Wednesday, April 20, 2016

To Rome, with Love (pt. 2)

All roads lead to Rome they say (and when you are in Rome it's impossible to not think of all of the Rome quotes) but somehow, in our family journey, all roads have led back to Rome time and time again. Even when I say goodbye for what I feel might be the last time...I am suddenly back and enveloped by the familiar cobblestone streets, the Stone Pines, the cactus growing out of the side of a building. And then you turn a corner to the Pantheon - one of the oldest buildings from Ancient Rome built just after Christ's birth. Being in Rome makes me feel insignificant. It takes the ego out of me which is oddly comforting and humbling for some reason. It is odd that we never really know when it will be the last time and I do not take for granted one moment I have to spend there. 

I first took Michael to Rome in 2007. This was technically our last big hurrah after leaving Brooklyn and moving to California (and then having Elodie a year later.) We had spent three weeks in Spain and then took a cheap flight to Rome. Michael fell in love with the city and the food. It's pretty amazing that we both ended up loving the same city so much. He could have been a die hard fan of Berlin or something (which is a great city but I don't really have an affinity for it the same way I do Rome.) I remember turning the corner and him seeing the Trevi fountain. I love seeing things as if for the first time through my loved one's eyes. 

At any rate, I found myself in Rome. I had almost no time to think or plan for this trip and, apart from a few restaurant recommendations, vowed to let myself be led by my nose. Even if you make no plans, you are bound to end up stumbling across The Palatine Hill or the Trevi fountain. It's impossible to not see a whole lot if you wander around Rome. 

The first day we found ourselves in one of my favorite areas in Central Rome near to Piazza Navona. There is so much to see and do in this area and I always like to duck off and wander the streets around Via dei Coronari. There are loads of great antique and vintage shops and restaurants off Via dei Banchi Nuovi (which turns into Via del Governo Vecchio) and then if you continue across the main Corso Vittorio Emanuele II to Via del Pellegrino and then on to the Campo de' Fiori. 

We came to Rome because Michael was hosting a fantastic photography conference called Way Up North which traditionally takes place in Stockholm, Sweden. They decided to host one in Southern Europe and chose Rome. I wanted to attend a few of the presentations but ended up sleeping in late and spending time walking around the city. We were able to have dinner with friends a few nights and I even had time to pop up to Florence to see my friend Jora (I'll try to post photos from that lovely day soon.) In the early evening I would head back to write and rest before joining Michael and our friends for dinner. 

Our first evening we arrived super late and were lucky enough to get a table at Da Armando al Pantheon. We were sitting next to some Italian officials who had brought a lucite pyramid with a piece of the moon in it. They were drinking wine and handling the pyramid with surgical gloves. It was so strange to be on the same square as the 129 AD Pantheon with a group of Italians that had a moon rock that was probably thousands of years older than even that building. 

Another favorite place we share is the Villa Borghese Gardens. On our last visit we visited the Villa and then hung around the park for a few hours. This time, we rented bikes and cruised around. It was Sunday so there were so many people just lazing about or playing soccer with their kids. I dream about this place. It has my favorite tree in the world (the Stone Pine) and is a place I meditate on often. I couldn't help but wish the girls were with me as there are so many fun things for children to do at this park. I told the girls all about the playground and the puppet show. I can't wait to take them.

The next day I walked from Sant' Eustachio where I had an espresso to Trastevere. Yes, I know that it is a bit touristy but it is on a stunning square and I always like to stop in. Heading towards Trastevere, I stopped for some amazing pizza to-go at Roscioli Forno near Campo de' Fiori. Normally you pay for your food/drink first and then give the ticket to the server but in this instance they have to weigh your pizza so choose it first and then pay. 

Speaking of Roscioli Forno, we also ate dinner at the Salumeria Roscioli which was wonderful and well worth making a reservation. The wine list is insane and the sommelier brought us a wine from Southern Italy that he described as from a salty beach. I fell in love instantly and was able to order some to bring home with me. In general, I loved Katie Parla's Rome food recommendations and found her blog to be quite helpful. 

If you aren't staying in the Trastevere area than I highly recommend that you at least visit it for lunch or dinner. All the really amazing, innovative food seems to be happening outside of the Centro Storico in Testaccio and Trastevere (and probably elsewhere to but I only had four days so forgive me.) I spent time with lunch and a book at Da Enzo al 29 and then headed back across the Tiber river and had gelato at Tiberino.

Nights were filled with walks to the Colosseum and aperitifs with friends. We wondered the streets into the wee hours and really tried to soak it all up. 

There are so many places in the world I want to visit but I secretly hope that I find myself back here, sooner than later, with the girls. I took a piece of amethyst that I have been carrying around these last few months and chucked it into a secret spot at the Roman Forum. I watched a mother and her teenage daughter pause for a moment to look at their map and orient themselves and I just can't help but hope that I get a chance to do that with Elodie and Francesca when they are older. Maybe, since things rarely change in Rome, my little amethyst will be there waiting for us. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Well begun is half done with Seventh Generation

I grew up in a big family and there was always one night of the week that I was responsible for the dishes. I always dreaded it at the beginning but then we would start singing "Spoonful of Sugar" or something silly and then get to chatting with each other. I always try to bring this communal feeling into the chores at home but admittedly prefer to have one girl help me at the time (otherwise it's a lot of elbows and tears.) I'm so glad they both want to help out still and know the tide will turn sooner or later. I created a chart for when each girl gets a turn. Francesca's is naturally after lunch time and before her nap.

We always talk about how she used to take baths in the sink when she was a little baby (and sometimes I even let her climb in and wash from there.) I let her wash some of her own kitchen toys first and play for a bit before adding the dirty dishes. She is used to scraping her plate into the compost after every meal and loves to be involved in the process. I also let her pour the dish liquid in and she is pretty good now about not using too much (finally!)

We have sensitive skin and did a complete overhaul in the household products we use at home a while back. I've used many of Seventh Generation products for years and love their commitment to the environment and their accountability for what goes into their products. I love the Lavender Floral & Mint dish liquid and have been using it for years.

Check out Seventh Generation's  #ComeClean initiative. It is absurd that there is not greater visibility when it comes to what goes into everyday household products.

This is a sponsored post. I only post about products that I also gladly purchase myself.

Friday, April 1, 2016

A Mother is a Story

I'm blown away by the beauty of Samantha Hahn's newest book A Mother is a Story and companion journal Stories for My Child: A Mother's Memory Journal that were just released a week ago.

Now, more than ever, I recognize the importance and fleetingness of this time and the role I play in my children's lives and have been slowly filling out the beautiful journal, bit by bit, each night. I can't wait for each to have their own copy with my chicken scratch (but written with love) contributions on their bookshelf.

Samantha approached me a year ago about using some of my images as inspiration for her pages (including the cover) and I was moved to tears as I carefully turned the pages.

One quote lept out at me, "When I am not paying attention to my children, they appear to desperately need it. When I am giving them my full attention, they seem just as happy to play by themselves. It is as though they need to be certain of my attention in order to play their own games and ignore me." - Sarah Ruhl

I am often struck by this truth and how it even applied to my own relationship with my mother as an adult. As babies, we crawl away and look back every so often to find our mother's gaze before continuing on. Even now I find myself looking back, wanting to call her, to see her gaze and feel her close. When you know this little secret...that you must fully turn towards them and take them in, then they will feel secure to go and play. It just takes but a moment. Thank you Samantha for the beauty and mindfulness you put in this world.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter at El Capitan

We just returned from our third trip to El Capitan Canyon over Easter. Stargazing, roasting marshmallows, building sand castles, visiting baby goats and llamas, riding bikes to the beach in our bathing suits, and lots of time offline. On the way home Elodie said "My heart is breaking because we have to leave." Me too sweet girl. So happy to have these traditions.

A link to our 2014 Easter trip.

If you plan to go:
Cabins book up quickly over holiday weekends so reserve well in advance. They have a lenient cancellation policy so book ahead!

Santa Barbara is a quick fifteen minutes down the coast so be sure to stop for your bbq items there. 

We always stop at the original Freebirds in Goleta for a Quesarito (it's not on the menu, just order it!) Seriously great mexican food to take to the beach.

We have stayed in the cabins and the tents (never the yurts) and prefer the cabins with small children (they have a bathroom and small refrigerator.) 

The Santa Barbara zoo is adorable and worth a visit. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

spring dreams

i have sat in this winter and it's sadness. spending time with my family close and absorbing the loss of my mother. slowly the world has woken up around me and with it a message of hope and renewal. spring is here and i gladly accept the sounds of the birds, the blooming jasmine, and the warmth of the sun. i'm looking forward to a week off with my girls!

elodie has been picking purple flowers all month in honor of multiple system atrophy awareness. It is March and you can learn more about this disease and how to help here!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Rock the Lunch Box

Elodie is back to school this coming monday. I have loved the last three weeks of slow mornings and holiday adventures but I can feel the need to get back into our daily rhythm. I've partnered with Rock the Lunch Box to try and get a jumpstart on the routine by planning the girls' lunches for the next few weeks.

As an added bonus, Rock the Lunch Box is giving away a Month of Lunches to five lucky winners - click here to learn more.

I like to give the girls a wide variety of healthy, whole foods that I can prepare in advance while also giving them a few items that they view as treats. The girls love to help pack their lunches and I know they are more likely to eat it if they have ownership in the process.

Elodie loves turkey or almond butter sandwiches cut into fun shapes while Francesca still loves to eat a deconstructed sandwich. I make sure they have fruits, nuts, and veggies but also like to throw in an Organic Honest Kids juice drink or some Annie's Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks or Organic Cheddar Bunnies with a cute note.

Here is what i am going to be giving them the next few months.

Monday: Hummus and Applegate Oven Roasted Chicken Breast Wrap on a Rudi's Multigrain Tortilla, cut carrots with dip made from veganaise (i like this recipe,) pomegranate seeds and tangerine segments, hazelnuts

Tuesday: Soba noodle salad with edamame, steamed cauliflower, orange segments, Annie's Organic Cheddar Bunnies

Wednesday: Brown rice pasta with pesto and mozzerella balls, melon slices, cucumbers, zucchini bread

Thursday: Applegate Turkey Rolls, pita wedges, chunks of feta, hummus, apple slices and Annie's Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks

Friday: Hard boiled egg, Rudi's Honey Sweet Whole Wheat Bread, Avocado slices, pistachios and dried strawberries, gluten free pretzels 

We don't have any specific dietary restrictions but a lot of my friends' children do. Head over to Rock the Lunch Box for more creative nut free, gluten free, or vegetarian inspiration (and do make sure to enter the Month of Lunches sweepstakes!)

And to make an even greater impact, Rock the Lunch Box is supporting FoodCorps, a nationwide team of AmeriCorps leaders who help make lunch more fun and delicious for over 165,000 kids a year. Our 2015 contributions will help support FoodCorps' expansion into their newest state, New York, where service members will deliver FoodCorps' three-ingredients recipe for healthy kids. 

This post brought to you in partnership with Rock the Lunch Box and Annie's, Applegate, Honest Juice, and Rudi's Organic Bakery - brands that I have purchased for years. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

a few of our favorite things...

i've decided to post a few of my girls' favorite gifts to give (and receive) this holiday season. it is a nice snapshot of where they are developmentally and also what is popular in our house this year. 

seedling has such great exploratory items for children. i put the seedling fairy wand kit under the tree this year but elodie also loves the good things for girls kit and is always practicing jump rope or making bracelets with her knitting doll. with her and we have taken the toadstool note pads and woodland stickers with us on all of our plane trips this year. their pocket money line makes the best stocking stuffers. elodie has asked for the oh deer money box for all of her coins.

i love, love, love the hair clips from hello shiso (and more do the girls!) francesca always has the mushroom ones in her hair.

audiobooks are the biggest thing at our house right now and the mindy mousekins series cannot be beat. i don't love the narrator but i'll happily overlook it as the girls listen with rapt attention in the car. 

i have been trying to make more presents for the girls but am not at all crafty. when i started to learn to wool felt i used woolpet kits from fawn shoppe. now i just look at youtube and make my own creations!

i made each of the girls a little gnome to sit by the tree on christmas morning. i plan on putting a little basket of crystals and chocolate next to it. i made one of them at a parenting circle and then just freestyled it for the next. this template online is it in a nutshell!

books are always our very favorite things to give and receive. this year our friends max, margaux and dash gave francesca the book "home" by carson ellis. it is one of the best books we own hands down. so beautifully illustrated and a story that both my three and seven year olds love. i also love stopping by woods on a snowy evening by robert frost and the animals' merry christmas by richard scarry! so many good books to choose from (and if you have any you recommend, i'd love to hear!) i love to write the day i bought it and a small developmental note to the girls in their holiday books. it's fun to read with them every year.