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.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Vacation Picture Update Day 4

We had a really great and active day today.

I got up early and went out to the gym while the girls went to breakfast with my Dad.  I did a whole body workout on the weights and then got my cardio on the treadmill.  We all met back up at the house and my mom and I headed out to the beach with the girls.  I really love the beach and they are just so pretty here.  At this time of year the Gulf of Mexico is as warm as a bathtub and I ended up spending most of my time in the water swimming and treading water with Bunny.  We came home for a late lunch and while the kids swam, I ran out to get a few books.  I need one to float around the pool with and another to fulfill Lila's summer reading requirement to enter the second grade (how in the world is my baby going into the second grade????)  Unfortunately, my favorite bookstore has closed and is being turned into a grocery store.

Later in the day I took the girls out to buy them new helmets for their bikes.  When we came home we went out for a ride.  Though Lila's a great bike rider,  Bunny finally got the hang of it today.

After dinner we jumped back in the pool for a few games of Marco Polo and now we're settling into the night, waiting for the Olympic gymnastics to being and having a bit of dessert.  Everyone is tired.  It should be an early night for all.

Here are a few pictures from the day.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Vacation Photos Day 3

It was a great day!  Bunny and I slept till 11 (which is 8 our time) and we're surely going to pay for it when we are up until the wee hours tonight!

After waking up we all headed out to the gym with my mom.  I got in a nice run on the treadmill and a bit of weight training while the girls met with a personal trainer.

After our workout we had some lunch!
 And then we headed back to the resort for a little swimming.  As luck would have it, no sooner had we put on our swimsuits and headed to the pool, the sky opened up and began pooring on us.  But that didn't stop Lila.

Here she is, dancing in the rain!
 The nice thing about swimming in the rain is that you get the pool to yourself!
When we came home we had an excellent dinner!  
Grilled tuna, steamed asparagus and yellow squash.  Yum!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Vacation Photo of the Day # 2- Nana's 61st Birthday

My mom, dad, Bunny, Lila and I!  Pazzo's in Naples. 

Chillean Sea Bass and shell fish in a light white wine and lemon sauce.  Foodie Heaven.  

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Picture of the day 1

Jay and JP at Rhys's first birthday party.

Moxie- the ladies tampon

Alright, ya'll.  So, I'm not one to come onto my blog to talk about my period, tampons, cramps, bloating (okay, okay, so I totally complain about bloating, I know), moodiness, absorbency and on and on...

But, of course, because it was the day before I had to travel to my beach vacation, I got my period.  Which means that the most miserable day of this monthly affair will happen on the day that I am traveling across the country with two children and hands that are full- FANTASTIC.

All I had at home was a box of big, bulky tampons that would inevitably become tools for public humiliation by my daughter.  Days from now I'd be chatting it up with Doug from the Hardware store about fishing, red meat and football and look down to see that Lila has unwrapped all of my tampons and has them out on the counter, pretending that they are dancing girls on a stage while drawing faces on them with a sharpie marker.

Truthfully, I would talk about good ole Aunt Flo to anyone who wanted to know, but I realize that it makes many people uncomfortable.  And as a result, that makes me uncomfortable.

I used to use the diva cup and truly loved it, but I lost it (how do you even lose something like that?)  It's likely being used as a Barbie hat or something now.  I never think to pick another one up while I'm in Whole Foods, and I don't know of any other nearby store that sells them.  So, until I think of the diva cup at a convenient time, I am at the mercy of good-ole-fashioned-tampons.

Yesterday, I had a few errands to do.  I needed to pick up a little double daddy for my husband, tampons and a treat for Bunny.  Bunny and I decided to walk instead of drive, which is something we should really do more often.  We stopped at the grocery store so that we could do it all in one stop.  While there I decided to pick up a box of tampons for my trip.  I wanted something small and compact, so that I could easily fit more than enough in my already overstuffed purse while traveling.

I came across the prettiest tampons ever.  They are made by Moxie and sincerely speak to the 1940's pin-up living in my little heart and soul.  She owns real-estate in the tiniest place within my psyche and is certainly out-shined by the 1960's advocate and the 1990's Tori Amos worshipper who still wears Chanel vamp lipstick AND nail-polish, but my inner-pin-up is present and accounted for and solely represented by a box of tampons.

Truth be told, it should come as no surprise that I am a marketing junkie.  Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce should study me because I completely buy into a good marketing campaign.  Even when I can tell that an ad is pandering to my demographic, I can't help myself but be hooked and reeled in.  My mind is weak this way.

Back to tampons.  These tampons cost about a dollar more than the tampons that I would usually buy.  It's enough to make me take pause, but not enough to prevent me from purchasing them.  They are SO PRETTY.  I came home and admired them and showed Jay and thought of all the things that I could do with the little tins that they come in- like store cinnamon or tissues or chap stick or q-tips.

The tins alone are worth that extra dollar to me.

Look at them!  Aren't they just the prettiest things that you've ever seen.  I haven't tried one yet, so I can't give any sort of product-review... truthfully, I have never had a problem with tampons so I'm not the right person for that job.  A tampon is a tampon is a tampon is a tampon in my opinion.  But it doesn't hurt that they are making a tampon that I look forward to buying!


The girls and I are taking the red eye to Florida tonight.  It's a double edged sword.  On one hand, I hate overnight flights because though I can sleep half of the time, half of the time I can't.  AND sleeping while sitting up is about  as comfortable as sleeping on the ground, outside in December.  That said, if you CAN sleep and if your children can sleep... you're golden.  You are there before you know it.  No one ever asks "how much longer" or complains that they are bored.  6 hours is a loooooooooooonnnngggggg flight for a 7 or 8 year old.  Sleep is a gift.

So, off we go!

I am going to try to post a picture a day on my vacation.  Though, there will be lots of time for relaxing, I doubt that I'll spend much time at the computer and I'll be relying on my iPad to put up new posts.  I can never peck much out on that thing.  But a picture a day... I think that I can handle that.

Of course, on August 8th I'll be reviewing a new cookbook called The Market Vegan and I'm excited to start experimenting with recipes ASAP.

In other Holler news, my bestie Mathew is getting married in November and our whole family is heading out to Denver for his wedding.  As of yesterday our flights and hotel have all been booked.  This is the first hotel that I'm staying at in years and because I'm petrified of bed bugs I need a significant amount of time to prepare mentally.  Also, I may wrap my entire family is press-n-seal and force them all to sleep naked and cover our luggage in trash bags while simultaneously hiding it in the bath tubs.  Soooooo... you can expect to see a rebirth of the crazy in me.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Blind with a pinched nerve, and now this.

Disclaimer:  This picture was taken by Bunny while I was drinking my coffee and reading the wikki page on flamingos first thing this morning.  So, that glaze-eyed-no-makeup-but-what-remains-smudged-under-my-eyes-from-yesterday look about me is just how I naturally am first thing in the morning. I would normally not use this picture, but I haven't been successful in getting another picture of Sidney's hurt leg and I want to write this post.

Poor, poor, poor Sidney Holler.  Yesterday afternoon Bunny had her friend (who I like to call Dawson from across the creek) over to play.  The kids were running around in the backyard and Sidney was chasing after them.

All of the sudden Sidney screamed out in pain and when I ran over to her there was blood spilling out of her dewclaw, which was partially ripped out of her leg.  It was terrible.

I woke Jay up and had him watch the kids and rushed Sidney to the vet.  They had to give her local anesthesia and rip the claw out completely.

She was incredibly patient with the vet and so scared and in such pain.  They took her away from me to remove the claw but I heard her crying and screaming as they did it.  Can you imagine how awful that would be?

I know that this probably happened because her nail was too long.  I had just taken her in to have her nails clipped on Monday, but often they leave them too long because they are afraid of quicking her.  While the vet had her in the back he clipped all of her nails back to be much shorter.

So now, while we are on vacation, Sidney and Groovy-James are going to a dog-nanny while Jay works.  We will have to ask her to give the antibiotics because Sidney has to have them for 10 days.

Speaking of Groovy-James, though Sidney has left her bandage alone and hasn't tried to chew it off, Groovy HAS.  Every chance he gets he's nipping at Sidney leg.

Flamingo Love

The thing about me is that I love flamingos.

I am guilty of latching onto specific  animals for decorative purposes, which I am convinced is some sort of psychological disorder. When I was young it was giraffes.  Then I loved frogs (this was pregnancy induced), followed by owls (my husband and I have argued about this being a trend.  He does not believe that owls are trendy) and now... it's flamingos.

I always feel sorry for people when this happens with dairy cows.  Have you ever gone into someones house and they just had cows everywhere?  Cow statues and cow clocks and cow blankets and fancy plates  mounted on the wall with farm scenes and cow mugs and little art pieces in the kitchen that have cows and say things like, "Mama says to drink your milk," or "Moooooooooooooooove over and make way for butter and cheese," or "don't have a cow, man."

But as it turns out, I am not superior to a cow person.

This year on Lila's Safari West field trip I fell completely in love with the flamingos.  I could have stood there watching them all day.  I love their skinny legs and their long twisty necks and their over sized beaks.  They are just the cutest.  And, of course, it doesn't hurt that they are pink!  I find myself admiring pictures of flamingos in the morning as I sip on my coffee and it really helps to start the day off right!  I keep telling Jay that flamingos are the new owl, but he just doesn't believe me (because, of course, he does not believe that people widely love and admire owls).

So, when you come to my house in the future, don't be surprised to find a lawn decorated with plastic flamingos and to walk into scenes from Miami and homemade paintings of flamingos and probably some sort of life-sized flamingo statue in every room.  And don't be shocked to find that everything is pink and to see that we keep our mail in the flamingo beak of a hand-blown glass flamingo sculpture and that my tea kettle is shaped like a flamingo (minus the legs) and that I have dressed both of my children up as flamingos for Halloween (even though their costumes really just make them look like Vegas showgirls) and have a dramatic professional portrait on a giant canvas of them in their costumes hung above the tv in my living room.

I can not help myself.

I am a sick woman.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Weight Update 15 Weeks

I can't believe that it's been almost 4 months since beginning this journey into smaller sizes and better health.

I have really dished the dirt and been honest about where I was emotionally in this blog, and though I had moments of regret about what I was writing when I hit my emotional lows, I feel proud that I was so truthful because I can see this journey for what it is and how different it has been than any other in my life.

Several weeks back (maybe even a couple of months ago) I felt myself slipping into really disordered eating habits.  I have been down that path before and knew that I was at a fork in the road.  I could make better choices, turn towards healthy foods and a changed lifestyle, or I could starve myself and eventually be thin... give up... turn around and just regain all of the weight I lost (as I have done many times before.)  It was a rock bottom moment for me that lasted for several weeks.  Those weeks drained my in many ways and  I am proud of myself for making the right choice.

So, this week I lost 2 lbs.  This brings my total to 41 lbs lost in 14 weeks.  My BMI is finally normal again.  Though I'd still like to lose 19 lbs, I'm in no hurry to make it happen.

I am in a good place mentally and physically.  Though I've just about hit my goal and am safely in the homestretch, I'm most proud of how healthy I feel in my heart.  I feel really good about myself, but it doesn't have much to do with the weight that I've lost but rather about taking control of my choices and my lifestyle.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Review Teaser: The Market Vegan

On August 8th The Rocky Holler Picture Show will be holding a giveaway and reviewing a new, vegan cookbook called The Market Vegan by Laura Gesin.

My review will be comprised of three parts:

1.) Organization

2.) Creativity

3) Recipe ease and user friendliness

In the meantime, I'll be on vacation in Naples, Florida with my children (visiting my parents) and trying different recipes from the book, taking lots of pictures and getting honest eater feedback from my family.  My family, except my father, who might actually be allergic to foods that do not contain massive amounts of animal products and/or HFCS (with the exception of peas.  I think that he DOES he peas).

These are the recipes that I'm going to make!  Mom, if you're reading this, prepare your pallet. 

For my appetizer, I chose stuffed mushrooms, which are something that I grew up eating and love.  They are my go-to for holidays and I'm always looking for a recipe that beats the one I have.  Store bought stuffed mushrooms can be pretty dodgy, so I'm hoping that this recipe is good.

There are a few soup recipes in The Market Vegan cookbook, and they all looked tasty.  I decided to try out the potato leek soup because it seemed like something that both my children and parents would eat (again, when I say "parents" I do not mean my dad.)  When I skimmed the recipe I noticed that it seemed "lighter" than most potato leek soups, which can be rather dense.  I'm interested to see what it tastes like.

I considered making two main course dishes that would compliment each other, but have decided to try a couple of contrasting recipes.

First, I'm going to make the vegan chili (just because it sounds so dang good) and then I'm going to try the eggplant and italian bread lasagna.  This will likely be the toughest for me to review.  I happen to make my own eggplant lasagna and really pride myself on how delicious it is.  It's something that my children love and is a favorite in my home, so I've set the bar pretty high.  If my family likes this, it will be more meaningful than some of the other recipes that I'm dabbling in (like chili) but have never made before.  I'm excited to try a new recipe (which is much different than mine) and to see if I'll be replacing my tried and true eggplant lasagna.

But, friends, because of the way that I am wired, the course that I am the most excited to make and review is DESSERT!  I will be making a peanut butter pie with vegan whipped cream!  This recipe is unlike anything that I have ever seen and, I believe, has the potential to be AMAZING!  I really hope that it is, because there is little that I love more than peanut butter in my dessert foods.  Holy smokes.  I CAN. NOT.  WAIT!!!!

And, of course, we'll need something to wash down all of these (projected) delicious treats.  You all know that Sangria is my favorite thing, right!  Well, there's a fancy vegan white sangria recipe in The Market Vegan and I'm looking forward to sitting by the pool and sipping a glass of it with my mom!

I leave for Florida on July 28th and will be back on August 15th.  I will definitely have a post up on August 8th that reviews The Market Vegan. I look forward to making all of these recipes and giving you an honest review of them.

If you like what you see and would like to be entered into the giveaway and become eligible to win a copy of The Market Vegan, please leave a comment stating the recipe that you are the most interesting in reading a review of.   You can leave a comment on this post and/or my August 8th post.  You can enter  more than once.  Each comment counts as an entry.  I will choose a winner when I return from vacation on August 15th.  

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Garden Update 14 weeks

I am a little bit nervous about what will happen to my garden while I'm on vacation for 2 weeks with the girls.  Jay has promised to water faithfully, but I just know that all of my tomatoes are going to ripen while I'm gone.  I think that I'll commit Jay to sending pictures of everything twice a week.  haha...

I thinned out one of my garden beds the other day.  One of my squash plants wasn't producing and was taking up a lot of room.  The bed was crowded.  I feel like my round zucchini plants might be on their way out and when I come home from vacation I might remove them and begin preparing the soil for peas and cauliflower.

Here are a few poorly organized pictures from the morning!

My first baby pumpkin


Pepper leaf

What appears to be a new pepper plant that has mysteriously popped through the soil of my whiskey barrel (home to the other pepper plants).  This is the same barrel that Dancer kicked up when he was staying with us.  Is Dancer a secret farmer who was cultivating my crop?  This has yet to be seen.

Cardinal climbers, getting high.

One little watermelon plant is really outdoing itself.

There are only two big watermelon on this vine so far.  I'll take it.  They are getting really big.


Baby Cucumber (blurry and under the California Poppy)

This is actually thinned out.

Acorn Squash. Really growing.

Round zucchini.  But why is it yellow?

My corn is taller than my children now and up to my shoulders.  I'll bet that by the time I'm home on August 15th there will be silk and corn.

Crookneck squash plant that is now being devoured by snails and I don't care.



More tomatoes.  So many there... but none are ripe

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Camping in the Redwood Groves

 Jay and I have hired one of the older kids from our girls' school to babysit for us tonight.  She was Lila's first grade buddy and was on Bun's track team, so both of the kids are comfortable with her.  While I was arranging the night with her mom, her mom mentioned that they are big campers and have camped all over CA but always go back to a campground up north called Hendy Woods State Park.

Jay and I, being the  newly crowned spontaneous adventurers that we are, decided to head up there on one of his days off.

So on Thursday morning we set out on the three hour drive, up past the wineries and vineyards and into the mountains.  The only downside to Hendy is that in order to get there you have to drive on the windiest roads that I have ever encountered (and I grew up in Colorado).  I mean, they are, carsick, pukefest windy... and you have to be on them for over an hour.   I'm not going to lie.  It was rough...  Scenically beautiful, but rough.  Even Groovy James puked in his carrier.

Once we got there we at lunch and settled into the cabin that we rented.  Last week we froze while camping in Santa Cruz, so this week we opted for a cabin with a little wood burning stove.  It's funny, because as far as luxury camping is concerned, this site is WAY more rustic than the KOA, and yet our experience was so much nicer.

One thing that I love about these cabins (and I would NEVER have rented one otherwise) is that the bunk beds do not have mattresses or bedding.  They are just platforms.  So you bring your own air mattresses and bedding and use that.  Anyone who reads my blog knows how scared I am of bedbugs, so I can not imagine being able to sleep on a mattress that I didn't bring from home.  The very thought is making me feel itchy.
This is the little stove.  We only put two or three logs in it and it really got this little cabin warmed up at night.
It also has a little table and chairs.  There's a picnic table outside where we ate our meals, but I can imagine that this table and chairs would come in handy during the rainy season.
 The actual campsite felt like we were deep in Little Red Riding Hood's forest.  This is the kind of camping that I love. We could drive our car up to the site and have all of the comforts of home, and yet still feel like we were experiencing nature.

The Santa Cruz KOA sort of felt like we were 20 years old and camping at a music festival.  A good time, but not necessarily what I love the most when I camp.

These are pictures from around the site.  There were very, very few other people camping and while hiking we only saw two other people.  We had the feeling of having this park practically to ourselves.  There were a few tents and a few campers, but I don't think that any of the other 3 cabins were occupied.

It only cost $10 more to rent a cabin, so think it was completely worth it.

After setting up and exploring our campgrounds, we set out on a hike.  Our mission was to find water.  The girls put on their swimsuits and grabbed some towels and bottles of water, and we set out.

Unfortunately the dogs were not allowed on these trails with us.  I can see why.  There are all sorts of creatures that I imagine would stay far from humans but might feel differently about a leashed dog.  We put the dogs in their carriers and secured them in the cabin.  I felt bad about it... but it was for their own safety.
 The Redwoods are just breathtaking.  I happen to really like trees as it is... but these trees are incredible.

Somewhere in this park, there is a huge redwood trunk that a man lived in for a long stretch of time.  They call him the Hendy Hermit.  The next time we camp here it will be my goal to find it.  Our trip was so short this time (after all, we had to be home for our big date tonight) that we could only have one goal... and it was to find a river to play in.

But along the trail, there was a lot of playing to be done.

Finally, after hiking for about 2 hours, we made it!
And we were all wading around and splashing, feeling at one with nature when Bunny kicked over a piece of drift wood and a dead rat came floating out and heading down stream.

And then I freaked out and ordered everyone out of the water.

Yes, I know it's nature.  I am sure that there are lots of dead things in every stream...


it couldn't have been any more nasty.

The image will be forever branded on my brain.

 This is a picture of Bunny going on and on about the discovery of the rat.  She would later tell us that seeing it had been the highlight of her trip.
 I had to take a picture of this tree.  I don't know why there's not a trail to it called, "Phallic Tree Trail" or something.

When we got back to our cabin I put out appetizers and started to cook.

We put out hummus and veggies, mexican 7 layer dip and chips and I got started on dinner.
For dinner I made baked potatoes, chicken breasts and salad.
I totally love camp-cooking on my little grill and eating outside.  While our kids munch on veggies, Jay starts a fire and I pour a glass of wine.

I think that I love creating home spaces when we are not at home.
 After dinner we took the dogs for a walk around the campgrounds.

The girls played and climbed on everything!

And we came back and roasted marshmallows.
 We are doing some serious roughing it.  That's our portable dvd player.  Bunny and Lila are chilling out in bed, watching icarly.
When it got chilly we started a little fire in the stove.
And Jay and I stayed up till the wee hours, sitting by the fire, talking.
In the morning we got up and I made breakfast burritos.  Then we started packing up and headed out with the dogs on a hike before starting the long trek home.  

Even though Groovy-James got sick in the car, I really think that the dogs both love coming on these adventures with us.  Also, I think that it's been great for Groovy, who tends to be very standoffish with strangers.  They are both very well behaved while we are away and when we get home they are always exhausted.  

Both of them laid like this on my lap, lifelessly, for ages last night.

This was a wonderful camping trip.  I can see how someone could really make Hendy Woods a home away from home.  I can't wait to return.  But the next time we go it will really need to be for longer than one night.  It's too long a drive and there are too many things to see and do there to spend that much time in the car.  

I am thinking of taking the kids back there in September for a few nights!