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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

summer on the farm

In June, I went up north sans kids to help out with the art program at Plantation Farm Camp - a most beloved place in northern California. I first began as an eight-year-old camper here thirty years ago! I ended up staying til I was fifteen and then returning as a seventeen-year-old and working there until I was twenty-five. The kids have been to their family camp for four years and this summer, Mr. P. was old enough to be a real live sleep away camper. 

But of course I followed him to camp. I helped out with the art program (I bunked on the opposite side of the farm) and Doodle was able to participate as a day camper and bunked with me at night. 

Here are some photos from our adventure!!!












It was so fun seeing them in such a rustic environment - away from the city and electronics. They loved milking cows, training the puppies (more on that front later this week!), creating archery targets, writing and staring in a drama, pottery, shucking corn, making new friends….it was all such a great experience!!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

summer reading 2014

While I haven't been blogging a whole lot this summer, I have been reading! Because I spend so much time with the kids over the summer, I don't get a lot of writing done, but as long as I have a book with me everywhere I go, I can sneak in reading!! I tend to gravitate towards fast, summer reads over the summer. So, here's what I've been gobbling up! I've starred the ones I really liked. The synopses come from Amazon. 



*A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

"Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption."


*The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai

"Meet the Devohrs: Zee, a Marxist literary scholar who detests her parents’ wealth but nevertheless finds herself living in their carriage house; Gracie, her mother, who claims she can tell your lot in life by looking at your teeth; and Bruce, her step-father, stockpiling supplies for the Y2K apocalypse and perpetually late for his tee time. Then there’s Violet Devohr, Zee’s great-grandmother, who they say took her own life somewhere in the vast house, and whose massive oil portrait still hangs in the dining room.

Violet’s portrait was known to terrify the artists who resided at the house from the 1920s to the 1950s, when it served as the Laurelfield Arts Colony—and this is exactly the period Zee’s husband, Doug, is interested in. An out-of-work academic whose only hope of a future position is securing a book deal, Doug is stalled on his biography of the poet Edwin Parfitt, once in residence at the colony. All he needs to get the book back on track—besides some motivation and self-esteem—is access to the colony records, rotting away in the attic for decades. But when Doug begins to poke around where he shouldn’t, he finds Gracie guards the files with a strange ferocity, raising questions about what she might be hiding. The secrets of the hundred-year house would turn everything Doug and Zee think they know about her family on its head—that is, if they were to ever uncover them.

In this brilliantly conceived, ambitious, and deeply rewarding novel, Rebecca Makkai unfolds a generational saga in reverse, leading the reader back in time on a literary scavenger hunt as we seek to uncover the truth about these strange people and this mysterious house. With intelligence and humor, a daring narrative approach, and a lovingly satirical voice, Rebecca Makkai has crafted an unforgettable novel about family, fate and the incredible surprises life can offer."




Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty 

"Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.
New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.
 
Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive."



*We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
 
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.




The Girls from Corona del Mar by Rufi Thorpe

"An astonishing debut about friendships made in youth, The Girls from Corona del Mar is a fiercely beautiful novel about how these bonds, challenged by loss, illness, parenthood, and distance, either break or endure.

Mia and Lorrie Ann are lifelong friends: hard-hearted Mia and untouchably beautiful, kind Lorrie Ann. While Mia struggles with a mother who drinks, a pregnancy at fifteen, and younger brothers she loves but can’t quite be good to, Lorrie Ann is luminous, surrounded by her close-knit family, immune to the mistakes that mar her best friend’s life. Then a sudden loss catapults Lorrie Ann into tragedy: things fall apart, and then fall further—and there is nothing Mia can do to help. And as good, brave, fair Lorrie Ann stops being so good, Mia begins to question just who this woman is, and what that question means about them both. 

A staggeringly honest, deeply felt novel of family, motherhood, loyalty, and the myth of the perfect friendship, The Girls from Corona del Mar asks just how well we know those we love, what we owe our children, and who we are without our friends."



The One and Only by Emily Giffin

"Thirty-three-year-old Shea Rigsby has spent her entire life in Walker, Texas—a small college town that lives and dies by football, a passion she unabashedly shares. Raised alongside her best friend, Lucy, the daughter of Walker’s legendary head coach, Clive Carr, Shea was too devoted to her hometown team to leave. Instead she stayed in Walker for college, even taking a job in the university athletic department after graduation, where she has remained for more than a decade.
 
But when an unexpected tragedy strikes the tight-knit Walker community, Shea’s comfortable world is upended, and she begins to wonder if the life she’s chosen is really enough for her. As she finally gives up her safety net to set out on an unexpected path, Shea discovers unsettling truths about the people and things she has always trusted most—and is forced to confront her deepest desires, fears, and secrets.
 
Thoughtful, funny, and brilliantly observed, The One & Only is a luminous novel about finding your passion, following your heart, and, most of all, believing in something bigger than yourself . . . the one and only thing that truly makes life worth living."



*The Vacationers by Emma Straub

"An irresistible, deftly observed novel about the secrets, joys, and jealousies that rise to the surface over the course of an American family’s two-week stay in Mallorca.

For the Posts, a two-week trip to the Balearic island of Mallorca with their extended family and friends is a celebration: Franny and Jim are observing their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, and their daughter, Sylvia, has graduated from high school. The sunlit island, its mountains and beaches, its tapas and tennis courts, also promise an escape from the tensions simmering at home in Manhattan. But all does not go according to plan: over the course of the vacation, secrets come to light, old and new humiliations are experienced, childhood rivalries resurface, and ancient wounds are exacerbated.

This is a story of the sides of ourselves that we choose to show and those we try to conceal, of the ways we tear each other down and build each other up again, and the bonds that ultimately hold us together. With wry humor and tremendous heart, Emma Straub delivers a richly satisfying story of a family in the midst of a maelstrom of change, emerging irrevocably altered yet whole."



If I Stay by Gayle Forman

"In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen ­year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. Heartwrenchingly beautiful, this will change the way you look at life, love, and family. Now a major motion picture starring Chloe Grace Moretz, Mia's story will stay with you for a long, long time"




*The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman


"A brilliantly imaginative and poignant fairy tale from the modern master of wonder and terror, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is Neil Gaiman’s first new novel for adults since his #1 New York Times bestseller Anansi Boys.
This bewitching and harrowing tale of mystery and survival, and memory and magic, makes the impossible all too real…"


*California by Edan Lepucki

"The world Cal and Frida have always known is gone, and they've left the crumbling city of Los Angeles far behind them. They now live in a shack in the wilderness, working side-by-side to make their days tolerable in the face of hardship and isolation. Mourning a past they can't reclaim, they seek solace in each other. But the tentative existence they've built for themselves is thrown into doubt when Frida finds out she's pregnant. 

Terrified of the unknown and unsure of their ability to raise a child alone, Cal and Frida set out for the nearest settlement, a guarded and paranoid community with dark secrets. These people can offer them security, but Cal and Frida soon realize this community poses dangers of its own. In this unfamiliar world, where everything and everyone can be perceived as a threat, the couple must quickly decide whom to trust.

A gripping and provocative debut novel by a stunning new talent, Californiaimagines a frighteningly realistic near future, in which clashes between mankind's dark nature and deep-seated resilience force us to question how far we will go to protect the ones we love."

Friday, August 15, 2014

super healthy kids

I know, I know. I am horrible at this blogging thing over the summer. With mere moments free with my thoughts, I just can't pull it together to post! Two more weeks and then I'm back. I promise! In the meantime, I recently discovered this website, Super Healthy Kids, aimed at getting our kids to eat more fruits and vegetables. Since I'm trying to add more to my life as well, I thought I'd check it out! It has tons of great recipes and lunch ideas and ways to make food fun! 



Check it out!

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Kitchen Cure 2014

It's time once again for The Kitchn's Kitchen Cure! I signed up last year and boy, what a difference it made in my kitchen! Sign up and you'll get tips and schedule that will clear out and clean up your kitchen over a four-week period and get you ready for some fall cooking! 

Who wouldn't want that??



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

This and that

The days keep slipping by with nary a blog post in sight! Sorry! Three hour camp is killing me, which I assume can only get more challenging when they downgrade to NO camp for the month of August. 

We recently celebrated my dad's 81st birthday. He wanted the kids to be involved, so we all went out to dinner and everyone wrote him a poem. It was really sweet to hear everyone's kind and funny words about this funny father of mine. Then everyone came back to our house to participate in the playing of Wii sports and Just Dance. Not the typical 81 year old party activity, but then again, I don't have a typical 81 year old for a father. 

We spent a wonderful day on the beach in the water (it happened to be the same day all of those people were struck by lightening in Venice Beach in that tragedy.) We were in Malibu and you'd never even know there was a storm brewing mere miles away. 

In other news, I completely neglected my kombucha scoby when I went away to farm camp (I need to upload those photos to share!). Luckily, my friend Karen, the scoby whisperer, came over and encouraged me to continue fermenting and look what I unveiled last week! My scoby went from this ugly brown color (see gross scoby lying in water) to this vibrant, translucent scoby in forefront of photo. I've been loving my ginger kombucha, ramping up for my AIP diet in September (more on that soon)


In the meantime, it's been nothing but good eats over here. Monday is pasta night and while the kids get some sort of quinoa pasta the grown ups get zucchini pasta. Below, it's served with bacon and figs and parsley, inspired by this recipe.


This is my attempt at a skillet cookie (super big cookie baked in a pan). The kids LOVED it. I used this recipe, but if I made it again, I'd reduce the sugar by at least 1/4 of a cup. 



I finally finished cutting my pattern pieces for my Anise Collete jacket. It was an exhausting process. Today, I'll be ironing and then I'll finally start sewing the darn thing. Maybe I should change the name of my blog to the Slow Seamstress. That's how I'm feeling these days. 



Friday, July 25, 2014

garden peppers

These pretty peppers popped up in our garden. About half are killer spicy - the others, not so much. 


While there is nothing gargantuan about this summer produce as there was two years ago when we grew the monster zucchini, we have a pretty good crop of sweat peas, strawberries, peppers, cucumbers, fennel and our first tennis-ball-sized watermelon!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

smoothie pictograph

I love this smoothie pictograph from the Blender Girl!

It should in what order you should put things in the blender to make smoothies as well as different ways to jazz up your smoothies. 

We make a lot of smoothies over here as it's the one way I can guarantee that Mr. P., my vegetarian-who-doesn't-like-vegetables will get enough protein (powder) and nutrients (lots of hidden kale and spinach)

I'm printing this one out and sticking it on the fridge!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

want to go to a sewing party?




There's a sewing party brewing set to take place on November 8th. Want to go?

Basically, it's an online sewing conference filled with classes, seminars and general crafty camaraderie. 

Read more about specific classes being taught here.


Or enter to win a free ticket here at Delia Creates!



Friday, July 18, 2014

pleather tote

You thought I was going to disappear for another month, didn't you? I don't blame you. I'm a fickle summer fool over here. 

The kids are at camp for three hours a day, which, once transportation is factored in, bequeaths me with about two hours to workout, shower, tidy up the house, prepare an afternoon activity, catch up on email and edit my forthcoming young adult novel (final edits are due August 15th). 

So, you can see how blogging can get bumped a little bit down the list of things that need to be done. 



Anyhow, this tote was the first project I wanted to complete over the summer. I got the free pattern online here from See Kate Sew. I found the pleather at L.A.'s fashion district for about a dollar for an entire yard (totally worth the trip!) and the fabric (both outer and lining) I got my local sewing store, Sew Modern. The other notions were purchased at F & S. 


This was an easy afternoon project. When I completed it, I felt as though it was too long. It was perfect for a laptop bag, but seemed a bit excessive for an everyday tote. So, instead of being my usual lazy self, I went back in and broadened the bottom seam, making the bag wider and cutting down on the length. If I had it in me (which I don't) I'd go back in one more time and shift it so that the pleather takes up about 1/3 of the bag's material and the other, green material takes up 2/3. If you follow the pattern exactly, you too will have a long, laptop-like bag, so my advice before sewing would be to shorten the length of the leather  / pleather. 



Til next time, happy sewing!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

homemade polenta


Did I really just take over a month off from blogging?? Sorry about my abrupt disappearance, although, I'm guessing that you'll notice it happened just around the times my kiddos got out of school, which means, I was just busy with them!! Turns out the same number of you visit each day whether I post or not, ha!



In a nutshell, I spent two weeks on a farm in Northern California (more to come) and then home where I've been socializing, reading, getting our house organized, entertaining the kids and driving them to a whole lot of playdates.

There are many amazing things about the farm and I'll dive into all that over the coming week, but one of the great treats was having three meals a day prepared for me! It felt so luxurious! But of course, as soon as I came home, the first thing I did was dive back into the kitchen.

One recipe I've been wanting to try for a while now is homemade polenta. Who knew that all it takes is some home ground popcorn kernels?? The polenta, which I made from scratch, then grilled, came out grittier than the store bought kind, but that's because it has been way less processed, and I actually liked the texture better. 

The recipe I used can be found here

I served it over a bed of kale, roasted zucchini and avocado.




Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Go Kings Go!

Pardons and excuses for the lack of posts lately. The end of the year is always crazy with so much going on between the two school and summer planning. I had a draft of my young adult novel due to my editor a few days ago.  I will be helping to organize the art program for my favorite summer camp this year, so there's been a lot of planning and projects happening at home. July will be much more mellow, so stick it out! 

I happen to live in a hockey family. My parents are both from Montreal and spent their childhoods watching hockey. I somehow managed to marry a Greek boy from California whose passion for the last  thirty years has been….you guessed it….hockey. And now my two boys have been bitten by the bug and suddenly know things like stats and players names. So not in my vocabulary.

So when the Kings go to the Stanley Cup finals, it's a big deal around here. 

We took the kids to game one:



Mr. P. loved every second of it. Doodle was ready to leave after his second hot dog.

We took my dad to game two:

These two waited in line out front to see if they could shoot a hockey puck into a little hole. 



Happy father and daughter:





Happy wife with husband who was watching a very nerve wracking game. He couldn't handle it. And in fact, couldn't speak the next morning from all the yelling he did. 



But he enjoyed his victory pose at the end. 



The crowds were crazy!



Game three just happened in New York. (Kings won!) And we're eagerly awaiting watching Wednesday night's game, also in New York. 

Mr. P. was very excited to finish off his roller hockey season last weekend. He had a bunch of his amazingly supportive friends come and cheer him on! And he was awarded this trophy from his coach, which ended up sticking out of my itty bitty purse all day yesterday, apparently I was trying to redefine the meaning of the word, trophy mom. 






Wednesday, June 4, 2014

crap

Doodle loves to find "treasures" at school. In the past, these have included errant sequins, shiny rocks and cat poop. Yup, you read that right. And he gets equally enthused by each treasure. 

Well, the other morning he awoke in a state of panic, "Mom! Where are the pants I was wearing yesterday?? I left my treasure in the pocket!"

I fished his pants out of the laundry room and he rooted around the pocket searching for something. 

"Yes!!!!" he said proudly, pulling out a metallic object. "My treasure!"

He handed me the following:


He's not reading yet, so the humor went way over his head. According to my husband, this is apparently the name of a designer jeans company that another child must have been donning at school. 

The whole thing kind of made my day. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

pretzels

The end of the school year is crazy busy! I apologize for the lack of posts lately! There are so many parties and classroom events and teacher luncheons and beach picnics and pool parties….I can't keep it all straight!!!



Mr. P. and I made these pretzels for an after school snack yesterday. They were extra delicious dipped in spaghetti sauce. 

We used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I left out the baking soda / lye wash and they still turned out great. I also blew it and completely forgot to let the dough rise for an hour after kneading it and guess what? They tasted delicious!

Bread is so forgiving. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

yarn video

Check out this video made entirely out of yarn. Pretty cool!! Wonder if my kids would be interested in some yarn animation over the summer??



Tuesday, May 27, 2014

breakfast egg and asparagus baguette

Did you have a nice Memorial weekend? We spent a few nights with some friends and their children at La Quinta Resort in Palm Springs. Boasting over 40 pools, it was pretty magical! The kids loved scooting and skating and biking all over the grounds and the outdoor, poolside showing of Frozen was a highlight as was the late night, glow in the dark bocce ball game. 

Now we're in the home stretch with only 12 more days of school left for Mr. P.! And then he's in third grade!?!? Doodle has a bit more time as his school goes til the beginning of August. He and I spent the morning at the doctor who has deemed his broken foot to be healed!! 

I have been trying to make a little more time for breakfast (I tend to only eat breakfast on the weekend) and enjoyed this delicious breakfast egg and asparagus baguette the other morning that I wanted to share with you. Sub any leftover veggie that's in the fridge. 


Breakfast egg and asparagus baguette:
-two hard boiled eggs
-four inch piece of baguette, sliced in half
-grilled asparagus (or other veggie)
-veganaisse (or mayonaisse)
-dill
-salt and pepper to taste

1. toast baguette slices to liking

2. slice hard boiled eggs. 

3. top with veganaisse, asparagus, sliced eggs, salt, pepper and dill

Friday, May 23, 2014

collard green pesto

I love receiving our organic, local produce delivery box every Monday from Good Life Organics. As soon as it comes, I rinse and dry everything and then assess the contents and start planning the week's meals. 

This week, included in the delivery was a stack of beautiful, dark collard greens that I often use to make wraps. But it was Monday pasta night (pasta for the kids, shredded zucchini for us) and I was really craving pesto. Our basil plant is looking a little lackluster, so I decided to experiment and try a collard green pesto. What followed is a delicious, nutritious discovery!


Collard Green Pesto

5 collard green leaves
a hunk of Parmesan (by "hunk" i mean an ounce or two, depending on your preference)
1/2 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves
1/4 cup of walnuts
salt and pepper to taste
fennel fronds (optional! I happened to be making something involving fennel from our garden that night, so I included a few fennel fronds as well - totally optional!)

Place all ingredients in Vitamix or blender and mix until blended. Feel free to add some water, a little at a time, until you have the right consistency. You could also add some lemon juice. 


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

fashion district

I've been wanting to make the trek downtown to the fashion district since I started sewing over five years ago. It's really only a twenty minute drive, barring no traffic, but it just seems really far away. 

I dropped this guy off at school…



…met my mom at home and armed with caffeine and some serious air conditioning for the ridiculous heat wave Los Angeles has been experiencing, we headed downtown. The traffic wasn't so bad, but we were witnesses to a crazy car accident and ended up having to call 911, but I digress. 

Once downtown we drove around til we found the least expensive park-all-day lot (which ended up being $4.00 - a steal from the $20.00+ price I read about online.)

Our first stop was Michael Levine on 920 Maple Ave. So, there are two different stores, both under the umbrella of Michael Levine. The first is their regular store that has an amazing selection of fabric and tools and patterns, but the prices are pretty standard. (they have one of the few public restrooms down there that costs a quarter to use.)

I loved this laminate! It was $30.00 a yard, so I passed on purchasing it. 



But across the street is the discount bargain bin version of Michael Levine. Here is where they bring all of their extra fabric both scrap sized and by the yard. They dump it all in these huge bins and you have to search through them to find what you want or what you don't even know you want until you find it and then it feels like Christmas. 



I scored all of this great jersey material as well as ribbing. 



I've already made a muscle tee for Mr. P. no pattern necessary. 



It was the hottest day of the year (103 when we were downtown) so the heat of the loft and the searching through bins made us work quickly. 

Then we walked about six blocks to the FIDM student scholarship store




(FIDM = Fashion Institute of Design and Marketing) Here, students donate their gently used, designer brand clothing that is for sale at a bargain price. I bought a funky pair of short for $4.00. In the back of the store, they have bolts of fabric at a steal!

I got this yard of pleather for $1.00!!!


yards of this art deco stretch fabric for $2.00



 And two yards of this incredibly soft, textured navy blue fabric for $2.00! 



A variety of buttons….


We walked the grounds of FIDM, impressed by their campus. We loved this fountain (probably because at this point we were dehydrated and starving.)




Walking back to the action at the garment district, we discovered a Brazillian restaurant called The Wooden Spoon. It was pretty good! My mom had plantains and beans and rice and I went for the house specialty, the Brazillian chicken pot pie. 



Back on Maple, we walked through a few more stores. Unless you have something specific you're looking for, it can be overwhelming to see so much fabric! Just bolts and bolts spilling onto the street:




My last purchase was some burlap - my favorite choice for wrapping paper. I paid $4.00 for four yards. 

I would definitely go back - especially around Halloween Costume making time and I'd love to peruse those Michael Levine bargain bins the next time I need jersey. 

By the way, this was my car's temperature read after leaving it parked in the sun for a few hours…..crazy!! Can you read it? It says 109 degrees!



And if you're interested in reading more about the different fabric stores, the blog Made has a great and thorough blog post on the subject. Read it here!