Tuesday, November 24, 2015

the corner of Wonderful and Grateful

The other day I encountered a jolly, older-man parking attendant and I commented on his good mood.

"Do you want to know where I live?" He asked, and I could tell he wanted me to play along.

"Sure," I said. "Where do you live?"

"On the corner of Wonderful Street....and Grateful Lane." He smiled big.

"Aw, how nice," I said.

"Isn't it?"

"I want to live there too!" I said.

His face dropped. "Well. There's not a lot of room here."

Alrighty then.

Unlike this dude, I'm all about spreading the joy. If I happen to find myself anywhere in the vicinity of Wonderful/Grateful, I say: come one, come all. Everyone's invited. Especially considering all of the tragic headlines lately. My tender, new-mom heart can barely take it. Instead, I've been trying to lean into the good with all my might, hoping and searching for some inkling of a silver lining. That we might be a little bit kinder to others? Even kinder to ourselves? That we might slow down and soften? That we might add to the Greater Good by looking even harder for things to appreciate? If so, Thanksgiving cannot come soon enough.

Some thankful things peppered in amongst some Joeycake greatest-hits for fall:

1. This Apple Music Friendsgiving playlist is happy and awesome.

2. This apple pie baked in a cast-iron skillet (?!) is my Dad's new signature dish and it is remarkable. I'm stepping up my campaign to convince him to make it for Thanksgiving. (Hint: it has caramelized brown sugar underneath the crust):

3. Pumpkin pie 4 life.

4. I know I mentioned Liz Gilbert's book Big Magic in my last post but it just gets better and better. Lots of great gems here about letting go of perfectionism ("just fear dressed up in fancy haute couture") and about finding your own (creative) way to live a creative life. I highly recommend.

5. Things I Want To Ask My Dog by the amazing Marsh McCall.

6. Blurry moments with a super busy almost-toddler:

7. Thanksgiving with 100 of your closest Vegans (plus a sweet potato dessert that is working undercover as a casserole.)

8. Orange you glad it's time for brightly colored, festive fall food?

9. Rare non-blurry moments with a super busy almost-toddler:

10. You. I'm so grateful for you. I hope you find as much Wonderful and Grateful as possible amongst your blurry and non-blurry moments this Thanksgiving. Thank you for choosing to visit me here and for being patient with my sparse blogging this year as I've been finding my mom-bearings.

Love to you,

Friday, October 23, 2015

joy-sparking chocolate-chip cookies

I'm on day two of living with this lightheaded, tingly feeling, like I downed a few glasses of champagne without the fun of actually drinking any. Yesterday I was pushing the stroller and I felt like the weight of it was holding me down on planet Earth. Like if I let go, I'd just float away. I suspect I'm either approaching enlightenment or have some leftover flu symptoms from last week. (For the record, taking care of an infant while you have the flu SUCKS THE MOST.)

It just might be the enlightenment. I’ve been steeped in Marie Kondo's “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and it’s causing me to look at my life through such a different filter. The book is essentially about de-cluttering and organizing. If you haven't heard about it already, Kondo (a Japanese organizing expert) recommends going through your entire house to get rid of anything that doesn’t "spark joy".  While I love this de-cluttering process, I love even more her belief about how to approach the discarded items. You thank them for what they meant to you and release them onward on their journey. This was a revelation for me. I've always enjoyed culling through my closets and paring down, but upon discarding, I've always leaned more toward the good-riddance school of thought. Once you get over feeling like a weirdo for talking to your old stuff, this part of the process makes the whole thing extra meaningful. Like you’re happily and deliberately letting go to make room for more blessings and abundance in your life, whatever that looks like to you. I feel lighter and freer already, which may be why I feel the top of my head levitating.

Something else I realized is that mostly I've lived with things around me that have made me happy but there were a LOT of things that were just kinda good enough. They worked. My feelings about them ranged from fine to meh. Clothes-wise, I had a lot of audition shirts that I wouldn't be caught dead wearing in the real world and it dawned on me: what would it feel like to actually have joy about the clothes I wear when I'm putting my best self forward to book jobs? That was a huge shift in my thinking. And after you look at your belongings this way, and ask this joy-sparking question of yourself over and over, this filter starts trickling into the rest of your life—your beliefs, your habits, how you spend your time, who you spend it with. What started out as a make-more-space closet endeavor, turned into something pretty profound for me. I'm holding my life and belongings to a higher standard now. Holding out for joyful. I gotta say, it feels really good. 

In related news, I started reading this book and came across a beautiful quote by poet Jack Gilbert:

"We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure, but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world."

Stubborn gladness! I love it so much.

I'm sitting now writing this in a cafe and incidentally, there is a guy sitting next to me eating a giant, lonely pile of tuna salad. He's chipping away at it like it's homework. I don't sense that it is sparking joy nor gladness. So it is to him (and frankly, to us all) that I dedicate these, the most deliciously joyful and glad chocolate chip cookies.




The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes about 30 cookies

2 sticks butter (at room temperature)
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 t vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 1/4 t kosher salt
12 oz bittersweet chocolate (straight-up chocolate chips or chopped into chunks. Or both.)
3/4 cup toasted, chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Whisk together well and set aside. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars for several minutes until very light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing them well as you go. Mix in the vanilla. Now add the flour mixture bit-by-bit, mixing until just incorporated. Stir in the chocolate and nuts. Drop 3T mounds of dough onto baking sheets (a small ice cream scoop works great for uniform cookies) and make sure they're 3" apart, six cookies to a sheet. Bake 15-18 minutes until golden brown. Cool for a few minutes and then transfer to a rack. 

Happy Friday:)

P.S. My latest comedic Huffington Post piece (that in my busy mom life I forgot to tell you about) can be found here:
6 Pieces of Game-Changing Advice For New Moms

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:)}


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