Sorry I've been so quiet the past week, I've been suffering yet another sickness, more antibiotics, etc., etc. But now onto better things. 

Well I guess you know you've officially entered the realm of hardcore "mamahood" when you pick up some knitting needles and try to actually make something with them. I have to confess, this was not something that has always interested me (unlike, say, learning a musical instrument which I've tried and it was just too overwhelming at this point in my life), but I have always taken pleasure in making things myself if I can. Over the years, I kept hearing women talk about the meditative aspect of knitting and the intense satisfaction that can come from completing a project. While I'm a person who's inclined to meditate each day, it doesn't always happen, so I thought well, knitting may help focus my mind and I can make the boys a blanket or a hat or something in the process. 

My first class was last week, and it was actually fun, although since I've brought the above project home, the perfectionistic side of me has ripped it all out and started over about 10 times. One surprise, which may not be a surprise to most, is how much of a social, women-gathering activity this is. I went in to buy some needles from a store the other day, and there were 6 or 7 women of all ages around the table creating together.  Us mothers could all use a little more of that in our lives, knitting or not, don't ya think? 

We'll see how it goes, and I'll (hopefully) be back soon to show whatever this brown ball turns into. 


Some may think it's a little strange that each year Matt and I still celebrate the day we officially began "dating," which we did just the other day. I put quotes around the word dating because we never really dated. We met through a mutual friend, began talking on the phone long distance a few months after that, and when we laid eyes on each other in New York City a few months later, we were pretty much inseparable. No one else ever entered the picture. I still consider that night at Madam X in the Village one of the best nights of my life. I had no idea how much my life was about to change, but at the same time I knew nothing would ever be the same. I could feel it. Nine years, a wedding, a cross-country move, and two children later, I look back on that night and I can still vividly remember his smile and how my heart suddenly leapt open. 



The last couple of times we've had friends over for dinner recently, I've made this dessert, and each time it gives me a little thrill to see how much people like it when it really couldn't require any less effort or talent on my part. Now that berry season is about to be in full swing, I plan on making many different varieties around here on a smaller scale when the four of us want (and deserve) a good dessert after dinner. (But if you're coming over for dinner, I promise to serve something different)  Some have asked for the recipe, so I thought I'd share it here. It comes from one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

Blackberry Crisp:

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

3/4 cup rolled oats

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon or to taste

1 cup all-purpose or whole wheat flour

Pinch sea salt

Cream the butter and brown sugar together using an electric mixer, food processor or fork. Stir or pulse in the remaining ingredients until combined and crumbly; it won't hold together like a dough. (This step can be done in advance, just wrap mixture in plastic wrap and refrigerate until you're ready for it.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, pour in washed berries. For a large crisp (enough for 8 people), I use about 8 cups of berries. Add in 1/2 cup of sugar or to taste. Pour sugared berries into a buttered baking dish. Break crumble mixture on top of berries until covered. Now it's ready for the oven.

Bake until golden or just starting to brown, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately or at least while still warm. 

Wasn't that easy?


We took a short Spring break to the remote part of the Northern California coast for a few days. The wild flowers were bursting as we snaked up the Pacific Coast Highway. We drove through brilliant stretches of open land with smooth green hills dotted with dairy cows; around steep, craggy cliffs overlooking a formidable, white-capped sea; through tiny towns with old, lonesome general stores. We even braved the occasional car-sick eruption to get to Anchor Bay, our final destination. 
DSC_0175 Once we were at Mar Vista, and made our way to the little cottage, everything became still. The kids seemed to be taken aback by the combination of bright sunlight, hills of grass, the ocean and the Redwoods all within a few hundred yards of each other. They didn't know which way to turn and run first. 

DSC_0133 There were chickens living the good life, roaming, pecking, rolling in the dust, getting petted by tiny, timid hands. 

DSC_0140 There were eggs to be gathered at the end of the day. Each day a different spectrum of colors from brown to cream, blue to blue-green, even pale pink. Nico was especially gentle. 

DSC_0127 There was a garden overflowing with lettuces, herbs, flowers, tomatoes, beans, strawberries. I didn't think there was a lettuce out there I had not yet eaten. I was wrong. 

DSC_0188 There was a beach across the street. Although one could hardly call it just a beach. 

DSC_0214 There were baby wings.

DSC_0289 And sweet Lola

DSC_0299 Moments of release from the rigors of young-boyhood.
DSC_0319 There were new friendships to be made, it seemed by fate. 

DSC_0217 To have been able to live the dream of saying to my children, "Go outside and play!" while I cooked.  

DSC_0350 To have been able to look at this from my kitchen window.

DSC_0365 And to have been cradled and lulled by the soaring Redwoods. How lucky we were to have lived like this for a few days. 





Two-day heat wave. Dry, dirty heat. Brave boy at the dentist. Must have some relief. 






: No more diapers for Nico! : Pirate/Jedi Knight/Roman soldier combo warriors : Endless stories around the iPod : Digging deep trenches at the beach : Lying back, listening to the ocean and watching planes make trails in the sky :



DSC_0005_2Hold the phone, we now have a certified yellow stripe belt in our house. Six months after starting with the plain ol’ solid white belt, Mateo and his friend William were deemed ready to “test” up to the next level. I love how children this age have no concept of performance anxiety. They each had to stand up in front of dozens of people and pull out their best moves. It should go without saying that I was seriously nervous for him. But he did a great job, and a few days later when we looked to see if he and his friend passed, Mateo was actually excited and extremely proud of himself, especially after Mr. Yi “retired” his old belt by tying it into a ceremonial knot. Maybe this Karate thing means more to him than I realized. 


I discovered this Portobello burger recipe in Food & Wine magazine 6 years ago when Matt and I were still living kid-free in Washington DC. At that time we were living near U Street, which back in the day was a thriving and self-sufficient African American community during the segregation era. It was considered Washington's “Black Broadway" with folks like Duke Ellington playing the after-hours jazz clubs.

But when we lived there, it was not Black Broadway. Almost everyday I would have to step over a homeless person who was passed out drunk on our front steps. I never walked on the carpet with my bare feet because I didn't know what was lurking in it. Matt was bitten by a rat taking out the garbage. We could hear prostitutes conducting business meetings outside our bedroom window. It was bad. But, we figured, we were young and the rent price was right. We could handle it.

So one night I brought home this recipe to cook. It was a ridiculously sweltering DC summer night, and Matt and I got cooking in the kitchen. Vegetables were frying, cheese was melting, buns were toasting. It was all coming together until suddenly cockroaches started flying out from behind the stove. Literally flying. I didn't even know those suckers had wings. Five, maybe eight came flying out and attached themselves to the walls and started crawling. It was bananas.

I ran out laughing and disgusted, but Matt had the bravery to stay. A few minutes later, sweat pouring down his face from battling yet another insect/animal encounter, he brought me this burger on a plate. I had lost my appetite, but he urged me to bite into it and when I did, it was heaven. Really, really juicy and good. 

I know selling a recipe with stories about roaches is not really a good thing, but trust me, it's tasty. We make a basil aioli with it that is the crowning touch to the woody richness of the Portobello and the smokiness of the gouda. Anyway-each time we make this, I have to laugh to myself and thank the Gods that I'm no longer surrounded by killer DC roaches. 





I work from home in my "basement office" as I like to call it, and sometimes it gets a little lonely around here while the boys are at school. For some reason, I feel it a little more after our cleaning lady comes. After she leaves, I often find myself going upstairs and sitting in their suddenly pristine rooms, looking around and absorbing the quiet and the enjoyable neatness. But soon that subsides and I begin to miss the chaos, the seemingly random clutter of childhood mess, that perhaps is very thought out. And I'll get up and begin to look for little clues that my little ones are still in there somewhere. I always discover something, a book, a fake gold pirate coin, some dice will be laying around that I know they played with that morning. And then I feel better knowing that soon they will be home again banging around, I'll ask them 10 times to clean up their rooms, and I'll beg for them to keep their voices down.




This year our Easter egg dyeing was more like a little science experiment. I found some ideas here, and went about soaking eggs in beet juice for some sweetly pale pink eggs, and turmeric that turned them a deep, rich golden color. Brown onion skins turned them sort of a rich, burnt orange color, and we attached some leaves and flowers to the eggs while they were soaking for a little pattern. And who knew that red cabbage turns eggs into a dark, mottled robin's egg blue? It was very cool. 

While these ended up being a little too delicate (and hard-earned) for an egg hunt, Nico and Mateo were more than pleased with the goodies they found in our friends' Alexa and Robert's backyard.

And they were especially pleased with the strawberry waffles and super-fast wagon rides. 

The joy of simple pleasures. It was the kind of Spring day that even us weather-spoiled Southern California natives dream about. Brilliant blue sky; breezy, clean air; with a sun that felt exquisitely warm on the skin. At one point Matt stopped what he was doing to proclaim: "Can we all just give thanks to Mother Nature right now?" Yes, thanks to Mother Nature, and to the sweet company of family and friends.