a lovely family vacation…san miguel de allende

Our family was in need of a vacation, we all have had a lot going on the past few months and it has been hot and muggy in Los Angeles. It’s too hot to be outside and being cooped up in the house with little kids is no fun at all! It was time to escape summer in Los Angeles! Leo had a week off of preschool so we thought it would be the perfect time for a Mexican getaway.

I had read about San Miguel de Allende on travel sites recently and a few friends have been and raved about it, so we figured… why not?  After five nights there, I have to say I am absolutely in love with the town. San Miguel de Allende has a rich history, the Spanish colonial town has retained much of its old world charm with narrow cobble stone streets (don’t bother to bring a stroller if you go) and centuries old buildings in El Centro, or the historic core of the city which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Though it has a small village vibe and everything is essentially walkable, SMA also has big city amenities like fine dining and art galleries.

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Lenny and Lucy walk down a cobble stone street in El Centro

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Leo and Lucy pose in front of an 18th century door

I had read many times that the population of SMA is about twenty percent American and Canadian retirees who flock there because of the low cost of living, excellent medical care and low crime rates. Because of this I expected more of a tourist trap vibe in the town. While we certainly met a few of these retirees on our trip, the town does not have touristy feel of the other Mexican destinations. Unlike Cancun, Los Cabos or Sayulita, American dollars are not accepted and most people do not speak English. Luckily, my wonderful cousin Carla came with us who speaks Spanish and I was able recall a few basic verbs and numbers from high school.

The landmark of the town is the Parroquia, or Parish church, a beautiful tall Spanish Gothic revival church made of pink sandstone with the accompanying Jardin that serves as the main town square. San Miguel is known for its festivals and parades, I would love to experience Independence Day or Dia de Los Muertos there. Even without at major holiday happening, on the weekend we were there there the Jardin was filled with excitement; wedding marches, Mariachi bands, a blues festival and a military band competition. A lot going on and a ton of fun for the kids.

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The Parroquia

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Dancers in front of the Parroquia

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Lucy and her new kitty in the Jardin

We were amazingly fortunate enough to use a friend’s home at the Rosewood San Miguel de Allende. The property is gorgeous with lush gardens, great restaurants, beautiful pools and most importantly, Rosebuds; a drop off kids clubs with activities for potty trained children that Leo LOVED.

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Leo relaxing in the kid’s pool

The hotel is centrally located and right down the block from Parque Juarez, the largest park in the city with an amazing playground and gardens for the kids to explore.  Most mornings we would grab coffees and pastries and head to the park to play for an hour or two.  Our go to spot in the mornings was Cafe Rama. The art gallery and cafe has a wonderful vibe, amazing egg dishes and coffee and pastries to go.

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Breakfast at Cafe Rama

One of our favorite activities was visiting La Esquina, the Mexican folk toy museum in town. They have three floors of the coolest hand crafted toys. There was really so much to take in at the museum which is filled with new and vintage toys, dolls, rocking horses and the coolest moving toys that were so fancy I would probably never let my children play with them.

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Lucy takes in La Lucha Libre at La Esquina

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Leo plays with a very cool dinosaur racing toy I wanted to take home

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Handmade dolls and our little doll

San Miguel is known for it’s food scene. We didn’t get to partake in many of the highly reviewed restaurants because our children are pretty terribly behaved around dinner time. We did have a lovely meal on the terrace at La Posadita, which has a a beautiful view of La Parroquia.  They also had a spinach and cheese burrito appetizer which was the perfect dinner for the kids, likely the only vegetables they ate the entire trip.

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Carla and Lucy at La Posadita

Lenny and I were able to sneak away for a little shopping and lunch one afternoon and we tried Jacinto 1930 which we really enjoyed. The menu is sort of a Mexican fusion concept, or at least I think it was… I thought I knew a lot of food words in Spanish until I looked at their menu. We both ordered yummy spicy tequila cocktails and shared a composed salad and their version of chilaquiles with burrata which was exceptionally tasty.

The design of the space is beautiful,  I love the contrast of the bold ceramic tiles and modern copper fixtures set in a the historic building which was designed to look stripped down to its supporting walls. Jacinto 1930 is part of a larger complex which holds a food hall, pastry shop, clothing store, book shop, art gallery, and wine and cocktail tasting rooms. One of the more upscale complexes in San Miguel.

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Jacinto 1930 Entrance

We took the kids to Hecho in Mexico for dinner the first night. The casual restaurant has an outdoor courtyard and a diner-esque menu, i.e. a little bit of everything from Mexican to burgers and all in HUGE portions.  Leo and Lucy were squirming in their seats so I didn’t have a chance to take any photos but I stayed and got the check while Lenny and Carla took the kids down the street for ice cream and it was 600 pesos! That’s about 33 dollars for for three adults and two kids to have dinner and drinks- and yes, some of the drinks were beers. No wonder expats love this place.

We ate a lot of meals (and by meals I mean chips and guacamole) at the Rosewood where the food was excellent but I really wish that we were able to try more places in SMA.

Other than the occasional (or frequent, depending on how to you look at it…) toddler tantrum, it was a great vacation. There is so much to do (and eat) in SMA that I am sure we missed a ton of things in the five days that we were there. I can’t wait to go back and explore more.

xo, Lisa

 

 

 

a perfect storm…

 

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These past few months have been a very busy, and not the busy having fun kind of busy… but the busy with actual things to do busy. Things that I have actually be accountable for to other people kind of things. Taking on more than I can handle is a perpetual flaw of mine. This spring I decided to take an extra class in my design program and organize a fundraiser, phone banks and canvass events for a certain Presidential candidate that I am extremely fond of… maybe a little too much.

And then there are the things that you can’t plan for…even just trying to write this blog post has been a four day affair. Between taking our dog to the emergency room for a cut, Leo “borrowing” some of my homework for my drafting class and ripping it, finding a lost neighborhood dog and tracking down her owner, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, being on lock down from the Los Angeles Police Department and freaking out (yes, that’s really how I spent an hour Tuesday afternoon)… I really am not sure where the days go.

My children have responded to this busy time in my life with great resistance. Leo has  upped his tantrum game to a new level, combining toddler-like fist swinging and biting with teenage-like rhetoric such as, “I want a new mom” and “I’m running away.” And Lucy is at a point in her life where a lack of constant supervision results in things like pouring a container of goldfish on the floor and stomping on them like Michael Flatley on meth, splashing in the toilet water or eating dog food.  Needless to say the TV is on a lot in our house.

Then there are the things I am supposed to be doing but are just not getting done.  Washing the sheets and towels, grocery shopping and cooking dinners (that aren’t spaghetti and pasta sauce from a jar), daily sand removal from the playroom, remembering to buy more toilet paper… who has time for these things? Certainly not me.

In the past three weeks I wrapped up a ton of events for the California Primary, turned in my final paper for my design history class, completed a MASSIVE drafting project and took a quick trip to Mexico with my family (more on that later), so hopefully this storm cloud of stress and over-commitment will pass soon. Next up I have a mother-son camping trip, potty training Lucy, more volunteer commitments and (eeks!) kindergarten for Leo. When one storm passes, in rolls another.

What are some strategies that have worked for you in balancing commitments? How do you know when you are putting too much on your plate?

xo, Lisa

dear bernie babies…

MTM1OTk0NjkxMjYxODM1OTA3Hello millennials!  I am a middle aged mom who is voting for Hillary Clinton and I want to talk to you. Maybe I am an old curmudgeon, but this election has me more down than any I have ever experienced. People are being downright awful to each other, misinformation is rampant, and a lot of people have strong opinions on things that they don’t really understand at all (Panama anyone?).

Bernie Sanders is trailing in delegates and it looks like he will not become the Democratic nominee despite all of your best efforts as a supporter (or Facebook posts). I get it, it sucks. I have been there. I stayed awake for almost two days waiting for Al Gore to become President (this was before Facebook so I phone banked for him, on a LAND LINE). I sat at Faneuil Hall and watched John Kerry concede with tears in my eyes. It sucks, it really sucks. I was in your shoes 8 years ago when I was a Clinton supporter and she lost the nomination to Obama. You should take the time to talk to some of the people who worked on the McGovern campaign… talk about a bummer.

In a country where more than a third of all eligible voters don’t even cast a ballot, it’s hard to complain about participation but you Bernie kids got me like WTF? Remember where these campaigns started, it was almost cordial. The pundits even said that in terms of policy, Clinton and Sanders weren’t that far apart.  Now look where we are?

Here’s an example that sent me into a rage this week… Ezra Koenig from Vampire Weekend decided that it was unfair that New York had a closed primary and that the voter registration deadline was so far in advance of the primary. TWO DAYS BEFORE THE PRIMARY! This was all over Twitter and my Facebook feed. He repeatedly tweeted (with misspelled expletives) Bill de Blasio to fix it. Seriously??? I feel like a simple google search could probably let you know that you’re tweeting up the wrong tree Ezra. There are pluses and minuses to a closed primary, perhaps you should research them.

Welcome to the Democratic system of the United States of America! There are complicated checks and balances all over our government. Closed primaries and super delegates are part of that system. The Democratic party has made changes in both of these areas over the years for a few different reasons. When I was younger, I didn’t like super delegates… but now, many elections later, I see them as a necessary evil. You should look into it, form your own opinion.

So after this election, if Bernie Sanders loses… don’t stop. Find out what you’re going to do to keep our democracy alive. What do you want changed and what are you going to do about it?  So hey kid from Vampire Weekend, you don’t like that New York has a closed primary? Do something about it (Hint, it’s not Bill De Blasio that you need to start lobbying).

This isn’t the end. There are school board elections, ballot measures, city council, state senators…  the world is your oyster.  Do your research, pick a candidate or cause. They won’t all be winners. But sometimes they will, and you will know that you have affected change.

Pick your party.  You may be an Independent, a Democrat or a Republican. You may have another few primaries like this where your candidate doesn’t win. When Obama had the nomination in 2008, I was sad. But I supported him.  You know who else did? Hillary Clinton; she stumped for him up until election day. That’s what you do to keep your party strong.  I don’t need to remind you of everything that’s at stake in this election… there are racist policies, plans for a border wall and an empty seat on the Supreme Court that you hear about every day.

It’s taken me a while but I have figured out who I am in this system. I am the rally-going mom, I’ve got t-shirts and bumper stickers letting my neighbors know that I support Hillary. If you see me in line for coffee somewhere or we meet for lunch, I am probably going to bring up the election and tell you why I support Hillary. I am a fundraiser, a party thrower; parties with wine and a lot of great discussion about the causes at hand. Some people write petitions, some people go door to door, some phone bank, others organize. Who will you be?

Also, let me tell you… Hillary is my girl. I think her policies on gun control, health care and education are better than Bernie’s; so I am voting for her in the primary….but if she doesn’t win. Guess what? I am voting for Bernie. I’m going to get over the nastiness of this primary and start talking to my neighbors about Senator Sanders, I may even throw a party… a party with wine.

 

(artwork taken from magneticmag.com)

Everyone thinks my daughter is boy…

At least once a day a someone thinks Lucy is a boy.

“How old is he?”

“He’s a cute little guy.”

“Hey little dude!”

It really doesn’t bother me that they think Lucy’s a boy.  I guess I don’t go out of my way to dress her in super-girly clothing.  She spends most afternoons getting dirty at the park so flowery dresses are sort-of out of the question.  I don’t even try to get cute headbands on her anymore, I know that’s a battle I’ll never win. Is it because of her little jeans or the fact that she doesn’t have a ton of hair?

What does bother me is the constant awkward interactions with strangers. Here’s another daily interaction:

“He’s so cute, what’s his name?”

“Lucy.”

“Oh, oh my. I’m so sorry! Oh course she’s a little girl.”

If I can possibly avoid it, I don’t correct them. I mean, I’m not going to like and say “His name is Lucas.” But sometimes I will answer the the “how old is he?” question with “17 months” instead of “She is 17 months.” (Side note, my husband totally will just roll with it and say, “he’s 17 months.”)

I hate seeing people feel bad. And people feel really bad about this simple misunderstanding for some reason. I always try to smile and say something funny, attempting to alleviate how the other person is feeling.  I see people blush and stammer apologies all the time. It’s not like you just asked me when my baby was due only to find out my baby is almost two years old. By the way, that’s totally happened too, I am less nice to those people.

It’s really not a big deal people! Can we make some sort of agreement that babies are gender-neutral?

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Little dude on a horse.

 

 

weekend dinner inspiration from the web…

A lot of post about food, I know! But we all have to eat, right?

The internet can be a dangerous place when it come to recipe inspiration.  You can start out with the best intentions; looking for healthy family-friendly recipes for meals and snacks and end up on Pinterest looking at something like “five-minute cinnamon roll dippers.”

Is anyone else’s Facebook feed filled with those “easy” recipe videos of food that will probably kill you but look AMAZING? I saw one yesterday for a “healthy and hearty potato soup” that called for butter, heavy cream, sour cream, cheddar cheese and bacon. I swear my skinny jeans actually spoke and said, “please don’t make that.”

My point is, the internet is a scary place… but fear not! I have wasted hours of my life trolling the web so you don’t have to. Here are some recipes from a few of my favorite sites for healthy, veggie-filled, family meal inspiration…

dinner inspiration1. Oh She Glows– check out these crispy quinoa cakes, they are a great alternative to a processed veggie burger and can be made bite size for the little ones. The opportunity to experiment with these is endless. Don’t have kale? Use spinach. Don’t have quinoa? Try millet.

2. Vanilla and Bean – Check out this chickpea salad. I went through about a month where I always had this in the fridge.  It’s so easy to make and tasty! It is good on it’s own straight out of a bowl, in a pita or (my favorite) on some Mary’s Gone crackers as a snack.

3. Minimalist Baker–  Confession, I totally cheated when I made these and used a box of Spanish rice pilaf from Whole Foods. But they were still really good! If you aren’t familiar with this site check it out.  Tons of veggie-loaded healthy recipes.  Leo also really loves her chickpea blondies (you read that right).

4. Nourish Atelier– Why didn’t I think of this as a dinner idea already?!?!  Cut up veggies and fruit in pretty strips and have your kids fill up their own spring rolls!  Full confession, I haven’t made this recipe yet but this week I did this with sushi papers, sticky rice, carrots, cucumbers and avocado and the kids loved it.

Happy cooking everyone and have a lovely weekend!

xo

Our Purple Carrot review is in!

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I’ve vented on this blog before that feeding a family is hard. You know, because everyone knows by now, that you are supposed to feed your kids a diverse diet of mostly fruits and vegetables. It’s just so HARD.  All Leo wants to eat is pizza and cookies. It’s not uncommon for him to abstain from dinner all together when he is served something new, unfamiliar or undesired; which is basically everything that not pizza or avocado sushi rolls. I am very fortunate that Lucy and Lenny will happily eat almost anything that I serve them.

Since we have become vegetarian, figuring out what to cook has been a little more difficult.  I don’t want to get stuck in a pizza and pasta rut and I don’t want to end up substituting eggs and dairy for the meat that we are leaving out because then really, what’s the point?

Enter, The Purple Carrot.

The Purple Carrot is entirely plant-based meal-kit service, that’s right… vegan. Mark Bittman, surprised everyone by leaving his job at the New York Times to become involved a while back. You may know him from the NYT, his cookbooks, or his Vegan before Six diet. The bottom line is that this dude knows good food and he knows how to cook. When I heard this, I was really interested.

I have never tried a meal kit delivery service. My view has always been that they were WAY more expensive than just going to the store and buying something to make dinner. When I heard about Purple Carrot, I was interested because I wanted to learn some new recipes that I could work into our weekly menu. After looking over the offerings for a few weeks, I placed our order.

Here’s what I thought…

The PROS

  1. A lot of diversity in the vegetables, recipes, spices and flavors used. It’s not all kale, people! We are half way into week three and we have made Indian, Korean, and Italian food. I learned that I love parsnips, where two weeks ago I would see them in the store and think, “what could I possibly do with these weird overgrown, pale carrots.”
  2. It makes A LOT of food! enoki  We are doing the family plan, which costs $74 a week for two meals. But that is enough food to feed four of us for dinner and at least 2 or three lunches worth of left-overs.
  3. GREAT RECIPES!  So far, out of five there are two that I am going to add into our regular weeknight dinners. These Pa Jun, Korean vegetable pancakes that everybody loved and a Ribollita that was perfect for a cold night.
  4. Pre-measured ingredients. I am sure it’s this way for every meal delivery service but since this is my first I really love it. Not having to go out and buy a big container of mustard seeds or curry powder when you only need a tablespoon is just awesome. And obviously, not having to measure.
  5. You can skip a week. You get to see the meals ahead of time so if you aren’t into what’s happening next week you can skip, no questions asked (as long as you do it by Thursday).
  6. Totally recyclable or reusable packaging.

The CONS

  1. The meals have a lot of prep. I usually spend a least twenty minutes chopping and rising before I even start cooking while my children are whine on the kitchen floor. Next week, I am going to try to do some of the chopping earlier in the day while Lucy naps.
  2. The family meals aren’t totally “family” friendly in the spice department. I’ve had to leave off chili flakes twice and once I had to create a separate side-dish for my kids because the side dish was kim chi. Luckily, I was paying attention and didn’t just dump a bag of chilis into our dinner per the instructions, or I would have been making macaroni and cheese in addition to my beautiful Purple Carrot meal. This only applies if you have really little ones or your family doesn’t like spice.
  3. It’s expensive. It’s definitely cheaper than ordering take-out but not as cheap as going to the store and buying your own ingredients.

The only other thing I could think of as a negative, that isn’t really a negative to our family, is that the meals are a little adventurous. If your kids are picky eaters and haven’t seen Aloo Paratha or Lentils before you may be met with some resistance. But trying never hurt right?

If you are trying to work more veggies into your repertoire, try the Purple Carrot!

xo