New York Vacation

20140801-163039-59439249.jpgIt’s been awhile since an update. I know. I’m going to continue as if that never happened.

We left New York when Alice was just 4 months old. When we made the decision to leave we promised we would bring her back regularly, that she’d know that city as well as our new one.

One full week, and instead of fretting over rent, affordable childcare, transportation and all the distracting realities of life in New York we so eagerly left behind, we focused on just enjoying the city. We visited friends, old neighborhoods and restaurants. We swam in warm ocean water and ate bagels and pizza. We did all the romantic things we had meant to but rarely had time for while we were living there: Central Park, The Museum of Natural History, Jane’s Carrousel, the High Line Park and The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory.

20140801-164147-60107865.jpgThe most amazing aspect of our entire trip was experiencing the city with a very outgoing almost-two-year-old. Where there were once tense, crammed subway rides at rush hour there were now friendly, outgoing individuals smiling and talking at length with Alice. Diverted eyes and random pushes we’re replaced with smiles, waves and the concerned “pardon me.” Even cabbies and uber drivers were double checking her carseat and asking of the baby was comfortable.

IMG_547220140801-164151-60111700.jpgI’m not sure how we’ll recover once we no longer cart around this precious toddler who calls out (“close it!” to the subway doors and “sit down” to each new passenger), waves and dances to anything resembling a beat. I guess we’ll need a really cute dog to carry in a handbag.

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Life’s A Beach

Moses loves the beach.  I like the beach, but growing up no where near it, it’s much more of an appreciation than a “need” or yearning.  Moses requires beach time.  I wonder how Alice will be?ImageWe took her to Huntington Beach where Moses grew up on Saturday and Malibu Sunday for a hike and some more beach time (and some swinging).  Since Alice’s favorite thing in the world is to sit on a padded blanket and have us play with her she was pretty stoked on beach time.  She also loved all the other children and people she could stare at until they smiled at her or came over to say hi (including, randomly, David Spade, who was sitting close to us while we had lunch at Cafe Habana on Sunday).Image

When we dipped her baby feet in the freezing cold water she looked a little shocked, but she recovered quickly and set to her next task: trying really hard to eat sand.  We managed to evade the actual eating of grains (until today, when I took her to the Santa Monica Pier for the afternoon.  I now have ample photos of little Bluebelle with her mouth ringed in sand).ImageBeyond the sitting on blankets with padding, Alice’s other favorite thing is to pinch, pull and squeeze just about anything she can get her hands on.  This includes my hair and Moses’, Moses’ nose and eyebrows, my lips and so on.  I miss wearing my hair loose, and while I’m not a big jewelry person beyond rings, it would be nice to have that option…but Alice won’t be a baby forever and then I’m sure I’ll miss it–even the scratches when her nails get too long.ImageImageSometimes when Alice and I are outside I tell her how lucky she is to grow up here–She wakes up to (a really annoying but picturesque) rooster and the nighttime air smells of jasmine.  We have wild parrots that (again annoyingly but…) sit on our porch rails and we spend our weekends hiking and beaching, our days growing plants and vegetables to eat.  While I love where I grew up and will always enjoy the seasons, I can’t say I miss it.  California is such an amazing place.ImageImage

Where I Was From.

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This Easter Moses went to Los Vegas to celebrate a bachelor’s party and Alice and I decided to visit my family in Missouri.  Growing up I spent an incredible amount of time pretending I was someplace else.  As a grown up who’s lived in (almost) all of the places I pretended myself into, I can see the charm of where I actually was.  Of course, I like where I am–it’s equally important to understand you can value something but “not go home again.”  But it is a wonderful place to be.ImageImageImage

Alice and I spent long, sunny mornings in the park or longing in the den with toys.  When Alice wanted to play we walked across the narrow road to play with the family across the street and there was no shortage of spring flowers to see, cook books to peruse and kitties to chase.ImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

We made tons of granola, some scones and the paper thin, delicate oatmeal crisp cookies my grandmother made (confession: we made them three times) and lots of simple dinners once the baby had gone to sleep.  My mother and I had some nice glasses of wine, talked and read some A.A. Milne to Alice (and each other), and I got to visit with my childhood kitties (now totally on their last legs).ImageImageImageImageImage

My parents bought our house in the early 70s–before my brother and I were born.  Both of us grew up in the house and while it’s been remodeled and things come and go, the bones are the same.  It’s amazing to put your baby to bed in the room that was yours when you were a baby.  I can remember waking up and crying for my mother in the same room Alice woke up and cried in this time around (working hard to see the charm in that).  I loved getting Alice ready for bed and saying goodnight, knowing she was hearing the same muffled noises I heard when I was put to bed at night.  The circle game…ImageImageImage

Oh Aquarius…and an old beach day.

ImageMy mother sent me baby book information today: “You were born at 11:37 pm, Tuesday.  At five weeks you were 6 lbs., 20.75 inches long.  At 2 months you were 8 lbs. 11 oz.”ImageOf course, I used the new found knowledge of my time of birth (nobody’s ever been able to “quite” remember) to calculate my astrological chart.  An important thing to do when you’re 8 months pregnant (not really), and for the most part, I found all my signs, houses and what-not’s to be self-indulgently satisfying and pretty accurate (I like to switch jobs, I am a little too opinionated to be fun for most people, I have trouble expressing anger and am quick to criticize.  I work well alone, like fiction and can research something into the ground. No real surprises.)ImageImageImageImageImageImageSo, anyway—now that I know all about myself, here’s a few photos of our last trip to Southampton.  It’s been awhile—so use your imagination (and I’ll try to post soon) new bump pictures, for those of you that are interested.

As for the bump called Alice, she is growing nicely.  At 33 weeks she’s running a little on the small side (she measures more like 31 weeks, but as my mother’s measurements indicate, I was a tiny gal too), but everything else looks great. Image

I bought her a stuffed pig this week so that she could get nice and big.  And, breaking from my usual, I fed her some pizza and French fries, which will just make ME bigger, and not Alice, but if you can’t indulge a little at 8 months, when can you?  I assure you, it will be all quinoa and whole grains for the rest of the week, so that Alice can actually get healthy goods in there, too.

And here’s Kitty Viv killing the same piggy.  I think she’s going to LOVE baby.

Have you seen the little piggies?

ImageMy blogging as of late is disgraceful.  I think it’s largely due to Moses and my on-going discussion on blogging and privacy.  I wouldn’t say we’re at a disagreement: on the contrary, we mostly agree, but we’re not any closer to a resolution.  The issue at hand is whether or not we’re comfortable showing our baby on this (admittedly small-knit community of viewers) once she makes her debut.

I’ve mentioned before pregnancy has made me balk a little at the idea of sharing, which is a little unlike me.  But I’m finding it hard to say if baby is truly mine to share.  What if some day she resents that I posted pictures of her or shared her babyhood?  Moses, in the same vein, thinks online images are awfully open…and so very potentially permanent.  But is there really any stopping it?  And I am really excited—and I love to write and photograph things—and I know there will be no better subject (judging the by volume of Kitty Vivienne pictures I have lurking on my hard drive, the baby’s first year of images is likely to paper a trail to the moon and back), but is it fair?

Fortunately I have a few more months to go back and forth, back and forth.  I’m sure I’ll need them.

ImageBut in the mean time here are a few pictures from our latest weekend trip.  For his first (sort of first?) father’s day, Moses decided we should get away for the day.  We’ve become Montauk enthusiasts, but since variety is the spice of life, we opted for a new direction this time.  Woodstock.  Moses found The Woodstock Animal Sanctuary and we got a zipcar.  We brought our sunhats and bought some bagels on the way out of town—and voila, goodbye New York (for the day).
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ImageImageImageThe animals are all farm animals, and mostly refugees from Brooklyn and Manhattan—there was a cow a couple had purchased from a farmer that was taking him for slaughter, lots of very lucky hens and roosters, ducks and a handful of (huge) pigs.  There were sheep, and my favorite, goats (they’re really affectionate), and one absolutely terrifying turkey that walked around intimidating people (me) by making this weird sound like a furnace lighting up and getting just a little too close (I ended up running into an air conditioning unit to try to get away from him/her, bruising my arm).

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But, despite some of the very sad stories and a lot of serious talks about animal rights (no matter how much I do I know I could always do more) we had a great time.  It was wide open and beautiful, and we bought some fresh jam and had some delicious juice, and even though our tour guide worked her hardest to convert my meat-eating significant-other, his last father’s day request was…you guessed it: BBQ in Harlem at Dinosaur BBQ on the way back into the city.  Sometimes the gap between the guided tour and the dinner table seems like a very long way.

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My Luna Miel in Peru.

Guess what?  (If you’re reading this blog, you probably know) I got married!  Since I don’t have those pictures yet, here’s some from our honeymoon in Peru.

Turns out, Peru’s not super easy to get to: at least not if you’re not staying in Lima.  We flew from LA to Lima and then boarded a tiny plane (which we missed the first time around—long, treacherous story involving not enough layover time and a late take off) to Cusco.  Once we got to Cusco we took a (very expensive, we later found) cab ride to our first hotel, a resort called Tamba del Inca.  After a day of being pampered we switched to our hotel for the next five days, a two-story bungalow on a compound with five friendly dogs and four other houses.

Of course, we had loads more photos, but here are a few just to show you how amazing our trips to town, ruins, and meals were on our “luna meil.”


Maple Almond Fig Scones. (Butter returns to my life in a big, chunky way)

Moses “The Champ” Ramirez (as he’s programmed himself into my phone) is in Joshua Tree for his bachelor party this weekend.  I had no idea, but apparently it’s customary for one to ask if “shrooms” will be involved in such an endeavor.  Not “mushrooms” or even “magic mushrooms,” but “shrooms.”  Call me a fat kid, but I hear “shroom” and all that comes to mind is the deep-fried cheese patty used to placate vegetarians at Shake Shack (placate me with breaded cheese any day).  It also seems astounding that people over the age of 25 should remain on such casual terms with a hallucinogenic fungus—but I read far less Hunter S. Thompson than most of the men in my life, so there you go.

Kitty Vivienne Ma Belle Bruges decided to wake me up and ask for maple almond and fig scones.  She did.  She rubbed up against my face and said “enough of this vegan butter crap, Jamie.  I want some of the real deal.”  I obliged, because I love her.

We had some coffee, a little juice and had a fig chopping party while listening to Phil Spector’s “A Christmas Gift to You,” (which is far less creepy than it sounds).  Once we loosely blended, patted out, cut, sprinkled and lightly brushed with egg yolk Kitty reminded me that she didn’t even like scones.  Instead she wanted wild caught Ahi, which she ate so fast the bowl ratted in it’s stand, and left me with 12 buttery scones.  I gave 4 to the neighbors.  Christine and Andy Pants had one, too.  That leaves 7, huh?  I guess I ate around 7, but to be fair, after 4 or so they all just seem like a big, delicious cookie or something.

Afterward our breakfast Christine, Pants and I walked to Boerum Hill and Brooklyn Heights where we tried on Steven Alan sweaters, discussed the old, chunky Rachel Comey heel, met some huskies (they can smell the Mojo snow dog on me, even when he’s all the way in Missouri) and admired some holiday confections in a window display.

I’m sure Moses had a great time in Joshua Tree, but Brooklyn was pretty cozy…

Scone Recipe:

Maple Almond and Fig Scones (yields 12)

2 cups all-purpose flour (I mix whole wheat and non-bleached)

1/4 cup raw turbinado sugar (brown works too)

¼ cup natural maple syrup

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter coarsely chopped

1 cup dried figs (chopped into small pieces with scissors, careful to remove the hard stems)

1/2 cup of almonds (chopped into course pieces about the size of a pea)

1 egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup heavy cream, cold

For Topping:

1 egg and a bit of sugar for topping

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large bowl.  Chop almonds and figs and gently mix to distribute among dry ingredients.

 

With a stand mixer or using your guns, combine maple syrup, 1 egg and cream until egg is incorporated evenly.

 

Add chopped, cold pieces of butter to your DRY ingredients and quickly give them a toss to distribute (careful not to touch the butter TOO much, you want it to stay cold and intact).

 

Pour wet ingredients OVER the butter, fig/almond and flour mixture and loosely mix together with your hands.

 

Once you’ve created a buttery meal (you should still be able to see chunks of butter), turn out your chunky “paste” onto parchment paper or a clean counter top.  Create a little “wall” of dough, about the length and width of your forearm and about an inch and a half or two high.  Take a sharp, dry knife and cut the “wall” into diagonals (like slices of pie that fit together as a puzzle).

 

Separate the triangles out onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Bake at 350 until they’re lightly browned, then remove for a second to brush each scone with 1 egg beaten and a light fist full of turbinado sugar, then replace them in the oven for another 5 minutes until egg crisps a little, sugar melts and you can’t take it anymore.

Let them cool for about 10 minutes.

Note:  I hated scone-making for a long time because, despite this clearly being a kind of British country, tea-party (ie: fun) food, I worked with baker that was super weird about how much they were handled and how precisely they were cut.  Fun fact, I like mine a lot better than I liked hers and I’m pretty sure my blood pressure is WAY lower.  I’d much rather eat them when they look browned and rustic—uniform scones make me think of Starbucks and freak me out.

It’s never fun to make anything if you do it in fear.  Your butter should be cold, not your sweat, and nobody wants a scone Reich.  If your hands melt the butter, so what?  It will still taste awesome, and then you’ll make them a little better the next time.