Thursday, December 16, 2010

Simple Pleasures

1) Extra date nights with loverboy because yay! his semester is over!

2) Watching Glee on the night it airs instead of Tivo-ing and watching when loverboy finally has a night off.

3) Champagne with a maraschino cherry

4) Holiday cards - I love all the photos and year updates!

5) Wine lite cubes

6) Sharing Laura's amazing pomegranate, grapefruit salad with co-workers and getting loads of compliments!

7) Incredibly generous donation from an F4L sibling for the family that we are "adopting" for Christmas.

8) Arriving home to a package on my front door - yay my holiday cards are here!

9) A boyfriend who always answers the phone saying, Hello beautiful.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Joe's done with his first semester of grad school!!! Wooooohoooo! After a fall full of weekends spent reading and writing around the clock, yesterday at 4pm, I got a g-chat saying he had finished his day of final assessments - I swear I heard angels rejoicing! I couldn't be more proud of that guy and I couldn't be more excited for him to finally get the chance to get some rest in the next couple of weeks and for us to get to see a little bit more of each other.

Last night his 'cohort' had a celebration - I hadn't met any of his classmates yet but I had heard lots of stories and it was so nice to finally be able to put names with faces. And gosh on top of that, everyone was just so genuine and friendly - combine that with an overwhelming feeling of relief with Joe being done and I was just bubbling over.

After a little meetin' and greetin' with the PLI folks, Joe and I headed off for a celebration dinner of our own. ooooooh and boy was it a fun one. We had reservations at a restaurant in Berkeley that we've been wanting to try for a few months - Gather. Oh my goodness, I LOVE this place - if you find yourself in Berkeley any time soon - I definitely recommend it. The whole place has been decorated with re-purposed materials - the booth I sat on was made of old belts! and some of the tables, countertops were made with bleachers from a local gym. They are big on using local and in season ingredients which I totally dig too.

We started the meal off with a house specialty - the Vegan 'Charcuterie'. Four words - Declious and Super-creative! This included the following served on a beautiful wooden cutting board;
1) mushroom tartar, parsnip 'lardo' wth roasted garlic,
2) pear 'carpaccio', smoked persimmon and celery root - the smokiness of this dish combined with the sweet, thing pear was out of this world!
3) Grilled watermelon radish 'steak' leek 'butter' horseradish salsa verde and pomegranate,
4) oyster mushroom crudo, 'tonnato' sauce and avocado in a crispy sea leaf palm 5) roasted carnival squash, sunchoke cashew bay leaf sauce, smoked maple.

Holy Appetizer!!! I'm a dummy and forgot my camera so no pics of this unfortunatley. Joe then ordered the boar with braised fagiole beans (deelish - they were braised in bacon skin and chicken stock) and fennel salad. I ordered the mushroom pizza - both ah-mazing! I can't imagine any better place or way to celebrate all of Joe's hard work this fall!

Today has been simply heavenly - an entire day with no pressing work to get done. We woke up this morning and headed out to our favorite east bay running spot and the site of our first date (which was a year ago next Sunday!). Yup, I love that this is our east bay running spot - it's just so beautiful and conjures up all kinds of fun memories!!! And well, you'd think that since we had the whole day we'd do something wild and crazy, but we once again found ourselves in the kitchen whipping up some orange marmalade and a big pot of chicken soup. And I have to say, I wouldn't have had today any other way - I just love that we enjoy spending time creating things together in the kitchen to share.

Here's a couple pics of the orange marmalade we made today - the color makes my heart sing - nice and bright and cheery for a cold winter morning :).

Happy week of holiday merrymaking!

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Whoopie! Kat got a new mixer - Moxie the Mixer is what she's called. We christened Moxie yesterday and whooped up batch of adorable Pumpkin Whoopie Pies!

Isn't she beautiful! Kat AND Moxie the mixer!

Mixing made unbelievably easy!

The cookies turned out moist and spongy - yummy!

A little cream cheese, lots of butter and 1 jar of mallow creme later - it's time to stuff these puppies.

And voila - aren't they cute?! Whoopie!

Besides whooping it up with Kat, life is full of xmas shopping, 8th grade girls bball coaching, falling in love with my recent book club book - The Elegance of the Hedgehog - just finished it last week and I think it's going to be added to my top 10 list, and brainstorming my next book club book pick - so far, these are the front runners - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lack, Let the Great World Spin, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The History of Love.

Happy week to ya! Hope it's full of making progress on your xmas shopping, neighborhoods sparkling with holiday lights and peppermint hot cocoa sipping!

Monday, November 29, 2010


Forgot to mention that this Thanksgiving vacation was one of the most restorative vacations I've had in a while. I left the bay on Wednesday, feeling exhausted and on the verge of getting sick - but by Sunday, with a few good nights of sleep under my belt and a total break from routine - I felt healthier than I've felt in a long time. I'm harnessing this feeling and holding on to it as long as possible, and once again reminding myself that sometimes the most urgent thing you can choose in the midst of life's craziness - is REST.

Joe meets the fam...

San Diego Thanksgiving 2010 rocked. I just love getting to spend time in the kitchen with my family, cooking and laughing and feasting - and this year getting to bring Joe home to meet the family for the first time was an extra big treat. He fit right in, just like I knew he would and it couldn't make me happier to have all these people that I love so much together in one place. Oooh and this year, we had a few more special guests - the Ford fam - so glad that Tom, Kristina and Garrett could join us!

Thanksgiving is a big, team effort in our home and I just love this tradition of ours. All of us gathered in my parent's beautiful kitchen with various food operations happening simultaneously - little chaos and a lot of laughter!

I just love my sister so much!

Here she is gettin' sassy with her sweet potatoes!

A little mom and grandma love.

My grandpa's job = mimosa sipping. He kept stealing my grandma's mimosa - adorable, isn't he!?

After a big run with Joe on Friday morning to work off our Thanksgiving meal (Have I told you that I LOVE that Joe and I can run together!! It was so fun to show him some of my favorite home town trails!) we took a family field trip to Stone Brewery in San Diego. Lots of yummy beers to choose from!

Saturday, after a coffee date with Niki, Whit, Maria, Curran and Amber, we made our way to the coast so Joe could see a little of the San Diego sweet life! Shorts at the beach in November!

Let the holiday season begin!!

Monday, November 22, 2010


If you didn't already know - Thanksgiving is hands down, my all time favorite holiday. Gathering around a table of yummy food with a group of loved ones and simply giving thanks for the many blessings that are all around us - just may be what it's all about in my book. And well, in the past year Thanksgiving has become even more special to me.

Last November, Lindsey and Nate started a tradition of holding a Thanksgiving Part I for our friend family here in the bay. Lindsey, Kat and Laura had come into my life about 6 months earlier at a time when I was feeling hurt and lonely and there were many days during that time that I felt so overwhelmed with gratitude for these women, that the tears would just flood uncontrollably. The connection that I feel to these girls is something that I truly give thanks for every day. These women have nurtured my spirit - through craft days, book clubs, sprout dinners, coupa cafe dates, bruschetta offs, blog comments, doodling dates, Yosemite trips and on and on. Our friendship is one for the books - it's not something you find every day and well quite honestly, I feel like one of the luckiest girls in the world to call Laura, Kat and Lindsey friends.

Last year, Thanksgiving grew for me. Beyond a holiday spent with blood relatives, Thanksgiving grew to be about the precious family and communities we build for ourselves as adults, and it's funny because just when I thought it wasn't possible to contain anymore joy - this community opened up a whole new space inside of me, allowing a little more joy in.

And as if it wasn't enough to be surrounded by these women and their so's on Thanksgiving last year, there was also a SUPER, CUTE boy there! Yep, that's right - Loverboy himself graced us with his presence and his incredible blue eyes. I remember walking into Nate and Lindsey's, saying hello to everyone and then being introduced to Joe and just being mesmerized by his eyes. Kat conveniently sat us next to one another at the dinner table, and well, the rest is history folks.

Joe and I talk about how appropriate it is that we met on Thanksgiving (a fav. holiday for both of us) because gratitude is a central part of our outlooks on life and we feel so thankful for having met one another.

We felt honored to get to host the Thanksgiving Part I dinner (Northwest style) this year - as a celebration of our friendship and also as a celebration of us. Yesterday morning, I ran out to do some gingko leaf scavenging for decoration and when I returned Joe had a card and a pretty little box waiting for me. We have been celebrating December 19th as our anniversary - the day of our first date. But in his card, Joe said that he felt that this day was our real anniversary and a bunch of other things that made me cry. HOW DID I GET LUCKY ENOUGH TO HAVE SUCH A SWEET MAN IN MY LIFE? My cup runneth over...

We came together again for Thanksgiving Part I, Part II yesterday at my place and and the bottom line is

I am just so grateful....

For these incredible people.

For this incredible man.

For some damn good salmon.

For some amazing butternut squash soup, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pomegranate and grapefruit salad, cider, cabbage etc!

For sparkplug friends like Kat who conveniently arrange to sit you next to the cute boy and for Laura's amazing craftiness on these beautiful abalone name place settings.

For games of cards so intense they make you sweat and burn off your dinner.

and for the simplicity of a beautiful table to gather around the people who mean the most to you.

Happy Thanksgiving to you! May you also overflow with gratitude.

P.S. Stop by Dancing Kitchen to read Kat's take on the day :).


Just a quick sneak peak at the lovely Northwest Thanksgiving dinner that Loverboy and I hosted this weekend. I am grateful beyond words for these people and can't wait to share more about the day. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

La Amistad

I'm truly blessed with an amazing group of girlfriends in the bay and the creativity that pours out of this group of girls is something that absolutely nourishes my soul. We had our11th book club gathering on Saturday - yes we've read ELEVEN books together! Our next book is our12th - I'm pretty sure we're getting smarter by the minute. Kat provided us with about every type of cheese you could imagine for the occasion - not to mention, the most adorable table setting for our book/life chat. She even made little flags for so we could identify each cheese! Check these puppies out...

How adorable is that?!

We read a book called Little Bee this past month - it's a story about the amazing strength of a Nigerian refugee. For me, the book forced me out of my comfort zone a bit and while I admit I chickened out of reading some of the more graphic parts, the story heightened my awareness of the struggles that still are very real for citizens of countries/villages that are/have been exploited by oil companies.

As our book club ended we got busy in the kitchen for our 2nd Bruschetta off! Yep, you read right, Bruschetta off!! Look at all that bru-ske-ta!

Here's Lindsey's Morroccan Road...

and Laura's Autumn Sunkist....Joe's excited about this one!

and Kat's Christmas...

We're not done yet people, another one of Kat's creations - BORSCHETTA

My lips of rome...Julian is seriously scrutinizing this creation.

And the winner of the evening....Lindsey's California Capote. (Although I think the true winners were the boys/judges - they kicked back watching football while us girls whipped up a bunch of fun food for them.)

Is there anything better than friends and food? I think not!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Amazing Grace

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bella Note

I'm sorry that I'm head over heels in love and that all of you are subject to my weekly posts where I re-hash the gushy details but I can't help myself. I just feel so darn grateful for Joe and he continues to do things that make me fall even further in love and I just have to share.

Grad school has fully taken over Joe's life in these past couple of months and between teaching full time at an intense charter school that operates on business hours and attending classes Monday, Wednesday and Saturday (not to mention the hours of time he spends on homework/lesson planning etc) the guy hardly has enough time to breathe. I really don't know how he does it - all I know is I am amazed every day by his work ethic, endurance, passion and optimism. He's incredible about keeping his head about him when everything around him is swirling around in chaos and I am so moved by his dedication. Lots of days I wish I could be like a substitute reader for him and read the hundreds of pages that he is assigned each week and just dump all the knowledge from the readings into his head so he could have a few extra hours to write papers or grade tests, but unfortunately, I haven't figured that out yet - so what I have been doing is cooking. A LOT and in BIG quantities. That way Joe has lots of leftovers that he can freeze and pull out for easy dinners during his crazy weeks.

Last Friday however, the tables were turned and Joe made dinner for ME. He already gives so much of himself when we are together and well, his time is his most precious commodity these days so it was very special to me that he made such an effort to make dinner. He had not gone to bed until 11:30 on Thursday night because he was doing homework and then he woke up at 4:30 on Friday to get more work done but when I arrived at his place on Friday evening, he had set a romantic table with candles for us and made a yummy salmon dinner with red pepper pasta and an incredible homemade salad dressing for our salad! And then to top it all off as we sat down to eat he cued up this song for us to eat to - Bella Notte. I almost cried, actually I might have cried.

I'm sure this story sounds incredibly simple and maybe I'm foolish for being moved so deeply by all of it, but the simple things Joe does for me (and for all the people in his life) are so full of his heart that they have a way of filling me up with a joy that's bigger than all the space inside of me.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

more GLEE...

I loved this one too - couldn't find the actual video, but all you really need is the audio to be swept away by the harmonies goin' on here...

And this is from a few episodes back, but I also loved it...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

i HEART Glee

and ESPECIALLY this little diddy....

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A little character building and A LOT of jarring!

These are our shoes - drying in front of the heater.
Why you ask? Because Joe and I are borderline nut-so and decided that despite the constant rain today, it would be a good day for a steep, uphill trail run. Sunday's the one day of the week that loverboy can get a good run in these days with his crazy schedule and so whatever the weather, he's pretty committed to getting out to hit the trails. And well, I guess we're a good match, because I'm not usually one to shy away from a little bad weather if it means getting to workout in the great outdoors. At the end of the run as we stood in the rain, sopping wet with mud streaks up the back of our legs, we decided this was definitely one of those experiences that builds some character and makes ya a little tougher. Challenges truly do reveal character and well, if our attitudes on the run are any indication of the way we handle adversity in the real world - I'd say I'm getting the better end of the deal in this relationship :). Loverboy's a total champ when it comes to facing challenges and remaining calm and collected - anyone looking for a good Amazing Race partner? He'd be perfect!

On our way down Windy Hill all I could think about was taking a warm shower and eating A LOT of hot food. And well lucky me, I got both of those things shortly after we got back. As you know, Joe and I have been experimenting with jarring this fall. I told my boss about it when we first started - she's pro at jarring and instigated our fig jam adventure by generously providing 5 lbs. of figs from her tree. Long story short, she is a part of this incredible jarring community - each year they host a Harvest exhange and loads of people bring all the amazing things they've been jarring - the host makes a BIG pot of black bean chili and apple cider braised pork and then everyone swaps! Brilliant! The host's home was about as homey as a home could get and when we arrived he whisked us straight to the pot of chili and poured us some wine! How's that for hospitality. We scarfed down our chili and chatted with some of the others and then I just marveled at the table full of jarred goods. I could have cried - I'm just so moved by people who create things and then when they are both beautiful and edible, well that just about does me in! I was bubbling over with excitement! We contributed a couple jars of our fig jam and our recent pickles and check out some of the amazing stuff we came away with!

Joe and I sat and stared and this stuff for a little while and declared it was almost as good as Christmas!

Chili Peppers, lemons and adorable homemade leaf cards.

Duck Breast Prosciutto - what?! This sounds amazing - and the host made it!!

Strawberry Orange Jam, Apple Rhubarb Conserve with Maple Syrup and Peach Jam - ummm....heaven!

Turmeric Pickles, Spiced Beet Pickles and Balsalmic mustard - holy possibilities!

Sauerkraut - Joe's fav. takeaway.

Some kind of salty lemony concoction that is supposedly perfect for making a Morroccan chicken dish - we'll be giving that a whirl soon!

We also came away with dried persimmons that are beautiful and about the only thing more delicious than regular persimmons and home made truffles.

I just love the community of craftsmanship that this group has created and feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to participate this weekend!

Happy week!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Random rambling

I've been thinking that food blogging has to be one of the most brilliant inventions in the world - I'm pretty sure I could spend hours and hours scouring the blogs of Pioneer Woman, Steamy Kitchen, This Week for Dinner, smitten kitchen, What's Gaby Cooking etc. etc. and never even get close to bored. Oh and Word Press launched a recipe aggregaing website this week called Food Press - Jane Maynard of This Week for Dinner is the editor - I want her job!

Here's a few of the recipes that caught my attention this week that I'm antsy to try -

The latest clothing items I'm lusting after - A soft, warm Patagonia jacket - like this. And well, I'm craving something yellow - maybe like this.

ooooh and I'm REALLY craving a LONG,long, long vacay with loverboy. That man deserves a vacation more than anyone I know (more to come on this very soon!) and well this one looks kinda fun - Feather Down Farm Day.

And well last but not least, I've been tossing and turning over whether or not to coach again this year. Feels like I'm back in college again and trying to decide whether or not to play another season - oh basketball - you can be so much work - but you bring me so much joy. I'm thinkin' I probably need to coach because I found myself looking at these this week - Hustle Boards and Excel Practice Plan forms. Really? How did I get so dorky?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My life revolves around food...

This weekend was full of so many yummy fall foods, I can hardly contain my excitement.

On Friday night, the lovely Laura hosted a sweet Harvest dinner - and the whole event just warmed my heart. Laura had a couple of her good girlfriends from Colorado in town and wanted to get us all together and well I have to say, Jerica and Amy were absolutely wonderful and I just love it when different circles of people can come together and so genuinely enjoy one another's company.

Here we are in all our glory :)

Laura made an incredible creamy mushroom soup. Linds brought a yummy salad with pumpkin seeds and her famous hot apple cider, Kat made the most beautiful apple tarts and I tried out a recipe I've been excited about - Warm Autumn Salad - give it a try - the veggies make your whole kitchen smell like fall as they roast away! Laura, Amy and Jerica put so much love into the table setting - pumpkins, candles, flowers, cloth napkins, plates with fun conversation questions and sweet wishes. It's just so beautiful to me when people take the time to make occasions special by adding a few personal touches. Well done girls!

Kat's gorgeous apple tarts!

On top of this fun fall dinner, loverboy and I got to have a FULL weekend together because he had no class on Saturday - Yay! We made our way out for a rainy, redwood trail run on Saturday morning and then well, really just spent the day running errands, but it was nice to get to be together. When we finally made it home, we got some pumpkin soup cookin' in honor of Halloween weekend. Here's the recipe if you're interested - Thai-spced Pumpkin Soup.

Sunday afternoon we decided to give pickling a try - I have to tell ya, loverboy was the instigator on this one - sweet jams tend to excite me a bit more, but boy was I surprised at how fun it was to make our own pickles!

We started out with some persian cucumbers.

And then mixed up this concoction of vinegar, mustard seeds, dill seed, sugar, bay leaves and peppercorns.

And voila! Homemade pickles!