Wednesday, August 26, 2015

how to take your infant for a stroll (in 70 easy steps)

Lately I often wonder where the time goes as these long/short baby days go whooshing by. And then I catch myself wiping sticky hands and kitchen counters for the 583rd time that day, or trying to blow zucchini purée out of my nose (I would say 'don't ask' but I have zero idea how that even happened). Don't even get me started on the time it takes to wash all these white wine glasses.

The time just goes, you guys. It goes.

I started thinking about the hidden time-costs in a simple stroller walk and it turned into a how-to article on Huffington Post. I DON'T KNOW WHEN I FOUND THE TIME TO WRITE THIS.

You can read it here:)


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

snapshots 2015

Hello, loves:)

Wow. I can't believe I've been so long away. I'm still seriously finding my footing in this new momhood experience and all the juggling has caused a lot of most things to temporarily fall by the wayside. Mainly, it's that I've been using every possible spare non-Louis moment to write (and retool and change and tweak and pore over) a one-act play for this yearly breast cancer benefit performance that opened last weekend. I'm also directing and acting in the piece (control freak, anyone?), but putting myself out there as a playwright is proving to be a whole new level of vulnerability for moi. Crap. I'm definitely calling upon the wisdom of Brene Brown these days. (Do you know her? If not, she and her work are remarkable.)

If you're in LA, come out and see the show! It's called Snapshots and is such fun and for a great cause. You can purchase tickets here for this upcoming weekend. Would love to see you.

More soon soon soon.


P.S. This guy is crawling, pulling to stand and has TWO TEETH:

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

blueberry corn muffins

There's a street light just outside our kitchen window and it's one of the romantic, old-fashioned kind we have here in the Hollywood Hills. It doesn't jerk on in an erratic fit like a florescent. It turns up slow and thoughtfully like it's on a dimmer and has the warm glow of an incandescent. Pre-baby, I considered it good luck when I happened to be awake early enough catch the magic moment when it faded off. Now I just call it morning. In the last five months, I've watched the sky turn light more times than the rest of my life combined. And while I adore my cozy bed (oh man, I could write a serious love letter), I do appreciate the special stillness of our quiet early mornings now. I have a mini sidekick. We hang out and have breast milk and coffee (respectively) while we chat. We watch the street lights turn off and the trash trucks rumble by and the birds flitting about the trees. I narrate the scene while he watches intently and babbles along and tries to put every single thing in his mouth.

This gloomy morning as Louis sat in his highchair, I stood in the kitchen eating a warmed up muffin that I had brought back from the deep freeze and I literally thought: this is a game changer. When a reheated muffin is a game changer, your life is either super depressing or it's gotten smaller, simpler, slower, and hopefully sweeter. Let's go with the latter.

But seriously: HAVE YOU EVER FROZEN A MUFFIN AND THEN REHEATED IT? It feels like the same kind of magic as the street light, an everyday, mundane miracle. Not unlike spending your days hanging out with an infant.

Blueberry Corn Muffins
recipe from Giada DeLaurentiis
makes 12

1-1/3 cups buttermilk*
2 large eggs
1 t vanilla extract
1-1/3 cup all-purpose flour, plus 1T
1-1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup sugar
1 T baking powder
3/4 t fine salt
1-1/2 sticks chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
1-1/2 cups frozen blueberries (do not thaw)

*If you find yourself with no buttermilk (like I often do), just use regular milk plus the juice of one whole lemon. These muffins are great both ways.

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners. In a large bowl, combine the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Whisk well and set aside.

In a food processor, combine the 1-1/3 cups flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Pulse a few times until mixed. Add the cold butter cubes and pulse 5-10 times until the butter is cut in finely and the mixture looks like coarse meal.

Pour the dry ingredients into the buttermilk/egg mixture and fold them in until just combined. Do not over mix.

In a medium bowl, toss the frozen blueberries with the 1T flour. Add them to the batter and gently mix them in.

Divide the batter amongst the 12 liners, mounding it up in the middle. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove to cool further on a rack.

If you wanna freeze these (or any muffins, for that matter), cool completely, wrap them individually in plastic wrap and then seal in a freezer bag. To reheat, stick them back in the muffin tin and pop them in a 350F oven until heated through, about 12 minutes. Try this and then tell me it's not magic.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

gluten-free olive oil cake with almonds

I've never thought more about sleep in my entire life. I've got a running tab in my head of how many hours everyone in our house has slept in the past 24 hours, how much time between all of our naps. I even dream about sleeping when I'm finally sleeping. And then ohmygod I hear myself talking about it to other people and I bore myself to sleep. Even my loving husband, who is personally involved in our household's sleep plight, told me my conversation was getting a little tiresome. Somebody please stop me. (I hope you're still awake right now.)

We had one incredible morning last week where we woke up before Louis. We sang and danced our way downstairs, made celebratory coffee and Instagrammed the whole thing before he stirred. Then the next night SUCKED. Even in the middle of it DP and I said out loud to each other: we jinxed it. Damn, we were cocky. So while we've had our successes, sleep still eludes us. That mysterious, fickle lady. I hate that I love her so much.

Aside from all things sleep, I'm starting to finally cook again for real and it feels grounding and good. Even if it's something simple like a roast chicken or a tomato salad or an easy cake. It makes it feel more like a home around here and less like a baby way station. Turns out the kitchen is good for more than plating take-out or washing breast pump parts.

This olive oil cake is fantastic and a real crowd-pleaser. It tastes like a seven-hour stretch of sleep after you've only dabbled in three-hour stretches for the last five months. Or like your four-month-old going down for a nap in his big-boy crib and simply rolling over and going to sleep WITH ZERO CRYING. It tastes like a drive on LA's most traffic-y freeway where your kid peacefully passes out in his car seat for your entire trip. Basically? This cake tastes like sleep. Delicious, tasty sleep.

God willing, you can well-restedly eat a slice with your celebratory coffee.

Gluten-Free Olive Oil Cake with Almonds
makes one cake
serves however many you're willing to share it with
adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

You can make this with regular flour if you like. Just omit the xanthan gum.

1-1/2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
3/4 t xanthan gum
2 t baking powder
1/2 t kosher salt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
zest and juice of one medium lemon
1/4 cup half-and-half
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra for coating  the pan
3/4 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted and coarsely crumbled
powdered sugar, for sifting on top

Preheat oven to 350F and grease the bottom and sides of a 8" round (or 9" square) cake pan with a slick of olive oil. Whisk the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt together and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, lemon zest and juice until pale. Mix in the half-and-half, and then gradually mix in the olive oil. Add the flour mixture bit by bit until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Stir in the almonds. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until a tester comes out with moist crumbs, about 35 minutes. Allow to cool 15 minutes on a rack and then dust with copious powdered sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature.

love and zzzzzs,

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

one year

It's the one year anniversary of our sweet Lena's passing and I've had a squishy heart all day. A year ago, David and I were clutching each other in our deep grief, yet also newly pregnant and keeping our trepidatious excitement under wraps. There was so much unknown, so much behind us and so much ahead. And now, exactly a year later, we have a thriving, 4-month-old son who has changed our whole world. Today as we played and strolled and diapered, I watched Louis with such awe. Almost overnight, he's becoming more and more present and awake and aware, his little limbs getting more deliberate, his eyes really looking and seeing. So much ahead of him. And us too. We've come so far and yet we're still at the beginning. Right now as I write this, I watch the light fade outside my office window. I light a little candle for my sweet Lena girl and steal peeks at the baby monitor to see my little Louis's body, the shape of his head, an ear, a little hand. My heart is so full.

What a difference a year makes.



{The beautiful quilt above was made for Louis by the amazing Alicia Paulson:)}

Thursday, April 23, 2015

getting it DONE and also: pasta/salad

Well. In good news, I can finally get this kid napping! Unfortunately, this has to take place on my person with a bare boob pressed against his chubby face OR in the stroller while being kept in constant motion, preferably on bumpy asphalt while a light, westerly breeze wafts through his gauzy blanket. Seeing how these efforts account for several hours of our day, you can imagine this really cuts down on Mommy's free time.

Lately life has been great at doling out these types of lessons to me: get it done however you can and don't wait for the perfect conditions (read: BABY NAPS IN CRIB WHILE MOMMY TENDS TO BASIC LIFE NECESSITIES LIKE SHOWERING). Kinda like the photo above, taken in crappy lighting while DP was upstairs taking his turn tending to a screaming child as I nervously gulped a beer and made dinner, quick-and-dirty-like. Or like this blog post, hastily typed with one hand as I lightly jostle Louis into his next sleep cycle (God willing).

I still fight my obstinate old habits where, before doing anything creative (or hell, to feel like a successful human), I require zero dishes in the sink, a made bed and a completely crossed off to do list. That's not happening these days ever, creative endeavor or no. So here I am, working on letting it go, getting it done despite ideal/perfect conditions. In all areas of my life. Crap, this is HARD for me. All I do is bump up against my control issues. However, I know it's good practice for me because control issues. Have I mentioned I have control issues?

Four months in, DP and I are getting into an easier groove over here with our awesome little dude. We are still in the weeds, but instead of requiring a machete to hack our way through, they're lower now. We can actually see up ahead but those pesky weeds are still knee-high and the fuckers sometimes tangle around our shins something fierce. At this point I've been in the thick of the hard stuff a lot and often in my desperate, exhausted overwhelm I've thought: I can't do this and then I realize: I am doing it. It's happening. I'm getting up in the middle of the night for the fifth time because he needs me. I'm bouncing this kid on an exercise ball even though my back is killing me because this is what it takes. I'm "showering" with baby wipes, pumping breast milk and driving to an audition all at the same time because otherwise it won't happen. You get all kinds of resourceful when a small, helpless human is depending on you for love and food and survival, no matter the conditions. You dig deep. And thank God there's immense beauty and laughs and fun peppered in there so you don't lose your shit. The hard stuff is hard but the good stuff is better. And that cliche is true: It does get easier. There's tremendous momentum in making it through those rough patches. You start to remember you can. You are insanely capable. You will figure it out, despite conditions presenting themselves in ways that hardly feel ideal*.

serves 4 as a main dish or 6 as a side dish
adapted from Jamie Oliver's Funky Spaghetti

I forgot how much I like this one-pot meal--I'm bringing it back into heavy rotation, especially now that summer's around the corner, when tomatoes, basil and arugula are on their best behavior. Throw enough greens in there to make it healthy.

3/4 pound dry fusilli (I used TJ's quinoa/brown rice pasta)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 dry pint cherry/grape/baby heirloom tomatoes, halved and gently squeezed to remove most of the seeds
2 handfuls chopped basil
4 handfuls baby arugula
1/3 cup evoo plus more to taste
1/4 cup red wine vinegar plus more to taste
good sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good grated Parmesan plus more for serving
1 package (4 big links) cooked chicken sausage of your choice (optional)

Bring a big pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta according to its directions on the package. While the water boils and the pasta cooks, prep all your vegetables. Add these to a big bowl along with the garlic, basil, arugula, evoo, a good dozen shakes of the vinegar, salt and pepper. Stir together and let marinate. Meanwhile, slice the sausage into coins and brown in a skillet. Set aside. Drain the cooked pasta and while hot, toss it with the tomato mixture. Add the cheese and browned sausage. Taste for seasoning. (I usually wind up adding a bit more olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.) Serve warm or at room temperature topped with more cheese.

Love you guys,

*Once you clean up your fifteenth poopy blowout in a public bathroom you freak out about it less and laugh about it more. Especially if you've had a glass of wine first.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

right now

My friend Amy gave me some great parenting advice: whatever stage you're in with your child, add the words right now to the end of the story. As in: my baby is having trouble nursing right now. My little one isn't sleeping through the night right now. My toddler has crazy tantrums right now. And you're smart to add it to the good stuff and the hard stuff. Because all of it's always changing and it helps not to get too attached to labels and results. Turns out this is much easier done in theory. Case in point:

Louis tortures me by hating to take naps...(wait for it)...right now

Yet (MOTHER OF ALL THAT'S HOLY) he's actually day-sleeping right now so I'm on borrowed time as I write this. Being extremely nap-determined today, I bent over his swing for twenty solid minutes and shush shush shushed so fervently I got woozy and almost passed out but IT WORKED, Y'ALL, so here I am trying to hurry a blog post.

It was a rough morning. I've been bringing Louis into bed to nurse around dawn and even though this requires about 27 pillows to make it not uncomfortable, at the very least it lets us remain prone a little while longer and if I'm lucky, we can both doze for a spell. (Surprising parenting tidbit #472: I've gotten really good at nodding off while someone sucks on a nipple. Who knew?) This morning while he was intermittently eating, he was thrashing about, doing lots of punching and kicking and pulling off the boob while his needle-sharp fingernails kept busting out of his pajama's hand covers. God bless the kid, he was scratching me something fierce and kept kicking me square in the C-Section. Giving up on any more sleep, I reluctantly climbed out of bed and took him to nurse in a chair, hoping the change of posture would help. Freaking exhausted, I frustratedly took him in my arms and assumed the position. He stopped wiggling, looked up at me with his twinkly eyes and dimple-smiled for a full five minutes. And just like that, when I come to a breaking point and think I can't do it, I'm bolstered with such overwhelming feelings of love and pride to be this awesome kid's mom. Turns out a burp cloth makes a good kleenex in a pinch.

I'll say it again (and probably keep saying it): I have such newfound respect for moms. Holy shit. I never realized how hard it is. It is nonstop 24/7. Your heart lives outside your body and your body is not your own anymore. It carries and holds and rocks and feeds and shushes and gets punched and kicked and tugged at. And time is not your own anymore either. When Louis's taking a (rare) nap, I have a constant low-grade anxiety about how I should spend the precious time. Shower? Laundry? Bill pay? Or something more spirit-nourishing like writing or meditating or exercising? Also, it could be 15 minutes or 2 hours so it's impossible to budget. Yesterday Louis's grandparents came over to visit and give me a couple hours to myself. By the time they arrived I was desperate for a break (again, zero naps), yet overcome with indecision on how to spend it. I finally decided on a nearby hike and then could barely tear myself away from him when I had the chance. I cried for the entire first half hour feeling like I was gonna miss out, felt blissfully child-free for six whole minutes, and then spent the hurried thirty-minute walk back to my car feeling like I was missing my right arm. I couldn't get home fast enough. Of course he was fine. Me, on the other hand? Oy. I've never been called to be in the moment more. And I'm learning that is truly the only way to have peace. God, help me do it.

Mommy is a little cuckoo right now.
Mommy is figuring it out right now.
Mommy is enjoying addressing herself in the third person right now.



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