Monday, April 14, 2014

cooking for madam

This book makes me happy for so many reasons. 

#1. I did not know it existed!
#2 It's a Jackie book. (see obsession here)
#3 It's a cookbook.
#4 I found it at the library so it was free for now (but I will probably buy it on Amazon for .22 or .28 cents after I return it). 

The recipes are organized by months of the year, and many of the dishes have little backstories about how they were prepared, tips on preparation, and which Kennedy family member or friend requested it. Published in October of 1998, the book's foreword was written by John Kennedy Jr. which is kind of heartbreaking because of course he died less than a year later. 

This is something more than a cookbook, as you will see and Marta found healing in revisiting the family moments described within. May you enjoy her creations as much has we did.  -John Kennedy, Jr. 

It was a little unusual, I have found, for John Jr. or Caroline to personally endorse books about their mother, so I think his commendation was kind of special.

The author of Cooking for Madam, Marta Sgubin, began her career with the Kennedy/Onassis family as John and Caroline's nanny, but stayed on as cook and housekeeper after the children grew too old for a nanny.  Marta was not a professionally trained chef, and the recipes reflect that. The cookbook is full of fairly simple, ladylike food, and I mean that in the best way possible. The narrative is charmingly humble and proud, and there are some funny little insights into the Jackie/Caroline/John post Onassis lifestyle. 

Practical advice about baking:

You can make the cookies directly on ungreased sheets, but it is easier to remove them if they are on tin foil and you can peel it away easily. And it makes the backs of the cookies shiny and pretty.

The nitty gritty of entertaining;

This dessert is very good, very refreshing. Also, the mint cleans your palate. When you go to the theater, you want to have a fresh mouth. Mrs.Onassis could brush her teeth, but the guests couldn't, so that was perfect.

And a copy of the.most.passionate note of thanks for a dessert ever written:

In all your life you will never make such an incredible dessert as the mango ice cream. No great chef could have equalled what it looked like- tasted like- felt like. 
How long is the season of mangoes- ? 
Let's start at the beginning & go to the end. 
Can we have mangoes at the Cape?
Bravo Marta- 
xo Jackie
Vichyssoise, Salmon etc. also fantastic.

Very few recipes in this book that call for ingredients beyond what you have in your pantry or could find easily at the grocery store. I did not have to Google anything. Carrot salad, tarragon chicken, nine different ways to prepare potatoes and three different ways to serve lobster. 

Fancy, but not pretentious. 

Monday, April 7, 2014


I love learning the details of other people's routines. It's more interesting than going through their purse or even their medicine cabinet! My morning routine has become something about which I'm fairly fanatical. 

Here's how it goes:

6:15ish: Sleep Cycle app alarm clock beeps. Do you guys know about this? It wakes you up when it detects you are already awake-ish (ie- you are moving) which avoids the dreaded crazy alarm going off in the middle of a dream.

6:30: Tracy Anderson workout; mat workout only. I've started Metamorphosis approximately 700 times in the last 3 years. Right now I'm on Level 3 again. It's like the movie Groundhog's Day. So far it's given me a little more energy in the afternoons which is wonderful. I do recognize that in order to see results I am going to need to start adding cardio and deleting "The Pimento Cheese with Soul." 

7:00: Read the headlines on NYTimes, WSJ, NPR, BBC, Faux News, Sun Sentinel and Huffington Post just to see what everyone's getting up to. 

7:10: Press "start" on coffee maker which is so loud that it wakes everyone else up. Also Clarisonic/ Cetaphil/ Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer/ mascara.

7:25: Turn on Pandora to either "Let it Go" radio (yes, this is a real thing) or Paul Simon + Paul Westerberg radio or "Rent" radio. I'm sorry guys, I am just trying to be real here.

7:26: Make breakfast which is an exercise is getting as many plates cups and utensils dirty as possible without making pancakes. 

    me: Ezekiel bread toasted with butter and raspberry jam, a hard boiled egg, OJ and coffee.
    daughter #1: oatmeal + OJ
    daughter #2: cereal + milk
    husband: typically does not eat breakfast, but sometimes has a Shakeology Shake which I'm sure is both nutritious and delicious but always seems to make a big mess.

Sometimes we all share a bowl of fruit if I'm trying to be really awesome. 

7:45-8 is where everything gets really crazy because both girls + husband are trying to get dressed, brush teeth and find matching socks. Everyone is screaming about not wanting to get their hair brushed or put their pants on. I usually use those this portion of the hour to realize that my keys are lost or remember that all the school uniforms are in the washing machine, and then the indoor cat runs outside. 

8: hopefully by now both kids are in the car and we are headed to school and husband is en route to work. I would estimate that 50% of the time everyone is happy and 50% of the time someone is mad or crying. Could be anyone! Then we listen to Kids Place Live. Kids Place Live mostly drives me bonkers, but I think Mindy from the morning show is a superstar, and she even makes this song kind of fun.

What is your morning routine like?

Friday, March 28, 2014

An Open Letter to an Open Letter

Here is my opinion on the open letter to Gwyneth Paltrow posted by the New York Post yesterday written by Mackenzie Dawson: Mackenzie, do you just need a friend? 

My goodness. I will admit that I am a pretty big GP fan, and I'm sorry she's having a rough time right now. I can't imagine what it would be like to announce my divorce on Monday and then get slammed by one of the most hostile, sarcastic and mocking letters imaginable on Thursday. Movie stars don't need my defense, but I think Mackenzie did women everywhere a huge disservice by rallying troops around someone who is obviously not having a great week as it is. "Oh, your family is falling apart? Well you also stink at your job, at being a mom and being a being a person, too!"

What bugs me even more than the letter's cattiness is the underlying theme that being a mom is a hardship. Mackenzie didn't invent this idea, but she perpetuates it, and it would be nice if everyone dialed this back a little. I think... once upon a time when our mothers and grandmothers were raising families...there was not this big huge forum for people to go on and on about the challenges of being a mother. And then the Internet, self publishing and social media came along and changed all that. This is/was kind of a positive thing because a lot of people use/d it as a space to relate to one another, share experiences and generally feel less isolated. But somewhere in all this sharing emerged the idea that being a mom is soooooooo hard. And that stay at home moms should get in one camp and talk about how hard it is for them and working moms should get on the other side and prove how hard it is for them. And moms with one child do not have it hard and moms with five children have it really hard, and let's also put a hardship value on boys, girls, income, climate and a whole bunch of other random crap too.

So, after being a mom for nearly 6 years I reject this idea. Being a mom is not hard! Tragedies are hard, cancer is hard, sometimes crossword puzzles are hard, but being a mom is about as hard as you make it. Being a mom is fantastic! Newborns are tricky and I imagine that teenagers are even trickier, but this woe-is-me "6am-no time for a shower- no money for childcare" attitude has gotten a little bananas. Especially when women are using it to have a contest about who has it harder and pitting women who do things one way against women who do things another way. Being good at being a mom can take some hard work as being good at anything typically does, but it's certainly not the drag that the open letter makes it out to be. 

GP was talking about the challenges in her life. Maybe she could have been a little politically correct-er about it- but she was just using a public forum to say "these are my challenges, here's what I do about them." This is the theme of probably one hundred billion blogs, tweets and Facebook status updates. So we are all allowed to use this shared space for support but she isn't? 
It's a slippery slope. 

What do you think?


PS: this TED talk on emotional correctness vs. political correctness rocks.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday this + that

image courtesy of Caitlin McGauley

Remember the scene from Mary Poppins when Mary, Jane, Michael and Bert all jump into Bert's sidewalk drawing? That's how I feel about the red room pictured above (by illustrator Caitlin can order some of her amazing work here)

I'd love to sit on that lovely floral chair and:
Read the new Bridget Jones novel. (V. excited that Bridget is back, ignoring all lukewarm reviews).
Listen to this album on repeat. 
Eat these donuts (on repeat). 
Paint my nails this color.  
Earmark out some new recipes from this cookbook
Burn this candle by Aerin Lauder.

Here are  few other exciting things I've got my eye on:

The United States Post Office has cute holiday stamps this year. I have not been impressed with their recent-years holiday selection, but the poinsettias rock.

Have you seen this personality quiz that tells you what state you should live in? I got Oregon; a state that is geographically and temperamentally opposite from the state in which I actually live. 

I'm obsessed with these semi-DIY ornament kits from Posie. Seriously what if I did this every year & one day had an entire Christmas tree full of only handmade ornaments and hand-strung popcorn? 
So what if I'd have no family or friends left?

This movie is finally out iTunes. YES.

I will try anything Mark Bittman says is good. Even beets.

Happy Weekend!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Hi from October

We had a low-key but very good weekend. It's our last one before a non-stop birthday and Halloween-party stretch begins. Even though it's 85+ degrees outside, the light looks crisp and pretty. I'm checking the weather like crazy looking for that first breath of cool-ish air. Or at least some sort of weather scenario where shorts would seem silly. I'm really sick of shorts.

Have you seen or heard of Good 'Ol Freda? It's a documentary about The Beatles secretary Freda Kelly. If this sounds at all interesting to you, you should watch it. She is the real deal. We should all be so lucky to have someone like Freda in our lives. It was especially interesting to watch because I'm currently reading Graham Nash's autobiography Wild Tales: a Rock and Roll Life. Rock and roll history is pretty riveting. I've also been listening to Paul McCartney's New album on repeat. 
I'm not one for doing things half way. 
Case in point B:

We carved a pumpkin, roasted pumpkin seeds, made pumpkin pie (recipe from the back of the Libby's can with a graham cracker crust) and made this pumpkin sausage pasta. PSL's and pumpkin beer were also had.

Now it's t-minus 2 hours or so till Homeland. I think the first few episodes have been disappointing, but I am sure it's all part of their genius season 3 master plan. 
I hope....

Some pictures of life from my iPhone, below.

^^Ellie, getting over her fear of sticking her hand inside of the pumpkin. ^^

^^ Ellie took this picture of me, which I love. I do wish I'd put eyeliner on both eyes. ^^

^^ Our entirely un-homemade-homemade pumpkin pie which tasted like heaven. 
"Yummy in my tummy I never had!" where SK's exact words. ^^

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

flower girls

This picture makes me smile. Ellie woke up in the morning and decided to wear her "flower girl" dress. Sarah Kate heard this and immediately wanted to put on her "flower girl" dress, too. 

Another thing I love about this picture is that you can almost hear how quiet it is in the girls' play area. I spent a crazy-town amount of time cleaning and reorganizing and editing and throwing away small pieces of old toys so that the girls could actually play with the toys that are in good working order. We had baby toys mixed with school projects mixed with doll clothes and the result was that nobody liked playing with any of it. The "new and improved" play area requires constant upkeep, but clearing the clutter has made for much more peaceful mornings. By the afternoon I have pretty much lost all control and have to revert to television but I am grateful for the calm-ish mornings.

How do you keep your children's' toys organized?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Daring Greatly

I just finished reading Daring Greatly by Brene' Brown, and I immediately started reading it again. Then I'm going to watch all of the author's TED talks and read all her other books. I don't usually like admitting to reading self help books, but this one covered so many topics that are important to me (parenting, personal development, marriage, education) that I had to stop pretending to be so cool for a minute.

The title Daring Greatly comes from this quote by Theodore Roosevelt, 
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again...."

My favorite anecdote in the book is when the author's daughter is playing with glitter at school and the teacher tells her "you're a mess!" to which her daughter responds "I may be making a mess, but I'm not a mess." 

I also love Brown's distinction between belonging and fitting in:
Belonging is being somewhere you want to be, and they want you. 
Fitting in is being somewhere where you really want to be but they don't care one way or the other. 

My head was spinning with so many new ideas and different ways of looking at things, and I felt so empowered after I finished this book, but then my children (well, one child in particular) did her absolute best to take me down a notch. At one point during bedtime something along the lines of 
"I'm being bossy to you because you're being so bossy to me. NOW GET ME A DRINK!" was said/yelled. And not by me.

Daring Greatly is by no means a parenting guide, but I think all parents could benefit from reading it. If you've already read it, what did you think? And if you add it to your reading list, please be sure to report back.