Wednesday, December 8, 2010

happy holidays

Luc, Olivia and Allan all went to the Sawdust Festival last weekend. A charming event that truly captures the real essence of Laguna Beach. There are booths where artists peddle their wares, food and Christmas scenes everywhere. I had a pity-fest since I was working away and only have this joyful photo to play from.

The irony was that I told my sister, probably as this photo was taken, that I did not have the time for Christmas cards this year. She thought that was a shame. Allan and family came home, he showed me this image from his camera phone, I think we may have a card...

baby food

I am typing with one hand because Master Luc is bouncing on my knee. So, please excuse any typos or that this post is not quite "poetic." Since my last entry I wrote a book, thus my excuse for being absent. A lot has happened in this period. Luc is onto solids though, as my father pointed out from this picture, he wondered if Luc is getting any food at all.

Due to the extraordinary deadline pressure I have been a bit cranky, which my friends and family graciously tolerated, as every free moment was devoted to the book and not holiday activities.

Oh, Luc is saying something right now. It's a combination between "da, a da and blah." Whatever the word, it means something in his little world right now. The milestones in his life are coming at us in rapid speed. It is true, they grow up fast.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

few easy pieces

To turn on the heat indoors decorate with printed boxes, a straw hat, flowers that fit another season and a sweet drawing from Olivia's younger years. Thus combining the natural, handmade and a hometown souvenir to show a personalized look.

tra la la lala

Part of the Laguna Beach look is Lala. Kerry Cassill's store that offers the softest Indian print clothes is the next best thing to wearing nothing. The patterns are cheerful while they fit in with every season. She also offers the best of warm faraway places such as straw bags, hats, beach mats, umbrellas and sundresses that moms and daughters will fight over. The look reminds of summer, keg parties and stepping out of the boundaries of a bonfire party for a swim in the ocean.

if i have this correctly

Could I be mistaken? The date says November 4th but the temperature reads 86 degrees. (Please see time of post: 7:53 p.m.) Referring back to my East Coast upbringing, a day so hot a water bottle left in your car is like sipping tea on your return from the market is unheard of.

It's in my DNA to crave chunky sweaters, boots and warm, homemade soups on November 4th, not soft nightgowns and falling asleep to the sound of a whirring fan. I suppose we will have to make the most of it and have a beach day tomorrow.

Monday, November 1, 2010

till next year

Last night the siblings trick-or-treated in North Laguna, eschewing the raucous Oak Street territory for a saner experience. While Olivia loaded on candy, I took the opportunity to peek inside homes that are open this one evening a year, finding some great places to profile for the magazines.

queen bee

Olivia even won a prize, cutest bee, though if her brother made it till the end of the fair perhaps their colloborative costume would have garnered another win.

what to bee on Halloween

Forget an evening of trick-or-treating, Luc and Olivia spent the weekend celebrating. Friday afternoon it launched off with Boo Blast at Olivia's school, her last year of elementary school. The duo went as bees, though different in style, their costumes match their ages.

Friday, October 15, 2010

sweet spot

Don't let the pink color fool you, these cookies actually taste quite good, with a strong dose of holiday spice.

fashion plates

Desserts are an easy way to brighten the eye. Truffles are mini art pieces.

can't wait till the holidays are over

Three holiday magazines are nearly completed--and I do not mean Halloween. The peculiar thing about working on monthly publications is it can really make you out of sorts, like living in the Southern Hemisphere for a year when you are from the North.

We are wrapping up the December holiday issue of Yum, and just when you think you've completed your tasks another one falls on your plate--literally. I have made and created recipes from such foods as spiced cheese balls to Cornish game hen. I do appreciate the simplicity in easy edibles like these melon balls wrapped in prosciutto. Scooping the melons recalls my days in Home Ec. (Shhh, Home Economics was the worst grade I received that semester).

back to reality

Perhaps this weekend won't be spent attending to work deadlines, and I can actually spend some time with Luc and the family in the pool. (Though not as hot as the other week, this is Laguna).

Luc had his first foray into the pool a few weeks ago, and he took to the water the way one would expect of a baby born within the parallels of SoCal. He is all business with his kick, kicks and paddles. He even plunges his head in the water despite our precautions.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

extending your shelf life

What I find most beautiful in this display is not what the picture reveals. These shelves are a result of a series of negotiations. How do we create more space in our home? Whose treasured belongings deserve more attention? This is a household headed by two passionate people who share a love for beautiful things, beach life, decor--all of which is reflected on three new shelfs.

a forgotten microscope found

As the summer is now catalogued into highlighted events, one family will always come to mind. A couple with two children rented Ebb Tide for a week. We once lived in Ebb Tide, and many of our "artifacts" were stashed away in storage unseen to the eye. Though never underestimate the curiosity of young children. Within five minutes of their arrival, one of the children unearthed this microscope, which belonged to one of Allan's relations--a doctor who did extraordinary things like discover cures for various diseases, perhaps with this very microscope. Luckily we retrieved the piece before it would become just another play thing, tormented by finger paint or slimed with crittery things found at the beach.

getting new glasses

For months I thought about the shelves we had built in Low Tide. When you have cottages filled with every imaginable artifact (Life magazines from the 1970s as example), which do you choose for coveted real estate on these pristine shelfs? The task clouds the head, like choosing one item from a diner menu.

Allan's years of collecting sea glass, enough to replenish a brewery's monthly supply, deserves its own mention. I was daunted by this sea glass, the topic of many heated conversations. Though Olivia and I took the motley jars of mixed up glass and color coded them. Each color was assigned its own glass jar. It was like combing tangles out of knotted hair. Suddenly the individual jars of glass looked gorgeous, worthy of that shelf space.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Is Luc channeling his namesake Luke Skywalker?


Or perhaps Muhammad Ali?


In fact Luc needed a good cleaning. We wrapped him up in his yummy new bathrobe, a gift from Auntie Janet, and had a quick shower. The baby tub was just too much of a production today. He becomes as slippery as a pond rock. I love when his hair gets slicked back, which I lather to cleanliness. He smells so clean. That clean baby smell.

if degas had a camera phone

Olivia began dance classes this week. Hip Hop and ballet. She attends these classes at the new senior center in town. Its sustainable style with an ode to California craftsman is spacious and modern. It even smells new. However "senior" is a misnomer as it offers hundreds of programs for everyone. If I had a whim to learn bridge, this is where I would go.

It was such a thrill to see Olivia at ballet class. It appeared that the summer seeped into her and helped her grow into this young lady. She was so excited to wear her new leotard and tights. To have her hair arranged in a high bun. While I watched her and a half dozen little ballerinas through the glass you can see them from young girls into young ladies.

Friday, September 17, 2010

super dome

Not just a dependable element in cartoon sketches, the silver dome was a valued addition to our landscape.

carrying on

The photographer commented on the light. The food stylist made course after course, an entire holiday meal in hours that would take an accomplished cook days.

We also had an unexpected visitor, Janet Solomon (of French Blue and Co. notoriety) came by to meet Luc and stumbled upon our affair. Janet makes me giggle. She is the kind of friend who makes me want to quit my job. I'd be one of those ladies who plays with friends and does things like have lunch at outdoor bistros and assist one another in decorating dilemmas.

going green

It's easy to be green when it looks this good.

flowers defined

The floral centerpiece was created by Teresa Sabankaya of The Boony Doon Garden Company, and each flower has a meaning. Power, love, family--the makings of a scandal or a great looking table setting.

before the food arrived

We tinkered with place settings.

ready, set

In High Tide we created an atmosphere to evoke past times with Kathleen's pieces.

centuries ago...

There were special vessels intended for oysters with little pockets hidden within its ornate base to mask spreading knives. Crystal, silver, fine linens were not registry items that were used twice a year. Today I played with such pieces, thanks to my friend Kathleen of Melange Antiques and her adorable niece (a floral designer). They arrived first thing in the morning with baskets of deliveries.

Back to that food magazine that has taken my life (Yum, Food & Fun), I spent another day creating stories for future issues. This is what happened...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

keen on quinoa

You can dress it up. You can serve it any time of the day. Berries and honey for breakfast. Beans and cayenne pepper for lunch. Or fresh thyme and vegetables from the garden for dinner.

too much food

I have neglected The Four Tides as of late because my focus has been on food. Lots of it. Last year, aside from learning that I was pregnant, I conceived the idea for Yum Food & Fun, a magazine about food and entertaining. I am quite convinced that the pregnancy and a professional excuse to obsess about food is related.

We are working on holiday issues for Yum and its off-shoot, Yum for Kids, so organizing the home would be a luxury right now. Today's assignment was quinoa--the It Grain. In fact quinoa was on one of my week's craving list when I was pregnant as I was attracted to its healthy benefits and found it to be a more substantive alternative to rice and couscous.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

inspection process

Luc's cousins, Brielle and Adeline, inspect his seat with approval. The girls are in town for two weeks--lots of doting, lots of energy.

Friday, August 27, 2010

taste test

Luc's Moses basket is so two weeks ago, which saddens a girl who used to design her sock drawer as the basket looked great in the house. However Luc is testing his strength (he even did his first turnover this past week). He also cries at the mention of "basket." There was only one thing to do, go to Babies 'R Us and get one of those bouncy chairs with as many flourishes and colors as Mardi Gras.

He was immediately taken by what I thought was my surrender to a nonsensical item that fuels a billion dollar industry--it took him less than 15 minutes to channel his inner boxer and tackle those twirling animals. I did wish that I could get the Charles Eames version of a chair that Kourtney Kardashian would approve, but motherhood changes one's design aesthetic. Luc gets final say.

Expect more on The Four Tides shortly with BBQs, kids, organization, our new shelves and summers' last hurrah...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

luc means light

Camera phones. They catch celebrities without their makeup. They help you make a decision on a pair of shoes from your editor friend on another coast. They also keep daddy busy taking snaps of his children. This morning he was drawn to the Laguna sun the way important painters go to coastal communities with chatter about the ocean light.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

little surfer girl

Did you know that when you grow up just steps from the Brooks Street beach that surfing is in your DNA? Just ask Olivia, who tackles these Laguna waves with gusto. This is her second year at surf camp, she attends an elementary school with views of the Pacific and her destined high school has students who catch waves before the school bell rings--can you say "lucky?"


Will Luc be as tall as his dad? Will he inherit his father's love of training, competing and spending an entire day on a bike? Will he take to instruments and fill our house with the sounds of piano music? Luc, you are at the starting line but we know you will be a true champion.

Monday, August 9, 2010

a strong finish

Daddy did finish the Vineman (a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a 26 mile marathon). Luc was completely exhausted waiting for him at the finish line. Though Daddy gave him his medal, which was quite worth it.

inn style

Ostensibly this trip was for Allan's Vineman. Its design changed once I found work and play angles. We also love to travel as a way of inspiration, to see how leading inns operate. From the packaged soaps to waitstaff you exchange email addresses with, The Farmhouse Inn in Forestville is such a place. It is intimate, friendly with many spot to wander off to.

if there was only more time

I would have spent a good part of the afternoon with one of my dozens of books I hope to finish someday,

farm land

Where we brought Luc when he was a tad angry.

behind the scene

You can pick up some saucy material at the local bar. I adore this picture of Allan and Luc. I had to collect our dinner inside this pub as Luc was not allowed in. You see, our 2-month old son is underage. As my two boys waited outside Allan heard a man chatting it up with another woman. The man said he had morals because he did not beat his wife. I find it irritating when Allan leaves dishes in the sink...

healthy choice

The local health food store is housed in a former church. It does attract quite a devoted following with its organic produce, bins of dried fruits and grains and earthy atmosphere.

tea selections

At the local health food store an entire floor is devoted to herbs and teas.

post it notes

You can always get a feel of a town from the kind of establishments they host. There are no Gaps or Starbucks in Mendocino. Though there is a creamery, Internet cafe, yoga studio and two yarn shops. Fliers posted on this fence advertise the services and events of local attractions.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

inn yellow

And, lastly on the yellow note, the MacCallum House is an apt tribute to this chirpy look.

above all

Returning back to the MacCallum House this yellow water tower stands in the back center of the property. Guests can even stay here. A novel idea.

pagoda style

Every where you turn in Mendocino you see something cute. It's like bumping into little girls in tutus at a ballet recital. Though I was especially charmed by this pagoda style cottage.

yellow shed

This shed was aside the barn. What a luxury to have a shed. I could see myself saying, "Allan, I will be in the shed." Where I would write and pretend to be up to really important things, like taking naps.

yellow houses

Another theme of the trip was yellow houses. I painted my first home (a triangular salt box in East Hampton) from grey to yellow and have always been drawn to this happy shade.

These three houses were a block north of the inn. They remind me of a Hopper painting.

the barn

We were struck by the fortune of staying in the barn (the MacCallum house has a variety of adjacent and nearby properties to stay in) as barns appeared to be a theme in this trip.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

summer of '10

Allan kept pitching Mendocino. I kept pitching a short drive to a fabulous hotel. For a sleep-deprived new Mom a hotel robe, slippers and the crisp layer of fine sheets is a holiday like no other. Allan got this one. The morning after he finished the Vineman we drove north on the 1, leaving the present behind.

Now I wish I would have given into Allan's whim to stop at every point of interest for a photo even though, if we were to, we'd still be somewhere in rural California rather than home. This region north of Sonoma hosts the family station wagon, inner tubes in cold lakes kind of destinations. Everything is dated. I don't believe you can manufacture a curvy sign that says "Welcome to Vacation Land," which resulted in a good laugh early on in the trip.

On a rest stop, which was marked by a few essential buildings curbing the highway, I stepped from the car, my legs gummy from the ride, and heard a buzzing sound from above. The light was sepia in tone. The weather cool, like the first time you wear a sweater after the summer. Everyone's aim was toward the sky, where an electric airplane looped in the air. This toy generated a lot of excitement, notably from Allan. He was a little kid on holiday. In fact, this trip mirrored his boyhood summer vacations.

We went into the towns only market and found many travelers like ourselves shopping alongside locals. There was a salad bar with organic produce, aisles of provisions and behind the counter an espresso machine that fulfilled Allan's latte fix. Peaches were also a must. I will always connect this trip to the taste of a fresh peach. Allan was the one who brought the peach to my attention, as it was his most memorable food consumed during the Vineman race. A sliced, sweet peach. He could not stop talking about those peaches, and I became a disciple to the fruit as well.

I asked the man working the counter if he lived nearby, what did he do to entertain himself, did he have satellite radio, how many miles to the nearest Verizon tower. He harped on the joys of such a simple life. And for just a moment I thought of myself in such an existence.

When we arrived to Mendocino it exceeded my expectations. Allan referenced it to its film pedigree (Summer of '42 and The Russians Are Coming were filmed here). Though this was more than a great film location, it brought me back to my life on the East Coast, where I was reminded of trips to Nantucket and the kind of person who doesn't participate in the world's rush to the newest thing as the past is so much more rewarding. There is a reason why people revisit places like Nantucket, Paris, wine country. They prefer the experience you find at the local coffee shop rather than a routine jaunt to a Starbucks.

We stayed at the MacCallum House. Right when we drove to the property I knew we were headed for a day that we would refer to for a lifetime. Even the cooler weather and soft hush of this lazy town preserved this place as one that would never let us forget.

another tide

Allan, Luc and I just returned for a week in Northern California. (Sadly, Olivia is away at sleep away camp--her first time from home). For the next few days I will share this experience, with random posts, as my thoughts jump from one amazing moment to the next.

The purpose of the trip was for Allan's Vineman event--he finished the Ironman (a gazillion mile swim, bike and marathon). Yes, he has the DNA of a thoroughbred. However, unexpectedly, we found ourselves in holiday mode. We travelled by car and skipped through towns where you could imagine a crusty old novelist abandoning mainstream for a life of reclusion. Sometimes we stopped our car to check out the natural beauty. Barns, fields, ocean and remnants of the past are some of the things we stumbled upon.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

court side

In the center of The Four Tides is a charming courtyard. Yes, charming does denote small but it is large on quaintness. There are bushes of herbs, a trellis, architectural remnants, the outdoor shower and curvy paths that lead to the cottages. Courtyards are classic, in the truest sense, as they date back to 300 B.C. thus surviving every design trend. I can see why. This is where proposals happen. Or little girls who get lost in their imagination.

On another note just to the right you will see a latticed wall, which is part of Low Tide. This will be replaced by a wall of glass to create an inviting sun porch. Stay tuned...