Monday, May 31, 2010

Good Book, 3

I'm back to reading The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon (I told you about it a few weeks ago--remember the time traveling woman? That's the one).  Sometimes, an epic series such as Outlander loses it's enchantment and starts to bore me with it's predictability once I'm several books in. And while I've caught on to a few of the author's literary tricks, I'm still hooked. One thing I love about these books is that despite being nearly 1,000 pages in length, the author still manages to infuse the prose with beautiful thoughts about being a woman, a mother, a physician and a human being. I find myself returning to these places in the books to re-read passages that have spoken to me. The last few months of my life have been marked by these books. I will remember reading them at this time in life, they have touched me that much.

I will leave you with a favorite passage from book three, Voyager:

It had happened many times before, but it always took me by surprise. Always in the midst of great stress, wading waist deep in trouble and sorrow, as doctors do, I would glance out a window, open a door, look into a face and there it would be, unexpected and unmistakable. A moment of peace.

The light spread from the sky to the ship, and the great horizon was no longer a blank threat of emptiness, but the habitation of joy. For a moment I lived in the center of the sun, warmed and cleansed, and the smell and sight of sickness fell away; the bitterness lifted from my heart.

I never looked for it, gave it no name; yet I knew it always, when the gift of peace came. I stood quite still for the moment it lasted, thinking it strange and not strange that grace should find me here, too.

Then the light shifted slightly, and the moment passed, leaving me as it always did, with the lasting echo of it's presence. In a reflex of acknowledgement, I crossed myself and went below, my tarnished armor faintly gleaming. 

Friday, May 28, 2010

I want this gal's life. Plus my husband and child.

I stumbled on this blog--literally an American in Paris! It looks as though she's been trolling the fashion week scene of late, and I've been enjoying her thoughts and anecdotes. This photo was taken at the Givenchy show and I love the shot for the fashion, the audience rapt attentiveness and the architecture. I'd give up an internal organ to be sitting exactly where she is sitting in order to get this shot.

Under her bog title, it says, "Don't hate me because I live in Paris."  I will try not to hate you, darling--but I do want your life.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lovely Littles.

This summer, I'm still loving the long dresses. I'm afraid that the next time this trend swings around, I'll be too old to indulge in it, so I'm indulging it now. The trouble is, I'm on the short side, so this isn't the best length for me, unless I find a style that is cut just right. I do have a few in my closet that work for me, and just came across this one tonight, which I think is simple and beautiful. I'd wear it with some delicate little gold sandals and pretty long gold filagree earrings.
I actually stumbled upon the Matta website by way of this pretty scarf:

Which is too expensive for me now actually, but maybe soon. . . I think it's such a pretty detail. Matta has a number of really amazing lightweight scarves perfect for spring, if you're looking for something scarfy. 

That's it. I'm just up late wanting pretty things. I wish you a beautiful spring wardrobe!

Yummy Hummy

Here's a little Food Feature! Every time I make this hummus for a gathering, it gets gobbled up and the recipe gets scribbled on scraps of paper and tucked into handbags. My husband, who has never been much of a hummus fan, requests it weekly if I don't make it without his asking. And my sister, who is a huge hummus fan and makes her own all the time, has declared it the best recipe ever! I found this recipe online because I was having guests and was missing a few things for my usual Barefoot Contessa recipe (huge follower of the Contessa).  I just wanted something basic, and there it was. It comes out right every time, which is something I remember reading in the comments section of the website. My only advise: follow the directions, don't try to substitute! Oh, this recipe comes from Roy Hobbs, I originally found it on He calls it "Real Hummus," but I call it:

"Yummy Hummy"


  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 (19 ounce) can garbanzo beans, half the liquid reserved
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


  1. In a blender, chop the garlic. Pour garbanzo beans into blender, reserving about a tablespoon for garnish. Place lemon juice, tahini, chopped garlic and salt in blender. Blend until creamy and well mixed.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a medium serving bowl. Sprinkle with pepper and pour olive oil over the top. Garnish with reserved garbanzo beans.
*try substituting cumin for the pepper, for a switch
**my personal notes: I pour about 1 TB of olive oil in and stir it up, then drizzle a little more over the top. Of course, I sprinkle it with paprika, cause it's pretty. 

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Tax on Parenting in California

I guess it is kind of a bitter title. And I do not wish to take away one ounce of pleasure from my daughter's lovely memories of the place. We bought a California Resident Annual Pass to Disney last year, since we live here now, and while it's a delight to bring her to the "happiest place," it's expensive and exhausting and hot and over-stimulating and there's really not much to eat and these passes are going to expire soon and I think my darling dear precious Meg might murder me in my sleep if we do not renew them (thus my theory that Disney is no more than a tax on having children in CA). I used to spend days with my Meg in New York City or at the Bronx Zoo,  or one of the lovely organic farms in New York--activities which we both enjoyed--and now we go to Disneyland.
Last week, my husband took a much needed day off from work and decided it would be a great Disney Day. Grrreaaaat idea, babe. Sigh. . .  Well, Meg had a fantastic time, especially because her cousins came along. But I admit to dragging my ill-shoed feet around the park (they still hurt four days later), wondering what I could be doing (or eating) on a spring day in Central Park. Probably the Sheep Meadow and a veggie on whole wheat from Lenny's. . .

I decided to photograph the most inspirational and impressive garden features at Disneyland. Since Disney is known world-wide for it's stunning gardens, I thought I'd find something there to share with blog-world. And so, here are my selections from about 100 photos that I came home with (about 5 of those contained children):
This is a boxwood hedge trimmed to look like a beautiful garden wall:
This boxwood giraffe is 20-30 feet tall! I remember these guys from my childhood--they seemed so magical to me. Now you can pick up your own animal boxwood at Armstrong Nursery!
These arches are so pretty and are grown through with roses! This is taken on my "little camera" so I wasn't able to grab the colors. . .

This entire scene is in miniature. The trees are bonsai and those Italian Cypresses are only about a foot tall:

Attention to darling details:
This is fascinating to me, I wonder how this was done and who loves this wall so much? This was one of about 12 sections like this"
A family favorite is the Alice Teacup ride. The colorful hanging lanterns are so festive and pretty. Also, they are hung among climbing trumpet vines.  

I have been trying to perfect the mixed garden for years and here is a perfect example. What a gorgeous combination of colors, heights and textures. Mine never looks like this:
So, apart from the fact that this is an amazing urn, I spent no small amount of time speculating not the cost of the vessel, but what the cost of delivery might be if I bought one like it. . . 

More climbing roses. I adore climbing roses! These might be Cecil Bruners, which are really pretty, light pink and fast-growing:

 Disney wiped me out--wiped us all out.  I'm glad to have put a few days between me and the mouse before loading the pictures and writing with a new attitude. The place doesn't look so bad now. . . not that I'll be returning anytime soon. 

Who are we kidding? I have an annual pass and a 4-year old. I'll be back within the month. And I adore the little smiles, so I guess I'm fated for a few years yet!

Monday, May 17, 2010

A whole Pirate Ship in the backyard!

And this week I took Meg to yet another birthday party--the theme was pirates. I expected alot since I used to work with Jane, the birthday boy's mommy, and I know that she is incredibly talented and creative. She created some really adorable invitations and cooked up some great activities for the kids, including a treasure hunt that Meg loved. She also thought up a pirate name for each child (Meg was "Captain Meg McBones"). But the thing that really put the rest of us parents to shame (all in good spirits) was the actual pirate ship in the back yard. Jane and her husband sketched it out and he built it, apparently just in the weeks before the party.
It is a play structure for the kids, there is a slide off the back, and some more climbing opportunities as well back there. The kids can also go "below deck" to hide out. It was perfect for the party, and every child asked for a pirate ship in their own back yard. 

It's one thing to buy your child a cool playhouse or toy or something. It's quite another thing to design and build it from scratch. There is no money that can buy a play structure for these boys like this one that their parents built for them. What a special, special thing.

Maybe I'll sew Meg a twirly skirt this weekend. Ya, that's just about the same thing, right?

Monday, May 10, 2010

The First Roses

It always takes me a few weeks to get up the guts to snip the first roses when they come back in the spring. I know very well that they will be growing out of my ears and armpits come summer, but the first ones seem so fragile, like they are struggling to find the strength and courage to appear, hoping to be greeted by the sun, but always risking the unpredictable spring weather which could turn cold and swipe the life right out of them. Therefore, the first roses of spring are safe from the snippers in my yard. Brave souls they are, the ambassadors, the scouts--sent to test the waters for the rest of the roses who are just waiting for the signal that the coast is clear. "The coast is clear! The sun is up! It's gonna be a beautiful Spring, come on out everyone!" And they deserve to reign on high once they have spread their daring petals to worship the blazing sun.

The first ones. Anything after that is fair game.

Happy Spring, everyone! From me and the 2nd round of roses.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Best Motivation. Ever.

Tonight I went for a run before dinner. I left some yummy homemade marinara and meatballs warm on the stove and set out for a quick jog as soon as hubby came home, thinking about the meal that I was earning. . . 

What a great night for a run. It was warm enough for shorts and a tank yet cool enough to be comfortable. And running is one of the times I appreciate California--it's easier to run in the low humidity.  I sorted out my thoughts and my day, feeling a bit more relaxed and ready for the evening. I think I'm ready to add a mile or two to my usual course, so I was feeling good already. And then, I made the turn into our neighborhood and I beheld the most beloved sight. (I recreated it for you as soon as I got home and grabbed my camera):
My Meg. On her bike, in her sparkly blue dress-up dress and funny bunny helmet, ringing her little bell in greeting. She was waiting there for me and when she saw me she ditched the bike (oh, my husband was with her, just want to make sure you knew that--for safety sake!) and ran with me. We ran a few laps together around the grassy park across from our house before she wiped out, and daddy had to help her home with the bike!

Just the look on her face when she first caught sight of me was priceless. She was so happy to see me and she was proud of me, for finishing my run! I realize that I usually run when she is either asleep or at pre-school, so this was a big deal for her!

My dad was an amazing runner when I was growing up. He ran marathons and ultra-marathons, including 100-mile races in the mountain! I grew up in awe of his physical capacity,  watching him train for and accomplish seemingly-impossible goals. I witnessed most of these accomplishments first hand and remember waiting and waiting for him at various check points and finish lines, standing on my toe-tips, peering through crowds, watching for his red hat to appear. And then it would appear and I knew it was him because I'd know that stride half a mile away, and I would run out to meet him. Well, when I was younger. As soon as I hit my teen years I was way to cool for running across the finish lines with dad. But he probably still doesn't know that he inspired me so much every single time he crossed one of those lines. 50 miles. 100 miles. And the the easy little 26.2 milers. I cry at weddings and graduations, just hearing the music gets me going. And I cried at so many of dad's finish lines, and I don't think he ever even knew--I had Ray Bans. The point is, I was proud of my dad, and still am.

Tonight, Meg was proud of me. I ran 3 miles. I want to keep making her proud, and I want to be an inspiration to her, not only to exercise but to reach her fullest potential in all she does. I have some work to do on that last part, but I'm going to bed tonight feeling inspired.

I love you, dad. And I love you, Meg. Thanks for running with me tonight, baby.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hey Trace, where ya been, girl?

Let me answer that with a photo montage! 

I have been falling in love with Zoey, my newest niece, born Sunday:
I absolutely love the hospital new-born baby visit. I think there may be nothing in the world like being allowed to view, hold, coo and speculate futures while the baby is less than one day old. I adore coming into the room where the baby is resting in this plastic hospital bed, which reminds me of the plastic packaging on a Barbie box. She is so new, so fresh, so perfect. Her skin is so perfect; she makes me want to spend my next paycheck on facial moisturizers. 

I have also been nursing Carson (translation: worrying my head off and driving back and forth to the vet and waiting for at least two hours-per-visit):

He's the big black one. I snapped this a few days ago as I was about to load him up for another vet visit. He's not doing so well, but we are hoping he might show improvements in the next few days--he just came home from a 24 hour stay at the hospital. You know, this guy drives me nuts sometimes, and I hear myself saying things like "this is the last dog we'll ever have!" And then something like this happens and suddenly I hear myself saying, "but he's only 9 years old! I thought we had at least another 4 or 5 years left!" I certainly love this guy. He loves me, too. And I'm so glad to have him home. 

That cat in the picture is up for grabs, however. Email me if you are interested in a 13- year-old grouch who hasn't landed one in the litter box in about a year. 

During my travels covering most of the freeways in Southern California this past week,  I saw this:

My-o-my-- Californians are certainly tuned in to vintage automobiles. More so than New Yorkers, I think. I see something like this several times a day. This one was special. It was orange. And looks like the Dukes of Hazard, right? My daughter was baffled as to why I was taking a snapshot of this car while driving, we discussed it for a long time. She is beginning to catch on: mommy's a little wacky sometimes.

My sister and I found a few hours to sneak in some shopping this week, so I have to mention my new favorite store--Madewell. It's been around for a few years but I've only recently had enough access to say it's now on my list of go-to shops for easy to wear, of the moment, but never fussy clothing. They have a website that you can browse, but you can't shop it quite yet, apparently that is coming. I also love the store interior (it's white, how did you guess?) and snapped this when the sales gal wasn't looking:

Yup. It's a ceiling fan. It's awesome!! It's huge! what the heck would I do with that? Nothing, probably, but I would really like one of these:
Little ceramic pendant lights. Anyone know where to get this guy? I'm on the look-out!

Well, that's me. Looking for inspiration, anywhere I can find it. Now I'm off to buy some anti-wrinkle products. . .