change of scenery


I’ve been feeling meh lately. First, I haven’t been doing a good job of taking care of myself. I was on a 6 month junk food bender, I haven’t had a haircut in over a year, laundry mountain is next level, you get the idea. Also, I’m in a bit of a rut. With a nine to five and a child in school, my week is pretty structured, and I do like to have routines but I think I have taken it too far. Same office, same cafe for tea, same lunch spot, same route to and from work. Meh.

So now I am on a quest of sorts. A quest for new.  I don’t really have room for major change at the moment, but I realized that doesn’t mean I can’t incorporate a little newness into my day to day. This week I’ve been making an effort to go to different cafes in the morning. I’ve been taking a different route to work. The other day I went to the farmer’s market at lunch for a change. There is nothing earth shattering about this, but a change of scenery can’t hurt.

And I am trying to take care of myself. I am in the middle of a cleanse to break my crazy sugar and caffeine addiction and perhaps lose a few of the junk food bender pounds. I am going to schedule a haircut and I am even considering exercising. I don’t have anything against activity, but I don’t care for “working out”. There is something so forced and soul-less about it to me. I would love to go hiking or take a yoga class every day. Alas, 4am and 10pm are not practical times for these activities and that is when I have available time for exercise. I like to think that my morning walk to work is sufficient, but I am starting to face the reality that it just isn’t. So hello soul-less exercise. Maybe.

What do you do when you are in a rut or when you want to take better care of yourself? I’d love to know.


Hello and happy Friday. Sometimes I need a reminder that I think the world is an amazing place, that there are wonderful and beautiful things in it. Whenever this is the case, I go looking for wonders and I am never disappointed. Some things do my heart so much good by merely existing. Here are three.

Rainbow trees:



Yes, rainbow trees! Naturally occurring rainbow trees. They are eucalyptus trees and as the bark peels, it reveals multi colored layers beneath. I totally have a thing for rainbows. And unicorns. Wouldn’t a rainbow tree forest be the perfect place for a unicorn to live? I just might want to live in a rainbow tree forest.

Frost flowers:


Frost flowers are ice crystals that form into flower shapes under specific conditions in the Arctic. The idea of delicate little ice blooms floating on the surface of the sea has me enchanted. I’m sure some dee connection could be made between frost flowers and fleeting moments, impermanence, the nature of beauty, etc. But really, I just look at them and think “Oooh, pretty.”



Gimme one of those now. Actually I’ll have two, please. Neither mouse nor deer, the mouse-deer is the tiniest member of whatever animal family hoofed mammals belong to. They are tiny and THEY HAVE HOOVES. Oh, and they are really, really cute.

What makes the world a better place for you?

Photo credits:

Rainbow treesFrost flowersMouse-deer

monday thoughts on a tuesday


Hello Tuesday. I hope everyone had a lovely weekend. It was unbelievably beautiful here. So beautiful that for most of the weekend I forgot to miss winter. It was hot yesterday, so I am back to missing it again.

Saturday was about as close to perfect as a day can get for me. Birthday brunch for my bestie on a shady garden patio with Edith Piaf playing in the background, moving to a sidewalk table of a nearby corner café with French macaroons and sparkling water to pass the time before getting a tattoo with the birthday girl that evening, followed by more café sitting. Yeah, I like hanging out in café’s and I can’t tell you how lucky I feel that Abby does too. It was the sort of day that is good for my soul.


Sunday was all about Abby spending time with her bestie and a nice sushi dinner with the bestie’s family – Abby’s first sushi boat experience.


I kind of forgot all about Earth Day and didn’t do anything special. I saw a march go by my office but I don’t think that counts. What did you do for Earth Day?

magic door

fairydoor1 fairydoor2

Look what Abby found in the park last week. A tiny door on one random tree amongst many trees, so easy to miss. But Abby did not miss it and we went over to examine it. It is beautifully made and it fits the hole perfectly. It’s even hinged to the tree! Children have been leaving little notes and acorns for the fairy who must certainly live here.

This sort of thing is so good for my soul. It just makes me happy to know that there is a person out there who thought make a beautiful fairy door for a random tree in the park. Or maybe it wasn’t a person at all…maybe it was a fairy…

Have you spotted any magic lately?

kale and farro soup


I have some thoughts about the kind of food I like to eat. I like it to be comforting and romantic. Comforting, I am sure you get. It should be nourishing and satisfying. But when I say it needs to be romantic, I am not speaking of the candle lit dinner for two kind of romantic. What I mean is that it should be evocative. It should conjure – feelings, mental images, perhaps some magic. When I was reading A Clash of Kings, all I ever wanted to eat was barley stew. Barley stew may not sound romantic, but it is when it conjures images of the Night’s Watch warming themselves against the cold of the snow beyond the wall. Book food is romantic. So is old fashioned food that evokes feelings of bygone days. Movie food, humble food, childhood food, food from far off lands, these are all romantic foods.

As you might imagine, I am a comfort eater. I often turn to food when I am stressed, sad, angry, or tired to evoke a different feeling. I mentioned in my last post that I have been in need of much comfort lately. So since just before the holidays, I have been comforting myself a lot. Luckily, I truly do love good, nourishing food. But, as has been the case lately, I sometimes forget about the nourishing aspect of comfort food and focus on, well, the stuffing your face aspect. And now my jeans are tight and my brain is not very sharp. I tend to be pretty sensitive to the effects of junky food and have allergies to some preservatives. I am feeling less than comfortable.

So good, nourishing food is on my mind and I am trying to comfort myself with food that will actually make me feel good, rather than turning to cookie butter (don’t even get me started on cookie butter. Have you tried it? It’s amazing and I really can’t be trusted around it). The act of preparing something delicious that is also good for you is comforting in itself.

Here is something that rates high on Bronwyn’s Scale of Comforting and Romantic Food, or B-SCARF: Kale and Farro soup.

Soup of any sort scores high on the scale because I can’t think of anything more comforting than soup. It is one of my very favorite things to eat. Everyone has at least one memory associated with soup – the chicken soup your mom made you when you were sick, the first pot of soup you ever made and how much better it was than canned. Soup is alchemy. Throw a few humble ingredients into the pot with some water and soon, you have something completely different. And Snow White made soup of some sort for the seven dwarves. Fairy tale food has a high B-SCARF rating.

Soup isn’t really springy but this soup isn’t too heavy so it is a good soup for transitioning into spring. Kale is wintery but it’s green. Farro, somehow seems a bit springy as far as whole grains go. It is also out of the ordinary, which makes this soup seem special and thus, romantic. I have heard whole grains referred to as “ancient grains” which evokes all sorts of lovely, romantic imagery for me. Bonus B-SCARF points!

The first time I made this, I followed a recipe that I found online by googling “farro and kale soup”, wondering if there was such a thing. I was in the mood for soup and the combo sounded good. It is a thing and there are lots of recipes out there. The next time I wanted to make the soup, I could not find the same recipe to save my life. So I recreated it from memory, making a few changes. This is now my standard recipe. I use the word recipe loosely. I can usually only follow a recipe once. And I don’t usually follow it closely. But if I have to follow the recipe the second time I make something, I deem it too complicated and it does not make my repertoire. So be warned that my definition of recipe might not look like your definition of recipe. If you can deal with that, you just might like this soup.

1 onion

2 stalks of celery

2 or 3 carrots or a handful of baby carrots if you don’t feel like peeling

1-2 cloves of garlic

6 cups of chicken broth (this is what the recipe said but I always use more – 8-10 cups maybe? The farro sucks up the liquid and it turns into stew quickly. You can add water after the 6 cups of broth if you don’t have that much broth laying around.)

A few spoonfuls of tomato paste

A bunch or two of chopped kale (or a bag from TJ’s or Smart and Final. You probably don’t need the whole bag.) Remove the stems if you are feeling ambitious but I don’t bother doing this with the bagged stuff.

1 ½ cups dry Farro (Randomly, I remember this quantity from the original recipe but I find that a lot of bags have 1 ¾- 2 cups of farro so I just put it all in there – perhaps why I always need to add more liquid)

A chunk of parmesan cheese (or some other hard, salty cheese)

Buzz up the onion, carrot, celery and garlic in a food processor until it is super finely chopped or it looks like mush – either is fine. If you have a big food processor, you can buzz all the veggies at once and I am jealous. But you can also use a little countertop processor and buzz each veggie individually (except the garlic – throw that in with one of the others). Watch out for the onion – it will gas you when you open the top of the food processor so look away! In a big stock pot, sauté the veggie mush in olive oil for a few minutes until it smells really good then add a cup of broth and simmer until the broth is almost completely reduced/evaporated. This takes about 5-10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and then dump in the kale and farro. Pour in the rest of the broth (you can start with 5 cups and add as necessary) and throw in a chunk of cheese. Let it all simmer for about 30-40 minutes until the farro is soft and the kale is wilty. Garnish with grated parm and a drizzle of olive oil. Yum.

winter heart


I miss winter. There I said it. It has technically been spring for a few weeks now but the grey skies and cool temperatures allowed me to remain in denial. It even rained over the weekend. But spring is here now and there is no denying it. And I wish it was still winter. I’m sure this makes me sound like a serial killer or something. I’m not. I promise. And I don’t have anything against spring; I’m just not ready for it.

I’m feeling tender these days. I can’t say why exactly. No reason and every reason at once. Maybe it’s a mix of life events, world events, growing, changing, thinking. I’m feeling contemplative, inward and a touch melancholy. And I kind of like it. Winter is good for this. Winter is like being bundled up in a warm blanket. It’s all cozy scarves and spiced chai tea. I was born in winter. It is my season. I feel protected in winter. In spring, I feel exposed. Spring is like the wee early morning and I am too sleepy to leave my comfy winter bed and face the light of day. It is early and I stumble, bleary eyed, into the too bright kitchen and fumble around for the coffee maker. My limbs are weak and my head is cloudy and I want just 5 more minutes please. Pretty please?

I spend most of my lunch breaks at a café near my office. I sit in the window, headphones on, notebook out, and watch the world go by. Today I ordered creamy mushroom soup and sat in a dark corner, Cocorosie on my ipod. In the winter, this is perfection. But it is a bit off in the spring. On the other side of the window there was a couple sitting at a sidewalk table, basking in the sunshine while eating chicken caesar salads, the very epitome of spring. Everyone is wearing sandals and capris and looking forward to the hot days ahead. But I haven’t had a pedicure in ages, capris make my legs look stumpy, and hot days make my nose bleed. And so, as is often the case, I am out of step.

I was trying to explain this to a very dear, spring loving friend. First, she suggested that my wistful heart could perhaps use a little less Cocorosie. Then she told me that I was the sunniest grey lover she’s ever known and that when she thinks of me, she does not think of grey but rather peach and yellow with a touch of lavender for good measure. I found this interesting. As much as I love grey, I do like peach and sunshine as well. But one can’t live on sun ripened peaches alone. So I am still eating soup while the rest of the world eats peaches and Caesar salads. It is possible that I will fall in step with everyone else soon enough. Possible, but not probable.

What about you? Are you basking in spring?

red ball

red ball

The red ball project was in San Francisco yesterday! I had no idea. I was waiting at the bus stop after work and looked across the street and there it was, wedged above the BART station entrance. I follow the facebook page but somehow missed that it was coming. I feel so lucky that I didn’t miss it. What a surprise to see it across the street after seeing so many pictures of it.

What nice surprises have you had lately?



this face is changing…

…and life is moving fast. You know how in Peter Pan (the book, not the cartoon) the narrator often mentions that Peter still has all his first teeth and this is how you know that he will never grow up – because he still has all his first teeth? Abby no longer has all her first teeth. Yeah. Missing teeth and permanent teeth change a child’s appearance I think. But so far, she’s still my same girl. Phew. And the slight lisp she now has gives me heart squeezes every time she speaks. So there’s that.

And the tooth fairy comes to our house now. She brings golden dollars tucked into pink satin pouches and leaves a trail of pixie dust* behind, sending Abby to school with a bit of magic still on her hands.

Anyway, my point is that life moves forward, changes, and I find I forget things. I also find that I remembered more when I visited this space more often. And not just events that I wrote about. I find that reading an old post will bring back memories of other things that happened that day, thoughts I had that week, how I was feeling that month. Do you find that to be true? Does recalling one event bring back a stream of related, if only chronologically, memories and slows time just a bit? This is what I hope to accomplish – slowing time so I can enjoy this face just a little longer.

I also hope to reconnect with some old friends, neglected in my absence, and to make some new friends here. I love visitors and would be ever so pleased if you would drop by from time to time.

*In case you are wondering, gold mineral eye shadow makes fantastic pixie dust.

What ate my brain this time?



Transitions, that’s what. Abby has trouble with them and apparently I do too. Abby loved kindergarten and was sad to see it come to an end. So I was sad for her. She is also very nervous about starting first grade because “you have to know how to read everything and the teacher won’t help you spell anything”. So I am anxious for her. And that’s where my head has been. Sometimes I think I feel everything that girl feels in addition to my own feelings, which are many.

This summer went by in a blur. Am I forever destined to say that now that I have a child? Does time ever slow down?

just one more (for now)

I should really consider changing the name of this blog to “kimonos and cherry blossoms”. It seems that is all I can post about these days.

I want to thank you for all the kind comments about Abby’s performances. I have been carrying on, haven’t I? It’s just that this is one of those times when your child really surprises you. She hasn’t been taking lessons for very long and I only was able to attend a lesson 2 weeks before her big performance. So in a matter of weeks she went from a girl who would only ever consider getting up on a stage if I was allowed to go with her to a poised red carpet veteran.

I also can’t get over how beautiful the dancing is. I didn’t know anything about it a few months ago and I find myself enchanted. If you are interested, the type of dance she does is called nihon buyo and you can find a video of the San Francisco performance here.

Have a wonderful weekend! Doing anything fun?

behind the scenes

Are you tired of kimonos yet?

Good! Me either! Here are a few scenes from before the festival while the girls were getting ready.  I was so enchanted with the whole process. It is so involved. It took almost 3 hours to get 3 girls ready. Abby loved being fussed over. The girl will definitely love spa days when she is older.

The hair was so intricate, it was an architectural feat. It was fascinating to watch its creation.  

Then there was the makeup. I was feeling vaguely “toddlers and tiaras” seeing my perfect little girl made up. But it’s tradition. And it’s very theatrical, so I likened it to make up for a play.

They even recruited me, “the professional”. Ha! It’s true that I know a lot about makeup, but I don’t often apply it on others and certainly not liquid liner on a twitchy 5 year old. But it worked out.

I think my favorite was watching all the fuss that goes into the kimono. It takes at least 30 minutes to put one on properly with all the adjustments that are necessary. I’m trying to learn so I can help there too, but it is really complicated.

All the girls looked darling and enjoyed all the attention. But because I am a mom, I worry. They got A LOT of attention. And I started to worry that Abby would start to equate the hair and makeup and dress with being special and beautiful. She commented on how much she liked the makeup several times over the course of a few days, especially the eyes. I was quick to remind her that 5 year olds can only wear the black stuff that is usually just for mamas (I wear black eyeliner for performances.

But now that some time has passed, she hasn’t mentioned the make up in a while. And I guess my job now is to pay attention and look for opportunities to remind her that she is special and beautiful every day. To look for opportunities to take the focus off appearance and place it on kindness and character and teach her about what true beauty is.

She is true beauty.

one would think the weekend would have been filled to the brim with cherry blossoms…

…considering that there was another Cherry Blossom Festival performance and a visit to the Japanese Tea Garden, yet oddly, they were quite lacking.

This festival was about an hour outside the city. I was preoccupied with getting to the venue on time, so I may have missed them, but I don’t recall seeing any cherry blossoms. Maybe it was because it is late in the season and the trees weren’t in full bloom anymore so they escaped my attention, or perhaps they melted off in the stinking heat. It’s hard to say.

Either way, the girls had another wonderful performance. I was worried that this performance was going to be a bit of a let down from the Japantown performance which was completely magical and so very special for us. I don’t think anything can compare to dancing in the shadow of the pagoda where Abby has always loved to dance. We will think of that performance every time we see that pagoda, which is very often. Yesterday’s performance, while lovely, was far from home and I felt lacking some of the ambiance of last week’s performance. Oh, and it was really hot. Kimonos in the heat = not fun.

But when I asked, Abby reminded me that 5 year olds are awesome by telling me she loved both performances. She was just so happy to be on a stage again.

The day before the performance, we went to the Japanese Tea Garden. Abby loves it there and we hadn’t been in a while. I thought it would be a nice way to get in the mood for the festival.

It is always beautiful and there were cherry blossoms, but they were no longer in full bloom. At least there were many other beautiful flowers to look at.

What about you? What is your favorite spring flower? Are there many around you?

open house

Hello and Happy Friday! I have some behind the scenes photos from the cherry blossom festival to show you, but I thought I’d break it up a little today and show you some scenes from our visit to open studios at the Headlands Center for the Arts on Sunday.

This was the day after Abby’s performance so we were a little tired. We live close to the bridge so the Headlands are only about a 15 minute drive.

And it is such a beautiful place. The Center provides residencies to artists in rehabilitated military buildings.

There was a lot of art to see, but truth be told, we spent more time looking for friends that Abby was eager to see than we did looking at the art. We sped through a lot of the studios. But here are some pieces I enjoyed.

The image of Popeye was done in needlepoint. I am always drawn to the sort of instilation that mimics living space.

Abby thought this looked like Wall-E.

I also love wire sculptures. This piece looked so fragile in person.

I have no idea who the artists are. Like I said, we sped through. I’m lucky I got these photos. I didn’t really mind though. Once we found our friends, we took the kids out on the grounds to play. I love this area, especially in the fog. It was such a contrast to the sunshine and cherry blossoms of the day before. I feel so far from home here.

Markus showed the kids how to make birds nests and that is how we spent the rest of the afternoon.

Leaving nests around for for all the birds to find.

Have a great weekend! What are your plans?

cherry blossom festival – the performance

The day was like a dream. It was hot, more summer than spring. But when we got to the holding area, we were relieved by the shade from the cherry blossom trees and a slight breeze that caused the petals from the trees to rain down on us as more onlookers than I can count clamored to get pictures of the tiny living dolls.

She did look like a doll, that girl of mine. She looked so different, so unreal.

Then as the approached the stage, the breeze picked up some more and, as Abby noted, “made her kimono look really pretty”. And my once shy girl got up on a stage in front of hundreds of people and without the slightest bit of hesitation…

brought the house down.  

The crowd loved them. They ate them up with a spoon. They applauded. They cheered.  They rushed the stage like a mad pack of paparazzi in a photographic frenzy. That last bit may be an exaggeration.

But only a slight one.

I asked if she had been nervous and she said “not at all”. And I couldn’t help marvel at her ability to get up in front of hundreds of people and remain present in the moment enough to notice the breeze that ruffled her kimono.

And when we got home, me exhausted, her energized, she wished aloud that she had a performance every day.

Every day? I have a performer on my hands.

What about you? Are you a performer? Were you when you were a child?

cherry blossom festival

Here are a few scenes from just before Abby’s very first dance performance this weekend – at the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco’s Japantown. I still can’t get over it. She has only been taking lessons for two months.

Do you think she enjoyed herself? You have no idea.

The girls made quite a splash! They couldn’t go more than a few feet without someone asking to have their picture taken with them.

Because really, just look at them. The hair, the kimonos…

those smiles.

I’ll show you the actual performance tomorrow.

Happy Monday!


Abby recently started taking kimono dancing classes.

Do you see that face? Yeah. She is serious about kimono dancing. She has laser focus in class. In 6 weeks, she has learned an entire routine and will soon be performing it with two girls who have been working on it for 8 months. I didn’t know that she could memorize a dance routine. I learn new things about this beautiful girl all the time.

I love watching her develop interests, loves, passions. This one is particularly interesting to me because it has created a few others: flowers, all things Japanese and a desire to perform in front of an audience.  But it’s that laser focus that is intriguing me the most. I don’t have it. I didn’t know she had it and I am delighted by it. She works really hard in class and her sensei told me she is always on task and is picking it up really quickly.

One thing I do know is that it is because she loves it.

Happy Monday!