Sunday, October 16, 2016


- Recovering from the fate of post vacation blues. A return that unfortunately came paired with a nasty head cold. And a mess of laundry due to a broken dryer. Making it a whole lot tougher than it needed to be. On the bright side though so many photos from Todos Santos to sort through during our stay at that magical little place on the outskirts of the Baja desert we stayed during our 4 days there. Travel post (and an abundance of pictures) landing soon.

- Looking forward to this coming weekend where, while my boys will be setting up camp with the Scouts just outside of Palm Springs, I'll be up the road a ways touring some of the coolest houses the area is most famous during the Modernism Week preview event - Particularly excited about the Kaufman House, the shining beacon of Palm Springs architecture I've always meant to seek out and tour.

- Watching Woody Allen's newest series on Amazon Prime A Crisis in Six Scenes, staring Miley Cyrus (which seemed to spring out of nowhere) that I'm enjoying so far. Especially seeing that it's keeping me good company through this stupid, stifling head cold.

- Reminiscing the 90s. Lately so hard. Mainly the swinging times of the former fashion shows. A conversation I was having recently with my best friend, talking about how little I care anymore about following fashion week and shows and models in general, like I use to (this convo stemming largely because I admitted to her that I was still fairly unfamiliar with who the Hadid sisters were. An explanation that proved a bored introduction once I was informed) which led us down the rabbit hold of fashion's heyday, recounting how much more lively and enticing it all felt during an era that's so clearly come to pass. In those days I lived for seeing what unfolded every season on the runway of Galliano, Peri Ellis, Gaultier, Mizrahi, Sui, and Calvin Klein. Not to mention the added air of royalty the supermodels of the day - Naomi, Kate, Linda, Christy, Helena (all the big whigs) offered up with amped allure to the whole backstage presence. A Femme super force I think we can all be certain will never be matched. I've actually been wanting to write a rambling post about this whole topic all but haven't found the time, so stumbling across this article in the New York Times this weekend came as perfect timing. The article, interestingly enough, partly blames social media for killing some of the old fashioned excitement in the grand unveiling. Stating: “Social media has destroyed the idea of this manic, wonderful moment before a fashion show, when an editor says, ‘Oh, gee, I can’t wait to see what a designer is going to show,’ ” said the designer Isaac Mizrahi. “The reason I love baseball so much is that we literally do not know what is going to happen next. That excitement of not knowing and of watching something live is not that compelling, I guess, to kids now. What’s compelling is to look at their phone." In other words, "Instagram killed the reveal." Which, you know, sounds about right...

- Dedicating, lately, more time for art with the boys. Especially Rex who's interest in it seems to grow bigger by the day. I sat down and showed him last week some of my old sketch books and he was legitimately impressed by them. Praise that felt good, even coming from a 6 year old who's known to be a fairly stark critic. It also reminded me how much drawing use to thrill me the same way. At about his same age. All throughout my childhood really. Lately we've been working with water colors and studying collages - which I promised to show him how to do soon. It's just hard finding the time and space to unearth these art endeavors with so much of our energy directed at keeping the house clean enough for weekly showings. Most of the time it's a matter of shoving things in corners I pray potential buyers don't stumble upon, because it's absolutely impossible for our house to stay clean for longer than 20 minutes at a time. And when I say impossible. I mean, literally, IMPOSSIBLE. 

- Craving The fresh ceviche we devoured daily in Baja. Hometown versions just don't cut it anymore. Same goes for local Tequila. But I'm not really in a position to be shunning either. 

- Dreading Monday. (Tomorrow) Because our dryer situation is still unresolved, my cold kept me from stocking up groceries for school lunches, I don't have the 12 dollars in cash that I owe the sixth grader I bought "donation doughnuts" from, and the clothes I hung on the zip line out back remain just as stiff and damp as they were a few hours ago - putting a quick end to the romanticized notion I had of hanging clothes from a clothes line, before it ever became a matter of necessity. Drying laundry in the open air throughout the day isn't as great as it appears in old photographs. Sheets, maybe. But man, it's the string of stiff Levis out there that suffer most.   

- Laughing. Out loud. Over the brilliance behind this one. Because, at this point, the least we can do is share a laugh together, eh?

* Perfectly Cluttered Home Scene via Tumbler 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

On Second Thought / A Political Post

There was a brief point this morning where, like every other day, I was faced with debate over how best to employ a glorious 11:00 hour. Debating exactly what tasks to tackle, in what order, during the two (three if I'm lucky) uninterrupted hours I have while Hayes is napping, the older boys are in school, and the house lays quiet and untouched. Typically my options consist of the same few things: answering emails, filling shop orders, editing photos, laundry, kitchen clean up, overdue phone calls, and the sweet allure of a finished blog post tugging willfully there on the sidelines. Which, when I do oblige, never comes guilt free. Not when there are toilets to clean. Writing feels indulgent. And in this house, there are always toilets to be cleaned and words that go neglected.

Today I figured though I had plenty of reason to skip my morning dish duties in lie of a gushing blog post seeing how Bob Dylan (my number one "always and forever") was awarded the Nobel Prize, allowing easy reason to sit at a computer screen during lunch typing words of praise in honor of a man who means so much. Scouring the headlining news sites, picking photos and feeling proud. And yet I refrained. Folding clothes piled in the corners of the loft, tinkering with Polaroids from our Baja vacation - a handful of which I painted with watercolors on another hour I should have been cleaning something else up - answering emails, and dutifully going through a list of to-dos on an otherwise uneventful Thursday afternoon.

Until I turned on the news (to keep me company like I always do) and found Michelle Obama holding court on center stage, looking radiant, teary eyed, encased in trademark eloquence while blasting Donald Trump for the gross atrocities he's been tossing at women ever since he first decided to come forth and forge this wild course a little over a year ago. Sometimes to the bemusement of the larger media, more times at the expense of the poor and powerless. I sat there feeling partly defeated, as a women it's hard not to - disgusted by the state of this election. But also inspired by Mrs. Obama, wife to a man I helped vote in, part of a couple I respect immensely for upholding a grander vision, clear judgment, solid voice, with humble smarts. A woman I watched set straight a bumbling idiot in the matter of a few minutes, who helped awaken a new fury inside of me I knew I've been avoiding now too long. Counting myself too busy to confront or contend with. A housewife, swimming in daily distractions, too frazzled to be bothered by these kinds of seething political headlines. The kind of women I feared I would become, a decade ago, before children, when I carried with me a different kind of passion.

The lady I nannied for during college told me once that she avoided the news because it was "too depressing" for her, as a mother, to bare. A response that came as polite dismissal to whatever unjust news event I'd brought up in casual conversation, explaining, in defense, that she kept all focus on her own "little bubble." Meaning life inside the quaint quarters of her quiet suburban home. Noting that anything on the outside, on the darker scale of heart, was better left alone.  I remember being silently offended. By the blow of unabashed apathy. Coming from a women her age, educated and otherwise awake, making conscience effort to remain disconnected in light of raising children. As if the world's issues shrank away in the face of a more pressing home life. With the addition of homework, soccer games and park playdates.

And yet, all these later, I have to wonder how much different I really am.

As a child I bore an odd, young fascination with all things political. In kindergarten I use to make collages from magazine torn remnants of Regan's handsome chiseled visage and read articles and watched news channels on elections just for fun. Later, in typical tweenaged rebellion, I declared myself a new Republican. To the clear amusement of a classically Democratic household. A mother who collected Clinton pins and fought the city on the leveling of main street to instill unsightly strip mall replacements in it's wake, and a step dad who's pick up truck bumper was littered with local Union allegiance stickers the same way my partner's utility truck in the drive way these days wears his. When I came back around I came back in time to soak up the whole Clinton / Gore fervor of the late 90s. It was exciting and I felt patriotically charged even as a 13 year old still years away from a ballot of my own to boast. I watched the debates, the back and forth banter on CNN in between, and celebrated with joyous glee on Inauguration day when I was allowed to skip school to watch the events unfold.

The first vote I cast was the first year I was able. And then every four years thereafter, though my intensity for the issues attached continued to wane as life grew louder, more complicated, steeped in the kind of chaos that comes with raising young children who offer us up endless excuses to fall off the social radars. A fact I choose, instead of all the other happy things I planned to sit down here today write, to express in public regret. Because I think, at some point it becomes inexcusable to ignore the politics of our times. When it becomes these lax conveniences we take for granted. We owe it to our children, if no one else, to sort through our own ways of reason and find the will to keep up. Where regardless of what party you come to align yourself, the simple fact of staying informed and connected transpires in the example we draw for them. They see parents who get worked up and are affected by what is going on in the outside world it sets the tone for how they will come to process the same kinds of issues down the line, hopefully using the will of heart and good intent we helped arm them with.

This time the stakes are high. I can't listen anymore to the words that spill from the mouth of Donald Trump and see how it has anything to do anymore with party ties at this point. How the berating and the bullying and the hatred that he spews (towards women and countless other classes) hasn't become a shared embarrassment to us as common Americans. Where the issue on the table is less now about how you regard or view or distrust Hillary Clinton, and more about how a man with so much contempt in his being can make it this, damn, far.

I wanted to write today about Dylan as a hero freshly crowned, but the new fury inside of me took over. So while I'm not here to push a Clinton or praise a party, I came to admit to how long it took me to feel as deeply infuriated by what's gone on as it has. How long I let it go before finally saying it's enough. But I rest assured that we as women, next month, flooding the ballots, raging with resentments, will be the defining difference.

The time to wake up is now. To get out and vote. Or don't. But don't sit back and let these bigger issues that loom on the outer rim of tightly packed schedules just pass by. It's a village in the end we're hoping to hand over. Let's make sure we're all doing our parts in keeping up the goods.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Scenes From A Weekend

As has become our Fall tradition - the start of this new season was greeted yet again at one of our favorite camp spots, with friends and 10 children hunkered by the river for two nights under the dappled light of those great old oak trees in Lake Arrowhead where we try to come at some point every October.

This time, the crisp mountain air - given the extended state of summer we in California are still bearing, proved especially refreshing giving us a break from the hot, humid summer we're still trying to shake off. Aside from the change in weather though I am always most amused by how quickly we tend to forget about the various perils these kinds of trips usually include. Like, for instance, the incessant bickering that naturally happens between kids with a group this size, or the food we seem always to forget, utensils misplaced, socks gone missing. Shoes soaked, and toys lost. Even the fires we look forward to most at night were forbidden this time around due to the regretful state of the vegetation surrounding us suffering hard from lack of rain so late in the season. They say if they have a couple rain falls the ban will be lifted but until then, if you've ever camped without a fire at night, when the sun drops and the temps chill your bones, you know how harsh the hours sitting around a fireless pit in the stark cold of night without that warm heat to hold you while you finish the last of your wine, or beer, or song or joke, can be.

We did our best. And the afternoon hikes and the riverside naps and the cowboy lullabies, the tree hung hammocks and the pumpkin pancakes + roasted potatoes & bacon in the morning more than made up for it considering what a rare treat it is to set aside three full days to spend in the slow company of friends with schedules typically impossible to match up. But we did. And it was just as amazing as it always is. The start of Fall, etched in memories of that shady riverbed running filthy with a flock of friends around the expanse of the seven oaks lot another year for the keeping.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Pinner Test

I had a friend over a few weeks ago who declined a delicious fresh (local market) ceviche dish at lunch, explaining how her love of seafood had to be severed ever since results of a blood test showing a variety of seafood intolerances, showed up as the main foods plaguing her system. Which led to a discussion about the sensitivities with certain foods and how they seem to grow more apparent with age. She told me she had taken the "Pinner Test" a year prior and explained that by sending in a couple tiny drops of blood, the results that showed up changed her overall health and well being once she began eliminating them. She said that prior to the test had no idea she might be intolerant to seafood. And yet her regular bouts of stomach aches and other skin related issues disappeared once she stopped eating them. A test she assured me was quick, simple, and well worth the money.

Later that night I realized that Pinner Test sounded familiar, so I looked up the phrase in my email archives and lo and behold, found a year old invitation to try a kit out in exchange for a review in my inbox. I wrote apologizing for lack of response and expressed my interest in working with them after my conversation with my friend peaked my intrigue. I explained how much I had been struggling to pin point certain foods in my own diet - desperate to figure out what exactly was making me feel generally lousy on a regular basis. I'd tried a half assed attempt at food journaling and eliminations in the past but realistically it's so hard to keep track of the things we are consuming in the rush of every day life. So hearing simple blood work might be a quick alternative, I was eager to jump on board.

As far as my personal issues are concerned, the of my majority of them seemed to arise shortly after I had Hayes, where I felt as if the whole chemistry of my body started to shift. Whether that was linked to my age, or my hormones, I wasn't sure. I just knew that foods I've been able to eat my whole life without any issue suddenly became triggers for all kinds of new health ailments I never associated them with before. The negative effects I was enduring and the lack of energy I was existing on after I turned 35 were enough for me to want to make big changes, in whatever way I could to help over turn the course of my lasting health and wellness. I was having an increase in migraine headaches - which I've suffered most of my life to varying degrees - way more frequently than ever before, my allergies had gotten considerably worse, and my general tolerance for beer and wine became totally unpredictable, to the point that I could not longer count on feeling ok after a beer or two because the following day I was left dealing with extreme bloating, headaches, sinus issues, and insomnia. Same effects with wine, which seemed too to be a little more hit or miss with how my body was processing it. In short, I had to double think a few of the things I love the most. Cocktails, cheese, and the heavenly late night slice of pizza at the end of a long weekend. An indulgence these days I sadly have to skip altogether due to how awful I feel the next day.

My kits came within a week of ordering so I took it along with Mike and Leon since I figured it would be good to get the three of us out of the way seeing how I know we are most sensitive in the family. I pricked Leon first (he was fine) then me, then Mike (who was more fearing of that tiny plastic needle pop then a 7 yr old) I sent all three off and our results returned via email in 10 days, as promised. Where some of the items highlighted I was entirely suspecting, and a few I had never even second guessed as a main staple in my day to day diet. With the levels under "Reaction" ranging from +1 (low reaction) +2 (moderate reaction) and +3 (high reaction)

Our results looked like this

Leon came up intolerant for two:
Gluten (+2)
and Potatoes (+3)

Mike Three:
Tomatos + 3
Wheat + 2
Vanilla + 2

And Me With the Most, at Four:
Egg Yolk +2
Garlic +2
Chilli Pepper +3
Yeast +2

Mike was quick to point out that as much as he loves tomatoes he has always been badly affected by them fueling serious heartburn as far back as he could remember. Something he ignored for years and likely part reason for the ulcers he's dealt with in past years as a result.

The women I spoke to at Pinner told me how commonly children's results are mirrored by their parents (because of the plain fact of DNA) so seeing that we both show negative reactors to wheat and yeast makes Leon's issues with gluten a fairly standard fact. And not surprising in the least. We took gluten out about three years ago and can easily note the difference in him when he lapses around the holidays. Potatoes though, he was not happy to hear made the list.

As for me, I was most shocked by garlic. I mean, garlic it's the mainstay in all of my seasonings and marinades so pulling it out entirely isn't going to be easy. And I doubt I'll do so entirely. But I'll definitely be more sparse in how and when I use it.

Yeast I was already suspecting so the confirmation was all I needed to work towards fully pulling it from my diet. A feat that's proving a little harder than I thought. In light of the results though, we're just now beginning to fine tune the foods we're buying, cooking, stocking and consuming on a regular basis. Leon is already adjusted to a non wheat diet so now we're working on limiting potatoes, and all yeast based products too. Once we've gone a few weeks with these new restrictions in place I'll be back here with some updates on results.

In the meantime, I'm wondering if anyone else notices a change in the way our body breaks down / digests / processes foods as we get older? And if so, what changes have you made in your diet, what dietary tips do you swear by, and what benefits have come as result?

- Find More Info on The Pinner Test HERE

*photo from Nancy Neil's Instagram 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Camp Sunset

If you overlook the good hour we spent worrying that our wardrobe selections might be too "farmerish" while weaving aimlessly around the sliced roads of Malibu Canyon (in a big white Econoline van - slightly too big for those luxury lanes anyway) trying to make our way to the party on time without cell reception to aid us in the journey, and far too many stunning modern mansions to keep full focus intact, the afternoon we spent this past weekend with Sunset Magazine in celebration of their latest book, Camp Sunset, was nothing short of perfect.

A mid day event hosted by Shiva Rose, Heather Taylor and Heather and Blake Mycoskie
with a set up consisting of three enormous Under Canvas teepees towering there on the breezy cliff sides of One Gun Ranch, a sprawling biodynamic farm thriving on some of the richest real estate this side of so cal, where horses are grazing happily on the sidelines, a donkey named Waffle can be found roaming the grounds in search of food to steal from your plate to snack on, an airstream is parked in the corner, and two acoustic guitar players W warm up to serenade you while you pile your plate with an array of locally forged goods from Eagle Rock's beloved Auntie Em's Kitchen & Catering with founder / chef Terri Whal on site prepping meals arranged on tables so pretty even Martha Stewart would swoon.

We ate, we drank, we crafted custom canvas knapsacks courtesy of TOMS, mingled and generally just sat enjoying the scenery in the crisp sunlight of a lovely Saturday afternoon that didn't involve a grip of kids swarming around us to scold, wrangle or entertain. I was relived to find that I can still engage in full and complete sentences, when given the opportunity. Which, as you can imagine, isn't all that often.

My only lingering regret being that the good folks at Sunset Magazine aren't in charge of directing more of my weekend happenings. Because from now on, I think I would prefer all my cocktails come dressed with fresh green garnishes, and tables lined with brass and gingham. And a side of oceanside landscape paired with a picnic doesn't hurt either. 

The book is chalk full of all kinds of handy camping tips and top notch grilling recipes we've come to expect from Sunset, and I'm certainly inspired to try a few of them out this season when our camping trips switch from the beaches to mountains. As well as try and amp up our table set ups next chance we have for a gathering. Though I'm quite certain I may never get wild flowers in a mason jar or jam on my blue cheese and fig plate to ever look that damn good. 

By the end of it we were sorry to go but freshly inspired by our time at the Ranch. Thank you, Sunset Magazine, for such a lovely time filled with food, wine, music and conversation. A blissful way to spend the last Saturday of September. Just before a new month sets in to expire the last of our favorite season.

Additional event contributors 

Found Vintage Rentals (furniture and decor)

- Heather Taylor Home (Linens: Table runners and napkins)

The Ark (tabletop---copper mugs, bone silverware etc.)

Valerie Confections (Durango cookies sandwiched roasted marshmallows for gourmet s'mores)

- Gifts also included: Three Jerks Jerkey