Downtown Los Angeles

DTLABefore it recedes too far in my memory, I want to share some of the pictures from our DTLA date last weekend. I had so much fun mapping routes from Grand Central Market to The Last Bookstore and then on down to the fashion district and the flower district. What can I say, I’m a planner! And most definitely my father’s daughter! Our day started at Grand Central Market, which opened in 1917. It’s a big open space full of vendors, and there’s plenty to look at every way you turn. Cheese, glorious cheese!

DTLAThis is actually where we ordered lunch: delicious!

DTLABut this is by far the most popular restaurant in the market. The line was absolutely insane. Luckily for me, I really don’t like eggs, and even pregnancy hasn’t changed that. So no line for me!

DTLAThis walk-up coffee bar won the cuteness award from me.

DTLAWe bought some produce and spices…

DTLAand wandered through the aisles.

DTLAA lovely sight!

DTLAThey even have a little craft bar for kids!

DTLAAfter a morning inside, we headed out into the sunshine. We had packed sweatshirts, but the weather was really just perfect. This is looking up the track at the Angels Flight funicular across the street from the market. Sadly, it was closed for renovation, but maybe we can ride it some other time.

DTLAI loved these succulent wall planters at Pershing Square.

DTLAI snapped this out of pride for my adopted state.

DTLAI would venture that this might be the raddest door I’ve ever seen.

DTLAEventually, we made our way to the fashion district. Which is really more the fabric district. Jean quilt! And tired husband, heroically carrying the books I bought at the bookstore.

DTLAWe weren’t exactly prepared for the chaos of it–it was like being in Manhattan: cars and people and huge bolts of fabric everywhere. But it was pretty!

DTLAFabric feathers!

DTLAHillary had told me about Michael Levine, so I knew I wanted to go there: sewing lady’s paradise!

DTLAAnd this was the scene at the Michael Levine Loft: all fabric $2.50 per pound, with huge gorgeous bolts lining all the walls. This picture is for my mom: come back to my town!!

DTLAAnd finally we made it to the flower district, although we were really faded by then. I just took a few pictures, but this was the scene: flowers in every store front, warehouses and alleys full of flowers, all of it enveloped in that misty cool fragrance of florist shops.

DTLAI wanted to buy some freesia, but no one had any. I did have Eric plant an experimental bulb for me here at home, so you will be informed if it arises from the dirt!

DTLAAnd finally, one of my favorite sights in DTLA: the quinceañera dresses! I’m more than twice 15, but…I would still not mind wearing this dress at all.

A Day in the Life, in Photos

I love doing a day in the life posts, even though they are a good little bit of work. They are so worth it. I did two of them in 2012, but haven’t done one since! I was inspired mostly by the idea of celebrating this special time. My life is about to change in a huge and awesome way, and I thought sometime in the future, I might like to look back and remember what these days were like. And maybe someday our children will want to know what Mommy did all day before she was rocking them and pushing them on swings in the park. I also wanted to try to get comfortable using the TimerCam app (free!) on my phone. Elise has been taking such great pictures of herself with her sweet baby, and I really want to be able to capture those moments when I am home with our baby too. I only managed to take two, but it’s a start! And so, without further ado, let’s begin the day!

Day in the LifeThis exercise makes me think of young Tolstoy’s first literary experiment, a short story called “A History of Yesterday.” It was unfinished and only fairly recently made available to the public (but not in English, sorry!). It’s a fascinating text–Tolstoy, ever the diarist, sets out to record the events of yesterday in full, only to find himself backtracking to the day before in order to explain the circumstances. He really can’t ever get to the present moment, which explains a lot about his future aesthetic and also probably explains why the story was unfinished. All this is to say: the same is true for me. My days depend on how the nights go. I am up at least once in the night to eat some yogurt or cottage cheese, and ideally it’s at 4am, so I can go back to sleep. But sometimes I wake up at something like 2 and 6, and I can never go back to sleep after 6. I end up sleeping late to try to make up for the lost time. And this day (last Tuesday) was such a day. But here is my breakfast, such as it was last week: a wheat bagel with cream cheese. For such a long time, this was the only thing my stomach would tolerate in the morning. Even the switch to wheat was an accomplishment. But now I’m happy to be eating oatmeal again, which I hope is a bit more nutritious. I like that my purple robe is in this picture because I put in on every morning for breakfast and catching up on the blogs I read. My parents gave it to me for Christmas when I was in high school, and it’s still going strong.

Day in the LifeAfter breakfast, I got to work on the book proposal. Mornings are usually my best thinking time, so I try not to schedule anything before the afternoon.

Day in the LifeThis is a lot of what my life looks like right now, and I love it. These are some of the books that have been so helpful to me in putting my proposal together. (As a side note, Eric thinks I should write a post on which ones are particularly helpful. Would that be something you guys would be interested in?)

Day in the LifeWhen my brain got tired, I got up and laid out a row of triangles for the baby’s quilt. Good to have a little change in posture too. (Also, color trouble: that’s not black, it’s navy blue!)

Day in the LifeAnd then, lunch! This my leftover half of a burrito from Chipotle the night before. Not the healthiest lunch in the world, but I did get brown rice and extra veggies, so I can at least feel good about that. I was reading Los Angeles magazine, which is really great, and also a good accompaniment to a messy meal (wouldn’t want to get salsa on a library book!). I also had a Cara Cara orange, one of our favorites this time of year.

Day in the LifeAnd then I flipped through this Paper Source catalog, which gave me the idea for my next quilt: solid color rainbow!

Day in the LifeAfter lunch, it was back to work. Ah, not good posture. But I am happy to have this view of the other side of the office, which will soon be dismantled and reincarnated as the nursery. I like that you can see my word for this year, nurture, up on the wall, and my DIY mannequin for sewing. After another session with the proposal, I took my almost daily nap–usually about an hour.

Day in the LifeThis was my afternoon snack. Not my favorite flavor, but good in a pinch.

Day in the LifeI headed out for my walk around 2:30. It was a gorgeous day, and I loved seeing the clouds above the mountains.

Day in the LifeI always walk past Eric’s building on my walks, and sometimes I text him to come to window and wave. It’s one of my favorite things. I call this his “C for Cameron” shirt.

Day in the LifeI was back home by 3:30, having done my usual 4-mile route. I am probably already embarrassing our child with my garish attire, but oh well! That little hand-held water bottle has been the greatest addition to the walking regimen. We got it on Amazon, and it’s great–not too heavy, not too big.

Day in the LifeAfter a quick shower, I got to work on making dinner. On days when I cook, I have to get started by 4pm at the latest because I am so hungry by 5. Today I made cauliflower and quinoa chowder.

Day in the LifeI used this pretty broccoflower, which…

Day in the Lifeturned the soup totally purple! It was pretty good, and it was chased by two clementines (I have to keep the citrus routine varied!)

Day in the LifeAfter dinner I worked on some freelance editing. This little sheet is my constant companion.

Day in the LifeEric had some big proposals due today, so when he got home he decided to make himself a celebratory drink. He caramelized some oranges in brown sugar for a garnish.

Day in the LifeThe drink looked really beautiful, but obviously it was only for him! I think it was an old-fashioned, but I can’t totally remember.

Day in the LifeBy then it was time for my second dinner, just a few slices of fresh wheat bread and some cheese. (It’s funny how quickly you get tired of things…last week this seemed like an awesome treat, but this week…ehhh.)

Day in the LifeAt 10 to 8, Eric and I set out to go to a talk by three astronauts on the future of human spaceflight. It was so cold, and I was shivering in my coat. When we got there, the auditorium looked strangely dark, and we realized we had the date wrong! So here we are back home again.

Day in the LifeSince I had the evening free, I finished laying out the quilt triangles. Huzzah!

Day in the LifeThen I read a few lessons in my online painting course. My access to it expires at the beginning of May, so I am kind of in a crunch to cover all the material. It’s always uplifting, always inspiring.

Day in the LifeWhile I was working on that, Eric was playing his bass. Adorable. That box on his desk for the iRig, which allows him to plug his bass into his computer.

Day in the LifeI wrote my blog post for the next day, which I always do before going to bed. I wish it weren’t so impossible to take a picture of a computer screen! Ah well.

Day in the LifeAnd then, since it was April 1st, I changed my calendar page. This one lives on the ledge of our kitchen chalkboard, and I love it.

Day in the LifeAnd, of course, I was hungry again. This is my totally uninspiring bedtime snack, a PBJ. I am not a huge fan of them, but when you’re hungry, you’re hungry. At least it had some protein! (As a side note, I had my glucose tolerance test the next morning, and I didn’t fast. I am now even more overjoyed that I passed because I had a lot more bread and sweet stuff than usual on this day).

Day in the LifeFinally, bedtime reading. This is Great with Child. I loved this passage and found it so apt. And I am happy that our sweet baby is in this picture. I hope some years from now, I will show him this post and say, “Look, there you were!”

Lemony Fennel with Lima Beans and Dill

Lemony Fennel with Lima Beans and DillMore fennel, you ask? Yes, more fennel! Can’t stop, won’t stop. But I might have stopped if I hadn’t seen this recipe on Heidi’s blog. I was particularly taken with the “giant beans” part. The only way to improve upon beans is to make them GIANT, and they reminded me of my favorite Greek dish, gigantes (gigantic beans!) You can actually order said gigantic beans dried here in the US, but they are pricey. Lima beans are a great substitute, and I am happy to be successfully cooking them in the pressure cooker again after the Lima Bean Incident of 2014.

Lemony Fennel with Lima Beans and DillI made a handful of changes to the recipe, but I’ll post the original one below. I juiced the lemon onto the fennel while it was cooking instead of slicing it and tossing it in as Heidi does. I needed a lemon explosion! And I left out the honey and white wine because I have aversions to them at the moment. But I am looking forward to trying this again in my non-pregnant days!

Giant Lemon Fennel Beans
Recipe from 101 Cookbooks

4-5 small fennel bulbs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
Half a lemon, scrubbed and sliced or cut into wedges
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups cooked white beans (corona, cannellini, etc)
1/2 cup water (or reserved liquid from cooking the beans)
1/2 cup roughly chopped dill

-To prep the fennel, remove each bulb’s tough outermost layer. Trim each bulb’s base, and slice along the length into 1/2-inch thick wedges.

-In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. When the oil starts to ripple and move away from the center of the pan, add the fennel. Scatter the wedges across the surface of the pan rather than gathering them into a clump, and let them sit without stirring until the sides touching the pan caramelize and brown a bit, roughly 2 minutes or so. Stir and cook for another 2 minutes or so, until the fennel has cooked through. Add the honey, lemon, salt, and wine to the pan, stirring to combine. Let the wine heat and reduce for a minute or so before adding the beans and water. Cook until the beans are warmed through, about 5 minutes.

-These beans are good at just about any temp- hot, warm, or at room temperature. Serve topped with a big handful of chopped dill and a drizzle of your best olive oil.

Adventures in Pregnancy: 24 Weeks

24 WeeksFirst things first, let’s break out the confetti and party hats: I passed my glucose test! With flying colors! I was really worried that I was going to fail it because I had read that you aren’t supposed to fast before this one-hour test. And then when I got there the lab tech told me otherwise. So I was pretty sure I had a three-hour version of this test coming up, and a 10-12 hour fast. To put this in perspective, if I don’t eat something roughly every two hours…look out. The worst part is that you have to chug this really sweet drink in 5 minutes…on an empty stomach. I have learned (the hard way!) that if I had even the tiniest sip of water on an empty stomach, I throw up immediately. So, great dread and trembling were my companions before getting the news. But hurray and hallelujah, apparently my body is doing a good job of processing sugar! And huge thanks to saintly Hillary, who not only got a sitter for her kids so she could come with me, but also chugged a Mountain Dew in solidarity. Friends like this come along once in a lifetime. I am so grateful for her!

We didn’t have an ultrasound at this appointment, but we did hear baby’s heartbeat, and that always makes me cry, even more than an ultrasound does. There’s something about being able to hear but not see that makes it all the more mysterious and magical. The Doppler was so loud that it startled him, and he kicked, which was really adorable too. Sweet baby.

I have now gained a grand total of 11 pounds, which is good, and I’m measuring right on track for where I am in the pregnancy. My iron is a little bit low, so I will be taking a supplement for the rest of the pregnancy (I think?), but hallelujah again, so far it has not made me sick. Apparently orange juice is the key–Vitamin C helps with absorption!

24 WeeksThe doctor said that baby’s next growth spurt will be at 28 weeks, but I am feeling happy to at least be obviously pregnant now. Huzzah! In other happy news, we got the carseat and stroller frame this week (thanks, Mom and Dad!). There is much work to be done in the nursery and in general thing acquisition, but there is time, and that’s a good thing.

Physically, things are about the same, which is fantastic. Every now and again I have a rough night and ask Eric if he is still interested in having the next baby, but on the whole, I feel great. Tired, of course, and hungry like the wolf, but great nonetheless. It’s funny to realize the pregnancy markers I don’t have–my nails are not really stronger, and my hair does not seem to be any thicker or more awesome. Oh well. At least the cocoa butter I am using to prevent stretch marks smells delicious, like melted chocolate. Let it never be said that pregnancy doesn’t have its perks!

The Last Bookstore

The Last BookstoreA quick note: we have our 24-week appointment on Monday, so I will write a pregnancy update on Tuesday when we have new information! Today I want to show you one of the awesome places we went this weekend. I constructed this whole date out of fun things to see in downtown LA: Grand Central Market, The Last Bookstore, the fashion district (really the fabric district), and the flower district. I wore Eric out! But we had a great time. I want to share a lot more about it, but this bookstore deserves its own post. It was so amazingly inspiring. The building was originally a bank, and the huge columns and vault doors are still in place. What is it that makes something that’s been repurposed for something else so charming? Maybe we just like to imagine the people whose heels once clicked on these floors as they came in to make deposits.

The Last BookstoreIt’s a gargantuan bookstore full of well-priced treasures, but honestly my favorite part was the book art. Just look at this beauty.

The Last BookstoreUpstairs there are more books, a yarn shop, and a collection of artist’s galleries. I know! I was pinching myself too.

The Last BookstoreThis is a fantastic thing for a book lover to lay her eyes on: 100,000 one-dollar books?!

The Last BookstoreA book window!

The Last BookstoreAnd a book tunnel!

The Last BookstorePart of the one-dollar book room is organized in rainbow colors. Magpie’s delight!

The Last BookstoreI love that they have art galleries. Lots of impressive stuff.

The Last BookstoreBut the yarn shop was my favorite, of course.

The Last BookstoreI feel quite confident that I could have spent an entire day here. The book desk at the checkout made me very reluctant to leave indeed.

The Last BookstoreAs did the cozy leather armchairs.

The Last BookstoreAnd this lovely display in the building’s entrance. I am so happy that I randomly saw a picture of this bookstore in Los Angeles magazine. (If you’re at all local, it’s totally a great buy: $10 for 12 issues, each of which unfailingly introduces us to something cool in LA that we had no idea about. And the articles are pretty interesting too.) More downtown delights to come!

The Getty

The GettyA few weeks ago Eric and I went to the Getty. We’ve lived here for almost three years, and we had never been! This was part of our project to get out and explore a bit before the baby comes, and we had an awesome time. The Getty is built out of huge rough-hewn blocks of Italian travertine, and the whole complex is just gorgeous. It reminded me so much of Europe. And before I forget, I have to tell you one of the best things about the Getty: it’s free! You have to pay $15 to park, but when you divide that between the people in your car, that is really dirt cheap for so many galleries and gardens. Attention, future out of town guests: you will be coming here with us!

The GettyFrom the garage, you ride a little train up to the Center. It was a gloriously sunny and cool day, and we spent our time waiting for the train reading the little schedule for the day that they gave us. There was such a fun feeling of being transported to a magical world of art!

The GettyThis is a bit off the beaten path, but it’s a great view of the travertine.

The Getty

And a view through one of the walls.

The GettyThis is the cactus garden out at the edge of the property. I love the castle feeling!

The GettyWe went out to explore the main garden first because we knew it would get hotter as the day went on. We fell in love with these bougainvillea “trees.”

The GettyAnd the central pond. I didn’t realize I matched the flowers!

The GettyThere are many excellent things about Eric, but one of them is that his arms are long enough to get us both in the frame when he’s holding the camera. Oh yes, I married well.

The GettyAnother charming thing about the Getty: sun umbrellas.

The GettyAnd this. Tell me you didn’t just think this was Paris for a second.

The GettyAfter exploring a few galleries, we had lunch out on the patio (random fact: best pickles I ever had in my life!) and headed to the map exhibit in the Research Center. Yes, maps! I didn’t take any photos inside, but clearly I needed to make a note of this book for future reference.

The GettyMy favorite exhibit, though, was the one on hatching. There were some incredible drawings in both pen and ink, and they even had magnifying glasses so that you could see the lines close-up. Drawing with ink is something I’ve wanted to try for a long time, and this gallery was very inspiring.

The GettyAs we were about to leave, we discovered this: the sketching gallery. They give you paper, charcoal or pencils, and a place to sit and draw. *Amazing.* I wish I hadn’t been so tired because it would have been really fun to try. Ah well, next time!

The GettyIt was a really fantastic day, and we didn’t see even close to everything. I like knowing that more treasures await us next time.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry CaterpillarI wanted to write tonight about a little something that’s been on my mind. FOOD. When I got pregnant, my mom told me food would taste better to me than it ever had in my life. I was terribly sick and didn’t really believe her. But now, ahahaha, I know exactly what she meant.

There is a very hungry caterpillar on the loose in Pasadena, and it is ME. Yesterday I documented a day in the life in photos (will share soon!), and a lot of those pictures were…food. I have not yet been at all near that caricature of a pregnant woman who begs her husband to go out and buy ice cream/Cheetos/burgers at midnight. However…after my first dinner tonight (a morally upright salad), I did consider asking Eric to go get me a burrito…even though I ate one two days ago. I sort of brought it up as a joke, but…if he had been on board, I would have been just fine with that. In the absence of a burrito, my second dinner tonight consisted of a giant bowl of cereal. I really kind of hate cereal. But it was one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted: so cold and crunchy.

A few days ago, I was finishing up my walk when I suddenly caught a whiff of Chinese food. We hardly ever eat Chinese food, but suddenly I became fixated on the idea and spent 20 minutes on Yelp finding the best local restaurant to go to. And then I spent a good chunk of the evening planning a culinary date in Downtown LA for this weekend. Tonight I was giving Eric a hug, and he told me I smelled like fries. I made a face of total bafflement, and then thought, “Hmmm, fries…” (even though I haven’t had any this pregnancy and they don’t sound particularly appealing). I am pretty much just laughing at myself all the time. And I am also in a state of wonder: it amazes me how wide and varied our food choices are, and a tangy vinaigrette or a juicy orange is as much a source of utter joy to me as a beautiful sunset. Well, even more joyful. Because I can eat it.

I just find all of this so hilarious that I wanted to write it down. And when I’m reading Eric Carle’s masterpiece to our sweet baby in a few months…I’ll be remembering these hungry days and still laughing about them.

A fitting addendum: this morning I woke up from a dream that I was eating salad to find that…my mouth was actually opening and closing. ha!

Curried Quinoa Lentil Salad with Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Lentils Quinoa Brussels SproutsThis recipe had me at roasted Brussels sprouts. Oh, how I love them. I am always looking for protein-and-nutrient-packed dinners, and this one was too lovely not to try. Reader, it was delicious. Even when placed in an ignoble cracked bowl.

Lentils Quinoa Brussels SproutsThe Brussels sprouts are sliced thin and roasted with shallots, and they are just so beautiful.

Lentils Quinoa Brussels SproutsHere they are ready to eat. While they’re roasting, you cook the quinoa and lentils in the same pot. What?! I will never cook them separately again. This is such an awesome time saver, and it works perfectly. (Those of you who already knew this, don’t laugh at me too hard).

Lentils Quinoa Brussels SproutsIt makes a meal that is so utterly satisfying and filling. I haven’t used curry powder in ages, and I forgot how warm and comforting it is.

Lentils Quinoa Brussels SproutsI made a few changes to the recipe here and there, and I’ll mark them in parentheses, but I want to share the recipe as I found it. Who knows, you might like it better that way!

Curried Quinoa Lentil Salad with Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Recipe from A Spicy Perspective

1 1/4 cup dried lentils
2/3 cup dried quinoa
3 cups water
3/4 tsp. curry powder
8 oz. Brussels sprouts
1 cup thinly sliced shallots (about 3-4)
2 Tb. olive oil
1/2 cup DeLallo Sun-Dried Peppers, chopped (I skipped these)
1/2 cup chopped scallions (Skipped these too, for pregnancy palate reasons)
1/2 lemon, juiced
Salt and pepper

-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the quinoa and lentils in a medium stockpot with 3 cups of water, 1 tsp. salt, and 3/4 tsp. curry powder. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 25-30 minutes until the quinoa is fluffy and the lentils are cooked, but firm. Remove from heat, but keep covered until ready to use.
-Meanwhile, cut the Brussels sprouts in half and slice thin. Place them on a rimmed baking sheet with the sliced shallots and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat then spread them out thin and salt and pepper. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until crispy. (You know what else would be really delicious? Caramelizing them!)
-Fluff the quinoa and lentils and move to a large bowl. Add the crispy Brussels sprouts and shallots, chopped sweet peppers, chopped scallions, and the juice of half a lemon. Toss and salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

April 2014 Goals

April 2014 GoalsI love having these goals, as simple as they are. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but they really give some structure to the open-ended form of the month, and I love to come back and check in with them. I also love how they capture what my life is like during any given month, providing a snapshot of what I was passionate about, what I was working on, what I was hoping to accomplish.

This month, my main focus is the book proposal. All of you lovely Krug veterans will recall that this is for the book I wrote in 2013. I made some headway on the proposal last fall, but then was derailed by morning sickness. I am so happy to say that this is no longer a pipe dream or wish upon a star. It is almost finished! Every day I am chipping away at it, and it really and truly will be sent off to my first-choice agent this month. Hurray!

My other big project is the baby’s quilt. I don’t think I will finish it this month (especially since we will be out of town for a week), but I’ve got all the fabric cut and the pattern about halfway laid out. So this month will be all about sewing and ironing, ironing and sewing. But it will be so exciting when I have the whole quilt top finished!

I’ve loved the walks I’ve been taking with this sweet baby along. It’s my goal to keep that up for the duration of my pregnancy.

Woot, we are going on a few trips this month! I booked this weekend getaway in Carlsbad when I had the first glimmer of hope that I might eventually feel human again. I can’t wait to explore the town and visit the flower fields! And maybe pick strawberries too. It’s probably early yet for sweet ones, but hope dies last. And then we’ll be going to Maui for a week! The whole trip came about because of an impromptu comment Eric made and an enormous storehouse of frequent flier miles he hadn’t been able to use for any of our other trips (I married the right man, in one million different ways). I am still kind of pinching myself that we’re going, and I’m so looking forward to some relaxing days at the beach, delicious pineapple and passion fruit, and having a whole uninterrupted week with my husband before our baby comes. What a treasure.

I’m keeping the goals short and sweet while I’m pregnant (and probably even shorter and sweeter once the baby comes!), but taking pictures is a perpetual goal. I never ever regret it. Happy April!

March’s goals have been updated here, and, just for fun, here are last year’s April goals!

Update, May 2014: Woot, the proposal is off! I had a truly great time putting it together, and it was definitely one of the most empowering things I’ve ever done in my life. And now we wait. But at least we feel confident about what we’ve sent out into the world:) The baby’s quilt is coming right along–more than half of the strips have been sewn, and then I’ll stitch them all together to form the quilt top. And then I get to go back to the fabric store to choose the backing. That is going to be fun! Walking is going well–some days I walk longer than others, but I suppose that’s to be expected, given the demands of everyday life. I am looking to get more consistent with the long walks in the next couple of weeks, though, as I start preparing for labor. It’s hard to describe how wonderful our time in Carlsbad and Hawaii was. I just so love getting to spend uninterrupted time with Eric, exploring new places, trying new things, and talking about anything and everything. He is my favorite person on earth. And yes, all this bliss is captured in 800 photos. A great month!

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