With the arrival of Spring, a salad for a meal starts to feel right again. While there are limitless options for what those salads may be, finding the appropriate dressing, or just the dressing you want, can take a salad you don’t mind eating to one you’ll devour.

I don’t remember when I started experimenting with making salad dressings, but I do know that it may be one of the most underrated things you can create in the kitchen. Super easy, and will turn you away from what you can buy in a bottle no matter how gourmet you go. Also keep in mind that one batch will last you, depending on your salad comsumption, ar least a week or two. Maybe even more.

Here are some of my favorites:

: Basic/Everyday Balsamic Vinaigrette :
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Take one medium shallot and mince. Place in a bowl (or measuring cup, or a jar) with 2 tablespoons of DIjon mustard and a teaspoon of sea salt. I like to muddle this all together a little to bring out the flavor of the shallot. If you can’t find a shallot, a 1/4 cup of diced onion would work fine.

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Next add 3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil and a 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar. It’s a 3:1 ratio that works for any type of vinaigrette (whether you’re using red wine, champagne, or even white vinegar). You could end there, but I usually add about a two teaspoons of pomegranate molasses. It’s adds sweetness as well as litte more acidity. Last, add about 3 tablespoons of maple syrup. If you like it sweeter, add more; more savory just add less.

Pour this into your shallot/mustard mixture and emulsify with a whisk or a fork. Mix it until it looks uniform. You could also put all the ingredients into a jar with a lid and shake away until it looks like this:


Basic/Everyday Vinaigrette

{makes about 1-3/4 cups}

3/4 cup of your best extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (or other high-quality vinegar)

3 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

2 tsp. pomegranate molasses (optional)

1 medium shallot minced

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 tsp. sea salt

Pinch of black pepper

Whisk or shake until well emulsified.


: Carrot Ginger Dressing :


This asian-style dressing, which could also double as a vegetable dip, works really well with sturdier lettuces like romaine, butterleaf, frisee, mustard greens, or even kale. A favorite of mine with this dressing is to mix romaine with some broken pieces of cooked thin rice noodles, a few handfuls of jicama matchsticks, scallions, toasted slivered almonds, and black sesame seeds.

Carrot Ginger Dressing:

{makes about 1-1/2 cups)

1/2 cup minced onion

2 carrots diced

2 Tbsp. minced ginger root

1/2 cup peanut oil

1/3 cup rice wine vinegar

2 Tbsp. water

1 Tbsp. ketchup

4 tsp. soy sauce

4 tsp. raw honey

2 tsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. minced garlic

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in a blender and mix until well combined.

: Mexican Green Goddess Dressing :

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Mexican Green Goddess Dressing

{makes about 1-1/4 cups}

2/3 cups Vegenaise (or plain yogurt)

1/4 cup cilantro

2 scallions chopped, white and light green parts only

2/3 cup lime juice

2 Tbsp. Anaheim chili pepper (or jalapeno if you like it spicier), chopped

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1-1/2 Tbsps. raw honey

1/2 tsp. sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender until well combined.
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As this is another creamier dressing, so a hearty lettuce or green works best with it. I made the salad above with romaine and topped it with black beans, sliced radishes, cherry tomatoes, an avocado, toasted pepitas, and crumbled queso fresco. You could also toss in some quinoa or other favorite protein for an even more substantial meal. Enjoy!










Our dearest littlest turned one this past weekend. His first trip round the sun completed. And what a special trip it was.

Jude manages to touch almost every single person he encounters. He and I often get stopped in public by strangers who just want to connect with him. I don't claim any part of that–it is who he is, and is perhaps one of the many gifts he holds. I just get to watch and feel grateful that he has so much positive and well-intended energy flowing his way.




We celebrated with a party that brought some of our dearest folks together in the bright Spring sun. It felt fitting to have all that love surround our little blue-eyed boy, for he gives us all so much. I know now, in a way I don't think I did with my older children, that the time does indeed go by so fast. I know now to savor each milestone and hold them close right in the moment they're in.


















A few snaps of a quick trip with friends to Joshua Tree from a few days ago. Such a unique place, that town. Beautiful trees aside, it amazes me how it's managed to stay slow and sleepy despite being world famous. Even the small towns around it seem tame out of respect for it. If you're looking for a chain store or a restaurant, you're not going to find it there. If you're looking for some dusty thrift shops (with lots of great finds), health-conscious food, and lots of dreamcatchers and energy healers, you got it. 

There is even place purported to have connections to extra-terrestrials, called the Integratron, which was very interesting and refreshing, I do admit. It's a must visit if you're so inclined.

As always, I turn to the desert for warmth, escape and expansion and it never disappoints. The kids were able to roam and explore the desert deeply and the adults were able to take a deep breath and just pause.  






Hunting and photographing spring flowers,





and hunting like mad for treat-filled eggs. Easter just has that way of making Spring feel official. 

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…never ceases to amaze me. Number 3. I had in mind something entirely different for this week's post, but I felt I just had to give Jude a little shout out. There are many, many things about this boy that we've all fallen for: how often he smiles, how he shakes with excitement when he sees someone he loves, how he sometimes says "uh oh" when something falls, how he sings himself to sleep, and claps for himself when he thinks he's done something well. I could keep going. But this week, it's his patience. I never knew an 11-month old baby could sit in a parked stroller, as he did in the picture above, for almost 4 hours while his mother worked on our school garden. And do it again for almost the same amount of time the next day. He got out for a few minutes here and there, but with kids running everywhere and a ground just a touch too dirty to be crawled on, well, it was stroller time. But never once did he make a real fuss, or even legitimately complain. He just sat and watched, munched on some baby munchies, and found himself entertained by lots of adoring elementary school girls. I kept looking over and imagined him thinking, "what do these girls want from me?!" 

Anyway, I'm hopeful this little love bubble won't burst anytime soon, even once he starts walking in a few months (wink, wink). I just know that he knows how to keep his mama's heart strung.


I first heard this song on one of our local radio stations a couple of months ago and instantly fell in love with it and the singer's voice (that I just assumed was a woman's–I was wrong about that.) Some have compared the vocals and melodies to Sade, and while I could hear how Mike Milosh's smooth, sort of coo-ish voice could remind you of her, after finally listening to the entire album, I'm not sure I agree. Rhye's music is more atmospheric and rooted in electronica than Sade's worldlier, jazzier sound. Two different styles, both good I say. Anyway, it's an album I can't recommend highly enough. It's music you can put on at the end of a long night, or when you're trying to cook dinner, or when you want to just listen to something good through some headphones. It even works to mellow out three little boys. Yes indeed. 


For a sort-of-cold week, there were two types of soups.


This broccoli soup,


One that requires some carmelized onions, which usually guarantees it will be good.


Indeed it was. My version of a healing chicken noodle soup. Recipe here.


There were beets for Jude,


which when roasted, pureed and eaten, always make him look a little naughty.


We discovered Sumos, some sort of mandarin variety that is as perfect as an orange can taste, I do believe.


Nico and I made a dessert that was sort of improvised, and one we’re still refining, but still tasty nonetheless.






Peanut Butter & Chocolate Crispy Quinoa Bites

4 cups crispy quinoa (found in most health food stores)

2 cups super-smooth peanut butter (a conventional brand like Skippy Natural works best. More natural brands, like the one pictured above, not so well.)

1 cup agave nectar

2 cups semisweet or dark chocolate chips.

Sea salt

Put crispy quinoa into a large bowl. Pour the agave into a small, heavy-bottomed sauce pan and heat over medium-low heat. Once the agave is just warmed (not boiling), take the pan off the heat and add the peanut butter. Combine. Pour this mixture into the bowl with the quinoa. Mix well. Dump this into a 9×13″ baking pan. (optional: lining your pan with foil or wax paper first will make it easier to take out and cut later.) Press mixture with a rubber spatula until flattened.

Next, pour your chocolate chips into a heatproof bowl, place over a double-boiler, and melt. Pour and spread over your quinoa mixture.

Sprinkle with sea salt.

Place the pan into the refrigerator for about 2 hours to set and cool.

Cut into squares and try not to eat the whole pan at once.








A quick trip to Palm Springs last weekend was just long enough for a hike through the Indian Canyons. There were memories for me of Mateo as a toddler and Nico in the same pouch that Jude now hangs in. 

{2007:}DSC_0449_1{Nico on my back at 8 months}

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DSC_0468{Mateo at 3 years.}

Now that doesn't make me feel older at all. Not one little bit…. 😉

You don't have to consider yourself a creative person to know that inspiration in life is crucial. Crucial to birthing ideas and thinking about things in new and sometimes different ways. As someone who considers themselves a visual person, and is greatly influenced by the look and feel of something, inspiration for me usually comes from tangible things: photographs, pieces of art, food, sometimes fashion. And I know I'm not alone when I say that much of my inspiration now comes from the internet. 

There seems to be millions of blogs out there. And like anything you gravitate to, it can be hard to articulate just why one in particular resonates why others don't. I think part of it is, if we were to ever meet, I like to think the women behind these blogs would instantly become my friends. They each reflect some aspect of who I am or aspire to be.

So these are some of my favorites, the ones that help keep those creative juices flowing. Note: All photos are attributed to their respective blogs. 

Lifestyle Blogs:


Soule Mama. Oh Soule Mama. I stumbled upon Amanda Blake Soule's blog through Etsy a few years ago and I've been devoted ever since. She may even be the reason I started blogging in the first place. Her life is so different than mine; she lives on a farm in Maine where she homeschools her five children. But what struck me was how much care she took in creating a simple and natural family and home-centered life. I'd never really seen anything like it. She inspires me to think of my own home as a place for nourishment in all its different forms.


3191 Miles Apart. Started by two friends, one who lives in Portland, Maine the other in Portland, Oregon, 3191 is, according to their site, "weekly thoughts and images about simple living and current inspirations." They have a knack for capturing every day moments in a beautiful way and are always looking for new things to make. I've found myself making many of their projects, more than any other "crafty" (hate that word) site. Theirs are purposeful, long-lasting and always beautiful. 


For Me, For You. This blog belongs to Kate Miss, graphic designer, photographer, jewelry maker. She has a great eye for things, and I love her photographs. Her musings about trying to find yourself in your 20s, reminds me a lot of myself at that age. She inspires me to take better photos and gives me new ways of looking at our shared hometown Los Angeles. 


Sweet Fine Day. Run By Jenna Park who co-owns the Whimsy & Spice baking company with her husband Mark. First and foremost her photographs (I told you I was a visual person!) are lovely. Jenna keeps it real and does not sugar coat raising kids and trying to make a living as a creative person in your late 30s. Plus her photos of New York City make me nostalgic for my days living there.

Food Blogs:

The ones I look to most to help me figure out what in the world to cook night after night, week after week.


The Sprouted Kitchen. While not entirely a vegetarian blog, Sara Forte's food is primarily plant-based. It's a very reliable place for fairly easy meal ideas. And again, just in case I haven't emphasized how important this is, the photographs are gorgoeous, taken by her very talented husband Hugh Forte.


My New Roots. Canadian food blogger Sarah Britton lives in Copenhagen and works as a natural chef. I usually find myself using her recipes as a base for my own concoctions. Her cooking demos and her TED talk are very inspirational about eating in the most natural way possible. Sarah has gotten me thinking about persuing my own path in holistic nutrition training. We shall see. 


101 Cookbooks. Heidi Swanson's legenday vegetarian blog. Perfect place for simple meals.

General inspirations:


The Brick House. A good place to look for do-it-yourself home ideas. And also fun for a look at spaces you wouldn't mind living in.


You Are the RiverMore eye candy. 

The Sartorialist. Scott Schuman's famed street style blog. If you have any interest in style, his site is a must see. Scott shoots real people he finds on the street. His site's always better than any fashion magazine. 

Other Inspirational Moms:


 At the Glow.

Valentine’s Day is not so important to 8-year-old boys. Or at least it can’t appear that way. After spending a good amount of time thinking about what type of card and how he wanted to decorate it, repeating that 25 times, wrapping them up and taking them to school, Mateo decided not hand a single one of them out. Apparently none of the boys in his class did. I suppose that’s the way it will be until…they have someone special to do it for. Can’t even think about that.


He did seem a little touched by my small hand-stitched hearts. Everyone got one with a tiny message inside. Best part–they took less then 10 minutes to make.



Equally and surprisingly simple to make were some churros with dark chocolate ganache for my adult-sized boy Valentine. Maybe too dangerously simple. Breakfast tomorrow?




Churros con Chocolate

(Special Equipment: Starred pastry tip and pastry bag)

1 cup water

2 tablespoons white sugar

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 quarts vegetable oil for frying

1/2 cup white sugar, or to taste

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate

2 tablespoons heavy cream


In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine water, sugar, salt, and butter. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Immediately stir in flour and mix until it forms a ball.

Heat oil for frying in deep-fryer or deep skillet to 375 degrees F. Pipe strips of dough into hot oil using a pastry bag. Fry until golden (about 10 minutes, constantly flipping); drain on paper towels.

Combine 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon. Roll drained churros in cinnamon and sugar mixture.

For dipping sauce, melt the chocolate over a double boiler and add the cream.  Stir to combine.  For a thinner sauce, add more cream.