1.30.2015

HAPPY WEEKEND, HOMENUGGETS!


I know what I will not be doing this weekend, and that is watching any more episodes of Homeland. I cannot do it! Season 3 was too sad! 

Other things I did this week that accomplished nothing while also clearing up a half decade of unnecessary confusion: finally Google the meaning of the word "artisanal." You know, I once had a very stimulating debate with Brandon over whether or not people can be considered artisanal, or if it's only things that can be considered artisanal. The debate ended on a pretty grandiose note when Brandon officially declared that from henceforth the word "artisanal" actually meant nothing anymore, it had absolutely no meaning, he had decided it. I think we were looking at organic kombucha at the time all this went down. It made me laugh then, and it makes me laugh now, it makes me laugh any time anyone mentions cheese or fermentation.

Okay, and now for a few things I enjoyed this week . . .

This twitter account. I actually snorted. (See also: my long-time twitter crush, Josh Groban.)


Did you know you can stream the entire Criterion Collection for free on Hulu? I spent a few nights this week catching up on some French New Wave. Godard first -- Masculin Féminin and Breathless. There's some pretty decent hair inspiration going on in there.

The Man Repeller emoji roundtable. Taking things overly seriously, yes.

My new favorite watch that I am completely obsessed with.

Juno was a bust, but The Great Blizzard of 1888 wasn't! This podcast has been on my to-listen list since I first found the Bowery Boys blog, after googling to figure out where in the city The Knick was filmed, which is a really great show in case you haven't seen it. (Related--this follow up review of the show in the New Yorker that makes an interesting point about shows that start out bad but then get better.)

I've been looking for a cheek/lip tint that won't dry my lips out, and this one has good reviews. Anyone tried it? Anyone found a winner?

This--thank heavens.

Huck's favorite song these days.


Have a restful weekend and see you in February!

1.29.2015

NAT NESTS | KIMCHI DINNER FOR ONE


We've only eaten out once in the last two weeks, because as it turns out, I am a meal planning superhero!  (I will keep on telling myself this until it's actually true.) But already I've come up against some roadblocks, and I'm currently working out the kinks on a situation I've tenderly started to call "the spaghetti situation,"which goes like this: Brandon loves spaghetti. Spaghetti does not love Brandon back. Brandon's got some fairly epic acid reflux, so a lot of foods don't love Brandon back. Which is too bad because he's so darn lovable! ;) Brandon, of course, continues to request weekly spaghetti (and other foods like spaghetti). It's a total situation. 

Brandon's seen a specialist and he takes medication, which helps. (He finally refilled his rx today after being out of it for almost 2 weeks--dudes are so weird.) I try to give him "the look" whenever he reaches for an orange after 7pm. It's all very matrimonial and old-people of us, it kind of cracks me up. But every now and then, once or twice a week, Brandon will work late and I'll get a night to eat whatever kind of heartburn-y food I want to without feeling any guilt at all! Like kimchiiiiiiiiiii.

Kimchi is really good for you, but it's also super hard on sensitive stomachs. Did you know kimchi is suspected to be the cause behind Korea's crazy high stomach cancer rates? (Only when eaten in, like, mass quantities, but still.) We ate a ton of kimchi when we lived in Seoul (and ramen! which we pronounced "ram-yen" and which was a point of conflict with my cousin Andrew when we came back to the states), and it's still a kind of comfort food for me. It reminds me of my dad, of my kindergarten class at Seoul Foriegn School, and of afternoons in our high rise apartment when it was just me + Amanda listening to the Jackson 5 while our "ajumma" prepared lunch in the kitchen.

My favorite way to eat kimchi is over a heaping bowl of brown rice + topped with a fried egg. Leave those yokes runny. Sooo good. 

Should you be blessed with a house full of strong stomachs, here's how you can make kimchi at home!

INGREDIENTS /
1 napa cabbage, sliced in half and chopped into large-ish bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup kosher salt
approx 12 cups cold water
1 daikon radish, sliced into matchsticks
4 medium scallions, sliced into 1 inch matchsticks 
1/3 cup gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
1/4 cup myeolchijoet (don't let that scare you, you can use any kind of fish sauce, or I've heard you can sub a teaspoon of kelp powder in 1/4 cup water for a vegetarian option)
6-8 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
Optional:
1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
1 shredded carrot
1/2 sliced white onion

METHOD / 
1. In a large bowl, combine chopped cabbage and salt. Mix until evenly coated.
2. Add cold water until cabbage mixture is fully submerged. Cover and let sit for 24 hours.
3. Drain and rinse cabbage. Set aside.
4. Include all remaining ingredients in a large bowl and mix to combine. (Optional: you're welcome to use a blender or food processor to make this into a rough paste if you want.)
5. Add cabbage to mixture and toss to combine.

You can eat your kimchi immediately, but more traditionally you'll want to pack the kimchi tightly in a jar and leave it to sit in a cool dark place for at least 24 hours and up to five days before eating. The kimchi may bubble or leak as it ferments, so set it on a plate or a tea towel to catch any mess.

Can be kept in the fridge for up to a month. Enjoy!

1.28.2015

A POST ABOUT HOUSE PLANTS


Alarmingly, it's been almost a year, and I still haven't killed off any of my houseplants yet. I suppose this means I have turned over a new leaf?

(No you didn't, you loved that.)

It started last year, after I unceremoniously killed off two Fiddle Leaf Figs in a row, followed by three succulents, in tragically quick succession. Fiddle Leaf Figs are one thing, but tell me, who kills off a succulent? The hell, Natalie. I decided then, officially, right there in my kitchen, that I simply could not live with myself if being myself meant routinely killing off house plants, because that is just not the type of home I run. Or anyway, that is not the type of home I want to run. It's like when you realize you're the type of person who should be composting, only you aren't composting, and so you start composting, thus fulfilling the prophesy? Or like that one time I finally started wearing penny loafers.

Right, so I started taking my houseplants very seriously, is the long story short of it. And it's very quickly become my favorite part of our home, that lo-o-o-o-ng row of houseplants that live along the windowsill in the living room.


Who am I kidding, I have only one room. THE room. Living in a loft is funny sometimes.

They are doing fairly well I am pleased to report, and now I will tell you my secret: I set an alarm for once a week. On my phone. To remind me to water my plants. 

Mondays. 

(Tee likes to have his fish bowl cleaned Sundays, because he's religious.)

I know this might sound somewhat pathetic. (I also have an alarm to remind me when it's bedtime, and when it's time to pick my kid up from school.) But there is no shame in my game and I am okay with admitting it: My brain resides fully inside a cracked iPhone. Eleven A.M, and I like to whisper sweet nothings to my green children as I go around splashing them with liquids. 

I still feel a twinge of regret over my poor Fiddle Leaf friends. I just wasn't ready for them. Fiddles are so finicky. They're like the peanut-allergy / gluten-sensitives of the houseplant world, and I was a peanut butter sandwich. It's a level of parenting I'll need to work up to. 

My plant babies are mostly arid types. A few cacti and some succulents, and some other spiny things I don't know much about except that they're pretty. Just a teeny tiny trickle, just once a week. Maybe a quarter cup at most. I'm pretty much rocking it.


But every mother has a favorite, and my favorite is Bob. Bob's a Bird of Paradise. I named him Bob for who knows why, but I really look forward to our weekly chats together. I fill the pitcher in the bathtub and give him a good long soak, all the while giving him compliments, filling him in on the important news of the day, that sort of thing. Bob tends to angle himself toward the sunlight and grow a little lopsidedly. I like to tell him it gives him character, but I usually give him a good twist to the left anyway, you know. He's never given me flowers but I try not to hold it against him.

I first met Bob on Seventh Avenue in Park Slope outside a store called The Bad Wife. The Bad Wife is a really stupid name for a grocery store. I just want that on the record. I went into The Bad Wife for the first time half expecting to find a grocery store dedicated to frozen TV dinners or something, but no, it was just a grocery store, for food. I don't know, it doesn't make any sense. Oddly I still find myself sorting through my feelings on the matter any time I walk past the place. But, Bob. From The Bad Wife. I hired the Bad Wife grocery guy to deliver Bob after his shift was over. Later that evening the guy showed up with Bob at the front door, all bushy and enormous and things (the plant, not the guy), and Brandon looked at me with his eyebrows all funny, because it turns out I forgot to mention that I'd bought it. Oops! Bad wife.

I expect Bob to keel over dead any minute now, but weirdly, it's one of my snake plants I've had the hardest time keeping healthy. Aren't snake plants supposed to be indestructible? Did I get the runt of the litter? The other two are doing great, but this one . . . I don't know what to do about my snake plant. I just can't figure him out. He's like that teenager slamming the door after stomping down the hallway (I don't have a hallway),"Nobody understands me!" I keep a set of kitchen shears handy so I can trim off the brown, curled dead ends that keep coming back, and I just know this upsets him. Do you think he thinks I'm trying to change him? Do you think he thinks I think he isn't enough on his own? Or maybe he's just acting out for attention? I make it a point to tell him something nice any time I think of it, which isn't that often. Which I suppose is part of the problem. 

Anyway, my friend Emily once wrote a post about her favorite houseplants. You can find it HERE. And I've just realized that I've written about my relationships to shrubbery before, and it's one of my very favorites. You can find that HERE.

The end.

1.27.2015

SNOWED IN!!!!!!!


Weeeeeeeeell, not quite. 

I feel a little bad for rolling my eyes about this silly megasuperblizzardstorm nonsense, because we all just do our best, ya know? Poor Juno, she gave it a good effort. I'll give her an A+ for intent, a C- for execution, and a gold star! For a very entertaining Twitter feed. 

She started off impressive, we all had high hopes. The snow started falling Monday morning in big fat flakes, swirling gently just outside the steamy window of the café where I was writing on Bergen Street, all dense and quiet and soft and muffling. Bless her, it sure was pretty. The schools were closing early, offices seemed to have expunged all their employees by noon, the mayor or whoever had even turned the subways off--I didn't even know that was a thing! First time in history! So I turned to my girlfriend next to me--we meet up a few times a week at cafés all over the place to keep each other keep on task with our various writing projects and/or watch each other's laptops while the other (usually me) uses the restroom (hold me closer, tiny bladder). She's new to New York and crisis-level weather events, and so when I asked her if she was ready for the storm, her eyes got wide as saucers. "Ready how?" "Well, fill your bathtub with water tonight," I told, and then she said, truly terrified, "Why??" I thought about it and then I realized . . . huh, I don't actually know why. Why do we do that? We all have water towers, why would we do that? Isn't this weird? There must have been a reason for this once.

(I've dutifully filled my bathtub with water for two hurricanes so far, and never, not once, has that come in handy. Not once!)

And now we have a snow day. It's not actually a snow day, but everyone's operating on snow-day laws, so here we are, fully committed! Nothing is open! Pass me the socks! We got Brandon in his pajamas, me with no pants on, and then there's Huck, who is inexplicably fully clothed. (I think he may have slept in those jeans--parents of the year!) I'm trying to figure out why my photos always look great in Lightroom and then all weird once I get them on this blog (somebody knows the answer to this--give it up, please!), aaaaaand I'm also watching Homeland. You know. Productive Tuesday.

And now for the fun part! In case you ever wondered what a megasuperblizzardstorm in Brooklyn looks like, here you go. All your wildest fantasies fulfilled. Nothing but the best! 

First we're going to start with: THE F TRAIN.


I was on that train. It was a rather emotionally-charged sardine kind of experience. So squished. Many odors. A few passengers got into a shouting match when one used the F word, and another yelled "there are children present, watch your mouth!" and then another shouted, "YOU watch your mouth!" 

I also overheard this delightful conversation, between a dad and his two kids that (I'm guessing) he'd just picked up from school:

Dad: I'm sorry, but I wasn't about to sit there while they watched a movie about a racing snail, when they hadn't even seen Citizen Kane yet.

Boy: It's called Turbo. 

Dad: Hurbo??

Son: TURBO.

Dad: Well. It's just--I mean, watch The Graduate. Watch Citizen Kane. Casablanca! There are so many--The Godfather for crying out loud--and then we can talk about a racing snail.

Daughter: We saw Into The Woods over Christmas Break.

Dad: I did hear that one was really good.

Kiiiiind of made it worth it.


It is just now occurring to me that this could be the ugliest blizzard post on record.


Close us out with this guy, one of my handsome snow day cohorts . . . 


. . . and this guy, who walked two of the blocks on my way home with me and seemed completely unperturbed by my snow boots.


The end.

1.26.2015

GET ME DRESSED / 011

shoes | jeans | jacket | scarf | bag | beanie

Snow snow snowy snow snow! I'm typing at you from a coffee shop this afternoon, where there is pumpkin ginger soup! And it's the snowiest outside! It's all rather exciting. 

I woke up at 2AM to police lights and fire trucks parked outside our building. Quite the spectacle. Something something ConEd something, I'm still not really sure what it was about, but as I crouched out the window to get a peek at the excitement below, I was able to make eye contact with the dude across the street whom I often see in just his undies, and it was kind of a rather lovely moment. He waved, I waved, then a beefy fire fighter type knocked on his front door and a woman came from out of nowhere to go downstairs to answer it. There's a lady! The plot thickens! 

I woke up later this morning to fat flakes falling out the window and Huck's bed-head shouting "NO CAR-TOOONS!" in a fury. Better than police lights, I suppose.

Hey this is an outfit post!


Thanks to Strolby I now own a scarf with giant bobbly tassels and it thrills me to my (very comfy) toes. 

Speaking of: having been out of the habit of running lately, I completely forgot how squooshy a running shoe can feel when you walk. It's pretty good stuff.

shoes | jeans | jacket | scarf | bag | beanie

Hey stay warm out there, kiddos! And happy snowfall!  

1.23.2015

BOOK PLANNING + HAPPY WEEKEND!


Oh Friday!

Hey, happy weekend! It's book promotion planning day today. I'm over here in a coffee shop mooching some wifi and shooting off emails and trying really hard to not panic, because even though promotion is not at all my strong suit, I'm really starting to get excited for everyone to get their hands on this thing and read it. I'm really proud of it, and it's really feeling real. I'm totally weirded out. Hopefully I get all my ducks in a row, because I'd love to make it to your city on a book tour, and there are like, logistics. (What cities should I plan for, cheese?) (You can preorder! Link on the sidebar to your left!) Brandon's always prefacing any of his exciting ideas with, "If your book sells a million copies . . . " which, look, that's great, you turkey. 

The sun was out until well past 5 yesterday, it's supposed to snow tomorrow, and I can't even put words to how happy it makes me. In Moscow (where we used to live), February 15th was usually the first day of the year when the sun would stay out past 5pm, and I could see it and smile at it as I drove home from work. I could set my watch by it. (Snow could be expected to be mostly gone by June 1.) So this January 23rd nonsense is juuuust fine by me. I knew to expect February 15th for the sun to stay out, because that's the kind of thing you notice and look forward to when you live in northern Idaho in the winter, because northern Idaho in the winter is the pit of despair. I can still remember every inch of that long drive home through the snowy wheat fields. There was this one moose that lived around those wheat fields, I was always nervous that I'd hit him when it was dark out. One morning I was late for work because of that moose. I sort of sat there awkwardly while the neighbor dude tried to shoo him off the road, waving his hat around like a lunatic, while the moose just stared at him, completely unconcerned. It was kind of great.

A few things I enjoyed this week . . .

So first of all, is Mercury is in retrograde right now, through February 11. I've already fallen victim to its ridiculousness. Batten down the hatches! Take cover! Don't sign any contracts, guys!

The truth about your smile -- have you been doing it wrong all this time?

Should you feel ambitious, here is a list of all 339 (!!!!) books referenced in Gilmore Girls

And this video, on our relative size to, like, everything. Some seriously good perspective if you're feeling stressed.

Oh my gosh: To fall in love with anyone, do this. (And The New Yorker's response, To fall out of love, do this.) Will I force Brandon to do this with me? Duh. (Hey, it's been almost 12 years. Sometimes you need a nudge ;). The steps to do it yourself are listed here, and you can find out more about the experiment (like how they calculated for introversion vs extroversion) here. Go forth and fall in love!


I thought this was interesting. (My money's on Billy Crystal.) (Have I told you about the time I walked past him on the street in TriBeCa and it was my most Meg Ryan moment of my whole entire life!?)

Joanna got me turned on to High Maintenance, in case you're looking for something more, uh, herbal, to watch this weekend. And in other old news, Broad City is back, and have you been listening to Invisibilia?! :)

The real cost savings of moving from the city to the country, on Apartment Therapy. (The comments on this one are fascinating.)

Have a great weekend!

1.21.2015

THE CITY LATELY


The city's been awfully pretty lately. In that dingy, wintry, murky, grayscale kind of pretty. You have to sort of look for it. But you know what, I like the city in the winter. I really do. I like the cozy heat inside the cafés, the faces buried into snoods and scarves, the cheerfulness of the dudes at the Union Square Greenmarket who you know are suffering interminably or else they must have skin made of steel . . . We all complain about the cold and come up with excuses to stay indoors, but you know what, I think the winter can be rather beautiful. If you're crazy.  

Luckily, psychiatrists have agreed that I am. 

(Just kidding.)

Some of the city lately . . . 

//THE LOWER EAST

1. Eggs and pickled carrots for brunch / 
2&3. Little Italy still has their Christmas on / 
4. A rainy intersection on a terribly drizzly day /

// THE WEST VILLAGE

1. Colonial architecture / 
2. Coffee shops where you can sit all day and get work done like a proper person / 
3&4. Shop windows where you'll find all sorts of things / 
5. The Corner Bistro / 
6&7. A favorite stretch of 8th Avenue  / 
8. A bit of ivy still hanging on / 
9. The arch by twilight /

//THE HOOD

(By which I mean my hood, not the hood.)
1. Back into the swing of things with a mountain of dry cleaning /
2. And a bit of taxidermy at a local tattoo shop /

//THE END//

1.20.2015

ON FORCING TIME'S HAND


The thing about infertility that'll kill a person is all the waiting. 

It's a magical, mystical time, this moment you're waiting for for whatever reason. For some it's because they have to save up first, for others it's a matter of work schedules, when busy season is over, for example. Some people, they get to this stage where they need the help and have to wait, but they can keep on trying on their own, because they're more laid back than me or something. But me, when I realize I can't do it on my own, and the timing isn't right, I sort of shut down. I go into power saving mode. I need a certain percentage of certainty in my life in order to be able to function well, you see. The certainty of borderline-infertility is far better than the uncertainty of borderline-infertility-but-you-never-know, if that makes any sense. And so, I wait.

I'm lucky, in that mine is a simple fix. And I'm the luckiest kind of borderline-infertile, because I've seen it work before. But it's still a hassle. First of all, you can't be traveling. You need three cycles in a row in one place so you can get all your shots and make all your visits and have all the sex and get all the ultrasound wands up yer hoohah. It takes a certain kind of single-mindedness to accomplish this. First of all, to be able to physically withstand the deal, because fertility drugs are sort of the biggest pain in the ass, but also, even more than that, because of the emotional trauma of the thing. Because waiting is torture. Waiting for a pregnancy test to stop blinking that hourglass at you and give you your fate. Waiting for your specialist's appointment because he is always booked a million weeks in advance. Waiting for your follicles to mature. Waiting for your husband to know for sure he won't be traveling for work. Waiting for your hormones to stick around those two extra days you need. Waiting for a basic outline of your book tour to materialize so you know whether or not you'll even be in the right time zone at the time for the baby making.

The right timing.

When the timing is right. 

What does that even mean, "when the timing is right?" 

There is no such thing as a good time to get pregnant. I remember my mom telling me this 10 years ago, and the great thing is, it's totally true. No matter how much you want to get pregnant, actually being pregnant is a total inconvenience. It sucks. And no matter how prepared you are for having a baby, a baby will send everything topsy turvy, and it will always be hard, and really, really frustrating. This is why babies are so ultimately blissful, I think, is because you have to give up so much in order to have them. We were still in the honeymoon phase of life when my mother told me this news, technically speaking, living in Brooklyn Heights with our furbaby Peter Pan, and Brandon was starting to get serious about LAW SCHOOL and my five-year-plan was having to shift to accommodate, and suddenly I found myself wanting to factor in babies into all this nonsense? Because somebody had turned on my biological clock somehow without me noticing? But then there's this "babies in law school" situation, which is obviously not ideal, but my mother is telling me that, yes, babies in law school are a pretty bad idea, but no, because getting pregnant is always a bad idea. Because there is never a good time for a baby. So if you sit down and try to find the perfect time for a baby, the baby will never come. Because there is never a good time. So you just go for it. Right? Because all times are right times when all times are wrong times.

However. If there isn't ever a good time to get pregnant, but in order to get pregnant you have to find a good time to get pregnant . . . do you see where I'm going with this? This lands rather awkwardly, doesn't it.

The first time around, with Huck, the timing was pretty horrible. Brandon was in law school. We had health insurance that covered exactly zero fertility treatments. There weren't any jobs, the economy sucked. But I had figured out what was wrong and had an inkling of what would fix it, and so, we fixed it. We jumped, we got pregnant, we moved in the middle of it, I gave birth without a doctor because I had to use the free clinic because nobody in New York takes on a new patient when she's in her 8th month, and then when Huck was born it was a Tuesday morning in the middle of midterms and Brandon was stressed out of his eyeballs. 

And it was bliss

The timing could not have been dumber, and yet I have never been happier in my life. My body has been screaming for that kind of happiness lately, more intensely than I can even stand, because my body is convinced the timing is right. And I'm ready. I'm ready, it has to be now, I'm ready.

See, I got my period on Christmas Day this year. This year, and the year before I got pregnant with Huck, too, I got my period on Christmas Day. (Well, in 2009 it was a chemical miscarriage, potato potahto.) And then there's this: When you're pregnant and you're getting set up with a new doctor--which I did, like, four times--the first question they ask you is "what was the date of the first day of your last period?" which, in my case, was January 20th. 

January 20th! 

So January 20th had started to take on this reverential tone for me. It was on that day that my life had begun to change. I could never have known it at the time, at the time I was cramping and bleeding and more than a little bit bummed out--that was back when every period brought hours of tears--but that made it even more significant to me, this idea that brilliance could be born out of so much pain. 

So, when I got my period on Christmas Day this year, I sort of froze. I thought to myself, yyyyyeah okay, this is a sign. This is totally a sign. It's go time. Forget the book launch. Forget possible book tours. This is happening! THIS IS HAPPENING. 

First thing I did was book an appointment with my fertility specialist. And then I told Brandon to Get thouself tested! ASAP! cause doctors won't prescribe you your cancer-causing drugs unless they know for sure that your dude's junk is working. Common sense I suppose. And then Brandon said, "When is your appointment so I know when to schedule mine?" And then I said, "January 20th." 

And then I shook my head and went---wait. Tuesday the twentieth? Nooooo.... Tuesday . . . the . . . HOLY SHIT. 

That was how I knew FOR SURE for sure that this was REALLY going to happen. This was it. How could it not be? We were in Utah at the time, and I was SINGLE-MINDED. To hell with the rest of it, my date was set, Brandon's date was set, it was all falling into place. 

But then. 

Late at night, I'd start to wonder. Maybe a book tour shouldn't be put off. Maybe this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Maybe trying to get pregnant while also trying to launch a book isn't the smartest idea. Maybe I'd be happier being patient. Maybe I should wait until the stress of the book dies down. Maybe it should be one baby at a time. Book baby, then human baby. Maybe, maybe, maybe. More than anything else, the timing stopped feeling right. The most right thing in the world, and it had stopped feeling right. But--January 20th! If this wasn't the Universe sending me a signal, what was it? I couldn't let this January 20th go to waste! It was completely confusing. I'd waffle between thinking, "I need to be pregnant, NOW," and ". . . but it's still okay if we wait a little longer." 

Well, today is January 20th. Here we are. Huck woke up with a death rattle in his chest and the Niagara Falls of runny noses. Brandon had a last-minute work emergency and wasn't able to make it to his testing appointment this morning. I grudgingly called the office and confirmed that without the boy component, there wouldn't be any girl component, and anyway, the last thing I needed to do is drag my sick child into a place where perfectly kind and reasonable people are trying to get and keep their pregnancies, and, ugh. We rescheduled. His next opening is in April. Is this the slammed gavel on a verdict that had already been made but that I'd been ignoring despite persistent niggling? Is this January the 20th not for babies? Is this January the 20th for something else? (Maybe it's for Mexican food, I could go for a burrito.)

Being the opposite of sure about the most sure thing in the world doesn't feel good, even though, at the same time, it does feel right. Summer, not winter. Later, not now. Like my feelings on the matter aren't really important, and it's just going to happen when it happens, and not when I decide I'm ready for it to happen. It's an odd feeling, because, if you ask me, my feelings on everything should be important, much more important than some mystical, arbitrary "timing" type of thing, come on now. It's odd, and it's uncertain. I hate uncertain.

Sometimes, even though I know a baby is coming eventually, the waiting and uncertainty will start to hurt so hard it makes me feel utterly empty.

When you're borderline-infertile, and you've had success once, the timing of babies starts to seem entirely up to you. But when I finally got Huck, maybe that wasn't up to me? Maybe it was because that timing was actually right? Even though it felt all wrong? Maybe I hadn't forced Huck against time's will. Maybe time forced me. Clearly my sense of power in this case, as in most cases, is entirely an illusion of my own creating. Clearly this is my human condition.

Huck is in the living room, in his pajamas, watching Mr. Peabody & Sherman. There's a beautiful sequence mid-film where Mr. Peabody & Sherman visit these famous moments throughout history together, going back through time. "Beautiful Boy" by John Lennon plays in the background, it's a total tear jerker. Part of the sequence shows how Mr. Peabody discovered Sherman as a baby in a cardboard box in a side alley. As we watch this for the third time today, Huck pokes his head up from the sofa and asks in a raspy little voice, "Mom, when I was a baby did you find me in a box?" 

No, turkey. I didn't find you in a box. I found you in my arms at the most perfect moment on earth


I don't like it. Not at all.

1.16.2015

READING DATE NIGHTS + HAPPY WEEKEND



Howdy Doody + Happy Friday!

Weekend plans weekend plans, anything fun going on in your weekend plans? We're doing what we always do on the weekends these days, which is to go to brunch + go to birthday parties. (Sooo many birthday parties holy cow.) But! Something fun I'm looking forward to is our Saturday night standing date night. We finally got our act together and hired a sitter in advance for every Saturday night this winter, so that rain or shine, interesting movie or not!, no tables available be damned!, we're getting out, just the two of us. Already we've found ourselves scrambling for clever ideas, but last week we happened on a date night back up plan that seemed completely genius in the moment. In the absence of anything better to do, we take whatever book we're reading at the moment to the local pub, eat some bad bar food and watch whatever local team is playing on the TVs, and log away a few hours of quiet reading together. We hold hands. :) It's such an old person move, but it was a pretty lovely night. I'm already looking forward to the next time we prove too impressively boring to come up with anything better to do. :)

A few things that struck my fancy this week.

Have you heard of Lunaception? I'm considering trying it. Sleep mask here I come! (This one has good reviews.)

Related to the above--anyone tried Wild Yam Cream? It's all natural, and made from (obviously) yams, for hormone regulation. I'm so intrigued by the idea, I'm thinking of ordering myself a bottle, but I'm not sure. I tried progesterone cream when trying to get pregnant with Huck, and it was the worst. I hated the side effects. So I have my reservations. The testimonials are pretty intense.

Every David Bowie hairstyle from 1964 to 2014, animated.

This girl nailed the beauty look of my dreams.

Hermione as the real hero in the Harry Potter series (wasn't she already?).

In researching Uniqlo's ethical practices after a reader alerted me to their unsafe manufacturing practices, I came across The Good Guide, which grades brands on such matters as ethics and environmental impact. Interesting, and worth a browse.

The husband I love to hate. Hah! Surprisingly sweet.

Ayn Rand reviews children's movies in The New YorkerThis was fantastic.

Speaking of The New Yorker, I recently bought a subscription ($12 a year vs $7 a pop at newsstands, yeech!), and it's the best thing I ever did. The Shouts & Murmurs column completely makes my day, every time. These two cracked me up recently: Let's Get Drinks, and The Eight Serious Relationships of Hercules

"Diners are the best restaurants for planning murders, stick-ups, or other nefarious enterprises." -- Why Diners Are More Important Than Ever

These shoes. I realized I wanted them rather badly the other day, it was kind of a crisis situation.

Ready any good books lately? On Monday I downloaded Essentialism to my Audible app and then listened to almost the whole thing in one go while doing a paint-by-number. (Guys, have you done a paint-by-number lately?) It was the most restorative couple of hours, and really good food for thought. Our Girl Club* is discussing "Still Alice" this weekend, but I haven't even cracked the spine on it. (The subject hits a little close to home.) Is it worth the speed read? Or should I just show up for the cheese plate and stuff my mouth and keep quiet. ;)

*Remind me to tell you about Girl Club. It's kind of the best.

1.15.2015

NAT NESTS | CHICKEN POT PIE


I picked up this recipe from my friend Amelia, who writes the blog The Homebook, and it's very quickly become a cold-weather staple at our place. One of my dreams is to someday nail a great roast chicken all on my own--is there anything more blissful than the idea of assembling your own root + herb bed!! ??--but until that happens, I've been picking up cooked rotisserie birds at the local market, which makes this recipe incredibly, if not far less romantic. I also use a frozen pie crust, which is a travesty! Though I will allow that putting together the mirepoix might be traditional enough to make me feel sufficiently old-fashioned and cook-y for the time being, I'm not too worried about it.

These are my feelings on chicken pot pie, and they are weird, but I will own them. 

(One time in college I gained five pounds on Marie Callender frozen pot pies alone, if I remember correctly.) 


Is that not the prettiest mirepoix-in-the-works you ever did see? I like to imagine I'm living in a small country home with horses in the stable and smoke in the chimneys when I'm in the kitchen mirepoix-ing it up. Don't judge. 


The next-day leftovers on this baby are the whole point of the thing, I think.
(Amelia's finished photos came out way prettier than mine.)
(I'm going to be honest with you, proper capitalization in this blog is really starting to chafe my hide. ;) 

INGREDIENTS /
1 package of pre-made pie crust (enough for top and bottom) (or make your own--Amelia recommends this one)
2 cups diced potatoes
4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tsp black pepper
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups cooked chicken, shredded or cubed
1 cup frozen peas
2 cups frozen corn (or 2 fresh ear's worth cut corn) 
*note: I tossed in celery because I'm a celery addict, but the original recipe didn't call for it. I also think turnips, parsnips . . . even sweet potatoes? Could be great too! Maybe not sweet potatoes, I don't know. Actually . . . 

METHOD /
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place potatoes and carrots in large saucepan, and add water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 8-10 minutes or until tender; drain.

2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, and cook until tender. Stir in flour and seasonings until blended. Gradually stir in broth. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until thickened. Stir in chicken, peas, corn and potato mixture. Remove from heat.

3. Roll out half your pie dough and place into pie or casserole dish, pressing the dough up the sides of the dish. Add chicken mixture. Roll out remaining dough and place over filling. Seal and crimp edges. Cut slits into the top of the pie to let out steam.

4. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until lightly browned. Crimp aluminum foil around the edges of the pie to prevent burning, if necessary. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.

1.14.2015

MOTHERHOOD RIGHT NOW


A FEW NOTES ON HUCK FROM THE MOTHERSHIP /
  • Has increasingly started using phrases like "oh my gosh," and "what the heck!?" and "maybe later" in daily conversation. Which shows he's listening to his mother.
  • Said to me in wonder the other day, on our walk to school, after pausing for a moment with his chin in the air, "I heard birds talking about me."
  • Participates in games of "horse and buggy" at birthday parties with extreme gusto, even when no one else is really into it. 


One of the homes on our street appears to belong to a private music tutor, and most afternoons there appear to be some major lessons going down. Usually it's a piano or flute melody coming at us from the open window in the living room, but the other day it was a drum solo. We're talking real good beats. Huck started poppin' and lockin,' and together we robot-danced all the way down the street till we got to the front door and reluctantly went inside.

I never want to forget the time when Huck ran up to me to request that I give him back the imaginary cowboy hat he'd asked me to hold for him fifteen minutes earlier, and the way that, for a second there, I could actually see it on his head as he galloped away. 

This story: One afternoon a few weekends back we staged us a massive organizational operation, with Brandon in the basement storage paying cardboard Tetris and I upstairs, surrounded by piles of coats and other miscellaneous bits (spare pillow cases. how have we accumulated so many random mismatched spare pillow cases?). Huck floated between the two of us, up and down the stairs, overseeing the whole ordeal and making sure we stayed on task. At one point I stopped for a break and picked up the book I was reading.  Huck announced he was going to go downstairs and hang with dad. I texted to Brandon, "Huck's on his way down!" (We live in a 3 story building that is near impossible to get lost in) and then waited for the "He's here!" text, which came and was followed quickly by the, "He's going back up!" text, which was then followed quickly by Huck's footsteps outside the door, the announcement that he was going back downstairs, followed by my dutiful text to the downstairs parent. I went back to reading. Three pages later and I realized it'd been a while and I still hadn't heard anything. So I texted Brandon again, "is he there yet?" then listened intently for the sound of footsteps in the stairwell. Finally I got the text, another page and a half later. "He made it." I grinned to myself as I pictured Huck playing whatever game it was he'd invented for himself on the stairwell on his way down. This is the simplest and silliest story, terribly mundane and uninteresting, and yet all that afternoon I was so aware of the weighty significance of that day, those moments, Those text messages, those stairs. This is it. Our family. Our time as parents. Huck's boyhood. Team Holbrook. Something like that, I can't really explain it.

But the other day, Huck had his first dentist appointment.


We decided I'd go first, so Huck could see what it was like and have time to feel confident about it. "We just want him to get used to the idea with this visit," the dentist said. "We can do a proper check up next time." So I sat myself on the green reclining chair with Huck propped up on my lap, and the dentist set about checking and cleaning. As Huck peered cautiously over at me with my mouth full of instruments and gloved fingers, and as I raised my eyebrows at him comically and gave him squeezes of reassurance, it occurred to me that this was a rather Mom kind of thing to be doing. I hadn't intended to get a check up that day, it was only supposed to be Huck's appointment, and yet, there we were. Every now and then the dentist would turn to Huck to explain what he was doing, or what a certain tool was for, to which Huck would snap his head to the side and grin his patented "shy and excited but trying to restrain myself" grin. 

Then it was his turn. I asked him if he might feel brave enough to just sit in the chair to see how it felt. He did. Next I asked him if he felt brave enough to open his mouth for the dentist, just a bit. He did. Then the dentist asked if he could clean one tooth. Just one tooth. And then he could see how Huck felt about things and go from there. Huck thought this over carefully. It seemed rational enough. The dentist showed him his motorized toothbrush with the special cheetah head, which Huck thought was rather clever. Slowly he nodded his head yes, and the dentist got to work cleaning that one tooth--just the one.


When it was over, after Huck had registered his extreme shock--his expression quickly going from brave to concerned to straight up insulted--the dentist pulled the brush back and said, "That wasn't so bad, was it? Shall we do the rest now?" Huck folded his hands in his lap rather thoughtfully and said politely yet firmly, "No. But thank you." 

The dentist halted in surprise, his hands held aloft as though expecting to keep going. "Fair enough," he said after a moment. And then he handed us our goodie bags full of Dora stickers and dental floss and sent us on our way.

Huck, ya turkey.
Your mama sure loves you.