I am a sucker for pumpkin spice (yep, I am one of those ladies who love pumpkin spice lattes and anything pumpkin flavored) so after seeing many posts and reviews about the pumpkin bread from Smitten Kitchen, I decided to make some of my own — and it did NOT disappoint. So delicious and yummy, and so easy to make. I will definitely make this throughout the fall and winter seasons and highly recommend that you all do the same, as well!
* 1 15-ounce can (1 3/4 cups) pumpkin puree
* 1/2 cup neutral cooking oil or melted butter
* 3 large eggs
* 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 3/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
* 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* Heaped 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
* Heaped 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
* Two pinches of ground cloves
* 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Crunchy, refreshing, tasty, light, and nutty. So good, so good. The salad is great on its own, or combined with other Asian flavors. The creator of this salad, my-sister-from-another-mister, likes to add this with her miso salmon, rice, and scallions. I love it alone or with anything. And even better — it takes only a couple of minutes to make!
Mini cucumbers are delicious plain, but even better with this sesame asian dressing.
Every Wednesday, I drive several hours to visit my sister-from-another-mister for the day. Despite my distaste in driving, I absolutely love and cherish our time together and wouldn’t miss this time in the world. Therefore, I have begun to embrace the time spent in the car. During these hours in the car, I have renewed my love of podcasts and cry / laugh / feel while listening to them. Here are my recent podcasts I have listened to and have *thoroughly* enjoyed. It is never too late to listen to them, they are all so good.
Truly family. I feel so fortunate that our family members are all bonded and glued together and the love is deep. There have been moments when all four of us are on separate calls with each of them — all at the same time. So my weekly drives to visit are essential, a no brainer, and worth every second.
One of the ways that my husband, Ken, has dealt with the restrictions of life due to COVID, has been playing music outside in Central Park. Once a month over the summer, Ken would organize to gather in Central Park with 1 or 2 musician friends (one being my best friend from childhood, David) and jam out together. He would text a couple of friends that he was going and if they wanted to swing by and bring their own wine and food, or just to drop by. As I was out in Oregon during these “performances,” I never had the privilege of attending the concerts, but it was clear how much happiness, joy, and life it gave Ken. He lived for these evenings as it renewed a sense of hope in him — cheesy as it sounds, it gave him life. The small interactions with strangers, outside (and safe) encounters with friends, and the music itself, made a huge difference to him. So last week, he put together a last minute park gathering and I finally was able to attend.
Ken has “a spot.” It is where he always gathers to play music. It is near Sheep’s Meadow and The Mall. Not too far away from our home, but still a delightful walk nonetheless.
Not that I get much time to read during the school year, but it is a goal of mine to read more this year. So here are the 10 books I would love to read right now!
1. Born a Crime
It sure feels like Fall in New York! Chilly, brisk, windy — aka no longer summer. I always think of the “You’ve Got Mail” quote “Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.” There is something fairy-tale like about NYC in the fall…so here is what I am currently loving September 2020.
Super Diva — YES!
Doesn’t your heart hurt with the news of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing this past Friday night? What a legend, a role model, an inspiration, truly a super hero. I can’t stop reading all her quotes and feel sickened and sad by America’s loss. If you haven’t watched the documentary, RBG, available on Hulu, now is the time to do.
Last Thursday, we welcomed the newest member of the Natori Family, Stevie Nicks Natori. Our little 11 week old Cavapoochon pup is so cute and a warm, cuddly, wonderful fun addition to the family. She is also SO MUCH FLIPPING WORK AND OMG I AM SO SICK OF RIDING UP AND DOWN THE ELEVATOR but I know, I know, it will all be worth it. Here are some pictures of her — because puppy pictures make everyone smile, right????
First night with Stevie. And Ken pre haircut.
Sadly, one of my favorite flower companies in New York City is no longer in business. The Groh, which was hands down, my favorite flower place that delivered fresh flowers to my apartment every Monday, has shut down, a victim of the effects of COVID on the economy. I know it sounds silly — but The Groh was phenomenal. Everything about it — it was set up to be a middle man, so instead of me trekking down to the flower district, The Groh would go, and then bundle them up and deliver them to my house. It was waaaaaaay cheaper than a typical florist, and waaaaaay easier than me doing the leg work (yes, spoiled). I loved it so much and miss it already. So after hours searching for some kind of replacement for my Monday joy, I came across Blossr. It is a minimalist flower delivery service that sends flowers on (and only on) Friday. There are not many options, but man, are they gorgeous. I love them so much and I can’t wait to use them again.
Pink Anthuriums. Don’t they look fake???? So gorgeous and unusual.
This summer, I have spent hours needle pointing — even though I have a love hate relationship with it. It is meditative, creative, and gets my mind off of everything (COVID, NYC, school this fall, being away from friends, etc…) — but it is also incredibly frustrating as it takes FOREVER. That said, after I finished three projects, I didn’t know what to do with them. Do you frame them and hang them up? Make a boring pillow? Just felt incomplete and missing the final touch. SO I MADE THEM INTO BOOKMARKS. They went from boring to full on FUN PIZAZZ LIFE OF THE PARTY BOOKMARKS. They took forever to sew the edges, put on a backing, whip stitch it all together — and they don’t look perfect — but I really love them! They are truly a labor of love!
The three final products. The next project is in the mail arriving tomorrow — Veuve Cliquot Champagne! Can’t wait to start that and make yet another bookmark!
Sometimes I think it is May, sometimes I think it is August 2021. Basically, I have no idea what day or month we are currently in. So here is what I am currently loving RIGHT NOW. Apparently it is August 2020.
1. LoveShackFancy x Bandier Bike Shorts
I am jumping on the bike short trend…fell in love with these super girlie floral workout shorts. I personally love them. My kids on the other hand keep telling me that my behind looks big and why I am wearing them……gotta love their honesty…..and I still love them.
This past weekend, we finally completed the mural. Originally, we were only going to do the center part of the cement wall, but with the abundance of time and the fact that the cement wall is quite ugly, we thought it would be fun to complete the whole wall.
I spend a lot of time in Oregon on designated runner’s trails, which have lots of signs (other than keep 6 feet away and maintain social distancing) that are little inspirational quotes. Throughout my summers in Oregon, I always smile and laugh when I see them. To some they are just words, but to me, they are motivation and inspiration. No matter how silly or short they are, just knowing someone out there is cheering us on, makes all the difference.
I love this quote. It definitely brought an extra bounce to my run that day I read it for the first time.
My COVID hobby of needlepoint is back in to my life again, thanks to the coolest and hippest needlepoint company, Pip and Roo. After my first two designs, I started googling “hip needlepoint” and sure enough after many duds, I found Pip and Roo. Unfortunately, as everyone and their mother started needlepointing during COVID (along with baking banana bread and bike riding), it was impossible to find one of their designs as they were sold out everywhere. Thanks to a notification, I finally was informed when they were back in stock so I jumped on it. I made the Rose (Whispering Angel, but of course) over the past three days and I just ordered the Aperol Spritz and I can’t wait to start on that. They are funny, cheeky, cute, and well designed. So many other companies make cheesy and flat out lame and uninspiring drawings….so if you are on the lookout for cool and hip needlepointing, take a look at Pip and Roo!
Night one. I love it — and hate it at the same time — I can’t put it down which is good and bad.
My newest obsession, thanks to my sister-from-another-mister, is “The Last Great American Dynasty” song in Taylor Swift’s newest album, Folklore. It is a song that no matter how many times I listen to it (I am annoying and have listened to it on repeat since I first heard it — in attempt to learn every lyric), I still get goose bumps. GOOSE BUMPS!!! Yup. It is an incredibly gorgeous song with an even richer story behind the words. Taylor Swift created this soothing, sappy, happy, and beautiful song during Quarantine (the whole album!) based on her home in Rhode Island. It is the story of the previous owner, Rebekah Harkness, the heiress with a wild life story who owned Taylor Swift’s home, who lived a big grand life and was unapologetic. She sees herself in Rebekah and sings about it.
Taylor singing away….
My parent’s house in Oregon has an alley on one side of the house (a great big cement wall) which is an eye sore — especially when there are no plants that hang down on it. So this summer, my dad asked if my niece, Alagna, who is a very talented artist (at the ripe age of 12) could draw a mural on the wall. Since YOLO and I thought it would be a fun project to do with all the cousins, I decided to help with it. It has been SO fun and a lot of work. And god bless my parents who had faith in us to create something fun and pretty!
The night before we started, we went to Home Depot to get the paint and primer. It took WAY longer than expected because someone actually mixes and makes the colors? WHO KNEW?????
Thanks to my dear friend from Stanford, Katie, who wrote today’s post on what she is loving during quarantine. Not only is she brilliant and smart, the best cook ever, interesting and interested, but she has great taste and style, too. Thank you, Katie, for sharing with us your top 10 best finds during COVID — love you loads! Check out Katie’s other contribution to this blog years ago with her Ice Cream Flower Pots post. Take it away!
While in quarantine, some people have mastered making sourdough starter from scratch, planted a vegetable garden, or otherwise lived their #bestlife, I have chosen in many ways to slow down. Yep. Slow. Way. Down. Being tucked in, cozy at home, can be calming and comforting in so many ways if you choose to see it that way. In these insane past few months, I have found a variety of things that make my life a little easier, a lot happier, and definitely more fun. I am happy to share the best of them in hopes that it might bring a little bit of ease, happiness and fun to your life too. Here are my Top Ten Best finds, thanks to sheltering in place and slowing way down:
Planes, trains and automobiles — or in Oregon, hikes, bikes, and more hikes! Although I have only been in Eugene for a handful of weeks (what month are we in? Where are we? Who am I?), we have done countless miles of hikes, dozens of bike rides, and even more hikes. With the kids not in any type of camp or activity, hiking and biking throughout Oregon is our daily plan. Sometimes, I think “what’s the difference between the first 4 waterfalls and do I really have to see 3 more?” and sometimes I love just looking at nature and being in awe of it’s rawness and organic beauty. I hope, in the end, all these nature adventures make my kids stronger but, at some point they might revolt and start only liking fast food chains and hate exercise….Here are some pictures of our Oregonian beauty these last few weeks. And I am thankful for my father who has taken the role of camp director and guides us on all these adventures — without him, I would watch netflix all day.
Wildflowers on Mount June were absolutely INCREDIBLE. I want to go back and see more wildflowers.
Truth is, since COVID started, I have put on make up only a handful of times. No one sees me, I am not going anywhere, and I don’t look that often at a mirror. However, when I do put on any make up, I instantly feel better (the question is then why don’t I make the effort and put makeup on more frequently?). Most all of my makeup products are Westman Atelier and I swear by them all — the bronzer, blush, lip, and now, the eye shadow. I know, I know, I don’t look like I would love make up — but I really do! So when Gucci Westman came out with a new set of eyeshadows, I jumped. I have never worn eyeshadow in my life, but I know that it pops your eyes open and makes you look even more put together. And so far, even with nowhere to go and no one to see me, I LOVE THEM! I can’t wait to wear them and a more regular basis!
They come in a set of 3 — there is a night shade option and a day shade option. I opted for the night one.
Now that I am now in Oregon and have even MORE time on my hands, here is the list of books I am planning to read this summer. And if you have any suggestions, please share!
1. The Color of Water
In light of all the inequity evident in our world right now, I am actively trying to educate my family in order to try to become even more anti-racist. In addition to the many books on anti-racism, I ordered a graphic novel, New Kid, for my kids to read. In one sitting, I devoured it. It is an honest, heartbreaking, realistic view of a student of color who starts up at a new prestigious school in NYC surrounded by students of different socioeconomic and racial makeups. At times, I felt my heart pounding as it was so realistic it hurt…Cruzzie is also in the process of reading this book, and although a lot of the stories of inequity and racism are subtle, I think he will understand it the more he reads of it.
Thank you, Jerry Craft, for a beautiful book.
Hello from LA! The kids and I started the summer out west with a California adventure before we ultimately end up in Oregon. So far we are truly enjoying the laid-back-vibe, the Pacific Ocean breeze, the sunshine, and just being out here! LA is truly la-la-land and such a beautiful and idyllic place to live — if NYC doesn’t work out, LA here I come! In the meantime, here is what I am currently loving this month, June 2020!
1. Money Heist
Spanish TV series — SO GOOD. Must watch!!! I am at the beginning of Season 2 and I can’t wait to watch it. OBSESSED.
Last week, like us all, I could only think about all the racial inequality more evident than ever in our country. As a result, I did not post at all, as it didn’t feel appropriate to post my typical light and frilly posts during something so heavy and important. So although I am back to posting, my mind is still on black lives matter. Like all of you, I want to educate myself to become even more anti-racist, and continue to have conversations with friends and family on how to live in a more equal and loving world.
On a desperate search to find activities for the kids to do BESIDES play on their devices, I came across “Paint By Stickers” — where you literally color a picture with numbers by stickers. It is not just fun for the kids but adults, too. I immediately bought two books for adults and one for the kids — and I can’t wait to put them all together.
The three books I purchased — and I can’t wait to get more!
Going old school and needlepointing! Over the weekend, after watching movie number 2 of the day (it was raining), I decided that we needed to bring needlepoint in to our lives. I grew up without a television and a very artistic mother, so at a very young age, my brother and I cross stitched. I have fond memories of us camping and sitting by the fire and cross stitching. So, we piled in to the car, and drove to an embroidery store (The Enriched Stitch in Wilton, CT) to get the supplies. I really don’t have a clue on what I am doing, but I taught Cruzzie, too, and it is theraputic, frustrating, and extremely rewarding. I can’t wait to finish our first project and then start another one. They are so addicting!
There is a basic stitch that is easy to learn and then you just do it. We spent hours on the couch stitching….
I have had the tab with this NY Times recipe open for months, so finally I decided to make it (COVID 19—- 19 pounds over normal weight here weeeeeeeee commmmmmmeeeeeee). Super easy, fun to make, and delicious. Randomly, it is vegan too (which just means no eggs in this cake recipe) so my dairy free friends can make this and love it. It is a great cake to make with kids and when you are sick of dishes.