Indigo runner

Last Thanksgiving, I tie-dyed a white cotton table runner using the Japanese Shibori technique. It typically involves folding, twisting or bunching cloth and binding it, then dyeing it in indigo. Whatever is used to bind the fabric will resist the dye, resulting in areas of the cloth that take the distinctive blue dye in patterns created by the resistance, and other areas of the cloth that remain white. Got that?

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I wanted to share a few more photos of our trip. As difficult, expensive, loud, dirty, cut-throat and overwhelming as New York can be, it is a city that still offers so much. And as glad as I was to come home to our warm, sunny, spot by the beach, I hope to continue to introduce nyc to my children, and that they too will know what it's like to call it their own. Someday. In the meantime, we had:


Central Park






 Doughnut Plant (!)



 The High Line



 Children's Museum of the Arts




 And Brooklyn, with it's indefatigable array of sweet little shops like Hiho Batik, where you could design your own batik creation. 




"Bye, bye New York!"







hearts of all kinds / some Nico-made peanut butter pretzel dipped in chocolate concoctions / sweet Valentine's Day.

It's still hard for me to consider myself a real knitter.

Despite the fact that I first learned a few years ago, it's still an activity that kinda scares me. There are so many styles, so many techniques to learn, so many many many ways to make a mistake. It's a lot like life that knitting. It requires patience, focus, attentiveness, a slow, but steady pace. Rush it and mistakes happen. Letting your mind wander too far away and mistakes happen. And if you have any sort of perfectionistic nature as I do, you will start something, make a mistake, rip it out, start it again, make a mistake, rip it out and start again more times than you can stand. If you leave a mistake in there, it's all you can see once it's done. Trust me. But when something's finished and it comes off those needles, man is it satisfying. It's what keeps me coming back for more.

While I'm still getting my knitting legs, I've managed to finish a few projects that are actually useful and one that is simply very nice to look at. All were basic patterns that didn't take too long to finish. 


Everyone needs a hat in winter. And a baby needs a blanket.




A scarf-loving mama needs something to keep her neck warm.




And while not exactly knitting, more weaving perhaps, this is a very cool project found on one of my favorite blogs 3191 Miles Apart. I just love how unique it is. It's made me look out for lots more y-shaped branches. I think they would also make a lovely, unexpected gift for someone special.


Happy Friday!

Hat pattern: Purl Bee

Cowl pattern: Quince & Co.

Branch weaving: 3191 Miles Apart

It's winter here in Southern California, believe it or not. A few mornings this week, when we awoke to temperatures in the low 40s, there were the requisite bowls of steamy spiced oatmeal and mugs of herbal tea passed around the breakfast table. And as the temperatures dipped again as the sun went down, a pot of soup was usually simmering on the stove for dinner. 

I believe our skin deserves just as much attention during these cold spells. And this here balm is the perfect antidote to dry lips, hands, elbows, knees, wherever. Even my moisturizing-averse children ask for it after their baths when they realize how much better it feels not to have dry, itchy skin all the time. 

What I also love about it is it's simplicity and how well it does what it's supposed to. There are just a handful of ingredients and a handful of steps.


There's cocoa butter





coconut butter


a hot stove




a jar (or tin)


a few drops of essential oil



And that's it. I made this one with vanilla oil, which with the cocoa and coconut butters is as lucious and delicious smelling as it sounds. 

Winter Balm (makes about 1 cup)

1/2 cup sweet almond oil

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 Tbsp. cocoa butter

2 Tbsp. coconut butter

2 Tbsp. shea butter

2 Tbsp. beeswax

20 drops essential oil of your choice. Sweet orange, bergamot or lavendar are also nice.

Place all the ingredients into a heat-proof glass measuring cup or use a bowl set into a pot of water. Heat the water to a simmer (not boiling) and stir oil and butter mixture until it dissolves. Remove cup or bowl from the stove and immediately pour into your jar or tin. Drop in your essential oils, and stir again to incorporate. Cover with a clean dishtowel and let cool at room temperature. You can also place the jar in a shallow ice bath to speed up the process. 

For body care ingredients, I usually turn to Mountain Rose Herbs. But most health food stores have similar products. Just take care to use organic and raw if possible.








This year’s Christmas cookie explosion has come and gone, and all that’s left for me is a month-long hiatus from sugar. No sugar at all. Not even any fruit. I’m on day 11 to be exact.  Usually I barely consume any of what I make for these gifts, not only to make sure I have enough to give away, but also because I just don’t like all that temptation around. But this year something got me. The peppermint bark. It got me big time. I had no idea I liked it so much. And because there were dozens of little pieces left from breaking off the larger pieces for the cookie jars, I kind of lost my mind. For my health’s sake, I vow not to repeat that recipe for another decade or so. Anyway, moving on.

The rest of the cookies came out pretty well, I think. There were toasted pecan turtle bars, some traditional Italian lemon ricotta cookies, and speculoos which came out a nice decent spice cookie rimmed in pink sugar crystals. As always, I enjoy hearing back just which became someone’s favorite. And luckily it seemed there was at least a few fans of each one.

This time I’ve included two of the easiest recipes as I don’t think most folks would want to go through the complicated steps of making the perfect caramel sauce for the turtle bars on a weekend afternoon. I know I wouldn’t. Not unless it was for the most special people in my life, of course.

Peppermint Bark

{adapted from the Food Network}

12 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract

1 pound good-quality white chocolate, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

3 candy canes or 12 round hard peppermint candies, crushed

Line a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with aluminum foil, shiny-side up; smooth out any wrinkles. Heat 1 inch of water in a saucepan over low heat until steaming.

Put all but 3/4 cup of the semisweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over the saucepan of steaming water (do not let the bowl touch the water) and stir until one-third of the chocolate is melted. Remove the bowl from the saucepan; keep the steaming water over low heat. Gradually stir the reserved 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate into the bowl, a few pieces at a time, until all of the chocolate is melted. Return the bowl to the saucepan, 5 to 10 seconds at a time, to help melt the chocolate, if needed. Do not rush this step: It may take up to 10 minutes to melt the chocolate.

Wipe off any moisture from the bottom of the bowl. Stir 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract into the chocolate, then quickly pour into the prepared baking dish and spread in an even layer. Firmly tap the dish against the counter to remove any air bubbles. Set aside at room temperature until almost set, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, put all but 1 cup of the white chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and repeat the melting process over the steaming water; dry off the bottom of the bowl. Stir in the remaining 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract; pour over the semisweet chocolate and spread in an even layer. Sprinkle immediately with the crushed candy canes, gently pressing them into the white chocolate. Set aside at room temperature until firm, about 1 hour. Lift the bark out of the pan using the foil and break it into pieces. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Italian Lemon Ricotta Cookies

{adapted from Giada De Laurentiis’ Everyday Italian}

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 lemon, zested


1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 lemon, zested

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.


In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the large bowl combine the butter and the sugar. Using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough (about 2 tablespoons for each cookie) onto the baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.


Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2-teaspoon onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread. Let the glaze harden for about 2 hours. Pack the cookies into a decorative container.
























Some scenes from the last few days. We celebrated the night of the solstice in tradition with fire, hot chocolate, some painting and lots of candles. There was Christmas with lots ripping, smiling, enjoying. Lots of handmade gifts this year, and there was lots to be eaten, of course.

I am always grateful for this span of days–after the crush and busy-ness of all our holiday preparations and activities, when all of life around us seems to simply slow down. The streets are emptier, the air in LA is cleaner, and we are able to detach from our usual routines and settle into a slower, more relaxed rhythm. It may be, I dare say, my favorite time of the year. Hope you are also able to savor it closely with those you love. 









A new tradition started this year: an advent calendar. I was hoping to do something more fun than simply folding back a little paper tab each day as on the store bought versions. I looked around the internet for some inspiration and found this one that I really liked. I liked it so much that I pretty much copied it, save for a few of my own embellishments and my own treats and activity ideas. Not surprisingly, this is the first thing they ask about each morning, and luckily I don't think it's disappointed them yet. 

Life has been busy. Period. There's been work, the building of a new house, the needs of young children, the necessity of keeping things together, steady and moving, even the recent time change, which always leaves me feeling like I'm part bear with an overwhelming desire to get in bed and hibernate. Needless to say, I have had nary an hour to sit down and keep up with this, my dear little family journal. But indeed the last two weeks can perhaps be summarized with:




Watching buddhist monks create a sand mandala from scratch.



Finding ourselves in some trippy situations.



Baking and concocting some out of the ordinary food, which I'm not sure was a total success.





Heading to Seattle for a work trip, which made me glad for my life in sunny LA, but also left me pining for what I do believe is the world's best doughnut.



Watching our little new home slowly take shape and envisioning our lives there to come.


Goals that have been met and defended.


And that we are all still happy and well (even the spud versions of us) despite the hectic pace we all seem to demand of ourselves. A little respite might soon be in order.





Blank canvases can be intimidating, at least they are to me. Too many options, no guidelines. (where are the coloring books?!) But, obviously, that's the beauty of it, right? So to try and help my little chickadees become used to seeing a stark, blank, wide open page and not approach it with any trepidation, I found these lovely little Bare Books. We now have a stack of them, and already a few have been filled with boys and squirrels looking for magic kiwi trees, and super muscle boys with fangs and gigantic electromagnets. It's certainly helped them understand the concept of a book's beginning, middle and end, and how each picture is a progression of the story. Perhaps I need to pull out one of those books for myself. I too need to find my own inner fang boy.