Fun bit of trivia for ya. Did you know that Central Park and Prospect Park were designed by the same park designer guy? Frederick Law Olmstead, landscape architect, handsome old dude... he did Central Park, he did Prospect Park, he did Niagara Falls, the Biltmore Estate, UC Berkeley, other various things... old friend even landscaped the Capitol building in D.C. Hey, don't you love it when you can come to my blog and learn things? Aren't I so handy to have around for all your party trivia and social ice-breaking purposes?

We have a habit of hitting up the zoo on the coldest, rainiest, most seasonally-inappropriate-clothing-required kind of days. It's got to be a skill we can market somehow. Also I have bike helmet hair in all these photos and you'll just have to excuse.

Oh! Not part of the zoo but just next to it is this historical home that we didn't have time for that is open for nerd tours. I want to go I want to gooooo!

Brandon Holbrook: Wears a Fanny Pack.

The PP Zoo is almost an identical layout to the CP Zoo. Which was kind of trippy. Kind of like living in a tract home and going over to play at the neighbor's house.

This is what has stuck with me about the Prospect Park Zoo, are you ready? The peacocks. Mama Peacock, baby peacocks, all over everywhere, and watching them waddle all over the courtyard together sort of sparked this very specific achy feeling in my arms. You know the one, like I needed to snuzzle something. Every kid there was enlisted in the cause of terrorizing the peacocks by chasing them around, and why are kids like that? Clearly nobody minded. Mamas gathering and kiddies dispersing. Circle of life and et cetera. But that's what I always take away from my trips to the zoo, is this overwhelming, dorky love of motherhood. Gross, I know, but it's true. Maybe that's how painters feel when they visit a museum? I don't know. Watching mothers of other species mother their babies... That's where I am right now. I mother. It's what I do. It's not all I do, but it's something I do well, and it's when I feel I'm really tapping into what I'm here to do. And that's not necessarily a value statement, either. It doesn't make me better or worse or different from anybody else and their myriad of talents. Nurturing, accounting, teeth cleaning, pole dancing, let's call the whole thing off! But that's when I feel my best, and that's when I feel the most at use, is when I am mothering. When I can extend my arm out to something cuddly and bring it in close and just let all that loose onto it. Also when I'm writing, or telling a good story. And when I'm getting dressed in the morning. Or organizing things by size and purpose or planning an itinerary. And also when I give really great nursing advice. You know, it is what it is. 

Holy tangent.

Oh but another side note: We are growing out Henry Holbrook's hair, though I am not sure to what end. (Are we going for a Beatles kind of long hair? Or a surfer kind of long hair? Or a "mistake him for a girl" kind of long hair? I feel like we need an end goal or else we're just being mildly neglectful.) It was Brandon's idea and I'm only along for the ride, though I try to take the fun and spontaneity out of it as best I can. I try to ask Huck every now and then what he'd like to do with his hair. You know, "Do you want me to cut it? Is it in your eyes?" So far Huck's seemed unconcerned with any of it, but he's really into the dramatic head tossing he gets to do when his hair gets in his eyes--"Mom, I'm swooshing it," he said to me once--so yes, that's what we're doing, we're growing it out, and in the meantime I spend a lot of time fantasizing about snipping off the rat tail that's going on right now. That, or braiding it.

Is this all over the place or what!? 

Prairie dog exhibit! This one was really fun. Please, the floating face in the left of that photo on the right, please love it as much as I do. That poor guy. I'm sure he had no desire to be in our photo whatsoever. Such a cruel world. One time I had this idea for an app that would run on facial recognition software? You'd sign up and it'd alert you any time your face showed up in someone else's photos, anywhere online, ever. Like, on Instagram or whatever. Can you imagine??? I feel like for all the times I've walked through Times Square over the years, I'm bound to be in at least a thousand random NYC Vacation Facebook albums. And wouldn't that be fascinating to see? And terrifying. Would we really want to see these photos of ourselves? What are the odds we'd be making a pleasant face? (My one flattering angle is really hard to find, ask Brandon Holbrook.) (And it's not even that flattering!) How many photos do you think you'd be picking your nose in or whatever? 

"Mm-hmm, and why don't you tell me how that made you feel?" 

"Well listen, I just don't think Modern Family needed to win another Emmy, is what it comes down to."

Tucked away to one side of the zoo is this whole huge barn, full of all the usual suspects.

As well as THIS:


This cow milking station was clearly not for the grown ups but do you know what? Highlight of my day. Weirdly, milking a cow has been in my top five things I want to do before I die since I was a kid, so, this was a pretty fantastic moment for me. It was just water in those udders, but let me tell you, that is some DEFINITE satisfaction right there. And all those times I hand-expressed because I was too cheap to buy a pump? Finally coming in handy! It's exactly the same mechanism! (Heehee, handy? Stop it.) Luckily it was raining and there was practically nobody there, so I wasn't, like, edging any kids out of the way so I could have a turn or anything. THOUGH I TOTALLY WOULD HAVE IF NEEDED. Dang toddlers. ;) 

Huck. Oh gosh.

Get it, Huck!

Milking a cow is way easier said than done, friends, but Huck was determined.

(And take a minute too to appreciate how strikingly low quality these photos have been. Holla!)

Making nice with some freshly shorn friends.

I wonder how many times I've posted photos of us feeding various animals in this blog. Four or five times at least, easily. But it never gets old though! It's like some freak law of physics!

Anyway, the PP carousel goes so fast it practically gave me whiplash. And I wasn't even on it! The end.

Wait--Look how many posts I've written about zoos over the years!


Apologies for the weird mood I seem to have found myself in tonight.
Fatty Ratty, over + out.



Am I the only one feeling like August is completely over it? The other afternoon we had us a sweater situation happening, and there was a distinct leafy/swirly kind of feeling gong on. Can we blame this on the Super Moon? It's gotten me all introspect-y and junk. 

So I'm going to attempt this wardrobe capsule nonsense. (Have you heard of this?) Now, I am not a minimalist. Not even. Oh, but I want to be! And even though I love me some quantity, it turns out I am super predictable in the things that I like. I've always been so taken by the idea of a uniform--so romantic!--so I might as well do it. Like, the other day. Huck and I were walking to the market, talking about our favorite colors. (Side note: How do we run out of string cheese so fast?) Huck's favorite color changes from day to day depending on which Wild Kratt brother he is favoring at the moment. (Chris? Martin? They are both so fantastically nerdy and balding.) That day he claimed red (it was a rather feisty day for the kid), and then I asked him if he knew what my favorite color was, and he said, "Yes, Mom. White. And gray. And brown....." And then he made this face, like, Well there's no accounting for taste, is there. But my point is spontaneity is overrated, and this fall I'm attempting to keep my wardrobe to 40 items or less. I've been playing around with it already the last few weeks, and this is the most fun I've had getting dressed in forever. Not to mention, planning my "back-to-school shopping" strategy has never been so satisfying, in always.

So first you have to take inventory of your Pinterest boards. This is how you plan it. A Pinterest board's as good as therapy, I've always said. I made you a little mood board to show you what all I'm thinking. It will surprise approximately nobody.

Slouchy tee shirts, to start. Dainy gold jewelry that I never have to take off. Got it. 

Brown, White, Black, and Gray. Obvs. Plus small pops of red (not pictured; red flannel!).

Also midi skirts. And stripes! (Duh.) (I need to find a decent black a-line midi skirt. Seen any lately?)

And on the beauty ends of things: Soft, romantic hair. Barely-there make up. Full brows! Red lips! (Am I growing out my bangs, or not? I pray over this daily. I don't suspect God cares, he hasn't been very helpful.)

Once I have my fall line-up final-finalized, I"ll be bringing you the run down here. And then, occasionally, I'll feature a few of my favorite boring minimalist ensembles, here on the blog, too! AREN'T YOU THRILLED?! 

Would you ever do a short-term tiny dancer capsule wardrobe? Wanna do it with me? 40 items or less for 3 months. Who's in!? Link up your blog or your Instagram in the comments if you are. The more the merrier! Come on you guys, you know you want to!

Half ass photo credits coming riiiiiiight now: All photos via my Pinterest page. 
I know, I know...



I've been meaning to show you a few of the photos we took of the space we stayed in up in the Catskills ever since we got back last month! We stayed at the Hillside Schoolhouse in Barryville, NY, which was put together and maintained by Bronson Bigelow, owner + innkeeper + all around badass furniture designer. From the moment we stepped in the front door we were just beside ourselves. We couldn't get over how beautiful it was. Brandon kept pestering me to take photos for future study. "We are doing our new apartment like THIS!" he bellowed. 

Aye aye, sir!  

Now that we more or less have the lay of the land out here--you know, we know where to buy + store the peanut butter, Huck's got his preschool all lined up--we're ready to figure out this space we've got. It's pretty raw, and the options seem almost endless right now, so to battle the enormity we've been looking through some of our favorite inspirations to try and narrow things down a bit. I promised Brandon we would make decisions s-l-o-w-l-y. We have wall builders on speed dial and a killer contractor friend ready to rig us up a fancy loft or Murphy bed situation for us, all we have to do is, like, figure it out, and make sure we're sure before we start. The way Bronson handled his space, which is roughly the same size + layout as ours (not to mention we have kind of the exact same aesthetic) (though his ceilings are way higher than ours), has been super instructive. He really nailed that balance between space and proportion, keeping function high while obviously putting form as a priority, and that isn't always easy to pull off. Bronson was just cool all around. He stayed late one night chatting with us about all kinds of everything (we kind of invited him along to pretty much everything we did, hah!), and so it is with his blessing that we're pretty much going to rip his ideas off 100%, haha.

A few of the photos I took at Brandon's insistence :)...

The staircase leading up to the bedrooms. Because it was a one-room schoolhouse in its former life (and also, for a while, a church), the ceilings were completely open, soaring to the heavens (well, to the bell, anyway). Bronson was able to rig up a second level for two bedrooms while keeping plenty of ceiling height on the main floor, something we wish we could do here, though we'd be lucky to eek out enough space for a bed.

The dining area. The main entrance is in that hallway there in the center of the room, and the kitchen is the room on the right, next to the window. A bathroom is just out of frame on the left. Unlike the schoolhouse kitchen, ours is rather large, which is really exciting! I might finally get back into the habit of cooking every night like I did in Idaho! Except we totally wish we could swap out some of that kitchen space for something else. Grass is always greener, blah blah blah. (I'm using half of the kitchen cupboards to store my clothes, this is how big our kitchen is. Better clothes storage is top on my list of things to tackle in here. Seriously, this has been so so so much fun, I am in nesting heaven over here.)

(Bronson made the table, the chairs you can find here.)

Coolest part of the weekend was enjoying Bronson's handpicked iTunes playlists and vinyl collection. A couple board games, too, though look, I'm sorry Brandon, I don't do board games. (We played Sorry! for all of five minutes before Huck and I were like, KILL US NOW. Poor Brandon.)

Bronson said he got his enormous Chesterfields (seriously, enormous) through Horchow (here and here), but most of the furniture he made himself, either from reclaimed materials or by repurposing existing pieces into something else. He uses the Schoolhouse as a combination inn and showroom, so, you can buy just about anything in there, which is probably the coolest concept ever. (You can also buy online here.)

Bronson told me he got this amazing wool blanket on the super cheap from the Army/Navy Surplus store online. (Amazing stuff over there, hoooooly cowwww.)

The chalkboards surrounding the room are the original slate chalkboards from its schoolhouse days. Pretty rad. 

The view out the window. 

The kitchen! That black backsplash is giving me ideas. Chalkboard vinyl is pretty cheap on Amazon... How great is that bib sink though! Ugh. (I think I remember Bronson saying he used Ikea to put this one together?)

The entry. Original stained glass! The chairs on the left are the original pews from the schoolhouse's time as a church. Swoon! (I have never liked that word.)

The bedroom. 

And bath! I already can't remember where Bronson said he got the wallpaper. Twig & Thistle? Something like that?

Sincerely, I'd like to move in. 

As we comb through all the different inspirational homes + photos we come across while making our final decisions up in here, hoping for maximum storage + livability + awesomeness, I'd love to share with you here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!




So this is the part where our good fortune starts to get insulting. See, we found ourselves a babysitter. She lives in our building. She's fourteen, just starting high school, her parents are rad, and she makes a killer gluten-free chocolate chip cookie. Just today, she brought over a tupperware full of hand made cherry truffle ice cream. Cherry. Truffle. The best part is she charges a really fair rate--like, what you'd pay a babysitter where *you* live, not what you'd pay a babysitter where *I* live. I am not even fetching you, do you think I would fetch with you? She is the cherry (truffle) on our Brooklyn sundae. Also we've been having these crazy in-depth conversations about Pretty Little Liars. She's got herself some good theories.

We decided to celebrate this and the fact that we no longer live in a culinary dead zone by having ourselves a somewhat last-minute date night. On a Wednesday. Because we could! Hey, feel like coming downstairs? We're in the mood for a night out! Stop it I am getting so carried away with myself! 

We have a lot of really great restaurants in our area. In our part of town there are easily three or four Mexican or Salvadorian joints on every block, a killer taco truck just the perfect distance away by bike, plus all the Brooklyn places that get all the write ups in the New Yorker, so point to you, Brooklyn! We are swimming in dinner options. Man cannot live on The Smith and Jacob's Pickles alone, Upper West Side.

We're taking these places down systematically until we've eaten everything available in our 30 block radius. On Wednesday, we started at Taldé.

Do you know what I like about this picture? The water drips down Brandon's shirt. There is no greater equalizer than a sweaty glass of water.

Doesn't slow him down. ;)

Admittedly we were on an "easy date night high", so we took a lot of goofy photos of ourselves posing with our food.


The kare kare was PERFECTION. The Korean chicken was maybe too spicy for me. Brandon ordered the cashew rice because he was attempting "vegetarianism" at that moment. "I've only had meat three times this week!" 

Side note that's about to take over this entire post, but you know, one of the things I like best about that Brandon Holbrook is the way he's always slow to try new things. He has a very specific way in which he views his life. But then, once he does try a new thing (and he always does, which is adorable in and of itself), he'll go about it in the weirdest way possible. The other day he told a friend he was on an "elimination diet" to narrow in on a possible dairy intolerance, so he was "eating a lot of string cheese to see what happens." I'm over here on the couch going... hysterical, this man is hysterical. I've told him a few times how elimination diets work--I was the one who suggested it--but no, this way makes more sense to Brandon, so here we are, five cheese sticks in. Is this just a guy thing? He never seems to do anything the way anybody else would think to do things, because how on earth could there be any other way to do things? You mean I'm not the first person to do this? And then you tell him these things, like, "It's Pink Eye. I promise," and when it's Pink Eye he's like, shocked. Or he'll say, "You know, I really like these pants! The fit is really current," the first time he wears them five months after I bought them for him. Or, "Man, this album sounds so much better on vinyl, come here and listen!" What can I say, that's why I like him.

But yes, too spicy. 

It got dark, we paid the check, we took a long, slow stroll through the brownstones, we stopped for some churros and ice cream, we held hands and laughed at each others' jokes, we stopped in and bought a notebook at the CVS because we happened to pass it and I happened to remember that I needed one ("This is not really date night material, Natalie"), and then we went home and paid the sitter and checked in on Huck in his bed and sat out on our fire escape and talked about all the silliest things. And now you know everything we did on our date night, start to finish, in excruciating detail. Aren't you relieved?

You know, the weirdest thing about marriage is the way you can go for months without being the same people you met and fell in love with. Instead you're "Mom" and "Dad" or "Office Worker" and "Person who researches all the local preschool options," and while you really love those people too, when you get to peel that all back and remember that, Oh yeah, I really like this you, for all these other reasons I'd forgotten all about! It's a pretty great feeling, isn't it? 

And.. see what I did there? Oh brother. All us people having all the same experiences, finding it all so new and different and unique. What a funny world. I'm grateful these days that mine comes with a fire escape. Because fire escapes are romantic. Not to mention useful.

Quick somebody end this post before it gets even dumber! 

The end. ;)



I thought it would be fun to do something a little different with some of these outfit posts, and bring in some fresh blood! Maybe see things from another perspective, see what it's like to get dressed collaboratively (?), compare notes a bit, maybe enjoy how differently or similarly we all style a related item. Like a little duet! Yeah?

And so, my dearest Ratties (ew, no), allow me to introduce unto you Cassaundra, of The Blue Closet. Together we're each tackling a one-piece, which makes this a two-for-one, two one-piece outfits, outfit post. By that I mean, overalls and kaftans! Here we go!

I've always loved my overalls. (See here and here and here.) I wore them in the third grade with slap bracelets (back when that was cool), and I wore them in the eleventh grade with a mouth full of braces (back when back when that was definitely not cool). But the past few years have been just the loveliest for me as all these stylish ladies have embraced the church of overalls with me, so I no longer feel (quite as) silly. Praise be to the overall gods!

Cassaundra is a lover of kaftans. (See here and here and here.) (She has a killer style section on her blog, too.) She's the Commander in Chief of a tiny army of surfers and beach bums, so she's got that whole "Relaxed Earth Mother" vibe down pat. She makes kaftans look as natural and easy as the freckles on your nose, I'm so taken by her laid-back, eclectic style. So we decided to swap our one-piece favorites for a bit. What a great excuse to expand our one-piece repertoires, as well as our souls. You know, grow as human beings or whatever.

Cassaundra first!

At the age of four my fashion memories begin. That is when I got acid-washed, tapered jeans with fourteen pockets. Fourteen pockets. Can you imagine my bliss? This is when I knew. I knew the act of getting dressed would make me happy for the rest of my life... because I had fourteen acid-washed pockets and what could make you happier than that? Nothing. 

These kids of mine (Myes, 8; Ruby, 6; Ello, 4), they got the bug too. The Blue Closet is a place to find our style--my style, my kids' style--as well as real down to earth beauty tips with bits of my life sprinkled throughout.

Our family is a wild one; always moving, always going, always creating. We live in beautiful Southern California right next to the beach. We spend lots of time there as a family because that is the place my kids feel the most peaceful. We are run by boys and their hobbies: surfing, skateboarding, and camping. This year we traveled across the world to Fiji so the family could surf some of the best waves in the world, and it changed our lives. Now we can't go a day without talking about where our next surf trip will be. 

When Natalie and I decided to exchange some fashion inspiration I knew right away it had to be overalls, because who wears overalls better than Natalie? Nobody. [Editor's note: awww!] So I found this pair at H&M and paired it with my go-to shirt from Madewell. It was a match made in heaven. They're now a staple for farmer's markets, teaching art in the classroom, and lazy Sunday afternoons at the beach. If I am not in a kaftan or some kind of muumuu, you'll find me in my overalls. Thank you, Natalie, for helping me embrace the overalls, all over again.


Cassaundra is clearly a natural.

And now, my attempt at a kaftan. Starting ...NOW!

Before this collaboration, kaftans, to me, felt like something only luxurious ladies wore while waltzing about in their enormous houses being all fabulous and things. My typical at-home wear is much more humble; a slouchy white tee and maybe a pair of black leggings if it's cold, but surely we all deserve to wear something a little more regal? 

I can't really explain this next part without sounding like a bit of a whack job, but when my kaftan came in the mail and I slipped it out of its packaging, I had this combination memory/dream flash before my eyes, of my mother in the kitchen in her threadbare white floral night dress when I was about seven years old. I remember the light outside the window--that magical deep purple blue with just a few stars hanging on--it must have been early early morning--and watching her reach for the medicine cabinet to find me something to help me get back to sleep. (I had a sore throat and was already angling for my get-out-of-school-free card.) The dim orange light above the oven was the only light on in the house. It created hundreds of shadows, and a beautiful halo effect around my mother. Through my sleep-soaked eyes and scratchy throat I remember thinking that she must be the most heavenly creature in the world; an early morning angel in flowing fabrics, administering love and care to us smaller beings whom she'd sworn to protect. I hadn't thought of it in a long time, but I remember feeling so safe that night, and thinking that this must have been the whole point of motherhood; those intimate moments at home together in the dark of the night, quietly bringing the heavens to the earth by caring for each other. I thought of that memory as I held this silly kaftan, while simultaneously picturing that memory as Huck's memory, sometime in the future, of an early, early morning yet to come, when he needed comfort and I was there, of watching that orange light filter throughout the room from the oven behind me as I set about the task of providing care, gentle and quiet and calm. And not to be ridiculous or anything, but the thought gave me so much pleasure that the kaftan immediately became my life-long favorite, and I hadn't even tried it on yet. 

So, was this fun? It was for me! I'm such a fan of Cassaundra and her blog and her overall approach to life (har har, overall approach), and it's been such a pleasure to introduce you all, and maybe make a little blog match in the process ;). Thank you Cassaundra! 

On Cassaundra: H&M overalls, Madewell shirt 
On me: Kaftan c/o Far & Wide Collective 

Oh, and a side note: it's quite a bit sheer, my kaftan. We have a pretty open policy about our bodies at our house, we purposefully try to normalize all our body parts as much as we feel is appropriate for Huck's age, so it's not something we're concerned about, but in case you were concerned (which I completely understand and respect), I do appreciate it, but we're still okay with it. :)