About Me

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Concord, California, United States
I am a sometimes-writer, everyday mama, creative failure and experimental cook. I am interested in living a beautiful life, spending time with my family and making things that I can feel proud of. When I'm by myself I'm usually outside. Don't bother calling because chances are that I didn't bring my cell phone because I couldn't find it. If you see me walking, it's because I lost my keys and if you see me with only one child... I'm probably in big trouble.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The difference a year makes

Look at how short my hair was last year at this time!


And check it out now!

I should really start wearing lipstick again.

Bastards and Jerks

You know, every time I snip a negative person out of my life I feel a pound lighter. In those terms, I am anorexic now.

Sincerely, I feel like I live my life pretty honestly and make compromises and exceptions and allowances for other people when need be. I try to be understanding and loving and sincerely try to withhold my judgement of others. But as I get older I am less of a pushover. I am more interested in caring for my family and living my life than I am to pandering to the needs of financial or emotional leaches. I am really tired of being taken advantage of. I have spent too much of my life allowing people to take advantage of me because it was easier than fighting for what I believed to be right and true.

I have to say, today I feel two pounds lighter. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

And I'd like to formally apologize to my husband for being such a magnet for crazy. I really know how to pick em'.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

My crock pot

On days like today when we don't leave track practice until 7:30 and return home from picking Jay up until almost 8, my crock pot swoops in to rescue dinner like a superhero. I am not necessarily the biggest fan of slow cooked foods, but without it we'd eat a lot of fast food or have to wait until 10 for dinner to be served. I've found that it's so easy to make a hearty stew, slow cooked meats, bbq or pot pie in the crock pot and if I time things correctly (and set the table before leaving the house) we can be eating dinner within two minutes of walking through the door at night. The best part is that the clean up usually happens around noon time, so outside of the pot and your dishes, there's very little to do.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New Creative Project

I have been holding onto this amazing old chair, lovingly referred to in our home as Pandora's Chair. No one actually can sit in the chair because our very old cat Pandora is always there and on the rare occasion that she get up to use her litter box or grab a mouth full of Iams, she is sure to leave behind enough fur to ruin anyone's pair of black pants. So, really, this chair has become a fancy cat bed that sits in our living room and gets uglier and more disgusting by the day. What a waste and a shame because the chair is actually quite beautiful, though not entirely my style!

Here's the vision! I am going to strip this chair down:

I'll strip and bleach the wood and have a fuchsia stain made up! I have seen a lot of pink stain and I've seen a lot of purple stain and if I mix them... I just know it will be happily magical! I'll re-stain and refinish the wood and then reupholster the chair using this material that I found at DIY Upholstery Supply!

Simple, right!

Since I'm not knowledgeable about upholstery in the least, understandably I do not have the tools necessary to do the job. Instead, I found a hammer and these pliers and screw driver to be priceless in the painstaking task of staple removal.
I didn't actually rip any of the fabric. Instead, I took out every staple and kept the fabric in as good a shape as possible so that I can use it as a pattern and reuse some of the hardware.
During the process of removing the upholstery, I couldn't even keep Pandora off of the chair!
I took a lot of pictures of every step of the process so that I can repiece the chair more easily . Anything that didn't seem obvious to me was snapped. Like this:
and this
And in the end, the chair looks like this:

Tomorrow I strip the wood and then I'll spend the next few days conditioning it! Then I'll stain and finally reupholster! This is such a fun project, but I am wondering how I'll keep Pandora off of the chair when I am done?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Kale Chips

I received a bunch of kale in my Planet Organic order this week and decided to give kale chips another chance. I overcooked a batch that I made a few weeks back and they ended up brown and bitter. And I'll tell you, when kale chips go wrong, they go to a very dark place. Everything about the experience is just putrid. There's no peeling off the crispy edges and salvaging a bite.

I've never had much of a sweet tooth. My weaknesses are all crispy, crunchy and covered in salt. When we ate dairy and wheat I loved Cheese-Its (especially the giant kind). As a matter of fact, outside of them being horrible for you, I'd probably prefer to eat a Cheese-It more than anything else (embarrassingly). But, things like Cheese-It's and pretzels are snacks of the past and kale chips are my food of the now.

I have to admit, they were very easy to make and when not overcooked they were delicious. I was really enjoying the snack until my children discovered them and confiscated the plate. I found them to be quite filling too.

Here's how I did it.

I preheated the oven to 375 and lined a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

I cleaned and removed the stems from a large bunch of organic kale. After rinsing again I dried the kale in a towel.

I ripped the kale into pieces and spread it on my baking sheet and drizzled olive oil over top. I then sprinkled on a bit of garlic salt and just a few cracked fennel seeds. We're not huge fennel eaters in our house, so I wanted there to be a little burst of flavor every so often, but not in every bite.

Then, I baked them for 10 minutes and they were done. Delicious!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fresh Pet Select

For years Sidney Holler has refused to eat dog food. Sidney has lived on cat food and the crumbs of clumsy children alone. No matter how we tried, Sidney was only interested in fur ball resistant, elderly pet, catch-0f-the-day, run of the mill cat food.

When Groovy James came into our lives we knew that we couldn't also feed him cat food. His foster mom told us that he was especially fond of table scraps and didn't seem to understand dog food at all.

The day that we adopted him I saw a little cooler in the dog food aisle called "Fresh Pet Select." It's all natural, real food, dog food. You keep it in your fridge and slice it up for your dog. It looks a little bit like bologna and has chunks of peas and carrots in it. It seemed like something that a dog might think was a table scrap, so I picked up a tube of it! The dogs can't get enough of it. Sidney has been off of cat food for almost a month and Groovy James begs a little bit less when we eat now. I feel good knowing that I'm not just feeding my pets a bunch of fillers and hooves. Plus, one large tube lasts for a bit over a week. We are able to feed two dogs for $15 a week. We mix Iams natural kibble in with the FPS, so it's a bit more than that, but barely.

Both Groovy James and Sidney Holler love it. Best dog food ever!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Grout Bully

In a world of stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops (which I have no gripe with) I was sort of charmed by the vintage kitchen in my new house. When we initially looked at this house, the kitchen was the room that really sold me. It is probably original to the house. It has adorable cabinets, tons of storage, ceiling hooks for pots and pans and some decorative tiles and hardware that is fruited and cute as a 1940's button.

On the flip side, it also has WHITE TILE FLOOR, which has become the bane of my existence. I am going to stop myself from complaining about my kitchen floor further because I could honestly go on and on and on about it and I am sure that you don't care.

As charming as my kitchen is, it came with the most disgusting grout that I have ever seen in my life. I immediately vowed to get the grout clean. At the suggestion of my friends I scrubbed and scrubbed and magic erased and steel wooled and much to my dismay... nothing worked. The grout remained filthy and black.

Then, I remembered a tv commercial that I saw, where people effortlessly made their kitchens and bathrooms sparkle with the magic of Grout Bully. It looked like a really fun way to spend an afternoon, so we happily purchased our Grout Bully and waited (and waited and waited and waited and waited and waited and waited and waited) for it to arrive. Around two weeks after recovering from the daily disappointment of a groutbullyless mailbox, I asked my husband to look into it... and just a short 6 weeks later, I received an excited text from my husband saying, "It looks like you'll get your Grout Bully today!!!!" I sat by the window waiting for the mailman all day long, daydreaming about that little cardboard shipping box. Imagining myself transforming that filthy grout with determination and satisfaction. And finally, the moment came. My Grout Bully arrived. I set my children up with their homework and got to work the in the kitchen.

Here were my experiences.

The nastiness of my kitchen counter top before:

Let me take a moment to say that if you do use grout bully do much smaller spaces than this. It had dried so much that getting it off was a huge hassle and gave me a full on upper body work out. So, unless you want to skip your cardio and arms at the gym that day and burn several thousand calories while bullying your grout, I'd recommend doing small sections at a time.


In the end, it's not perfect, but it's better.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


One of the best things about being unemployed retired and having two kids in school is that I finally have time to do a few of the things that I haven't had the energy for in years.

I've been interested in re-purposing furniture for awhile and have a so many projects lined up. The research that I've gathered makes me feel like I've actually dug a 17,000 sq ft house into the side of a mountain and built it with just my hands, some 2x4's from free-cycle and pack of Trident. In the words of my very wise friend S, I have practically gone to the University of youtube and have my degree in furniture arts. I mean, I seriously have a stack of banged up furniture in my garage just waiting to be leopard printed or reupholstered or stained pink! It is my ambitious hope that I'll soon be turning piles of wood into furniture.

One piece of furniture that I have acquired is an old, mostly plastic, faux wood book case. There's not much that could be done with it, but I really wanted a fun bookcase for my cookbooks in the kitchen. My husbands Aunt L really set the wheels in my creative machine in motion when she posted this cake stand on my Facebook wall.

I was moved create a henna inspired cookbookcase for my kitchen!

Here's how it happened!

First coat, inside.
Almost done:
And Done:
This has totally made my crazy, cute old kitchen seem so homey. I am just going to keep on taking pictures of it.

My Favorite Day of The Week!

It's Thursday! I love Thursday.

Generally, Thursday morning doesn't have ANYTHING on say, the occasional Saturday morning adventure or on a lazy Sunday morning full of a whole bunch of nothing but a blessed bloody mary and marathon of Mad Men.

Thursday begins like every other day. My husband flicks on the lights and forcefully drags me out of bed We get up at 6 and everyone complains that they are too tired to live and at least one person hates what I made them for breakfast. Someone will cry when brushing her hair (sometimes this is me) and everyone will gripe when it's time to get dressed (including me).

But on Thursday morning, something MAGICAL happen when I am dropping Jay at the train station and the kids off at school. Someone comes to my house and drops off a large green carton full of really healthy, wonderful, often locally made/grown food. Every Thursday I come home and am greeted at the door with what I have come to feel is treasure. Sure, sometimes during the week I go into my order and tweak it, depending on whether or not I still have purple onions left from last week. But sometimes I don't look at the order at all. So, when I open the green box everything inside is a big surprise!

The company who does this is called Planet Organics. I know that there are a lot of co-op's out there and a lot of produce delivery services available, but Planet Organics rocks my world. I mean, I find the entire thing completely exciting. After all, nothing is more depressing to me than a trip to Whole Foods, where I go to grieve for the fact that I am not a millionaire and inevitably walk out of feeling a.)hungry, b.) robbed and c.) like I will return to a house full of genetically-modified-high-fructose-MSG-Nitrate-infused -apples that have been injected with Red #5 and casein just because my daughter is allergic to it. Planet Organics is pretty much Whole Foods, but small, independent, friendlier and online. So, I signed up for a delivery each week. And in case you missed it, it comes on Thursday. I pay a certain amount of money and they fill my basket with stuff and deliver it. We have two lemon trees, a peach tree and an orange tree, so I clearly don't want any of those. I was able to go in and just check a box that said to never deliver them to me. I also was able to check off preferences, like I always want cilantro.

It really doesn't get better than this. You know, you can even give them a key and they'll let themselves in and unload your groceries for you. No joke. I think that's a little creepy, so I don't do it. But I could do it. And I like options.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Impossible Task of Eating

I feel like I have struggled with food pretty obsessively in my life. As a little background information, I was a vegetarian for around a decade but began eating meat during my first pregnancy. In the eight following years I have gone back and forth between some pretty extreme lifestyle choices. There have been huge periods of time when I have healthfully mastered the Atkins diet and others where I have eaten an entirely plant based vegan diet (and subjected my entire family to it too). I know that food impacts the way you feel, your energy, skin, hair, sleep, emotional health, but for me food seems to entirely construct and dictate the way I feel in pretty much every respect.

Back in 2008 I was diagnosed with hashimotos. My doctor suggested that I go from vegetarianism to a very low carb, high protein diet of meat and green vegetables. I did this and felt a million times better. I lost a tremendous amount of weight, had wonderful energy and felt better than I have ever felt in my life. The problem, of course, is that I really don't like to eat meat. Inevitably, I'd begin skimping down on the chicken and adding a serving of pasta to my plate. The more carbs I ate, the worse I felt and I'd eventually return to Atkins and feel better within a matter of days. The difference is extreme for me. When I do not eat carbs I feel fantastic and when I do I feel horrible. The relationship is undeniable and clear. At one point I was even tested for celiac (which I do not have) because eating bread makes me feel so awful.

Recently I met someone who also has hashimotos but her doctor recommended that she use a vegan, gluten free diet. My interest piqued, I decided to do a bit of research. As it turns out hashimotos and celiac have some sort of relationship that I honestly don't understand (dispute reading several research pieces and patient testimonials). People with hashimotos are not able to process gluten as well and removing gluten from the diet will ease the symptoms of hashimotos.

So, all along, every time I had miraculous improvements after giving up carbs and returning to Atikins, it wasn't the chicken hat was helping me! The culprit was the gluten.

I am pleased to say that I have been able to make a return to vegetarianism while being gluten free and feel fantastic! Because we have casein allergy in our home, we don't' actually have any dairy in the house. I would call myself vegan if it weren't for the fact that I will always happily accept cream in my coffee and cheddar cheese in my black bean soup.

It's a strange world. Eating should be something so simple, and yet tackling it has been the one of the hardest journeys for me.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The move

It's been a long time since I blogged. So much has changed that the obligatory "catch up" blog where I talk your ear off about our new home and the holidays seems like an impossible undertaking. The very thought of rehashing my past six months is overwhelming and, well, just a little bit depressing. So, here's my catch up: Jay hated his job. He got a new job that is five billion times better than his old job in every way imaginable. And then we moved to California. And now we are all happy.

It was as if there was a HAPPY/SAD light switch that was flicked. It's no secret that I never felt at home on the east coast. I just never quite fit in. I kept trying to settle down, but my heart was always elsewhere. We were always planning our next move and each time we'd resign to plant roots I'd become restless and blue. At some point I decided, this must just be the way I am. A place can't make me happy or unhappy. I am responsible for my own feelings. So buck up. As it turns out, this wasn't the case at all. The tri-state was actually totally responsible for my unhappiness and California is my favorite place on earth. For the first time in my LIFE I feel like a fit in somewhere. It's more than the nice weather (I actually think it's warmer in New Jersey right now) or the friendly nature of the people around us or the fact that I am awestruck by the beauty of where I live every time I hop in the car and run to the market! I just feel at peace here. I feel like I am finally home.

So, I've decided to start blogging again. With my new life has come a new sense of purpose and adventure. Suddenly, I have a lot more to say!