It’s 3pm


And a holiday.  With no school.  But still work for both parents.  Which meant four hours in the pool with clients this morning for me, and a husband at the hospital until 8pm.  And a toddler newly recovered from a really brutal 5-day stomach virus that apparently turned her into a Snow White humanoid with superhuman energy.  Who will not nap.

Anyone else googling “wine spritzer recipes”?

Screenshot 2016-05-30 15.29.12

Two minutes only if you’re a really slow pourer.

Serves two.


You’re welcome.

Stay Wild


I never take selfies (“WHY??” I hear your collective mental chorus screaming, as you take in the above shot).  And no, before you ask, that picture has not been photoshopped.  That is me in my natural state about 3 minutes ago.  No makeup, no fancy filters.  In my PJs. All. Natural. Even the eye bags.  #blessed

But the thing is, because I never have my camera turned around, I always forget that on my phone the automatic built-in setting for selfies is called “Beauty face”.   And it says it right there on the screen.  Every time.

beauty face


It’s the best.

ANYWAYYYY…the reason I took the selfie in the first place is because this morning three extraordinary things happened:

  1. I have no clients today
  2. Paul is home and took the kids for an hour
  3. My coffee was really, really good

So the obvious direction my morning would take was to drink another cup of coffee — HOT coffee — BY MYSELF and do something “productive”.

I never drank coffee until I started getting up at 4:45am to coach swim practice before work.  And even then half the time I’d drink tea.  Because coffee stains your teeth and gives you bad breath and is addictive.

Today, if I could mainline coffee, I would.

But maybe it’s a good thing I can’t, because I have found that drinking a really good cup first thing in the morning is one of the best things IN THE WORLD.  Right up there with a getting a surprise package in the mail or a good morning BM.  It can change the course of your entire day.  And this morning, my coffee was DELICIOUS.  And I am riding that high.

That’s all.  That’ my entire point.  The message I felt compelled to shout from the rooftops.  Good coffee is so good.  Highly recommend getting some.

And if you were wondering…


That is the coffee I had this morning.  Garibaldi Goods is where you can buy it and other delicious things.

Happy Friday.


IMG_1002 (1)

I don’t do crafts.  But a few weeks before Christmas I decided I was going to.   Because that’s what good parents do during the holidays.  Paul was working nights, so I was flying solo on this.

Wednesday: On a trip to Target (duh) I decide baking cookies will be the perfect thing to get in the holiday spirit.  I like baking, and I’m good at it.  Sometimes.

Friday: After two days of the ingredients sitting on the counter, I decide to skip including my two year old in the dough-making process.  It’s not like this is a life skill she HAS to learn.  I make the dough on my own so it’s ready when she gets home from preschool.  She comes home from school in meltdown mode.  I make the executive decision to delay cookie making.

Monday: 3/4 of the dough still sitting in fridge.  The other 1/4 I ate over the weekend.

Wednesday:  A week later.  This is the day we will bake! HH has been having night terrors and sleep-walking when she goes to bed after 7:15 (fun), so we rush through dinner and have just enough time to get the dough out, roll it, cookie cutter some shapes (which she is way less into than I thought she would be), and throw them in the oven.  No time to decorate.  No time to admire the finished product.  I put the cookies in a tupperware after she goes to bed, keep frosting ingredients in the fridge.

Friday: Half of the cookies are gone because I ate them.  Sans-frosting.

Sunday: Facetime with Nana and Opa.  When I suggest HH show them the cookies she baked, she accidentally breaks an arm off of a star of Bethlehem.  I tell her it’s OK to eat it.  She looks at me confused, then suddenly the realization creeps across her face…these are edible! And not only can she eat the piece that broke off, she can eat the whole cookie.  And she does so.  From then on, every time she walks into the kitchen: “Cookie?”

Monday: Now that there are only 5 week-old cookies left in the tupperware, time to decorate!  I get out all the decorating icings and frostings.  HH smears green frosting on half of one cookie and goes, “I eat it now.”  I explain that no, decorating cookies is SO FUN, we can eat them when they’re decorated, and don’t gingerbread men look better with a face? and they taste better with frosting anyway.  “NO!  NO FROSTING!!  I EAT THE COOKIES NOW!”

So I take them away.  Tears.  Screams. Faux seizures. Drama.

The cream cheese I got to make special frosting is still sitting in the fridge.

Holiday crafts are the best.

Tomatoes Gone Wild


I just don’t even know what to do.  The tomatoes are taking over not just the garden but that entire section of yard.  That sad little plant you see hanging out of the garden box on the bottom right?  Those are our (previously huge) basil plants.  The planter to the right has also been taken over by tomato vines.

And the crazy thing is, THERE ARE LIKE 2 TOMATOES IN THAT MESS.  How???

Marsha showed up last week and when I showed her the first thing she said was, “Oh yeah, it looks like there might be too much nitrogen in the soil so it’s not flowering.”


Turns out, I should never doubt what Marsha says when it comes to gardening.  Via SFgate gardening section:

Since tomatoes hate imbalances in soil nutrients, they are prime indicators in the garden when any deficiencies or excesses exist. Adding an overabundance of nitrogen fertilizer can cause abiotic disorders in your tomato crop.  …

Perhaps the best indication that a tomato bed contains too much nitrogen occurs when the plants produce lush foliage but little or no fruit. … Besides fostering heavy leaf coverage, extra nitrogen causes vines to grow to great lengths with few tomatoes to support.



Those white ropes you see in the picture?  A whole system Paul rigged to hold the plants up because the vines were so huge and heavy.  It didn’t work.

We could add bonemeal or colloidal phosphate to the soil to balance the nitrogen content…but let’s be real. That would mean I’d have to go out and find those things and figure out how much to put where and blah blah blah. We’ll probably just pull everything out and start from scratch.

So in addition to no tomatoes, we also managed to shade or push out any other plants in the garden.  All of our squashes have been eaten or rotted away before they were ripe.  We got about three tomatoes, a handful of peppers, and one cucumber.  Oh, but we did get a ton of basil.

Moral of the story: don’t over fertilize your tomatoes early on, and watch for these symptoms so you can nip them in the bud.  Literally.

…and thus concludes Garden Flop 2014.

Thanksgiving Lessons


over dessert:

J1: did you know that one time a guy ate a whole automobile?
M: an automobile?  no way.  that’s not possible
J1: yes!  it’s true!  he broke it down and ate it piece-by-piece
M: but…why?  why would you eat a car?
D: well because then when someone would introduce you to their friends they’d be like, ‘hey, this is my friend, the one i told you about who ate a car.’
M: why would you want that to be the way someone introduces you?
J2: why eat just a car?  why not go for something bigger?
E (joining the table): are you guys talking about the guy who ate the school bus?
M: well, there you go. he totally one-upped the guy who ate the car
J1: it wasn’t a school bus, it was a car
E:  no! it was a school bus. his name was hamish mctavish.  when i was teaching there was a book called ‘hamish mctavish eats a school bus’
M: they teach that to kids at school? that it’s ok to eat school buses?
J1: i don’t believe it
E (getting up, heading towards the computer): look, i’ll show you. i think he ate everything except the tires
J2: of all things to stop you from finishing a school bus…

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 9.27.08 AM

E: someone ate a 747!
D: how long did it take him to eat it?
E: it doesn’t say
J1: i wonder if his doctor asked him if he gets enough iron
M: who gave him a 747 to eat?
J2: that would be a bummer, you eat a bus and then find out someone else ate a 747
D: especially because then when you’re friend introduces you as, ‘hey, this is my friend that ate a car’, someone else can say, ‘oh yeah?  well my friend ate a 747’

Update: there’s a book about the 747.  it is fiction.  but apparently some french dude did eat a cessna.



Late October no longer means harvesting every last possible green thing before the frost hits.  Things here are growing and growing and growing, and they don’t seem to be slowing down.


Our tomato plants are approaching 6 feet.  We’ve got baby straightneck squashes making their way into the world, some huge anaheim peppers ready to be picked, our red bell peppers are finally turning red…



The basil, dill, tarragon, cilantro, and parsley can’t be stopped.  The rosemary hasn’t grown much but doesn’t seem to be hurting at all.


Some of the wildflower seeds that I threw into the barrels are sprouting.

And finally….wait for it…


straight eight in the houuuuuuuuse!

The lemon tree out front is about to topple over there are so many lemons on it.  Our green beans, early girl tomatoes, and zucchini plant didn’t quite make it.  But you can’t win em all.

Maybe it’s because the heat finally died down, maybe it’s the organic soil I used, maybe it’s our magic coffee grounds that get dumped on the garden weekly.  I don’t know.  But I honestly don’t feel like I’ve given the garden enough love to deserve this kind of output (not that I’m not complaining).  California gardening is awesome.

Bring on fall.

How does your garden grow (Part II)


Like woah.

img_59345 weeks ago


I thought our garden in Kentucky went crazy one year, but it was nothing like this.  Plants loooooove LA weather or soil or something.  Whoever said don’t plant new plants in August should not be listened to.  Our garden is growing like a boss.

The basil, two tomato plants (Champion and Beef Eater), squashes, and peppers are all going bezerk.  The tomato plants are even pulling the cages–which I originally thought would be too big for the plants–over, they’re so huge. We have baby peppers and tomatoes, and we’ve already picked some beans. The onions are looking healthy, I just have figure out when to pick them (see: radishes).  It’s all very exciting.

One problem: the growth trajectory of the beans and cucumbers (that are in the left hand corner up against the back wall) were starting to flatten out.  I thought it might be because that ginorm, leafy, flourishing, flowering squash plant smack in the middle of the garden box was shading them from all their sun.

IMG_20140906_101502 copy

A little over 4 weeks ago my parents brought us another half wine barrel/planter.  I planted some rainbow chard, kale, and flower seeds in it.  After 4 weeks, it looked exactly like this:


Nothing.  Weeks of watering and loving, no sprouts or beginnings of sprouts or anything. (The dark stuff on the soil are recently dumped coffee grounds.)

It may have been a little premature, but since our garden box was getting pretty crowded and that was some prime real estate, we decided to move the squash into the barrel.

“Is it bad to move a plant that big into a new environment? With other seeds?” I asked Paul as he casually reached down and pulled the huge squash plant from the garden box.


We ignored the fact there are probably 50 other seeds in there, dug a hole, and stuck the squash in.

Went to check on it the next day:


Hm.  That’s not good.  Hoping it recovers soon.

How does your garden grow


So guess what you can do in LA?  Grow plants all year long.  Time to plant some plants! And this time around, no greenhouses.

img_3389kentucky gardening

So last week we got some scrap wood and planting soil and built a garden box in the back of the yard.


Ready to go!  Now, what to plant.

First stop: one of my go-to LA gardening blogs to see what they recommended planting in SoCal in late July:


Plant in the ground only out of necessity – extreme necessity
Plant in containers: continue napping

Oh.  Well then.

I am not sure what “extreme necessity” looks like when it comes to urban gardening…but after some thought I decided that this probably qualified.  So.

Next stop: advice from Alix.

plant any leafy or salad greens – kale, chard, lettuces, spinach, arugula. you can plant root veggies like beets and carrots. you can plant any brassica – broccoli, cauliflower, etc. 

OK, much better.  So I made a list (kale, chard, beets, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, and some herbs) and headed out to get some seedlings/seeds/whatever I could find with You-Know-Who in tow.


She is not a huge fan of the carseat.  Getting her in and out is no small task.

Stop #1: the big sign out front that said “HYDROPONICS” should have been the first sign that this probably wasn’t the right place for us…but I already had her out of the carseat, so there was no turning back.  We walked up to get buzzed into the store with mirrored windows (signs #2 & 3).

I entered the store, baby on hip.  The two tatted dudes behind the counter stopped what they were doing and stared at me.

“Hey, hi.  I think I already know the answer to this, but do you guys sell seeds or seedlings?”
(blank stares)
“…like, for a vegetable garden…”
“Oh!  Oh, noooo….no we don’t, sorry. But there’s a place around the corner that does!”

Back in the carseat.  Five block drive, pull into a corner shop with one beat up truck in the parking lot. Wrestle HH out of the carseat to find…Stop #2 only sells grass seed.  But the owner’s brother Francisco sells veggie plants!  10 blocks away.

Wrestling matches four and five of the morning.

Stop #3 speaks only Spanish, but they have veggie plants!  Exactly four types: white onions, green beans, and two types of peppers.  Plus some basil. None on my list, but whatever.  I was not going home empty handed. I took them all.


Set HH up at her post at the other end of the yard, and…


Hm.  Maybe not the best planned layout.

Saturday I gave in and headed to Home Depot to see what I could find to fill out the rest of the garden box, plus a planter my parents had donated to our yard.  And…here it is, our late summer/early fall crops for 2014:


Italian Basil
BBQ Rosemary (smells amazing)
Trailing Rosemary
…plus some blue salvia, because it’s nice looking, drought tolerant, and the hummingbirds in our yard like it


(Chosen solely based on their name…the same technique I use for my March Madness bracket, which has experienced moderate success over the years.)
Early Girl

Green Sweet Bell
Red Sweet Bell

Zucchini Squash
Straightneck Squash

Straight Eight

White Onions

I don’t know what a Straight Eight cucumber is, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to find out.

Roundup: Week 10

IMG_20140317_124443winter, winter, go away…

Monday: rest

Tuesday: 4 miles outside after work.  weather was BEAUTIFUL.

Wednesday: icy rain and sleet…nothing…again…

Thursday: 6 miles on the TM before work

Friday: 2.5 mile walk from my house to the inlaws to pick up HH…paul took the car for a trip up to visit some friends

Saturday: 8(ish) miles outside.  70 degrees.  sunny.  absolutely gorgeous.  was supposed to be 11 miles, but with paul gone got crunched on time.  just didn’t have 11 in me.

Sunday: freezing rain again, followed by snow.  coached at UK.  didn’t swim.  lame.

Weak week in terms of training.   Any sort of cross training just went straight out the window.  But between the weather being all over the place and Paul being gone and just general exhaustion, that’s what I got.  At least over the weekend I had some help with the laundry.


Life lesson learned today:  do not bake a loaf of chocolate chip pumpkin bread “for the office” on Sunday night and then work from home on Monday when your kitchen is barren of any other food.  Your loaf will never make it to Tuesday.  Or the office.