Saturday, August 29, 2015

Watermelon / Mint Spritzer

As we gear up to bid farewell to our favorite season, I've been trying to squeeze in as much of these last "summer" joys as possible. Taking full advantage of what few remaining pool days, and fresh fruit salads, and BBQ tacos and drive in movie dates might be left to soak up before we shift into Fall.

A few weeks ago, at the beach with Kate I was introduced by her sweet friend to this water concoction made of boiled watermelon and mint that I was left craving for days after. Luckily I got my hands on this simple recipe thanks to Kate and spent a morning filling up two pitchers for our family to enjoy during the peak of a recently sweltering weekend. The boys loved it and the baby was a big fan too.

With a special perk being how incredibly well it pairs up with vodka. We spiked the last of what we had in the fridge by adding a splash of Titos, sparkling water and a little grapefruit juice for a refreshingly tart, semi sweet Sunday evening cocktail. It was fabulous, and highly recommended for anyone else with a creeping case of the "so long summer time" blues who might need a farewell season spritzer to lean on in the coming weeks. 

3 cups of water
1/2 cup of raw honey
1 small bunch of mint
1 small seedless watermelon peeled and cubed

Combine the water, honey and mint in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Pull out the mint and discard once it comes to boil otherwise the syrup will go bitter. Let the syrup cool to room temperature.

While the syrup is cooling, puree the watermelon in batches, in a food processor or blender (I used a blender) then pass the mixture through a fine mesh strainer and discard the contents of the strainer (I skipped this step and it ended up just fine) combine the watermelon juice and the honey syrup in a pitcher, stir, serve over ice and enjoy.

*Stays fresh in the fridge for up to a day. I also squeezed in some fresh lime with each pouring because, well ...  a little added lime never hurts.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Back Alley Babes

When Arlo was born one of my favorite gifts I received from a friend were white onesies with various era Dylan faces ironed on the front of them. Down the line my another friend (and long time iron on font enthusiast) made one for his first birthday with the lyrics from "You Ain't Going Nowhere" on the back, which came to be worn and loved by each of the other boys for years there after.

In deciding to add a line of limited edition tee shirt designs to our shop a few years ago, I was always adamant that it would revolve mainly around music I loved, and hoped to install early on in the tastes of my children. Simple images based on the sounds I wanted them too to embrace. The Flying Burrito Brothers was Mike's pick. As he's been forever in search of this particular tee when finally we realized we could just make it ourselves and let whatever people it speaks to, snag one up too. The best part about it is that it's a small percentage of everyday folk who actual know and love The Flying Burrito Brothers. Certainly not a mainstream draw, but with all the complements our boys receive when wearing them - it's the jumping delight of the hard core fans that serve as an immediate  connection, like "ok, you like good music too." Smile, head nod. High five. Also the reason we decided they belonged in adult sizes as well. Big people, little people, everyone likes a good band shirt.

The Dylan design this round comes from my friend Samuel who's passion for hand drawn designs is what I am most drawn to. His company bio reads: "Samuel and Juan Solorzano, creators of Brothers Design Company, share a passion for authentic, original design inspired by photographers like Karl Ferris and Eddie Bauer designs from the early and mid 1900's. Each project starts with a raw concept and is brought to fruition through an unparalleled attention to natural detail that often becomes lost along the road to industry. Similar to the frescoes of Rouen, the most influential and lasting pieces of art are created with passionate labor. Art, whether with words, paint, or raw materials lose their intended beauty, as John Ruskin so adeptly put it, when dexterity takes the place of feeling. Each day we strive to pick up the pen, carve out an image, and capture an aesthetic with patience and perseverance in the early hours and before we rest at night. At Brothers, we have found that diligence, rather than convenience, and humanity, rather than machinery, allow us to produce work that endures longer than the fleeting trends of the present century. " 

The photos above are from this week's brief trek to downtown Lake Elsinore where I tried to snap a few pictures for our shop but the models (paid in dime store slurpees ) showed about as much enthusiasm as cats to a leash.

What we ended up with was a filthy bunch in a dingy alley wearing some damn cool (freshly stained) tee shirts. And one mighty close call with a wide bus in a narrow alleyway. #subterraneanbuswidthblues

Shop Link HERE

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Thrift Picks

Clearly the good 70's pottery Gods were on my side this week, right?

Not pictured:

- the giant "Annoying Orange" stuffed toy I bought for Rex as gift to reward his newly refined patience in Salvation Army scours. Which lives up to it's name by shouting a handful or incredibly annoying phrases whenever you push the tiny button on top of his head. A perk we were not aware of until late that evening, when he served as giant grenade during a pre bedtime brawl then started spouting off such stupidly entertaining quips delighting the boys and loosening the fists. A fit of laughter that helped outweight some other hours where his voice and repetitions that made me wanna slice him wide open and tear out all of his filthy, second hand stuffed insides.

- Hannah Anderson pajamas in my very favorite striped colored paring (2$) that were sold out when I tried to buy them at top dollar last Christmas.

- Slightly "worn" Target pajamas for the baby that look a whole lot like they could come from Hannah Anderson

- The hand painted hawk we found wedged in a corner, wrapped in plastic and patiently awaiting what appears to be it's madien flight.

- A 1970's era "Iceland University Tee" soft and faded just enough to suit Leon's notoriously weird wardrobe requirements.

- My Iced coffee I wasn't allowed to bring in because of the "new carpet" installed weeks prior, which    melted sadly there in the peak of the 10am summer temps and tasted awful on the way home when I tried to reclaim it. Luckily, the pottery in my truck made up for it.

- The one lone mug that took a violent spill upon unloading.
   R.I.P tiny cup with the pretty over sized handle and hand carved signature underneath. 
   Too soon. . .

Breakfast Blend

With school back in full swing this month I've been obsessively seeking new ways to simply aspects of our daily routine. In that, green smoothies have become a major game changer. An early morning savior that makes for a quick and easy solution to feeding four kids who's tastes in breakfast preferences almost never align. Also, conveniently, an obviously healthy way to kick off the start to a long day ahead.

The version we're stuck on lately is a loose recipe consisting of 2 ripe bananas, a full handful of spinach, a generous scoop of chia, a cup 1/2 of frozen pineapple, a small single container of mango yogurt, Trader Joe's vanilla beverage, and a splash of OJ with a little ice.

We've tried and tested a number of smoothies but this one seems to please them most. Though I'm defiantly up for any suggestions if you've got 'em. I'd love to keep this easy morning blending routine rolling, so a few options on hand would be much appreciated.

Also, since we're on the subject, there are some great tips in the comments section over on The Ma Books regarding prepping routines and good ole' household organization you should check out if you haven't already. The mason jar salads especially. I think it's a such a genius idea and am hoping to have the lovely lady behind them contributing more there soon. So, keep an out.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Mama Circle

I had the honor recently of inhabiting a small piece of the lovely Space Erica's created over at The Mama Circle Blog. An interview you can find here in addition to all kinds of other thoughtful insights and helpful tools for new mothers as well.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Around Here

Snapshots of the day to day

- Prepping marinade for fresh salmon our neighbors caught last weekend.

- Faithfully thriving, best behaved plant

- Rainbow stacker, the current favorite toy

- Stack of 5$ flea market Levis I've been living in through this awful August heat wave

- Rex, and the quilt we left and lost in Palm Springs. Something I know I'm sure to miss forever

- 10am loft light

- New book from my best friend. "When Dylan Went Electric"

- Best friend's after school bake fest / peanut butter & Oreo gluten free personal pies

- A slow Sunday, pirates booty and story time

Friday, August 14, 2015

Big Wednesday

Do you know the roots of Volkswagen?

"Ironically, the idea for the Volkswagen, 'People's car', came from Adolf Hitler. He chose Ferdinand Porsche to engineer a car that could carry 2 adults and 3 children, and that could do 100km/h (62mph). And the idea was, that people could buy it trough an affordable savings scheme. That's how the base for the VW Beetle was born." 
- Just one of the facts Arlo learned this week while researching the history of Volkswagen.*

Let it be known that I am not proud of the fact that our boys missed their second day of school this year in honor of Big Wednesday at San Onofre. As much as I tried to figure out a way to make it there without them it just didn't pan out so I was shadowed with guilt the entire day. Though I will admit that starting school in August has always seemed downright absurd to me, so maybe this is  part of me subconsciously rejecting it? Either way, it's 105 degrees, in the peak of the summer swelter and we're sending them off to readjust to a school routine during a month they can't even go out on the playground because the temps are edging the danger zone.

It's ridiculous. If ever there was a petition I wanted more . . .

Aside from my own bitterness and lax stance on ditch days - which won't be happening very frequently know that there are three of them in school - the day was worth the guilt it drudged up. If only because of how sweetly it revives something of a sixties surf nostalgia that I can't compare to anything else we've been part of, even on a beach notorious for it's laid back, old school Cali vibes. And man, that's a mighty hard one to pass up. Fingers crossed next year falls on the week before school picks up because now the boys know exactly what they're missing when and if they do.

This Big Wednesday is put on by a couple guys who started it a little over a decade ago - one of which is Mike's old friend Ryan who's watched it expand from a measly 10 Volkswagens in the beginning, to an impressive 100 plus this year. With the strip of sandbank lined and stacked in every color, shape and year VW one can possibly imagine. Drawing in grips of photographers perched up on the hillside to capture all the gleaming ariel shots you'll see pop up in everything from postcards, to magazines to local newspaper clippings. An in line camp out happens the night before (which Mike is devastated to have missed out on) when they all roll in around midnight to stake claim on a prime parking spot and sit and shoot the breeze under the stars while waiting for the gate to open. A fun, free wheeling crew clinging to the stuff West Coast dreams are made of: Sand, Surf, Old Cars, Beer, Music and Bikinis. All together for one long afternoon there in the loving name of Volkswagen.

The following evening we showed up at to back to school night where I had to juggle three class introductions and wanted to slink beneath the desk when Arlo's teacher took special care to reiterate her strict stance on superficial absences. Where all I could think was, thank God we have the rest of this year to make it up.

* to prove aspects of alternative learning still happen in these defunct family ditch days

Thursday, August 13, 2015


Arlo was about six or so when he learned the ole' plastic water bottle wedged between the spokes of your bike to mimic the sound of a motorcycle kids that age are always so desperate to recreate.  I remember being shocked at just how great it actually worked. As a kid I had tried the baseball card version myself and found the same excitement in hearing my beloved purple Huffy take on that big engine sound so easily, with such minimal effort.

The folks behind "Spokester" got a little wiser. They designed a simple, practical hard plastic wedge that pops onto any standard bike frame, providing kids with a lasting faux motor groan with a "one size fits all" version that are sure to kick the cards and bottles to the curb. They sent us three to test out with the boys and to no one's surprise, they were an instant hit.

And because I'm always curious as to the back story behind such creations, I requested and interview from the creators to get some insight as to why and how they came up with it. Here's what I got:

Q. Hi. Thanks for sitting down to talk a little about your business. First off, where are you from?
A. Wow – that’s a long story. I was born in Midland, TX, an oil town in the western part of the state. It is very flat, so we could ride our bikes all over town with little effort. When I was twelve, we moved to Tulsa, OK where I went to Jr High, High School, and college. Even though I’ve lived in many other states, I feel at home in Oklahoma and call myself an Okie. My career has taken me to live in seven additional states, including North Carolina, where I raised my kids and invented the Spokester.

Q. What can you tell us about your product, as far as where the initial idea for Spokester stems from?
A. As a boy, we used clothespins to fasten playing cards to our bikes. I remember riding all over Midland pretending I was on a motorcycle. When my kids were growing up, I put playing cards on their bikes too. Soon I was doing this for the neighbor’s kids and I began to think of ways to do it better. I wanted a durable, one-piece noisemaker that sounded good, was simple to install, and was inexpensive. The current design meets all those criteria.

Q. Who did you have in mind when you designed it?
A. I focused on kids between the ages of 5 and 13. Of course, I target their parents and grandparents, who remember doing this when they were kids.

Q. I always love hearing about people turning their dreams and visions into realities. How long did it take you to actually get this idea into a kickstarter forum to gain momentum and funds to start production? 
A. This is truly a family affair: I invented the product and got it into production. My son, Adam did all of the graphics (logos, packaging, literature, websites, etc.). Daughter Kate is in charge of our social media. We decided to do a Kickstarter campaign in order to raise funds for high volume production tooling about six months ago. We spent a lot of time researching successful crowdfunding techniques, and hopefully now we are ready.

Q. My boys have all tried various ways to get their bikes to sound like they have motors attached to them, as a kid, did you use any of the old school techniques to do this too?
A. Yes. I got the idea from putting playing cards on my bike as a young boy. I have an active imagination and I remember pretending that I was riding a motorcycle – sometimes I was a policeman!

Q. What are some of the ways you like to spend time outdoors with your friends or family?
A. We all love the outdoors. We’ve taken many camping/canoe trips as a family and also hike a lot. We’ve hiked the Grand Canyon, Appalachian Trail, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, and others. Last week Adam and I spent two days hiking in Yosemite National Park, and we’re all going to Glacier National Park next month!

Q. Who do you hope buys your product? And how do you hope it impacts aspects of modern childhood?
A. I hope the parents and grandparents of young children buy the Spokester for their kids. I hope it teaches these youngsters how much fun creative, social play can be. I hope it encourages exercise and a healthy lifestyle in these kids.

If you'd like to help see this awesome little gadget make it's way into larger scale production you can check out their Kick Starter campaign currently happening HERE. And remember, word of mouth and reposting is free. And any decent dollar counts!