mexico highs & lows

– baby illness!

+ great medical service for $30


+ tortillas. so good

+ shrimp cocktail

+ tamales

+ churros

+ other pan dulce

– rain, rain, rain

– no dryer/no sun to dry clothes

+quality  time with family

+ no schedule!  nowhere to be, nothing to do

+ corundas

+ salsa, avocados, produce in general

+ big fancy house in the middle of town that feels far from the city

+ courtyards and seamless inside/outside living

+ tile floors

+ familiar sights

+ lots of beer

+ husband and baby getting to know my bro and dad and vice versa

– having to listen for the cowbell for the garbage guys and apparently missing it or maybe they just didn’t show up?  not actually that bad though.

– the gas guys who play their theme song on a loudspeaker early in the morning when they come by to sell gas

+ the rain giving us even more excuses to laze about eating and drinking

– noisy machinery like the water heater, etc.

+ dad giving me new books to read pretty much daily.  Right now I’m loving House by Witold Rybczynski and I can think of several of my acquaintance who would also like it.

+/- such good internet access….

Feminism & motherhood

A grand title for a post that’s really just a note to myself.  I’ve been looking around the internet for some substantial talk about feminism and motherhood and I’m sad to say that it’s looking pretty bleak.  I did find this amazing site, The Mothers Movement Online, which I’m very excited to devour and have been doing for the last few days.  Really substantive and insightful articles about a variety of topics to do with motherhood by some deep-thinking moms.

Another mini-theme emerging in my searches though is the bad-mom feminist expose… re: Alice Walker and Susan Sontag so far, I’m sure there are plenty more where that came from though.  The Alice/Rebecca Walker one bothers me in particular because Rebecca Walker is a public, active, accomplished feminist!  So why can’t she tell her story as “my mom was a bad mom” vs. “my mom is a bad mom because she was too much of a feminist” and why is she going for the Daily Mail and GMA I wonder… Certainly I think motherhood needs to be brought into the discussion more, but is going to mainstream sources that can’t seem to help but sensationalize really the way to make progress on that front?

I want to hear more about moms who are able to think AND be present for the kids.  You know, life/think balance.  Work is for the birds….

summer update

It’s hot.  90+ days are so lazy making, aren’t they?  Sitting and typing doesn’t really work up a sweat though, so…

Most of the summer has been dominated by moving – finding a house, fixing up the new house, cleaning the old house, moving, settling into the new house.  The last place we moved into had a huge fantastic basement so there was no need at all to clear out accumulated junk and start fresh.  The house before that had a garage, and the apartment before that had extra storage space.  So I’ve been adding storage space for the last 7 years and believe you me, I’ve been using it.  But this is all just a long-winded way of saying that we’re still unpacking.

C works at home now, and we’re into a new routine which is much more sane.  I have a couple hours in the morning to “do me” (we’ve been watching Jersey Shore) and then another break in the afternoon.  So stay-at-home-mom freakouts have been eliminated (um, mostly).  The challenge has been to use my brain time for fulfilling/energizing things, rather than chores or mucking about on the internet.

I’ve also been trying to meditate.  This is something I’ve wanted to do for more years than I can count, with innumerable false starts and lots of substituting books about it for the real thing.  I have been doing it at least a few times a week (hopefully I get to every day soon!) partially inspired by Turning the Mind into an Ally to finally get real about it.  This is the clearest book about meditation I’ve ever read and the most specific about what it’s all about, how to do it, and what the steps are.  One of the sticky parts about buddhism and detachment in general is that you’re supposed to get rid of desire, but that goal is a desire in itself, so you end up with a lot of fuzzy talk about what exactly the goal is.  And I’ve often wondered what in the world could be the relationship between these vague descriptions of how meditation works that are marketed to laypeople and the actual work done in monasteries, zen centers etc.  Because I know they aren’t lax about it!  Anyway, this book lays it out.  and it describes the workings of the mind (from the point of view of the thinker!) in a way that rings very true for me.

I’ve had a couple of times where it felt really good and I didn’t want the time to be up – not in a way I can explain but maybe I will be able to one day.  Most days it’s a huge battle to quiet down my mind and I get to the end of my (currently) 10 minutes without feeling like I got anywhere.  It’s pretty interesting to notice my breath count now and then – like today I realized that I had gotten so distracted that I got to 58 (supposed to repeat at 21).  Another time realized I hadn’t gotten to 5 before I got distracted and went totally off into a reverie about some nonsense.  Typically the things that rush in are mundane to-do items that all of the sudden take on great urgency, and also irritation at sounds that grab my attention.  It’s also noteworthy how often I berate myself about getting off-track, but I think I’m getting better about that.

wish me luck!

squid, roxy music, cakes

What’s Happening??!?!?!

January was cake month.  I was working with Baked which is a coolio hipster brooklyn baking book that I’m still feeling a little ambivalent about.  I want to make a lot of the recipes, but the style is so faux it bugs me.  But what can you expect, it comes from one or two ex-ad guys so… But whatever.  That’s petty.  I made two cakes (and a few other things) from the book.  The Sweet and Salty cake is amazing.  but it also has like, a cow’s worth of butter in it so… 3 layers of chocolate cake interspersed with fleur-de-sel caramel, whipped caramel ganache frosting, and fleur de sel sprinkles.  It took several days, two parties and multiple co-worker giveaways to get through it all (rich!).  The other one we made was the malt ball cake.  better in theory.  White malted milk layers with milk chocolate frosting (actually really light and good) and some malt balls for decoration.  It was disappointing I thought and I was a little bummed that I picked it for my bro’s bday dinner, but whatevs.  It was ok.  The fleur de sel caramel on its own I think is worth the price though.  The most on-target caramel recipe I’ve made yet and I’ve tried a few.  mmmm salty

Also made carrot cake from Cooking With Jaime (aka the book with the worst cover ever) with a tasty lime frosting.  Christopher loves him some carrot cake but we’ve never found a winner til now.  I also, just to be me, I went through all my cookbooks and came up with a list of 8 recipes to try for him.  So at some point, I will find the world’s best carrot cake recipe right?  Can I say that I love the fact that I have 8 recipes sitting on my shelf?  Fuck the internet.

I’ve been obsessing on Roxy Music lately.  But haven’t managed to get down to the record shop to sift through the old 80s box of records.  The problem is that if I go, I just know I’m not going to be able to resist one of those 20$ studio one comps and then I will have spent upwards of $100 this short month on pure treats.  It doesn’t seem right.  I have to admit that I’ve been engaging in a bit of retail therapy lately, and it doesn’t sit well.  So meanwhile I’m getting my fix via youtubes, pandora, and at C’s insistence, groove shark.  I’m not convinced groove shark is legal, but he somehow roped me in with sort of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” vibe.  Wow, I have real problems.  Meanwhile, for several days I’ve been thinking about poking around the basement for the lost in translation dvd to watch bill murray sing more than this.  But I sort of want to save that treat for a special occasion or when I really need a treat and christopher hasn’t stocked any take-5 in the junk drawer.

Finally, I just finished Fat of the Land (cf blog), which was a lovely short read that got me all excited about living where I do, and, combined with the return of our phantom fishing buddy (we have spend a lot more time talking about fishing than ever you know, doing it) has me all set for squid jigging.  Apparently it’s done with minimal equipment and relative ease when the time is right.  Unfortunately the time is right in the middle of the night in the middle of winter.  Did I mention my baby is not quite 8 months old?  So I’m not sure when my inaugural squid-jigging venture will actually take place (SOME time surely though).  In the meantime, some squid reading:

The Tantalizing Squid


A fun and unique urban cultural experience!

Other miscellany:

  • Poutine in Portland – not quite perfect but pretty cool nonetheless.  it could have been more salty and less sweet (sweet gravy?) and the cheese curds could have been not freezing, cooling down the fries and gravy.  but overall, good show.
  • No it’s it in portland (for me) and subsequent sleuthing.  still coming up short and blah.  but i’ll be in SF next week, and I’m totally going to hit up a corner store like, every day.  I am sort of afraid christopher will not understand what all the fuss is about.
  • The Egg and I is next.
  • Reading books about buddhism, and in particular b for parents/moms.  It’s been cool and helpful.  Flirting with checking out the temple down the street on one of their public sessions.
  • Going out for drinks and scandi treats in a couple days with two blonde ladies and I’m pretty excited.  third night out since baby.
  • My pile of security envelopes (aka. trash/recycling) is piling up and i have yet to do anything fantastically crafty.  bummer.


smell you later.

seasonal update

I’ve been sewing a lot.  I got a sewing machine in the fall and have been getting more and more adventurous.  Figuring out that I don’t need to know anything to make things – I just have to put pieces of fabric together(!) was really freeing and let me get a start doing fun stuff without cluttering my brain too much with technique.  I’m slowly absorbing that stuff too, but it’s so much more meaningful when you’re actually working on something…

So far I’ve made a couple scarves, several potholders, a few bags of various sizes/styles, crazy t-shirt pants for the baby, this fun crayon-roll thing for my nephew, a fabric block toy… that’s what I can think of right now.

Just as I find it hard to justify buying new clothes or furniture for the most part, buying new fabric off the bolt seems pretty luxurious/wasteful to me so I stick to the remnant bin for the most part (and old clothes and other cloth I happen to have).  This never feels like a sacrifice though – it’s more like a fun challenge, a creative constraint that feels more special because it’s pure luck to get coordinating colors.

A couple of nights ago inspiration struck and I dug up this little strip of funny brown corduroy with horses and brand designs embroidered on it in white thread and another larger piece of light aqua fabric and cut out the horses and then the leftover brown with random bits of brands (some are zodiac signs or other symbols, some letters) and then freestyled strips of aqua and over the last couple of days have used the best baby calm times in the afternoon to put together a bunch of irregular blocks for a baby quilt.  There are lots of kids/babies around these days and I haven’t quite settled on who will get it – I’m not even sure I’ll be able to part with it though to be honest.  I’ve been fantasizing about making a quilt for easily a decade now – can I really give my first one away?

Whatever happens, I think I’m going to have to splurge on a nice big single piece for the bottom side.  I’m thinking soooooofft flannel.

jolly good show, wizenberg

I’m borrowing A Homemade Life from Allisa.  The whole blog-into-book idea feels pretty lame to me, so though I heard everyone was into it I was still playing hard-to-get with this one, but Allisa is so nice that I can’t refuse her anything, including borrowing and reading a book she likes, so…

She was right, it’s great.  I mean, the stories are OK, I’m not particularly fascinated by her life – partly because she’s one of those people that is in love with Paris, which just gets old.  Although I totally know how she feels.  Rome to me feels like a sad breakup that I just can’t get over.  So I get it, but I don’t really care.  Sorry!  But I’ve been there, and she’s local and she’s about my age so aside from the stuff about Oklahoma it’s all pretty familiar and reads like a convo with a pal for the most part.

But more importantly – every single recipe in the book looks totally rad!   Really, I might have to buy it.  Last night I made the ratatouille and the fennel-pear salad and both were great.  And I want to try every other recipe so far too.  Even things that are totally not my style (cookies with lots of pink frosting?) sound pretty good the way she describes them.  And I love that on the one hand she goes nuts for fancy pants shit and on the other she is enormously satisfied by something like… a spoonful of peanut butter when conditions are right.  Also, her husband’s (her?) pizza place is opening up in walking distance so that’s exciting too.

Meanwhile, we just watched Bridge on the River Kwai for the AFI 100 list.  It starts sort of slow, but after about an hour picks up a bit (yea it’s loooong).  It’s full of British-isms and Alec Guiness.  There is an explosion.  I think you’ll be ok if you go through life without seeing it.  After this back to back with Sunset Boulevard and close behind The Towering Inferno I think we’re good on William Holden movies for a while.

65% done w/ AFI 100 list
43% done with Academy Awards list
72% done with WGA greatest screenplays list
27% done with the criterion collection

too many projects

My disease is too many projects.  i’m really good at brainstorming and thinking of things i want to do and then moving on before i’ve even closed the browser window with all the awesome sites i’ve found in a flurry of research… my latest project is fantasizing that i’m going to do the 8-step apartment therapy cure.  the first step involves a quiz about your style and your home and one of the questions is to do with what you want in your house that’s not there now.  my answer?  more room for my projects!  supposedly i’ll do more with the right space, more time, materials, etc. but probably not.  anyway, i’ll probably forget about the cure in short order.  right now i’m thinking about how i can adapt square-foot-gardening for indoors.  how many plants can i fit on the dining table?  Also i’m going to start baking all our bread.  with all my free time.

I guess I lied, the apartment therapy project is actually 3 or 4 obsessions back.  That is so last night.

Because my memory is shit and I have no self-awareness, I looked at my history to check out some of my other project ideas:

  • weekly bread baking (this is part of a larger goal of having a set schedule to bring sanity to the baby world)
  • saving $1,000 a month per husband’s request.  i’m sure i can do it.  but it might involve some outlay for things like baking all our bread, growing food… and getting him to stop going to the liquor store.
  • my indoor square foot garden (since my landlord is over EVERY FUCKING DAY working on the yard i don’t really feel comfortable trying to use the space outside)
  • some kind of homebased mom biz i haven’t figured out yet (doing general reading on the topic)
  • regular sunday dinners (i’ve wanted to do this for years.  doing so this week at least.)
  • buying a house (more my man’s project, but i’m a slut for projects, so…)
  • canning/food preservation
  • some extreme plan and execution for using old food/spices that have been hanging around.  last weekend i used that old-ass gelatin for example…
  • a career in technical writing/editing
  • resuming bento/lunch making.  or a bake sale?
  • Copying “a homemade life” by reflecting on my life through recipes.  supposedly activities like that strengthen the connection between the two sides of your brain.
  • Writing down the birth story
  • becoming a tutor-for-hire.  i’m going to have to get over feeling weird about taking money from individuals.
  • thanksgiving in october!  i thought of something i wanted to do for it last night.  but i’ve lost it by now.

Those are the possibilities for the last two days.  Really i’d be satisfied if i get the printer plugged in.  I have a big list of things to print.

Wine Jelly

I have an incredibly slow-moving goal to use up old ingredients.  Among the oldest is a bunch of gelatin I bought to make marshmallows several winters ago.  Gelatin doesn’t go bad, so it’s more a matter of space/principle than spoilage, but in some ways that makes it a more urgent ingredient to get done with, since I know the day will never come when I can just throw it out and be done with it.  This weekend the stars aligned though – the cook book club did The First Ladies Cookbook this time around and therein lie not one but two recipes for “wine jelly” (also a “savory jelly” but the less said about that one the better).  I wouldn’t call this book particularly rigorous in providing historical details/proof so you have to take a leap of faith and imagine that the original recipes that precede some entries actually have some established connection to the president in question or at least the time period.  So I’ll optimistically say that what follows is an authentic Wine Jelly recipe from Thomas Jefferson’s day/time in the White House (spelling and punctuation as I found it):

Take 4 calves feet, & wash them well without taking off the hoofs. (or instead of that take 1 oz. isinglass, or 1 oz. of deers horns)  These feet must be well boiled the day before they are wanted.  Let them cool in order to take off the greese.  After taking off the greese put the jelly in a caserolle.  Put there 4 oz. sugar, cloves, nutmeg.  Boil all together.  Take 6 whites of eggs.  the juice of 6 lemons, a pint of milk, a pint of madeira.  Stir all together.  Pour it into the jelly & boil it.  Taste it to see if sweet enough, if not, add powdered sugar.  Strain it 2 or 3 times thru’ flannel til clear.  Put it in glasses or moulds.

Thankfully, the Culinary Expert (Dione Lucas) and the Home Economist (Janet C. Glenn) adapted the recipe for modern gals who lack access to deer horns, and I was able to lose two packets of gelatin (don’t worry – there is still a lot more left).  I myself adapted their recipe a bit, and I would do so further if I made it again to add even more gelatin (not just to get rid of it I swear!) because it came out on the soft side.  Fine if you want to scoop out your jelly, but no good for a fancy mold the likes of which can be found in the positively 50’s photo spreads in The First Ladies Cook Book. This jelly works as a weirdy dessert, but would also go with meat and stuff.  Maybe I’ll make another batch at Thanksgiving!

Wine Jelly à la Thomas Jefferson (with actual execution/notes in bold)

2 envelopes unflavored gelatin (I would experiment with 3 for a firmer jelly)
1/2 c. cold water (add another 1/4 c. water if you’re going for 3 gelatin packs)
2 cups strained fruit juice (grape, cranberry, or raspberry) (I used Knudsen’s pure unsweetened cherry juice with good results)
3/4 to 1 c. sugar (I used 1/2 c. and it was plenty – on the tart side if you like that)
pinch of salt (oops, forgot that.  oh well!)
1 pint wine (Madeira, red Burgundy, or sherry) (I used a Rioja Rosé and it was great)
strained juice of 3 lemons (I used 1/2 c. lemon juice)
fresh fruit for garnish (didn’t bother with that)

(First: Chill your mold.) Dissolve 2 envelopes of gelatin in 1/2 cup of cold water (put the water in a bowl and sprinkle gelatin over it, not the other way around).  Add this to the fruit juice, which has been brought to a boil.  Add sugar to taste and a pinch of salt.  Let cool.  Next, add the pint of wine and lemon juice.

Pour into mold that has been chilled.  Set into the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (many more if you want it to really be cold enough to unmold – up to 24 hours).  Unmold and serve cold.  Decorate with fresh fruits that have been rolled in powdered sugar (or not).

I might add pictures later.  Check out this flickr group for an approximation of the vibe of the whole book…

50 things i love to do

Just FYI.

  1. read a new magazine
  2. go to the library
  3. check things off lists – like my movie lists
  4. hang out with my husband
  5. take pictures of my kid
  6. shred things
  7. finish washing ALL the laundry
  8. think up projects
  9. make lists
  10. get mail
  11. send a pal a link or piece of info that makes her/him happy
  12. get rubs/massages from my husband
  13. make something new with CSA veg
  14. get a new cookbook
  15. feel connected to family / family-style friends
  16. eat ice cream/milkshakes
  17. drink beer/wine/cocktails
  18. see my baby do something new
  19. travel
  20. ride on the ferry
  21. listen to positive vibrations
  22. get compliments on my cooking
  23. get compliments on my hard work
  24. hear sweet somethings from my man
  25. watch my guys interact
  26. be near water
  27. long car rides to a new place
  28. play board games with people i like
  29. watch movies alone
  30. watch movies with my family
  31. fantasize about reading books/occasionally doing so
  32. plan theme parties / carry them off
  33. plan and anticipate thanksgiving in october
  34. organize things/thoughts
  35. clear out clutter
  36. go to the library sale
  37. fantasize about my business
  38. fantasize about going to school
  39. daydream about all the fun things kid and i will do together when he’s older
  40. not work
  41. get out of going to work/school/an appointment/etc.
  42. get tasks/errands done and done well
  43. pick out presents for people/give people presents they love
  44. whatever i want while baby naps
  45. picking up long-awaited holds at the library
  46. make playlists on youtube/find something great/listen to pandora
  47. use netflix to the maxx.  every feature.
  48. hear gossip that isn’t mean spirited
  49. hear bad jokes/puns
  50. acquire new pens, pencils, notebooks, calendars, etc.

are you ready for the summer?

no more classes, no more books
no more teachers’ dirty looks…

It’s been 9 months, dang!  This isn’t one of those “I’m back!” kind of posts because the truth is I’m likely to disappear once again any day now to spend my days staring at a baby instead of the internet, but whatevs.  Historically I haven’t been great about completing my summer fantasy lists, but that doesn’t make them any less worth making or sharing… Also since we moved I haven’t yet replaced my wall of friends’ lists, but this time instead of pro/con I was thinking maybe life dreams.  Will I be a better friend if I have daily reminders of what my pals long for?  Certainly anything that can help them get there will be on my radar right?

If you make a summer list or a (current) life list let me know.  Here are mine:

months-long movie marathon with my main man
using up some of the polaroid film I’ve been hoarding on the baby
good times sharing a CSA with a pal – more sunday dinners!

trying new edible plants.  let’s say, 10
visit tina
visit aaron
maybe visit SF.  maybe not til later.
some endeavor that keeps my brain going.  maybe a little latin and greek.
get in the water with the baby

have chickens and/or goats
swim with tropical fishes
ride a horse
go back to the middle east
live abroad when kids are young