“To the outside world, we grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other’s hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time.” – Clara Ortega
On Thanksgiving, I dragged my siblings out into our backyard to get a good photo. Since we’re spread out across the country, I don’t see them nearly enough these days. And I remembered this photo series and thought it would be so cool to take a photo of us every year, as we get older.
Recently a friend on Instagram posted that quote (above) about siblings, and it has stuck with me ever since. Although sibling relationships can be a tricky business, with mine, it’s always been pretty effortless. I count myself super lucky to be related to these three characters.
I’m not sure what happened, but all of a sudden it’s November. The past few months have been an exhausting, productive blur. We bought and remodeled a two-bedroom house and a three-bedroom rental unit. We ripped out an entire kitchen down to the old sub-floor and re-built it from scratch. I am now an expert Ikea cabinet builder. For about a month, I did dishes in our bathtub. So yeah, we’ve had a lot going on.
I’m finally getting around to sharing some photos of what things looked like before, and what things are looking like these days. Now that I have my life back I’m hoping to pick up my camera a lot more often and share more of what we’re working on.
And here’s how things are looking these days. It’s very much a work in progress, and we’ve moved things around even since I took these photos about a month ago – but I truly love our home. It’s cozy and filled with natural light and all kinds of old charm. The kitchen is my favorite room in the house for sure. I sit there and look around in awe that we actually built it ourselves.
I am experiencing one of those moments in life where everything is going right – when you need to take a minute to just be thankful for all that you have. We moved to San Francisco almost three years ago. And although it has been amazing and has caused me to grow in ways I never thought possible, it has been really, really hard. It’s no surprise to me that people stay where they are. The path we chose was certainly the harder one. We both essentially started from scratch in our careers; we went from living in a house with a huge yard and a five-minute commute to work, to living in a small one-bedroom apartment and an hour commute. I’ve been tired a lot. And I’ve questioned if this is the right place for us. Wouldn’t it just be easier to move back home and live a simpler life?
Three years later, all the hard work – the exhaustion, the tears, some really tough stuff, the crap jobs, the feeling of being in transition – is starting to pay off. I have a job that I love and that challenges me every day. I feel appreciated and utilized and all those things we all look for in our careers.
And, we’re finally putting down roots in California. We’re buying a house. It’s still in escrow, so I don’t want to jinx it, but we’ll be sure to share everything soon. What I can say is that it’s all falling into place, and it feels amazing.
Cheers to that.
p.s. Our friends, Mark and Jamie, recently had a baby and we are lucky enough to count them as part of our SF family. Welcome to the world little Brinkley.
I consider myself lucky to live close to one of my siblings. My brother Josh has lived in the Bay Area for about 10 years and I used to visit him any chance I got. It was during those trips that I fell in love with San Francisco. I was always so sad to leave.
Now that he has a baby, I’m even more grateful to live close. Wyatt knows me, which is something I don’t take for granted. Last Saturday, the three of us shared pancakes at Howard’s and went shopping for records at Amoeba. I can’t wait until Wyatt and I can have long chats.
Photos taken near Haight Street and Amoeba Records, San Francisco.
Let me start with a disclaimer: I think most food fads – Paleo, juicing, Atkins, etc – are a little silly. I am a firm believer in the everything-in-moderation diet. I reserve the right to consume bread and cheese and wine on a Friday night after a long week, and to not feel bad about it.
Considering that baking is one of my passions, it’s a cruel joke that I actually can’t tolerate dairy very well. This is going to sound crazy, but dairy makes my nose all stuffy. After a wild night eating ice cream or hitting the cheese board pretty hard, my sinuses are a mess. Apparently, for people like me who already have bad allergies, milk products can make allergies worse. I know this from lots of personal experience. If you or your child has chronic sinus problems, I highly recommend eliminating all milk products for about two weeks. I think you’ll be amazed by how much better you feel.
Ok, end of soapbox!
I tell you all of this because lately, I’ve realized that I need to experiment with recipes that don’t use those ingredients that cause problems for me. I have good news! As it turns out, almonds and coconut oil actually make pretty delicious cookies. Now, I’m not going to lie to you and tell you these ingredients taste as good as these or these. But if you’re trying to avoid butter and gluten, or just want a healthier sweet, this recipe for almond thumbprint cookies is pretty damn good.
Almond Thumbprint Cookies
Adapted from this recipe. I made my own nut flours by grounding up raw slivered almonds and cashews in a food processor. Makes about one dozen cookies.
1 cup of almond flour
1 cup of cashew flour
1/4 cup of gluten-free oats (optional)
1/4 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup coconut oil, softened
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 cup of cherry or apricot jam (I like Bonne Maman)
2 T dark chocolate, chopped (optional; I made a few with chocolate in the center instead of jam. They were really good.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat. In a mixing bowl, cream together the coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and almond extracts until relatively smooth (there will still be some lumps). Slowly add the nut flours, oats, shredded coconut, and salt until a dough forms.
Use your hands to roll the dough into smooth balls. Place them on the cookie sheet and use your thumb to press into the center of each ball, making a well for the jam. Spoon a small amount of jam in the middle of each cookie .
Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool and enjoy.
Last weekend, we had an extra day off so we took advantage of the beautiful California winter and went for a hike. Starting at Sutro Baths, there is an easy hike along the coast. Dogs are allowed on-leash so Mater got to come along. It’s amazes me that you can be within a major American city and still have access to so much nature. That’s what makes San Francisco so special, I think.
p.s. Photography blogger Helena La Petite has some helpful information about mastering exposure (something I’m still very much working on). Her blog is lovely, too.
Lately I’ve been focusing on treasuring the small moments and not worrying so much about all the to-do’s. A demanding job means I don’t have time to get everything done. I’m a person that always has a list and loves crossing things off of it. My new schedule is teaching me to be easier on myself, and more reasonable about what’s possible and what’s important.
Some things that have been making me happy lately: coffee dates and Friday night dinners with my husband, just the two of us; salted chocolate chip cookies; sleeping in until 8am on a Saturday. I hope you’re all taking time to enjoy the little stuff.
Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from the New York Times recipe by Jaques Torres. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen small cookies.
3 2/3 cups (16.1) ounces of all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (natural, not artificial)
1 1/4 pounds semi-sweet chocolate chips
1. Whisk flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, stopping to scrape the bowl after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just barely combined. Don’t overmix. Mix in chocolate. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 12-36 hours. Dough can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
4. Using a small ice cream scoop or a spoon, create golf-ball sized balls and place onto baking sheet. Sprinkle raw dough lightly with salt and bake until lightly golden brown, about 12 minutes (depending on your oven – it’s always best to underbake a bit because the cookies will continue to cook after you remove them from the oven). Let cookies sit on the warm baking sheet for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Repeat with remaining dough. The dough also freezes well; just increase the baking time by about 4 minutes if frozen.
Whoa, hello February. I don’t know where January went, but I’m pretty sure it included me working too much and fighting off winter colds. February is here and with it, we finally have rain. Even I, lover of sun, was ready for the rain. It’s nice to have a reason to cozy up inside. One of our favorite ways to spend a Friday night is to sit around our coffee table with an easy meal and a nice bottle of wine. Coffee table dates, as we call them, are the best. Sometimes simple really is better.
If winter is long where you live, don’t worry. Spring is coming.
We’re slowly getting back into the swing of things after a fast and furious holiday in Missouri. I think we both appreciate the chance to reset our buttons, spend time with the people we love the most, sit in front of a fire, and eat way too much food. And then, after we’ve said our good-bye’s, there’s nothing like sleeping in your own bed.