Monday, November 9, 2015

modern monday: concrete + cement

Concrete (that durable composite material made from a mixture of broken stone or gravel, sand, cement, and water) and cement (the main ingredient in concrete) have been popping up everywhere in the design world...from lighting to tiling to jewelry, and even inspired wallpaper.

A few months ago I won a fiberglass-reinforced concrete Kreten Candelabra from Souda (thanks Instagram contest!). The heavy statement piece, which sits on the mantle in our living room, is strong and raw appearance. It provides a nice contrast from my other tabletop and décor objects, which tend to be softer and lighter. The Kreten is always a topic of conversation and it sparked my new interest in concrete.

Here are some designs I’m really fond of right now. Have you got any favorites? Feel free to share them.

Happy modern Monday!


Top Row (L to R):
Concrete Earrings from Konzuk Shop 

Middle Row (L to R):
Rainbow Shades from Julien Renault Objects 
Edgy Tiles from Kaza Concrete  
100% Sand from Anabella Vivas

Bottom Row (L to R):
Vases from Seung Yong Song 
JWDA Concrete Lamp designed by Jonas Wagell for Menu 

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Thursday, November 5, 2015

berry patch farms + ina's zucchini vichyssoise

“I sincerely believe that for the child, and for the parent seeking to guide him, it is not half so important to know as to feel when introducing a young child to the natural world. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil.”  -Rachel Carson, A Sense of Wonder

On Tuesday, Otis and his kindergarten class took their first field trip together, and since I’m all about outings and adventures I signed up to be one of the parent chaperones. The destination was BerryPatch Farms located in Brighton, Colorado, about 25 minutes from Denver. Otis, along with his classmates and teachers, hopped aboard a big yellow and set out on their first adventure.

We’re no strangers to this amazing organic farm. It’s where we pick cherries and raspberries every season. And in addition to “u-pick” options, the farm provides the most spectacular and unobstructed views of the Front Range. You can see mountains for miles (and miles and miles!). On Tuesday, many of the 14ers were already snowcapped which means winter is definitely on its way…

There are animals on the farm too, including chickens, turkeys, goats and a donkey. Two porcine friends also call the farm home, one with the lamentable name “Bacon Bits” (but don’t worry, she won’t be eaten) and another named Heidi. The kids toured the farm by tractor, strung necklaces made of yarn, beads and clay, picked pumpkins, and watched a film about bees and the importance of these natural pollinators. The outing concluded with a picnic lunch, which for me meant pumpkin bread with chocolate chunks (delicious!). It was an excellent way to spend a morning outdoors under the Colorado sun…

The field trip reminded me of the excursion I took with Theo a few months back, around the second week of September when his school was closed for one of the many (many) Jewish holidays. And yes, summer might be a fleeting memory and we’re in the thick of autumn, but I wanted to share the images from that day. The farm is really beautiful, and since this blog is a family journal of sorts, I thought I would be remiss if I didn’t document the occasion when Theo declared, “Today I will pick berries and not boogers.” Right?!

So Theo and I picked fruit and cut flowers. Then we shopped at the farm-stand, which is open daily during the summer and holds weekend hours during the fall. I scooped up tomatoes, herbs, zucchini and a variety of other squash.  I sautéed the zucchini in olive oil for a simple side dish, but the vast majority of them went into Ina Garten’s Zucchini Vichyssoise, which I modified only slightly (recipe below). We made pots and pots of it and can’t wait for next summer to make more.

Happy picking!


** PS:  I chose not to share photos from Otis's class trip because he's in public school and I'm only beginning to acquaint myself with the families from our classroom. I thought it would be best (and wise) not to include images of children I don't know that well (and without parental consent). That said, Theo said he's fine with sharing :) 

Zucchini Vichyssoise
Modified only slightly from this Ina Garten recipe
Serves 5-6

1 tablespoon unsalted butter (to make it vegan, omit butter and add 1 extra tablespoon of e.v.o.o)
1 tablespoon good olive oil
5 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (4 to 6 large leeks)
4 cups chopped unpeeled white boiling potatoes (6-8 small)
2 large zucchini, chopped
1-1/2 quarts homemade vegetable stock or good quality store-bought (canned).
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons heavy cream (to make it vegan, omit the cream)
Fresh chives or julienned zucchini, for garnish

Heat the butter and oil in a large stockpot, add the leeks, and sauté over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, zucchini, chicken stock, salt, and pepper; bring to a boil; then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Cool for a few minutes and then process through a food mill fitted with the medium disc. Add the cream and season to taste. Serve either cold or hot, garnished with chopped chives and/or zucchini ribbons.
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Thursday, October 1, 2015

steamboat springs (the aspen show)

When I was growing up, my favorite tree was a Japanese Maple in my parents’ backyard. Every September the tree put on a show, and its leaves would turn the most brilliant shade of red before they fell to the ground.  I know that some people lament the end of summer, and fall is viewed as a harbinger of the cold winter to come. But I love the cycle of the seasons and see September and October as a time for renewal and introspection, which might not be such a coincidence since I grew up in a household that took Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur, the Jewish New Year and Day of Atonement, very seriously.

In Denver, the temperatures have been really warm (maybe even a bit unseasonal), but the nights have turned cool. It’s sit-on-the-porch-and-watch-the-stars-while-drinking-a-glass-of-red-wine sort of weather. And as much as I love fall in the city, it’s up in the mountains where the season really shines. Groves of Quaking Aspens have started to turn their bright yellow, gold and orange hues. The colonies look like streaks going down the mountain and lend a shock of color to an otherwise green pine backdrop… basically, it’s an arborist's dream.

Last weekend, while my husband was celebrating his 40th birthday out-of-town with a group of childhood friends (all of whom are reaching the milestone this year), I took the boys on what I hope will become an annual pilgrimage to Steamboat Springs.
I’ve been feeling more intrepid, adventurous and confident as a mother, so I didn’t think twice about taking this solo-parenting vacation. Severe temper tantrums are becoming a thing of the past, which means my nerves are less shot and I’m better able to deal with minor behavior issues. On this trip, thankfully, there were none.
We hiked for hours around Fish Creek Falls, drove down the most bucolic country roads, soaked in the hot mineral springs at Strawberry Park ($10 adult/ $5 kids) and even dined out!

A friend of mine calls this phase—one where your children are no longer babies, no longer depend on you for every function, and are able to keep their emotions in check—as being “out of the woods.” And I truly feel like we’ve overcome some of the hardest challenges of raising children for the past few years.

Speaking of woods (see what I did there?), during the trip to the mountains, those Aspen forests were as breathtaking as they were restorative. I found myself thinking about the Japanese Maple tree in the yard of my childhood home, and within a few minutes of hiking through the Aspens, Otis turned to me and said, “I think we should plant a few of these in our front yard.” I totally agreed…

Wishing you wonderful autumn adventures,

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