Monday, December 15, 2014

Cheer In Progress

I'm happy to report that after our second weekend of recouping from wicked colds, we scraped ourselves off the couch, unglued our eyeballs from "Frozen" (yes, the freeze has finally descended upon our household), and made some Christmas ornaments out of baking soda/corn starch dough
It was pretty simple, except working the the press cookie cutters, like the snowman... Those are tricky but ultimately gratifying. We really got into poking holes in each ornament with straws and then blowing the little plug out like a spitball... When you hang out with a 3-year-old it's the little things that really get you going.
We feel slightly elfy and are excited to tie ribbons on these suckers and give them to friends, family, and teachers as tokens of our love and appreciation. Pippa was quoted at school at Thanksgiving saying that how you cook a turkey is to "Make a triangle and a heart. Then make a star. I'd cook it with hearts and stars so I don't burn my hands." So it only seems appropriate to give heart and star ornaments to her teachers. Please note: all the other kids still answered like pre-schoolers but were much more literal. My little dreamer.
And of course we'll save a few for our tree. ; )

Sunday, December 14, 2014

It's Mid-December Already?!

All Christmas presents can be bought online, right? Because I'm having trouble leaving my couch, never mind my house.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Three And A Quarter

She tells me about her dreams. A lot of time she dreams about swimming with her cousins in a big pool. She'll tell me in the morning when I wake up. The other day we were on our way to the grocery store and she started telling me about a scary dream involving the boys at school, and kicking and yelling. I had to suss out the fact that it was just a dream (she forgot to mention that part in the telling).

She makes up her own songs "We are friends! We are friends! We are friends!" and makes up funny lyrics to the songs we know "Old McDonald had a farm and a microphone here and a rainbow there" etc. 

A week ago when I dropped her off at nursery school she said hello to all the kids she saw in the cubby room -- "Hi Audrey," "Hi Charlie." All of the sudden. She has really taken to nursery school. I'm glad we sent her five days. The first week was rough but as soon as I learned to leave as soon as possible, it didn't take long for her to adjust. I stopped by her school the other morning around 9:15 to drop off something that she had forgotten, and both parents of a little girl who only goes on Thursdays and Fridays were in the doorway doing to goodbye dance with their daughter. I think it's hard for the little ones when they are not in their routines.

She always wants a say in her outfits and almost always picks out her clothes. She almost always prefers dresses, preferably super fancy girl tutu dresses. 

We recently got her some gold boots that she is really pumped about, I think because they remind her of my boots. 

She has been talking about wanting to get her ears pierced but I'm not sure she's ready for the reality of it -- the piercing and the upkeep. I think I'll try and hold her off til next year at least.

We stopped napping her around 2 or 3 weeks after school started. She would nap unpredictably -- maybe every other day -- and when she did, she'd go to bed around 10. It was brutal! Now that she's not napping she turns into a crazy person around 6:30 every day, then gets her second wind and is off to the races. We've slowly been dialing back her bedtime from 8:30, with a target of around 7:30.

She loves chicken nuggets, carrots, pasta, bagels and lox, waffles, and fruit. And of course candy. 

After really, really rough visits with her doctor and dentist for her 2 year well visits (she just screamed and cried and resisted, it was really so terrible), she was a perfect angel for both her doctor (same) and dentist (new). I was so proud of her for being brave and so relieved.

I negotiated a new schedule and now work only 4 days a week, which is a real blessing. Having a whole day with her is quality mom time. I get to plan what we are going to do, make her lunch, and think of special outings that we can do together. The first week, after her dentist appointment, we got our nails done (her first manicure!). Last week we went to the mall and got her an outfit for her school picture. It really feels like stolen time. Not to mention that I get to do whatever I want while she's at school in the morning! What a luxury.

This is a lot of tedious information for probably anyone but myself and Pip's grandmothers, but I want to write it down so I can look back and remember what she was doing right now. Time goes by so quick.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Punkin Pay-atch

There is a little farm off 537 in Colts Neck called Brook Slope Farm… It's family owned and never swarmed. The perfect place to pick pumpkins with a toddler and get a free ride around the patch on a wagon pulled by a tractor. This is our second year there and it didn't disappoint!

Running for pumpkins.

Took a stroll through the corn… no maze necessary.

Monday, September 29, 2014

"Is It Halloweentime?"

We couldn't wait for October this year, and we found a bunch of spooky candles at TJs to make a scary tabletop vignette. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Snapshots from Downeast

There are so many places we want to go, but somehow we always find ourselves going back to Maine. Sometimes I think we should mix it up more than we do, but then we have a week like we just did and I think life couldn't get any sweeter.

We visited family in Orono/Bangor, which includes relaxation, good eats, good shopping, long walks, and great conversation. Then we were lucky enough to stay at my cousins' recently converted barn on Mount Desert Island just down the road from Bar Harbor. And it was completely amazing. My watch stopped working, my phone died inexplicably, there were no screens and no wifi. Just the three of us, games, arts and crafts, food, and nature. The weather was obscene: warm fall days, crisp nights, clear skies, no rain, foliage popping.

I'd call it a retreat, only it felt more like paddling out to something very alive and ever present. We are grateful to have a home away from home up North, or Downeast as the case may be, and to return home anew.

Red sailboat seen from a run on Route 3.

The magic barn.
Painting rocks and leaves.
Glad to know the art of the hardcover non-fiction is still alive.

The barn manages to be both austere and completely chic.

Making a wish at waterfront park in Bar Harbor. 

More wishes at the fountain in the Village Green.
"Skipping" stones at Jordan Pond after popovers (and chicken tenders).
From the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia… A third cruise ship joined the next day!
Much needed family bonding and fun.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


We're up in Maine on vacation, and we sold our house. The way life should be. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Current Events

Went to the U.S. Open the Tuesday after Labor Day to see the mens' 4th round and women's quarters in a night session. Federer and Wozniacki both won in straight sets, so we got out at a reasonable hour which is nice in my old age, but slightly disappointing compared to 2005 when I saw Agassi beat Blake in a barn burner. Still glad I went and my date declared we should make it a yearly tradition, which is exactly what I've been wanting someone to say to me since I was 14. Victory tastes sweet.

Now I can work on getting to Wimbledon.

Did a sketch for a friend's birthday card yesterday. I need to revive my hobbies or I'm in danger of dissolving into a hybrid couch potato/barfly in my free time. Right now it feels like I'm dabbling in everything and it's not sticking. I've got a Le Carre book languishing on the bed stand, a stalled needlepoint project (I told you, I'm old), and a twice a week running schedule. Ugh.

While waiting for the train home from the Open, my friend and I were talking about current events. I admitted I don't really follow the news anymore. I read the New Yorker and follow NPR via my Facebook feed (it hurts me to come clean about that, I usually refer to it as a "news feed."). It took a long time for me to inquire more about ISIS. Because really, do I want to know more about these people? It's disgusting.

I spent most of my twenties engaged and enraged about the death and suffering caused by the ignorance and righteousness of this country -- that's your takeaway when you study American History at NYU. But at about seve months pregnant with my daughter my fascination and anger turned to sadness, and I realized in order for me to live powerfully I couldn't do it anymore. I've transferred that over to Mr. SevPrez and now he fights the good fight on that front.

I confessed to my friend that I went through old journals and correspondence when we moved and found evidence of a smarter, wittier, more relevant, firecracker version of myself. I was so sure of myself and my opinions! I used to write better. I was unabashed.

Am I a complete milquetoast? Does that come with the territory of marriage, motherhood, and mid-thirtydom? It's disorienting to feel you've lost your shine, but with that comes humility, and with humility comes the opportunity for grace. I do slightly less embarrassing things and make much better sartorial decisions. I can finally cook. Everyday my daughter eats, sleeps, and dances. So if I'm a bit of a dud, at least there's that.

Still. Gotta finish that book, sign up for a race, learn needlepoint, and get to Wimbledon. These are great projects and I should keep them alive. Never give up.

Sunday, August 24, 2014


Yesterday was the perfect late summer day to bake, cool and cloudy. No hot kitchens or remorse for staying inside. I picked up my baking lieutenant and we made pies (after going grocery shopping in the play kitchen and checking out on our new very fancy play cash register). Peach crumb and mixed berry with the same star crust I made for Memorial Day.

My daughter takes after my husband in the sense that she gets very upset that when the pie is done she can't have a piece, which always makes me think of this Cosby show episode.

I also baked chicken for the first time last night, inspired by my friend and coworker Freddi. She was diagnosed with celiac disease earlier this year and now cooks amazingly nutritious meals for herself and others for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We work from her beautiful historic row home once a week where I am benefactor of her lunches and snacks. It's turned into one of the highlights of my week.

So yesterday when we were at the grocery store and I was asking myself what we should make for dinner, I asked myself WWFD? Thus Mr. SevPrez was overjoyed to be eating baked chicken thighs on the bone (I have been scared of baking poultry all my life). I just threw them in a pan with olive oil and butter, salt and pepper, fresh thyme and lemon juice and wedges. We had baked yams (also a Freddi thing) and a fennel salad (learned from Blue Apron). It was so easy! I'm so excited to have a new answer to the most dreaded question in my life, "What should we have for dinner?"

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Got the chance to go to NYC today for a business meeting with my brother. It was a privilege to spend the day with him. We got to share our Fishbird work with someone new, who was a star and totally got it: I'm chomping at the bit to work with her. 

Our meeting was downtown on Broadway and 9th Street, my old stomping grounds. We got a bite at 'witchcraft (because I love Tom Colicchio and his fried egg & frisee sandwich) drove past my old office, and proceeded down the canyon of capitalism known as Broadway in Soho. It has such an effect on people that we actually stopped the car and got out to shop. Uniqlo had the gall to be closed for inventory, so we popped into Balthazar for coffee and roamed around. 

We went to Saturdays, where they sell surfboards, coffee, duffel bags, and other dude stuff. We walked by a hip barber shop, Fellow Barber, which reminded my brother that he wanted a haircut. They had no openings so we ended up at a Korean or Japanese place on the corner. He got a haircut and I got a chair massage by the strongest 100-pound woman in the world. Ouch. But also, yes! 

We waited for our car to pick us up in front of Madewell where I had just enough time to run in and get a life changing bag, inspired by Jenna at Sweet Fine Day. On Monday we met with a fancy new PR firm that had me thinking I should get a better purse. I didn't think I was serious until, in getting ready for our meeting today, I realized that I need to get a better bag. 

So I did! What a lovely day.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


We celebrated the Little One's 3rd birthday with a big birthday/housewarming party at our new house. We had about 35 men women and children over, and thankfully the weather cooperated, again! Three years in a row. We are really testing fate with the late July birthday parties.

I had my baking apprentice niece come sleep over to help me decorate and power bake. We got some fun banners at Target (which I plan on keeping up in lieu of window treatments, for now) and made balloon garlands for outside, inspired by Pinterest. We tried to stay with theme colors from the Paperless Post invite but the selection at the store really threw us off. Pippa wanted green plates, surprisingly, and we ended up just buying what inspired us and having a multi-colorful party that was no shortage of festive.

The birthday girl had asked for a "SPRINKLE CAKE WITH SPRINKLES!!!" (shouted loudly, always). So we baked a funfetti cake from scratch -- turns out you just add a cup of sprinkles to your cake batter -- and made a buttercream icing with a massive amount of sprinkles on top that just happen to reveal a 3.

It was sooo awesome to have everyone we love together in our new home, especially since having a big birthday party in our big new house was the thing that finally got our little girl excited about our move. It was also very strategic timing, as the party really motivated us to get the house to a "showable" state. That said, I've definitely been in overdrive for two weeks, so much so that today when I got home from work the day after the party, it felt like our first night. I had something like house amnesia. I don't really remember what our nights were last week… But I'm really glad to be able to take a breath and make memories together.

Photos by the lovely and talented Amanda Kane! That's what friends are for!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

All Is Well

I was talking to a close advisor of mine about the sensation of tuning into truths that have always been there. 

Lately I have been experiencing a sense of inner peace that I don't believe I've ever felt -- certainly not as an adult, or without the aid of any substances. Not joy, not contentment, not accomplishment, not mania. What it feels like is this: I am going to be OK, no matter what anybody says or does or what happens. I am going to be OK.

On the "You Made It Weird" podcast with Pete Holmes, which is usually quite bawdy and funny, Deepak Chopra said something that I can't stop thinking about. When he said it, it was like it infected me, and I'm grateful that I'm at a place where wise messages can get inside and transform me, rather than just be something to intellectualize. He said: "I don't have bad days or grumpy days because, essentially, I don't mind what happens. I mean, I don't control the total universe. And yet every moment is a conspiracy of the total universe. So why would I fight the whole universe? Once you've let go of your idea of how things should be, nothing ever goes wrong. So in my world, nothing ever goes wrong."

Hillary Clinton said "Take criticism seriously, but not personally." Yes.

Lou Reed wrote, in "Magic and Loss" (which I personally believe is more powerful as prose than song):

They say no one person can do it all,
But you want to in your head.
But you can't be Joyce
so what is left instead.
You're stuck with yourself
and a rage that can hurt you.
You have to start at the beginning again.
And just this moment
This wonderful fire started up again.

When you pass through humble,
When you pas through sickly,
When you pass through
I'm better than you all,
When you pass through
anger and self deprecation,
and have the strength to acknowledge it all,
When the past makes you laugh
and you can savor the magic
That let you survive your own war,
You find that there is a passion
and there's a door up ahead not a wall.

Resonant messages from those who have passed through this thing before me. I share them here in case my future self needs reminding. I share them here with you.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Flowers From Matawan

The hubs's brought back this bouquet on his last visit.

We are so stoked on our new digs, but we really, really miss our flowers from the old house. It's kind of heartbreaking that we have to leave everything there. The hydrangeas and zinnias are in bloom! Ach!

We might have taken a lot of our favorite stuff if it wasn't the height of summer, but Mr. SevPrez is really proud of his work and in a way, it's a gift we are giving to the house. It was good to us. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Other Things To Be Thankful For

Everyone needs to be wearing these shoes this summer! They are right up there with clogs -- highly recommendable to pregnant people or any woman who gets a pedicure for the foot massage. Worishofers were all the rage in Brooklyn circa 2006, and I'm taking the liberty of bringing them back. If Birks can come back, anything is possible. Ugly shoes are where it's at y'all! 

. . .

Also, I went to the liquor store a stone's throw from our new house and low and behold they have my favorite wine ever -- a Chenin Blanc/Viongier blend -- in the cooler! Further proof that this house was my destiny! Keep it in stock, people!

And lastly, after 32 years I have finally subscribed to premium movie channels, and it is the most decadent and amazing thing I have ever treated myself to. Even more than the cleaning lady. She is amazing, but it in different way, like if we didn't get her we may have exploded from stress, resentment, and misery. HBO is just awesome, no strings attached.

Holy Tomatoes, Batman!

Since we knew we were looking to move this summer, Mr. SevPrez planted at garden at his folks' house this year. And it's a beaute -- fenced in to protect the crops from deer, and complete with bamboo teepees. These are some killer tomato plants!  See for yourselves.

We're hoping to can some of the harvest, but it looks like a lot of work. Any tips?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Rhubarb Pie

A stucco Arts & Crafts house built in 1926.

It's not for everyone, but rhubarb pie is the favorite of a select group of adamant pie lovers. It's also the code name of my new house project, chosen because any house I was going to move into would feel warm and homemade, and be suited for not just anyone. My brother coached me on the project and just giving it a name that resonated for me was a huge help in keeping my excitement going and my motivations present while confronting the fear of uprooting into the unknown. And the paperwork, don't forget the paperwork!

My brother, who gets paid large amounts of money to coach Fortune 500 executives, will always tell you, you have to know the future -- what you want -- and leave figuring out "how to" for later. We created an aggressive date of July 1st when we'd be in our new house. And we came pretty damn close. Our house was on the market on April 21st, we closed on our new place on July 11th, and were sleeping there a day later. The house we are selling is currently under contract and *fingers crossed* will be sold before September is out!

And it's awesome! There is still a lot to do, but Mr. SevPrez and I both feel like we found our dream home. We each got what we wanted. I got a historic home with architectural detail and good bones in a nice neighborhood. He got a huge yard (it's a triple lot -- so much to landscape and room for a big garden) and a town that he feels is keeping it real. 

I was really nervous about moving the Little One. Every time I brought it up she would say "NO! We are NOT moving to a new house!" Seriously, for weeks I tried. My mom (the child whisperer) recommended we find a library book about moving, then upped the ante and said she was going to write a book about us, with pictures and everything. Only my mother.

I gave it one more try, before we started packing boxes on the 4th of July, and told her that her birthday party would be at the big new house. And don't you know it, she changed her tune! I gave her a box to decorate and she became part of the process. My mom delivered the book a few days later and she was filled with authentic excitement and a better understanding of what was about to happen.

She had a brief moment of yearning for the old house before bed on our first night, but when she woke up on Sunday morning, we heard her step into the hallway and say to no one in particular, "I love my new house!" 

And the project was complete.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

On Spirea

I fell in love with spirea as a young kid. My neighbor had a bush on the side of her house that faced ours and I spent a lot of time alone running around the yard, looking at stuff, concocting teleplays in my head and taking special notice of anything remotely exceptional. I loved its unassuming profile, just a run-of-the-mill green bush most of the year, but for a month in the spring, it took on the most magical, lacy, bright pink blooms. Mrs. Havisham in magenta. 

At some point that bush either died off or was removed, along with a lilac and a bridal wreath on the border of our properties. The old woman who lived in the house passed away. 

I always held a candle for that ethereal pink plant. It was imprinted on my memory like a lost stuffed animal, the smell of my Grammy's back pantry, a favorite cartoon long off the air. It was decades before I ever saw one again, fleeting at first, then they started popping up. When I dropped my water bill payment off at the municipal building, then shopping at the supermarket. I learned their name: spirea. I told my husband that we needed these in our newly landscaped lawn. An absolute must. Once we found them at the nursery he loved them too.  

Now they are everywhere, if you know what to look for. But I took special pride when both our mothers asked to cut a small bouquet from our blooming bushes before they left Fathers Day brunch at our house. They had never noticed, or never heard of spirea, my long lost friend. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Summer Day of Fun 2014

Adventure attire: check. 

Elberon > Belmar: choo choo!

Kleins to watch the boats go by. 

Strollos for an ice cream cone with sprinkles!

And back again. 

Monday, May 26, 2014


Happy Memorial Day from the Jersey Shore. We're not quite at the beach yet but it feels like we'll get there soon.

Brought my first mixed berry pie (blueberry/blackberry/strawberry) to Lobsterfest. Stole the pie crust star topper from Martha Stewart. It's a crowd pleaser and you'll be seeing it again on the 4th of July, no doubt.

Speaking of tarts (badum ching) I finally started reading Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch. It's extremely long but after 150 pages I can say that so far it is living up to the hype.

I'm currently blogging from under the umbrella on my deck while Lil SP naps on the couch inside. She's all tuckered out from a visit to the Mount Mitchell Scenic Overlook and lunch in Atlantic Highlands. It's a perfect day and I can't wait to read some more of my book before heading to my mom's for lobster rolls. 

This is what I thought motherhood was going to be like before it happened to me - easy breezy afternoons spent satisfying my spiritual and intellectual needs, waiting for my angelic baby to wake up and coo. It may be slightly different in actuality.

Oh, and if you're a Masterpiece Mystery person like myself, Mrs. Fisher's Mysteries is the new hot property on Netflix. 


Friday, May 9, 2014

Growing Up

Time is a vortex that presents fleeting moments of clarity. All of the sudden my daughter three feet tall, going tinkle on the potty, and taking showers all by herself. It seems like it happened all in a week. We were getting nowhere and then BAM! She grew so much in a moment.

Then I trimmed her hair ever so slightly one day to reduce the tangles. Then I cut her bangs. A watershed moment. She now looks so much like me at that age. She lost her baby face. She's a kid. For all intents and purposes, she might as well be three. Six? Twelve? It's crazy.

Another thing. We are house shopping, and trying to have an open mind, so we've looked at a lot of properties in a lot of towns. Some houses I refer to as "grown up houses," not for me. Someone could have a nice life here, but not me. A perfectly perfect house, with all the bedrooms, closets, appliances, and bathrooms a sensible person would need. But I'd be living someone else's life.

We found a dream home for a great price. An estate home. After a few false starts, we went under contract and into attorney review. Then, at 4:45pm on a Friday, their lawyer sent a letter via email to my realtor canceling contract. I was so looking forward to celebrating Mother's Day triumphantly with our new house all queued up, that it's a bit of a let down. But that's the way the real estate cookie crumbles. We'll live to fight another day on Monday and see what the lawyers have to say.

More updates as we get them. Cross your fingers.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

On The Market

After seven lovely years, we are putting our house on the market. It's a little nervewrecking but very exciting to stand in a place where we can choose our future home base. Our intention is to move into a slightly larger house (nothing crazy) that is closer to our family. Which, incidentally, takes us closer to my work and the beach. Not bad.

Isn't it funny that your house looks its best when you decide to move out of it? Maybe we'll learn how to maintain a tighter living space and reap the benefits in our new place.