ceramic bells

Every time I venture into Esqueleto I admire the gorgeous ceramic bells by Michele Quan that are hanging around the store. Aren't they lovely? I want them all.


mothering with ALS

Sarah and her family, photo by Lisa Leckie
Sarah Coglianese, a friend and old co-worker, was diagnosed with ALS last year. She recently wrote this lovely and heartwrenching piece for the New York Times Motherlode blog about teaching her daughter that she can do anything, physically and otherwise, as her own body is failing her and she is physically able to do less and less. Sarah's blog, The Scarlett Letters, is also a wonderful read.


stella at 3

Happy birthday to our Stella who turned three on Friday.

This kid is all emotion. One minute she's laughing and the next she's crying ("I want water in my PINK cup not my GREEN!" sob, sob, sob). Stella's emotions rule her world.

She loves baby Djuna, whom she calls "Pooms" and "Little Kicky." Loves her so much she sometimes just wants to smother her... with hugs and kisses, of course. She often hears us say "give Djuna some space," and sometimes she listens and complies and sometimes she just listens and acts like she can't hear us.

She eats slow. Talks non-stop. Asks question after question, sometimes the same question ad nauseam. Loves to draw. Is a pain to get into the bath and a pain to get out once she's in. Loves to sing and make up songs. Is a sweet little snuggler. Wants to wear dresses everyday. Learns new big words daily (last week her favorite word was monumental). Loves looking at and reading books. Stands on the back of our couch and watches everyone leave our house and waves goodbye. Obsessively has to sit on our stoop before we open the front door (every. single. time). Starts talking as soon as her eyes open in the morning. Loves spending the night at her Grammy and Pappap's house. Loves park dates with her Aunt Livvie and Skype dates with family far away. Takes pride in walking her own dishes to the sink after meals. Likes helping in the kitchen and making muffins and cookies. Asks me to sing Summertime and stroke her hair at bedtime. No longer naps at home. Has a hard time saying Ls, so Stella sounds like Stewwa. Adores playing hide and seek and usually picks the same place to hide again and again. Dislikes visits to her wonderful doctor, but talks about ailments and sickness nonstop. Is watchful and wary in new situations. Has a long memory, boundless energy, and a monumental heart.

Stella at 2.5.
Stella at 2.
Stella's Birth Story, 1 year later.


cheers to december

Hello to December, one of my favorite months of the year. I love the holidays: the chill in the air, the smell of pine needles, baking, twinkly lights, Charlie Brown Christmas on repeat, old traditions and new ones. It's a month of celebrations, of birthdays and family gatherings, made all the more memorable and magical with an almost three-year-old. So cheers to all that...

A few links:

We're on day 2 of this adorable advent calendar.

Yayoi Kusama's Mirrored Room looks beautiful.

I (finally) started Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch over the weekend. The book has been sitting on my bedside table since the day it was released, but I hadn't felt ready to crack the spine until this past Saturday. I'm only 50 pages in, but I'm loving the language and the imagery so far. Take a look at the interview with Tartt over at Powells.com.

This place has become one of our favorite date night spots.

It is silly how long I've been looking for a cute pair of booties. I've been so tempted by clog booties, but when I admired them on Marisa Haskell a few weeks ago she told me all about how hers are stiff and unforgiving. I just don't have the time or the patience to break in a new pair of booties. And, frankly, spending beaucoup $ on a pair of shoes that are so uncomfortable I might never wear them is just not an option. These are the ones I've chosen (in Navy suede). Fingers crossed.


life at 35

After a 20 day hiatus, I'm back! 

During my absence I turned 35. We celebrated with the ice cream cake of my dreams and my cousin Richard's delicious pecan chocolate pie, a potluck feast, 25 friends and family and kid mayhem. Everyone who came went home a little bag with the potluck recipes. My friend Devon designed the cards, collected all the recipes ahead of time, and printed and stuffed the burlap bags. Such a treat.
Birthday potluck recipe bag
As I enter year 35, I feel so very lucky. I am surrounded by great friends whom I love and respect and admire. My parents are so close that we see them every week for dinner and farmer's market meetups and coffee dates. I have two sweet, funny girls who make life wonderfully meaningful. I am married to my love. And in spite of my blossoming crow's feet, I still feel the bloom of youth in my heart.


the best american infographics 2013

I love the collision of visuals and information so it's no wonder that one of my favorite books at the moment is this:

The Best American Infographics 2013
Some interesting selections from the book were featured over on Wired, including "Which Birth Dates Are the Most Common," "Four Kinds of Dog," "Map of a New America," and "The Last 45 Seconds." 

One infographic that I keep going back to is Randall Munroe's "Deepest of the Deep" which shows depths of oceans and lakes of the world side by side. As someone with a fear of deep water, I'm both fascinated by it and repelled.

Such a great book!


djuna at 3 months

Djuna at 3 months is all sweetness and smiles. She's a great sleeper, going to bed around 8pm and waking up at 4am for early morning nurse sessions. She loves Stella; Djuna watches her with big, wide eyes, and smiles whenever Stella looks her way or plays near her. She loves being talked to and smiled at, and she goes anywhere and does anything without much fuss. 

We lucked out big time with this kid. She is dreamy.


six decades of the most popular girl names, state-by-state


See more years mapped over at Jezebel.

happy friday links

Sheeps by Meagan Donegan

I can't wait to read the new Donna Tartt.

Cookies! Shayna texted me about these yesterday and Stella and I promptly set to work making them.  We put in half the curry recommended but added cardamom and chocolate chips as we didn't have shredded coconut. They're so good!

On the topic of cookies... How Oreos Work Like Cocaine.

Are you watching the new season of Homeland? I'm continually impressed by how the creators of this show make each character's point of view so very believable. And the acting! 


silly love songs

This song has been on repeat in my head for almost a week now, ever since I heard it playing at one of my local coffee shops. Here's to a love-filled Monday.


on getting older

I still get carded occasionally. 

Two summers ago when we were in Michigan I ran out to the store to get lighter fluid and and a lighter for the bbq. I forgot to bring my ID and when I told this to the cashier, the teen asked me, in all seriousness, if I was over 18. "I'm over 30 if it makes a difference," I told him. "No way..." he said, again, in all seriousness. I paused to gauge if he was for real. "Way," I told him. As I walked out with my lighter fluid I felt at once imbued with a youthful glee (he thought I was 18!) and an adult apprehension (shit, do I look and dress like an 18-year-old?!).

Over the weekend I was buying beer and was again carded at the register. The woman ringing me up looked at my ID, looked up at me, looked back at my ID and said, "you look like you could be my age." Oh great, here we go I thought. "Oh really," I said pleasantly, "how old are you?" "I be 30," she said with a nod of her head. "Okay..." I replied. "That's cool..." 

30, huh? Must be having a second kid. My age seems to be catching up with me.

[painting: hope gangloff]


a few weekend links

I turn 35 in November. Gah! I think I'm going to make this ice cream cake to celebrate. Nothing says happy birthday like an ice cream cake, right?!

I'm seriously crushing on these Ali Golden bags. My friend Melissa has one and every time I see her I covet it...

Saying goodbye at preschool has been a challenge. I appreciated this Motherlode post on easing the transition and separation anxiety.

This adorable book is one of our favorites at the moment.

Can't wait to go to this new Oakland beer hall.

Fall is in the air. The dusklight sweater.

[photograph credit: ashley of not without salt]



I'm always on the lookout for good BBC dramas and last week I found Broadchurch. We blazed through the 8-episode series in less than a week. It's a beautifully executed murder mystery set in a small town on the coast of Britain. And I mean beautiful. Some of the visual sequences were absolutely stunning... Watch it for that reason alone.

djuna :: 10 weeks

Djuna is one happy, smiley baby.


best lunch box ever

For the record, I never thought I'd be writing a post about school lunches. But, well, here we are...
Now that Stella is in preschool three days a week, I think about her lunch in a whole new way. Way more than necessary, in fact. I'm pretty lazy when it comes to lunches at home. Quesadilla with black beans and avocado 3 days in a row at home is okay in my book, but I can't bring myself to pack the same thing for her lunches 3 days a week knowing that her teachers unpack her lunchbox and I'm supposed to be sending her with a well-rounded, nutritious meal.

Which is why I'm excited my friend Jen brought me a special treat at our park date last week: Katie Sullivan Morford's Best Lunch Box Ever. Jen did all the lovely photography for the book and it was published by Chronicle (the company I worked for before having Stella) which means the book itself is beautiful. Here are a few shots of recipes I'm looking forward to trying.
Asian Slaw
Sweet Potato Quesadilla
Date, Cream Cheese, Spinach Wraps
Sour Cherry Oatmeal Bars

Also, check out Jen's recent recipe on Design*Sponge for Wild Mushroom Risotto. Yum!


oakland gnomes

This weekend I was reminded about this NPR segment on the gnomes of Oakland, the anonymously-painted little wooden creatures nailed to the bottom of utility poles around the city. Walking up a side street by Lake Merritt on Saturday I saw at least seven of these guys. They add cheer to the Oakland streets; every time I see one I smile. Isn't this guy cute?


madewell thundercloud jeans

At two months postpartum I'm still about 10lbs away from my pre-pregnancy weight which means that all of my favorite jeans and pants are still a tad bit snug around the waist. Last week I finally decided to just buy a pair of interim jeans to wear. Thankfully, I found a pair that I am loving. They've got the perfect amount of stretch and give and they go with everything. I've worn them every single day.

Madewell: skinny skinny ankle jeans in thundercloud
I love them so much I bought the camo equivalent.


a few midweek links

Walloon Lake, Michigan
My dear friend Melissa created an super awesome meal planning app called 5 Plates! The app delivers 5 dinner recipes every week with a grocery list. How easy is that? It debuted on iTunes today so go get it.

We went to Michigan at the end of August. My sister-in-law Mary wrote about the trip and posted some pictures on her lovely blog. I also posted some photos from our trip on Instagram.

I only read one book while in Michigan. But I've just started this based on a rave review from Jordan. Also on my nightstand: Wild, The Happiest Toddler on the Block (yep), and The Cuckoos Calling.

A few months ago I started using this light foundation on my face. It's a bit on the pricey side, but totally worth it.

We finally finished watching the first season of this show. Loved it! I'm going through serious withdrawals... Thank goodness there are three new episodes of Foyle's War airing soon.


period of adjustment

We are in the middle of a big period of adjustment... Djuna's arrival. Stella starting preschool in September.

Over the past few weeks we've seen more Stella meltdowns than ever before. Overall, Stella is handling Djuna's presence beautifully. She gives her kisses and loves, and so far she hasn't asked us to send her back. But she loses her shit over the smallest things. Developmentally, Stella is right on track. She desperately desires routine and predictability. She wants to be heard and understood but allowed to change her mind at will. Her world is in upheaval and she is doing her best to find her footing, connect with us, and have her voice heard amidst the chaos.

Getting them to both nap at the same time is proving to be a challenge. Yesterday it took me two hours to get Stella to fall asleep in the afternoon. On Friday I finally gave up after an hour and a half of trying, which culminated in Stella chanting "Mommmmyyyyy" in her room over and over and over again and Djuna puking breast milk all over me and our bed. Ah, the glories of parenthood.

So while we adjust and work towards some kind of balance, I might be less present here on this old blog. But I'll be back...


walmart to library

Have you seen the photos of this abandoned Walmart turned library in McAllen Texas? It's now the largest single floor library in the U.S. Pretty impressive...

The design won the International Interior Design Association’s 2012 Library Interior Design Competition. MSR stripped out the old ceiling and walls of the building, gave the perimeter walls and bare warehouse ceiling a coat of white paint, and set to work adding glass-enclosed spaces, bright architectural details and row after row of books.


introducing djuna sulise + birth story

Stella meets Djuna
Djuna, 7 days old
Meet Djuna Sulise! We named her Djuna (pronounced JOON-uh) after writer Djuna Barnes. It's a name I've loved ever since reading Nightwood in college, and Jordan and I agreed after we had Stella that if we ever had another girl we would call her Djuna. We wanted to capture the love and admiration we have for both our mothers; Sulise is an homage to them, Suellen and Malise.

Djuna made a speedy entrance into the world early last Thursday morning. After days of pre-labor contractions that left us wondering "is this it?," I never imagined I'd have such a different birth experience from the one I had with Stella. With Djuna, there was no doubt when I actually went into labor. Going to bed Wednesday night she was very active and I kept feeling her head moving and turning against my cervix. At 1 a.m. her movement broke my bag of waters and I woke Jordan up and called my Mom who was at our door in 20 minutes. Because I tested positive for Group B strep this pregnancy, my OB requested that we head to the hospital sooner rather than later if my waters broke so that I could be given a dose or two of antibiotics. I had my first serious contraction, one that stopped me in my tracks, right before leaving our house.

We arrived at the hospital and were admitted into the labor and delivery department. At this point I was excited and chatty with the nurse and with Jordan. After weeks of waiting, I was ready to be past the labor and meet our girl. I felt so happy and not at all scared or apprehensive. At around 2:15 a.m. they checked me and I was 3-4 cm dilated. They moved me into a room and we met and talked with our attending nurse. I was still smiling and laughing, easily breathing through the contractions with Jordan rubbing my back and offering encouragement, and eating fruit popsicles.

The nurse drew some blood to run tests and ended up poking through the other side of my vein, which, I learned as the blood started to pool in my arm and Jordan almost fainted, is called a blown vein. I started shaking after that from the rush of adrenaline and was light-headed from having my blood drawn badly. Another nurse came in to insert the IV drip into my other arm.

By 3:40 a.m. I felt the urge to pee and afterwards found I couldn't sit comfortably on my birthing ball anymore. Our nurse had left the room and as I leaned over the bed I told Jordan to go get her because I could feel Djuna moving down the birth passage. At 3:50 a.m. the doctor checked me and was astonished that I was already 9 cm dilated. The attending nurse was surprised as well because I was managing the contractions without much discomfort. At that point, however, I started moaning, open-mouthed (thank you Ina May!), through the contractions because I could feel the urge to push coming on and I was told to wait so they could quickly prep the room for the delivery.

The nurse hurried to get the antibiotics in the IV for the Group B Strep prevention (much too late), and at around this point I looked at Jordan and told him I didn't want to do it anymore. I quickly stopped myself from saying it again, and started repeating "I can do this." 

I started pushing at 4 a.m., and after 3 intense pushes, Djuna was born. I felt ecstatic. And relieved. As they put her on my chest I said with great joy "I did it, Sweets! I did good..." 
He agreed.


today could be the day

Tomorrow marks the start of week 41 of my pregnancy. Yes, as of this morning I am still pregnant. For the past two weeks I've woken up earlier than usual, usually with the realization "oh, shit... my labor hasn't happened already?" And then I give myself a little pep talk and think "today could be the day! Tomorrow I will wake up and get to hold our new girl..." And then I wake up still pregnant and facing down the hardest thing I've ever had to do, the thing I promised myself I would never do again just minutes after birthing Stella.

So here I am. Another day dawning, and I'm thinking "today could be the day."


a few friday links

Our plum tree is producing more fruit than we can manage to eat, so this week I made this super tasty plum tart. I used half whole wheat flour for the crust and very little of the topping. We devoured it with a scoop of Jeni's Goat Cheese with Red Cherries Ice Cream. Absolutely delicious!!

We are recommending this book left and right (so good!), and I'm currently in the reading this book, both of which made it onto NPR's Best of Summer: 6 Books that the Critics Adore.

Hurray for new episodes of Endeavour.

I can't wait for my feet to go back to size so I can finally (I got them in MAY) fit into my *new* clogs.

The Rapper is Present: Marina Abramović + Jay-Z.