Happy 100th, Julia!

*photo courtesy of kitchensaremonkeybusiness.com

Today marks what would have been Julia Child’s 100th birthday!  As a child I spent many a weekend afternoon watching old PBS reruns of Julia Child’s cooking shows.  She had a zest for food that was contagious and everything she made always looked decadent and spectacular.  She lacked self-consciousness and bounded into her recipes with more authenticity than just about any TV personality chef I have seen on television (and I watch my fair share!).  I found her captivating, even in my elementary school years.

My mother was a fan, too.  Being a great cook herself, my mom  had several of her cookbooks in her kitchen bookcase.  She consulted them for a handful of favorites that she would make when entertaining.  One of the standouts was Julia’s Gateau de Crepes from her Julia Child and More Company book.  This gorgeous dish resembles a layer cake, only it’s bound with crepes and filled with savory things like swiss cheese and sautéed mushrooms.  It was Mom’s perennial favorite for Easter Brunch.  Many years ago her cookbook went missing, but I was fortunate to find a replacement on Ebay from a kind man in Hawaii.  It was my first Ebay experience and one I will never forget as I anxiously awaited this vintage book and hoped that this Ebay thing wasn’t a huge racket!  It arrived safe and sound and Easter Gateau resumed.

Gateau de Crepes


For the crepe batter

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter

Vegetables and Cheese for Filling

  • 1 lb carrots
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • salt and pepper
  • I lb fresh mushrooms
  • 4 tablespoons shallots
  • 1 bunch fresh broccoli (about a pound)
  • 2 cups shredded grated Swiss cheese

Custard Mixture for Filling

  • 1 cup cream cheese
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper
  • a pinch of fresh nutmeg to taste

Rosie from Kitchens are Monkey Business photographs and describes the process better than I ever could!  Click here to see her beautiful work!



Travel at 2

It’s hot.  You’re confined to an uncomfortable seat.  You’re bored.  Maybe hungry.  You want to get up and do something, but you can’t.  For an undetermined amount of time.  You’re tired.  And you’re 2…

If we think travel is tough on us, what must it be like for a little person who doesn’t understand one bit of it and, by the way, didn’t really give her/his stamp of approval to this itinerary.

We know travel is worth it.  We get to see friends and family, and experience new places, smells, sites and tastes.  So, we continue to do it.  With every new stage of development we try our best to make the journey fun or at least manageable for everyone involved.  Traveling with a 2 year old (or nearly 2 as the case may be) is much different than traveling with a 1 year old  and we want to be armed with a “discovery bag” full of options to keep things running along smoothly.  So, here it is, my top 5 travel tips for Travel at 2…

1. Bring lots of SNACKS.  Obvious, I know.  This isn’t your first rodeo.  But, I like to introduce new snacks to keep things exciting.  I found these and they were a huge hit and best of all they’re organic: http://www.diapers.com/p/little-duck-organics-strawberry-mango-tiny-fruits-39705

2. Bring some portable activities.  These packable sticker books are fantastic, reusable and a steal: http://www.amazon.com/Little-Airport-Sticker-Activity-Dover/dp/0486412725/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1344974156&sr=1-3&keywords=dover+activity+book  Add a small sketch pad and a baggie filled with crayons for more fun.

3. Bring snuggly items for that nap you’re hoping for.  Favorite blankets and this type of compressible packing pillow helped seal the deal for us: http://www.rei.com/product/794982/rei-backpacker-pillow

4. Bring a brand new toy.  I Spy Bags are fun for travel and they are lightweight: http://www.etsy.com/listing/106042408/i-spy-bag-mini-with-sewn-word-list-and

5.  Lastly, when all else fails…Ipad.  We aren’t video/tv fans for our toddler but when it comes to travel, we bend the rules.  Here are great headphones for little ears: http://www.amazon.com/Kidz-Gear-Wired-Headphones-Kids/dp/B0007NWL70 (I recommend practicing with them to get your child used to wearing these prior to travel).  I searched high and low for a video I felt was sweet, slow-moving and accessible and the winner for us was “Kipper the Dog”!  It comes as a series of 8 minute stories, so there are multiple places to stop the show and transition into something else.  If you are looking for Ipad games, we have found the Apps by Duck Duck Moose to be pretty straight forward, educational and least annoying 🙂 : http://www.duckduckmoosedesign.com/educational-iphone-itouch-apps-for-kids/fish-school/  And, of course, there are so many books to download as well, your entire library is now portable!


It’s summer! Do you know what’s in your garden hose??

My tomatoes are turning red and delicious on their vines.  For this novice gardener, it is a very proud moment.  I took great care in choosing the right location for my seedlings, planted them with organic soil and food, gently tied their growing vines to their stakes for support and watered them daily.  They are healthy, organic, and we grew them all ourselves.  So, naturally I was dismayed when I read an article reporting lead in very likely the garden hose I have been using to water our food source!  Lead.  Wonderful.  In fact, the study in the article reported  that 70% of the 179 garden products it tested contained chemicals of “high concern,”  30% contained lead and 100% contained phthalates (a chemical linked to birth defects and breast cancer).

And, not only have we watered our garden with our lead-laden hose, we also fill the kiddie pool for our toddler – water that he inadvertently, or probably advertently, drinks.  Perfect.  The good news?  10 seconds of internet search uncovered many lead-free and phthalate safe hoses.  I took a chance and visited my local chain retailer and found a good option there and we are back in business!

***Tip: Look for “drinking water safe” and/or “lead free”on the packaging.


Me vs. My glass shower doors…

Ok, I know I’ve been posting a lot about cleaning…Don’t misjudge me, I don’t enjoy cleaning. In fact, on my list of peeves, it’s a chart-topper. But, I do like clean things and I DON’T enjoy spending time doing it only to be disappointed with the streaky, spotty results. Maybe I’m in a frenzy because it’s spring.  I don’t know. But I’ve been googling the topic of how to clean glass shower doors non-toxicly for months now and have tried it all: the vinegar, the lemon juice, the baking soda, the glass cleaner, the foaming bathroom cleaner, the lime remover, and even, gulp, the vodka, all with poor results.  This weekend I decided to go out on a limb and experiment with my own non-toxic recipe. To my surprise, IT WORKED! So I’m sharing with you! You can benefit from my many weeks of trial error and then gaze at the glistening results  🙂
-spray glass doors with Method Bathroom Cleaner
-sprinkle a cloth with Bon Ami scouring powder and work onto the doors in a circular motion
-repeat if necessary and rinse with clean water
-then do yourself a favor and buy a good squeegee and squeegee the doors after each shower

p.s. you can find these 2 products easily at many Target stores and supermarkets.  or try Amazon.

face place

Adult acne.  Really?  I never had a problem in my teens, but for some reason after I had my child, as if I already didn’t have enough on my plate, my skin started getting very particular.  The discovery of this homemade, natural toner has been a life-saver.  It’s got all the good stuff from citrus and a couple other ingredients to help calm the angry skin!

Homemade Toner:

2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed citrus juice (orange or grapefruit work well and are gentle)

2 Tablespoons witch hazel

1 Tablespoon alcohol

*Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks


snacks reinvented…

One of my all-time biggest peeves is wasting food. I’m slightly neurotic about it, actually, which drives my husband kind of crazy.  One day I had what Oprah has coined an “a-ha moment”… I could turn all that leftover yogurt my son didn’t finish into tasty, healthy treats!  You can, too – it takes all of 60 seconds. Just put a few bits of fruit of your choice (frozen or fresh) in the bottoms of a popsicle maker and then spoon the yogurt on top. Your child can also help by putting in the fruit or the popsicle sticks, and voilá!  Yogurt popsicles for the whole family!  P.s. this works wonders on those teething babes or for sore throats/mouths

Steal this Deal!

When I started planning a nursery for our baby’s life on the outside, we had four priorities:


1. Peaceful

2. Gender neutral

3. As natural and non-toxic as possible

4. Affordable

The choices out there can be overwhelming, but when attempting to stay within these parameters, it truly seemed like a needle in the haystack search, unless we had an unlimited cash.  Which wasn’t the case.  So, as I always do, I started thinking outside the box and getting creative.  For example, we had an old credenza from our days in Chicago that we’d gotten at a thrift or antique shop for cheap.  It was dark and dingy when we purchased it, but we stripped it, pulled off the hardware and finished it with a natural, non-toxic oil.  With some new hardware it became a perfect changing table/low dresser (see photo).  I then fell in love with pretty much everything from local LA designers at Amenity Home, so we hit up their sample sale and found large pieces of printed fabric for $5.  I had a local seamstress turn a couple of them into pillows and then stretched the largest one over a new art canvas and had a beautiful piece of art for a total of $25 (shown in photo)!   Moral of the story?  Repurpose furniture, shop vintage and sample sales, and get creative… You can do it, I know it!