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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Oh Hi, Ojai!!

Mr. Meremade took a boys trip to Vegas a few weeks ago. Us leftovers at home thought we should go on a trip as well, so we packed it up, packed it in and drove an hour north east of Los Angeles to the quiet and peaceful town of Ojai where we had the pleasure of staying at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa. It almost felt like we were in Hawaii. This place has so much to do, movie nights, taco bars, evening s'mores, story time for kids....

The kids loved that they got to ride in a golf cart to their room (while I followed behind in my car.)


During mealtimes, the kids ran around in the grass / golf course.


We had fun by the pool. 


And even more fun when the sun fell and the pool turned into an outdoor movie theater:


There were breakfasts on the patio:


And a visit to this amazing bookstore where we spent a long time perusing and reading:






We strolled the streets of Ojai (and by streets I mean one main street):


We stumbled upon Kingston's Candy Company:



And relaxed in a nearby Libbey Park:



There was some excitement when a fire broke out at a restaurant across the street form a park. You can't see it in this picture, but there were four blaring firetrucks and lots of hose action:



I dropped the kids off at the kids club and did this for three glorious hours:


There was a fro yo stop:


Lots and lots of walking (oddly enough, no complaining!)


More lounging (See, it is like Hawaii!)


Talking birds:


Poolside dinners:


Poolside movie viewing after the pool got too cold:


And on the way back home, we checked out the Lake Casitas Recreation Area and Park. This place was awesome! With a water fun zone and lazy river (inner tubes included)






I don't do much traveling alone with both kids. And I was kind of nervous about it, but it turns out, it was not only easy and enjoyable, but relaxing! No really! We all went to bed by 9:30 or 10 and slept til 8. It's the most sleep I've gotten in years! 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

sunflower life cycle


Doodle gave me a potted sunflower seed for Mother's Day. We planted it in one of our whiskey barrels and boy has it grown! I've never seen such a big sunflower! Totally worth the wait! (although, it's now gotten so top heavy, that it's drooped over and looks so resigned and sad that I think I need to cut it or give it some Xanex, rather than have it look so depressed!)


Sunday, August 25, 2013

summer reading

Well, this summer I had a love affair with literature. 


It's definitely a challenge to keep up with all the reading I want to do with all the time spent with the kids over the break. But this summer, I really made a concerted effort to read, read, read! First step, stop watching TV. Replace TV with book and voila! Before I knew it, I had read a book a week over the break!

In case any of these sounds interesting to you, click on the links! (I've starred my favorites) And a few are nont pictured as I've loaned out to friends. The blurbs were all taken from the book jackets.

Tomorrow there will be Apricots  by Jessica Soffer

This is a story about accepting the people we love — the people we have to love and the people we choose to love, the families we’re given and the families we make. It’s the story of two women adrift in New York, a widow and an almost-orphan, each searching for someone she’s lost. It’s the story of how, even in moments of grief and darkness, there are joys waiting nearby. Lorca spends her life poring over cookbooks, making croissants and chocolat chaud, seeking out rare ingredients, all to earn the love of her distracted chef of a mother, who is now packing her off to boarding school. In one last effort to prove herself indispensable, Lorca resolves to track down the recipe for her mother’s ideal meal, an obscure Middle Eastern dish called masgouf. Victoria, grappling with her husband’s death, has been dreaming of the daughter they gave up forty years ago. An Iraqi Jewish immigrant who used to run a restaurant, she starts teaching cooking lessons; Lorca signs up. Together, they make cardamom pistachio cookies, baklava, kubba with squash. They also begin to suspect they are connected by more than their love of food. Soon, though, they must reckon with the past, the future, and the truth — whatever it might be. Bukra fil mish mish, the Arabic saying goes. Tomorrow, apricots may bloom.

**The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner

The year is 1975 and Reno — so-called because of the place of her birth — has come to New York intent on turning her fascination with motorcycles and speed into art. Her arrival coincides with an explosion of activity in the art world — artists have colonized a deserted and industrial SoHo, are staging actions in the East Village, and are blurring the line between life and art. Reno meets a group of dreamers and raconteurs who submit her to a sentimental education of sorts. Ardent, vulnerable, and bold, she begins an affair with an artist named Sandro Valera, the semi-estranged scion of an Italian tire and motorcycle empire. When they visit Sandro’s family home in Italy, Reno falls in with members of the radical movement that overtook Italy in the seventies. Betrayal sends her reeling into a clandestine undertow. The Flamethrowers is an intensely engaging exploration of the mystique of the feminine, the fake, the terrorist. At its center is Kushner’s brilliantly realized protagonist, a young woman on the verge. Thrilling and fearless, this is a major American novel from a writer of spectacular talent and imagination.



It is 1930, the midst of the Great Depression. After her mysterious role in a family tragedy, passionate, strong-willed Thea Atwell, age fifteen, has been cast out of her Florida home, exiled to an equestrienne boarding school for Southern debutantes. High in the Blue Ridge Mountains, with its complex social strata ordered by money, beauty, and girls’ friendships, the Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is a far remove from the free-roaming, dreamlike childhood Thea shared with her twin brother on their family’s citrus farm—a world now partially shattered. As Thea grapples with her responsibility for the events of the past year that led her here, she finds herself enmeshed in a new order, one that will change her sense of what is possible for herself, her family, her country.

Weaving provocatively between home and school, the narrative powerfully unfurls the true story behind Thea’s expulsion from her family, but it isn’t long before the mystery of her past is rivaled by the question of how it will shape her future. Part scandalous love story, part heartbreaking family drama,The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is an immersive, transporting page-turner—a vivid, propulsive novel about sex, love, family, money, class, home, and horses, all set against the ominous threat of the Depression—and the major debut of an important new writer.


Tampa by Alissa Nutting


In Alissa Nutting’s novel Tampa, Celeste Price, a smoldering 26-year-old middle-school teacher in Florida, unrepentantly recounts her elaborate and sociopathically determined seduction of a 14-year-old student.
 
Celeste has chosen and lured the charmingly modest Jack Patrick into her web. Jack is enthralled and in awe of his eighth-grade teacher, and, most importantly, willing to accept Celeste’s terms for a secret relationship—car rides after dark, rendezvous at Jack’s house while his single father works the late shift, and body-slamming erotic encounters in Celeste’s empty classroom. In slaking her sexual thirst, Celeste Price is remorseless and deviously free of hesitation, a monstress of pure motivation. She deceives everyone, is close to no one, and cares little for anything but her pleasure.
 
Tampa is a sexually explicit, virtuosically satirical, American Psycho–esque rendering of a monstrously misplaced but undeterrable desire. Laced with black humor and crackling sexualized prose, Alissa Nutting’s Tampa is a grand, seriocomic examination of the want behind student / teacher affairs and a scorching literary debut.


**Bobcat and Other Stories by Rebecca Lee

Rebecca Lee, one of our most gifted and original short story writers, guides readers into a range of landscapes, both foreign and domestic, crafting stories as rich as novels. A student plagiarizes a paper and holds fast to her alibi until she finds herself complicit in the resurrection of one professor's shadowy past. A dinner party becomes the occasion for the dissolution of more than one marriage. A woman is hired to find a wife for the one true soulmate she's ever found. In all, Rebecca Lee traverses the terrain of infidelity, obligation, sacrifice, jealousy, and yet finally, optimism. Showing people at their most vulnerable, Lee creates characters so wonderfully flawed, so driven by their desire, so compelled to make sense of their human condition, that it's impossible not to feel for them when their fragile belief in romantic love, domestic bliss, or academic seclusion fails to provide them with the sort of force field they'd expected.

Wrecked by Charlotte Roche


In her controversial first novel, Wetlands, which The New York Times called "a cri de coeur against the oppression of a waxed, shaved, douched and otherwise sanitized women’s world”, Roche wrote about sex and the female body in an unprecedentedly frank and intimate way. Roche's second novel,Wrecked is just as raw and powerful as her debut, but is a more mature and impressive work that deals with sex, death, fidelity, and the question of what is expected from a twenty-first century wife and mother.

"It's easier to give a blow job than to make coffee." That's what Elizabeth Kiehl, mother of seven-year-old Liza thinks to herself, after a particularly lengthy and inventive bout of sex with her husband Georg—recounted in detail over the book's first twenty pages. Elizabeth goes to great efforts to pleasure her husband in the bedroom, and also is an extremely thoughtful and caring mother to her daughter. But the perfect mother and wife act she puts on hides a painful past and a tragic rift in her psyche, which she is working through in weekly sessions with her therapist. Sex is the other tool that she uses to relax herself. Elizabeth and Georg watch porn together, and even go off on joint trips to a local brothel for threesomes with prostitutes while their daughter is at school. But is their relationship unhealthy, even tragic, or just a very modern marriage?


**Samuel Johnson is Indignant by Lydia Davis

From one of our most imaginative and inventive writers, a crystalline collection of perfectly modulated, sometimes harrowing and often hilarious investigations into the multifaceted ways in which human beings perceive each other and themselves. A couple suspects their friends think them boring; a woman resolves to see herself as nothing but then concludes she's set too high a goal; and a funeral home receives a letter rebuking it for linguistic errors. Lydia Davis once again proves in the words of the Los Angeles Times "one of the quiet giants in the world of American fiction."

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams

One of summer’s best beach reads, as named by People magazine, Vanity FairO: The Oprah Magazine and Good Housekeeping.

Memorial Day, 1938: New York socialite Lily Dane has just returned with her family to the idyllic oceanfront community of Seaview, Rhode Island, expecting another placid summer season among the familiar traditions and friendships that sustained her after heartbreak.

That is, until Greenwalds decide to take up residence in Seaview.

Nick and Budgie Greenwald are an unwelcome specter from Lily’s past: her former best friend and her former fiancĂ©, now recently married—an event that set off a wildfire of gossip among the elite of Seaview, who have summered together for generations. Budgie’s arrival to restore her family’s old house puts her once more in the center of the community’s social scene, and she insinuates herself back into Lily's friendship with an overpowering talent for seduction...and an alluring acquaintance from their college days, Yankees pitcher Graham Pendleton. But the ties that bind Lily to Nick are too strong and intricate to ignore, and the two are drawn back into long-buried dreams, despite their uneasy secrets and many emotional obligations.

Under the scorching summer sun, the unexpected truth of Budgie and Nick’s marriage bubbles to the surface, and as a cataclysmic hurricane barrels unseen up the Atlantic and into New England, Lily and Nick must confront an emotional cyclone of their own, which will change their worlds forever.


The Interestings by Meg Wolizer


The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed. In The Interestings, Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge.

The kind of creativity that is rewarded at age fifteen is not always enough to propel someone through life at age thirty; not everyone can sustain, in adulthood, what seemed so special in adolescence. Jules Jacobson, an aspiring comic actress, eventually resigns herself to a more practical occupation and lifestyle. Her friend Jonah, a gifted musician, stops playing the guitar and becomes an engineer. But Ethan and Ash, Jules’s now-married best friends, become shockingly successful—true to their initial artistic dreams, with the wealth and access that allow those dreams to keep expanding. The friendships endure and even prosper, but also underscore the differences in their fates, in what their talents have become and the shapes their lives have taken.

Wide in scope, ambitious, and populated by complex characters who come together and apart in a changing New York City, The Interestings explores the meaning of talent; the nature of envy; the roles of class, art, money, and power; and how all of it can shift and tilt precipitously over the course of a friendship and a life.




From the bestselling author of The Vagina Monologues and one of Newsweek’s 150 Women Who Changed the World, a visionary memoir of separation and connection—to the body, the self, and the world
Playwright, author, and activist Eve Ensler has devoted her life to the female body—how to talk about it, how to protect and value it. Yet she spent much of her life disassociated from her own body—a disconnection brought on by her father’s sexual abuse and her mother’s remoteness. “Because I did not, could not inhabit my body or the Earth,” she writes, “I could not feel or know their pain.”
But Ensler is shocked out of her distance. While working in the Congo, she is shattered to encounter the horrific rape and violence inflicted on the women there. Soon after, she is diagnosed with uterine cancer, and through months of harrowing treatment, she is forced to become first and foremost a body—pricked, punctured, cut, scanned. It is then that all distance is erased. As she connects her own illness to the devastation of the earth, her life force to the resilience of humanity, she is finally, fully—and gratefully—joined to the body of the world.
Unflinching, generous, and inspiring, Ensler calls on us all to embody our connection to and responsibility for the world.



“Mistakes have been made.” Drew Silver has begun to accept that life isn’t going to turn out as he expected. His fleeting fame as the drummer for a one-hit wonder rock band is nearly a decade behind him. His ex-wife is about to marry a terrific guy. And his Princeton-bound teenage daughter Casey has just confided in him that she’s pregnant—because Silver is the one she cares least about letting down.

So when Silver learns that he requires emergency life-saving heart surgery, he makes the radical decision to refuse the operation, choosing instead to spend what time he has left to repair his relationship with Casey, become a better man, and live in the moment—even if that moment isn’t going to last very long. As his exasperated family looks on, Silver grapples with the ultimate question of whether or not his own life is worth saving.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

bib!

My college bestie, Dana, recently came down for a visit from the Bay Area with her adorable three month old! 


I whipped up this bib using this template. I've tried a lot of different bib patterns and this one is my favorite!


The boys loved playing with a baby! And Doodle has specifically requested that I get pregnant with twins - one boy and one girl. 


Dream on, kid!!!

Monday, August 19, 2013

beets two ways

The mandolin has been getting a lot of use lately. I think my favorite things to slice are beets. I love the taste of thin, raw beets! (I don't however, love how many shirts I've ruined in the process.)

Here are my two most recent adventures in beet-boxing. Enjoy!

BEET CHIPS:

3 beets, peeled and scrubbed
1/4 cup olive oil
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Slice beets into 1/4 inch strips using  a mandolin
Place beets in bowl and pour olive oil on beets, mixing and massaging the oil over the beets.
Place individual slices on tin foil. 
Apply salt to taste.
Bake for 20 minutes.

Spice up beet chips by adding some parsley or other herbs before baking. 





Perhaps this next recipe would be better suited for Halloween??

B.O.O. salad
2 beets, peeled and scrubbed
2 oranges, peeled
1/2 red onion
1/4 cup kalamata olives
1/4 cup parsley
1/8 cup orange avocado oil (or other oil)
salt and pepper to taste

Slice beets 1/4 inch using a mandolin. 
Cut 1 orange into slices with a knife
Slice red onion with whatever you want.
slice olives.
Place onions, beets, oranges and olives in a bowl. Sprinkle parley over bowl. For the dressing, juice the second orange and mix with the oil. Pour over salad and add salt and pepper to taste. 


Saturday, August 17, 2013

shorts!

My favorite part about sewing is toting the kids with me to the sewing shop and having them pick out their own fabric. (That way when I present them with their new garment, they are less apt to moan about it.) I know the days are numbered when it comes to Mr. P. wearing his mom's handmade clothing, but until he flat out refuses, I might as well try and make his clothing as tailor made as possible. 

I recently purchased shorts with pockets pattern from Made. The pattern cost only six dollars and with this one pattern you can make pocket shorts, racer shorts, pockets with trip and flat front shorts.  I've used her free pants pattern a million times before (and you could turn that pattern into shorts easily) but I love the look of the contrasting pocket, so I was happy to invest $6.

After a bike ride to the fabric store, Mr. P. chose these hippie aliens in a VW van:




While Doodle went the the dumbo inspired elephant print. I added this yellow fabric that happened to have one lone sandpiper running across the pockets. 



And here's my upside down label:


Some wore them proudly....



Others were a little less sure. 


They've been in and out of the laundry three times now with no fraying! Yeah! I have Serge my serger to thank for that!!




Thursday, August 15, 2013

last day in Montreal

Well, this will be the last day in Montreal. I'm going to end on my dad's 80th birthday extravaganza (which was the whole impetus for the trip.)

We had a special birthday breakfast: bagels, lox and this pie that I was obsessed with:



The birthday boy was forced to don this ridiculous crown:



There were multiple birthday celebrations. Here he is with his sister:


And here we are at his favorite restaurant, Moishes:


Where the martinis flowed!


And the family gathered:


That's my sister, aunt and uncle above!

My dad and I got the giggles out of control as we are apt to do:


This kid tried his best to behave:


And in the world's worst segue, we finish up with how we spent our days in between running around to all these various activities:

We loved Westmount Park:


It had a great playground and a wonderful water structure that the kids loved on extra hot days. 




The Westmount Library is right in the middle of the park and the children's section is the entire bottom floor! Even though we weren't able to check out books, the kids had fun doing "research". One day it was dinosaurs and another, lightening. Mr. P. had never really explored encyclopedia sets and he loved them! Oh, the good ole days of encyclopedias!!


And the wild swiss chard in planters everywhere made me hungry!


But most of all, I liked watching these brothers get closer and closer (in between all the fighting, of course.)




Au revoir, Montreal! Until next time!