Bicycle Ride

Two weeks of bike rides and she still has no desire to leave our street. She likes to stay close, pick flowers for her brother, dandelions to collect in the pink basket. Someday I'll remind her of these days and she won't believe me. "You liked to stay close to home," I'll say, "even though you drove the hottest wheels in town."


On (Still) Sharing Bedrooms

When I was little girl I was petrified of being alone. Every night one of my parents would lie down with me, scratch my back and sing until I fell asleep. I'd wake hours later screaming from night terrors that lasted years. The same recurring dreams that still, to this day, haunt me. Every night I'd fall asleep outside my parent's door. Just to be close to them. To someone. So when we became pregnant with Fable and her sharing a room with Archer was our only option, it didn't bother me very much.

Sure, I'd covet the homes I saw with meticulously decorated nurseries and bedrooms with personalized door hangers, stenciled walls - hoped our children wouldn't resent us for cramming them together in the only room that could accommodate them. But that was just me looking elsewhere instead of within. My instinct was always to put them in the same space - regardless of whether they were same sex or not. Because a small child is a small child and there's no real difference between a boy sharing a room with his sister and a boy sharing a room with his brother - not when they're four and one or five and two.

So when we moved last May and our space doubled, Archer and Fable continued to share a room, our third bedroom became the playroom - where toys and games and the guest futon lived in harmonious chaos.

I recently asked Archer whether he wanted his own room and he said, unequivocally, no. His sister needed him and he needed her, he told me. And I started to think what I would have done differently if we had the option of space when Fable was born. It was easy to think putting the kids together was the right decision when it was the only decision we had to make but what if we had the option to give them each their own room from the get? Surely, we would have separated them, like my parents did when we were kids, like most parents do when space permits.

But where does it come from - this assumption that we must separate our children from one another, especially when small? Why each child demands their own fully-furnished nursery, bedroom, space. Are we not social creatures? I hated being alone as a child and for what? There was no reason that I couldn't have shared a room with my brother. It wasn't like I needed my privacy at three-years-old. Or four or six.
I would have loved to share a room with my brother as a small child. I wouldn't have spent so many nights afraid, curled up outside my parents door. I watch the way Archer and Fable are with one another, listen to them talk to each other before bed - singing together, laughing, and sort of regret not having those memories with my siblings. For them, every night's a slumber party. They are learning what it means to be in a relationship with someone, to compromise. Forging a bond as those who dream side by side. Someday it will end but for now? I can't imagine splitting them up.

Many new parents have emailed me over the years about sharing rooms, knowing I have written about Archer and Fable's sleeping situation before. Do they still share a room? How long until you separate them?

A few months back I told Archer that when he feels like he would like his own bedroom to let me know.

"Eventually the playroom will be your room," I said. "When you want it to be."

"But I like sharing a room with Fable," he said. "Maybe when I'm ten or something I'll change my mind."


Huggies Little Movers (Sponsored Video)

A couple months back, Daphne and I shot the following spot with Momversation + Huggies (Amazing Little Movers) diapers, which have been our go-to brand of choice since Archer was a babe. We had a few drinks (water), a few laughs (many) and in the end, there was this:

For more on Huggies reward points/prizes go here.


Portrait of a Fable (& Giveaway)

**updated with winner, below!**
Fable (from photo, here) painted by artist/reader Rachael Rossman

When the above portrait arrived in the mail, I opened it with Fable. She shrieked. "FABLE! FABLE!" she said. Ever since it's lived in our dining room, and will eventually hang above her bed as soon as I can decide on framing/matting options. One of the great perks of being a blogger is getting to meet all these incredibly talented artists who are kicking ass doing what they love. Hell yes.

Rachael has kindly offered to do a giveaway here on GGC, an 8x10 portrait painting for one lucky reader (A $300 value). Perhaps you'd like a painting of your child? Children? Pet? See more of Rachael's work on her website. She's also started a calendar kickstarter project, here.

In the meantime, let us know in the comments who's portrait you'd like painted (and please include your contact information so I can track you down!). I'll pick one winner via next Tuesday, March 1st. Thanks to Rachael for the giveaway and good luck to all of who participate!

**Updated 3/1**

Congratulations to commenter #378 Somewhat Voluble who would like a portrait painted of her newborn nephew. She wrote: My nephew was born yesterday, February 24, 2011. He weighed 8 lb, 8.5 oz and was 20.5 inches long. He's my (younger) sister's first baby and she is a single mother, and I'd love to give this to her for a first mother's day gift!"

Thank you all so much for participating and thank you to Rachael for this AMAZING giveaway. So grateful! Love to all!


Eat Well: The Winter Rut, Part One: Treasure Hunting in the Bookcase

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks, mom!
It’s easy to get in a rut with cooking. There are times when I find myself making the same things over and over again, week in and week out. I’m kind of like that with my clothes, too. I gravitate to my three favorite tops, layering with the same couple of sweaters or jackets, and wearing them with my one pair of “soul-mate” jeans. A few years ago, my dear friend Catherine, who is a fashion genius, mined my closet and put together for me the most amazing outfits from forgotten treasures, pairing things that I haven’t worn in years with some newer items and giving me a whole new wardrobe without my spending a dime. Since I am completely hopeless in this department, she lovingly wrote all of the combinations down for me in a notebook so I would remember what to wear for different occasions and made a list for me of new pieces to look for when I shop to round out my wardrobe.

I love this idea of shopping in my closet. It works well for cooking, too. I so often cook the same five recipes from my favorite cookbooks forgetting that there is a wealth of un-explored material right under my nose. When I am in a cooking rut, I gather all of my cookbooks, spread them out on the kitchen table, and look for recipes that I have forgotten about or ones I never have tried. I read through each cookbook as if it is a novel, truly imagining what the recipes might taste like, looking for ones that aren’t too time consuming and also add variety to our regular fair.

I realized this morning that I am in one of these ruts right now (I love borscht and split pea soup but I have made both of them twice already this month—that’s a little much!). Not only do I have my tried-and-trues to explore, but four new cookbooks that Larry gave me for Christmas and my birthday that I haven’t yet cracked open. I’ll start delving into those next week. Meanwhile, I’m going to go through my old favorites and this time, inspired by Catherine’s clothing notebook, mark new recipes and make a handy list to refer to the next time I get in a rut.


The first cookbook I pick up is The Moosewood Cookbook since, besides The Joy of Cooking, it is my oldest cookbook friend. (I bought it in 1978, a few months after I got married). I must admit, I have mainly used Moosewood for its amazing soups and salads. Many of the main course meals don’t appeal to me—they are too 70’s hippie or have way too much dairy in them for my taste. (Many of these recipes have been changed in The New Moosewood Cookbook, but I don’t have the new one). Three recipes in the main course section catch my eye today, though: refried beans, sweet potato pancakes, and eggplant Scallopini. I have never made these recipes but they sound delicious so I am going to write all three of them down on my list. Today, I feel like making the refried beans. I adore homemade refried beans—so easy to buy from a can, but so much better home made. They freeze great so I can make a big pot of them to use for lots of meals. And I like the sound of the recipe…not fatty like most refried beans and made with lots of cumin.

Moosewood Cookbook refried beans
(with a few modifications)

2 cups raw pinto beans
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 ½ cups chopped onion
½ cup minced green pepper (I used canned green chilis)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
½ tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp black pepper

Cover the pintos with water and let soak 1 ½ hours or more (I do the quick soak method…bring them to a boil, cook for 2 minutes, and turn off flame letting them sit for one hour). Drain. Cover with fresh water and cook until soft.
Drain off excess water, saving some for adding back to the beans. Mash the beans well with a potato-masher and add a little water to them until they feel like mashed potatoes.
Heat about 3 Tbs. olive oil in a skillet. Add onions, garlic, cumin and ½ tsp salt. Cook over low heat until onions are translucent. Add peppers and simmer 5-8 minutes. Add sauted vegetables to the beans along with 1 tsp salt and black pepper. Mix well. Add more water if needed. Serve on tostadas or simply in steamed tortillas (or any other way you like to eat refried beans).


When I was a little girl, bean tostadas were my favorite Mexican food. So, today I made tostadas with the beans and they were AMAZING!! Here’s what to do to make the best tostadas EVER!! Either fry tortillas until super crisp and brown or buy already crisped tortillas. Put the hot beans on top (keep warm in the oven or microwave to warm them back up after you make the refried beans), add shredded cheese and layer with avocado or guacamole, salsa, shredded cabbage, or whatever else sounds good to you. Kids love to make these. You can put bowls of the ingredients out and let them add whatever they want to on top of the beans. This makes a wonderful easy dinner once the beans are made.


Next stop, The Silver Palate, another oldie but goodie. It was one of my favorites when I was a carnivore but has been collecting dust ever since I stopped eating meat. I open up to the soup section and there on page one, stained from use, is a recipe for carrot orange soup. I love that soup and haven’t made it in years. This is such a great time of the year to use carrots…I have a refrigerator drawer full of them since my CSA is bursting with them.
In the original recipe, she separates the solids and the liquid and processes the cooked carrots in the food processor, adding back the liquid until the right consistency. I just puree the whole thing with an immersion blender…it’s much easier.

Carrot and Orange Soup (The Silver Palate)
4 tablespoons sweet butter
2 cups finely chopped yellow onions
12 large carrots, 1 ½ -2 lbs peeled and chopped (I used the food processor)
4 cups stock (the original calls for chicken…I used vegetable)
1 cup fresh orange juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Melt butter in a pot. Add the onions, cover, and cook over low heat until tender and lightly colored, about 25 minutes. Add carrots and stock and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until carrots are very tender, about 30 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender (or in a blender or food processor).
Add orange juice and salt and pepper. Voila!


So ends today’s search. I already am feeling like I am coming out of my rut and have renewed inspiration. Next week, more treasure hunting!



I've been composing this mix tape for so long I can't even remember which bands I've posted and what I've regrettably left out. Great Lake Swimmers are an all-time fave so if I've posted another track of theirs before, apologies. Here's a lovely little video for the urbanites among us, jonesing for some rock-skipping, deer-sipping, time-lapsing nature. (I know I am.)

89. Pulling on a Line By: Great Lake Swimmers


A couple quick things: 1. Today's the last day to enter to win one of three ($150) Old Navy gift cards (to enter go here, here and here). 2. Here's a wee interview I did last week (re: marriage) with the authors of Spousonomics. Have a beautiful day!

youth is wasted on the young

happiness is...
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(photos = taken the same day as these.)


Somewhere Between

My friend Linda shot a documentary that is soon to be released and is collecting the last of its funding for (post-production) completion. We met through our children (her daughter is Archer's best friend at school) and I was lucky enough to screen Somewhere Between last month. I was blown away - one of the most compelling, powerful, enlightening documentaries I've ever seen. Not only is it a must-see film for adoptive parents (or those considering adoption) but for all parents, women, people, because it's about identity, race and family. It's about a mother's quest to understand her daughter and young women's quests to understand themselves.

In Linda's words:

My daughter's name is Ruby. She's five. When my husband and I adopted her from China we had no idea what lay ahead. In an instant, we became a family. I began to think about Ruby's future and started to wonder how her coming of age would differ from mine....

My film SOMEWHERE BETWEEN was born.

The primary themes of Somewhere Between are identity formation, family, adoption and race. And really, the film focuses on the intersection of all of these through the coming-of-age of four girls. As they discover who they are, so do we. Through their specific stories, we, as viewers, will come to understand on a deeper level, the meaning of family, and our still prevalent cultural disconnects around stereotyping and race—whether we are adoptive families or not.

...While all adoptees face similar feelings and challenges, I believe this wave of Chinese girls is in a category all its own - due to the sheer number of children involved, and because the adoptions (and abandonments) are based solely on gender. The personal, societal and cultural ramifications are significant.

I am making this film for everyone. For the girls, so they can see their experiences in connection with each other, and for everyone who grapples with issues of race, culture, identity, and being ‘different.’...

I hope SOMEWHERE BETWEEN will start a dialogue about what we see, who we are, and the changing face of the American family. This film is about these 79,562 girls growing up in America. Right now.

If you're interested in donating or for more information, go here.
Become a fan on facebook, here.

Thank you kindly.


Living Room: A Progress Report

I stopped my inside/outside posts because once we moved into our new house, we didn't do nearly as much decorating as we thought we would. I had this picture in my head that I'd be scouring street fairs and markets treasure hunting for $1.99 Civil War era chairs. Because... you know... one hears stories. But any time I did show up to a market or swap meet I felt overwhelmed. Frustrated by everything's close-but-no-cigar... ness.

"This would be PERFECT if only it worked!"

"I'd buy this is in a SECOND if it wasn't hot pink!"

"I'll give you 200 bones for this $900 rug! No? $225?"

...And then one day we woke up and were living in a room with no lights. (Literally. Not one.) We lit candles and pretended we were an 80's ballad but that grew tired eventually. And expensive in the Voluspa department. Nine months later... we finally went shopping. At Ikea.
We purchased three small table lamps and plugged them in behind the bookshelf in a neat little row, situating them atop the shelf.

The room has high ceilings and no recess lighting anywhere. No wiring in the walls for us to hang some cool wall fixtures and although our landlords are down for us doing pretty much whatever we want, the fact that our house was built in 1929 and has never been wired for fixtures doesn't exactly tempt me to go there. So! Our only options were floor lamps and table lamps. Except we hadn't any end tables (I had this fantasy of buying ten tiny lamps and having an electrician wire them together as one light to place over the fireplace. Again. The fantasy was a lot easier to construct than the reality. This is why I will never be crafty.) and floor lamps are tricky because they need furniture to support them.

Our grandiose reading area, though eventual, has not yet happened. Instead? The dogs have a massive bedroom to share with our friendly dust bunnies.
Little bitty lamps were a great solution for needing light in a room where floor lamps didn't fit the bill, and because they're placed so high, give off plenty of light. They're also quite charming I think! (If you ignore the emptiness of the room that surrounds them!)
As for the other side of the room, the "lived in" part, we found a lovely modern hanging lamp. I'm not usually a fan of modern - my interior style is more "eclectic boho antiquey" (your new band name) but Hal and I agreed this lamp was a go for the money/space.
The lamp on the Clavanova is an original John Lloyd Wright lamp that was (no joke) sitting in my parent's garage for the last thirty years. (John was married to my great-grandmother and built the home my Nana still lives in. More on that, here/here.)
The rug was also a CB2 purchase. (It's no longer in stock. We literally bought the last one. From the Miami store. Because someone had bought the last one in the LA store an hour before I called to buy it. Which sent us all on a wild goose chase calling every store in North America. There was one left. In Miami. I cried with joy. The end.) I'd been holding out for my favorite Anthropolgie rug to go on 99% off sale but that didn't happen. Strange.
Clearly, we're a ways to go before the room is perfect. The couch is old and broken. The chair, an antique is there for extra seating, not so much style and the walls are mainly bare. (Wall art cometh next. My plan is to have some of the artwork on my mother's walls giclee(d). (All the art in our house is family done and/or gifted and I feel strange purchasing art with no sentimental value.) So the space needs work. Quite a bit, actually. The thing is? I kind of love the unfinished vibe of the room. The "in progress" ness of it all. It's a relief in a way. A reminder that no matter how much "gets done" there's always more to do. Always, always, always infinity always.

How about you guys? Any great finds lately for your house? Cool lighting? Rugs? Swap meet amazingness? Treasured booty? And if you're local, where do you go for goodies? Twelve years in Los Angeles and I've still yet to hit up the Rose Bowl Flea Market for goods. Which is something I need to do. Which is something I WILL do. As soon as I have the cargo space in my automobile (we're in the early stages of Minivan shopping. More to come on that later) to handle the kind of purchases I intend to make. An ancient ship anchor for example.



Updated: The Treehouse is Melissa and Doug (purchased last winter). Small Dollhouse is Calico Critters (was the floor model at our favorite toy store in LA, gifted to us by the owner, which was so totally kind of her. This is why it pays (in a thousand ways) to support small businesses. They become your friends.)

Eat Well: Split Pea Cauliflower Soup

The following post was written by my mom who is adorable. Thanks, mom!
I have a confession to make. When my kids were young I didn’t always correct them when they mispronounced or confused things. I realize now that probably wasn’t a good idea (Rachel to this day confuses a lot of words—she was the youngest and it was SO CUTE!!)

I don’t know why Rebecca started calling this week’s soup Split Pea. It isn’t green and doesn’t have anything resembling a pea in it. But I never corrected her, probably because at the time, I wasn’t making split pea soup anyway, and she liked thinking she was eating split pea….and…it was CUTE!! Anyway, until I started making my vegetarian split pea, Moosewood’s cauliflower cheese soup was split pea soup in our house. This was Rebecca’s favorite soup growing up…it might have been her favorite food I cooked. David and Rachel also liked it. The great thing was, none of the kids knew how much cauliflower was in it (they would never eat cauliflower if it was placed on their plates). It has a lot of dairy products in it -- milk, buttermilk, and cheese. Now I use goat milk and goat cheddar (rennetless):
ED: If you're vegan, you can use soy or almond milk and try adding hummus to the soup instead of the cheese. It thickens up the soup and adds a lot of flavor.

I know some of you have mentioned that your kids won’t eat soup but you might want to try this one. It tastes like a cheesy baked potato and kids love it. (At least mine did!!)

I don’t add the extra flowerets to the soup at the end. I just use the whole head of cauliflower at the beginning (about 3 ½ cups—this disguises the cauliflower for the kids who like smooth soups better than chunky ones).

Moosewood Cauliflower Cheese Soup

2 cups potato chunks
2 cups cauliflowerets (I use a whole head of cauliflower)
1 cup chopped carrot (about 3 large carrots)
3 medium cloves garlic
1 cup chopped onion
½ tsp salt
4 cups water or vegetable stock

Place the above ingredients together in a pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer 15 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes.
Puree the entire mixture in the blender (or with an immersion blender) until smooth and creamy.
Transfer to a kettle and whisk in:
1 ½ cups grated cheddar:
...¾ cup milk
¼ tsp. dill weed
¼ tsp. ground dill or caraway seed
¼ tsp. dry mustard
black pepper to taste

(Optional: Steam or sauté in butter 1 ½ cups more cauliflowerets. Add these to the soup). Just before serving whisk in: ¾ cup buttermilk (or kefir). Serve topped with chopped scallions and extra cheese.
Serves 4-5 (can be easily doubled)



Last week someone asked me to do a tutorial about how to freeze food without freezer burn. (If you are going to freeze the cauliflower cheese soup, do so after step one. Then, warm up the thawed soup and continue with step 2).

The best way to freeze food:

Buy gallon freezer bags (zip lock). Line a tall plastic storage container with the bag, folding the top edges over the rim. Fill about ¾ full with the soup or any other food such you want to freeze (don’t overfill…the soup will expand when it freezes).
Close the top tightly except for a small opening big enough to fit a straw inside. Suck out the air. Squeeze the Ziplock bag the rest of the way closed as you remove straw (still sucking).

I know this sounds really strange, but it works. It takes some practice but once you get the hang of it, you will find that you won’t have any freezer burn on your food. Alternatively, you can buy one of those vacuum sealer freezer contraptions, but my way is a lot cheaper!