Snow Dayz

by Kelsi in , , , ,


 

We are coming off of a long week of epic snow here in Seattle…

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School closures allowed for some good sledding runs in the backyard…

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There was also boredom (my son’s). So I made him read “Let Children Get Bored Again” in the NYTimes. Kidding, but it is a great article that you should read. It’s a good reminder for us adults too…

And in a throwback to my childhood, we made Shrinky Dinks. While my son was busy drawing characters from Zelda, I traced a favorite photo of him…

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I made the soccatas from Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cookbook The Clean Plate for breakfast and they are super easy and so satisfying, especially on a cold winter morning…

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I harvested the remaining kale from the garden that I planted back in August, just in case it didn’t survive the heavy snowfall…

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Which reminded me to make a Row 7 seed order. I ordered two pounds of the Upstate Abundance Potatoes that were a hit last summer and a packet of these new absolutely beautiful Tetra Squash

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I had my eye on that classic Filson briefcase to carry my laptop but my husband just gifted me his AER Commuter Bag that I love…

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Brandi Carlile’s 2007 album The Story may be the last cd I ever bought before everything went digital. I used to listen to that title track over and over when I was alone. I would crank it up so loud, her powerful voice overwhelming everything. I have now watched and listened to her recent grammy performance over and over which brings tears to my eyes every time and I can only think “what a badass.” Thank god for artists and thank god for music…

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Won't You Be My Neighbor?

by Kelsi in , ,


 
The most radical thing about him was his unwavering commitment to the value of kindness in the face of the world that could seem intent on devising new ways to be mean. “Let’s make the most of this beautiful day,” he would sing at the start of each episode. He made it sound so simple, but also as if he knew just how hard it could be.

"What Mister Rogers tried to teach us — how to navigate “some of the more difficult modulations” in everyday life — might now be classified as emotional literacy. He acknowledged that anger, fear and other kinds of hurt are part of the human repertoire and that children need to learn to speak honestly about those feelings, and to trust the people they share them with."

Read the whole NYT review here

 

A Birthday

by Kelsi in , , , ,


 

My sweet boy turned 6 earlier this month. I can hardly believe he has less than a month left of Kindergarten. It has been such a wonderful year of growth not just for him but for us as parents too.

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We always host a birthday party for him at home, which is certainly a celebration of him but also a chance to get together with our extended family and a few close friends. It is always a full house and there is always lots of good food.

This year, I wanted to make The Birthday Cake from Christina Tosi at Momofuku Milk Bar. It looks like a process, and it is, but an incredibly fun one. I so enjoyed putting it together. And the technique of using a cake ring to cut the layers, acetate to build up the side frame and the freezer to set it is genius. I want to make all my layer cakes this way. It's fun and they look incredible. 

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 If your'e not familiar with the Momofuku birthday cake you should watch this video clip of Christina Tosi on Chef's Table and you can find the actual recipe on Bon Appetit...

Also inspired by Christina Tosi, I made a version of her Haute Dogs. However, I used Julia Turshen's foolproof and truly all-purpose yeasted dough recipe from her cookbook Small Victories. I've mentioned her cookbook here at least a few times as it is such a great one. In the cookbook she uses the dough recipe to make 12 raspberry jam buns. I used it to make 12 hot dog rolls (in fact I tripled the recipe to make 36) instead. I also used my stand mixer to initially mix the dough, then kneaded it for a few minutes as instructed. Then I put all three batches into a cambro, covered it with a towel and let it rise for about an hour until doubled in size. I punched it down, covered the bowl with the lid and stuck it in the fridge overnight until I was ready to make them the following morning.

I slathered a mustard butter on each roll and added this red onion jam before rolling them up and baking them. I piled them high on a sheetpan to serve and they were devoured by kids and adults alike.

I also made this great onion dip from Alison Roman served with classic ridged potato chips, a simple and bright cabbage slaw and a quadruple batch of these long time favorite salted brown butter crispy treats from Smitten Kitchen (though I more than double the Maldon sea salt it calls for).

For the adults I found these perfect mini cans of sparking Italian white and rosé at Trader Joe's. They are fantastic for a party, not too sweet and only $4 for a 4/pack...

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I also love hanging lots of paper streamers all over the house. It instantly makes the room feel happy and celebratory. I love the ones from the Oh Happy Day shop...

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In fact I love them so much that the ones in the dining room are still up...

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Lastly (and again related to Christina Tosi) I can't forget to mention these Confetti Cookies...

Photograph: Gabriele Stabile and Mark Ibold

Photograph: Gabriele Stabile and Mark Ibold

I made them to bring to my son's school on his actual birthday to share with his class. Three things in particular make these incredible. They are inspired by the technique of the snickerdoodle with the addition of cream of tartar. They have an incredibly long creaming process (a Milk Bar signature) about 10 minutes total. And the addition of milk powder which Tosi says adds chewiness as well as a depth of flavor. Full of sugar, dairy, gluten and artificially colored sprinkles! But for a special treat, I'd have a hard time passing up one of these. 

 

Vamos a la Playa

by Kelsi in , ,


 

My son and I are getting ready to take a little trip with my mom to Mexico. I'm packing light with just a carry-on that I can carry on my back which isn't too challenging considering we only really need the essentials: swimsuits, sunscreen and flip flops. 

A few things I'm packing...

This Stella McCartney Adidas swimsuit that I super love (especially the back)...

My favorite Beautycounter sunscreen has to stay at home because of the size but I'm bringing along their body stick and this stuff in the 2.5 oz version that my friend Omar likes. And my favorite face sunscreen from Suntegrity...

I'll also be wearing my favorite trucker hat from Machine Machine...

And my new favorite denim shorts...

My son has these swim goggles which are fantastic. More like a mask than traditional goggles and they are super easy to adjust. I bought an adult version for myself as well.

I am also using this great (and affordable) linen shirt from Uniqlo as a beach coverup...

Forever and ever Ray-Ban New Wayfarer shades...

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I'm also packing a small medical kit my husband put together and this elderberry syrup that we all take regularly at home. It's great for extra immune support and is anti-viral and anti-microbial.

And this is the bag everything is going into, the MLC from Patagonia...

I'm also using this pared down backpack from Topo Designs...

Packing cubes are super helpful to keep everything organized.

Last but not least, two new paperbacks for me! This and this. Uno, Spot It, a Koosh Ball, crayons, colored pencils and a coloring book.

Now it's time to brush up on my Spanish. 

 

Friday

by Kelsi in , , ,


 

Ahh Friday. I am happy to see you. It's been a short week actually as we had an unexpected snow day on Monday. Much of that day was spent sitting at this table drinking coffee...

I also made a batch of Pamela's vegan chocolate chip cookies - one of our favorites, especially straight out of the freezer. I am embarrassed to admit that our small household devoured the entire batch in less than two days. I recently discovered that I have an egg sensitivity. Another stellar cookie recipe (that also happens to be egg-free) are these peanut butter ones from Heidi Swanson (again best enjoyed straight from the freezer).

Speaking of Heidi Swanson, you should give her toasted coconut milk a try...

It's been a quietly emotional week. The kind where a bit of melancholy sits below the surface and I can't quite put a finger on it. I am sure the weather is a contributing factor, as are current events but I realized the source is close to home. Kindergarten tours are going on right now so the realization that my son will be one of those little people come September is sinking in. I have this sweet photo of him posted on the inside of my closet at the studio that I've been spending a lot of time looking at...

Children have a profound way of showing you just how quickly time goes by. And while I find great joy in watching D grow and become a little person, at times it feels too fast. I'm feeling that right now. A mix of joy and sadness all at once.

I think a lot about what my favorite poet-philosopher David Whyte said in this conversation that one of the delusions we have is that we can "take a sincere path in life without having our heart broken. And you think about the path of parenting, there’s never been a mother or father since the beginning of time who hasn’t had their heart broken by their children. And nothing traumatic has to happen. All they have to do is grow up."

To combat the melancholy I've been spending a lot of time in the kitchen which has always been an excellent form of therapy for me. I've also been writing - lists and letters and just general thoughts which has been made even more enjoyable since I finally bought myself a proper pen. Two actually. Both are brass which I think will patina beautifully. This one for home...

And this one (also available here) I take with me always along with a lined Moleskine notebook...

I also wrote down this quote from Willem Dafoe in my notebook which is pretty much my mantra...

There’s a real wisdom to not saying a thing.

It speaks to the introvert in me, but also perfectly explains my personal ethos as a teacher.

Happy weekend.

 

October 12

by Kelsi in , , ,


 

I mentioned the Away suitcase a few posts back, but now I'm also smitten with similar "smart luggage" maker Raden. It has the same bells and whistles but it also weighs itself with the help of an app. Plus, it just looks beautiful. I favor the matte black...

Dreaming of teaching in a pair of these cashmere sweatpants when the temperature really starts dropping.

It sounds like we have an epic storm approaching tomorrow and into the weekend so we spent this gorgeous day at the park. Followed by peanut butter cookie making...

This is the first time I've made Heidi Swanson's recipe and they are pretty stellar. (Might I mention they are vegan and refined sugar free to boot?) We like them straight out of the freezer.

My son's Boba Fett Halloween costume is a wee bit big...

Thankfully I happened to read this article on Food52 today and promptly ordered a Micro Stitch. Problem solved. 

Feeling crafty already.

 

 

Begin Again

by Kelsi in , , , , ,


 
Beautiful vintage indigo cloth from  Marine Area 7

Beautiful vintage indigo cloth from Marine Area 7

A few years ago my friend Rita gave me some sage advice that I still carry with me on a daily basis. I had mentioned how I was frustrated at the time that I had fallen off my own regular Pilates routine. I was re-hashing how maybe it was because I had a toddler at home and was juggling so much and that finding time for self-care no matter how much we enjoy it can be challenging...blah, blah, blah. Typical me, trying to find an explanation as to "why" beating myself up a bit in the process.

Rita wisely said, "We just begin again."

So here I am, two months absent from my last post, beginning again.

This week definitely feels like a new beginning. Today my son is back on his regular preschool schedule. This week also marks a new schedule change for me at the studio which allows me to better balance my home life/work life/husband's travel schedule. The weather here is incredibly beautiful - bright sun without a cloud in the sky but a not insignificant chill in the air. Change is coming.

The last two months have been full of home improvement projects. The kitchen of course (post on that forthcoming) and the exterior got a new coat of paint...

I've been happily spending all of my free time working out in the yard, cutting back plants and hauling and spreading mulch and wood chips. And for the first time I got it together to do a fall planting and put some kale and chard starts in the ground.

Working solo in the yard has also served as a bit of a refuge from the challenge of parenting a four year old who over the last few weeks has more resembled a mad king. At least that's how it feels. So far, four years old feels especially contradictory in that the highs are really high, magical even, where I can't believe my luck getting to be with this little person. But the lows are low, exposing what can feel like the worst in ourselves. Impatient and ungraceful. But the beauty therein lies that even when I am not my best self, tomorrow is a new day and a new beginning.

A huge bright light in the last few months has been discovering this not new podcast, On Being. I have much to say about what a pleasure it is to listen to Krista Tippett and the thoughtful conversations she has with thinkers, artists, scientists, writers. But for now, it isn't a stretch to say that it is life-changing. 

I am enamored with these Japanese towels I picked up at Canoe while we were in Portland last month. We have a small bathroom and no room for a proper towel rack, just hangers on the door so these quick to dry, soft and beautiful towels were a big upgrade. Plus they take up hardly any space in the linen closet.

I'm also in love with my new Hario kettle and teak trivet (also from Canoe)...

It was time for a new pair of wool slippers...

And a new pair of boots...

This Everlane shirt also just arrived on my doorstep and it is pretty perfect. 

 

Parenthood

by Kelsi in , ,


 

I began writing this intending to talk about Jenny's post back in April about Catherine Newman's book Catastrophic Happiness, which I promptly added to my reading list. But I kept staring at a blank page unable to write. Feeling tapped out.

Life the last two months has felt rather full. Wonderfully full. But I've been doing a lot of "just keep your head down and let the momentum carry you" in an effort to keep myself from feeling overwhelmed.

My husband has been traveling nearly every week over the the last two months. Doing all the grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, Lego building, preschool drop off and pick up and the bedtime routine solo and trying to keep my own teaching schedule going is proving to be a bit of a challenge. That said, as much as I feel overextended I feel equally grateful. We've paddled through some tough waters as we both ventured out to be self-employed right before the recession hit and everything tanked. And here we are a handful of years later on the other side of it, with a great deal of work that is meaningful to each of us. We are profoundly grateful. 

We are busy with work (just as everyone we know seems to be), and are in the thick of the child rearing years. There are never enough hours in the day to get it all done, nor will there ever be. And the things I'd like to do for myself quickly fall by the wayside - my own Pilates exercise, meditation, dance class, reading a book, writing a blog. I know that will change down the road. But right now I am working on fully embracing just being "in it."

Life isn’t about avoiding trouble, is it? It’s about being present, even through the hard stuff, so you don’t miss the very thing you’re trying so hard not to lose. I understand all at once the title of a Zen book I haven’t even read: Full Catastrophe Living. That’s what I’m doing. It’s the full catastrophe, and I’m in it, and if I wait for it to be over, well, it will be over.

So go on and read Jenny's post and if you need even more summer book reading recommendations, her latest post is just that. 

A few other little things...

More Catherine Newman, I also really love this article she wrote in the NY Times a while back about the importance of giving kids your undivided attention...or none at all.

And from the NY Times last week...

"The Chinese philosophers saw the world as one of endless, shifting relationships. That’s why they emphasized that we have influence over the trajectory of our lives when we focus not on who we are, our plans for the future, and self-assertion, but on learning how to relate well to others.

Caring for one another is hard work. It requires endless awareness, adaptation and responsiveness. But it is one of the most important and rewarding things we do. This is not just how our children will become better people and live better lives. It is how they can create a better world."

I am really enjoying listening to podcasts, especially Here's the Thing with Alec Baldwin. In the most recent one with Michael Pollan, Pollan talks about one of the best ways to remedy a picky eater - get them cooking in the kitchen.

I've also been wanting to share a bit about my son's 4th birthday party we had earlier in the month, especially the slow-roasted side of salmon I served which is a foolproof recipe everyone should know. I have a handful of favorite skincare products I'd love to talk about, loads more recipes and I finally found a really great, good-looking outdoor umbrella stand. I hope to get to all that soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 22

by Kelsi in , , ,


 

My husband was traveling this weekend and my son and I had a wonderfully lazy Sunday together that began with a little Kung Fu Panda (viewed through a Batman mask)...

We spent three hours playing at his cousins' house and then came home and built train tracks all over the living room. I got nothing accomplished and it was perfect. I feel like as my son nears four years old, I am finally getting the hang of just being present especially on weekends. We rarely have any commitments on the calendar and have no plans other than to hang out. Clean laundry sits in a pile on the floor waiting to be folded longer than it should and the couch cushions are in perpetual disarray having been used to create a fort, a ship, an airplane or some such thing. 

My son loves helping in the kitchen and we got him his own set of nylon knives so he can help chop which he loves. Speaking of kids in the kitchen, I love Molly's recent post

Not just for small hands, I am constantly reaching for one of these mini spatulas. (The "ultimate" size is great too.)

A few other favorites this week...

What is it about watching people in the kitchen that is so engrossing? Chef's Table, Michael Pollan's Cooked and my recent favorite, binge watching The Mind of a Chef episodes on Netflix. Watch David Chang, Gabrielle Hamilton, April Bloomfield and others in action. Bonus, each episode is only 20 minutes long...

I love lemon oil and use a lot of it around the house and am equally in love with these little lemon oil cleansing wipes. I always keep a few in my bag for wiping down little hands and they would be really fantastic for travel. 

I've still been cutting out my morning coffee and to my surprise I've found another hot beverage that I am just as excited to wake up for. Chaga is satisfyingly bitter like coffee and comes with more than a few health benefits to boot. I like mine mixed with a spoonful of maca topped with some homemade almond milk.

Still our favorite granola...

 

I am always hoping this is the book my son with pick for his bedtime story. It is my favorite.

Wouldn't you know I've found yet another Clare V bag to lust after.

Also, these are ridiculous. I would have shown you a photo but I ate them all already...

We're off to enjoy a few days with family in the snow. But when we return I am sure my little rhubarb plant will be 6" tall and I'll start thinking about digging in the dirt and planting peas. Spring is on the way!

 

Swoop Bags

by Kelsi in , ,


 

Thanks to Swoop Bags, we finally have something that can contain all of my son's Legos. He can see them all at once, transfer the whole lot to his room, the living room and back again. (It's also made in Seattle and ships free locally.)

Now I want a mini one.