An Ode to Mark Bittman

September 14, 2018 § Leave a comment

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Spike and I have similar taste in cuisine.

Can we just take a second to say thank you to Mark Bittman for his Kitchen Express? I used this cookbook back in…San Francisco, Kentucky, I don’t even remember…it got lost in one of the many moves, I gave myself 2 years to find it, it never showed back up, so a few months ago I invested in a new one. This is the best FREAKING cookbook on the planet.

Know what I love about it? There are no measurements. There are no haughty instructions, no fancy cooking words, no obscure ingredients that you need to buy a $15 jar of for one teaspoon and then left to sit in your fridge for another year and a half before you find it again and are like, “What the F is agar-agar?”

The recipes are all like, “season the meat with xyz, chop up some onion, carrot, and celery and heat it in olive oil and garlic, throw the meat on there and season with chili powder, or don’t, who am I to tell you what you like to eat.” I love it. And everything comes out tasting DELICIOUS. And they really do take like 30 minutes to cook. Even for a total kitchen/meal destroyer like myself.

Case in point: I just opened the book and read one recipe (which is only 4 lines of text). Here is an excerpt:

“…mix in a handful of chopped parsley, salt, pepper, a teeny bit of garlic, (optional) or shallot (or red onion, or scallion, or whatever), and if you have it, a sprig of rosemary.”

“or whatever”. My kind of cook. Two thumbs up.

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Recent Reads

August 22, 2018 § 2 Comments

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Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Don’t mind the chewed corner.

Found this book in the Little Free Library around the corner from our house. I love those things. I read the back, thought, “This should be an easy read”, and went into it expecting a sort of in the Ruth Ware/Gilly MacMillan genre. Murder mystery/beach read deal. But no. Oh no. It was not. This book was…dark. The well-intentioned but destructive actions of family members towards one another, the misinterpretation of acts of love, the fallout of all of that…oh man. It was sad. I wouldn’t read this if you aren’t feeling particularly stable.

That being said, the book is good, so go ahead and read it if you feel up for it. (I know, I should go into sales.)

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Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

(Note, I did not take the above picture. I stole it from here. Let’s not pretend like I have my shit together enough to do a citrus photo shoot to match my book cover.)

Another LFL book! This book was chosen for a bookclub I was once in where the book choices veered into the relationship/love/woman-centric novels most of the time, which isn’t always my cup of tea. So when it came up for book club I read the synopsis, was like, “meh”, and just skipped it (but attended book club anyway).

Turns out I should have read it the first time around because…I liked this book a lot. I really did.  It spans multiple decades and basically follows the members of a mixed family. Not super plot driven (as I mentioned, I wasn’t compelled by the back cover copy), but a great read.

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Oh I loved this book. I went in having no idea what it was about. I finished the last page still not entirely sure I understand what it all means, but I so, so loved reading it. The story is like Roald Dahl meets Ray Bradbury meets Madeline L’Engle. It is dark and fantastical and scary and warm and confusing and beautiful all at the same time. It’s a book I never would have picked up if I had read the synopsis, reads like YA, and one that I was sad to see end. Haven’t read any other Neil Gaiman, so can’t speak to how it holds up to his other work. But give it a try.

I built a website

July 18, 2018 § Leave a comment

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A different one, obviously, than this one. It’s a swimming website but pretty much designed for anyone who can kind of swim. Feel free to check it out here.

Podcasts

July 16, 2018 § 2 Comments

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Staying at home has turned me into a connoisseur of political podcasts. I think because at times being home can seem isolating, I feel an almost compulsive need to stay in touch with what is happening in the world.

But two weeks ago I hit an inflection point. Domestic politics got too depressing, I had to take a break. Even the best true crime podcast couldn’t lift me up.

I needed something trivial, innocuous. A brief mental break from all the ugly stuff going on. And this is what I found:

American Fiasco
I binge-listened to this podcast on the drive to Palm Springs last weekend. It’s the story of the US Men’s National soccer team from 1994 to the disastrous 1998 World Cup. While I did play soccer once upon a time long ago, I am not a die hard soccer fan. I probably couldn’t tell you the name of a single guy who plays on any team in the US (aside from David Beckham, but he has to be retired by now…right? I mean the Spice Girls broke up in like 1998.) But this story is less about the sport and more about the soap opera that was the Men’s National Team during that period. I mean, the DRAMA. Also, it’s hosted by Roger Bennett of Men In Blazers (a great podcast for real soccer fans), who has a fantastic accent and is just wonderful on all fronts. It’s seriously so good.

The Rewatchables
From The Ringer podcasts, this is basically a bunch of film nerds sitting around going over the most rewatchable movies ever made. The films they discuss range from critically acclaimed to awesomely bad (criteria that make a movie rewatchable is NOT the same as what makes a movie Oscar material. Though there is definitely some overlap). Lighthearted. So fun.

Forever 35
This podcast is two 30-something women talking about serums and drugstore mascara. So far from anything heavy. So refreshing.

Keep It
I get excited every week when I see a new Keep It in my feed. I’ve been listening to this podcast since the first episode and it has yet to disappoint. This pop-culture podcast is part of the Crooked Media world, so it definitely veers into the political, but the hosts are great and it’s just really enjoyable.

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California Dreaming

July 7, 2018 § Leave a comment

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If you need me this weekend you can find me here.

John

June 28, 2018 § Leave a comment

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When Kid #2 turned one I quit my job.  It was a decision I made for a number of reasons that I won’t get in to because they’re boring.  And despite the fact that the last job I had was not, in any way, propelling me forward in terms of my career, it was still a difficult decision to make.  It took a while for me to pull the trigger.

Part of that is because I never ever saw myself exiting the workforce at this age.  But at that point in my life, with a husband who had a demanding and unpredictable schedule, the results were almost immediate.  Life became so much more manageable without the stress trying to do essentially everything at home on my own while simultaneously performing at an acceptable level at work.  Even with the additional financial strain, I mellowed out.  And there is something to be said for being sane, especially when you are the primary caretaker of small children.

For a while, on Wednesday afternoons due to scheduling issues, I used to pick my daughter up early.  Her brother would nap after we got home.  We would paint or cook or read books, just the two of us, every Wednesday.  And I often found myself so grateful to be there, to have that time.

…and then I come across charts like this.  Despite how it may seem based on my eloquence and the very important people and events discussed on this blog, my professional trajectory was not about to land me as the CEO of a Fortune 500 company if only I had stuck with it a little longer.

But obviously this chart says way more than that.  And when I see things like this I can’t help but question the decisions I have made regarding my own career, including the most recent one.  Decisions I have made that adhere to certain gender norms and do not move the needle when it comes to issues I care about, like this.

Since having my first child I have worked full time at the office, full time at home, part time both at home and at an office, and been a stay at home mom.  And as so many articles these days are quick to point out, none are easy.

I look at my friends who are mothers and performing at the top of their field and feel a huge amount of respect, admiration, and at times envy for all that they are able to accomplish. These are the women who will change the world on a large scale, who will make the above chart obsolete someday.

And then I look at my friends that have stayed at home for years.  I think of how much it has turned their lives upside-down, the advanced degrees they have put on hold to provide support for their family, and the lack of glory that comes with that decision.

I am not here to re-hash that whole argument, but this tension has become a central and long-lasting issue in my personal life for the past 4+ years, and one that honestly caught me off guard, despite having known for years that it wouldn’t be easy.

I know my choice was the right choice for us as a family and for me personally, despite my frequent misgivings.

But I also have a daughter.  Of course I am going to tell her to aspire to great things, that she can do anything her male counterparts can.  But can I truly instill that sense of parity and possibility that when she sees the society reflected in the chart above in the outside world as well as at home?

And yet if I had chosen differently, Wednesday would just be another afternoon in a cubicle.

And yet, and yet, and yet…

I went to a party

June 14, 2018 § Leave a comment

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I should have known. I should have known by now that God punishes those of us who have lived long, fruitful lives, birthed children, and decide to act like it’s 2003 again.

A few weeks ago I got invited to a party in LA on a Saturday night. Somehow the stars aligned and I found myself in Beverly Hills at a fancy hotel drinking cocktails at 7pm.

I was so very, very happy.

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When we arrived at the party I made the intentional, mature decision to stick with one drink for the night. No mixing. I stuck with that rule. We danced. We drank. We socialized. We drank some more. The night was so fun.

The next morning was so not.

…because it turns out that drinking JAMESON for 6 hours straight is not the best move for a mother of three who is sleep deprived and out of drinking shape…and clearly suffering some sort of residual effects from a previous head trauma, because what kind of decision-making skills are those.

Like, seriously. Life is choices.

We woke up at 9, about 5 hours after we went to bed. After spending 20 minutes making sure my head wasn’t actually going to explode all over my fancy hotel pillow, I called the front desk to ask if they had any Advil. They told me there was some in the “first aid kit in the mini bar”.

This was a lie. And after 10 minutes of crawling across the room trying to first find the mini bar (it was not, it turns out, in the safe, which is somehow where I kept ending up) and this mythical first aid kit, I called back and they clarified, oh no, there is no first aid kit in the rooms. And no Advil at the hotel.

But there was a Target a few blocks down the road. Target has Advil AND Gatorade.

In an act of pure willpower, I pulled myself upright, put my shoes on, and made it out the door. I had to take a break on the way to the elevator.

 

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I also couldn’t find a hair elastic. I had to hold onto the ground to keep from falling over. Moments like this captured on film are a great way to remind yourself about who your real friends are. F U Juliet.

I didn’t see this coming because our fancy hotel room had, of course, wonderful climate control, but it was about 500 degrees outside. And very, very sunny.

Our hotel was located on La Cienega. For those of you unfamiliar with LA, La Cienega is one of those quintessential six lane thoroughfares you find in LA that is essentially a highway, except there are traffic lights and it winds through miles of strip malls and car dealerships instead of being a designated freeway.

It was hot. It was bright. It was loud. It was completely exposed. It was, without a doubt, the longest four blocks of my life.

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I had to cross various intersections of La Cienega 5x. I almost lost my life 5x.

I am pretty sure that this walk took more out of me than either of the Half Ironmans I have completed, or any of the marathons I have run. This was a physical and mental feat of epic proportions.

But finally….FINALLY…I arrived.

Shangri-La.

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I walked in, head pounding, stomach revolting, pajama pants clinging to my sweaty legs. Please God, I prayed, please don’t let me puke in Target.

I found the Gatorade. It was cold. I cracked it open in the aisle and poured that nectar of the gods down my throat. And then on my way to find the Advil, I realized that I was in the Beverly Center Target, aka the BEST FUCKING TARGET ON THE PLANET.

Even in my horrific, confused, mummified condition I couldn’t fight it. The racks of clothing, the kitchen appliances, the shark-themed onesies, the rows and rows of mugs (!)…all of it.

Did I have the wherewithal to go to the dressing room? Of course not. Did that stop me from throwing random articles of clothing and accessories into my basket? Of COURSE not. Did I absolutely need that pineapple-shaped teething ring for the baby? OF COURSE I DID.

…and before I knew it:

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Let me tell you what that is not a picture of. That is not a picture of *just* a Gatorade and Advil.

And that, my friends, is how I ended up with this incredible pair of pants.

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