Interview - Amy

Amy is a filmmaker and lives with her two sons and their dad in Brooklyn, New York. One of her early projects was the first romantic coming of age that deeply entertained and resonated with me. In someway, Y Tu Mamá También was an anthem for my friend group. The story hit us at the right moment - leaving home, adventuring with friends and strangers, living without consequences and turning towards adulthood. Amy and I met and became friends through the ongoing friendship of our eldest sons. She is passionate, devoted, and an exceptionally good cook.

Amy and her son in the Blue Lagoon, Iceland.

Amy and her son in the Blue Lagoon, Iceland.

Place

Where are you from?  Needham, MA

What brought you here?  I followed my friends after college

What keeps you here?  My love of how much there is to do in New York and all the cool people here

How has this place helped you develop?  I finally found my like-minded, type-A career friends who became my like-minded, type-A mama friends

If not here, where would you be?  Probably somewhere in South America

What do you love about your home (domestic space)?  I love the colors and the textures.  The colors are cool, but together with the different materials make the space feel homey

Favorite place of all time?  Mexico


Craft

What is your favorite occupation?  Writing screenplays

What are you passionate about? Cooking

What inspires you? What drives you?  Filmmaking used to inspire me.  I built 20 years of my life exploring different parts of the industry.  Now I find that I am more driven by simple storytelling.  And my kids.

Who inspires you?  My kids.  And a handful of my friends who manage to keep a happy home while also working.

Why is it important for you to do your work? My work has been a part of my identity for so long.  It enabled me to have cool people flow in and out of my life for a very long time.

Do you find anything conflicting about your work?  Everything.  But seriously, I find producing to be a conflict because of how much it ultimately clashes with the art of a project.  I also find the all-consumingness of it to be a conflict with my family harmony (much of the time).

Do you have a clear idea of success?  I used to but over the years it has eroded and evolved.

When something goes wrong, what do you do?  I try to make it better.  I am a fixer.  I rush ahead, often without careful consideration in an attempt to make sure the problem doesn't get larger and so that things can continue to move forwards.

How do you cope with disappointment?  I get upset and then (thankfully) things pass very quickly for me.  I move on.


Friendship + Family

What is the most important quality of a friend? Pure motivation.

What is a characteristic of one of your earliest friends? One of your more recent close friends?  Co-dependency.  Loyalty.

What is something special you recently did for a friend?  I cooked them dinner.

If you could change something about your family or friendships what would it be?  Everything would be less complicated.  There would be weekly ritualistic dinners incorporating both. I would be more patient.  Softer.

 

Self

Do you have any daily rituals?  Coffee.

Weekly rituals?  Cooking.

What is your most treasured possession?  Materialistic?  My wedding ring.

What is your favorite flower?  I can't decide between ranunculus and peonies.  

Who is your favorite artist or author?  Mikhail Bulgakov

What are your favorite names?  James (for a girl) and Wyatt (for a girl).  Bear and Grey for boys.

What is currently your favorite poem or song?  "Feeling Good" by Nina Simone.

What is your motto?  Try to enjoy every day.  

Pronounced Wife and Husband - Salisbury, CT

By Casey
The invitations were printed on a press built by Christopher. The mulberry jam was hand pulled by Gabriella and Christopher in the late summer.

The invitations were printed on a press built by Christopher. The mulberry jam was hand pulled by Gabriella and Christopher in the late summer.

There are people in my life whose persona is poetic. Maybe if I live long enough I'll see the poetry in everyone, I hope I do and will. My dear friend Christopher, who is, moment to moment, unpredictable to me yet as a being makes complete sense, got married to Gabriella on a beautiful hill top over-looking the endless undulations of the New England Autumn. The brass band played and the arranged chorus of friends read Edward Lear's The Jumblies and the cold and misty air brushed our shoulders - it was spectacular.

I met Christopher in architecture school. 

One night, after many all-nighters, I turned to him and in a desperate tone asked, "Chris, how do we answer their questions? What are we suppose to make?" Chris replied with his sincere confidence, "I don't know! But, a teacher of mine once said, 'What ever you make just make it beautiful.' So, the world needs more beauty, make it beautiful." Christopher has made things that seem impulsive, spontaneous, are unpredictable, but always beautiful. I've never seen more beautiful things made than those made by him. It is amazing that an event, in all of its simplicities and complexities, can be such an elegant expression of a couple. 

Cooled down hot cider with rum and flowers picked in the fields by Gabriella's sister earlier that day.

Cooled down hot cider with rum and flowers picked in the fields by Gabriella's sister earlier that day.

Christopher, Gabriella, the officiants and the brass band.

Christopher, Gabriella, the officiants and the brass band.

The Jumblies

BY EDWARD LEAR
I
 
They went to sea in a Sieve, they did,
   In a Sieve they went to sea:
In spite of all their friends could say,
On a winter’s morn, on a stormy day,
   In a Sieve they went to sea!
And when the Sieve turned round and round,
And every one cried, ‘You’ll all be drowned!’
They called aloud, ‘Our Sieve ain’t big,
But we don’t care a button! we don’t care a fig!
   In a Sieve we’ll go to sea!’
      Far and few, far and few,
         Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
      Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
         And they went to sea in a Sieve.
 
 
II
 
They sailed away in a Sieve, they did,
   In a Sieve they sailed so fast,
With only a beautiful pea-green veil
Tied with a riband by way of a sail,
   To a small tobacco-pipe mast;
And every one said, who saw them go,
‘O won’t they be soon upset, you know!
For the sky is dark, and the voyage is long,
And happen what may, it’s extremely wrong
   In a Sieve to sail so fast!’
      Far and few, far and few,
         Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
      Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
         And they went to sea in a Sieve.
 
 
III
 
The water it soon came in, it did,
   The water it soon came in;
So to keep them dry, they wrapped their feet
In a pinky paper all folded neat,
   And they fastened it down with a pin.
And they passed the night in a crockery-jar,
And each of them said, ‘How wise we are!
Though the sky be dark, and the voyage be long,
Yet we never can think we were rash or wrong,
   While round in our Sieve we spin!’
      Far and few, far and few,
         Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
      Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
         And they went to sea in a Sieve.
 
 
IV
 
And all night long they sailed away;
   And when the sun went down,
They whistled and warbled a moony song
To the echoing sound of a coppery gong,
   In the shade of the mountains brown.
‘O Timballo! How happy we are,
When we live in a sieve and a crockery-jar,
And all night long in the moonlight pale,
We sail away with a pea-green sail,
   In the shade of the mountains brown!’
      Far and few, far and few,
         Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
     Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
         And they went to sea in a Sieve.
 
 
V
 
They sailed to the Western Sea, they did,
   To a land all covered with trees,
And they bought an Owl, and a useful Cart,
And a pound of Rice, and a Cranberry Tart,
   And a hive of silvery Bees.
And they bought a Pig, and some green Jack-daws,
And a lovely Monkey with lollipop paws,
And forty bottles of Ring-Bo-Ree,
   And no end of Stilton Cheese.
      Far and few, far and few,
         Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
      Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
         And they went to sea in a Sieve.
 
 
VI
 
And in twenty years they all came back,
   In twenty years or more,
And every one said, ‘How tall they’ve grown!’
For they’ve been to the Lakes, and the Torrible Zone,
   And the hills of the Chankly Bore;
And they drank their health, and gave them a feast
Of dumplings made of beautiful yeast;
And everyone said, ‘If we only live,
We too will go to sea in a Sieve,—
   To the hills of the Chankly Bore!’
      Far and few, far and few,
         Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
      Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
         And they went to sea in a Sieve.
 

 
 

One makes me bigger and One makes me strong

By Casey

Does this ever happen to you, a banal moment, a faint hum, then words and harmony, the sound fills the space and the moment becomes an event, enlivened with a reverberating song, and then, faster than it started, the sound track ends and I hear the dishwasher, kids' utensils clinking against their bowls, the humid air, and my husband's voice asking where the paper towels are? 

two necklaces.jpg

Jefferson Airplane has been playing in my head every morning all week, while I stand at the kitchen sink looking at the two necklaces. The necklaces are usually in my jewelry box, but I've realized it's easier to just keep them on the ledge above the kitchen sink. 
 

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don't do anything at all
Go ask Alice
When she's ten feet tall

One necklace is gold, from a trip through Egypt, a cartouche with hieroglyphics that say Beatrice (amusing and absurd), on a heavy gold rope chain. It belonged to my grandmother - a matriarch, a powerhouse, a feminist, and a true believer in me. The other is a Victorian piece, cut crystal and silver, translucent and delicate, found by my cousin an antique watch dealer in London. It was given to my mother - an adventurer, caregiver, mystic, truth seeker, and a true believer in me. She gave the necklace to me last year.

One necklace makes me bigger and one makes me strong. They were both given to me by strong mothers. As I put it on and clasp it around my neck, I think about the associations with these powerful women. Today I am strong.

 

When the men on the chessboard
Get up and tell you where to go
And you've just had some kind of mushroom
And your mind is moving low
Go ask Alice
I think she'll know

 
 

Written by Grace Wing Slick • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group

 

Homemade Yogurt - Is it worth it?

I eat yogurt everyday and so do my kiddos. It's one of those things I feel is really good for me. Plain whole fat organic yogurt with frozen blueberries, a dollop of raw almond butter or sunflower seed butter, and a teaspoon of cinnamon is totally where it's at. So very good.

I've been a little turned off by all the big plastic yogurt containers we go through though, so I thought I'd revisit my yogurt machine, which comes with seven well proportioned glass cups. I have to use a carton of milk, either in a plastic container, a cardboard carton, or glass jug, so I am still left with waste, but sometimes I do find that glass milk bottle with the deposit charge, and sometimes I manage to bring back the bottle and get my deposit. I do like that most of the process takes place in glass cups, not plastic.

I remember making yogurt once, only once, with my mom when I was four. It was memorable and I truly appreciate the adventure in making things that we take for granted. Frankly, it's a lot of work for something that companies do a pretty good job at, but I still want to be able to make it well. In the past I've made it alright, then failed (runny and yuckyuck), then had a success. Today I will attempt it with mild expectations of success. 

All that's needed is:

  • yogurt maker
  • 6oz of favorite plain yogurt or a starting powder
  • whisk
  • ladle
  • measuring cups
  • very clean cloth towel
  • large pot
  • milk (with any fat content)
materials and tools

All you have to do:

  1. Make sure everything is clean. Rewash glass cups if they have been sitting unused for a while. 
  2. Measure 42oz of milk and bring to a boil in a very clean pot. Let the milk rise a couple inches then turn down heat and let cool to room temperature, under 110 degrees.
  3. Once cool, add 6oz of your favorite plain yogurt. Whisk into the milk until consistent.
  4. Use ladle too pour into the cups. 
  5. Place cups into the yogurt maker, place lid, and set to the correct hour - 8 hours for whole milk - and hit the start button.
  6. Wait. Consider the end time when you start this so you don't have to wake up in the middle of the night. Yes, I've woken up at 4am to put the cups in the fridge.
  7. When the yogurt maker is finished and beeps, place individual lids on each cup and put cups in the refrigerator for at least three hours before eating.
  8. Done! 
     

My results:
It was a definite improvement on previous times I made yogurt. The consistency is not perfect but it's consistently inconsistent, which makes it completely edible. The kids didn't flinch. The flavor is very close to my favorite yogurt. I'm feeling more confident than when I started, but I still don't know why it's not as creamy as the grocery store brands. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Have you made yogurt? Did you get the consistency down? Would you share your secret with me?

My breakfast: Whole milk yogurt, blueberries, cinnamon, and sunflower seed butter.

My breakfast: Whole milk yogurt, blueberries, cinnamon, and sunflower seed butter.

Friends on Friendship

I understand myself through my friendships, the dearest ones are closest to my heart, but the passing ones, seeming momentary encounters also deepen my understanding of my place in this world. I'm so grateful for them all. Here are three of my close friends speaking on friendship.

Cherished hug from Nova at my wedding reception. She flew in from Mexico to be there. 

Cherished hug from Nova at my wedding reception. She flew in from Mexico to be there. 

Nova
I first saw this magical being, late in the evening, at a country fair. She was twelve years old and captivated everyone around her with larger than life stories, gesticulations and movements that made me question the reality of her presence. She is so full of life and truth. We became inseparable for many years, lived wildly in the South and shared a tiny room together, with our friend Jude, in a crazy loft in Tribeca. 

Friendship: A love poem

My friends glow
larger than life, 
we speak with eyes,
and infinite variation of smile - 
an effortless language.
The rhythm: intuition.

Vivid colors,
Collapsing walls,
I am spellbound, wrapt. 

I am fearless.
I clasp your hand, I cannot fall.
We are masters of our universe.
This moment: our work of art.

Painted in light, free from shadow
in awe of your grace,
the electricity that we create: my potent fuel.

Perfect is replaceable, replicable.
But you? Never. 

 

 

Dominique
We met at the tiny local coffee shop four years ago when my son was six months old and her son was a couple months younger. I loved her as soon as I saw her and felt thrilled at the enthusiasm we shared from the very beginning of our friendship. Those early months of motherhood are so tiring, a new relationship that gives energy is an unexpected treasure.

To me, a friend is someone who sees you with all your gifts, contradictions, weaknesses, blindspots, and strength and loves you without needing to erase or hide from that complexity. Equally important, a friend can say what you need to hear, ideally in a moment when you can hear and bear it. And real friends are willing to roll through sometimes bruising each other's feelings in the process of real, committed, loving communication.
 

 

Jenny
Mother's Day weekend I met her and her five day old daughter. Frequenting the tiny coffee shop and always having to negotiate getting through the tight space with a baby led me to bump into Jenny and talk with her about the most important things in my very new motherhood. Four years later we gravitate towards each other and I find our friendship deeply grounding and supportive. She expresses so much strength and care in all she does. I'm not sure how to express how grateful I am to have her as a role-model.
 

A friend is:

Joy, Inspiration, Laughter, Family, Embrace, Concern, Reassurance, Love, Forgiveness, Understanding, and Kindness

There are a few friends that I have known for my whole life who can remember my first crush and my skinny awkward nerdiness; the people that still always keep me honest and grounded. There are the friends who became my weekly support network complete with wine and wisdom after my relationship ended; the care and love that made it possible to evolve. There are my colleagues at work—people who I might not see for 6 months or a year as we fly the friendly skies but with whom I share a common passion and a history of traversing similar paths to our current lives.  There are my real and true grown-up friends that chose me every bit as much as I chose them; the beautiful smart talented fun women that both welcomed me to my chosen city Brooklyn and supported me in my surprise pivot to motherhood. These friends are the women who always make time for coffee, for a phone call, to sit together in a park, to pick up my child, or drop off flowers, or fly in for a visit, or open their fold-out couch for me and these are the friends who I hope with all my heart that I live up to the wondrous gift of their friendship. I want to support and cherish and celebrate these friendships every day and through all the joys and turmoil of our daily lives.  With friends I feel like the better version of myself, the one who listens more patiently, feels more empathetically, learns more willingly, forgives more easily, and loves more self-lessly.  To live a life amongst friends is to constantly and actively and generously be available.  I live in gratitude every day for friendship.

 

New (School) Year Resolutions

Happy New School Year!

This year feels much different than last year. With my older son in school full day and the younger in school three days a week we really do feel the rhythm of the school schedule in a way I haven't since I was in high school. We're just getting started and, I have to say, it already feels relentless. 

As we begin this school schedule, pack lunches for the first time, dig for clean clothes, figure out new subway routes, find closed toe shoes, learn new names, forget 4"x6" photographs, I see how the next few month could go and I see room for improvement. We can make it more organized and a little calmer. While we're still feeling fresh and ready, I'm going to introduce (and impose) my ten New (School) Year Resolutions. 
 

1. Walking meditation on the way to school - I love the idea of my children learning to meditate at home, but these busy little bodies are always moving so we need a gradual approach to a sitting meditation. Walking meditation could be a good step towards sitting meditation. For one city block, probably a couple blocks from school, we will spend a week doing the following:

  • Count steps out loud. 
  • Count steps to ourselves.
  • Tap our thumb and finger together with each step.

2. Family Artwork review - Every few months we’ll review artwork then photograph, archive, frame or discard artwork. I'm not a kid's artwork hoarder, but collecting artwork is something I take seriously. As a child my father and I would make lots of artwork and irregularly but memorably we would take dozens of pieces of artwork, place them on the living room floor and, with alternating votes, narrow down the selection of artwork. We would drop off the two selected pieces at our favorite uptown New Orleans frame shop. It was great seeing my father admire my work and the process heightened my self-respect. It's a tradition worth keeping.

3. Commit to reusables and compostables. I’m really sensitive to the amount of waste we create. I cringe when the big bag of recycling goes out. It feels like too much, so I’m making an effort to decrease the waste. I’m going to only use paper towels (1 roll per month) when there’s an emergency, like poop. We’ll use cloth napkins, glass containers, reusable for wrap and compostable snack bags.

The basics: reusable food wrap, glass food containers, cloth napkins AND wax paper snack/ sandwich bags (not shown).

The basics: reusable food wrap, glass food containers, cloth napkins AND wax paper snack/ sandwich bags (not shown).

4. Compost the compost - I’m pretty good at collecting veggies, fruit peels, egg shells, egg cartons, coffee grounds, for the compost but I need to get back in the habit of walking them over to the NYC compost collection at the weekly market. I’d love to organize a compost collection in our building. 
Imagine these as week old leftover scraps. They'd make such nice new soil...

beets
IMG_0270.JPG
corn
tomato

5. Add closet hooks (at the right hight of the child) for back packs, hats, and jackets. Maybe if we make a clear “staging area” at their young age they’ll be inclined to keep up with it at later ages - yay for no lost keys later on!
6. Learn all class parents' and kids' names asap.
7. Create a family calendar and have weekly meetings with kiddos to review the activities and commitments. 
8. Give new responsibilities - Luc turns out lights and River turns off music and A/C. Every few months they're given new tasks. We've got make bed, clear dishes, put shoes away, and throw dirty clothes in hamper.
9. Ask three daily questions - What was a challenge or disappointment today? What did you learn? What are you thankful for?
10. Breathe and Smile. 

The days are long and the years are short.                                                       - Gretchen Rubin (via Lauren Kesner)

The days are long and the years are short.                                                       - Gretchen Rubin (via Lauren Kesner)

The First Day - My (Dis) Orientation

The expression - eyes squinting, confused and in pain, aching - the non-verbal response of a mother as her child recoils, into the opening arms holding her. The moment was rehearsed, but one cannot prepare for the vulnerability felt on this day. Please let go. I feel the confinement of my skin.

I step through the threshold and leave, as I start to molt. My small concentric being is in that room, behind the closed door, up those stairs, past the security guard, on the other side of the courtyard. Mothers become tender in the moments that turn us inside out. 

The moment passes and I am in a new place. The reflection firms my loosened self. Out on the street I watch another mother, the light changes, three beats pass and she starts to cross. I pause thinking about her delay. The first day of school is different to all people. It’s different with the older child and different with the younger child. When I was thirty-two my strong sense of orientation was focused in my body’s center, above my belly button below my rib cage. Then, my first born was conceived and my center created a beautiful new being, always a part of me and soon apart from me. It’s all so simple, it’s all so easy, the separation we all do, I tell myself. 

The connection I have with my children and myself fluctuates, and now as I recall my self I sense an odd appearance in a familiar mirror. I’m not always so disoriented, but days like this occur more often than I ever would have thought. 

Walking back into the class room, to his smile and, “Can we get lunch?”, we continue our day together.  

Great Kid Books (read in Brooklyn)

In our home we read books often, when we're sitting around our apt, on public transit, while out and about and waiting, and of course before bed. With a 2.8 year old and a 4.8 year old there is always a negotiation at play. These are the bedtime books we're currently reading that satisfy both kiddos. 

The Adventuring Pack (The Little Reader Series), by Kyla Ryman (Author), Case Jernigan (Artist)

Hug Time, by Patrick McDonnell

If You Want To See A Whale, by Julie Fogliano (Author, Erin E. Stead (Illustrator)

A Family of Poems, by Caroline Kennedy (Author), Jon J. Muth (Illustrator)

Alpha Bravo Charlie: The Complete Book Of Nautical Codes, by Sara Gillingham

Lightship, by Brian Floca

You Can't Take A Balloon In The Metropolitan Museum, by Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman (Author), Robin Glasses (Illustrator)

Where's Warhol, by Catherine Ingram (Author), Andrew Rae (Illustrator)

This is a page from The Adventure Pack - Maps. Six small books come in the set - delicate and evocative, great conversation starters. 

This is a page from The Adventure Pack - Maps. Six small books come in the set - delicate and evocative, great conversation starters. 

Page from  Hug Time . "The polar bear asks, 'Would you like a hug?'"

Page from Hug Time. "The polar bear asks, 'Would you like a hug?'"

Pages from  Alpha Bravo Charlie . This is the Juliet flag along with the Morse Code to identify the signaled issue to other ships. Yes, we're learning Morse Code from this book, well very specific Morse Code signals (like Juliet).

Pages from Alpha Bravo Charlie. This is the Juliet flag along with the Morse Code to identify the signaled issue to other ships. Yes, we're learning Morse Code from this book, well very specific Morse Code signals (like Juliet).

I'll leave you with an excerpt from Lightship: 

You may never have
heard of a lightship.
Once, lightships
anchored on waters
across America,
on the oceans
and in the Great Lakes,
floating where lighthouses
could not be built.
Smaller than most ships,
but more steadfast, too,
they held their spots,
through calm and storm,
to guide sailors
toward safe waters...

One of my favorite new family bookstores opened this summer by a neighborhood family. Please check out Stories Bookshop + Story Telling Lab

Stories Bookshop + Story Telling Lab; (718) 369-1167458 Bergen Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217
 

Are you able to find books that satisfy age spreads? Please let me know if you have suggestions.

At Home in Brooklyn

The next few entries are a study of our domestic spaces and the neighborhoods surrounding us. Claire and I thought this might give context to our posts and offer viewers insight into the places we find familiar. 

Being a mother with two small children, and working from home, much of my time is focused in and around the home. My husband, children and I have a small apartment, 780sqft in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. We love the neighborhood and chose this 1.5 bedroom on a beautiful tree lined street, walking distance to playgrounds and parks, shops and purveyors, and dear friends over a more sizable space in another location. It's a challenge, no doubt about it. I question my decision often, but when I walk though the neighborhood I feel fortunate to be a part of the fabric.

This is our home. Welcome!

At Home in Brooklyn.png

Clockwise from top left corner:

1. These door knobs were part of a larger lengthy consideration. We renovated our apartment this time last year and decided to have a material palette of dark iron and white, reminiscent of early Modern design. The door and cabinet hardware throughout the apartment match in character. 
2. This is our sweet little succulent and handmade pot from Tula.house in Brooklyn. Christan, aka the plant lady, is the best.
3. This soapstone backsplash and shelf above the kitchen sink is part alter, junk collector, reflection center, story of my life. The framed photos of my grandmother's plates are part of the "Memory Photograph" series I started a few years back.
4. This is my husband's belt. It's also our spontaneous solution to a handle for the murphy bed we sleep on every night. We wanted something that could be tucked away so to completely conceal the murphy bed when not in use. Voila! 
5. This is River's baby quilt. When I was six months pregnant with River I took an evening quilt making class at Purl in Soho. It was the perfect craft to take on while expecting my first child. I signed up with the intension of making a baby blanket for him and this is it! It felt so good hand stitching while daydreaming of my baby. So much love went into this, more than any other piece of artwork I've ever made. The blanket has a nautical flag theme, which Riv just caught on to and really likes.
6. Cha Cha Cha Chia. These were gifts from my mom, Gram, to the boys.
7. My most loved piece of furniture, over 30 years old, lived in hiding for 25 years in my family's furniture store until 10 years ago when I eyed it and took it home with me. I think it's beautiful.  
8. Last week's visit to the Children's Museum of Art in Tribeca culminated in the creation of Luc's rocket, my rocket and River's airplane.
9. This is our front door with three paint options. I love all three but in the end I think white is best for this location. I also kind of like the look of the paint samples, so they're still here. Oh, and our peep-hole cover is missing. 

Do you have a favorite moment in your home? Is there a detail that speaks about you?

Fort Tilden with Babes

This was my husband Kumar's first time planning a weekend excursion since we... well... since before we had kids! It was a complete success - good job, love! It really meant a lot to me that he took the initiative and figured out the logistics. I think the last time he planned something without my involvement was when he proposed to me six years ago, coincidentally, at the nearby Breezy Point. 

Fort Tilden + Jacob Riis Park is nicknamed the "Beach for the People" and it is. It's located in South Brooklyn, and is free to the public with basic amenities. I like the many means of transportation one can take to get to this beach - ride a bike, drive, subway to bus, ferry, and if you're comparing it to the time it takes to the Hamptons you could walk from my house to the beach in a little over 4 hrs. It feels very democratic. We took a cab and caught the ferry at the downtown pier. Kumar asked if we wanted to go to the beach at 8am and by 9am I was grabbing Starbucks, Kumar was with the boys getting tickets, by 9:05am we were on the ferry heading out into the New York Harbor, beach-bound. NOTE: The ticket line can get long so give yourself 30mins to purchase ferry tickets. The ride was relaxing and offered all of us just enough points of interest to keep us looking outward the duration of the 1.25hr ride.

Once we got off the boat we followed the crowd and the only once did we have to give any thought to where to go, when the strollers went in one direction and the polyamorous crowd (rumors of NC-17) with fancy grocery store prepared foods went in the other. I did anticipate this moment. Alas, we brought a stroller, the other beach for another time, we took a left toward the public beach and I not so silently wondered if the galavanting beachgoers we'd just left would be having a better day. Nope, our beach was very PG, welcoming, with bathrooms and also exceptionally good food - it was perfect. 

We strolled the length of the boardwalk and I recognized buildings we'd passed on our walk to Breezy Point that early morning six years ago. I love the brick and tile architecture of the old bathhouses. If you imagine a movie scene set on a beach in the 1940s, you're probably close to the Jacob Riis Park Boardwalk. 

Our preparedness was right on point. We brought a stroller, 2 diapers with wipes, 1 bottle of water, bathing suits, small beach blanket, 2 towels, our bag of water toys, sun screen, and snacks bought at Starbucks. I was expecting a Little Italy street fair lunch, but to my surprise the food options were very... New Brooklyn, healthy seeming and exceptionally tasty. 

After four hours we packed up the stroller and headed back to the second to last ferry back home. We were welcomed by many parents of half-sleeping children. We stayed inside the boat and the boys slept the whole way back. It was a calm easy going day, a great place to bring babes or to go on your own. More of these days are in my future. 

The ferry is a fun ride for the kids and adults. Drinks and snacks are available on board and the deck is a perfect place to see unexpected views of familiar sites - Staten Island Bridge, Statue of Liberty, Coney Island, to name a few.

The ferry is a fun ride for the kids and adults. Drinks and snacks are available on board and the deck is a perfect place to see unexpected views of familiar sites - Staten Island Bridge, Statue of Liberty, Coney Island, to name a few.

I spy the Coney Island Cyclone.

I spy the Coney Island Cyclone.

Six years later and two more wonderful guys in my life, we return to where he proposed to me.

Six years later and two more wonderful guys in my life, we return to where he proposed to me.

Luc, getting use out of the Mardi Gras cups.

Luc, getting use out of the Mardi Gras cups.

Lunch: Salmon tacos with pickled red onions, fresh guacamole, peppers, tomatoes, cole slaw AND a side order of beet hummus! So Good!!!

Lunch: Salmon tacos with pickled red onions, fresh guacamole, peppers, tomatoes, cole slaw AND a side order of beet hummus! So Good!!!

This was a great day trip from our home. Do you have a favorite staycation spot in NYC?

Directions to Fort Tilden and Jacob Riis Park: http://www.nyharborparks.org/visit/jari.html

A Wreath of Roses

For the last year I've been imagining and wanting a floral hair wreath, one with an abundance of femininity, evoking of prairies and dry rolling hills. Fortunately, I arrived at a reason to have one made - Jenny's baby shower! The baby shower, in honor of Jenny and baby Rose, was an intimate brunch in Fort Greene, at Maison May Dekalb, a beautiful garden level restaurant with a local and sustainably harvested menu. It's a beautiful venue for a group event and the new coffee shop, Maison May Vanderbilt, around the corner, is a welcomed compliment to the established neighborhood restaurant. 

A couple days before the shower I dropped into Stem, a favorite local flower shop owned and run by Delgis, a kind and talented Brooklyn neighbor. We discussed the seasonal flower options and she took it from there. She met me at the shop on their day off, a half hour before the baby shower. I watched over her shoulder as Delgis finished weaving in the last few trigs of rosemary. It was more beautiful than I had anticipated and perfectly suited for a mamma and her beautiful Rose.

Thank you Delgis. Stem is one of my favorite neighborhood shops to drop into. Sometimes I walk in just to feel lifted by all of the colors and variations. My boys like to choose single stems to place in the bud vases in their room. When you walk through Fort Greene, Brooklyn, Stem is at the heart.

The hair wreath was thoughtfully designed and crafted by Delgis, neighborhood mother and Stem flower shop owner. We discussed flower options, colors, and general appearance and Delgis took it from there.

The hair wreath was thoughtfully designed and crafted by Delgis, neighborhood mother and Stem flower shop owner. We discussed flower options, colors, and general appearance and Delgis took it from there.

The flowers chosen will dry nicely and decorate baby Rose's nursery. 

The flowers chosen will dry nicely and decorate baby Rose's nursery. 

Beautiful Mamma, 35 weeks pregnant. She is now home with her health new born baby and beautiful four year old.

Beautiful Mamma, 35 weeks pregnant. She is now home with her health new born baby and beautiful four year old.

I really really would love one, although I'm not sure, it might bring out the princess, folk singer, flower child, greek goddess, super feminine side of me... I think I'm ready for it. 

Jenny looks wonderful. For this occasion the wreath was perfect, pregnancy is an ideal time to celebrate the power of our femininity.

What do you think? Have you made something for a friend recently? I'd love to hear about it!

Stem: (718) 722-4767; 112 S. Oxford Street (btwn Lafayette Ave & Fulton Street), Brooklyn, NY, 11217
Maison May Dekalb: (718)789-2778;  246 Vanderbilt Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11205

Casey: Bedside Reading

This summer I'm thinking about the spatialization of life, feelings, and associations. Often in architecture school I would consider the impact of emotions and events on the way we comprehend our environment. Un Petite Maison and Mandala are very different but both touch on this interest. The other titles are calming and reassuring. I'm always reading a parenting book of one kind or another. Recently I decided, instead of adding to my collection of parenting books to reread the ones that really resonate with me.

What are you reading this summer? Do you have a favorite summertime book?

Brooklyn Reading List 1
Here is a page I keep coming back to from  How Toddlers Thrive , by Tovah Klein.

Here is a page I keep coming back to from How Toddlers Thrive, by Tovah Klein.

Clockwise:
How To Relax, Thich Nhat Hanh - This is my pocket subway reading, my reading meditation.
Writing with Style, John R. Trimble - I'm feeling inspired to think about writing... and to start writing.  
Une Petite Maison, Le Corbusier - Who has my copy of The Little House: An Architecture of Seduction? Come forward, please. Corb's is a follow up to The Little House, by Jean-Francois de Bastide's. I love both. They take me right back to why I love architecture. 
Meeting Life, Krishna Murti - My brother loaned this to me - thank you. I really enjoy K. Murti's writings.
How Toddlers Thrive, Tovah P. Klein, PhD - This is my go to book on raising toddlers. I'm reading and rereading p.161-162, "Handling Your Own Anger and Upset." Tovah runs the Toddler Center at Barnard
The Weather & Our Tempers, by Dominique Townsend - Dominique is a dear friend. Earlier this month she moved upstate. I'm reading her poems to her the voice I miss.

Here are a few of my favorite bookstores:
Greenlight Bookstore - 686 Fulton Street (at S. Portland) Brooklyn, NY 11217; (718) 246-0200
Book Court - 163 Court Street, Brooklyn, NY; (718) 875-3677
Yes, I buy books on Amazon, but I try to find them at my local shop first. Amazon's really good for used and out of print books.

 

Interview - Jenny

Jenny is an international pilot for a major airline carrier, an engaged advocate for women and women's rights, and a single mother with her second daughter due any moment. We met Mother's Day weekend at a coffee shop when her daughter was five days old. She is a powerful expression of strength and beauty. 

Jenny and her daughter.

Jenny and her daughter.

Where are you from? 
I was born in Mountain View, California, although I grew up from the age of 7 in Colorado.

What brought you here?
I wanted to live in New York City from the very first time I laid over in the city (or more precisely that layover was in Flushing, Queens near LaGuardia Airport) at age 22.

What keeps you here?
I love the feeling of community in Brooklyn.

How has this place helped you develop?
When I first moved to New York City, I felt immediately overwhelmed. I didn’t know anyone except a few friends of friends from Atlanta. My apartment was expensive (although beautiful and fun in the LES) with lots of stairs for carrying lots of luggage frequently. I asked myself more than once that first summer in 2010 if I could cut it. I also listened to the Jay Z song Empire State on repeat. But when I finally relaxed, joined the MoMA, walked the High Line, ate cupcakes at Sugar Sunshine Bakery, the city started to fit. I feel a confidence, independence, and self-reliance here that I earned. Now I don’t hesitate to try everything or often repeat the same things and just be part of the city. Being on my own in New York City gave me the strength I needed to be a single parent and to travel the world with my little family.

If not here, where would you be?
Someday I will live for a while in Europe. London or Paris. And someday, I can imagine living or at least retreating more to Vermont where so much of my mother’s family lived and where I always feel an overwhelming connection to place.

What do you love about your home (domestic space)?
I love that my living space faces a park with tennis courts and playgrounds and also skyscrapers and that I can tell time from my couch by the clock on the historic Williamsburg Savings Bank Building. I was actually only ok with moving to Brooklyn from Manhattan when I realized that my new Brooklyn neighborhood would be just one stop from my last apartment in the city (the N train from Canal to Atlantic Center!). I also love that I can walk to 14 train lines within a half-mile and get anywhere easily.

Favorite place of all time?
I love to go everywhere but I always love to come home the most.

Craft
What is your favorite occupation?

I love my chosen career as an international airline pilot for a major US carrier. It is really interesting and challenging and rewarding to fly airplanes and I am honored to be part of the flight deck crew for each of the 246 passengers on each of my flights.

What are you passionate about?
I love travel. I love to visit parks and art institutions and historic sites everywhere. Oh, and I love to knit. It is so satisfying to create practical things like sweaters and blankets!

What inspires you?
Feminists. I work in a tremendously gender imbalanced field (less than 7% of airline pilots are women) and I am an advocate for change and equality. I have taken my passion for flying into additional work with the Air Line Pilot’s Association (our union representing more than 50,000 pilots at many carriers). I started six years ago advocating for airline pilots in Washington, D.C. by joining a robust Government Affairs team and meeting with Congress to protect and advance the airline pilot profession as well as aviation safety. This work led to running a Committee within the Association. I am one of the first women at my carrier to take on this role. I relish the opportunity to change people’s preconceived notions women within the field. I am encouraged to see the work rules improving for women who want to both fly and raise families and I envision these changes leading to greater participation by women in pilot careers.

What drives you? --

Who inspires you? --

Why is it important for you to do your work?
I think being a professional working-woman gives me balance in my life. I need to have work, family and friends, and creative inspiration. Work gives me the satisfaction of achieving the long-arc goals of my life while making so much more possible for my family. I think that the joy I get from working will also shape the lives of my daughters (my second daughter is expected any day now) and open their minds to the possibilities for women to simultaneously achieve personal and professional success.

Do you find anything conflicting about your work?
I had a difficult adjustment when my first daughter was born. For the first time in more than 10 years of flying, I wasn’t excited to go away on trips. Admittedly, as she grew I became happier in my dual role as parent and provider and re-captured the value in being away for daylong layovers in Europe. Now I think that the travel makes me a better parent and makes my daughter a more confident and independent child.
When my first daughter was little, I often found creative solutions to long absences by working within the Air Line Pilot’s Association in Washington, D.C. This meant I was inventing child-care solutions for a non-traditional work schedule both when flying and when bringing her along on non-flying advocacy trips. As a result of these challenges, many of the male pilots I work with had the opportunity to see me as a capable problem solver and a kind and involved mother. I know that I changed many hearts and minds in my conservative field. I have taken the lessons from those early years to mentor other women pilots who are adjusting their lives to balance family and flying. About the time my daughter started preschool, I knew that our family could grow. I decided to have a second child on my own and I am days away from meeting her. It is exciting to have already walked the path of a single parent with a non-traditional work schedule and to know that it is possible to expand my family. I am excited that my sweet daughter will have a sister to travel through life alongside. Oh, and I cannot help but daydream of the three of us sitting side-by- side on long-haul flights to so many fun and distant destinations together.

Do you have a clear idea of success?
Success to me is reflected best in respect from people I admire, both friends and family outside my profession and mentors and colleagues within my profession.

When something goes wrong, what do you do?
I have a tendency to ruminate on things that go the wrong way or that cannot easily be resolved. I think this goes along with the personality type of pilots—pilots generally have a strong preference for clear decisions, good judgment, and immediate resolution of problems. Issues that cannot be tackled with a checklist or problems that defy resolution definitely force me from my comfort zone. Being a single parent has created flexibility and an openness that I never really cultivated before. I am definitely better equipped for uncertainty.

How do you cope with disappointment?
Fortunately, I have a network of amazing friends to draw support from so I will pick up the phone.

Friends + Family
What is the most important quality of a friend?

The ability to be truly present is real friendship. A friend that answers the phone; responds to a text; and ideally can make a last minute plan to sit side-by- side and talk is the best type of friend. Simply being available is the foundation for truly beautiful friendships.

What is a characteristic of one of your earliest friends?
Kindness and unflagging loyalty (even when it wasn’t deserved)

One of your more recent close friends?
Creativity and artistic inspiration.

What is something special you recently did for a friend?
I love to be available for my friends. At this point in my life as a working parent, one of the things I can really offer is an open door policy for the children of friends. I recently had the child of friends over for a day so that his parents could spend time together before embarking on some big challenges for their family. I feel such a kinship for the children of friends and I love that they are part of my daughter’s life as well.

If you could change something about your family or friendships what would it be?
I would be friends with my brother.

Self
Do you have any daily rituals?

I love making breakfast with my daughter. And I love a morning coffee—preferably a latte at Hungry Ghost or Bittersweet in my Ft Greene neighborhood. The baristas here are beyond.

Weekly rituals?
I try to go to Golden Bridge NYC for Kundalini practice every week. I started there doing the Khalsa prenatal years ago and I found that the emotional grounding of this practice enriches my happiness. Seriously. If you are in NYC or Santa Monica, you should try it.

What is your most treasured possession? --

What is your favorite flower?
Rose

Who is your favorite artist or author?
For authors, I cannot get over Karl Ove Knausgaard. I have a lifelong love for Jane Austen and Edith Wharton (their names are incorporated into my daughters’ names).
For artists, I cannot chose a favorite. I have a photograph by Canadian artist, Sarah Anne Johnson, that I love (Girl with a Sea Lion). I have a huge respect for Taryn Simon, Giacometti, Brancusi, Chagall (ahhh Le Musee Marc Chagall in Nice, FR), Matisse, and as of last week the incomparable Alma Thomas and her paintings of flight and space. I always make time for the Tate Modern, le Musee de Louvre, El Prado, and the Rijksmuseum. I really love art from the ancient to the most contemporary. For all the years I have known her, I am so inspired by this blog’s author and artist Casey Leigh Miller and the unique way she sees the world with the heightened perception of her artistic lens. Casey’s art and ideas are brilliant.

What are your favorite names? --

What is currently your favorite poem or song?
I Carry Your Heart by e.e. Cummings. My daughter and I read a picture book of this poem many times a week and we often recite to each other.

What is your motto? --

Blackberries and Cocoa-Cream

Claire and I took a 8-week break from sugar. Half of the time we even limited fructose, which meant no fresh or dried fruits. Cutting out sugar is a challenge, but one I recommend to everyone, and I can assure you it's worth it. After the 8-weeks was up I felt really good and completely in control of my cravings. I didn't impose it on my family, but I will, one day... 

I'm now eating fructose - hello berries! My favorite family dessert is about as simple a recipe as one can make. Blackberries with homemade whip cream and cocoa powder. As long as the berries are more sweet than tart my husband and kiddos are as happy with this as they are with the sweeter stuff. The bit of unsweetened cocoa gives a little balance to the sweet berries and adds an unexpected kick and a bit of intrigue to the straight forward classic. This is my favorite late summer treat.

We usually chill the bowl for a few minutes to keep the cream cold, which helps it to whip faster. The really hot 90 degree room meant we were whipping by hand for almost ten minutes. My friend and Luc and I took turns. 

We usually chill the bowl for a few minutes to keep the cream cold, which helps it to whip faster. The really hot 90 degree room meant we were whipping by hand for almost ten minutes. My friend and Luc and I took turns. 

The blackberries were tart so a little powdered sugar was added to Luc's serving. As long as the berries are sweet, the four ingredient recipe is delicious. I love the simplicity of this dessert.

The blackberries were tart so a little powdered sugar was added to Luc's serving. As long as the berries are sweet, the four ingredient recipe is delicious. I love the simplicity of this dessert.

Blackberries and Cocoa-Cream
1 pints (2 cups) of heavy cream
2 pints of blackberries
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 tablespoons of unsweetened raw cocoa    

I love Healthworks raw Cacao Powder, also great in banana almond butter smoothies and give a serious cacao buzz

The whipped cream takes a while to do by hand but I enjoy the ceremonial process. It also feels a little like magic to see the cream start to thicken. I recommend chilling the whipped cream bowl and cooling the room a little. Mix in the vanilla as your whipping. The cocoa can be stirred into the whipped cream or dusted on top. Wash the berries and plate with a generous dollop of whipped cream on top. 

Do you have a favorite late summer dessert?

One serving is an 1/8 cup of heavy cream, 1/4 cup of blackberries, vanilla, and 1 teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa. Feel free to have more than one serving!

One serving is an 1/8 cup of heavy cream, 1/4 cup of blackberries, vanilla, and 1 teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa. Feel free to have more than one serving!

On Friendship

Love is (beautiful, messy, unclear, camouflaged, unsettling, healing) infinite. 

Friendship is the worldly nature of love, often grounding and contextualizing. 

 

In sixth grade, on the first day of school, I met Claire. Our initial interaction was, as Claire describes it, my orientation of the classroom and short bios of the twenty-four students, a run down of twelve year old habits and quirks. We soon realized our phone numbers were only one digit apart, 2206 and 2806. It took an hour to find her home for the first time, a mile drive from my house but with no real landmarks to distinguish drive ways. Neither of our parents let us have sugar yet we both had a sweet tooth, we had long brown hair and matching eye color, our liberal backgrounds challenged our friends’, and we both had rampant daydreams that enlivened us and unhinged our expectations of ourselves. 

In 9th grade we got kicked out of European History class for throwing invisible energy balls across the room, at each other. The next year when we transferred to the local public high school, curfews became negotiations, we dodged reprimands from the other’s parent, felt the constraints put on us by our families and each other. Our friend circle grew. Jumping the fence and swimming in the out-of-town neighbor’s pool, we laughed and floated through the summer. House sitting, Andygator, dancing in a room full of records on the back porch with the ceiling fan cooling the humid air. 

Claire’s siblings went off to school and her mother’s illness became apparent. Our late nights took us to different places. We heard the other missed curfew and paper notes gave coded explanations. We lost contact. The early morning after graduation we drove together to the Holiday Inn pool and the sun rose as we swam and talked about the directions we were headed. We remembered. In Boulder we watched movies over Thanksgiving dinner. My mother called and told me tomorrow she would find out if she had this or that, that was painfully familiar, Claire’s mother also had Multiple Sclerosis. There was no longer a safe remove from what I had seen Claire and her family go through. 

We convened in New York City, I worked in a firm and Claire studied. When she left for California I was shocked, it was such an obvious choice that I didn’t expect her to make. She came back with her fiancé to stand with my family in my wedding and a year later I, pregnant with my first child, walked in her wedding. River was born, her first son Arlo was born, my Luc was born and her Avery was born. Motherhood took preference over our creative professions, and the challenges of being creative makers within a new set of expectations and demands can be isolating, even within our active and engaging cities. Distance felt great and we decided we wanted to collaborate on something that would bring us together. It feels good to prioritize friendship, again.

My tea fortune

My tea fortune

c. 1993. Claire and Casey at 8th grade graduation.

c. 1993. Claire and Casey at 8th grade graduation.

c. 2008

c. 2008

September 25, 2011. Wedding in NYC.

September 25, 2011. Wedding in NYC.

Claire is present in her smile.
Claire is aware of other sensitive beings and desires to nurture them.
Claire expresses herself through movement and engages in a playful and joyous way.
Claire says my thoughts are five or six months ahead of her but I think she's nine years ahead of me.
Claire's deep understanding of herself makes her spontaneity deliberate and beautiful.