Friday, January 31, 2014


A few weekends ago, we took ourselves out after church to try a brunch spot called Lunch in our old neighborhood in Scott's Addition. The place was truly tiny and the food was truly delicious, Afterwards, we took a quick walk down the street where we used to live (yes, yes, where Sloane was conceived) and I thought about the drama of an abandoned industrial area coming back to life as a new neighborhood. It is such an appealing story - the old becomes new, the dead comes alive. And yes, I'll bring it on home, that's the kind of thing winter facilitates, isn't it?

This is the lesson I'm always learning during these cold and abandoned months. How to be patient, how to grit my teeth and keep going, how to find pockets of warmth within a frozen tundra. 

She turned to him, hands feeling for his body in the dark. "Do we have any water up here next to the bed?" He laughed. "Of course there is, because I'm the kind of person who always has water next to the bed. I'm prepared." 

"Well, that's why I married you," she retorted.  

A few minutes later, he spoke again in the darkness to recount his day and reflect on what needed to get done for the upcoming week. 

"Your life is so busy and vibrant right now," she marveled. 


"You know, like bright and strong...full of activity" 

"Oh, right… " A pause, and then,
"You are my vibrance," he declared. "That's why I married you." 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Something about these winter days may have you feeling like a crumpled up piece of paper. 

You may need to uncrumple yourself. Some ways to uncrumple could include something similar to what we have found ourselves doing these past few days:

Listening to this song while dancing around the kitchen- me cooking, Sloane eating her dinner (We have been listening to a lot of Michael Jackson lately.)

Snuggling in bed all together as soon as papa gets home. Sloane squished in the middle. Parents raining kisses down on the babe, while breathing sighs of contentment. Leaving the world outside, where it belongs. 

Eavesdropping on papa reading to Sloane and singing bedtime songs. 

Chamomile tea. 

Snow is falling now as I type and even though I know what that means for the commute tomorrow, I like watching my street get covered in a big white blanket. Shhhhhhhhhhhhh, is the vibe I'm getting, and I like it. I'm in bed, and I like that even more. 

Shhhhhhhh, Sloane says to Rusty when he's barking too loud. 

"NO!" is what Sloane calls snow.  I guess it's more like, "(s)NO!" but the 's' is so soft that it sounds like she is saying "NO! NO!" when she sees it on the ground. At first, I thought she was saying no to the dirty snow that was accumulating on the roads outside, because she's like that these days, she gets very concerned about trash on the ground, spilt water, food that falls from the counter . She points it out until it's cleaned up or she does it herself. But then I realized she was excited about the stuff. The first time I put her down on it, she was less than thrilled, but the second time we ventured out, she was delighted, happily saying, "no, no, no, no" as she marched through the snow. 

We took these photos a few days ago in our backyard. Out of all of us, Rusty is the biggest fan of snow. And it's more than official, Sloane likes apples as much as I do. 

Friday, January 24, 2014


Ken and I are coming to the end of the first week of the Whole 30 program. We are on day 6 today and I have some thoughts.

You can read more about the program here; the aspect of it that most appealed to me was that it makes you have to think hard about your psychology towards food. It's interesting, in the summer I find myself naturally wanting things that are healthier for me - probably because my body is happier and more in sync due to the sunshine it's getting. But during the winter, I often eat or drink to ease the grumpiness that results from being cold and sunshine-less, which means my intake of things like baked goods, chocolate, wine, etc. becomes less about enjoying those things for their pleasure and more about finding an escape from my bad mood. I think this becomes worrisome when it becomes a habit, like when I have a really stressful day and my knee jerk reaction is to want to put an entire pie through my mouth because I'm craving the comfort of the sugar....and then I all of a sudden start wanting something sweet automatically when I get home. Or when I feel antsy and tired at the office, instead of going on a walk like I usually might do in the summer, I grab a piece of chocolate and then that becomes a habit. It's always a red flag when I'm eating things mindlessly. I love food and I want to be mindful of what I eat, paying attention to both its nutrients and pleasures. 

Cutting out the prohibited foods hasn't been all too hard; it is not too different from how I usually eat and sometimes I feel like I'm eating more than I usually do by having to eat a protein, vegetable and fat at every meal. And it has definitely made me wiser to how much I tend to want to fix my cranky moods with a sugar rush here or a glass of wine there. (Yesterday I fantasized about a warm chocolate chip cookie for far too long...)

The hard part though is the meal planning and prepping. It's proving to be more costly and even though I'm technically making only one more meal (lunch) each day than the usual two of breakfast and dinner, the additional planning, prepping and strategizing around these requirements sometimes feels like a lot. Then again, this is just our first week so it may be that it gets easier as we go. 

Since I am thinking a lot about food these days, that video above really resonated with me. I am constantly cooking at home, but this past week has made me think even more intentionally about it. When we were grocery shopping for this week, it took much longer than usual because we were reading the ingredients on each of the labels, and it was crazy to keep discovering sugar in things that you wouldn't expect. Just by the act of cooking at home you are cutting out so much sugar and unnecessary salt from your food intake. I know that we are on this program now but it is more for the reset, and my normal food philosophy is actually more like: eat what you will in moderation, and try to cook at home as much as possible.  I'm excited to see how this reset helps us and I think most of all it will help me appreciate and enjoy all the variety of foods even more. 

(Video via Cup of Jo)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


This past weekend started with the most morose of spirits. On Friday, I sat down and did the grownup thing of evaluating my student debt, and fell into the depths of despair. That debt, it's a bugbear.

The next morning at Crossfit, I learned about the tragic death of Meg Menzies, ran for Meg, and cried while listening to stories from her close friends that had come out to run for her that day.

I walked into my friend Elizabeth's kitchen later that afternoon, shoulders tense and fraught from the preceding events, and looking forward to relaxing with my friend.  We spent the afternoon cooking, eating and talking,  and what a balm for the soul that sort of thing is.  It is one of those things that make me feel present in the moment and so glad for it.  Elizabeth is creative in the kitchen, and I love that when inspiration hits, she goes with it.  This particular time, she was inspired by Sub Rosa bread and middle eastern fare, and she whipped up dishes that were a fanfare for the sight and tongue.

Along with leftovers, she sent me home with the book, Bread and Wine. I ate that thing up, quickly, savoring each chapter. Each chapter is a personal story followed by a recipe and it felt luxurious and private and inspiring and a lot of it resonated with me.  

In the style of the book, which shares personal stories followed by recipes, I'm including a recipe below of the delicious lamb meatballs that were a part of our meal. They were fresh and comforting, just like my afternoon.

Lamb Meatballs 
courtesy of Elizabeth Good
makes 15 meatballs

1 pound of ground lamb
6 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of chopped mint
1 tablespoon of parsley
handful of pine nuts
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of pepper
1 teaspoon of lemon preserves, diced finely

Yogurt sauce:
100 grams of yogurt
zest of one lemon
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon of chopped mint
3 tablespoons of olive oil

Mix all the ingredients of the meatball together. Roll into meatballs. Heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium heat until hot; add meatballs. Let them cook for 4-5 minutes on each side until cooked through. 
Mix all the ingredients for the yogurt sauce and serve alongside the meatballs. 

Monday, January 20, 2014


Never mind the fact that Sloane woke up at 3AM last night and stayed awake.  Which means, I also woke up at 3AM ….and stayed awake. Right up until I went to work at 7:30AM and here I am, 12 hours later, still awake, but barely. I'm putting myself to bed early tonight.

Also never mind the fact that it's supposed to snow tomorrow. I know, it's beautiful, and I feel those feelings too. But I also hate driving in the snow.

This is me not minding, by smoothly sailing past those things and onto the things that are light and of inspiration. Like these bunch of photos I had collected into one of my desktop folders from our winter family retreat last month.  The house we stayed at was lovely - wide open and cozy at the same time. There were many things about this house that inspired me - the white acting as light, the rustic pieces of wood and foliage interspersed everywhere, small striking pieces of contrast. Before we left, I wandered from room to room, snapping photos on my phone to file away for later. I'm taking notes for my future beach house.

the bedroom that Ken and I stayed in had these frames that held small and interesting old photographs. 

the kids room, where Sloane laid her head to rest. There were several sailing references in this room.

across the haul, there was a room with a dresser that had stars on the knobs.

red, white and blue to go with the stars

the table where we dined

the living room/family room

having the fireplace going at night made it feel just the right amount of cozy

all that light makes for great reading time

i had to resist coming home with that painting of the bouquet. 

noted: pewter and black cabinets 

white kitchen and high ceilings...

Sunday, January 19, 2014


I am so inspired by Gentl & Hyers' photographs of food. Their photographs look like paintings, but in a way that also makes you really think about that particular ingredient or dish - the texture, the taste, the fragrance. Go to their website to get eye-fulls, salivate, and get inspired.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


I'm a planner. This is a characteristic that has appeared and developed gradually over time, but it seems to be here to say. I've come to realize it's less a characteristic than it is a survival tactic. I know many of you can relate to this. I'm a juggler as well. I multi-task like mad and always wish for a few more arms. I'm also a dreamer, which means new (fangled) ideas are constantly cropping up inside my head. And then the planner side of me is immediately on it, figuring out the logistics of making it happen. I think these characteristics got even more amped up once I became a mother, and all of this results in a brain that does not shut off. It is operating on all cylinders, at all times. Sometimes it a good thing thing because I can get a lot done. Other times, it is a bad thing when things fall by the wayside or I forget the really simple and essential things, like turning off the oven (and this in turn breeds another characteristic….paranoia.)

Having a child perpetuates both the good and bad of this. Having a baby means that my to-do list doubles, but because the baby is constantly growing and changing, reminding me of fleeting time, it makes me want to learn the lessons of being present.

Because of the January funk these days, I've been feeling a little trapped in my own head. The other morning, in the middle of an incredibly busy morning, I decided I would stop for a moment, sit down. do nothing, think nothing for a total of three minutes. I'm embarrassed to say it was harder than I thought it would be.  My mind was itching to go on to the next thing on my to-do list.  Calm the fudge down, Christine, I told myself. Be still.  It was strange; when I was busy, each minute flew by with nary a witness. But when I was still and doing nothing, the minute extended on and on.  It was such strange perspective, I resolved to do it again.

So I've been trying it here and there, when I get the chance.  In the morning before Sloane gets up, in the shower, in the parking lot before walking into the grocery store.  I take a few minutes - and I'm really just talking about 3-4 minutes here - to be physically and mentally still and quiet. I'm not allowed to make lists, or plan, or wonder, or worry. It's not praying or request time. It's not meditation, it's not a time to realize things. I'm not allowed to be in trying or achieving mode. Just be still.

Not to lead anyone unwillingly down the path of hokey, but what I realized about this practice after a few times is that me being still and not trying or moving so hard, gives me the sense of being a receptacle.  To put it more specifically and accurately - of being loved.  Essentially, that's what these few minutes have turned into.  Me just standing there, with absolutely no other agenda than to be loved. No other agenda is allowed.

Here's the other thing that I am getting out of this. After those few minutes, sometimes I get this terrified feeling in my stomach.  Being still to simply receive love like that makes acutely me aware of the vastness, which is scary, but also, thrilling.  The expanse of everything juxtaposed next to the wonder of being known and loved intimately.  It's mysterious, and it leaves me feeling open and humble. 

That is, until something stressful happens at work or Sloane has a meltdown and then I'm prickly once more, but that's why I am practicing.

And now, photos of some other parts of my week:

setting up teddy bear at his school before going off to her own

salty honey pie. i'm obsessed. 
it means something when i make the same pie twice in one weekend. 


i love these mornings

aunt amy and uncle ray came to visit! 

it's a good morning when i start it off like this


Lastly, a prayer that my mom shared with my sisters and I recently, as encouragement through winter doldrums:

We give thanks for the blessing of winter:
Season to cherish the heart.
To make warmth and quiet for the heart.
To make soups and broths for the heart.
To cook for the heart and read for the heart.
To curl up softly and nestle with the heart.
To sleep deeply and gently at one with the heart.
To dream with the heart.
To spend time with the heart.
We give thanks for the blessing of winter:
Season to cherish the heart.

- Michael Leunig

Monday, January 13, 2014


At 17 months, Sloane has preferences, and she lets us know it.  

She has preferences about what song she wants to hear at a given time, what book she would like to read and what food she wants to eat.  When we get in the car, she'll ask us to put the music on ("uh oh! uh oh!" she'll say, motioning to the CD player if it's silent). If it's not the song she wants to hear, she'll say, "no!", until we get to the song she means, and then she'll say "yeas" with a smile, and then proceed to hum, sing, and sound out along.  

She knows all the sounds of alphabet and loves singing along to the Busy Beaver alphabet songs. She randomly points out letters and makes out their sounds when she sees them in catalogues or packaging. She loves books. I can usually stop a tantrum dead in its tracks by asking her if she wants to read a book. "Yeeaaaaasss!" she will wail, in between fading sobs. 

She is a dancer. Not only does she love to dance, she likes a good dance party and wants others to join in on the dancing. We laugh about how bossy she can be about getting us to join in on the dancing.  She is bossy in other ways, too. Sometimes I come back home to Ken and Sloane after being away for a couple of hours and Ken greets me by saying, "she made me do things!" 

She is developing her willpower. I guess this is our ascent into the world of tantrums and discipline; we are learning as we go. She is gaining knowledge of the world in exponential leaps and bounds but since she can't communicate exactly enough and can't understand fully enough yet, it can lead to frustration and a crying spell that can last for too long.  Sometimes, once I realize that explaining won't work, I just let her cry it out, and then it's over. Also, it appears that the more aware she is of things, the more desires she has, and the more desires she has, the more reason to whine.  Oh, the whining. 

She has intentions. When she picks up her little stool, it's not just to do it, it's so that she can move it right up against the coffee table, bring over her box of crayons and paper, come over to me to take my hand and bring me over, order me to sit down and then sit herself down on the stool in order to draw her masterpiece.

And there was that time she told me to lay down and then she tried to change my diaper.

She can think ahead. One time after she handed me a clementine to peel, and after she did her happy dance at the prospects of getting a clementine, she went to the trash to open it up and said 'trach!' For a second I didn't understand, and then I realized she was telling me to hand her the peels so that she could put it in the trash.

Later that night she noticed Rusty was sniffing at his empty food bowl and called me to it, frantically pointing and letting me know that I needed to fill it because he wanted to eat.

While putting her to bed, she does this sweet thing of putting her head on my shoulder when I'm singing to her. She will often sing along, but the song she is singing is vague and out of tune.. The other night when this happened, she was doing this with such passion in her voice, I got a bad case of the  giggles and had a hard time calming myself down.

The other day she came up to me while I was washing the dishes and said a string of sentences - that weren't a request or complaint - she just had a real serious look in her eye and afterwards she walked away, nodding. She apparently had something important to share, but I couldn't understand any of it

She says "papa" or "baba" to call Ken, and sometimes she refers to me as "mama" but then she would also call me "baba". I'm not sure if she thought she was saying "mama" when she was actually saying "baba" or what, but then recently she learned the word, "mommy" and seems to like that word better.  "Momeeeee!" she will squeal, with pure joy and adoration lighting her face. It fills me up in such a way. 

One hilarious development that has been happening over this past month is that she is showing signs of having a mother who takes too many photos. Whenever the camera appears, she puts down whatever she is holding, faces the camera and says "cheeeeese" with the biggest cheesiest smile.  When I take out my phone to take a photo, she asks me for it with the camera setting on and proceeds to walk around house pointing it at different things and looking at what things look like in the frame of the phone's camera lens. When she's done, she'll bring it back to me saying, "momee, momee".  She also knows what a self-timer is.  Today, she brought over a couple of lego blocks that were attached together and put it on the bench.  I saw her set it down, check it carefully, back slowly away facing the 'camera', and then say, "cheese!" Then she ran to the block, examined it carefully, said "uh oh!", and then proceeded to back away again for the 'camera' to take another photo. I realized she was running back to the pretend camera to check the picture, deciding it wasn't a good one and taking another. Then she ordered me to come stand next to her to be in so many pictures. I sure did get a taste of my own medicine. 

While I was taking these photos, she insisted that we get her blanket and then asked me to spread it down on the floor for her. She laid teddy bear down and then laid down next to him. She told me to go on my way, so I walked a few steps away to the kitchen and watched as she lay there silently for a few minutes, reveling in the satisfaction of laying down on the bed that she made. After a few moments, she called me back and wanted me to bundle her up and hold her like a baby, so I wrapped my big toddler up in the blanket, craddled her in my arms and swayed her side to side like the baby she will always be. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Maybe the new year has me hankering after minimalism. Or more likely it's that I've always been a little bit in love with geometric shapes that make you pay attention to color and lines and space. Whatever it is, I'm into it, especially what Alyson Fox has been doing in her collaboration with Hawkins New York.  You guys, these rugs!