baby cormac's quilt

Thursday, May 29, 2014

One of my dearest lady friends, Susan, had her first baby last week (!!) and good thing she did since I made her this little quilt specifically for that reason. It's another one of my friend Alicia's from her Olallieberry pattern and I highly recommend it for beginners. I originally tied it a different way and after washing it, most of the ties untied:/ (Dreadful horrors!) So I texted Alicia a picture of the debacle and said WTF did I do wrong? And she wrote me back this longest text asking me if I buried the tail and hid the knot and a bunch of other stuff that sounded like Japanese. So I asked her if she spoke English. And then (because she's amazing), she made me an instructional video of her sewing these cutest embroidery-floss stars. Not only did they work, they look so so so much cuter than my original plan. I have the nicest, most generous crafty friend. You gotta check out her site if you haven't. I love her. (Thanks, Alicia!!!)

I hope you find a way to be creative today, even just a tiny bit.

P.S. My favorite part is picking out the fabric:

breakfast pasta (for any time of day)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Oh guys. Thank you a million times over for all your love and support. I am so touched by the compassion and kindness shown not only by my friends and family, but by acquaintances and even strangers. It's so dear to me that Lena was loved even by those who only knew her silly, sweet personality through pictures and stories. Anyway, it has certainly been a hard one over here and I appreciate it with all my heart.

Even though my grief still catches me off guard, I feel like we've gotten through the worst of it. And the cooler temperatures have helped in the relief. It was so oppressively hot here last week. In the movies it's always the rain that is the saddest, but I'd make a strong case for sweltering 100 degree days. They make you feel heavy all over. And they force you to be inside and go slow and turn inward not unlike the rain. I was holed up letting the a/c blow on me while David went on a camping trip that had been planned for months. The house was eerily quiet. You don't realize how accustomed you get to dear little dog sounds until they're gone: sleepy sighs and moans, nails clickety-clacking on the hardwood, squirrel-chase dream sequences.

This week, the super still house has been replaced with all sorts of noise and banging while we have repairs done on our roof. It sounds like we're under attack by giants. My bathroom window has no curtains since it's on the second storey and only faces trees. Today, without thinking, I walked in there naked, only to see feet standing on a ladder outside. Nothing like hitting the deck in your own home. I didn't know I could move so fast.

I think we can all agree that comfort food is in order. Bonus: apparently carbs help replenish energy stores depleted by fear of roof workers glimpsing one's boobs.


Breakfast Pasta
adapted from Hugo's Pasta Mama
serves 2 generously

There is a killer healthy restaurant here in LA called Hugo's that is one of my favorites. They have these pasta dishes with eggs that are the ultimate. I hope you enjoy my tweaked version. See the bottom for some ideas to make it your own.

10oz dry spaghetti (I used brown rice pasta but any will do)
2T olive oil
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 t salt-free seasoning mix such as Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute
1/3 cup chopped parsley
pinch kosher salt
1/2 cup grated parmesan
4 eggs, beaten
lots of black pepper
salt to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, reserving 2T of the hot cooking water before draining. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil. Sauté the garlic and seasoning mix for 2 minutes, taking care not to burn the garlic. Add the parsley, a pinch of kosher salt, then the hot pasta and pasta water. Toss it all together, mixing well. Add the eggs and cheese and stir fast and well until mixed and cooked through. Taste for salt. Serve immediately with extra cheese on top. Optional add-ins include red pepper flakes, broccoli, arugula, bacon, pancetta, sausage and/or chicken. Whatever gives you comfort:)

P.S. Thanks again for all the love...

lena pagani 2001-2014

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

With an aching heart and a soggy face, I am beyond saddened to tell you that yesterday afternoon, at home, sweet Lena died in our arms. I still can't believe how quickly it all went down. We got her cancer diagnosis less than two weeks ago and ever since, she went continuously, briskly downhill. After hospitalizing her overnight this week for some fluids and meds, she seemed momentarily better but then stopped eating altogether and just lie there, trembling and having trouble breathing. It was heartbreaking. So we made the decision to help her transition. It was the sweetest and saddest thing I've ever done in my whole life.

I prayed and prayed for her to go in her sleep these last few days. I whispered to her that she didn't need to stay for us, that we would be okay. But being present that moment she took her last breath, surrounded by home and love and kisses and words of gratitude, and the kindest home-euthanasia vet, we got to be there to help her (and us, for that matter) create a graceful completion of her beautiful life. And as hard as it was, she gave us that gift. I'm so glad I got to shepherd her to that edge. She only had to do the very last part of it alone. And then she was free.

"To love someone fiercely, to believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in time, to fully engage in a life that doesn't come with guarantees--these are risks that involve vulnerability and often pain. But I'm learning that recognizing and leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability teaches us how to live with joy, gratitude, and grace."

-Brene Brown

"…(s)he will be our friend for always and always and always."

-Rudyard Kipling

flourless chocolate cookies

Monday, May 5, 2014

This week has been a Whirl. Wind. After three vet visits, an abundance of assorted tests, and a couple thousand dollars, we found out yesterday that our sweet Lena girl has cancer. We have seen evidence of her age lately but it made us scared when she pretty much stopped eating these last couple weeks. Ugh. So now, post-vet, we have a lot of sad information and a lot of decisions to make. In good news, we are now armed with some drugs to ease her nausea and help her appetite, so she's slowly, gingerly eating and getting a little of her energy back. She mostly still has her bright eyes and spirit but this morning as she rested she just looked depressed. I tested out all her favorite words (ball, walk, cookie) and didn't get any perk out of her. It broke my heart. But then a little while later, David and I took her to the park and felt so happy to see her walk about and sniff around and even smile a little. She found a dirty shard of a tennis ball in a pile of leaves that she wanted us to throw for her and it was the best sign we've seen in a while. So now we're in this little limbo: kissing on her as much as humanly possible while we treat her symptoms and figure out our options. It's a roller coaster of sadness and denial and cookies. I'm enjoying the denial. And the cookies.

Why do the cookies help so much?

Love to you,

*has the nerve to (perhaps inappropriately) work dog cancer into cookie-recipe blog posts

Flourless Chocolate Cookies
yields about 30

Have you had the flourless chewy chocolate cookies from Starbucks? They are so crazy good with their crunchy exterior and chewy interior. And super chocolatey-ness. This is my attempt at recreating them. I dare you to try and eat just one. No matter how many you eat, I bet they make you feel better:)

2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (either dutch-processed or not. DP will give you that dark oreo-cookie chocolate flavor. Both are delicious)
1/2 t kosher salt
3 egg whites, very lightly beaten (until just a little frothy on top)
1 t vanilla
1 cup walnut halves, toasted and finely chopped
3/4 cup chopped best-quality dark chocolate or chocolate chips

Line a cookie sheet with parchment and preheat oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa and salt. Ditch the whisk. Stir in the egg whites with a spoon or fork. This will seem futile in the beginning but trust me, just keep gently stirring and it will all come together. Add the vanilla and then fold in the nuts and chopped chocolate. The dough will be like thick brownie batter. Drop by tablespoonfuls (this is important--you don't want these too big or they're hard to remove from the parchment), 2" apart and bake for 13-14 minutes. You want them shiny and cracked on top. Remove from the oven and let cool COMPLETELY before attempting to remove them from the parchment. You can slide the parchment paper onto a rack so they cool faster but this is not necessary. Use a spatula or gently peel them off the paper with your fingers.

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