Feb 12 2015

This Old Stuff: Grandma’s Linens

My mom recently called to say she “put a little something” in the mail. It’s my grandma’s never used linens from the late 1940s. I mean. I just want to use them and not use them and frame them and tuck them away for Loie.

I’ve been thinking a lot about old treasures and when/how they should be used. My friend Johanna says that it’s in their use that objects find beauty and meaning. And I totally agree and am also tickled I have friends who think big things like that.

I am both mystified by my grandma’s desire to not use nice things and then totally realize I am doing the same thing.

In my head it’s that NOW they are old and nice and maybe, just maybe, that gives them enhanced need for protection? But to what end? So I can hand them off perfect to Lo? So she can never use them?


Feb 11 2015

This Old Stuff: A Broke Maroc Clock

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On the first day of our honeymoon in Morocco, B, knowing no French and even less Arabic, became ensnarled in a wildly entertaining negotiation for this broken clock. It is, I think, the most expensive thing we bought on our trip.

Feb 4 2015

This Old Stuff: Coronet


For Christmas this year, I asked my father in law to gift his dad’s (or maybe his dad’s dad’s) trumpet to B. His family history is more race cars than reveille so I wanted to help keep that story alive. Neither of us can play it but that hasn’t stopped us from trying.

We’ve grand plans for the basement. I’ve got a whole Wes Anderson pallet working with this boogie woogie bugle on the wall.

Apr 8 2014

Neighborhood Bread

Since Forth and SpitfireMoms have become a part of my life the last year+ I’ve been struggling a bit to figure out what goes here when there’s so much that goes there.

Tonight, though, I wanted to share a game changer. It’s my neighborhood bread recipe.

It started at Mike & Jenny‘s, a family two blocks over, who got the recipe from Mike’s mom Gayle. M&J baked it often and passed the recipe on and on and on. When we were all regularly haunting one another’s houses before kindergarten sapped some of the strength of the Playgroup, the bread became a frequent player in our gatherings.

I made it for this recent Thanksgiving and served it with Rare Bird Preserves.

Today I made it again. A mention of herb butter and an easy bread recipe piqued enough interest that sharing the recipe seemed like a good dead easily done.

Here’s where I go to get the recipe.
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Yup. Everytime. I keep my next door neighbor’s text close to my heart.

Why? Because as I said to my friend Johanna who dared me to describe it in 10 words: 5 ingredients including water. Stir twice. Rise. Dump. Bake. Eat.

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I’ve yet to screw it up and I, eventually, screw up most things I bake. I’ve even audibled in whole wheat flour and it’s been awesome.

Today I forgot to bake it. It needs two hours to rise. I accidentally left it for eight. EIGHT HOURS. And it turned out perfectly. CopperTop thanked me for baking it. And she pretty much lives on air.

The coolest part about this bread, I think, is that storage is easy. Prop it cut side down on the counter and it’s good overnight, at least.

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Magic, yummy bread. So easy. Get to it. You’re welcome.


Jan 30 2014

An Approach to a Year


I asked Brett to make me this. It’s kind of how we plan to do things this year.

Dec 23 2013

Simple Infused Syrups, Simple Homemade Gifts

We met our dear pals last night to view insane Christmas lights and eat at Chili’s. Because that, to me, is just about the best holiday tradition ever. These friends gave us some lovely cocktail bitters last year. I wanted to make them a little something as a token of affection and acknowledgement of what a banner year they’ve had.

Flavored simple syrups to add to cocktails and other drinks are so yummy and so easy, and I had everything I needed on hand.

I settled on:


Saturday nights were made for culinary lavender.


Saturday nights were made for infusing rosemary.

Ginger & black peppercorn

Sunday afternoon ginger and black peppercorn experimentation.

For each one, it was a matter of simmering some sugar and water and a bit of something lovely. I went with floral, herbal, and zesty options to offer some variety to cocktails. A French 75 with the lavender? Ginger with lemon and bourbon? A rosemary gin fizz?

Each batch makes more than anyone could need, so a jarful can go along to parties and family visits. And, there is even some left for us to play with too.

Three very simple syrups.

Nov 11 2013

Best Mom Ever: Fizzy Collage

Can we talk about baking soda? It’s like this thing you use a bit of but always have so MUCH of and then you wonder why your baked goods are so sad saggy and then you realize it is because your baking soda is 100 years old. So you go buy more. And this horrific cycle repeats itself.

These are the things that keep me up at night.

When I saw this pinned on my pal Sarah‘s board, I nearly high fived her through my computer, through Pinterest, and through space/time. (I would also high five the person who posted it initially but it’s a link to a photo and not a blog. So thank you random awesome person.)

Lo’s been sick on/off all month and there is only so much Yo Gabba Gabba I can watch. So doing something fun, that also lets her mix colors “like Foofa does!” and didn’t require getting out of PJs was ideal.

I took all the expired baking soda. I took apple cider vinegar. Not because I wanted to but because I recently did an angry clean of our coffee maker using all the white vinegar. And I figured Lo would give two flips about whether the blue was the bluest blue. I used a 9″ round cake pan and an eyedropper purchased that morning at Walgreens.



Explaining how to use an eyedropper was a thing. I was not good at explaining it.


The basic premise is the kid sprays colored vinegar into a giant vat of baking soda and it fizzes. And the kid thinks it is awesome. I can attest that both these things happen. And even better? The first thing (fizz) doesn’t have to be all that impressive to achieve the second thing (kid thinks it’s awesome). Really, she thought this was just about the best thing since sliced Gabba.


The delight as she leaned in to watch the fizz was worth whatever mess would come.

Fotor1106130634And…it came. Eventually she realized the fizz power of putting the baking soda directly in the vinegar.


Which was only made more awesome by the amount of baking soda being dumped.


Did it go totally as I expected? Better. Did the colors look beautiful? No, they were super pukey heinous. Did it make a bit of a mess? Yup. Add it all up and the fizzy collage makes me the best mom ever. Snow days and sick days await, my friends. Get to it.

Nov 8 2013

An Unusual Inquiry

Earlier this week I woke to an email and I have been a bit giddy since.

When we lived in Reykjavik we lived right near the Listaháskóli Íslands, the Iceland Academy of the Arts. The bold, bright artwork along the pedestrian tunnel and parking lots made me so very happy and made me take note of all the art, sanctioned and not, in the city. The value the nation puts on the artistic pursuits of its citizens is pretty rad. So I relished the bountiful public art and shared some of it in this post while we were abroad.

I guess someone found it.

Dear Julie.

I was informed about your very interesting web-site as I was looking for pictures of the graffiti that was painted on the walls of the pedestrian tunnel at Iceland Academy of the Arts where I have been the Principal Director until last August. It so happens, that I am looking for photographs of this graffiti for the cover and booklet of my music-cd that is to be released next month. 

 As I discovered the two photographs you have on your site I began to wonder if I could use the one of the doors (actually, the door to my own office!) in the booklet as supplementary decoration. For this I would need a version of the photograph with higher solution (300 dpi). Also, I began to wonder if you had some other photographs of the graffiti that you don’t show on the site.

 I know this is an unusual inquiry, but it proves that information travels fast and widely! I would be grateful if you could send me a response at your earliest convenience.

p.s.: the paint of the graffiti has now paled so much that it not of any use to take photographs now ….


Nov 6 2013

Test Kitchen: Premade Parfaits

We’re all about testing out some pre-made meals for Thanksgiving  week, when we’ll have a ton of people here on different time zones. We want them to eat well and feel welcome but also don’t want to be trying to cook breakfast all day long. Here’s a solution we’re excited about.


We returned to our dear San Francisco this past weekend for an utterly charming wedding. And while we happily brought the CopperTop with us over the summer, for this quick trip we opted to exercise the Grandma Clause.

The Grandma Clause is the magic truth that, most of the time, Grandma wants you to go away so she can develop secret languages, break established rules, fiddle about with bedtimes, and otherwise cause good-natured trouble with the grandbaby. We get a weekend with friends in a great city, Grandma gets a weekend of merry and mischief making, and Loie gets more fun that she knows what to do with.

As a thank you, and to ensure my mom took care of herself, too, Brett suggested getting her yogurt parfaits. My mom loves her some yogurt parfaits.

Instead of picking some up at the store, I decided to make use of the ample mason jar selection we have (At some point, Brett will can stuff, I know). I started to Pin and search and, for once, decided I’d just wing it. Though, this blog has some tips on freezing them which would make it even more family-invasion friendly.


They made for such pretty additions to the fridge and my mom genuinely gasped when she saw them.


I opted to make some with vanilla Greek yogurt and some with plain. In most I added either blackberries, raspberries, or strawberries or dried cherries (I wanted to do blueberries but none were available). I also did a couple smaller mason jars with just yogurt and granola.


We have a great grocery store, Caputo’s, up the way that had big containers of granola. The bulk option at Whole Foods would also be great.

I filled the jars a bit between 1/3 and 1/2 full with yogurt. (The vanilla poured much, much smoother, hence the vanilla leading the photos). Then a hefty layer of granola and enough fruit to fill to just below where the jar narrows. It felt like making those sand sculptures from summers past that are now all the rage in weddings (but definitely NOT the wedding we went to).

I’ve since seen options that include putting the granola in a separate, smaller mason jar. The key, to me though, was to allow it to be edible in the one jar so you’re not washing MORE stuff. And, the clinking of the spoon against the class is a special kind of satisfying.

My mom didn’t even wait for us to leave before getting her parfait on. Cheers to Brett for the idea and my mom for gifting us a weekend away.


Oct 28 2013

One from the Archive: Crown Fountain


Some days I look backwards. On those days I miss wandering around with a camera bag and lenses with Brett patiently waiting as I try some stuff out because I don’t really know what I’m doing and there’s no kid and all the time in the world, anywhere in the world, even when anywhere is home.

Most days I look forward. And on those days it’s going to be our kid splashing in a fountain near or far and us showing her just how big and wonderful the world is while we gleefully watch her try all kinds of stuff out and, you know, time is not about me, really at all, anymore.