WOW! i won a prize AGAIN!…BEST OF HOUZZ 2019 SERVICE thank you, again, to my new and continued clients and colleagues who have supported me in this wonderful design adventure. i feel so lucky i just may go buy some lottery tickets or mine for gold or fly to vegas. x0x0x
the “stick style” san francisco victorians were built in the late 19th century and served as an architectural transition from gothic to queen anne victorians. stick houses utilized the most innovative design concepts and building technologies of the era. the style defining “stickwork” or decorative trims were created by the first steam-powered wood-working tools and were arranged in elaborate, repeating, geometric patterns. other hallmarks of the style include heightened gables and squared off bay windows. unlike the gothic and queen anne victorian genres, stick style architecture was wholly american, both fresh and modern for the time.
this stick style divisadero street apartment is laid out in a “railroad” format with the various rooms branching off of one long hallway that carries throughout the length of the apartment.
there are two smaller “fainting rooms” located at the front and rear of the flat. rather than sniffing smelling salts or recuperating in these rooms, today’s occupants might use them as offices, reading rooms or pantries.
the living room and dining space can be connected by opening the wide pocket doors. there are three original marble fireplaces located in the living room and both bedrooms.
we renovated the bathroom with clean, simple, white subway tile and dark gray slate flooring. the carrara countertop complements the existing marble fireplaces from the original build. the cupboards are flat, white, thermafoil panels.
in the kitchen, we incorporated the same cupboards as the bathroom. the cupboards take advantage of the twelve foot ceilings with extra vertical storage.
i love the dichotomy of the pared-down, modern kitchen within this thoroughly victorian flat. the original details of the apartment: intricate molding framing doors and windows, ceiling fixtures and the archway; the hallway skylight; marble fireplaces; elaborate brass hinges, handles, pulls and lighting fixtures; and the high ceilings and elongated windows are showcased, while the white and gray palate provides continuity throughout the space. it’s intriguing to imagine the parade of occupants over the many decades… the corseted victorian ladies and top-hatted gentlemen, the exuberant flappers of the twenties, the bohemians who arrived in the sixties and today’s entrepreneurs and dot commers… all scaling the same staircase to enter the apartment.
in the late 90’s, my boyfriend and i came home to my chelsea apartment a bit tipsy. there was an awful smell in the hallway of my building and i lamented the fact that i was forced to hold my breath or pass out from exposure. in typical “only in new york” style, where more desirable housing options often escalated relationships, my boyfriend suggested i move in with him. we did not discuss it further that night, but in the morning i asked him if his offer was serious.
“yes,” he said… “my hallways never stink.”
“well, do you want to marry me?” i was not about to give up my rent-controlled, one bedroom in chelsea on a whim, even if it did have an unfortunate smell in the hallway periodically.
“well… i was just asking you to move in… i wasn’t proposing.”
“i know, and i really don’t want to get married right now. (i really didn’t - much more than an engagement ring, what i wanted most in the world was the perfect dresser to hold all the things my new york closet couldn’t fit) but i can’t give up my apartment, if you can’t imagine getting married some day.”
“yes,” he said. “i can imagine marrying you some day.”
“all right… do you want to have kids?”
“yes, i want kids… some day.”
“okay… well, i can’t give up christmas and easter (my boyfriend was jewish.)”
and that was the beginning of the conversation that cemented the fact that the holidays would always be exhausting because we decided to raise these imaginary children in the jewish faith with santa and the easter bunny thrown in. and then, before they were even born, we moved to amsterdam, where we added sinterklaas into the mix.
so this year, like every other, (even though we are no longer married, despite our early negotiations - i DID eventually find a perfect dresser from bludot) we lit candles and ate latkes and dreideled and opened presents for eight nights. we put our shoes out on december 5th for sint and the petes to fill with candy. we decorated the tree and the house with menorahs and snowflakes and mistletoe. we wrote out holiday cards and baked and frosted and sprinkled and delivered loads of cookies and four gingerbread houses. we tried to stay on our best behavior because we are observed not only by the elf on the shelf and his new girlfriend, but by santa and sint as well. and then we traveled to california for christmas (and grandma’s famous sticky buns) and back to boulder for new year’s week. and now we are a bit exhausted, but we survived!
we suffered a few mishaps along the way… hank got ahold of the wooden shoes and gave them a good, muddy knawing in the back yard. he also dismembered a few snowmen and angels and nutcracker ornaments - i collected their remains before lucy could see them because she gets REALLY mad with him. then we all got matching pajamas and hank’s were too SMALL (even though they are a medium!) he looks like a porn star with the front all (necessarily) unbuttoned and his hairy chest bursting out. and then hank hurt my feelings when i dropped him off at boarding school… he just ran off without a proper good-bye… maybe he was getting me back for the skin tight jams? and lucy got a big ear infection so we had to extend our time in california because she couldn’t fly. theo bravely carried on and made his first solo flight back to colorado (we carefully cased the waiting area for weirdos) so he wouldn’t miss a ski trip with my old boyfriend. and like every year, we ate too many sweets and stopped making green smoothies and barely made it to the bar method, even though there was a big contest and i LOVE winning socks in the big contests. so we are definitely exhausted, but we survived… HAPPY, HAPPY NEW YEAR!
every year, we send out a holiday card featuring the kids smiling and laughing together. they DO laugh and smile together pretty frequently, but hardly ever when we are shooting these photos.
“FEO, FEO” lucy (when she had no teeth) yelled downstairs in alarm a few years ago, “the christmas clothes are out… i fink we have to do the card today!” then a series of loud groans as they commiserated together.
i can be a bit controlling, so yes, i pick out their clothes for the christmas card. after working as a wardrobe stylist for years, i just have a few rules: no logo tees, no clashing colors, prints that work together, a simple background and no fake smiles. this can be a tall order and i am a bit abashed to say that i have made one or both (usually both) children cry every year during the holiday card shoot. i DO bribe/reward them after with doughnuts or mini golf or a movie at the theater with lazy-boy seats (then i can take a nap because i am always EXHAUSTED after forcing my children to smile naturally.) i like the photos to look like i just happened to catch them when they were having a completely organic belly laugh, while wearing coordinating outfits, sitting in front of a neutral background. there is typically a lot of tension during these shoots as one child will be cooperating while the other is not and then they will switch roles. after each series of shots, i run into the house to download the images and see if i “got” it… they wait with baited breath. inevitably, i come back out several times and tell them we have to try again.
one year was particularly hard on them because we waited until deep into november to take the pictures. the first attempt was thwarted when the light faded too quickly the afternoon i set aside for the shoot. we were in a bit of time crunch because i still had to get the cards printed and shipped, so i woke them up at the crack of dawn the next day to get it done BEFORE school started. neither of my children are “morning people” AND it was REALLY cold (so cold that smoke was coming out of their mouths when they breathed) AND they were both in short sleeves because those were the outfits i had selected. they were goose-bumped and crying a bit (which made it take longer because i didn’t want them to have red eyes, as i am not very skilled at photoshop.) so i taught them every gnarly swearing song i know to yell at me between shots and make them laugh, like:
“mother f*cker, t*tty s*cker, two-balled b*tch” and “tough t*tty, said the kitty when the milk went dry.”
remember those? they also came up with some pretty shocking, creative strings of swears on their own that they were quite gleeful about shouting at me. we finally got a decent picture and i don’t think you can tell that their teeth were chattering… “m-m-m-mother f-f-f-f*cker…”
this year, i was really worried about how we were going to get the picture done, because this year we also had hank. getting two kids to smile and look relaxed despite being told exactly how to pose is hard enough… throwing a puppy in there too seemed impossible. i couldn’t imagine the bribes and swears that would have to be on offer to get a proper photo. but this year we got it done in TEN MINUTES! (i will say, i don’t think it’s the most flattering picture of hank. he looks gigantic… we are still a little sensitive about his weight. i believe it’s because he’s in the foreground, a tough angle for anyone.) this year, they FINALLY realized that if they just did exactly what i said and didn’t cry, it would be over in no time (i wish they would make this a general policy!) we actually made it to the lazy-boy theater with time for a double feature… a christmas miracle!
fifty is a BIG fucking number! i kept thinking i’d get used to it… i’ve actually been telling myself and everyone else that i’m fifty for the last four years, just to give myself some lead time (which has also led to a lot of confusion as i would forget how old i actually was.) but the truth is, i am NOT best pleased about being associated with this enormous number and i am NOT used to it. i wanted to be bouldery and think about all the things i’m grateful for - i get emails from oprah and deepak so i know grateful people are happier people … and i AM grateful for a lot (glitter nail polish, the pacific ocean, my beloved hank, my vacuum cleaner, see’s scotchmallows, boulder’s hot pink sunrises, the brique poulet at ten ten, the doctor in san francisco who got me pregnant, first with theo and then with lucy, the doctor in amsterdam who finally got lucy out of me, the surgeons in amsterdam who stopped my hemorrhage and saved my life, jane austen, fog, the whole of paris, dove soap, pom-poms, my first husband, mint chip ice cream, sheepskins, pompadour chocolate shop, the day’s first cup of coffee, audrey hepburn in “funny face,” the frick museum, my writing group, men’s white, ribbed tank tops, the lights lining the bridges of amsterdam, the bar method, good times drive through, flannel pajamas, my GG’s cursive, macklemore, peppermint tea, white walls, the lazy boy movie theater at the flatiron’s mall, my superstar colorist, rain, oatmeal chocolate chip (notice i DIDN’T say “raisin”) cookie dough, red tulips, the “little house” books, the google maps lady, mahjong, cuckoo clocks, the new bay bridge, sparkly gold hairbands, my incomparable parents, my checkered, slip-on vans, my bed, triple cream brie, my wonderful friends, the seat heats in my car, and of course, my dearest, darling children)…just NOT for fifty. i think i’d rather be fifty-two, already immersed in the decade but not anywhere near sixty… which i don’t imagine i will be grateful for either!
we LOVE butter in our family. a little (or BIG) pat of butter makes everything taste better. some of us REALLY love butter… when lucy was about four, we were baking oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (notice i DIDN’T say “raisin”) and i turned around and lu was clutching an errant stick, taking bites out it, like it was a banana. so we were beside ourselves when our friend, jessica pratt jacobson, started fireworks finishing butters.
jess has always harbored a love of cooking delicious food. as a teenager, she spent hours pouring over her grandmother’s bon appetit and gourmet magazines, meticulously copying down her favorite recipes by hand and storing them in a binder. she began her career in graphic design, but never lost her desire to work full time with food. in 2016, jess found herself living in boulder, colorado - the natural and organic food mecca of the western slope - with her husband and three children and the timing was right for her to launch a butter business.
jess started with a favorite family steak butter recipe that had long been a staple in her own kitchen, now officially known as “classic steakhouse.” she then developed three more flavors: chipotle tomato, ginger miso and honey lavender sea salt. jess’ butters are created in the centuries old french tradition of “buerre compose”… adding fresh herbs and seasoning to a base butter. fireworks finishing butters are made with all natural ingredients (a grass-fed dairy butter base with no antibiotics, pesticides, growth hormones or rBGH.) the result is a smooth, rich and savory mouth feel. the seasoned butter is then used to “finish” or enhance the flavor of a dish in a fashion similar to a sauce. fireworks finishing butters can be incorporated into a recipe as an ingredient, or added at the end, for that “firework” moment when different tastes are combined to create a surprising, exciting flavor explosion.
grilled steak topped with fireworks classic steakhouse
fireworks finishing butters’ website is loaded with recipe ideas for all four flavors, but quick, easy uses for the butters include fried eggs, sautéed spinach, popcorn, corn on the cob and of course, as toppings for steak, chicken and fish.
fireworks mixed grill platter
fireworks chipotle tomato pasta
fireworks ginger miso scallops
corn and zucchini salad with fireworks chipotle tomato
fried eggs with fireworks chipotle tomato
street corn with fireworks chipotle tomato and queso
popcorn topped with fireworks honey lavender sea salt
jess’ butters can be found locally at lucky’s market, alfalfas, organic sandwich company, the butcher’s block in aspen and the longmont cheese importers (my favorite cheese shop!) they are also available online for shipment.
during the summer and fall, jessica and her sweet troop of children can be found at local farmer’s markets on saturday mornings selling her delicious butters and offering tastings and recipe suggestions.
peach crisp with fireworks honey lavender sea salt
this month, fireworks finishing butters will be present at the following holiday pop ups:
friday, december 7th 6-9 pm
cedar art studios: 1740 cedar avenue, boulder, co 80304
thursday, december 13th 3-9 pm
private home in the waterstone neighborhood: 5388 waterstone drive, boulder, co 80301
jess’ butters make terrific gifts… MY favorite is the miso ginger, so that is what all of my clients will be receiving… EVERYTHING is better with butter (especially fireworks finishing butter!)
i booked our holiday to sayulita several months ago and then promptly forgot about it. two days prior to our trip, i looked up our flights and discovered we were meant to depart at seven IN THE MORNING! i must have had a good reason for choosing a flight at an hour that meant we would have to get up in the middle of the night, but i honestly can’t remember it. so at the last minute, we decided to go the night before and stay at the lovely westin at DIA. this hotel, designed by gensler, is in the shape of those little wings they used to give children on flights when i was a kid. the best part is the pool on the top floor in the dip between the wings. we stayed there once before when we got blizzarded in right before christmas and no flights were leaving. the view then was pretty surreal as there is nothing around the denver airport and there was so much snow it felt like we were on the moon. on that trip we spent hours in the restaurant brunching (i still think about this delicious breakfast sandwich we ate with bacon, egg, cheese and avocado that i could never properly replicate), watching movies and swimming. it was a wonderful way to start our vacation. this time was not as relaxing because we still had to get up at 4 am, but we did have room service at 4:30 am… there are not many things better than someone knocking on your door bearing a little trolley of coffee and warm breakfast.
so we were pretty wiped by the time the driver picked us up at the airport in puerto vallarta (which is about 45 minutes south of sayulita.) he offered to stop at “la comer” so we could buy water and snacks. thank goodness for this stop because on the flight, lucy asked me which bathing suit i brought and i realized that i hadn’t brought any at all, which is ridiculous because i have LOADS of them, mostly because this isn’t the first time i’ve failed to pack a swimsuit when going on a beach holiday. but it WAS the first time i had to buy one at a supermarket. i wasn’t too worried since i had brought a bunch of “mrs. ropers” i could cover up in if my comer suit didn’t fit properly. in an effort to be efficient, i asked the kids to get the snacks so i could focus on finding something to swim in. as a result, we ended up with all kinds of mexican candy and sweets: some rectangular gummies in a rainbow of colors, some little pink and brown cubes that tasted like cookie dough and lots of chocolate covered cakes with marshmallow or jam or both inside. i did manage to throw in some milk and cereal, but of course, i forgot the most important thing… coffee.
much of the drive to our hotel was through bright green jungle… there were huge twisted trees whose branches arched over the road and hanging vines and mossy looking things. and then towards the end, we went by a big, gorgeous cemetery with gravestones painted hot pink or bright yellow. there were large vases of colorful flowers and strings of bright, vibrant flags stretched over the grounds. this cemetery is right next to a beach aptly names “playa los muertos” (beach of the dead) that we visited the next day.
we started out being pretty careful about what we ate, but by the end of our stay we had tried shrimp sticks and doughnuts and big coconuts filled with fruit on the beach, crepes in the square with nutella and caramel and guacamole and smoothies just about anywhere we could get them. and praise jesus, we did not get sick! maybe all the day of the dead spirits were looking after us…
other restaurants we really enjoyed:
burrito revolution - OUTRAGEOUS burritos, calle jose mariscal 10
cafe el espresso sayulita - super yummy smoothies and breakfast, directly across from sayulita plaza
si señor at our hotel, the villa amor - beautiful views, delicious seafood and impeccable service. we also LOVED our room and the hotel grounds.
when we weren’t eating, we spent a lot of time wandering through the town. our hotel was maybe a seven minute walk from the center on a direct road with only one left, but somehow i managed to get us turned around both going in and out on the first day. i’ve decided that my ability to get lost is actually a TALENT of epic, genius proportions… not many could have pulled that off in sayulita!
by far, our favorite shopping discovery was the sayulita pom pom. bright, colorful strings of them were sold everywhere and lucy and i got a bit obsessed. we just couldn’t stop adding to our collection because they were so cheerful and happy. we did learn (on the last day) that the ones sold in the “hippy flea market,” just over the bridge, were the best price point. some shops we really adored:
revolucion del sueno - pom poms of all sizes, beach bags and jewelry
manyana - gorgeous baskets and candle sticks
evoke the spirit - stunning ceramics, jewelry and art pieces
but the highlight of our stay was definitely the day trip we took to the marietas islands with allycat tours. we left at the crack of dawn and enjoyed breakfast on the boat as we traveled away from the coast to the group of islands formed thousands of years ago by volcanic eruptions. the marietas are now a protected, national park because of the incredible array of flora, fauna and wildlife. we saw the darling blue-footed booby birds who looked slightly crossed-eyed and walked with a funny lilt, as if they’d had too much tequila. we snorkeled in the sparkling waters around the islands and saw schools of fish in every hue. we explored some of the caves on the islands and then we ate a yummy lunch as we slowly made our way back to the harbor. a few miles out, we dropped anchor and paddle boards were lowered into the water. the kids were allowed to jump off the boat and theo awed us all with back flips - CHINGON! (“badass” in spanish, we learned from another passenger.) the crew on the boat was tip top… so knowledgable about the islands and helpful with the kids and extremely warm and gracious. it was an absolutely perfect day.
MUCHAS, MUCHAS GRACIAS to all the friends who gave tips and recommendations for sayulita… we can’t wait to go back.
many of you have been asking how hank is doing on his diet. i have to say, it has not been easy. with the big drop in temperature, we tried on his favorite sweater from last winter a few days ago. last december, it was cozy, yet roomy, but this year, it fits him like a crop top a la britney spears, early nineties. i’m wondering if he is going to be one of those dogs whose closet is filled with a range of sizes he dips into depending on how much bacon he has had. will he need enough space to house his “fat jeans” and his “strictly following the paleo” jeans?
hank in his sweater, winter 2017
hank in his sweater, winter 2018
his “weight management” food arrived about a month ago, so i WAS able to increase his kibble back up to 3/4 cup, twice a day. but i know that he is missing the extra treats. i know this because he talks to me… hank hardly ever barks, but he makes this mewling, whimper whomper sound when i am eating that makes my heart ache. also, lucy taught him to shake (with his LEFT hand… i wonder about her left/right abilities as well… even i know you shake with your right) and get a treat after. now he will sit down in front of you and just offer up his hand over and over in a heart breaking attempt to get a snack.
so A.D. (after diet) i try to eat when he is occupied with something else, like a nap or chasing a toilet paper roll (he LOVES these… my father finds it “unseemly” that we give him TP rolls to play with and thinks we should only offer him paper towel rolls, but he really prefers the smaller, toilet paper size.) unfortunately, i am a pretty regular eater and i think he has figured out my schedule… he just appears or wakes up as soon as i open the fridge and locks his big, brown eyes on mine, letting me know that he is hungry too. i can be pretty strict with my children and have no problem eating yummy things in front of them when they have lost dessert privileges, but hank is another story. and this has really messed up my mid-day meal. i try to eat out more often now, but sometimes, i really need to work at home and this is not possible. on these days i may skip because hank is following me around like white on rice (this is NEVER good for my mood) or sometimes i just eat halloween candy for lunch because i can shove it in my mouth super quick before hank sees. we have LOADS of it now because my children are old enough to canvas the neighborhood much more efficiently than when they were smaller… lucy alone hauled in 299 pieces! also, since it snowed this year, we didn’t have as many trick or treaters and we were left with half a cauldron of candy meant to be given out. so i eat a bunch of little snickers for the main part of my lunch (they have peanuts, which have protein) and only dip into the midnight milkyways and twix for the dessert part. halloween candy for lunch is not the best for my heightened glucose levels that my doctor finally told me about, nor for my confidence in putting on a bathing suit for our upcoming beach holiday. (i INTENDED to up my number of weekly bar classes, pre-vacation, because bar exercises are supposed to lift your bum up like a peach… unfortunately, i did NOT end up at more classes and my current bum would be better classified as a pumpkin.)
and now with the passing of halloween, we are officially in the “holiday season.” thanksgiving can be a challenge when you are trying to watch your weight. with stuffing and gravy and biscuits and sauces it’s hard to take it down a notch. the only thing hank could really have would be the turkey, plain, but no one ever eats it that way, and if they do, they don’t ENJOY it.
i’ve also warned hank about the dangers of holiday parties (last year he was on puppy quarantine because he didn’t yet have all of his vaccinations and wasn’t allowed out.) i’ve told him that the pigs in a blanket are always a killer (he’s not supposed to have carbs even when he’s not dieting because they can expand in his little intestines and cause “bloat” which is often fatal for frenchies! and that he must stick to low-calorie vodka drinks without mixers - that’s where all the sugar comes in… plus it’s much more likely that he will escape a hangover. so if you do see hank out and about in the next few months, he will probably be sipping on a ketel one martini and thoughtfully munching an olive or two (but not three!)
happy, happy thanksgiving! x0x
last week i went to see my superstar colorist, liz murphy, so she could paint away the pesky “sparklers” that insist on growing out of my head and she was shocked by the big dent next to my eyebrow. “what happened to you?” she asked. “oh, i fell asleep on my glasses last night reading.” liz is a big reader too and understands that changing my bedtime routine is not an option. but i had already been awake for several hours and the mark on my face was still quite prominent and definitely not pretty, so clearly, something had to change. liz, who has the wisdom of yoda, but looks like a bombshell, said, “you need a reading device, like a kindle or an iPad.” of course i have heard of the kindle, but i have not been interested in them because i love holding an actual book. i love the feel of the paper and “personalizing” my books by turning down the pages of passages i like or bending the page corners to remember my place (this doesn’t happen all that often as i usually fall asleep before i manage to do that.) i like arranging my finished books on my bookshelf so i can reference them later or lend them out to friends. and i love looking at the jacket designs and all the color and warmth books add to a room. i just love books.
but i am also fairly vain and i do not like having a tender, red dent in my head that takes half a day to dissipate each time i sleep in an unlucky position, which seems to happen a couple of times a week. also, my bookshelf IS quite full from a lifetime of collecting. and sometimes it’s hard to hold up a heavy book when i am tired and i HAVE woken myself up when my book comes crashing down on my face (which has also caused injuries. the reading devices have little stands that prop themselves up, liz says.) and i need to buy new glasses more often than most because mine don’t always survive being slept on. liz said i could make the font big enough on the kindle or iPad that i wouldn’t even need my glasses. PLUS the device makes it’s own light so i could turn the lights off before going to bed. for years i have settled in each night with the bedside lights on and fallen asleep that way, which probably isn’t the best for healthy REM. and this thing could allow me to save on lightbulbs and electricity… very boulder!
the other problem with real books is that they are heavy and take up a fair amount of space in your luggage when traveling. the kids and i are getting ready for a beach holiday over thanksgiving break and all i really want to do is read and sleep (and spend quality time with my darling children of course.) we are trying to travel light and i was wondering how many books i would be able to stuff in our suitcase. with a kindle or iPad, i can download as many novels and memoirs as i want and my luggage won’t get any more difficult to drag around. so at long last, i am open to reading with technology. this is quite a step for me… i still have a paper agenda and write out a paper “to do” list each morning and take all my work notes in a wide ruled composition notebook (i have pretty big, loopy handwriting.) i can’t imagine ever giving up these paper tools, but you never know.
in the end, i decided to invest in the iPad… ours is prehistoric and doesn’t really work anymore. also, when i couldn’t find the charger, i put it away in a “safe” place and now i can’t find it. (i DID find the charger though, which i put in another “safe place”… hopefully one day they will both be found at the same time and maybe even function, but fred flintstone has a newer version so i doubt it.)
after some lessons on the iPad from my son and first husband, i learned how to download movies AND books. the hotel we are staying in does not have TVs, which is why the iPad won out over the kindle… i thought it could do double duty. i am all for unplugging, but i like to have some leverage over my children as well… bribes have never been beneath me. i potty trained both of them with m&m’s and sometimes eat dessert in front of them when theirs has been taken away just to hammer home the point. oh the sacrifices we make as parents!
so we arrived in sayulita two days ago and the iPad has remained in the safe (the first night it was because i locked it in there and couldn’t get it back out.) but we have been too busy listening to the waves crash and watching the sky change colors and collecting sea shells and getting lost to read or watch movies… hopefully we can keep track of it when we get home and i put it in a “safe place” so we can try it out.
i love pudding… and i do understand that it is meant to be a dessert and not eaten for breakfast. but i keep thinking i’ve found the “pudding-like yoghurt” which CAN be eaten for breakfast. unfortunately, each time my hopes are dashed by someone in my life who reads labels - i have never been a big ingredient analyzer and now that i can’t see anything small like the print on a carton without my reading glasses, which are usually misplaced, i rely on my savvier friends to sort me out. in my twenties that someone was my roommate in san francisco who informed me that my strawberry yoplait had loads and loads of sugar. i LOVED my yoplait because it was french (or at least it had a french-sounding name) and it came in a tall, slender container that looked like a vase and it tasted like pudding. in my thirties we were living in amsterdam and that someone was my dutch girlfriend who let me know that the strawberry/vanilla “vla” i was eating every morning was, in fact, pudding with no yoghurt components at all. in my forties, we moved to colorado and i discovered noosa. noosa IS yoghurt and it is produced locally from cows no further than forty miles away from the noosa headquarters in northern colorado. it is DELICIOUS! it comes in a zillion yummy flavors (tart cherry, key lime, rhubarb, coconut…) but of course, my favorite is vanilla because i have the palette of a five year old. i was beside myself when i tasted the noosa because i was sure i’d found the holy grail of pudding-like yoghurt. colorado is full of food makers who are very thoughtful about health and organic ingredients so it didn’t occur to me to even try and find my glasses to read the label… i just loaded up my cart with noosas (mostly vanilla) each time i went to the market. and then one fall, after a particularly noosa heavy summer, i had trouble zipping up my jeans. i couldn’t imagine what could have caused this problem until i was talking through my eating habits with a girlfriend who does actually read the labels. once again, my pudding dreams were thwarted by a very high sugar content. when i started asking around, i found that i didn’t have a single friend who ate noosa for breakfast… they only eat it as dessert. i was pretty devastated. my girlfriend suggested fage, the greek yoghurt, doctored up with fruit. of course, fage does NOT taste like pudding at all, but i’ve found that when it is covered in the sauce i made from the plums on my farm (backyard) or doused in my raisen-free cranberry sauce, it is pretty good. so i am reposting the cranberry recipe - thanksgiving is coming up and the markets are filled with cranberries. as a yoghurt topping, i prefer the cranberry sauce blended in the vitamix after it is cooked down on the stove. i also sprinkle a generous amount of granola on mine, but i am not sharing the brand because i can’t bear any more bad news.
* if you like the cranberry sauce, make sure to stock up on the berries before the holiday. after thanksgiving, the bags of cranberries just disappear completely for the next eleven months… i learned this the hard way last year. i don’t understand how raspberries and blackberries are stocked all year round, but cranberries only show up for a few brief weeks…they are the unicorns of berries…
raisen-free cranberry sauce
there are few things in this world as disgusting as raisins. they look like droppings, get stuck in your teeth (marring your smile and causing cavities) and are notorious for popping up in all kinds of baked goods (scones, muffins, cookies) that should only have chocolate chips. and unfortunately, because of their size and color, raisins sometimes appear to be chocolate, which is a terrible surprise for the unsuspecting consumer.
cranberries, on the other hand, are delicious. sadly, many a thanksgiving cranberry sauce is contaminated with raisins (or orange peels or too many spices.) following is a simple, super yummy cranberry recipe that all of your thanksgiving guests can enjoy without fear of biting into a raisin. ENJOY and happy thanksgiving.
12 oz bag of fresh cranberries
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
12 oz bag of frozen raspberries
cook cranberries, sugar and water on the stove top until the cranberries pop (about 5 minutes.) stir in frozen raspberries and let sit a bit. you can make the day before and save a little time on the big day.
halloween in boulder is outrageous. when we stepped out to go trick or treating our first year in colorado, i thought we’d wandered onto a movie set. literally EVERY house in our neighborhood was decorated, and not just with a pumpkin or two but with strings of orange lights, giant spiders and webs stretched across the houses, skeletons and zombies and werewolves emerging from the lawns and ghosts and ghoulies hanging from the trees. and when you ring the bell, the homeowners answer in full costume. sometimes they jump out at you and sometimes they just smile and offer the kids candy and the parents a glass of wine or a beer. yes - if you accept all the libations presented, you will be quite tipsy by the end of your neighborhood rounds. there are even a few famous addresses that do full spook houses… i took lucy to the one on 10th street when she was a little too young and we were both traumatized … i nearly peed my pants when a gazillion enormous spiders dropped on us and she let out a wail that lasted for at least two blocks. we had to retire for the evening after that.
i don’t really like to be scared. for some reason, my parents took my brother and me to see the shining in the theater when i was ELEVEN and my brother was only EIGHT. i think my brother and mom spent most of the movie in the lobby, but i’m pretty sure i stuck it out in my seat with my dad… the image of the father creeping around that big, isolated house with an ax continues to haunt me and obviously, i never want anything to do with a maze. as if the movie wasn’t scary enough, while we were walking home my dad did his best jack nicholson repeatedly saying, “i’d never do that to you kids…” my brother and i slept with my mom for weeks after that and my father was banished to the guest room. (generally, my parents were pretty tip-top, but taking us to that movie was a lapse that i think my brother and i only truly appreciate now that our own kids are approximately the same ages… holy crap! ironically, i now live only forty minutes away from the stanley hotel, which was the inspiration for that film.) i didn’t go to see another scary movie until high school when i saw aliens on a date. again, i came home and slept with my mom. i was over thirty for the next one - blair witch, which had been described as “campy,” but i found flat-out terrifying. i was living with my boyfriend in new york at the time, so i didn’t have to fly home to sleep with my mother.
hank doesn’t really appreciate the scariness of halloween either. as we walk around our newly haunted neighborhood, he stops frequently to bark at the monsters and pull skeletons out of the ground to wrestle. or he sits frozen, staring down a spooky black cat (even though it isn’t real.) i have to give him quite the nudge to get him walking again, so we have been spending most of our exercise time at the undecorated park across the street. he DOES love rolling around in the fallen leaves. i think he likes the crunchy sounds they make as he squishes them first with his belly and then his back. i can understand this as i was always trying to find the loudest leaf i could when i stomped back and forth to school each fall. there is something so satisfying about the sharp, crisp crackle when you step on a perfectly dry leaf.
i do love fall… i love the cool, brisk air and the amazing sunsets and i like daytime halloween. i love seeing the kids dressed up for the parade at school… except for the creepy clowns, even on little kids i find that scary… but if i look away from the bloody masks, i really enjoy the parade. plus there is always at least one mom who wears hot pants… she is either a sexy cat or a sexy devil or a sexy nurse or a sexy something and she manages to incorporate bikini sized bottoms into her costume for a parade at an elementary school at two o’clock in the afternoon… amazing. this year it may be snowing so i am really curious about whether there will be any hot pants. i am not judging though, as i have been absolutely forbidden (by my children) from wearing costumes to school. when lucy was in kindergarten and had no front tooth, i blacked out mine and went as her. i think i nailed it and still believe it was my funniest costume ever, but for some reason my children found it mortifying and i am not supposed to wear so much as a decorative hat these days… happy, happy halloween!
now that hank is on a diet, we have been trying to step up our exercise routine and we made an amazing discovery… COOT LAKE! coot lake is the perfect kind of nature for us… there is always parking across the street, the paths are flat and well maintained and we can circle the lake in converse or even low boots. there are lots of nice dogs for hank to romp around with (he can go off leash!) and there are benches for me to sit on, as well as little poems posted on signs here and there. and of course, there is the pretty water to look at. one of the hardest things for me about living in boulder is that there is no ocean. i have never lived anywhere before that wasn’t bumped up against a big body of water and sometimes i feel a bit panicky about being landlocked. certainly, a lake isn’t the same thing as an ocean, but it is still blue and has movement and reflection and alleviates the dry, dusty feel of the relentless colorado sun.
i first saw coot lake on a friend’s instagram post and i just assumed it was in tahoe because she goes there a lot. i was beside myself when i figured out it is only fifteen minutes from my house. BOULDERS - help a water-deprived girl out! i can’t believe i’ve lived here for nearly eight years and didn’t know there was a lake. and now that i have the google maps lady, i can always find it. i know i am not the first person to come to mind when thinking about a nature hike, but i have a waist-challenged pup now and we have some walking to do.
also, if you have a dog who likes to swim, coot lake is perfect. loads of dogs go in the lake and paddle around. hank doesn’t do this because he can’t swim. i think half of his body weight is in his head and he would just sink like an anchor. he really doesn’t care for water or baths or even sprinklers (he IS french and tends toward the louis XIV approach to bathing - i.e. NOT bathing, rather than my preference - the germanic, marie antoinette method of bathing all the time. this is one area where hank and i disagree. i’ve tried several bathing venues - the kitchen sink, the shower and the big bathtub in hopes of hank viewing it as a “spa treatment” to no avail. he doesn’t appreciate the “spring fresh” shampoo i ordered specially or the nose butter and he REALLY doesn’t like it when i clean his ears. frankly, it is heartbreaking to bathe him - he starts to shake and hides under the bed as soon as he can escape. so now we just go to the groomer… i can’t bear to see him so distressed.) but hank DOES like to stand on the banks of the water with me and look at coot lake. we both find it soothing.
this delightful lake discovery reminds me of when i first learned about the cheese importers in longmont (which is only about twenty minutes from boulder.) i had been living here for at least fours years then and was always whining and pining away for the kaaskamer, the cheese shop that was right around the corner from our apartment in amsterdam. NONE of my boulders told me about this incredible family-owned cheese emporium that also has a super yummy cafe and a darling back garden. finally, i met a kind soul who clued me in and i’ve been forever grateful. while it’s not in amsterdam, it IS a real destination. after brunch you can put on these heavy jackets and go into the refrigerated stock room to peruse and sample the cheeses they import from near and far (including the netherlands.) hank can’t really partake in the sampling because of the diet, but we’ll always have coot lake… now that we know about it!
our first visit to the cheese importers
we just had our first blizzard in boulder… in typical colorado fashion we went straight from summer to winter, with only an afternoon of fall. i never get used to the roller coaster weather here. i am never prepared with the right size snow boots for the kids or snow pants that fit properly or matching pairs of mittens. at best, i get a whiff of the cow poo smell (which is a pretty reliable snow predictor - i don’t know why) and i have a few hours to get ready. at worst, i wake up and the yard is all white and i have to scurry around and see how i can outfit the kids in some collection of warm clothes before school starts. we are usually late on this first snow day… i just always expect there will be that third season before the snow comes and even after seven years here, i haven’t learned to check the weather.
this year the first storm happened on a weekend, so we avoided the panic of finding snow gear in time for school and got to snuggle up inside and be lazy instead. it was a perfect day for my mother’s 1970’s casserole. some of you have expressed an interest in this recipe, albeit, none of my boulder friends, because it has gluten, cheese, AND meat… the perfect trifecta of what people here don’t eat. i love it because it makes me feel eleven years old and since it also has veggies, it counts as a one dish meal.
i miss the ignorance of the 70’s. i miss eating things just because they tasted good, not because they are good for you. i really don’t believe my boulder friends who “LOVE” kale salad… any food that you have to massage to make edible is not yummy. (there is ONE kale salad in boulder that is delicious - at oak - but that salad could be made of tires and it would still be tasty because it also has loads of parm and candied almonds and apples and some red japanese spice sprinkled all over it.)
i went for my annual exam at the doctor’s today and he said my glucose levels were a little high. turns out they’ve been a little high every year, but he just decided to tell me now. i guess the pattern is well established. i do have a pretty fierce sweet tooth… just the other night i ended up having gummy bears for dinner (the kids were not with me.) apparently, i shouldn’t do that and more, i should cut back on my desserts in general. hank and i will both be on a bit of a diet now… i just ordered him some “weight management” food. and as soon as we polish off the cookies we made in the snow storm and the other goodies in the cupboard, i will try not to have dessert after every meal. at least my cholesterol levels were fine… i would really be despondent if the doctor said i couldn’t have butter.
1 lb ground beef or ground turkey (my mom always used beef, but i frequently use turkey now)
1 med onion diced
1 jar of tomato sauce (i like rao’s vodka sauce)
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 zuchinis sliced and quartered
1 can (1 1/2 cups) corn
1 box small macaroni noodles cooked and drained
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
cook pasta in boiling water until al dente. drain and set aside. saute onion in olive oil and salt and pepper until softened and browned. add ground meat and cook through. drain meat and add tomato sauce, corn, mushrooms and zuchini (sauteed separately with olive oil, salt and pepper) spread 1/2 pasta in long, glass baking dish, then 1/2 meat mixture and 1/2 cheese. repeat. * i usually have to use a 9x13 pan and an extra smaller one as it doesn’t all fit in the 9x13. this casserole freezes well - you will never be able to eat it all in one go unless you have a giant family! bake at 375 for about 35 minutes until cheese is melted.
hank is on a diet. we took him to the vet a few weeks ago because he had a weird boo boo on his lip and the vet told me he should have a waist. he was thirty-two pounds. i WAS wondering how big he ought to be because his dad is only twenty-six pounds. six pounds more on someone the size of a breadbox does seem like a lot, but i HATE diets. the vet asked me how much i was feeding him and i replied, “3/4 cup of kibble with water and a spoonful of wet food twice a day, like the breeder told me to do.” (i didn’t mention all the treats and extras that i gIve him throughout the day… just like when you fill out those forms at the doctor’s and they ask you how frequently and how many glasses of wine you drink…who is ever truly honest then?) “yes,” said the vet, “but that was when he was a puppy. now that he is over a year, he is a regular dog and that’s too much.” i still consider hank a puppy - his first birthday was just in september. also, it doesn’t really make sense to me that as he gets bigger, he should have less food. i feed my kids way more food now that they are eight and twelve, than i did when they were babies… bigger kids, bigger portions. i guess that’s not how it works with dogs. and it never occurred to me to alter how much i feed hank because i am a rule follower. the breeder gave me a big binder with all kinds of instructions about how to take care of hank and i have been following it (mostly) to a tee.
when my first baby was born, we were living in amsterdam. the dutch government provides every new mother in the netherlands with a “kraamzorg” or baby nurse for the first ten days or so. our kraamy, gaby, was amazing. she taught me how to nurse theo, how to bathe theo, how to swaddle theo and how to get him on a schedule. she was there to reassure me when his belly button fell off and when he got these alarming red bumps that she said would go away in a day or so (she was right!) she also cooked delicious, healing meals, fed me loads of protein snacks (cashews and dried apricots and beet juice and smoothies) and made sure i didn’t get overwhelmed with visitors so i could rest. gaby said i should sleep and lay down as much as possible… if i wasn’t laying down i should be sitting. i LOVED having gaby around…i cried for days after she left and i still check in with her twelve years later. of course, even after her time with us was over, i tried to do everything gaby said.
when theo was nine weeks old, we all flew to palm springs because my first husband had a work trip and theo and i decided to get in on the boondoggle at the parker hotel. i was a wreck about an eleven hour flight with a tiny baby and packing all the stuff that gaby said theo would need. of course, all of our bags made it, except theo’s. in the end, everything was fine because we were in america, where there are cars and targets and starbucks so we could replace everything crucial. theo’s godmother lives in la and she drove up to meet him in palm springs. she was so happy to have a cuddle with theo, but was concerned about how bundled up he was. “jen, you might want to take his hat off and get him out of that swaddle and let his feet get some air so he doesn’t get overheated.”
“well, gaby said he should always have a little hat on, since he doesn’t have much hair and that i should keep him nice and warm.”
“yes, but gaby said that when you were in amsterdam in january. now you are in palm springs and it’s 94 degrees…”
thank goodness for the godmother, an experienced mama who already had two babies of her own, or theo would probably still be hopping around in a big swaddle with a beanie on.
so the vet said i should reduce hank’s kibble to 1/2 a cup, twice a day. that is ONE THIRD less food. i’m trying to think of it as the french women don’t get fat diet where he is just eating less, but still enjoys a chocolate with his coffee… so i am giving him treats, just not as many. he is definitely not happy about this diet. he started compulsively chewing the front doorstop, like a boulder mom on a juice fast madly chewing gum. he also chomped up my slippers, which i decided to surrender to him since he looked like he was having so much fun dragging them around. he gobbled on my reading glasses and the new remote and he started licking the lotion off my ankles, post shower… clearly he is STARVING! who likes the taste of lotion?
in addition, i’ve been trying to walk him more. now we go straight up the hill towards the mountains, all the way to third street, (sometimes just fourth - we live on seventh so it’s still THREE uphill blocks.) for some reason, the mountains in boulder start at third, rather than first street - there is no first at all. we don’t like to get IN the mountains really, because it’s dusty in there and there are rattle snakes and bears and mountain lions roaming around. so we make a hard right and stay on the sidewalk and do a little loop. we had to alter our path a bit because there is another frenchie nearby who is in REALLY good shape and regularly goes on hikes up sanitas. we don’t really like the body size comparisons and we are getting a little sensitive about all the “friendly” comments like, “wow - he’s a real chunker!” the other frenchie’s dad asked me why i don’t take hank up sanitas. “well, i can’t do that because i’ve never been up sanitas… i don’t do that.” i answered. i have been partway up this goat trail with a girlfriend and her little three-legged dog. we got to this area where there are two big thrones made out of rocks so you can sit and enjoy the view. it was lovely, but when we were going down another hiker warned us to keep the dog close because there was a mountain lion who had taken up residence in the bushes near the trail. that was enough for me. besides, the whole reason i got a frenchie (beyond the fact that they are ridiculously cute and have hilarious personalities) is that they are described as “apartment” dogs who don’t need a lot of exercise and shouldn’t exercise vigorously, especially when it’s hot, because they overheat easily…. good thing i never swaddled hank!
we have now been dieting hank for twenty-nine days (except on his birthday… everyone should have a little cake or bacon on their birthday. and yes - i AM one of those crazy dog people who threw their dog a party…hank had a joint one with his girlfriend, ellie, and all the neighborhood puppies came.) i think he has a bit of a waist now, but it’s hard to say. i can’t weigh him properly because the batteries in my scale are out. i find it highly ironic that as someone who has avoided diets my entire life, i will probably be dieting hank in perpetuity… he is a naturally decadent little fellow.
* this week the temperature in boulder dropped 40 degrees… it smells like cow poo outside, which for some reason, is an indication that it will snow soon. as my neighbor pointed out, the cold weather will be tough on hank’s exercise regime… i may have to get him a treadmill, like astro’s, since he doesn’t like going out in inclement weather…
hank, not walking, last winter.
i had so much fun styling/staging this amazing house listed by superstar realtor, alissa peterson of kidder plus. the light and views of the flatirons from the million windows make it a truly special home. boulders - alissa is hosting an open house this sunday, october 7th from 12-3 pm. go take a peek!
i have a few inconvenient glitches. i cannot tell my left from my right. thankfully, i did learn how to hold my hands out in front of me to check which one makes an “L” when i was in pre-school, but somehow i never internalized it, like most people do. so i still use this crutch when navigating the many directional choices throughout any given day. sometimes, this is problematic… if i am driving, and you tell me to turn “right” there is only a 50/50 chance that i will make the correct turn. it is best for you to also point in the direction you want me to go. otherwise, i will have to take my hands off the wheel and double check for my “L”, which probably isn’t the safest. also, i prefer a little lead time. i like that the google maps lady not only verbally tells you which way to proceed, she shows you a picture. i’ve realized that i am more of a visual learner than an auditory processor.
there are loads of other situations where inherently understanding left and right would be helpful. i get stressed at sporting events when you have to place your hand over your heart during the national anthem - that’s a double whammy - right hand, left heart… like a double negative - so confusing.
at the gas station, if i can’t pull right into the spot i need for filing my gas tank on the left side, i am loathe to circle around to an empty spot in another lane. it’s always a gamble as to whether i will end up with my gas tank on the correct side next to the pump. so i often just wait for the pump i know will match up with my left side gas tank. inevitably, the person i’m waiting on is the one washing all of their windows, buying gum in the shop and checking their texts before pulling away.
in my work as an interior designer, i purchase a lot of sofas for other people. frequently, these sofas have a chaise on either the left or right side. i have to take great care in making these orders as it can take up to three months for the piece to be made and if it has a custom fabric, the sofa is not returnable. to further complicate the process, there is no standardization of a left or right hand chaise sofa. some companies call it a left hand when you are sitting on it and the chaise is on the left and some call it a left hand when you are facing it and the chaise is on the left. i have yet to make an incorrect order, but i have the foreboding sense that it is only a matter of time. there are a few companies that make universal chaise sofas where the chaise can be moved from side to side. my heart sings a bit when clients choose this option and i know i don’t have to worry about the ordering.
at my (exercise) bar class, they don’t like it when you go rogue on your left or right side. they want everyone synchronized so that no one gets kicked. i usually have to watch and wait for the person next to me to start a set to see which foot to use. i can’t look at the teacher because they are usually doing it backwards and then there are the mirrors that turn things around. so i miss the first couple of lifts or tucks getting myself oriented… which i honestly don’t mind too much - that’s when i drink out of my water bottle.
probably related to my left/right problem is the gap in my directional ability. i get lost easily and i lose things frequently… like my car. if i could have all the time back i’ve spent looking for my car, i would probably live another ten years. i have ways of mitigating this dysfunction… i always take pictures of where i park in airports and try to take a beat and notice the cross streets when i am running errands, but too often these measures are just not enough. a few weeks ago i dropped my father off at an appointment and then parked the car on my own. as we were leaving my father said, “where is the car?” “up there,” i pointed. “on broderick?” he asked. “maybe” i answered. “do you know where it is?” he asked again, concerned. “mostly… we just have to keep walking until i recognize it.” he was astounded and i guess i should have been too, but that it is pretty much how it goes when i park alone. my kids now know to pay attention when they are with me so we don’t spend lots of extra time wandering around and clicking the keys looking for flashing lights.
until recently, i’ve generally learned ONE way to get somewhere. sometimes, i would have to go home, just to start from a familiar place. but now i have siri and the google maps lady and they have literally changed my life. i used to print out directions from google, but once you make a single wrong turn, they are moot. the google maps lady “reroutes” me if i get off course. i am now able to venture out into parts of the world i would have never found before, as long as i have cell service and a working charger in my car. it is incredibly liberating, but i do have to put a lot of trust in siri and the google lady. i have one client who lives on a horse ranch and every time i go to her house the google lady sends me a different way. i am always a little anxious that she is going to let me down and then i see the big, gray house in the distance. i just can’t believe how many different routes there are to the same place. in my twenties i was commuting out of new york city into long island. regularly, there were overturned trucks or big pile ups that made the traffic outrageous. i knew i could get off the LIE and take back streets into the city, but i had no idea which ones to choose so i would just get an extra long dose of NPR on the drive home.
i also have trouble telling time. my mother thinks i was out with chicken pox when we learned this in first grade. i don’t remember, but it is not a skill that comes easily to me. i’ve always worn a watch (it HAS to have all twelve numbers or sticks or it’s useless to me) but it’s mostly decorative. before iphones, when random people on the street would ask me the time, i would just stick my wrist in their faces because it was too much pressure to answer on the spot. luckily, i typically just get the hour wrong, not the minutes, and i am usually an hour early, rather than late. sometimes, this is nice… found time! ironically, when i was teaching second grade, time telling was part of the curriculum. i was hopeful that breaking it down for my students would help me as well… this only worked by extension. after the unit, when i would suddenly look up at the clock and gasp, “whoops guys, put your reading books away, we are late for lunch!” shojiro would say, “no ms. rhode, we don’t have lunch for another hour.” and we would all relax back into our stories. when my son was in third grade, the only volunteering slot that worked for me was during math. this was mostly okay, until we got to the time telling unit. i told his teacher that time was not my forte, especially time telling word problems… absolutely impossible! after misdirecting several students and causing a bit of confusion, we agreed that i would just work on bulletin boards until the unit was complete.
recently, i was chatting with a girlfriend about being severely left-handed and my various glitches. she has some too (though different) and is mostly left-handed. she said she thought it made us more creative. “being left-handed?” i asked. “no, being confused. i think confused people are more creative.” so maybe my glitches are of some use…
twenty-seven years ago, in 1991, my mother was infuriated by the clarence thomas/anita hill sexual harassment hearings. she kept the TV on as she worked in her studio and was struck by how a panel of old, white, male senators aggressively and ruthlessly interrogated the poised, young attorney, anita hill, questioning both her integrity and character.
“the oldest men’s club at work” is a fabric reaction to those brutal hearings. utilizing the traditional “courthouse steps” block, the quilt is constructed of men’s ties and shirting fabrics.
the fabric squares in the center of the blocks show the double faces of the senators “talking out of both sides” as they interviewed ms. hill.
the inner blocks framing the courthouse, closer to the center of power, represent black suits and red power ties.
the middle panel depicts the supreme court with the verbiage and headlines surrounding the hearings.
the women represented in gray at the top of the power structure are only as visible and recognized as the men at the bottom…despite the fact that the population of the united states is nearly equally divided between women and men.
almost three decades later, we are once again mesmerized by the hearings for the nomination of a supreme court justice. like clarence thomas, brett kavanaugh has been accused of sexual assault (a step further than sexual harassment!) by professor christine blasey ford and now, deborah ramirez. THREE of the same old, white men are STILL on the senate judiciary committee and their thinking seems to have degenerated, rather than progressed. at least the white house of george h. w. bush in 1991 ordered an FBI investigation, something these aged senators are discouraging on kavanaugh’s behalf. it’s unbelievably disheartening that the judiciary committee seems to care so much more about advancing polarizing partisan politics than exposing truth and making an informed decision. let’s hope that integrity and grace win out in the coming days as the kavanaugh hearings proceed. sending strength and power to ms. ford and ms. ramirez.
quilt, “the oldest men’s club at work” by ann rhode 1991
i don’t know what factors came together to produce such an enormous bounty of fruit on my farm (i.e. my backyard) but the output has been tremendous. i decided to have a couple of neighborhood harvest parties so that i could get some help picking all the apples and then the plums that ripened a few weeks later. i thought i could pull off a tom sawyer “painting the fence” caper and make my friends think it would be FUN to harvest with me. i would provide snacks and drinks and my neighbors could do the labor. i was imagining something like the barn raising parties they used to have on little house on the prairie. pa would be out there entertaining everyone on his fiddle (i could play macklemore on my sonos), ma would would lay out cornbread, fresh, grilled deer meat and homemade pies (i made a run to trader joes), the children would be running around (i have a couple of those) and the grown ups would build a barn (the neighbors would pick my apple tree and plum bush clean) so i wouldn’t have to gather up any more rotten fruit or worry about the bears coming into my yard and leaving giant poops or mauling us.
mother nature did not help me out. a hurricane and lots of lighting arrived just before the first party. only a couple of brave neighbors risked the rain and possible electrocution to help me collect apples. two weeks later, i tried again when the plums were ready (and there were still a bazillion apples.) this time, it was so stunningly hot the turnout was also quite minimal. so i’ve pretty much been like the little red hen… picking, collecting and composting all on my own (with the forced labor of my two little chickies and hank, who eats a fair share of the apples on the ground and also likes to bring the especially mangy ones into the house to play with.)
i really love my neighbors, but i wish the ingalls family also lived on 7th street. i would be happy to offer them my guest room… i am sure it is bigger than their little house in the big woods and certainly cleaner and more comfortable than that other house they dug out of a hillside that had no windows. pa could set up a salt lick and turn my shed into a smoke house so we would have plenty of jerky for the winter. i know he’d keep us safe from the bears (just TODAY there was a HUGE one in the tree across the street from my farm) and mountain lions…honestly, i am not sure human people are really meant to live in boulder… so MUCH nature was here first and they don’t seem to have any intention of leaving.) and i’m sure he would be able to fix my side gate that has gotten wonky and sticks. ma would probably be canning and jamming and making amazing fruit pies. i’m sure she would appreciate that i can pick up the flour and butter for the crusts from safeway… she wouldn’t have to grind the wheat or churn the cream at all. and i could drive them around in my nice, air-conditioned car with the windows rolled up so they wouldn’t have to get all dusty and hot riding around in their wagon when they needed to do errands. i know ma would LOVE my washing machine… so much easier than beating clothes with rocks in the boulder creek, plus i think my bosch is a little gentler on the fabric so their hand-sewn clothes would last longer. laura and mary could teach my kids to play that game with the stick and big wooden circle so i could get my lovies off their various devices. we could all cuddle up under ma’s quilts (freshly laundered in my machine) in the evenings and i could introduce them to movies. yes, i can imagine us as dear friends… so next fruit season i am going to get my harvest party evite out to the ingalls straight away, as i am sure they are in high demand that time of year.
PLUM BUTTER (as directed by my neighbor, charles)
wash and pit as many plums as you can tolerate… my finger tips were deep purple for a week after i did this! put the plums in a pot on the stove and cook down for half an hour. scoop the cooked plums in the vitamix and mix for a minute or so.
PLUM CRISP from geniuskitchen
4 cups sliced and pitted plums
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon (i did not include this as i am not a big cinnamon fan)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup oats (i was out of oats so i added more flour and some flax - see how boulder i’ve gotten?)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
mix filling ingredients in a large bowl and scoop into a big pie dish. mix topping ingredients in a separate bowl and sprinkle on top of the filling. bake for about 40 minutes at 350 degrees until fruit is bubbling and topping is browned. serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
the challenge of this large, rectangular living room was bringing intimacy and continuity to the expansive space. we started with a grand, persian carpet generous enough to unite the room and also to serve as artwork on the floor. we added spacious sectional sofas at opposite corners that mirror each other, defining and clarifying the space. the sofas were joined by rounded, organic-shaped, low tables and accessory seating in the form of the undulating wooden wave bench and the deep teal ottomans.
one corner displays a square, abstract painting commissioned from boulder’s own, will day. the neutral background allows the bright, engaging box shapes to stand out and enrich the room with color.
the opposite corner maintains a collection of quiet, intricate line drawings above the sofa.
the middle of the room is accented by a vintage, mirrored chest, striking against the clean, wood paneled wall. the chest displays a pair of mexican paper mache dolls.
two chrome and leather chairs are tucked into the window nook with a felt-topped wooden table and a cozy, sheepskin rug.
the entry, leading into the living room, has a long, felt runner with a bracelet design, hand made in iran by peace industry.
photos: HBK photography
“soccer mom” is a term i never wanted applied to me… museum mom or high tea mom or movie mom or banana split mom or snuggle all afternoon on the sofa mom are all ones i can embrace (even though they haven’t really made it into the vernacular.) but the other weekend i found myself schlepping three twelve year old boys and my daughter and my puppy across the state to a tournament to kick off the boys’ fall soccer season. i don’t really know where we were… i just obediently listened to the google maps lady and followed all of her turns… but i do know that we were way past ikea, which is about as far away as i ever drive. and we didn’t even stop there for my customary hotdog and ice cream cone, which was a little disappointing.
i was on car duty the second day of the tourney. since they had decisively won both of their games the day before, winning the morning game i drove them to would ensure that they made it to the finals. of course, that’s very exciting…. except that there was a FOUR HOUR layover between games. that is a lot of time when you are out in the middle of nowhere, way past ikea. so a small part of me (truly most of me) was selfishly hoping they wouldn’t win. but they did. and i was proud, if a bit bummed that we weren’t having brunch and then hightailing it back home. no… we stayed out in the prairies of colorado for so long that i had to use the port o’ potty… practically camping. i would have preferred a “nature pee” but there was just enough civilization there that i didn’t think i could pull it off. i am actually quite good at this because i spent half my childhood following my father around a golf course and peeing in the various woods that surrounded the greens. plus i had a sundress on, which just makes it all a lot easier...
the following saturday, the soccer season officially began with a mid-morning home game. this was a day where i woke up way before the sun came up and i’m pretty sure the vampires were still out. and i felt like crap. i wish i could say that i’d enjoyed a big, fun night the evening before, but no… i woke up for no good reason and just couldn’t go back to sleep. this seems to happen with greater and greater frequency since i started the second half of my forties and it is TERRIBLE. also surprising because i used to be an AMAZING sleeper. it was really one of the things i did best… i could sleep ANYWHERE! in high school, i would fall asleep on the ride home from whatever party we had been to (no matter how many kids were in the car) and my chauffeur (typically P) would have to nudge me awake when we pulled up to my parents’ house. i would fall asleep at basketball games where everyone around me was standing up and cheering. i slept through a multitude of lectures in college and at least one section when i was sitting right next to my professor. in my twenties, i fell asleep in bars waiting for my friends to be ready to go home and on many dates (to mixed reactions)… most were offended, but one guy was touched that i felt so “comfortable” with him that i could drift off. i regularly napped in taxis when i was living in new york… naively trusting that i would get home safely (and praise jesus - i always did! now i've seen enough law and order that i can't do that anymore.) i’ve slept on planes and trains (missing my station and having to back track) and i’ve obviously never seen a movie straight through… i always have to watch with someone else so they can fill me in on whatever part i snooze through. so with all of this extra sleeping, in addition to sleeping through the night, i was a well rested girl. but now all of that has changed. and on that first soccer game saturday, i was exhausted. and it was hotter than hades. so of course, i fell asleep, under the cover of my giant rainbow golf umbrella. luckily, my son didn’t make a score until nearly the end of the game and i was awake for that, if a little groggy.