...attached to the rest of the world

"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul." 

John Muir said that. He said a lot of amazing things and I'm about to control alt paste some of them below because I couldn't decide which one to start this post with so I'm picking them all. 

"The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness."

"I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.

"I am losing precious days. I am degenerating into a machine for making money. I am learning nothing in this trivial world of men. I must break away and get out into the mountains to learn the news."

“On no subject are our ideas more warped and pitiable than on death. ... Let children walk with nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life, and that the grave has no victory, for it never fights.” 

“Earth has no sorrow that earth can not heal.” 

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” 

“Most people who travel look only at what they are directed to look at. Great is the power of the guidebook maker, however ignorant.” 

“Few places in this world are more dangerous than home. Fear not, therefore, to try the mountain passes. They will kill care, save you from deadly apathy, set you free, and call forth every faculty into vigorous, enthusiastic action.” 

"When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world." 
Growing up, our vacations were the road trip kind that landed us anywhere from The Grand Canyon to Yosemite, Yellowstone, The Colorado River, Mountains, Mountains, Sequoias, Mountains... We went fossil digging and National Park exploring in Utah, did a week of National Park exploring in Colorado, spent the week on a ranch in Montana and experienced all of the things that teenage me insisted she despised. Because NATURE is the worst I just want to be with my friends and hang out at the beach all summer what are you trying to do to me in this minivan ugh. 

My parents were nature people and by default, my siblings and I would have to be, too. I hated them for it, of course. I literally kicked and screamed on every vacation. (In every family photo I look like I'm going to murder my parents. Or whomever it was that took the photo at whatever national park we posed in front of.)
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"One day you'll thank us!" my parents routinely said.

And, because of course, they were right.

I grew up resisting nature until one day I was a grown up who found much to her surprise that nature was actually a thing that I craved. Constantly. 

I spent my late teens and early twenties traveling... taking road trips up the coast. Hiking daily with my dogs. Exploring areas without cell service. The older I become, the more attached I am to the same great outdoors my parents once forced me into. 

Which is why I cling to hope that the following piece published last week in The Guardian, is but a cautionary tale. 

George Monbeit writes:

The remarkable collapse of children's engagement with nature – which is even faster than the collapse of the natural world – is recorded in Richard Louv's book Last Child in the Woods, and in a report published recently by the National Trust. Since the 1970s the area in which children may roam without supervision has decreased by almost 90%. In one generation the proportion of children regularly playing in wild places in the UK has fallen from more than half to fewer than one in 10. In the US, in just six years (1997-2003) children with particular outdoor hobbies fell by half. Eleven- to 15-year-olds in Britain now spend, on average, half their waking day in front of a screen.

There are several reasons for this collapse: parents' irrational fear of strangers and rational fear of traffic, the destruction of the fortifying commons where previous generations played, the quality of indoor entertainment, the structuring of children's time, the criminalisation of natural play. The great indoors, as a result, has become a far more dangerous place than the diminished world beyond.

...We don't get out into nature as much as I would like, but we spend as much time as possible outside, experiencing the city and the many gardens/trails/preserves Los Angeles has to offer. We go to the beach and we swim in the ocean. We hike and we wander and roll down hills. We make soup out of weeds and carry big sticks on our walks. We take the scenic routes even when they take twice as long. (Los Angeles is actually an INCREDIBLE place to live if you love the outdoors.)

And yet, we could do better... 
...In order to thrive as a people and a planet, we must establish personal relationships with the trees, the insects, the mountains and each other. We must teach our children to love and connect with nature and the world before we ask them to fight for it.
You can read my whole post on Mom.me, here. 
P.S. For those of you looking to become members to your local botanical garden(s), please check out this list of reciprocal gardens nationwide. I had NO IDEA until recently that our membership to Descanso gives us free access to, for example, San Diego Botanical Gardens and hundreds of other gardens in North America. 

The more extravagant the meal, the less likely my kids will eat it. (And that's okay.)

The following post was sponsored by Blue Apron. Thanks, Blue Apron! 
For this month's Blue Apron meals, I took a risk and... well... with great risks come great rewards.

And also... utter failures.

But that's okay because it's FOOD and they're KIDS and it has been said that a child must try something seven times before he/she learns to like it. Or something. In the case of January's meals, one out of four of my kids ate one out of two of the meals I prepared. Yes, we had leftovers. And yes, they were eaten... just not by the kids.

When I was a little girl, chicken pot pies were MY ALLTIME FAVORITE FAVORITE so when looking for a meal the whole family might enjoy, (besides me who doesn't eat chicken) I went for the pot pie looking Chicken & Drop Biscuit Caserole. 
photo via: Blue Apron recipe

I guess in retrospect, I should have asked THEM to help me choose the week's recipes, but in the past I have been really good at selecting recipes (mostly) the whole family will enjoy. This time (spoiler alert!) I missed the mark by, like, A LOT. 

And yet! AND YET! A for effort in making a meal that turned out almost EXACTLY like it looked in the photo. (High five!) 
ED: This was the first time in my life I ever poached chicken and now I feel like I can make my own chicken tacos instead of buying shredded chicken breast from the store. I mean, THAT is how idiotic I am when it comes to cooking. My mind was literally blown that raw chicken can go into a pot and be boiled to perfection. (One of the reasons Blue Apron is so awesome is that it forces people who hate cooking (me) to learn how to cook. Fist to the chest, Blue.)
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IMG_1586 looking good, right? 
IMG_1587 just like the picture?
IMG_1588 (Hal's dinner/lunch for three straight days.)

Two nights later, I decided to take my chances again and prepare the Catfish and Collared Greens.
My kids have recently REALLY gotten into fish and catfish is always a good one. (Fish tacos are a weekly staple in our house. They are the new macaroni and cheese and one of the few things that EVERYBODY eats and loves. I think pizza is the only other thing on that list, which... )

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Catfish and collard greens. I thought FOR SURE this one would be a smash. And it was for Archer who ate his fish AS WELL as his sisters' fish. All of it. Which, welcome to tween boy-dinner-land. The kid is a bottomless pit these days and if I don't have snacks with me at school pick-up, he's like OH MY GOD, MOM I'M GOING TO DIE MAYBE! I AM SO HUNGRY I CAN'T EVEN SEE WHAT IS THIS LIFE."

Seriously. He is eating. Always. And he loved the catfish so, hooray! Hooray. (We actually didn't have any leftovers at all of this meal because between Hal, me and Archer... there wasn't a green or a smidge of sweet potato or a corner of fish flesh left behind. And the girls? I whipped up some quesadillas with cucumbers and shrugged the whole thing off because IF YOU DON'T TRY IT, YOU'LL NEVER KNOW.
...Which is a great MO to have when it comes to serving a child AND being one.

"If you don't try this, how do you know if you won't love it?" I always ask them.

And I'm learning to ask myself the same thing.

Even though it sucks a little bit to prepare something and watch your kids call it disgusting WHEN IT IS SO NOT DISGUSTING I MEAN LOOK AT THIS FEAST ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
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The truth is, if we don't introduce our kids to new foods and new experiences and make them feel uncomfortable sometimes with NEW things that they may or may not like, we are NOT parenting. We are not raising. We are simply status-quo-don't-rock-the-boat(ing) which is EASIER for sure, but not ideal in the long run. 

Comfort zones are to be tampered with, kids. Sorry not sorry. 

That said, next time, I'm going for the Tuscan Ribolita soup because IF MY KIDS WON'T EAT IT I WILL AND I WILL EAT IT ALLLLLLL...
And for them, the catfish fish tacos because my kids are obsessed with fish tacos and they won't know the difference between the catfish and what we usually serve... cod.
And speaking of cod, I also really want (all of us) to try the tamarind glazed cod, the rice noodles and coconut-match broth (I mean) and the cripsy tofu drunken noodles. (And, like, forty other things. You can check out all of the meals, here.)
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For those looking to give Blue Apron a spin, you can click here. (First 50 readers will receive their first two meals free.) Blue Apron has two different plans, one for parties of two and another for families. They have also recently started recycling all packaging. You can click here for more information on that! (Go, team!) Thanks again to Blue Apron for supporting GGC and sponsoring this post. I love you. Even when my kids are, like, eh. 

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YouTuber Ivy Rose's cover of Radiohead's Creep is quite possibly the greatest cover of all time. It makes me feel thirteen and threethousandteen all at once.

Ivy's covers of Warpaint's Billie Holiday and Daughter's Youth are also magnificent. (All of her covers are inspired and incredible. Highly recommend subscribing. The girl is on fire.) 

Setting fire to our insides for fun...


Creep + Billie Holiday + Youth covers by: Ivy Rose

A Mom and Somebody Else

The last time I colored my hair I was newly pregnant with Archer, trying to convert my blue-black bob to a natural-brown... non-bob. My plan was to grow it long and keep it natural for a while. I wouldn't have the time nor the money to drop hundreds in the salon every two months, and besides, my hair was WRECKED from years of bleaching and blacking and blacking and bleaching.

(My hair was actually naturally blonde until my early-twenties when I started dying it black. When I decided to let it go natural, the blonde had been replaced with brown, as though my hair said, "oh, you don't want to be blonde anymore? Copy.")

Anyway. My poor hair had been through the ringer and after reading up on "hair chemicals and pregnancy," I decided to go au natural for a while. My hair grew in its newly natural shade of brown and I trimmed my own bangs every few weeks. And that’s how I kept it, relatively the same, for eleven years.

And then last summer, in the throes of an existential crisis (which I am still riding out, let's be clear) I cut a foot off my hair. I had wanted to cut my hair short for months but was dragging my feet until one night I lost it and cut my hair whilst sobbing uncontrollably in a locked bathroom. Nothing to see here, kids! Nothing to see here...

"Change your hair, change your life," is what everyone always says, myself included, and while I spent my formative years changing my hair (and my life) every few months, my hair, since becoming a mother, felt like my identity in this weird way. Maybe because I grew out the fake... maintained the real... let it go gray in places... owned it... looked the same for all of my children... as a mother, as a wife...

For someone who spends much of her life exposed, I sure love a good hiding place, and bangs, for many years, served as mine.
Weeks after I chopped my hair, I regretted it -- frustrated that it was too short to put it back --couldn't put my hair up—that I had to pin it all back to work out. Bobby pins for days... 

And so. A month after chopping it all off, I decided to grow my hair out again. Bangs, too, and FOR REAL this time. In the past, every time I have tried to grow my bangs out, I have given up during the awkward stage and cut them short again. EVERY. TIME.  Not this time, though. This time? I would COMMIT!

This time I had a plan and it looked a little like this. 


The thing is, I never stopped being blonde. I mean, I did. Clearly my hair color changed and yet, for most of my life I was blonde.  So in this weird way, blonde feels like... home?

And while accepting its natural change felt, for many years, an important statement… not just for my children but myself, 2015 skewed my view a little bit. My babies were no longer babies. My nights were no longer sleepless. I was no longer in parental survival mode but in… a new and unfamiliar state of MY KIDS ARE BECOMING THEIR OWN PEOPLE AND IT’S TIME FOR ME TO FOCUS ON BECOMING MY OWN ME. Not that I wasn’t MYSELF before, because I was, but I couldn’t help being MOTHER above all else. Prioritizing self-care and impulse salon marathons was not a thing I was doing, let alone considering. There were too many people who needed me more than I needed myself.

There is an unspoken obligation when it comes to maintaining status quo when one has children. 

Keep it stable.

Put down roots.

Keep a schedule.

Power through...

Spontaneity is NOT FOR US, MOTHER DEARESTS. We are to plan very far in advance and wean our children in and out of stages. Come up with incentives for potty training and sleep training. Start with one food group and go from there.

Same goes with our work. And our looks and our lives. I told my kids last year that I wanted to go blonde like I was once upon a time and they all said NO! YOU CAN’T DO THAT! YOU WON’T LOOK LIKE MOM ANYMORE.

So I didn’t. And I felt terrible for wanting to.

It wasn’t until I sat down for lunch with a friend  and had a heart spill-open-soul-discussion-about-life-and-love-and-creative-lady-life-change-y-things, that I realized WAIT. WAIIIIIIIIT. 

Or, rather... it was Clem who made me realize... 

We were talking about hair and changes and changing hair change-y change, when I told her that I REALLY wanted to do something drastic but my kids didn't want me to. And it made me feel guilty for wanting to change something that my family didn’t want me to change. And, yes. My hair was a larger metaphor for wanting to commit to being someone else – to doing new things in new directions and and and...

"But YOU'RE the mother. AND you're a woman who is not just the mother...  You need to make decisions for yourself..."

Her words made me cry because, duh. And also... duh. 

I mean, don't get me wrong. I love being a mom. But for the last ten and a half years my personal and professional life has been MOTHER. MOM. MOMMY. ARCHER'S MOM. FABLE'S MOM. BO AND REVI'S MOM. THAT MOM WITH ALL THE KIDS. THE MOM WHO WRITES A BLOG ABOUT BEING A MOM MOM MOTHER MOMMA MOM MOMMY MOM DOT MOM. 

Moments after leaving the restaurant, with Clem's voice in my head singing GO, WOMAN, GO, I made an appointment at a salon in Venice for the following Thursday

I immediately felt like a new woman after hanging up the phone. I was COMMITTING to change. 

I told the kids, of course.

Fable cried.

"Please don't change, Mama. This is what you've always looked like..."

And then I cried.

"Exactly," I said.

I explained to all four of them that sometimes change is GOOD and IMPORTANT and sometimes mamas need to shake things up in order to feel like they can keep moving. I told them I would still be the same person and that they would be used to it within a day and forget I ever looked like anything else.

"Will you make it brown again?"

"Maybe. I don’t know yet... I don’t know what’s going to happen right now, I just know that something needs to. I feel very strongly that something(s) needs to change."

"I hope you make it brown again."

"That's fair," I said. "I understand."
It took eight hours.

It felt like a baptism. The layers and levels of foils. Again and again. Rinse wash... re-foil. Repeat. The change would be dramatic, but contrary to last summer in the bathroom, I was at peace. It all felt poetic. To me. Like I was doing something revolutionary. For me.

And I was. It sounds crazy, maybe, but in the chair of the salon with my eyeballs pressed against the pages of INTERVIEW magazine, I was taking care of myself in a way that had nothing to do with my family. On the contrary, it was AGAINST their very wishes.

It was for me and me alone. IT WAS FOR ME AND ME ALONE.

Sometimes one must break the hearts of the people she loves in order to repair her own. And, yes, it's just hair. But it was so much more than that for me. It was and it is and it will continue to be... a time stamp of something else...

Later that night, when I came home, all four of the kids were in the hallway, still awake, their hands over their eyes "afraid to look."

"It's okay! You can look! Open your eyes!"

They didn't want to. They scurried into the twins' room and huddled together in Revi's bed in a massive heap.

"You guys..."

Slowly... one by one... they looked up. Uncovered their eyes. Spoke words.

Bo immediately started cracking up. "YOU LOOK… DIFFERENT."

Revi loved it and kept clapping her hands. 

Fable wasn’t sure. She hugged me without looking at my face and then pulled away, opened her eyes and then closed them, went back to hugging, her arms tight around my waist.

"You still look like Mom," Archer said. "You just also look like someone else."

"That's because I am."
For the next several days, I felt invincible. Hell, I still do. I feel like I've been reborn in this seemingly petty way that for whatever reason feels SO INCREDIBLY LIFE-CHANGINGLY large. I feel autonomous and badass and NEW. I feel like a mom and somebody else. 

7 Reasons to Get Your Daughter(s) a Skateboard

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Bo recently started skateboarding. And she's good. She bombed her first ever hill over Christmas after receiving her first ever board. And then she bombed the hill again. And again. And again. Where I grew up (Encinitas, California) skateboarding was something EVERYONE did. Unless the everyones were girls. In which case, EW NO NEVER NOT YOU NO NONONO.

Which is why, today on Mom.me I want to talk a little bit about girls, skateboarding and 7 reasons you should think about getting your daughter(s) a skateboard.

 7 Reasons to Get your Daughter(s) a Skateboard

1. Because it's a great sport for everyone ... girls included. 

2. Because skateboarding needs more females.

3. And girls can land 540s, too. 

4.  It's a great sport for sisterhood and socializing. 

5. ... AND being your OWN GIRL/WOMAN. 

6. And learning to GET BACK UP AND TRY AGAIN. 

7. Because it's THEIR turn to grind a rail, master an ollie, land a heelflip... 

Looking for resources that specialize in girls and skateboarding? I put together a list right here. 


morby photo via

Happy Tuesday, everyone. Here are some great Kevin Morby songs for your ears and your soul and your eyes. (And your heart.) 

255. Wild Side Oh the Places You'll Go
+ Parade
+ All of my Life by: Kevin Morby


Eat Well: Almond Cake and Gingerbroads

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thank you, Mom!
I have been in a journaling group for over ten years. We are a group of women artists who get together once a month and, facilitated by our mentor, Lois Sunrich, dive deep into our inner beings and write, letting our pens lead us wherever they want to go.
This group has been a grounding and powerful force in my life. Every December, we reflect on the past year, and in January, we set our creative goals for the coming year. I am mentioning this as a preface to my post because today we met, and after writing about other things, I reflected on the holidays…all 12 of us being together for 5 days…and how calm I was, mainly because I had really prepared by freezing lots of food—even the cooked ginger bread for the gingerbread house—and this made all the difference.
I even introduced a couple of new traditions because there was time to—making hand sculpted gingerbread men/women/snowmen/whatever-else (without cookie cutters) and an ornament project.

I hope to add both of these traditions to our yearly festivities, as they were fun for everyone, adults and children alike. And as long as I plan ahead, it should be possible.
I have written before about all of my traditional recipes, but I also like to try a new one every year or two for fun, and this year it was an almond cake.

Larry and I fell in love with this cake when our friend Liz made it for us. It is the perfect cake for any occasion and was a nice addition to our dessert table.

I served it plain, but you could serve it with fresh fruit and whipped cream for an even more decadent dessert. The ingredients aren’t cheap, as you need two packages of almond paste, but it serves a lot of people and is worth the splurge.

It’s really easy to make, so it’s a great cake to bring to a potluck or serve at a dinner party, year-round. And you can make it a day ahead, which is what I did for Christmas.

For those of you who are gluten-free, it converts beautifully (I used my favorite, Pamela’s Artisan Flour).
Almond Cake 

1 cup sugar
2 packages Odense almond paste
1 cup softened butter
6 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ regular or gluten-free flour

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Oil and paper a 9-10 inch spring form pan.
3. Break almond paste into small pieces and add to sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Mix on low until combined.
4. Add butter and cream together until well combined.
5. Scrape bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat on high until fluffy, stopping to scrape bowl, sides and bottom, once or twice.

6. Add salt and flour and mix until combined.

7. Pour into spring form, using a knife to even out. (Batter will be thick.)

8. Bake for about 40-45 minutes.

9. Wiggle the pan, and if it doesn’t wiggle in the middle, test with a knife or cake tester. If it isn’t done, cook another 5 to 10 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

10. Cool on wire rack in the pan. Unhinge spring form when cool.
Did you make anything new for the holidays? Any new traditions started? I’d love to hear from you!