Lust for Life: All In

image (1) Earlier this year I went to the funeral of a 71-year old man who was tragically killed in a car crash. He was an iconic figure in the creative community, ebullient and spirited with a cult-like following of both socialites and artists, chefs and gardeners. Though I was just one of his many admirers, I felt the heartbreak of his passing deeply. After the service, in the thick of their lush and wondrous garden, his children shared stories of his passionate approach to life. He was unabashedly charming, witty, bright, always late, creative, generous, adventurous. He loved good food and beauty and music and travel and family. His passion for living practically burst from him, you could FEEL it. It was infectious and lovely. Essentially, he was all in.

Yes! All in. I took on that mantra and it's been with me ever since. So why bring it up now? I read an op/ed piece from the NYT yesterday titled "Our 'Mommy' Problem" that used "all in", as the aggregate term for the turgid phrases smattered throughout every other Op/Ed piece related to a woman's quest for happiness and fulfillment (Lean In/Have it All/Do it All/Be it All). Aaaack! No! That's not what I'm talking about. This is distinctly not THAT conversation.

All in is about having a lust for life. The insistent chorus of Iggy Pop and David Bowie's ecstatic heroin induced anthem sums it up. I got a lust for life. BEING in the moment, fully. It's about vulnerability, and risk. It's about celebrating the small stuff and embracing the shit that life deals you head on. FEEL the pain of a friend's betrayal. PLAY with your kids, instead of instructing them how to play. LOVE your partner for all of his kinks and quirks. Love YOURSELF for all of your kinks and quirks. Say yes to family time and dirty floors and mismatched stemware. I'm not promoting hedonism or stupidity, I'm talking about really, profoundly experiencing your life.

Being all in touches on mindfulness, too. Eckhart Tolle speaks of it in "How to 'Be' While Doing" and Zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh expressed it perfectly in an essay on "washing the dishes, to wash the dishes". I have progressed in my experiences of Being, but I realized that I can be so caught up in these moments that I've forgetten to look at the big picture as well. Does my work make me happy? Does it sustain my family or serve our greater goals? Have we even thought about our greater goals? What are we gaining from living in this particular house, with all of these lovely things, if we're working too hard to enjoy it? Let's ask these questions. Let's dive deep! I got a lust for life and I'm ALL IN.

Into the Wild + Quinoa Johnny Cakes

IMG_5213 We returned yesterday from a sweet weekend getaway to the mountain town of Julian, CA. Lucky to have acres to roam and a Quonset hut to nest, these family escapes are more rare now as we are scheduled to the stars with sports and other commitments. The property is not ours per se, but belongs to my family, and we have been adventuring there for nearly 10 years now.

I'll be honest. We're not exactly roughing it. I packed our SUV to the gills with the following... paint, glue, yarn, scissors, markers, paper, leather Motorola radios ("walkie talkies") pink ski vest + Uggs books + magazines my camera big straw hat scooters + helmuts cooler, dry goods, sparkling water, spices Bose sound dock a bottle of pinot plastic eggs + chocolate + goofy glasses

As I closed the back of the truck, I thought it might be possible that I've simply outgrown camping.


I let go of email and running, and turned instead to hiking, cooking, reading, gathering, making. We crafted swords and slingshots, I collected feathers and daffodils. We ate True Food Kitchen's quinoa Johnny Cakes and I baked Spanish chicken with onion, potatoes and spicy sausage. We dyed eggs with beets, red onions and turmeric, and huddled together on a loveseat in front of the tiniest TV screen for a Friday night movie. I was up at daybreak each morning, and heard the call of the turkeys as I hid eggs on Easter Sunday. Later that day we packed up the truck and gave a heavy sigh, with the promise to return soon.


Quinoa Johnny Cakes

My go-to dessert dish when I brunch at True Food Kitchen with my lady gals. Barely adapted from Dr. Andrew Weil's True Food Cookbook


2 cups cooked quinoa

2 cups whole wheat pasty flour

1/4 cup sugar (evaporated cane or white)

2 tbs plus 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

pinch of sea salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 cups whole milk

4 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

orange zest

1/2 tsp olive oil

pat of butter


ripe banana, apples, or blueberries

Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla)

maple syrup


1. Make quinoa. (HOT TIP: If like me, you normally add some savory "better than bouillon" flavor to your quinoa, skip it if you plan to use leftovers for these Johnny Cakes).

2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. Whisk well to combine. In another large bowl, combine the milk, eggs, vanilla, orange zest, and oil and whisk to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and blend until just combined. Fold in the cooked quinoa taking care not to overmix. Let the batter rest for at least 1 hour.

3. Lightly brush the cooking surface of a nonstick pan or griddle with butter. Ladle about 1/3 cup of the batter onto the hot pan. Drop banana slices, thin apple slices, or 8 to 10 blueberries on top of each pancake. When bubbles form in the batter, flip and cook on the other side until

lightly browned. Continue with the remaining batter and choice of fruit.

Serve topped with a dollop of yogurt and maple syrup on the side.


Blood Orange Beet Bowl

bloodoranges I got super lucky this week and landed a small stash of blood oranges from a neighbor. This happened to coincide with a craving for roasted beets, which I had already planned to make. Tired of my usual beet-goatcheese-pepita-oliveoil salad, I decided to merge these two heartbreakers into one bloody beet bowl. This is how it went down...

IN ADVANCE: I roasted the beets coated in a bit of olive oil and salt in a 350 oven for nearly an hour. This is sketchy, because I was cooking other things at the same time, on and off. It's an art. Not a science. Once out and cooled I slipped their dirty skins off. That sounds mildly sexual. Oh well. Then I cut them into 1" chunks a tossed them into a jar in the fridge for later.

NEXT: I prepped two small blood oranges by cutting the peel off with a serrated knife. I usually take the tiny pith core out too. I cut these into bite sized chunks.


AND THEN: I combined the orange pieces with 3/4 to 1 cup of the beets in a bowl, and grated (~ 2 teaspoons to 1 Tablespoon of) fresh ginger root right on top. Then a drizzle of honey, and a sprinkle of salt to bring out the full flavors.

Done! I think you could still safely add goat cheese, if you so desire. Or perhaps go super savory and do garlic instead of honey, and toss in some finely sliced red onion or shallots...


Beets produce the most perfect shade of magenta ever.

PS >>>>>>---------> Forgive my iPhonography, I was documenting on the fly!

Menu Planning in 4 Easy Steps

menuplan-1 One thing I love about Saturdays is Menu Planning. It's a household chore, sure. But I get to sit down and pour over cookbooks, cruise my favorite cooking sites, sip a strong cuppa java, and plan out the next week of meals. Running an efficient household while raising two boys, staying (happily) married and working full-time is no small task. This single strategic step makes everything flow just a little bit's how:



Get organized. One side of our fridge is still magnet friendly, so that's our information hub. Create a spot like this in your kitchen's high traffic zone. Make it PUBLIC so your family (ahem, in my case, the Mister) can add to the shopping list, as well as read up on the week's menu. This avoids the whole "well I already had fish tacos for lunch" issue.

Basics: Paper, Pencil, magnet or tape Advanced: MENU worksheet with grocery list, pencil, magnetic list pad, clipboard, highlighters, Spot-On! Magnetic Hook


A. Maintain a Shopping List. Track your household needs on an as-you-go basis. Out of oats? Write it down. Low on canola oil? Jot that note as SOON as you realize it. It's a total pain in the boot to take pantry inventory or waste time conjuring up the "oh-yeah-I-used-up-the-last-of-the-fill-in-the-blank"  from the past week.

B. Keep a Family Calendar. In this stage of planning I review the coming week...Are we home every night? Anyone out-of-town? Does the Mister have plans? Do I have a work event? Who has what sports and how late? I want to make sure I don't plan to roast a chicken on a night when I'm working late, or have soccer pick up. I need this plan to WORK for me. Not be a source of frustration. If there is a night I have to work late, I map out something the Mister can easily execute, like Corn Dogs + applesauce + steamed broccoli. (My healthy fast version of Corn Dogs =  hot dogs wrapped in corn tortillas).


Before you get too excited, consider the following:

1. How much time will I need/have? By reviewing your calendar in advance you should be able to set realistic expectations. Clue #1? Save the intermediate level recipes or the "baste-every-hour" roasts for a weekend day. Duh! 2. What new ingredients will this require? Are you willing to source out the ingredients required in that new Indian dish? If so, awesome! Make it an adventure. If not, don't commit to it, and therefore set yourself up for failure or disappointment. 3. Are there any special requests from the family? Make sure to give your kids/hubs a voice, if they would like to contribute.

There are PLENTY of recipe resources out there, but I recommend selecting a few "go-to's" each week (fave cookbooks, mags or websites), and one or two newbies so that you don't get stuck in the inspiration stage. Remember, you still have to implement. Your goal at this point is to have an idea of the kind of

Ask  friends for their  favorites, look at family recipes, mull over magazines. I love looking through cookbooks. Now that I plan my menus, it's much easier to justify the expense of glossy new food porn. Gorge. I always throw a few tried-and-trues into the line up, as I'm not trying to run a test kitchen. That said, I like to pick (at least) one new recipe each week, depending on the busy factor.

My Current Go-To's: Supernatural Everyday (101 Cookbooks Blog) Dinner: A Love Story (Blog) Bon Appetit has a great website. So does Food & Wine and America's Test Kitchen (Heads up: some content is only for paid subscribers). I'm also liking Vegetarian Times, Whole Living...oh! and Cooking Light has made such nice design leaps since I was a newlywed subscriber, that I recommend picking up a hard copy every now and then. Finally, check out Mark Bittman's site, and fittingly, the New York Times Dining & Wine section.

Weekly Menu


Yay! It's time to map it all out. I made myself a Menu Plan Worksheet that divides the paper into two major sections...Left side, MENU items, Right side, GROCERY LIST. Do it however works best for you. Or download mine here: Weekly Menu.

A. Before you start filling it in, there are some key considerations: Is it well Balanced? Omnivores at heart, we are focused on creating more meatless meals. Got Fish? Let's hear it for lean protein and omega 3s! Special Events? Am I on the hook to bring a dessert to Bunco? School Snacks? Are we low on granola bars?

B. MAKE YOUR PLAN I usually write in the main dish and the side(s) so I don't have to think about it. Write down any special ingredients you'll need onto the grocery list section.

C. Transfer any current "to buy" items from your ongoing fridge list to the grocery list (menu planner sheet).

D. Go shopping and make great food!

CONGRATULATIONS! You've just made the coming week SO MUCH easier. And true confessions...this stuff changes, you know? So if you get invited over to your neighbor's house for brats, you go with it. And ax the plan for that night, or sub it for another night. It's way easier to have too much scheduled than nothing at all.


It's a New Day

I'm always a bit delayed on my New Year's Goals...I give myself until January 26th, my birthday, to set the wheels in motion. Also, from Thanksgiving until about now I've been in a bit of a funk. Today I really felt the energy of the new year and wanted to grab it and run (which I did, 11 miles baby!). Between now and my birthday I'm going to lay out a few simple resolutions (in no particular order), and I'm phrasing them in the most productive, positive way possible.

2013 Resolution

"At the end of this year I'd like to feel like I followed through on the commitments I've made to both people and projects."

First in order? To thank and honor the super cool Liebster Award I was given by Go Mama O!


Facts of the Liebster Award

The Liebster Award’s origins are pretty much a mystery. Bloggers nominate other bloggers that have 200 or less followers. It’s basically a “Hey, that’s a sweet little blog you’ve got there. Here’s an award!” You can’t just accept the award. You have to play by the (ever-changing) rules and pay it forward. Then you can put the award on your blog for all to see.

The Rules:

1. List 5 facts about yourself.
2. Answer the 5 questions given to you. (My 5 questions for each of the 5 nominated blogs are near the bottom of this post!)
3. Create 5 new questions for the bloggers you nominate for the award.
4. Choose 5 worthy bloggers to nominate. (At the very bottom of this post you will find the links!)
5. Go to each bloggers page and let them know about the award.
6. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog. (see the intro of this post!)
5 Facts about Me:
1. I was a total asthmatic klutz as a kid and now I consider myself athletic.
2. I can sing/rap every lyric to Rob Bass and DJ EZ Rock's It Takes Two.
3. I absolutely loved the era of my life when my sole function was to get up at 5 AM to make coffee and get paid for it.
4. I write ad copy in my head and daydream tweets, t-shirt slogans, and headlines that will never be seen.
5. My friends and colleagues think I'm totally organized but I often feel like a lazy, chaotic procrastinator.
Go Mama O's 5 Questions:
  1. You gain 30 minutes of free time. What do you choose to do? I am a total magazine whore. Instead of trying to clean something, fold laundry or something so productive I would sit down and pour over WIRED, Sunset, Women's Health, Vogue, Elle Decor, Vegetarian Times, you name it.
  2. What’s your favorite holiday tradition? Much of my family heritage is English, and we break out the Christmas crackers at our Christmas Eve feast. My aunt and cousins make them, and each one has silly little trinkets and candy. This year we were all treated to fake gnarly teeth, paper crowns, jingle bell necklaces and a custom "would you rather" question to answer out loud at the table.
  3. Name one person who inspires you. This is so difficult. Okay, Virginia Woolf. Honestly, I think she was such a rock star. Totally independent, bright, curious, brilliant.
  4. What’s your favorite type of cheese? Oh god really? I have to PICK? Shoot. Drunken Goat from Spain. I also love Blue Camembert. And the real deal Parmegiano Reggiano.
  5. What do you like most about social media or writing a blog? I love that you can make meaningful connections with other people across the country, across the globe, that you have never met before.

My Five Questions for You 1. If you could pick a theme song for yourself, what would it be? Imagine the opening credits in the movie of YOU, or when you walk out into the ring for the biggest fight of your life... 2. What one quote/saying inspires you consistently? 3. You've been given $10,000 to donate to any one (non-profit) cause. Where do you invest? 4. If you could own one piece of art from any major museum what would it be? 5. What do you consider to be your most brilliant asset?

My Liebster Nominees – Check these ladies out!

Thanks again Mama O!

Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots

yoshimi-battles-the-pink-robots-la-jolla-playhouse-review-28748 I saw Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots tonight at La Jolla Playhouse after rave reviews from my friends, and of course, because the music is by The Flaming Lips. Despite my interest in seeing a high tech performance featuring some of my fave alt music, I had recently absolved myself of going to the theatre. I had gotten to the point where I was purely going to plays and performances because I thought I should. I thought it was SO me. Arts lovin' culture maven musicphile. What? Boring.

As a kid I went to the Guthrie in Minneapolis, in my 20s I experienced American Player's Theatre in the romantic prairie setting of Spring Green, Wisconsin. I even framed my whole 30th birthday around a trip to NYC to see The Producers. In San Diego I've had my share of The Old Globe and the Playhouse. I've been to the Opera! Whatever. I was OVER IT. It was time for me to Be Sarah, the Sarah who falls asleep mid-act-one and wants to duck out during intermission.

Until now. Yoshimi was lovely and amazing. Fresh and futuristic. Heartbreaking yet joyful. The artistic direction took my breath away, and I didn't even nod off once. I can't say I'm back in the game for good. But I will tell you that it was worth it. And that it really was ME, from the inside out.

Fueling Creativity

A few months ago I discovered Behance --a website/company devoted to enhancing the world of creative peeps--and now get regular email updates. I first fell in love with the Action Books, perfect for my way of tracking notes in a meeting. Today I took the time to check out the latest news, which led me to The I've already watched the 19 min. special on designer Michael Bierut: 5 Secrets from 86 Notebooks, and there are more on my list.

Today's article is Don't Be Afraid of the S-Word and it was a sharp little nugget about sales and self-promotion. Perfect for us entrepreneurs. Then I discovered this one, RSS Creativity: Routines, Systems, Spontaneity, by Mark McGuinness.

Covering the elements of the creative process, McGuinness breaks it down into the three categories shown here: Routines, Systems, Spontaneity. The author offers us "takeaways" for each category, beginning with

ROUTINES. Starting with the idea that "routine is a key that unlocks creativity," he suggests you  "Notice what time(s) of day you are most alert and creative. Dedicate that time to focused creative work. Use the same tools, in the same surroundings, even the same background music, so that they become triggers for your 'creative zone'."

For SYSTEMS, he writes, "A rock-solid productivity system performs a dual function for your creativity:

(1) It ensures that all ideas and action steps are captured, so that nothing slips through the cracks, in your own work and within your team, and

(2) When you are confident that everything important has been captured, you are free to focus fully on the task in hand."

For SPONTANEITY we begin to understand that our really, hard, nose-to-the-grindstone work should be rewarded with breaks from said routines and  hard work--as it is often during these breaks that we are  free to experience and generate the much desired "a-ha" moment.

How do you stay organized and motivated?

Book Studio

This past weekend when the Mister was in Vegas, the boys and I set up a little book making studio in the dining room, and went to work on storyboarding their mini blank board books. I had them sketch out their story ideas with pencil on butcher paper, then use Sharpies and design markers on the final product. Beck made a book about dots, titled "The . Book" it chronicles all the ways you can use dots to draw pictures.

Max had a very detailed plan about what Monsters do...but by the time he got to implementing his design on the actual book, he was over it.

Art Between the Hours

I'm in my first group show at Project X Art Gallery in Solana Beach. I accepted the invitation with excitement and trepidation...I've shared my designs with many, but kept my painting close to home. Well, it's a New Year and I'm up for the challenge. Art Between the Hours features some extremely talented artists that are way out of my league. Really, I'm quite fortunate to be included with them. Cheers Ladies! And thanks again Jen, for the invitation... Celebrate with us this Saturday night from 6 - 10 PM at Project X Art Gallery:

Wish List

This Christmas couldn't go by without a little's tough because I love so many things!

From the Top Left and Around Clockwise: GIANT PHOTO in San Diego...there are a few images of my own that I'd love to BLOW up HUGE, get mounted, and hang in the house. I'm not sure if they have gift certificates, but bet they'd accommodate if one asked...

Tiffany & Co. monogram pendants. What could be wrong with a little blue box? I love this in both silver and gold. Very classy.

Domino, alas, my favorite decorating magazine went under this year. Thankfully, before doing so, they published this book- Domino: the Book of Decorating. Love love.

Next up, my Belkin car adapter bit the dust, and I thought maybe I should kick it old school with this Monster tape adapter which with also play tunes off my iPhone. Whoo Hoo!

I know I've said it before, maybe on the TFD blog, but I really dig this 20X200 idea--which makes editions of artworks affordable for all. This work, Vogue JUL07:pg145 (Ripeness is All) is by San Fran artist Lauren DiCioccio. This and the other Vanity Fair MAY08:pg269 (and, incredibly, looking not a day older) are two together that would be LOVELY.

What gal doesn't need a good steamer to save on dry cleaner and make ironing easier? Just thought of it. Rowenta Ultra Steam Model, it even comes with the GoodHousekeeping seal of approval.

Something for writing just had to show up on this list. Keel's Simple Diary. How cheery is that yellow? It comes in a rainbow of colors and I'm quite sure it's available at Anthropologie, among other fine establishments.

Though I've never used one, the Yudu seems like a super cool and easy way to do screenprinting at home. I first saw it at Michaels then noticed it's major tele-shopping site. Weird, but so cool.

Rounding out this list is the ever magical Jo Malone cologne. Lime Basil Mandarin is soopa fresh, Jasmine Mint is a soft romantic note on my skin, and the special edition Dark Amber Lily and Ginger is so seductive. Yum, and yum. Saks, Bloomies, Nordstroms (online, but maybe not in the store).

I also really like pedicures, Starbucks, super dark chocolate, art supplies, time at home to myself, and someone to fold the laundry and clean house. I'm easy. Merry Christmas Santa!

Printmaking with Kids

While I am not inclined to take on such projects everyday, today was a holiday for us all as the boys were out of school and I was playing hooky. I absolutely love all things related to printmaking and had been waiting to dig into this EyeCanArt kit given to the boys on their 5th birthday. Yes, I waited until age 6, but it was worth it.

The monster designs were independently crafted by each of the boys, with some assistance on the cutting and overall strategy. We rocked this out in two stages (design-cut and glue, then print), and based on some of my project edits, we executed it a little bit different than the kit recommends. Mainly, this is due to the fact that I misplaced the proper papers included in the kit. {I stored them flat between books, and am baffled as to where they are.} It still worked with a tweak or two and was marvy for an inaugural attempt. {The main issue is that I used very thick tag board to build the design on, and more thick pieces for the design-including the soft foam sheets}.

I dug up some of the tools I had on hand for linocuts, including some super old orange speedball ink and a large brayer. This helped because we kept one brayer mainly for the ink, the other to burnish the image. I loved using the kraft paper for the boys images, as they were somewhat tribal in design and it made a nice contrast. Mine are ancient, from PaperSource, though I couldn't find them on their website just now.

Kandinsky for Kindergarteners

I've taken on the role of "Art Odyssey" mom in Max's classroom this year. Even in this stellar school district we are without music and arts as curriculum mandatories. That leaves it to the PTA to purchase or develop (GULP!) programs which will supplement the standard math/science/reading drills. So sad. Anyhow, once each month I trot out a preselected poster-style image in a 20x30 frame and share a bit about the featured artist. Following the presentation I lead an art project.

This month we celebrated Wassily Kandinsky and discussed Night Storm (see directly above). Each student took a variety of shapes and traced them with crayons, layering and filling the page. Step two, each child dipped into their watercolor tray and went to town. Mrs. A played some lovely classical music in the background and I have to say, it was a fine exercise. Lots of great "stormy" drama and emo exploration.

Green Fresh Florals

I am thrilled to say that Green is on board for their re-order and I've just stocked their shelves with holiday goodness from Truly Fine Design. Carlos Franco has rocked his new space, and I'm ever so proud to be their featured paper designer. Love, love, love their store decor and can't wait to see what they do for the Museum's holiday trimming...

Flea Market Finds

One of my favorite activities in the world is thrifting. Mainly resale shops like AmVets or Salvation Army, because I am not organized or flexible with my time enough to do garage sales. But I love the thrill of hunting for and finding special treasures. I've found still life paintings, funky ceramics, mercury glass, kid's clothes, linens, notions, dishes, clocks, you name it. I love finding quality ribbon and bias tape for a steal. I've also taken to finding dorky old coffee mugs like Camp Tookalusa 1971 or a subverted FedEx logo reading "FedUp".

I always keep my eyes open for old office supplies. That's why I was so jazzed to find some airmail envelopes on last weekend's hunt. I also found this fabulous vintage map chalkboard. LOVE it! Just finding the right spot for it now...There are a few friends I have had that love this, just like me. Right now, none of my pals would tolerate the dirt and grunge and weirdness of the process. My mom and my sister get it, but they are miles away. What do YOU hunt for?

Bird's Eye View

It's been my dream (since forever) to have a treehouse. Unfortunately, even growing up with oak filled lawns in the Midwest, I never had the opportunity to realize this vision. In the sixth grade we were given a project to create and design a dream house (these were my favorite type of assignments) and I created a treehouse. The plans were two dimensional of course, but my sky high fantasy was modern and earthy, sophisticated yet cozy. I am reminded of this because of a recent post by decorology on "Amazing Treehouses I Would Live In."

While I don't see a treehouse in the future of our landscape, I do think the view we have affords a similar sense of freedom and peace. Instead of pining away for the day I might have my own nest, I thought it best to explore options for visiting such marvels of architecture.

Make your reservations today!
Cedar Creek Treehouse at Mount Rainer

Tree House Lodge, Costa Rica

Sanya Nanshan Treehouse Hainan Island, China

Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, California, USA

Three Potato Four

Again, I find myself wondering...Where Have I Been? and How Have I Missed This? Three Potato Four is an online shop and blog that features fabulous flea market finds and original art. Noted by Cookie, Oprah, Domino and Daily Candy, Three Potato Four is a mecca of vintage goodness. I'm smitten with the letterpress goodies, the graphic tins and tea towels, and even the old light bulb collection.