y things they sell at the hardware store?

This is just so cool and old-fashioned. Wouldn't you just love to have this marmiton tian and pitcher on your nightstand for a little old-fashioned wash basin appeal?
This would be just about the perfect hostess gift in my opinion: a little enamel ware bowl with two herbal soaps of your choice and a wooden fingernail brush. Last, but not least:
I try to use cloth napkins as much as possible. Not only are they eco-friendly, they make everyday meals feel just a tad special. These are the perfect combination of vintage and modern, and have a nice Marimekko feel. Plus they are my absolute favorite color in the world. Love that mug too. Check out Farmhouse Wares. I think you'll just adore it.

Salt Water Sandals

June 16, 2008

Like so many moms, I am pretty picky about what my kids wear.
I want my kids to be comfortable, the clothes need to be practical, reasonably priced, preferably made from quality materials, and of course, they have to look fabulous. My idea of fabulous is different from other people's ideas....I like them to look like kids (not the mini-adults so many places are after....are you listening BabyGap?), a little old-fashioned, and please, no logos!!! My absolute favorite kids line is Flora and Henri, but it is just too darn expensive for everyday. One would think I am not being too picky, but it is hard to find simple, classic clothes for kids. Moms, can I get a hell yeah?
I was recently reminded of Salt Water Sandals. My sisters, brother and I grew up in these sandals. They are the quintessential summer shoe is my mind. Simple, old-fashioned design, but somehow modern to my eye as well. They are virtually indestructible (they are obviously designed to be worn even in the ocean!) and go with most all kid's summer clothes. Sort of the cooler, understated precursor to Crocs (plus, these sandals don't recall goofy German tourists). Needless to say, I think C-Man will be in these all summer long. Best part? No Diego or Dora the Explorer!!

Eternal Sunshine

June 15, 2008

It is not a secret that I rarely get out to see movies anymore. Most people who love movies see them along the same general timeline as the rest of the world (i.e. before the Oscars). The big upside to that is you get to talk to people about movies without having them think you are completely out of touch with pop culture. Alas, kids and domestic life have relegated us to Netflix. Not there's anything wrong with it....we are just a little behind!

Last night we saw one of the best movies about love I can ever remember seeing -- and not in the "romantic comedy" or chick-flick ("Somewhere in Time" -- remember that one?) kind of ways. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of those movies that captures the essence of loving someone and how it really feels to be there. There are two scenes that I can't get out of my head. One is when Joel and Clementine (don't you just love that name?) are under a blanket with a flashlight and she is crying, telling him about how she thought she was ugly as a child. It is a very intimate, touching that hopefully you can relate to if you have ever been very close with someone. The other is when Kirsten Dunst is sharing the quote by Alexander Pope that the movie is named for. This movie is worth seeing just for these two scenes. Here is the beautiful quote:

"How happy is the blameless vestal's lot! The world forgetting, by the world forgot. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd."

Ideas for Going Green

June 14, 2008

It seems there is more and more information out there on how to "go green." Don't get me wrong, this is a very good thing. I'm so glad it is on every one's minds. However, do you feel the way I do? That it can all be a tad overwhelming? Don't know where to start or what will make a big enough difference? With that in mind, I've put together a list of things our family is trying to do to help the environment. I am no expert on this subject.....I am just a mom that cares about the health of my family, the state of the environment, yet still wants to enjoy life and be realistic about how much time I have. These are things we have found to be low-ish effort and high-ish impact. I'm sure you have great ideas of your own, and I would love to hear them. In no particular order:

1. Just say no to bottled water. Don't worry, we don't drink that gross San Diego tap water. We use our reverse osmosis system to refill various bottles/sippy cups/etc. For the kids, my favorites are by SIGG and the Foogo by Thermos (neither are made out of dangerous plastic). I read somewhere that 95% of water bottles do not get reused. Just think about all the plastic bottles you've thrown away over the years -- they are all in a landfill somewhere! Lots of sophisticated restaurants (such as Chez Panisse) don't even serve bottled water anymore. Anything that's good enough for Alice Waters is good enough for me.

2. Learn to love xeriscape. Watering landscape is a huge unnecessary. We all love beautiful, lush gardens and lawns, but let's face it, they are an indulgence, not something we must have in our world (especially in Southern California, where almost all of our water is brought from thousands of miles away-- and which is rapidly being depleted). We were lucky enough to have the chance to completely redo the landscaping at our house this last year and we decided to put in almost all drought-resistant, low maintenance landscaping. I know this is not every one's aesthetic, but it is very practical and fits into our climate perfectly. At a minimum, try to get rid of that lawn, or at least make it smaller. Check out this site for more ideas on how to reduce the amount of water you use.

3. Change the way you do laundry. First off, get yourself an EnergyStar washer if you haven't already. There are rebates and tax credits available to you when you do. Next, do laundry at off-peak times and only wash full loads. This part is harder: do as much laundry on the cold cycle (it takes tons of energy to heat that water) and try to air-dry as much as possible. The dryer, again, is a luxury, not an absolute necessary.

4. Buy local. Most of us have either read Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food or are at least familiar with his ideas. The most important fact he shares, I believe, is that most of the food we eat travels more than 1500 miles to get to our table (not to mention, most of that food is generated by huge corporate farms and factories that generally do not use environmentally-responsible practices). Just think about all the energy that is expended to accomplish that. We have more small farms in San Diego than any other county in the country, so shopping at farmer's markets is a no-brainer to me. Pick up an issue of Edible San Diego for more information and inspiration to support our local farmers. I still love to buy some imported foods, but I try to balance those purchases with local ones, and I try to make those purchases only when it really matters (i.e. I don't need peaches from Chile in the middle of winter, but I do love my French cheeses).

5. Buy organic whenever possible. This is obvious. But sometimes buying organic isn't practical because of cost or availability. That is when I keep this list in mind.

6. Change your cleaning products to chemical-free types. This was hard for me. I can be a germaphobe, so I like the idea of killing all that bacteria with super strong cleaning supplies. But after reading extensively on this subject, I realized exposing my family to the chemicals in most cleaners is way worse than not getting that final .002% of bacteria killed. Besides, the natural cleaning products work much better than I thought they would. I buy almost the whole line from Method -- they are very effective, not expensive and you can get them at Target.

6. Think twice about mail-order. This is something I need to work on. It is hard with two kids to get to the store sometimes, so I end up buying a lot of stuff online. But I always cringe when I see how much packaging is involved in getting that toilet paper delivered to my front door. I also have a problem with all of the energy that is used to get that particular package delivered personally to me. I have never read about the environmental impact of buying mail-order versus going down to the store, but I imagine mail-order would lose big every time.

7. "Reduce, reuse, recycle." This has been a catchy slogan out there for some time, but I have only recently really started thinking about it. First, reduce. I try to ask myself if I really need something. If I can skip the purchase altogether, I am helping curb production and transportation of that item. Second, reuse those things you buy. You have to be creative to do this really well. One small thing we do is try to use all those plastic containers that food comes in. The little hummus containers from Trader Joe's? I put C-man's goldfish crackers in those for his morning snack. The tall yogurt containers? I use those if I'm taking soup to a friend. I don't even buy those (super convenient, but again, unnecessary) disposable Ziploc containers anymore. Another thing we started reusing are paper grocery bags. We use those to line our trash cans and now don't even have to buy plastic trash bags! And third, recycle. Use that recycle bin, people. There is simply no excuse to put a newspaper or a soda can in the trash.

8. Get your family on the "Do Not Mail" List. I still need to do this. The process is somewhat confusing and time-consuming, but once you are through it, you will be junk mail-free. Just think about all the waste involved in mail-order catalogs and other mailers. There should be a law against abusing the postal system like that. Until then, I want to get our name and address off these mailing lists.

9. Lastly, start a compost pile. This is a great way to significantly reduce the amount of trash you need hauled away AND to feed that vegetable garden. Here is info on how to get started on composting.

The Essential Exersaucer Shot

June 13, 2008

All six month old babies have one of these shots in their portfolio, right? I, of course, think Baby J's is the cutest of them all.

This One Is For You Moms Out There

June 10, 2008

We just got back from our first trip with Baby J. She did great. One of the things that really made the trip is that she SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT ALL THREE NIGHTS, PEOPLE. After dancing and drinking (tequila shots included) until 2 a.m. at least one of the nights, it made all the difference in the world that I didn't have to get up in the middle of the night to console a crying baby who didn't know where she was. Maybe the stars were aligned, maybe she just knew we needed our sleep more than ever, but maybe, just maybe, it had to do with our new travel crib. I like to think it does.

I don't think there is a parent out there who doesn't dread the obligatory Pack-n-Play that gets loaded up every time we take our kids somewhere overnight. Those things are necessary (without them, your baby is either sleeping with you or in a nasty hotel crib), but they are soooo heavy and a pain in the butt to set up (for my husband and me anyway....we are mechanically challenged, to say the least). Enter the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light. It weighs just 11 pounds, which is less than half of some of the other models. It fits perfectly into its small carrying case, and the best part? You can set it up one-handed in less than a minute!! Break down is just as simple. Watch this video (on the sidebar of the site). Scandinavian hipster family shows you everything you need to know about this crib, without saying a word.

Apricot Crumble

June 2, 2008

This is a great summer dessert -- it can be put together in under 5 minutes (you don't even have to cut up the apricots!), you can use fruit that isn't the best to eat (i.e. too tart) and people gobble it up. It is also my favorite way to eat one of my favorite fruits. You can obviously substitute other stone fruits, but apricots are the best, in my opinion. They melt perfectly under the crunchy topping. {Apricots have a very short season. Trader Joe's has them right now, and they are starting to show up in the farmers markets. But get them soon -- they are usually gone by July.}

Apricot Crumble
(a Ruth Reichl recipe from a Gourmet e-newsletter)

2 lb. apricots

1 stick butter

3/4 c. sugar

3/4 c. flour

pinch of salt

freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Pull apart the apricots (discarding pits) and put in a 9 inch pie pan or similar baking dish. Melt butter, then add sugar, mix well, then add the flour and salt. Crumble mixture over apricots. Sprinkle nutmeg over top. Bake for 40 minutes. Serve warm.


I'd like to share a beautiful poem my Uncle Pete wrote and sent to me today. It is about our family.


Remembering to add cinnamon to the coffee
today, I am back in time in other mornings
in my mom’s kitchens---
in the eight or so homes we lived in---
on the white stoves are silver saucepans brimming
with hot cereal, brown, bubbling, gradually thickening,
Wheatena or Roman Meal most likely,
my favorites.

Mom wears an apron tied in the back. We’ve a game
where I sneak up and untie the strings while she’s stirring
the pot with the big spoon. Laughing, she seems happy here
making breakfast for her family on chilly November

We sit down to big bowls of thick hot mush
and watch the dollops of brown sugar melt,
slowly spreading over a fat island
of coarse grainy wheat afloat
in a pond of pure milk.

The first bite is so sweet, so warm
and calming,
the cereal laced with dark sugar
tastes like molasses,
‘stick to your ribs’ comfort,
satisfaction for the school day ahead.

I know now these full vessels
held food for our hearts as well,
meant to sustain and protect
through the storms
and struggles she
could not prevent
and yet surely would visit
our home.
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