Thursday, September 30, 2010

Checking In...

I've been feeling a bit guilty about not writing here too often recently, but to be honest, life is full and staying engaged moment by moment amidst a lot of activity has seemed more in line with my intention to be a more present mama than forcing myself to reflect out of a sense of (imagined) obligation. Our Australian family is visiting for a few weeks and it's made for a full house and a lot of wonderful adventures and excursions- some highlights:

*Glow in Santa Monica: An all-night art installation extravaganza, we made it til about 10pm with Little One and her two year old cousin in tow! All loved riding bikes down the boardwalk, seeing the incredible lights of the pier and beach installations, and being out late with thousands of others. My favorite bit of surrealism was an orchestra of accordionists playing on the carousel:
A swirly dream...
*Abbot Kinney Fest: Our neighborhood has been as busy as us recently! The yearly street fair did not disappoint and provided plenty of great people watching, delicious street food, and giant bounce-houses for the toddler contingent. Little One slept through most of it, even my favorite part, watching the sisters (one is 14!) of Puro Instinct rock out on the DubLab stage.
Coffee break from the AKFest crowds- Little One is really into trying to drink from a cup!
*El Matador: My favorite beach in the area, tucked into the cliffs and rarely crowded. We had a beautiful day and Little One loved sitting in the sand and dipping her toes in the ocean for the first time! Of course, this is LA, so the Australian faction got a kick out of the fact that there were two separate fashion photo shoots happening while we played in the sand (one for kids' clothing and one for thong bikinis apparently).

*Disneyland: Had to take our Aussie family to the Happiest Place on Earth of course! It's funny that even my anti-corporate, hippie feminist streak is subdued by the sight of children experiencing the unabashed ecstasy of the Mouse. Even Little One was enthralled by the lights and sights (when she wasn't sound asleep on my chest in the Ergo) and we all slept quite deeply after a long day.
Sword in one hand + Buzz Lightyear in the other= one happy boy!
Of course there have been the more mundane pleasures of time with family-- meals together, walks on the beach, the two young cousins getting to know each other-- and there's yet more fun to come. I'll be back here with more regular posts (maybe) when the time suits and the inspiration strikes! Until then, don't forget to make your monthly wish tomorrow morning before you get out of bed!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cozy Corner

When I was a little girl, like most children I suppose, I loved building forts and creating secret spaces for play and hiding. They never required much room, in fact smaller was better, more suited to my scale. Whether it was a tent made from a table and tablecloth, or a sheet strung over a clothesline between a few trees, these spaces made every activity seem more exciting, magical somehow. My Little One may be a few years off from such adventures, but I was inspired by a friend who created an adorable little nook for her daughter for reading stories, cuddling, and playing, and decided to get a head start.

 I started with a small alcove-like space beside our fireplace. I had a few large pillows on hand and a ridiculous amount of gold silk fabric that I'd been given by a fashion designer friend. A bit of simple sewing and the pillows looked quite regal. Some old curtains were strung on a bit of twine for the "walls," a couple soft sheepskins spread on the floor, and of course, favorite toys tucked in.

For finishing touches I made a small mobile by stringing some origami cranes (which I'd always wanted to learn how to make and finally did thanks to these excellent instructions) on thread and a garland out of stars I cut from some pretty paper I had in my collage bin.

It's a work in progress-- I'd love to add some kid-level bookshelves to display favorite books and perhaps change the decorations to complement the season (the garland was fun to make and I have a bunch of ideas for others)-- but I think Little One is pretty content with her cozy corner for the moment.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ojai, How Are You?

Yes, that's my joke. This weekend was the women's meditation retreat I've been planning for the last few months. It went splendidly- the food was delicious, the discussions interesting and inspiring, the location beautiful- but I'm feeling, at the moment, a bit drained. The feeling is akin to the days when I did a lot of theatre-- months of preparation and rehearsal, intense bonding with a small group of people with an immense challenge to tackle together, and then the few fleeting moments where it all comes together, the play itself. That final curtain call of every show always left me with a somewhat hollow feeling, the days immediately after seemed empty and a bit flat. There was always a limbo before the inevitable rush of now what?

That's where I'm at now, so you'll forgive me if it takes a few days before I'm back into the swing of writing again. This deflation is good I think after the steady build toward the weekend's events. I am satisfied with the results of my efforts and enjoying this little lull. Sewing and a bit of creating around the house have occupied the last two days so soon I should have some interesting things to share. Oh, and Little One rolled over for the first time yesterday and today has discovered that she can sit up on her own- big changes every day!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Healthy-ish Almond Butter Cookies

I did some baking experimentation to create a snack for our group meditation this weekend- started with a basic peanut butter cookie recipe then played around to create a healthier, almond butter version. The result was soft, cake-like cookies that everyone enjoyed. My only change for next time would be to substitute almond extract for the vanilla to impart a stronger almond flavor. Happy baking!

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter- softened but still cool
6 tbsp unsweetened apple sauce
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup maple syrup (grade B is best but A will work as well)
1 cup almond butter
2 large eggs
2 1/2 tsp vanilla or almond extract
1 cup dried cranberries (optional, but I liked the texture and flavor these added)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease cookie sheets.
Sift together flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
Cream butter and apple sauce until well combined. Add sugar and maple syrup to butter/apple sauce. Beat in almond butter then add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla or almond extract. Stir in flour mixture then dried cranberries. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto prepared cookie sheets and bake for 10-12 minute or until edges are lightly browned and cookies are fluffy. Enjoy! (Makes approx. 3 dozen)