loving right now

Marisa Haskell Fauna Cuff trio. I wear mine everyday.
Rhubarb. I made this Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp with Cardamom and Nutmeg awhile back which got rave reviews. The Rhubarb Upside Down Cake (photo above by Todd Coleman) looks super tasty.
This white top. Perfect for summer, right?
Season 2 of Call the Midwife, streaming now on PBS.
This light-weight cotton maternity tank dress.
These gorgeous Rifle Paper Co. iPhone cases.
Ari & Stella & Calder. @lisskaseman
The very adorable woodland creature mask kits at Papersource. Seen here on Stella (the squirrel) and her friends Ari (the fox) and Calder (the reindeer).


on labor

In the midst of my 28th week, the reality of this pregnancy is starting to set in. My belly is bigger, and the kicks and pushes from within are getting more pronounced and more regular. I'm in the process of "nesting," organizing drawers, preparing Stella's room for the arrival of our new girl. Just yesterday I unpacked a box of baby clothes and we marveled at the tiny sleepers. 

At night before going to bed I skip whatever new book of fiction sits languishing on my bedside table and have been dipping into Ina May Gaskin's Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. I'm less anxious this time around about giving birth. I know I can do it, and I know I can do it without drugs. I know my body is strong, that childbirth is a powerful and temporary state. I trust and hope that my body will heal faster this time around because it knows, it has done this before. But I'm still mentally preparing myself for the birth itself. I've been practicing breathing deeply while driving the car. I'm mentally reliving Stella's birth almost daily, reminding myself of each stage, thinking about how it felt to feel my body opening and changing, remembering the fear and the exhaustion but also the focus and the great store of energy I drew on to birth her.

Last night I read Ina May's chapter on Sphincter Law. What I didn't realize the first time around is that smiling and laughing allow a woman in childbirth to be more open, to open more. Laughing and smiling were just about the last things I felt like doing while in labor. But now I know. I've got this. Bring on the joy.


baja fish tacos

Like most of the recipes I try on a weekly basis (and yes, I'm still aiming for two new recipes a week), I found this one for Baja Fish Tacos on Pinterest. My friend Devon and her son Ari came over for dinner last night. They brought the tilapia, I supplied the tortillas (although I didn't make ours from scratch) and all the fixings, and we assembled the tacos together. These tacos turned out so well and were so tasty they will definitely become the go-to taco in this house. I had the leftovers for lunch today and they tasted just as fresh and tangy the second day...

(FYI for the spicy mayo/sauce I substituted Greek yogurt for sour cream).

Both photos above are by Pigamitha Dimar of Notions & Notations of a Novice Cook.

[via Aida Mollenkamp on Pinterest]


charles fréger's wild men

Charles Fréger "Wild Men" of Europe are beautiful and fascinating.

CZECH REUPUBLIC: In the village of Nedašov, devils join the retinue of St. Nicholas to frighten children into being good.
POLAND: Macidulas on New Year’s Day
FRANCE: Bear at the Festival of the Bears
ROMANIA: Stag on New Year’s Day
ITALY: Schnappviecher (snapping beast) on Shrove Tuesday
AUSTRIA: Every five years the men of Telfs collect lichen to create Wilder Mann, or Wild Man, costumes for the town’s Carnival festival. Tradition dictates that they nibble on a piece of this lichen before the festivities.
Portugal: During Carnival in Lazarim characters called “caretos” parade through the village in hand-carved masks to a bonfire where effigies known as the comadre and compadre are burned.
If you thought Santa’s naughty list was intimidating, chances are you never encountered a Krampus.
A beastlike creature that is part of the pagan folklore of Alpine countries including Austria, Hungary, and Slovenia, the Krampus was to play “bad cop” so Santa could spend time focusing on the better behaved children.
The Krampus is also the first beast Charles Fréger  encountered during his two-year journey through 19 European countries documenting pagan festivals. The resulting series, “Wilder Mann” is on view at Yossi Milo Gallery in New York through May 18 and is also available as a monograph titled Wilder Mann: The Image of the Savage published by Dewi Lewis Publishing.
All photographs by Charles Fréger. See more of Fréger's Wild Men over on National Geographic.


ferry :: oakland to sf

Yesterday we took the ferry from Oakland to the Ferry Building in San Francisco. I'd never taken the ferry across the bay before. In truth, I've never even been to Alcatraz or Angel Island either. We'd been thinking about taking Stells for awhile, and in seemed like a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Although it was a little cloudy, the ferry ride was super smooth, and so fast (we were at the Ferry Building in 30 minutes). We browsed and read books at Book Passage, we wandered through Sur la Table (not the best place to take a kid), ate lunch at Plant, took a walk along the Embarcadero, threw pennies into the Vaillancourt fountain, grabbed a coffee at Blue Bottle, and then rode the Ferry back home. It was such a fun excursion. We're definitely taking the ferry again...

Ferry ride to San Francisco
Babar in the bookstore


the milk carton kids

I grew up playing cello and as a teenager I would often go stay with a family of cellists (the mother and her 3 sons all took lessons) in LA. The eldest son and I went to chamber music camp (nerdy, yes) together at Occidental one summer, and we would all play gigs (a party here, a wedding there) together from time to time. 
I remember the year the middle son, Ken, started playing the guitar. From the beginning, he was a natural. He now makes up half of the talented duo The Milk Carton Kids. Their new album The Ash & Clay was just released at the end of March. Here they are playing "Honey, Honey" on Conan (Ken is the one on the right):

[top photo of The Milk Carton Kids by the youngest brother: Brendan Pattengale]


stella today

...For those of you not on Instagram.

reading now: kate atkinson's life after life

I was lucky to get my hands on an advance reading copy of Kate Atkinson's new book, Life After Life (available in bookstores today!). I started reading it over the weekend and have spent a few late nights turning page after page, simultaneously dreading and wanting to discover what Atkinson has in store for the end.

Life After Life revolves around the many lives and deaths of Ursula Todd. She is born and she dies, and she is born again to take another path in life...and to die another death. Atkinson plays out all of these lives, presenting some deaths as a relief from the life before it and some a sad end.

Kate Atkinson's new novel is a marvel, a great big confidence trick – but one that invites the reader to take part in the deception. In fact, it is impossible to ignore it. Every time you attempt to lose yourself in the story of Ursula Todd, a child born in affluent and comparatively happy circumstances on 11 February 1910, it simply stops. If this sounds like the quick route to a short book, don't worry: the narrative starts again – and again and again – but each time it takes a different course, its details sometimes radically, sometimes marginally altered, its outcome utterly unpredictable. Atkinson's general rule is that things seem to get better with repetition, but this, her self-undermining novel seems to warn us, is a comfort that is by no means guaranteed, either.

When reading Life After Life, I am continually reminded of those real moments in our lives where we can see our own paths leading out before us, one a continuation of life as we know it and the other death or disaster: the moments when we see ourselves tumbling in a slow-motion car on the freeway, a car jumping the curb sending us flying into the air, the missed step and our crumpled, broken body at the bottom of the stairs...

Listen to the NPR interview with Kate Atkinson here...

What to read next?!