Sunday, August 29, 2010

Because my mother does.

I baked banana bread for my longtime friend and took it to the house she just bought in our suburb.

I baked lemon cookies for our new neighbors and dropped them off, too. Not this weekend but fairly recently.

Why did I do this? Because my mother always did this. It's welcoming.

I say to my children, "Put a sweater on; I'm cold." Just like my mother did.

I can make chicken in 25 different ways, just like my mother does.

I have too many plastic containers, just like my mother does. I, however, throw them out from time to time and replace them. She still has Tupperware from my childhood.

I get Time magazine, like my mother does and has since before she married my father 40+ years ago.

I sew well because my mother does.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bakesale Betty

The blue hair wasn't hard to miss. I spotted her from way across the Danville Farmer's Market. And then I became an ardent fan of Bakesale Betty and her scones. In the warm months we ate them with strawberries and whipped cream. And in the cool months we ate them plain, one after the other.

Then the Australian import and former Chez Panisse pastry chef disappeared. After a bit she reappeared, husband in tow, and opened a storefront in Oakland's Temescal neighborhood. For a while she still sold at the Walnut Creek Farmer's Market but told me that she no longer did Saturday markets because the retail store was too busy.

Finally I visited that storefront. It has a cult following. She still wears the blue wig. And she sells strawberry shortcake so I didn't have to buy the pieces and assemble them myself. The seating is colorful ironing boards and stools on the street. People rave about her gigantic fried chicken sandwich with spicy slaw.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Open letter to my precious firstborn

Dear Paris,

It's the first day of school.

As you were walking out the door I did what I did every year, I chased you with my camera. I made you stand by the front door while I shot your picture. At least you were all dolled up; I was out there in my pajamas! And I did notice that artfully applied eye makeup, by the way. In turn, you made me promise not to post the picture on Facebook or my blog. Deal. I am standing by my word.

It's clear that you think this annual photography ritual is cruel and unusual punishment. Every year you give me the same annoyed look.

Do me this favor, sweetheart. Go to Facebook and see how many parents have posted these same pictures, the ones by the front door.

While you abhor this back-to-school exercise, everyone else you know is being tortured in this same way. And believe me, you will do it with your children, too.



Sunday, August 22, 2010


The Pinks go back to school tomorrow.

While I'm happy that their education will continue, I'm sad to see this summer end. They're at great ages, much more fun than work.

The summer's highlights included:
  • Last night's concert in the park with three other families.
  • Dinner with the extended family at my SIL's house and then ours. This is the only picture I have of me with my two SILs. 
  • The bathtub-warm swimming pool, perfect for laps for this wimp.
  • The cooler-than-usual-days, providing lots of outside playtime without fear of dehydration.
  • Pajama time with the kids.
  • My parents' garden in the spot formerly occupied by their pool, and my own success at growing tomatoes.
  • Driving up the Central Coast with Dave and the littlest Pinks.
  • Celebrating Dennis' 50th and boating with my other SIL and nieces up at Tahoe.
  • Helping promote Rachel Simmons' talk here on Sept. 13.
  • Volunteering at Habitat for Humanity, Children's Hospital, Wardrobe for Opportunity, Tri Valley Haven and Hospice of Contra Costa County.
I am savoring every last minute before the kids head out tomorrow morning.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Duckie's Chowder House

Most surprisingly, the best meal of our roadtrip was in Cayucos, on the central coast five miles north of Morro Bay.

Duckie's Chowder House is known for both its New England and Manhattan clam chowder but I didn't eat those, given my past shellfish experiences involving emergency rooms.

The restaurant is across the street from the pier and has an indoor / outdoor bar. You can only imagine the view and the amazing smell of the ocean. Two of us sat inside, two of us sat outside. The place was packed at early dinner time. Cayucos seems to be the place for extended family and friend gatherings. Maybe it's the small town thing? You can't easily lose your people in a town that's barely two blocks in length?

The kids had the chicken fingers, which are ordered individually, and the fries. Dave had a burger and chowder. I drank some of his Firestone Ale, which was pale and divine. I had fish tacos and Nancy's salad. I'm not usually a fish taco gal but these were quite tasty, with the fish cooked just right and the condiments spicy but not too spicy. I ate my entire salad, too, of lettuce, blue cheese, avocado and bacon with a garlicky vinaigrette. That they use sustainable packaging is a bonus!

I'd like to go back but sadly, Cayucos is not exactly on my way anywhere.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I am now an urban farmer.

I've actually grown something I have eaten. Do you see this tomato? I picked it this afternoon and ate it for lunch.

In case you're wondering, it became a salad with avocado and Burrata, and was dressed with Olive's Oil, balsamic and some of the truffle salt Neeracha brought me back from the Dordogne as a consolation prize.

This is a big deal. My parents have green thumbs and I've tried to grow tomatoes for multiple years. Finally the planets aligned!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Roadtrip 2010!

Dave, the twins and I have just returned to the Bay after a week on the road. It's not our usual MO and we had a blast.

First stop: SIL's house 350 miles south to drop off Paris. SIL and BIL then took their daughters and ours to sleep away camp, where they will be for another week. I got a letter from Paris but I don't understand it all; it's written in texting lingo. A teaching moment is ahead. Here's a picture of the three cousins, aged 12, 12 and 14, ready to hit the road.

Some other cousins came for dinner with their 10-month-old identical twin daughters. This is the best age of babyhood as far as I'm concerned: all smiles, no stranger anxiety and still with some extra rolls. We just drank them up. So delicious!

Next stop: Rancho Palos Verdes and the new Terranea Resort. The Terranea has an exquisite location on the peninsula. The highlight of this part of our trip was seeing Dave and Jackie Donell and their kids. Oh and the Wayfarers Chapel, designed by Lloyd Wright, Frank's son. It's nearly all constructed of glass and sits in the forest overlooking the ocean.

Third stop: Santa Maria via Santa Barbara. We stayed at the Santa Maria Inn, a historic hotel in built in the old center of town in 1917. Historic = barely modernized with the original antiques. We were upgraded to a suite and it had a beautiful view of a parking lot and Shaw's Steakhouse, where we ate an amazing dinner actually. Santa Maria style BBQ is smokey and tender.

Fourth stop: Cayucos, a fairly untouched beach town on the central coast. We stayed in a kitschy motel, which Liberty was so upset about that she cried real tears. Another teaching moment. We walked the pier, rented Tori a wet suit and watched her boogie board, and went into nearly every shop in the two-block downtown. Little sleep was had in Cayucos, however, because of he funky smell in the room and the mattress quality. Our best meal of the trip was in Cayucos.

En route home we visited the Elephant Seal Rookery at Piedras Blancas. This was one of the highlights of our trip. The male seals are molting now on the shore. The 4,000 lb beasts haul themselves onto the beach then take a two-month snooze. They line up like logs and look and smell disgusting in the most fascinating of ways.

We toured Hearst Castle and had a very late lunch in Paso Robles before counting the California Missions up the 101 home. Takeaway from Hearst Castle: the original property included 30 miles of California beachfront land. Can you imagine?!

Who knew the central California coast was so interesting? Perhaps the soccer families, who spend a lot of time in San Luis Obispo++. We'll go back again.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Rubby Ducky, you're the one!

Paris and I volunteered with Children's Hospital Oakland this week, prepping ducks for the annual Rubber Ducky Derby Fundraiser.

We did this in Frank Ogawa Plaza near City Hall. Is it pathetic of me to be honest and tell you that the best part was getting to know some other NCL moms and daughters and seeing a new part of Oakland?!

Sorting toiletries at Wardrobe for Opportunity, the previous day, was more rewarding. Perhaps because we got to see a few of the people the program benefits?

Did I mention that we also baked eight dozen cookies for Diablo Theatre Company and made a meal for Children's House this week? I guess I am a Type A after all.

Our summer sampler of philanthropic endeavors continues.