Monday, August 18, 2014

Recipes: current favorites

I realized that I haven't written about any favorite recipes recently and then I realized why: when we moved we had to give up our wonderful CSA. Without the deliveries of new and surprising fruits and veggies I haven't had to seek out and try new recipes. But the flip-side is that our produce deliveries have been replaced by trips to the local Farmer's Market. Ojai is an agricultural valley so you can imagine that the farmer's market here is pretty excellent. We love our new Sunday morning tradition of going to the farmer's market as a family. The Pepper is the sample queen and I even had her wear a bib around this last Sunday to sop up the berry juice she always has running down her chin as we walk around the stalls. And once we get the fruit home we seem to be enjoying it in it's pure form. I've been eating a lot more fruit just as is, and chopping up my veggies for a simple quick salad. This has meant I've been cooking fewer "recipes".

But, we did recently have some friends come visit us for the weekend and I wanted to cook everyone a nice dinner. There were two new things I did that were a huge hit:

Roasted Cauliflower & Chickpeas with Mustard and Parsley: This was all gone by the end of the meal. It's a great vegetarian side dish and my friend left with the recipe so she could make it at home.

Roasted Artichokes with Lemon & Garlic: This was the best artichoke I've ever made. I've boiled them before but never found them to be special or worth remaking. But the artichokes at the farmer's market looked so good I had to buy one. Turns out the secret is actually roasting them! I served it with some metled butter for dipping and even the 6 year old liked it.

Once we've settled in to our new routine more I want to get a bit more organized with my weekly meal planning and not rely so much on the usual quick throw-together dinners. But for now I'm just happy we have access to great produce and we're all enjoying the bounty that this valley has to offer.

Image of the Roasted Artichoke via.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Favorites from around the web...

1) This is great perspective on something most people dread. I look forward to my own eventual unstructured life.

2) This confirmed something I have long suspected. Nothing wrong with some good campy entertainment as long as people know that's what they are watching.

3) I like that the media paying more attention these days to the range of sexuality out there. This was an enlightening article on a type of sexuality I think is easy to dismiss if you aren't informed.

4) I feel fairly apathetic about Kim Kardashian, but I know that her celebrity is a statement about our current pop culture. And this article gives good insight into why.

5) Oh how I wish I lived in New York so I could see this!

6) My goodness this is complicated. So many questions are raised by international surrogacy.

7) This is adorable.

8) Wow, mind blown. How did I not know this!

9) The way this article starts is horrifying. But it's another example of insight into a small portion of the population that struggle because they are different. And I appreciate those that try to manage their dark sides in an honest way.

10) And I definitely will be trying this.

Image via.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

RIP Robin Williams

The news of Robin Williams death yesterday has really hit me. Most celebrity deaths are shocking, especially when suicide is confirmed. And there is sadness at the loss of the talent. But this celebrity passing really hurts. I'm grieving.

The reasons for my emotional reaction to this I'm not entirely clear on, but I have some ideas. For one, I think he really was a genius. He didn't always pick the best roles, but he committed to every one he did and always made them something enjoyable to watch. And he tried new things. He was a campy villain, a serial killer, a side kick, a leading man, a supporting actor, a dad, a family mane, a loner, etc. And in all these roles he always moved me. He always made me feel something. And he also usually always found a way in each role he did to break my heart a little. And I think that was because underneath his manic comedy routine or his excellent acting was a man that was truly sensitive and in a way innocent. It's fitting he played a grown-up Peter Pan in "Hook" because that's what I think he was. He was someone who emotionally and physiologically had a nativity and wonder to him that when you saw him disappointed or hurt your heart broke. Or when he showed love and warmth your heart melted.

Another reason for my response that I can't ignore is that Robin Williams always reminded me of my dad. They were similar in look and stature and that makes the comparison obvious. But it's their emotional nature that always felt similar to me. Emotionally aware and deep men who used comedy and wit to protect themselves and shield themselves from the harshness of the world. My dad is a strong man and someone I am so proud of. But I know he has that inner world that he has to I guess protect in a way.

I think Robin Williams was someone who was so sensitive he had a hard time navigating this world. I'm so sad that it became too much for him. It breaks my heart.

And who can forget this. Sigh. So good.

Image via.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Are you watching "Outlander"?

D and I recently caught up on Season 2 of "Orange is the New Black" which was amazing and I completely recommend. But in one scene two of the ladies discuss the book "Outlander", which was the first time I'd heard of it. But I took a mental note they way it was being discussed made it sounds like something I had somehow missed out on. Well, Outlander must be having a moment because within two weeks suddenly I'm hearing all about the new Starz TV series based on the book that just aired. And it sounds pretty good!

The story at the center of Outlander is that of a nurse at the end of World War II. She just reunites with her husband after the war to suddenly time travel back to 18th century Scotland where she deals with the cultural differences, tries to figure out what this means for her life, and of course develops romantic feeling for a handsome Scotsman. So there is the time travel aspects that are always interesting, and then the love-triangle nature of the main character being pulled between the commitment to her husband and the reality of the man she's physically in contact with. And apparently, things get steamy. The good has racy sex scenes, and the tv-series maintains that tradition. That would usually not interest me much (I couldn't get into "50 Shades of Grey") but this show seems to be offering more. It's been getting credit for having a femist edge in the way the show centers on the main character's experience which is that of a strong independent woman navigating a challenging situation but not by giving over to a man. And the fact that the show is written by Ronald D. Moore of Battlestar Galactica fame is a huge draw. I thought Battlestar was a wonderful show that used the sci-fi elements to tell great stories with complex characters and rich themes.

So, anyone watching it? Do you recommend it? I going to try to convince D to give it a try with me one night soon.

Image via.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The scary transition to daycare

One of the big changes we've been dealing with because of our move has been the transition to daycare for the Pepper. We had planned to get her into daycare in Los Angeles ages ago, but we were at the mercy of a long wait list. This ended up being wonderful in a lot of ways because it meant she had more time with our wonderful nanny. And I'm grateful we found a way to make that happen for as long as we did. But it also meant the Drew had to do more childcare during the day than was ideal and we consequently didn't have as much time as a family together. Plus, especially over the last few months we've all felt that the little one could use a little more stimulation. So we were excited to have her start daycare once we made the move. We did research and selected a great daycare with farm animals and a garden and wonderful outdoor space. It seemed to be a nurturing and exciting place and we felt good about it. Until we actually had to send our daughter there.

We knew we wanted to make it as smooth of a transition for her as possible. She's such an open and trusting little girl we didn't want to scare her to the point where she would loose any of that. Luckily our nanny came up with us for a few days and actually went to the daycare with her for the first day and then slowly spent less and less time there. I think this really helped the Pepper get comfortable with the environment and the new schedule. By the end of the week were were so happy because it had gone better than expected! The nanny didn't have to spend any time there at all the last day and there was no crying or anything. It felt like a huge success. And a lot of it I credit to the primary daycare worker Ms. Barbara. The Pepper connected with her instantly and was even talking about her in the evenings. She seemed excited to see her new friends in the morning. We were feeling relieved.

One thing that surprised me was how I emotionally felt about the change. I wasn't expecting to feel so sensitive about it. But the first day that my husband went to drop her off she grabbed her lunchbox and her sunglasses, blew me a kiss, and confidently walked out the front door. Oh my goodness. My baby was gone. She didn't need us anymore. She was a big girl now. Such a milestone. So proud of her but man I feel the loss of the end of the baby era. And I miss having her around during the day. But, the only constant as a parent is change and I'm starting to get used to the new routine.

We felt so good after the first week but the second week was a bit harder. They warned us that kids have a honeymoon period where the newness is enough to keep them engaged and excited. But the second or third week they realize that this is the new routine and they may have some feelings about that. I think that definitely happened last week. She was feeling more clingy and sensitive than usual. She would cry when her dad dropped her off at daycare in the morning. He was attentive to it and often stayed with her for a bit to help her make the transition, and he always hid and watched from afar for a a bit after he "left" to make sure she was ok after he left. She apparently always stopped crying after a couple minutes which tells me she was just trying to tell us she didn't want daddy to go and that she was actually ok and wasn't really scared or anything. And when I picked her up in the afternoons she seemed happy to see me but not upset and it seemed like she'd had a great day. Even though we know things were ok and that she was doing well, it was hard to see her upset last week and struggling with the transition. Not the easiest week. We definitely had moments of doubt.

We are now on the third week and it's night and day to last week. Yesterday was her first day back after the weekend and she was ready to go in the morning. She was talking about Ms. Barbara after breakfast. She was pointing at the door. She was ready. And my husband dropped her off with no tears or whining. Today was much the same. So I'm hoping we're over the hump. Daycare is a good thing for her I think. She is very social, she likes stimulation, she enjoys engagement, and she gets all that at her daycare. And thank goodness for Ms. Barbara. Thank goodness.

Image via.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Life hack: adult bean bags

Moving into a house from a loft meant we had rooms for the first time, which meant we needed to get some new furniture. We have a family challenge though: D is allergic to dust (well technically dust mites) which means we need to avoid having items in our home that would collect dusk. So we don't have rugs for example and our couch is in leather. And it works out ok but having some softer items around would be nice. We were at a friend's house awhile ago and the Pepper was having such a good time rolling aorund on their dog beds. I realized it was because she didn't have a lot of soft squishy things to play on at home! Poor girl.

This got me thinking: at our new place we need bean bags! And they would be better for Drew's allergies than items filled with cotton or down! Brilliant! D then found this great company that makes nice looking bean bag couches and huge pillows. Feeling excited we bought three items for our new place: the love seat (pictured above) to put in the Pepper's room for reading books at night before bed, and two pillows for the new den area for lounging around. They arrived yesterday and we already love them so much. My younger brother was visiting for the evening and I was worried he was going to steal the love seat in the middle of the night. D is even talking about wanting to get the 7-foot couch so he can really spread out.

These were such a great purchase for us and totally worth the money. If you want some nice looking lounge-y furniture I highly recommend them!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

It hurts to laugh today: a workout recommendation

I mentioned this video in a favorites round up several months ago but was finally able to try it out yesterday. Result: my shoulders and abs are soooooo sore today. Which I take as a good thing :) Means I worked some muscles!

In LA I tried to workout 3 times a week: 1 evening yoga class and 2 quick trips to the gym located in our building complex for 25 minutes of cardio and a little stretching. It was working out pretty well. But now that we've moved I no longer have a great yoga studio in walking distance and a gym in my courtyard. So I'm been trying to figure out how to get in my exercise. There are great trails right out our front door but I don't often have the time for a long hike (and it's also hard in this summer heat!). My plan has been to find ways to do my workout at home. My home office is large so I have the space for it. The question then becomes what to do. I'm not very good at taking myself through fitness routines: I get lazy and take short cuts! Thank goodness for the internet and online videos.

Yesterday I tried out this 30-minute dance workout and I started off skeptical but this thing ended up kicking my butt. I consider myself in good shape and by the end I was having to sit some poses out. So for those of you needing a effective at home routine this is a great one. I'll definitely be doing it again (and might even run through it once a week). But I do recommend doing a little stretching afterward as they don't incorporate that into this video.

And yes, that's the choreographer from Sia's amazing "Chandelier" video.