Building skyscrapers with lots of "stories." 

Our seasonal mobile that has bloomed into spring.

Teaching ourselves to make paper boats

This gift from my mom. A great reflection of ourselves.

Watching Mateo learn to read his first book–by himself. It was quite a moment. (sniff. sniff.)

The finding and making of tiny food

The sweet… 

buttery smell of lavender shortbread.  

Lavender Shortbread

adapted from food52.com

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme, lavender, etc.)
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature

Put a rack in the center of the oven and heat it to 350 degrees. Sift the flour and salt into a medium bowl. In a small bowl, use your fingers to gently rub together 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the chopped herbs (this will help release the oils). Whisk this mixture into the flour.

Cut up the butter into chunks and add it to the flour, stirring with a fork to make a soft dough. Gently pat the dough into a 9-inch round or square baking pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork and sprinkle the remaining teaspoon of sugar evenly over the dough.

Bake the shortbread for 20 to 30 minutes, until it is golden and no longer looks at all wet. Using a very sharp knife, score into fingers, squares or wedges while it is still quite warm, and let it cool completely in the pan before separating the pieces.












For three days we had these five precious little babies in our home. Abandoned by their mom (who was most likely feral), they were rescued by my mom who found some of them in a dirty wastebasket and the others barely alive under a tangle of wires and leaves. Since they have to be bottle fed and are initially both blind and deaf, they need extra, extra TLC, and can't be adopted until they're at least three weeks old. So we (or I should say I) volunteered to be part of a small group who would take turns keeping these little helpless babies alive. 

It's no easy task. I can safely say, having gone through it twice, that having a newborn human baby at home is easier than five newborn kittens. Like my babies, they needed to be fed almost every two hours around the clock. But unlike my babies, there were five mouths and five bottoms that needed to be stimulated by a soft tissue to pee and poop. At 3 o'clock in the morning Matt and I would hear their tiny mouths mewing to be fed, and as much as we (most especially my dear husband) wanted to keep sleeping, we both got up and nursed them. Matt would occasionally throw a glance my way that said, "How in the world did you get me into this?" I know, dear, I know. 

The boys were excited by their arrival, a little more aloof once they settled in. But both of them were very interested in watching me feed them, perhaps it was watching their mother be a mother to something else. 

I handed them off yesterday to the next person on the rotation. And although I'm still totally tired, I miss them. I had dreams about them last night. I've been thinking a lot about keeping one, which surprises me because I didn't think we'd get a pet until the kids were older. But for some reason, Runty, Charlie Brown, Bear, Big Boy, and Callie (as they came to be named), landed in our hands. Maybe the time is now? We'll see. But man, they were cute. 







The other day I had the great fortune of spending an entire day with my oldest boy. It's rare. During the weekends, we try to spend as much time as a whole family, and that time together has become very important to all of us. So it's usually when the boys have an extended time off from school, that I or Matt get to create a day just for them. 

For Mateo that meant going to the California Science Center where we saw the America I Am exhibit there before it packs up. We walked about what the middle passage was, to who the Buffalo Soldiers were to who Little Richard was. Next we put on some funky 3-D glasses for the spectacular IMAX movie on the Hubble Telescope

After a bite of pizza, we headed to the LA County Museum of Art (or LACMA as we call it around here) and talked about paintings from the time of the Revolution to Jackson Pollack. He was curious about everything: "What was the name of the artist? (asked with every painting)" "Are the sharks going to eat the man?" "They had guns way back then?" Then we hid and chased each other through the street lamp installation. It was a fantastic time. We caught up on so much, on things that he normally is too busy or distracted to elaborate on. It was also a chance for me to take a moment, out of our busy lives, to really see just how special this boy of mine is truly becoming. 











Maybe it's because we just returned from our little road trip, where there were lots of snacks, but we've been snacking it up this week. These aren't bites that the boys would have elected on their own for me to make (except the pretzels, of course). But they devoured all of them just the same. The pretzels made their way to our dinner at the beach last night. The perfect companion to a squash lentil soup.

The nut mix came from a new food blog I discovered which seems pretty cool so far called Sprouted Kitchen. Although it's not strictly vegetarian, it's focus on simple whole foods is nice. 

Savory Nut Mix

3 Cups/16 oz. Raw Almonds (I also added raw cashews)
2 Small Egg Whites (OR 1 Extra Large Egg White)
1/3 Cup Fresh Thyme Leaves
1 Tbsp. Red Pepper Flakes
1 Tbsp. Dried Oregano
1 Tbsp. Garlic Powder
3 Tbsp. Lemon Zest
2 tsp. Black Pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp. Natural Cane Sugar/Sucanat
Sea Salt

1/2 Cup Finely Grated Parmesan Cheese

Oven to 275′

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. In a bowl, or pestle and mortar, add the thyme, red pepper, oregano, garlic powder, black pepper, lemon zest and sugar together. If you have a pestle and mortar, grind all of the spices together to break them up a bit. You won’t get much of a paste, but the thyme should break down a bit and the red peppers will get smaller. Otherwise, the back of a heavy spoon will suffice as well.

Whisk the egg whites until frothy (about 2 minutes). Add the almonds, and fold them over to coat. Add the spices mixture and mix again until they seem evenly distributed.

Spread the nuts out on the baking sheet and give them all a very generous grind of sea salt. Sprinkle half of the parmesan evenly, and toss to coat. Make sure the nuts are spread in a single layer, and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the nuts. At this point, I added a fresh grind of black pepper all over, but that is your choice.

Bake in the middle rack for 25 minutes. Remove to cool completely before serving. And a final little dusting of parmesan when they are hot out of the oven never hurt anyone either. 

Baked Kale Chips 

2 bunches of Lacinato (or black) kale
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Smoked Paprika
Sea Salt

Heat oven to 300 degrees
Rinse, dry and cut kale into 3" long pieces
Rub olive oil onto leaves front and back
Place leaves on parchment on a baking sheet
Sprinkle with a little smoked paprika and sea salt
Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until crunchy. Be watchful as the leaves can quickly turn dark and bitter if left in the oven too long.

Soft Pretzels

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Makes 16 full-sized or 32 miniature

2 cups warm water (100°F to 110°F)
1 tablespoon + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 packet active dry yeast
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons canola or other neutral oil
1/4 cup baking soda
1 large egg
Coarse or pretzel salt

Vegetable-oil cooking spray

Pour warm water and 1 tablespoon sugar into bowl of electric mixer fitted with a dough hook* and stir to combine. Sprinkle with yeast, and let sit 10 minutes; yeast should be foamy.

Add 1 cup flour to yeast, and mix on low until combined. Add salt and 4 cups more flour, and mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Beat on medium-low until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add another 1/2 cup flour, and knead on low 1 minute more. If dough is still wet and sticky, add 1/2 cup more flour (this will depend on weather conditions); knead until combined, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a lightly floured board, and knead about ten times, or until smooth.

Pour oil into a large bowl; swirl to coat sides. Transfer dough to bowl, turning dough to completely cover all sides. Cover with a kitchen towel, and leave in a warm spot for 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in size.

Heat oven to 450°F. Lightly spray two baking sheets with cooking spray (parchment paper, ungreased, also works). Set aside. Punch down dough to remove bubbles. Transfer to a lightly floured board. Knead once or twice, divide into 16 pieces (about 2 1/2 ounces each) or 32 if making miniature pretzels, and wrap in plastic.

Roll one piece of dough at a time into an 18-inch-long strip. [I find the pretzels much easier to roll on an unfloured board, oddly enough, but see what works for you.] Twist into pretzel shape; transfer to prepared baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel. Continue to form pretzels; eight will fit on each sheet (you may need a third sheet if making miniatures). Let pretzels rest until they rise slightly, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, fill large, shallow pot with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Add baking soda (and step back, it foams up quickly) and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Reduce to a simmer; transfer three to four pretzels to water. Poach 1 minute on each side. Use slotted spoon to transfer pretzels to baking sheet. Continue until all pretzels are poached.

Beat egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush pretzels with egg glaze. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on wire rack, or eat warm. Pretzels are best when eaten the same day, but will keep at room temperature, uncovered, for two days. Do not store in covered container or they will become soggy.



There are many moments when I feel very fortunate to live where we do in California. There is so much variation, between the mountains, the desert, the ocean that one can never get bored. Big Sur, in Northern Cali is a revelatory place. Nestled right on the jagged, rocky coast, this little town sits cradled by ancient redwoods that reach higher than once could imagine possible. We pitched a tent at the Big Sur Campground and Cabins for two days and after the kids passed out in s'more comas in their tents, we adults sat by the fire until well after midnight sharing stories and laughs. Next we made our way up to San Francisco, where our friend Allison and her son Gabe opened up their lovely home to us for a few days. Nico's transportation fantasies were realized with his first trolley car ride and a ferry ride all in one day. Two highlights for me, one food-related of course, was the Ferry Building where Ciao Bella was serving up rose petal champagne sorbet, and then there was a visit to Heath Ceramics in Sausalito, the famous mid-century pottery, where we got some pretty new plates. Pictures of such plates will appear here soon I'm sure. 













{from Big Sur Bakery just up the road}



{Our friend Allison's lovely house in Larkspur, where we crashed}






While our weather here in Southern Cali is mild, we do have signs of Spring that bless us, even if subtle.

There are almost daily bike/scooter rides.

Often with quick breaks to watch a little baseball.

There is lots of flower picking and smelling.

We search for unusual things blooming in the trees.

And we try and grow a little something even if we don't have a garden (yet).      

We are off to Big Sur for a little camping. Have a happy week!

An idea coming to fruition, a recipe, some sea salt and measuring tools. 

Mateo behind me doing homework. Nico's not far away–usually with his stash of cars.

Spices are mixed,

Onions sauteed, 

Somehow it all comes together as dinner every night.

Chana Masala

Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey via recipezaar.com

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 medium onions, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 fresh, hot green chili pepper, minced
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 tablespoon amchoor powder (see note)
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 cups tomatoes, chopped small or 1 15-ounce can of whole tomatoes with their juices, chopped small
2/3 cup water
4 cups cooked chickpeas or 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 lemon (juiced) (see note; I used a whole lemon to swap for the amchoor powder)

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion, garlic, ginger and pepper and sauté over medium heat until browned, about 5 minutes. Turn heat down to medium-low and add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, cumin seeds, amchoor (if using it), paprika and garam masala. Cook onion mixture with spiced for a minute or two, then add the tomatoes and any accumulated juices, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the pan. Add the water and chickpeas. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, then stir in salt and lemon juice.

Roasted Cauliflower

Preheat oven to 425-degrees

1 head of cauliflower chopped (approximately 3 cups of florets)

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt + pepper

Place florets into a bowl and coat with olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour coated florets into baking pan, and bake until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Stir every 5-7 minutes while roasting. 




80-degree day : not a cloud in the sky : school is over for the day : french fries on the sand

I can smell a good summer on it's way.