Monday, January 30, 2012

Lions & Tigers & Bears oh my!

We didn't see any of those at Safari West last weekend. But we did see giraffes and zebras and wildebeests.

Eldest Daughter and I spent the weekend bonding with our National Charity League group. This consisted of an early departure Saturday morning to hit the Napa Premium Outlets (JCrew, CAbI, Cole Haan and more) and then lunch at the Tra Vigne Pizzeria before meeting up with the others.

Safari West surpassed my expectations although I'm glad we didn't end up staying overnight in those tent cabins on property. After a while the smell gets to you. We took a two-hour open-air Jeep tour through the 400-acre preserve in Santa Rosa and got up close and personal with those zebras. There is seating on top of the Jeeps, too, so those people had the best view and also the bumpiest. The route through the preserve is not a smooth ride, not by a long shot!

The animals are pretty interesting. Who knew a Cape Buffalo was so dangerous? Or that cheetahs can't climb so they present no threat when kept in ceilingless enclosure? I learned that even though giraffes have long necks, the majority of their food is located below their shoulder level. Their height is all about group dominance. And they also sleep just 20 minutes a day. (More than Edward.)

After the tour we had a great dinner at Guy Fieri's Johnny Garlic's and headed back the hotel where some girls swam, other girls played cards, and Coleen and I eventually watched Midnight in Paris. (Good movie but, as is typical with Woody Allen, you're left with questions. Also, the novel A Paris Wife is good background for this movie in case you're a little fuzzy on Hemmingway and Gertrude Stein.) The film is up for a Best Oscar and I disagree on that one. I've also seen Moneyball, The Help and The Descendants and The Help was the best of the four although the Woody Allen one is more clever than the others.

The preserve is very close to where one of The Pinks will go to sleep-away camp this summer. We'll see if she has enough energy after a week of sun and fun to take a tour. This particular child would love it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Flat Apple Pie

The Pinks and I watched The Pioneer Woman on Food TV last weekend. If you aren't familiar with Ree Drummond, read her. The story of how she met her husband, aka Marlboro Man, is just adorable. Anyway, back to Food TV and the recipe that is haunting my family. Ree baked a flat apple pie that had us all drooling. We had friends over for dinner Sunday night and this was very easy to make for dessert.

We served it with whipped cream (real whipping cream + vanilla + granulated sugar) and Ree's caramel sauce, which we upped the ante on by subbing whole cream for half and half.

This recipe makes two so be sure to make two pie crusts (or buy them at Trader Joe's, the perfectly acceptable easy way out). Each pie feeds four generously or six conscious eaters.


5 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2T all-purpose flour
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2t salt
6T butter

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In large bowl, stir together the apples, brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour, salt and lemon juice.

Put pie crust dough on large baking sheet.

Place half the apple mixture on one crust and the other half on the other crust. Fold over the edges of each crust so that it covers 2 to 3 inches of the apple mixture. No need to be artistic - the more rustic the better. Dot the tops of the pies with chunks of the butter.

Bake until the filling is golden and bubbly, 30 to 40 minutes. If the crust appears to brown too quickly, cover the edges with aluminium foil for the remaining baking time.

Allow to cool slightly, then slice into wedges with a pizza cutter.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Back to the future

Thing 1 and I went to LA Dance Magic last night. It's a dance convention, one of many Eldest Daughter and I used to attend during the years that she danced competitively.

Thing 1 loves to dance. She loves music. She loves performing. And she wants to audition for dance team this year. It's clearly a passion of hers and a constant conversation topic in our house. She has taken dance classes since she was three and this year is in three classes: intermediate jazz, intermediate / advanced jazz, and ballet.

Last night took me right back to that parallel universe, now chronicled on Lifetime in Dance Moms. It was so many of the same people, doing the same thing, while we'd spent our winter weekends skiing and sleeping in. While we were doing theatre and playdates, they were doing leaps and turns, and homework in the car between classes. I looked carefully into the faces of The Next Step dancers, searching for traces of the five-year-olds that Eldest Daughter began dancing with. I found poised teenagers.

If Thing 1 makes team this will be our reality again. And I will have to figure out if I fit in with the younger team's dance moms or the ones I've known for years, the ones who greeted me with big hugs and surprised faces last night. Or perhaps I will remain a misfit.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Am I in trouble?

My friend did not answer her phone so I left a message: "Hi. It's Leslie. I wanted to talk to you about two things. Give me a ring back when you have a few moments."

When she called back she said, "I feel like I'm being called into the principal's office."


I get it. I've felt that way myself. In fact, I often feel that way when my mother leaves a message. I had, in fact, phoned my friend to pay her a complement and also to ask a favor.

Our conversation then turned to why we react this way. She thinks it's Good Girl Syndrome. I can see that. Rachel Simmons did an entire book on it: The Curse of the Good Girl.

I spoke with my ice cream sister-in-law a week later and she mentioned that she spent her childhood as a rules follower and to some extent, still does so today. We have that in common. I show up at school registration with all the forms filled out and am frustrated by people who slow down the process because they haven't. I understand the return policy at Target and don't ask the clerks to circumvent it. There are fewer conflicts if you understand the guidelines.

However, I've long said that rules are not made for people with twins. So I've broken my fair share there and in business. As a woman in technology, and someone who has seen three start-ups to IPO, it's been a proven technique.

I do not wish to be 13 again. Nor do I wish it for you.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

There's a new gun in town.

Watch out suburbanites. Thing 2 is armed and dangerous.

Three years ago Thing 2 helped Jill clean up her mom's back yard. The process involved the use of a leaf blower, which Thing 2 was too young to use at the time and has coveted ever since. Apparently Thing 2 is now old enough and Jill and Wally got her her very own leaf blower for Hanukah this year. She was shocked into silence when she opened it. Big, big eyes. Literally speechless.

Fast forward to last weekend when she had her first chance to use it.

The fall leaves are long gone but we did have a bit of toilet paper in our yard Saturday morning. The funniest part of us being TP'd is that the 10-year-olds who did it started at 10:30pm and we busted them in act. We thought it hilarious. I wonder if they peed their pants during the dash from the crime scene.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Thank you Oakland Fire Department!

Our neighborhood supports JDRF, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. One of our neighbors is on the San Francisco Chapter board and a few of our neighbors have family members with Juvenile Diabetes.

Dave joined two tables' worth of neighbors and several hundred other people at this year's local JFRF fundraiser. I was sorry to have missed it but happy to celebrate a friend's simcha that night instead.

During the live auction Jan and Jon bought the Oakland Fire Department planting 1,000 daffodils in their backyard. A month later four hunky firefighters showed up to plant them while the neighborhood ladies had a light lunch on their terrace. Such fun and such a good cause! The firemen were great sports, posing while Jon documented the event. As it turned out, one of the men was a soccer dad from a few seasons back. Oy!

I'm so buying this next year.