Friends, I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I have fallen out of the habit of writing here.
There have been a few factors at play: we have had extra work and houseguests and difficult emotional times. There was a mantle of tension and sadness settled on our small family that has taken us no small effort to shift.
We took a road trip. I discovered Instagram.
And I would be a remiss Canadian if I failed to blame the weather: never-ending winter, truncated spring, less-than-sultry summer; and, just lately, swampy, blazing heat when most of us are too busy – or too over it – to enjoy it.
So even if you had heard from me, I fear that my less-than-enthusiastic tone might have put you off.
Perhaps irrevocably (I’m hoping my silence hasn’t done the same).
Meanwhile, incredibly, here we are, knocking down the door on September’s first full weekend, and things couldn’t be much better. And since it’s Friday, and I know we all have a lot to do, I’ll leave you here with these few snippets – and a promise to come back again soon.
“Today is your last day of being four,” I whispered to my son in the wee hours of the morning on the day before his birthday, and shivered a little at the thought.
Five years old! I remember nearly every minute, and it still feels like those years have dashed by. I am no longer the mother of a baby or a toddler (or both). I have children now, tall and sturdy and erudite and curious and highly quirky kids.
They are both officially in full-day school this year, and although this week has been overwhelming at times, we are getting there.
Happily, I have had the opportunity to work with some incredible people to soothe my bereft mama heart, as well as some serious sartorial daydreams in the form of lookbooks from here, and here – the latter so heavily fondled that it is creased like a love letter.
Speaking of love letters:
“I don’t want to be the kind of musician that ignores the pop culture. I want to be a part of my time, and soak it all in.”
I have always been a big fan of Beck. From the grinding, bad-boyfriend albums of my youth to this latest lush and mellow LP, which sounds perfect even on my dodgy old turntable, his shifting and brilliant sound has provided a soundtrack for much of my adult life.
I stood riveted in front of the radio several weeks ago, listening to him reflect on his music and his process – and, really, his life – in an interview which confirmed my suspicion that he and I are soul mates, on some cosmic (and strictly platonic) level.
I could fill this post with quotes from that interview, but it wouldn’t be the same – and you’d miss a gorgeous in-studio performance. Listen to it here.
Finally, we took a little hiatus from our weekend newspaper delivery over the summer – we were feeling awash in newsprint – but I could never, never, give up my Sunday New York Times. Last weekend’s T magazine made the case for everything I require of a style-centric publication, and I loved this recent lighthearted interview with Jenna Lyons, who answered a question about diet and exercise as follows:
“I lift some really heavy sequins during the day. And I walk in five-inch heels regularly, which I believe is really good for my calves. Do we have to talk about diet and fitness?”
Amen. And have a wonderful weekend!
I have spent many a February 14th thinking about love and romance.
Lipsticked and red-stockinged, outrageously shod, fur-coated, occasionally melancholy, rarely single, and often annoyed by the crass commercialism of it all, I have always had a kind of perverse fondness for marking Valentine’s day in one way or another.
In theory, I do like the idea of spending a whole day wearing one’s heart on one’s sleeve, making grand declarations, overspending on the wine and the food, getting down on bended knee.
But in actual fact, I am not overly comfortable with any of those things, and I have been infamously irritated when on the receiving end of them in real life. When it comes to romance, I shy away from the grand gesture. I don’t like being boxed in.
I never have.
Ask me about love these days, though, and I will unsheepishly tell you that I can’t get enough. Love from my sweet and complex children, and from my husband, who is those things and so many more.
Life with these three and their love is essentially the glue that holds me together
(and there it is, friends, my heart on my sleeve).
Happy Valentine’s Day!
It’s been ages, an appallingly long stretch. I know.
But let’s not dwell too much on that, shall we? I am just going to quickly catch you up, so we can all move on. Because now it’s not been weeks or months, but seasons, and that will never do.
If it’s any consolation, you haven’t missed much:
I spent the month of April largely griping about the weather and pining rather intensely for my far away friends and family. Easter happened, and with it a beautiful duck pho, which was hurriedly photographed but otherwise languishes, delicious but undocumented, in our collective domestic memory (for shame!).
Towards the end of the month, my husband’s touring season began, as did roughly six weeks of on-and-off houseguests around these parts – including the utterly delightful Kenny Anderson, who charmed every one of us but most especially my small son.
May is one of my favourite months of the year, second only to October. Some of my most beloved people have birthdays in May, and I was lucky enough to celebrate with more than one of them
(I feel I should mention that one of the celebrations was epic enough to deserve its own post, and involved – along with excellent food and drinks in copious quantities – an absolutely lovely and enviably talented group of women, several of whom I met for the first time that evening. My good fortune knows no bounds).
Luckier still, my mom returned to this part of the world after what felt like an interminable winter away, and her strength and health and good humour brought me no end of relief.
June, with its sweaty nights and solo-parenting and the swampy smell in the park in the mornings, passed me by in a wink.
And now here it is, July already, and the beginning of birthday cake season around here. I have a bit of a love-hate thing for this time of year, involving as it does so much indulgence, and weather just warm enough that much of my resolve to keep at least a loose lid on it melts into a sweaty puddle at my all-too-rarely running-shoe-clad feet.
But when I say love-hate, it’s mostly love, because really, summer is so short. We’ve got some great visitors to look forward to, and my children have just discovered the vast joy of early mornings spent at the local pool.
I absolutely adore using the twin excuses of heat and good conversation to justify a dinner of cold wine and potato chips.
And the dearest of my dears, the three loves of my life, all have their birthdays in the next six weeks.
So stay tuned, friends, and buckle up…
It’s good to be back.
I love a leap year.
In this era where nearly everything can be adjusted to suit standards that seem more exacting by the day, where we calculate our time down to the second on a regular basis and even a baby’s birth can be scheduled, there is something to be celebrated – something pleasingly archaic if slightly bizarre – in the continuing existence of February 29th.
The only down side is that it prolongs the end of this dreary month, which, as far as I am concerned, could not come soon enough.
Just when I thought I had endured this balmy winter largely unscathed, I was beset recently by the dreaded seasonal slump – I’ve mentioned it before, and I even had the temerity to suggest that I had avoided it this year; but that was sadly not the case (as evidenced in part by the recent waffle-mania that has overtaken our house).
So we aren’t celebrating the extra day in February, exactly.
It’s been an eventful few years – which coming from me, having lived a fairly unconventional and action-packed life, is saying a great deal – and although there were some harrowing times that I could certainly have done without, most of the time I marvel at how far we have come.
This recipe takes me back to the early days of my first pregnancy, and the beginning of my time here: a time when I felt utterly unmoored, far from everyone who knew me well and overwhelmed by what I had undertaken when I decided to embrace this new life, new love, new neighbourhood – and vastly empty new home.
But before it did I made a batch of socca one cold, bright March afternoon and ate it off a paper towel with my fingers, sitting on the floor all alone and looking out the bare kitchen window and shaping, in my mind’s eye, a life.
A long way, indeed.
I have made one addition to to this simple recipe, and fiddled somewhat with the method, so if you are a stickler you’ll find the original here. This is a southern French dish, ideally paired with cold rose served in tumblers in the heat of an August afternoon, but for some reason it always comes calling for me at this time of year.
2c chickpea flour
2 tsp coarse sea salt
2 tsp ground cumin (I am currently obsessed with roasted cumin and would recommend that if you can find it, but regular ground cumin is of course more than fine)
a generous grinding of black pepper
2c warm water
1/4c extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and then thinly sliced, lengthwise
2-4 tbsp olive oil (not necessarily extra virgin, since it’s going into a very hot pan)
Sift flour into a large mixing bowl. Add salt, cumin and pepper and stir to combine, then slowly whisk in water to form a smooth batter. Whisk in extra virgin olive oil. Cover and let the batter sit for as long as possible, ideally an hour or two and overnight if it comes to that.
Set a 10-inch cast iron skillet on a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Stir onions into batter.
When oven and pan are hot, remove pan from heat; swirl about a tablespoon of olive oil into the pan, then add a scant ladleful of batter, tilting the pan so that the batter reaches the edges and thinly coats the bottom. Return pan to oven and cook 8-10 minutes, until batter is golden around the edges. Gently flip the socca in the pan; return to the oven and cook a further 3-4 minutes, until golden and crispy on both sides.
Slide socca onto a plate and eat (or serve) immediately.
Repeat with remaining olive oil and batter.
Makes six beautiful socca.
Friends, I hope you will forgive the radio silence from this side of the screen.
I had vowed to post not less – and, ideally, more – than once a week, but, oh, the frenzied pace. My husband and I own a business that runs on roughly the same calendar as the school year, so things are especially non-stop just now.
I have been getting up before the mice (I wish at least part of that sentence didn’t have to exist) so I can go for my morning run in the pitch dark and be home before my kids wake up; happily, our morning baking ritual has not suffered much in our panic to shoehorn ourselves into some kind of back-to-school routine, but there are many, many other things with which I have not kept up.
Still, as much as September always kind of knocks me flat, there is a lot of joy to be had around here. We’re all eating pretty well (even the mice), and I have a cupboard full of good wine and a fridge full of good cheese, the result of some impromptu entertaining over the weekend.
And two gorgeous steaks that didn’t get eaten last night as planned, which I intend to cook a la momofuku. A little gluttonous for a Monday night, perhaps, but it’s raining, and my husband is coming home a little earlier than usual. So why not celebrate?
There will still be plenty to do tomorrow.