After we went to New York this summer, we decided to head up the coast to Maine. Ken and I both love New England — he spent part of his childhood there, and we met in college there. I’m a total California girl, but the other place I really feel at home is New England.
Neither of us had ever been to Maine, though I had been fascinated with it since I was a child. To a kid growing up in Los Angeles, nothing is quite so exotic as the Pine Tree State. We rented a darling little cottage with a water view, no cell service, and a lot of peace.
And here’s the thing about Maine — it’s exactly how you imagine it to be.
Continue reading Summer Vacation II: Great State of Maine and Crab Rolls
The end of August is not the easiest of times. The novelty of summer has worn off, lost its gloss and charm. Summer camps are over, the last suitcases from vacation are half unpacked and staring dolefully at you. The kids are climbing the walls with boredom. The weather is unrelenting, the temperature climbing into the triple digits and staying high into the night. It’s too hot to cook, too hot to go to the park, or play in the yard.
This summer has not been the easiest time for me. I am usually breezy, with a joke every minute. But I felt unable to cope. And yet I found myself in my OB’s office at 8:30 one morning, sobbing.
Post partum depression was not something I expected. I didn’t have it when Nuni was born, but here I was, with a baby who cried a lot, a husband who worked a lot, a mother out of the country, a nearly- five year old who does nothing I tell her to, and a bucketful of hormones making me -literally – crazy. I wanted to enjoy my baby’s babyhood, rather than resenting it, but I felt like I couldn’t.
It took a good friend to send me a note saying, “I think you might have PPD”, a husband who talked the doctor into seeing me tomorrow, instead of two weeks from now, and some medication, but the fog has started to lift.
The meds have helped, but some days are still a struggle. I have to remind myself, every day, to focus on the blessings. The grins and coos of my little boy When he sees my face, the conversations with my big girl, a husband who is an active parent rather than a bystander. When I focus on these, I can slowly find the joy that surrounds me.
August has its blessings, too. The sun may feel oppressive, but it brings us ruby tomatoes and juicy peaches. This gazpacho takes advantage of those, with the added bonus that it requires no cooking. I keep a jar in my refrigerator, and no lunch is more refreshing on a hot day. When I embrace the season, I can find the joys of late summer.
Continue reading Gazpacho
One of the true joys of summer is the dinner picnic. Gather some friends, a blanket, a bottle of wine, and someplace to spread your spread. Ideally grass will be involved, and enough live music to add to the ambience without inhibiting conversation.
Bread and cheese is always a classic dinner picnic meal, but really, what’s the fun in that? I can spend a week planning a good dinner picnic. Nothing that needs to hold to a certain temperature, or is too fragile to be packaged. My husband always tells me to keep it simple, but I suspect his idea of simple and mine aren’t exactly the same thing.
On a recent summer picnic (accompanied by 20′s jazz in a botanical garden), I kept it simple. Potato chips and onion dip ( for the nostalgia factor), grilled pork tenderloin that had been marinated with some southeast Asian ingredients, a light coleslaw with pineapple, and this tropical trifle.
Continue reading Mango Rum Trifle with Coconut Custard
Labor Day weekend is bittersweet, like the end of an affair. Three days of sunshine, of flip-flops, of beaches and barbecue. But Tuesday lurks around the corner, like a raincloud with the smell of ozone to the air. There’s almost a sense of desperation — just one more cookout! — before fall settles in, with its dark evenings, the smell of cinnamon and freshly-sharpened pencils, and its long march to winter.
I’ve been busy collecting summer, whether it’s making just one more fresh fruit pie, canning a batch of tomato jam, downing bottles of rose, or just sneaking outside to enjoy the sunset. I keep getting ideas and checking them off the list: Hollywood Bowl tickets, picnics, Lemonade! And one of my favorite summer foods is potato salad. I wanted to get in one more potato salad before roast potatoes become de rigueur.
Continue reading Essential Potato Salad
How on earth is it the end of August? Labor Day is just around the corner, but I still have so much summer to get in! We haven’t gone to the beach, or made s’mores, or even gone to the Hollywood Bowl. And I need to get in several more hours being lazy in the hammock. I feel like I’m turning into one of those old people who is constantly exclaiming about how fast time passes, but it does. This summer has passed in the blink of an eye.
When I was a child, the summers stretched into infinity. I don’t know if it was that each summer was a greater proportion of my life, or if it was just that I had more time to slow down, visit the library, stretch out on the grass with a book, and let time stop.
The Nuni is in that childhood stretch of time passing slowly, and she so badly wants it to charge on, full speed ahead. In the past few weeks, the Nuni (who will turn four in less than a month) has adopted a new persona, and has told anyone who will listen that her name is Polish (as in making silver shine, not as in Pope John Paul II), and she is seven. Those two things are intertwined. Of course, it is moments like this that make me want to stop time, to preserve forever the moment when my daughter is on the cusp of childhood, and nothing sounds better than being seven.
Continue reading Preserving Summer — Tomato Jam