chestnut soup.

December 20, 2011

I really want to share this recipe with you all, but I feel like no one is reading blogs this week!  Maybe you are though, and maybe there's still time to put this on your special menu.  I really think you should.

I have always felt a bit indifferent toward chestnuts.  I mean I love the idea of them (who doesn't love the idea of chestnuts roasting on an open fire?!), but they often taste like overcooked baked potatoes to me -- too starchy and not enough flavor going on.  B and his family, however, being the good Portugueses that they are, live for them this time of year.  (His uncle is even a chestnut farmer in Central California....when he sends packages, he uses chestnuts instead of the styrofoam peanuts howcoolisthat?)

OK, since I'm always trying to be the good wife (and since B and the kids are now official Portuguese citizens, I'm feeling the pressure), I have tried a few recipes trying to incorporate chestnuts into our seasonal celebrations.  This soup, by far, is the best.  It has the most intoxicating flavor and is rich without having much added fat.  It is really simple, clean, lovely all the way around!  Yay!  Maybe now I can be an honorary Portuguese!  Yay?

Chestnut Soup

4 T. butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
24 oz. vacuum packed cooked chestnuts (Trader Joe's sells these right now in 6 oz. packages)
About 8 c. rich chicken stock

creme fraîche and chives for garnish

Melt butter in a large pot.  Saute onion, carrot and celery over medium heat until soft (8 minutes or so).  (You don't want color on the vegetables.)  Add chestnuts and then enough stock to just cover the vegetables and chestnuts.  Simmer for about a half hour to allow flavors to meld.  Use an immersion blender to puree until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.  Spoon a little creme fraîche on each bowl of soup and garnish with chives.  Saude!!

Feeling Grateful.

December 14, 2011

{photo credit unknown....anyone?}
The whole gratitude thing sometimes comes easily to me and other times not so much.  I never feel very sorry for myself, but it is easy to take things for granted from time to time.  Right now, a feeling of thankfulness and being blessed is overwhelming me....I'll take it!

(In no particular order.)

~ My three kids are at an age (and size) that can still fit on my lap.  And they all crawl on to it every single day.  It is one of the best mom feelings ever.

~ I am in a position to choose to stay at home with my kids.  When things seem crazy with them, I try to remind myself that I am choosing to be here.

~ Incredible babysitters.  We have two sitters right now who blow me away with their love, patience, creativity and care for our children.  After Sasha left, I was convinced no one could measure up.  And although we still miss "Fa-Fa" greatly (sniff sniff!), and no one could replace her, I know our kids could not be taken care of by better people.

~ Green juice.  B and I have been juicing again.  I feel so energized when I drink one of his concoctions in the morning.

~ The heated seats in my car.  I never had them before, but boy are they the best.  You can get warm and toasty without that hot, dry air blowing in your face.

~ My Heath dishes!!  B's anniversary gift to me a few months ago was a set of Heath dishes.  We didn't register for any when we got married, so that's how we justified it.  Plus, they are pure awesomeness and I will never need dishes again!  They were finally delivered a week or so ago and yesterday I washed and stacked them in my kitchen cabinets.  Aren't they pretty?

~ My tribe.  It sounds cliché, but I have an incredible group of girlfriends.  Its true that you need a village and I have one.

~ Sunrises.  Although I have been known to complain a bit (a-hem) about my children's early-rising tendencies, I get to see the most amazing sunrises over the mountains.  I have always loved sunrises more than sunsets for some reason, and at this point in my life, I get to experience them on an almost daily basis.

~ My kids love school.  We don't have to convince them to go, and they don't want to leave when we come to pick them up.  I know they are being taken care of by some of the most skilled and caring people on the planet.

~ My baby (OK, toddler) spontaneously says "please," "thank you," "you're welcome," "amen" (at the end of our blessing before dinner), "be excused?" (after dinner), and "I love you so much, mama" (when taking a rest from nursing).  I swear, I still have to remind my older two kids about manners, but this one, she's got it.

And you?  What are you feeling grateful for?

On Slowing Down.

December 7, 2011

{is it just me, or do you want to be holed up in this sweet farmhouse right about now?}

I really, really love this time of year, however, it all feels so hectic at times.  Part of me wants to cozy up with my family in the house, reading, baking, making crafts, hanging out in our PJs all day.  But alas, there is too much to miss out on if we did that!

Finding that personal (and very elusive!) balance seems more important than ever.  I came across a nice quote by the owner of Rancho Gordo Beans in his December e-newsletter (of all places!)....

Time for my annual vow, here and now, to take it easy. The focus should be friends and food. Family, if you can cope with them. There's no prize for spending too much money on presents. There's no shame in obsessing about food and making it your tribute to the season. And there's no shame in just "checking out" if you have to.

I don't know why, but I like that a lot.  :-)

Then, I recently started receiving a daily email from a parenting site ("you can do it!!") and this particular one really resonated with me.  

You enjoy parenting most when you feel expansive and
flowing -- the way you feel when you're not under any
kind of pressure.

One of the most common pressures of modern life is
*time pressure*: having to be somewhere or do
something by a certain time. Young children naturally
live in the moment, not by the clock, so subjecting
them to time pressure usually leads to discord.

To reduce time pressure in your daily groove...
Decide that geniality (feeling good) is more
important than punctuality (being 'right').

Friends, I think I just had an a-ha moment.  The worst parts of the day for me (by far) are when I am feeling rushed to get the kids ready and out the door to be somewhere.  The reminder that feeling good is more important than being on time is so important!  And that means that if you know me in real life, I am probably going to be late more often.  ;-)  I am going to make getting places with my kids a happier process. 

Here's to enjoying the wrapping up of 2011 in the ways that have meaning for you and your family!  And also to letting go of the things that add more stress or frustration than joy and harmony.  xoxo 

Waldorf Schools on The Nightly News With Brian Williams Tonight.

November 30, 2011

If you are interested, The Nightly News will be featuring Waldorf Education tonight on NBC.  Reporter Rehema Ellis recently visited The Waldorf School of the Peninsula (the school in the NYT article a few weeks back).  I have not seen any previews, but I hope to catch it tonight.  I hope they explore more of the curriculum and don't just focus on the no technology aspect.  Here is a link to the program.  It's kind of crazy all of the attention Waldorf has been getting lately!

And I promise this isn't going to become my soapbox topic.  ;-)

How to Roast a Turkey For Dummies.

November 21, 2011

I have roasted many turkeys.  I have bought fancy, heritage varieties and supermarket ones.  I have tried many methods for keeping the meat succulent and moist.  There was the Martha-wine-and-butter-soaked-cheesecloth version.  Butter and locally-sourced herbs smeared under the skin method.  In the smoker.  In the convection oven.  Basting every 15 minutes.  Low temp.  High temp.  Brining -- wet and dry. Every year something different it seems.

What I can say for sure is brining works big time.  Don't even bother roasting one if it hasn't been brined, in my opinion.  The good news is that Trader Joe's sells ones that are already brined!  For like $1.99/lb.!  So you don't have to use a huge garbage bag of salt water in a cooler (or bathtub of ice, which happened to me one year as I recall).  Oh, and it is my understanding that kosher turkeys have already been salt treated so they are (effectively) brined, so if you can find one of those, that will save you some time as well.

But all that other business of trying to keep the breast meat moist?  I dunno.  Sure, butter is always going to help.  It helps everything!!  But who wants to be bothered with things that don't really pay off that much?  I roasted a turkey last week (just because I like it that much and Trader Joe's had them and I wanted to make a bunch of soup later in the week).  And I could not be bothered, friends.  It was like a Tuesday and I was tired.  It was a dinner just for the five of us (no guests, no pressure).  So I followed Elise's simple method, and you know what?  Best turkey ever.  Flip that bird upside down and almost every problem is solved.  The only thing is you don't get a pretty golden breast side, but who cares?  You get a pretty golden back (see below).   The one thing I would alert you to is a brined bird will cook more quickly than one that isn't so start checking the temperature early (my 14 pound turkey was done probably 45 minutes before the recipe said it would be).
{see? backsides can be pretty!}
The only other (strong) suggestion I would offer is to make this Onion Marmalade.  It's more like a chutney, in my opinion.  Whatever it is, it is the perfect sweet-sour contrast to all that starchy richness going on with a turkey dinner.

Oh, and here is a recipe for basic pumpkin pie that I love.  (But I made Smitten Kitchen's Baked Pumpkin and Sour Cream Puddings this week and those were to die.)  I also make my grandmother's "Spirited Cranberry Sauce" nearly every year.  Gosh, I miss her.

What do you make?  Any tips or favorite family recipes?

UPDATE: After reading this post, I am reminded why it is so important to seek out buying a "happy" turkey.  I am afraid the $1.99 ones from TJ's do not reflect the true price of raising a healthy animal!   

Brenda's Virtual Book Tour!

November 16, 2011

I'm not sure I ever told you guys this, but the very first blog I read was Brenda Ponnay's Secret Agent Josephine.  Her honesty and wit and playful approach to life sucked me in, and I became a life-long blog reader (hers and others!) because of it.

A couple of years later she was in San Diego house sitting and we had the chance to meet.  And you know what?  She is even sweeter in real life.  From then on we became "real life" friends.  The type of friend who would drive an hour to your house when you were 8 months pregnant to do crafts with your kids.  The kind of friend who would stay up late fretting with you over the details of your birth announcement.  The type of friend who "got it" when you poured your heart out about subjects that not everyone is interested in hearing.  A real friend.  And those don't come along very often.

Brenda is on some new adventures in her life, one of which includes her status as a children's book author!  She has written 3 darling books:

Of course the books are filled with her sweet and whimsical illustrations.  Did I forget to mention she is an amazing artist?!  The kids and I received advance copies and I'm happy to say they got the "mom and kid seal of approval."

In case you don't know much about Brenda (or "SAJ," as she is affectionately referred to around blogland), I thought I would put together a little interview....
{SAJ and her daughter Bug}
Have you always known you would work in a creative field?
No. I didn't think there was any money in art so I majored in Journalism in college. I thought I was going to be a newspaper reporter. I always wished I could be an artist but I didn't think I was good enough.  Turns out I'm better at art than I am at grammar and punctuation so here I am illustrating.  Life has a funny way of twisting and turning.

When are you most productive (time of day and/or under which circumstances)?
Morning.  I love to get up early, have a cup of coffee and just go go go. By about three in the afternoon I fizzle out dramatically though.

Have you ever had an a-ha moment?
I might be in the middle of one right now.  I'm not sure I can really explain it though since I'm still working it out in my head myself...but I do feel like being an author/illustrator might just be what I want to do with the rest of my life. I don't know. It's too soon to tell.  :)

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I like to imagine myself living on an apple farm in central California. I have a long dirt driveway and the grass grows naturally.  It doesn't matter if I don't mow it regularly.  There are chickens but I'm not so far out in the sticks that I can't drive into town for an espresso or a yoga class. I have a well-lit studio and I can lose myself in my art frequently. I want to be close to my daughter and I want friends stopping by to sip wine and chat.  That's my dream. That's where I want to be in ten years.  Or traveling the world, either one.

What are some of your favorite children's books?  (Besides your own -- haha!)
Old 60's books about Paris!  I love Ludwig Bemelmans' classic Madeline stories, of course. I grew up with Beatrix Potter so those are close to my heart too.  I love Ian Falconer's Olivia books and Octonauts by Meomi... there are so many more but I think those have to be my top favorites.

What is something on your to-do list that never gets crossed off?
Bookkeeping. I need to do my profit and loss statements for the year and I keep putting them off. I hate math.  I'm also really bad at scrubbing toilets.  I always leave that to last too.

Most valuable life lesson to date?
Don't try to do too many things. Just pick two or three and do them really well!

Best advice to other moms who are contemplating a new venture?
Save your money!  I guess that's sort of a moot point with the way things are going with our economy but I've seen the dark days of desperation and I don't wish them on anyone.  Also, treasure your time with your kids.  There's room for both your venture and your kids but don't sacrifice your kids for your venture. You'll always regret it.  The black dog walks in the noon-day sun.

The books are available on Amazon in print or compatible with your iPad, iPhone, Kindle, Nook, etc., etc., etc. for just $2.99!  Entertain your kids at the dentist office without resorting to Angry Birds!  Buy a set as a gift!  Support a mom just like yourself!

And more good news: Brenda is offering you a chance to win a print of your choice from the ABCs book.  (They would be perfect hanging in your child's room!)  To enter, leave a comment on this post by November 30th sharing your favorite "D" word.  Mine is (obviously) "domestic"....what's yours?

Also, be sure to check her blog for other stops on her virtual book tour over the next month....she's got a bunch of fun bloggers lined up!

pumpkin spice lattes.

November 11, 2011

It's that time of year again.  People go a little crazy for the PSL at Starbucks.  I have been known to indulge in a couple every season.  I think they are worth the hype personally, but at nearly $4 for a "short" (yes,  I still order "shorts") and with the extreme sugar headache which always ensues, I decided to take matters into my own hands.  (Well that and a friend was coming over one afternoon and a fancy-ish coffee drink seemed in order.)  I think these cost something like 20 cents each and were made with mostly organic ingredients.  They were barely sweet (the way I prefer), but you could certainly add more brown sugar if you like.

Pumpkin Spice Latte For the Rest of Us
(makes 3-4)

2 c. half and half (although I think almond and coconut milk would do nicely here....or regular whole milk)
1/2 c. pumpkin puree
2 t. pumpkin pie spice
pinch salt
2-4 T. brown sugar (could use agave, honey, etc.)

Whisk all ingredients in a saucepan and warm over medium-low heat.  Pour in heated mugs.  Top with a shot of espresso and (unsweetened) whipped cream.

{bonus: your sweet girl will like it too -- just make sure you skip the espresso part!}

meal planning monday.

November 7, 2011

{that's a fuyu right in front and a hachiya on top}
OK, did my grocery shopping, took inventory of the fridge and I'm ready to plan some meals.  Also, we are in full swing with persimmons right now....Fuyus from our tree and Hachiyas from the neighbors.  I think they are my favorite fruit ever!


Roast Chicken 
Cornbread Stuffing
Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Pork Chile Verde (using leftover pork roast)
Green Salad (with sliced persimmons)

Turkish Lemon Egg Soup (I add spinach and will use chicken stock made from the roast chicken)
Fresh Bread

Spicy Squash Salad with Lentils and Goat Cheese


Honeycrisp Apples with Aged Gouda (kudos to my friend Jehanne for hooking me on this delicious cheese!)
Persimmon Pomegranate Salad
These super yummy Persimmon Bars

things that make me happy.

For awhile now, I've been wanting to come come up with a list of things that make me happy.  Not in some self-indulgent, look-at-all-the-cool-things-I-like kind of way, but one that I could go to when I'm feeling a little down or depleted or not grounded.  Too often, I feel I click the "Buy Now" button or reach for a cookie in those moments, instead of doing something to cause a more meaningful shift.

I really didn't intend to share it here at all as it's sort of a personal thing, but the idea (not mine) seemed like such a good one, I decided to post it.  (I was inspired by this list.)  Perhaps you will create your own.  And maybe share it on your blog (or here)?

Turn on music
Bake something and deliver it to a friend or neighbor
Go outside and check on the garden
Paint or draw with the kids
Do a few sun salutations
Read something inspiring (I just found this blog and love it)
Make a to-do list
Clean off my desk
Clean out my closet
Take a hot bath
Get under a blanket with the kids and read to them
Call a friend I haven't talked to in awhile
Write a thank you/thinking of you note to someone
Talk to my dad
Laugh (I have two friends in particular who can make me laugh within the first 3 seconds we start talking)
Get a pedicure
Check something off my to-do list that has been nagging me
Drink tea (I am especially fond of PG Tips with a splash of half and half and a little sugar)
Go to a bookstore
Go to a coffeeshop by myself and order a fancy coffee drink

**I  plan to add to this list as I think of things (or when you give me good ideas), so check back!

I even started a pinterest board of photos of things that make me happy!  OK, now it's your turn.  :-)

photo credit: 1, 2

waldorf in the ny times.

October 24, 2011

{this looks very much like our children's nursery and kindergarten classrooms: photo © Sarah Baldwin, Bella Luna Toys}

Did anyone catch the article about Waldorf Education on the front page (!) of the NY Times on Sunday? It was an interesting take on the subject....apparently lots of high-tech types working at companies like Google, Apple and Yahoo are sending their kids to a Waldorf school in Silicon Valley. This would be of interest, of course, because Waldorf schools have a pretty strict no-screen policy. I loved the quote by one father (an executive at Google) in response to the argument that kids need computer time to compete in the modern world: "It's super easy. It's like learning to use toothpaste....we make technology as brain-dead easy to use as possible. There's no reason why kids can't figure it out as they get older." Also: "If I worked at Miramax and made good, artsy rated R movies, I wouldn't want my kids to see them until they were 17."

I personally have been surprised by how many parents with science and technology backgrounds send their kids to our school. You sort of expect the artsy, hippie, educator types to be there (and they definitely are!), but there are many of the other that I didn't expect.

The part of the article I found a little disappointing is that it didn't highlight the curriculum of a Waldorf School and the things it does offer....only what it doesn't. The curriculum is very rich and dynamic....and purposeful. (Here is a super brief overview.) This is what keeps us coming back (well, that and the wonderful community of families). I guess the article served its purpose however: to highlight the education and challenge the idea that our children need to be taught through technology. As Alice said this morning: "I wonder if this will lead to an explosion of interest in Waldorf Education. One NY Times article can change the world!" Preach it, Alice Q. Foodie!

So, did you read it? Thoughts? (This subject is probably the one that I get the most comments and emails about so I am curious... There is definitely a lot of strong feelings on the subject from both sides!)

p.s. Another NY Times article on Waldorf Education.

photo credit: bella luna toys blog (a new a waldorf early education teacher!)

some good eats.

October 12, 2011

Here are a few things I've been making that have been tasting just right.  No pictures this time, so you'll just have to take my word for it!

These peanut butter cookies.  My friend Melissa first made these about a month ago and we shared them out of a ziploc baggie one night during a parent meeting at school.  They were sooo good that I texted her for the recipe that night.  I have made them twice already.  They are really peanut-buttery and nice and chewy (I'm not crazy about the thinner, crispier ones).  Try them and tell me what you think!

Kale Bruschetta.  This is what you need to do.  (Need.  And soon.)  Stem and coarsely chop a bunch of Lacinato kale.  Boil in salted water till tender (7 minutes or so?)  Drain and squeeze out water.  Grill some slices of caramelized onion bread from Bread and Cie (if you're local....otherwise just use a nice European-style country loaf).  Rub with garlic and drizzle with olive oil.  Spread bruschetta with some good ricotta (I was lucky enough to get some Gioia from the farmer's market recently.)  Top with kale, sprinkle with crunchy sea salt (I like Maldon) and drizzle generously with olive oil.  You can sprinkle some chile flakes too if you want some heat.  I always do.  This dish is insane.  I ate it for dinner twice this week (with a fat glass of red wine, which I also highly recommend).

Bastardized Zuni Chicken.  I love Zuni Chicken (who doesn't? I mean, besides vegetarians?), but on a weeknight I really can't be bothered with all the steps and fussiness.  Here's what I do and I think it's pretty darn near perfect.  Get yourself a nice organic chicken (3-4 pounds or so) from Trader Joe's.  Rinse and dry it very well.  Sprinkle generously with kosher salt.  Place on a plate and put in in the fridge uncovered.  Leave it there at least 6 hours (I like to do it in the morning before I plan to serve it).  About an hour before you want to serve it, roast the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan for 45 minutes at 450 degrees (or until done).  Meanwhile, take about a half cup of currants and soak in boiling water for a few minutes to plump them up.  Drain and then cover the currants with red wine vinegar.  Then, take a loaf of the same caramelized onion bread mentioned above and cut most of the crusts off.  Tear the bread into bite size (or a bit bigger) pieces and place on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil.  After the chicken comes out and is resting, put the bread under the broiler for a few minutes until some pieces are browning nicely.  Drain the currants and use the vinegar (add more if you need to in order to make 1/2 cup.  Add about 1/2 cup olive oil to the vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.  Toss the hot croutons with the currants, vinaigrette and a bunch of spicy greens (I love arugula and other strong flavored greens).  The greens will wilt slightly.  Serve the bread salad with the roast chicken.  DIVINE.

There you go!  Some fall-ish food for y'all.  :-)

my baby is two!

October 10, 2011

I can't believe it but my baby turned two years old yesterday!  Please don't tell me she isn't a baby anymore.  Look at those chubby cheeks.  Look at the big, brown give-me eyes.  And her little baby voice.  Don't get me started.  She will always be a baby to me, methinks.  :-) Thank you little girl for rocking my world in the best possible way.  

I was going to give you a big update on everything she's doing (I might still) and a re-cap of her birth, but you can just read about that here and here.  (And belly shots are here!)  But I will give you a few Instagram photos of her over the last month or so. 
{my constant companion}
{at a tea party with sister}
{hanging with her friend Dash and sister}
{she loves her some in-n-out}
{picking blackberries....also: "following her bliss"}
{checking out the flowers at bi-rite}
{baby mama baby}
{baby bikinis aren't just for the toddler and tiara crowd...are they?}
And a little video too (because it's been way too long).  This was from right after we got back from our trip in July FYI.  Terrible quality and I had a to cut a bunch out cuz she's naked and I'm a little worried about creepies.  Not that anyone who reads my blog would be creepy!


October 4, 2011

1.  I continue to dislike family dinner very much.  There is complaining about the food (C-Man and Juju), arguing/pestering (between the same two), spills (usually Little E) and other huge messes.  B is usually still working when the kids need to eat (5 p.m.) so it's usually just me overseeing the chaos.  I don't like it one bit.  Someone please tell me why the experts have decided Family Dinner Together Always and Forever is the single biggest indicator of a child's health, happiness and professional success.  I mean really.  We are together all the time.  We eat breakfast and other meals together.  Isn't that enough??  Sorry.  I guess I needed to get it off my chest.

2.  I feel a little guilty about how much I am enjoying Little E.  She can do no wrong in my book.  It is true she is an easy baby/toddler, but I know it has a lot to do with her being #3 and my last baby.  I wasn't able to enjoy and relax the others as babies like I am her and I feel a bit bad about it.

3.  When I get a break from the kids (by either having a sitter or B watch them), I come back and am just as easily frustrated by them.  It seems I would have more patience, a renewed energy, fresh perspective, but really it feels like I was never away.

4.  I am scared to take a Bikram Yoga class (pouring sweating and getting yelled at?), but a friend of mine is begging me to do so and swears by them.  Anyone?  Thoughts?

5.  I'm having trouble finding the desire and time to blog when there is Pinterest and Instagram to entertain me.  If you're looking for me, I am probably over here or hanging out as "missjora" on IG.  (Let's follow each other!)

Anything to get off your chest, or am I the only one?

Other confessions here.  

apple and pear picking.

October 2, 2011

On Friday, after C-Man got out of school, we went up to our local mountains and did a little apple and pear picking.  I have come to accept that (at this point anyway) B and I enjoy the experience way more than our kids do.  They aren't super duper excited to pick fruit, but they were very happy when we found a pear farm that had a friendly farmer ("Mr. Carl"), goats, chickens and horses.
{taste tester}
{c-man helping with the pears}
{on a mission...with big brother leading the way}
{pear tree}
{a girl, not a baby?}
{why you don't see many photos of this guy lately....I always get the "funny man" face}
{ju-ju wasn't feeling well, but she did try the apples}
{bags of pears}

things to cook this week.

spinach quiche
green salad with apples and walnuts

chicken enchiladas
pot beans

spicy squash salad with lentils and goat cheese

texas red chili (I am still on the hunt for a good recipe.....this sounds interesting)

pear and frisee salad with bacon and blue cheese (recipe from this month's everyday food)
homemade bread

pear and chocolate brioche bread pudding (also from everyday food)

oatmeal clafoutis (breakfast)

What do you have cooking?  Do tell.

a surprise concert night.

September 18, 2011

Sometimes B manages a very nice surprise.  On Friday night, he took me to see Bon Iver (3rd row center, hells yes!)....and it was sorta a perfect night in all the ways you hope for.  We stopped at our favorite spot to get some wine and a bite to eat.  Two seats at the bar were open.  We drank delicious Sancerre, ate mussels, steak tartare and a little cheese plate.  Then we headed downtown.  We parked the car, took a walk past the place we shared our first kiss nine-plus years ago and headed over to Spreckels Theater.  We walked in just as Bon Iver was going onstage.  Show was amazing.  Plus they played almost every song from their first album, which of course is how I fell in love with them in the first place.  The only slight disappoint I had was that I was sending them E.S.P. messages like crazy to play my favorite cover ever, but my frequency must have been off.   Usually when I try that hard things come through for me.  ;-)

But!  I found this new cover and it is as good IMHO.  I just love that slow tempo.  Plus I've had a soft spot in my heart for Bonnie Raitt since Nick of Time came out during my junior year of high school.  This song gets me in my core in all sorts of ways.  Oy.  I think I may have listened to this song 47 times already.  And isn't Justin's beard hot?


p.s.  bon iver is on instagram (@boniver)...thought you fellow IG addicts might like to know!

guest post at the littlest.

September 15, 2011

I just posted over on one of my favorite blogs: the littlest.  Elizabeth is finishing up her Italian vacation and I shared a memory (and recipe!) from a trip to Amalfi from long, long ago.  Check it out!

Why the South of France Is All That.

September 8, 2011

{view of the coastline from one of our walks}
I think it's almost universal how people feel about the South of France.  It feels a bit silly talking about how beautiful the area is, the beaches, the light, the landscape, the weather.  You might hear people complain that it is touristy or pricey, but everyone I talk to seem think it's pretty freaking spectacular.  (There's usually a reason places get touristy and pricey in the first place, I suppose....)
{typical mode of transport....or a maserati}

B and I kept saying that the place feels like a cliché (in the best possible way).  Everyone wears white linen pants and espadrilles and shirts with the collars turned up.  Every young woman has the perfect top knot and straight bangs.  There are boats everywhere.  The fanciest European cars pull up next to you at the local market.  Awnings above restaurants in perfect pastel colors.  There are big bright striped sun umbrellas lining the beaches. The weather is never too hot or cold (yay for sundresses at night!).  I find it oddly reassuring when I discover clichés like this are true.  That it hasn't all been dreamed up and (just) force-fed to us in bad Hollywood movies (like this one...which I saw when I was probably about 15 years old and yes, it made me want to come to the South of France).

{secret swimming coves everywhere}
{in our neighborhood....for reals}
This is a lovely quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald in Tender Is the Night, who spent a great deal of time there.  (B and I both read the book on our honeymoon in the area seven years ago!)

...The diffused magic of the hot, sweet south had
withdrawn into them -the soft-pawed night and the
ghostly wash of the Mediterranean far below....
a sea as mysteriously coloured as agates and cornelians
of childhood, green as green milk blue as
laundry water, wine dark.

Isn't that nice?  How could you not fall in love with the place?  (And maybe the person you're experiencing it with?)  
{"our spot" for coffee each morning}
My favorite part of our trip this year involved the days I spent with B exploring little towns on the Côte d 'Azur.  Sasha, thankfully, was there to watch the kiddos, so that meant B and I could wake up, throw clothes on and walk down to the town and have coffee.  And talk.  And look around.  And not be responsible for any small humans and not have to be anywhere anytime soon.  In fact, for the two weeks we were there, we probably had plans 1 or 2 days (and those plans were loose).  We never knew what we were going to do.  It was such a beautiful contrast to the way our life is at home.  Sometimes we hopped on a bus or a train and went to another town.  Sometimes we drove.  Sometimes we just walked.  In fact, everyday we walked.  A lot, like for hours.  Our journeys almost always involved finding the next beautiful walking spot.  There are so many paths that wind along the coast, each more impossibly gorgeous than the last.

{there were stairs, lots and lots of stairs}

And so we would walk, we would talk, and then of course, we would eat.  Sometimes we'd pick up sandwiches and tarts and fruit and such, other times we would find a place to sit and eat and drink some rosé and have a proper French lunch.  I liked it all, frankly.

{peeking down to a beach}
{waiting for the train in villefranche}
{relaxing in the sun after lunch}

{the most amazing and exclusive beach club....someday we will be "official" patrons, instead of the other kind ;-) }
{i picked this house...check out that retractable awning!}
Also, how could you not love a place where every single house (no exaggeration) is named?  It was hard finding the house numbers, but the name was always proudly (and beautifully) displayed.

{our house}

It's safe to say B and I are still committed Italophiles, but there is certainly something magical about the South of France.  I'd go back anytime.

p.s.  I worked really hard to write a post without any kid'd I do?!  ;-)
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