Moving and Shaking


It’s been a while. No apologies on my end (I mentioned hating when bloggers post apologies for taking time off in a previous blog post), life tends to get in the way of the extra curricular activities when you have small children.

So much has happened in the four months since I last posted (some of which you may know if you follow me on Instagram). We have spent the better part of this year, or at least the few moments of spare time, getting our home ready to sell. It has been an exhausting, draining, and very humbling experience. It’s really remarkable how as soon as you get around to fixing one thing, two others break in it’s place. It’s also puzzling why we had so much to fix and didn’t do it while we were here and able to enjoy the luxury of unbroken home finishings or appliances.

We had hoped to get our house on the market in the spring and move early summer. Here we are now in mid to late August–and still have much to do. I really didn’t want another year in this heat. This week got up to 104. If you have read my blog for any length of time you are sure to have heard my wining over the heat and how much I despise it. Every year, when late summer rolls around, my soul seems to shrivel, I become incapable of more than getting up to turn on the AC, my heart turns grey, and life feels like a blur. Possibly an exaggeration, but not entirely far from the truth. This year has been different though. I was hoping to be gone before it hit and basking in the beautiful (and very mild by comparison) Pacific Northwest summers right now, but I don’t feel nearly as depressed about this weather as I have the past 18 years. This WILL be our last summer here. I am finding a joy in it that I wasn’t able to find when I saw no end in sight. We have swam in the pool more times in the past month than I think Lucy has in her entire life, we have made more popsicles, had more messy days where the kids come in the house dripping of hose water, many days we forget to brush our hair, and the laundry is always piled pretty high. It has been a nice summer. Maybe now, on the eve of us leaving, I am finally beginning to see the beauty in this place that has been my home for the entirety of my adult years. How ironic.

As we prepare to start our first year of homeschooling next Monday, I am in awe of how other parents do it all, or even pretend to do it all–because I can’t fake that in real life or even through the beautiful filters of Instagram. Most days it feels and looks like chaos all day. I am not poetic enough to make these messy life things look beautiful.

We have found a curriculum that we love and are so excited to dive into with Lucy. How I am going to juggle a destructive (almost) two year old, stick with the our schedule, make breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and maintain some order of cleanliness in our home, is beyond me at this point–but I look forward to the challenge. The older I get the more I start to realize what matters and that other stuff really just is stuff.

So, on to new adventures and big changes. Life is looking up.

Strawberry and Poppy Seed Yogurt Cake – A Book Review

strawberry poppy seed yogurt cake recipe

We are not huge sweet eaters in this house. Well, at least the adults aren’t. If it were up to the children it would be cookies and cake at every meal. We simply don’t keep sweets around, and only have them for the rare treat. When I do decide to indulge, I almost always go for something bursting with the fruits that are in season at that particular time of year. Pies, cobblers, and the likes are my go to dessert for most occasions, mostly because they rely mainly on the sweetness of the fruit rather than copious amounts of extra sugar, but partly because I am just not that great at baking cakes. I really want to be, so when I saw Yossy Arefi’s book Sweeter off the Vine available, using seasonal fruits in every kind of dessert you can imagine, I was excited. 

From apple fritters to wine roasted figs with honeyed ricotta to caramel swirled roasted squash ice cream sandwiches to blackberry and sage cream puffs, there are some very inspiring recipes in this book that show the versatility of fruit in dessert while still letting them sing.

I am a big fan of the simplicity of loaf cakes, I saw her recipe for cherry and poppy seed yogurt cake and knew I had to try it with some of the amazing strawberries that have been popping up at the markets. I decided to substitute lemon for the limes the original recipe called for. Thinking what a clever one I was, I sat down this morning to read through the recipe and saw a note at the bottom suggesting trying it with other berries and lemon juice. Well, this is it, my not so creative adaptation.

Needless to say, this was a delicious and a very quick to throw together dessert. It was light and fluffy, not overly sweet, and full of flavor. I look forward to trying it with cherries when they come into season.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Strawberry Poppy Seed Yogurt Cake
Yields 1
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  1. 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  2. 2 tablespoons rolled oats
  3. 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  4. 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  5. a pinch of salt
  6. 3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
  1. 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  2. 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  3. 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  4. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  5. 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  6. zest of two lemons
  7. 1/2 cup avocado oil (or other high temp cooking oil)
  8. 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  9. 1 cup plain yogurt
  10. 1/4 cup lemon juice
  11. 1 3/4 cups small strawberries, hulled and halved
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter or line a 9x5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper (I use scissors to cut the corners to fit the pan perfectly).
  2. For the Streusel: In a small bowl mix the flour, oats, sugar, poppy seeds, salt, and sugar. Stir in the small cubes of butter, breaking them up with your spoon if they stick together. Set aside.
  3. For the cake: In a medium sized bowl mix the flour, baking powder, poppy seeds, salt, sugar, and lemon zest. In another bowl mix the eggs, yogurt, oil, and lemon juice and whisk to combine. Make a well in the flour and pour the wet mix into the dry mix. Stir to combine. Fold in 1 cup of the of the strawberries.
  4. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and place the remaining 3/4 cup of the strawberries on the top. Sprinkle the streusel in an even layer over the strawberries. Bake until golden and a small knife inserted in the middle comes outs clean, about 40-50 minutes. Let come to room temperature before slicing.
Adapted from Sweeter off The Vine by Yossy Arefi
Adapted from Sweeter off The Vine by Yossy Arefi
Cedar Makes Things

Simple Moong Dal

simple indian dal recipe

You guys know me well enough by now to know that cooking is a pretty big part of my life. The act of making something for others, then sitting around and enjoying it together, well, I can’t think of anything better. When I started this blog one of my goals was to share and create recipes that I could have in one place. I did it years ago on my old blog, The Vintage Wife, but over time it got easier and easier not to write down recipes or photograph my dishes.

I have been toying with the idea of sharing recipes regularly in this space for many months, but didn’t know where to start. I felt like the majority of the dishes I make were either not very interesting, or were someone else’s recipe.

So, I finally decided to start where I am.

This is a dish we eat so frequently in our house. It is easy to throw together, it is full of flavor, and the kids love it. It makes for a simple and filling lunch with rice and a bit of yogurt, or a nice side to a main course. I always make a double batch so we can have it for a few days in the fridge–and the flavors continue to develop and in my opinion taste even better the next day!

simple indian dal recipe

Simple Moong Dal
Serves 4
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
  1. 2 tablespoons ghee or cooking oil
  2. 1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  3. 2-3 dried red chilies
  4. 1 cup moong dal (red lentils)
  5. 4 cups water
  6. 1 teaspoon turmeric
  7. 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  8. 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
  9. 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  10. 1 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  11. 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (more for garnish)
  12. 1 tablespoon butter (optional)
  1. In a medium sized pot over medium-low heat add ghee, onions, and dried chilies. Stir every few minutes until onions are soft.
  2. Sift through and rinse the red lentils until the water runs clear.
  3. To the pot add lentils, water, turmeric, ground coriander, ginger, and salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring every few minutes. Cook for 25 minutes, adding more water if it appears to be getting too dry (or if you like a soupier dal).
  4. In a small sautee pan over medium heat add the cumin seeds and toast, shaking frequently until they are very aromatic and slightly darker in color, about thirty seconds. Stir cumin seeds, cilantro, and butter (optional) into the dal. Taste to adjust seasonings.
  5. Serve over rice with a bit of yogurt on the side and garnish with more cilantro.
Cedar Makes Things

In the Kitchen

heidi swansons sprout salad near and far

my pantry review alice waters


rasam and naan bread

I just got finished watching the Michael Pollan documentary series, Cooked (available on Netflix), and like all his works, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The four part series focused on the different elements (fire, water, air, and earth), and the role these elements play in our food cycle. While the majority of it was not new information to me, it was still a fun watch, and totally inspiring.

I love nothing more than spending a good chunk of time in the kitchen, though it isn’t always possible with two little ones, careful preparation and thought have really helped me to get better about cooking us a nutritious and tasty meal.

  1. The most delicious sprout salad from Heidi Swanson’s amazing book, Near and Far. Recipe also available on her website. Even my vegetable hater loved this dish.
  2. I recently got my hands on Alice Water’s latest book, My Pantry. It is a short, but very sweet little book, with great ideas and inspiration. Within its pages are recipes for making more of our usually store bought items from scratch, as well as a few more unusual ideas to add a little jazz to the most ordinary of meals. I have already started a few kitchen projects,  but the one I am most excited about is the apple peel cider vinegar I am fermenting. (I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review)
  3. Kimchi, and other ferments happening.
  4. Rasam, also from Near and Far alongside some fresh baked naan bread. So tasty, but a bit too spicy for the kids to enjoy.

Life and Moving Forward

watching chickens

I find it hard to start blog posts after a month long absence with anything other than “sorry, long time no post”, “pardon my absence”, or something along those lines. I recently read an article that challenged the idea of teaching our young girls to say sorry–from a feminist standpoint. I no longer have the link saved, but it pretty much argued the point that saying sorry for things, especially those trivial little thing that don’t matter much, can make a girl, and later a woman, feel inferior and as if she owes someone something. Of course, it is important to teach manners, like if we step on someones toe, or say something hurtful that we truly feel bad about–but I know, I for one, have been guilty of saying sorry for things I really should not feel any sorrow for–like not updating my blog. I love it here, I love you guys, I have no plans on stopping…but really, I’m not sorry. Some months will be slow, but I no longer want to even address that after a few weeks or months off. Truthfully, I always find it comforting when I get together with those friends I haven’t seen in years and we pick up exactly where we left off. So, let us pick up where I left off.

If you follow me on Instagram, you likely have heard bits and pieces of the turmoil we have been through in the past three months. My sister, who suffers from schizophrenia, upon being released from the institution (shortly after our visit to New Mexico in November) and off her anti psychotic medication, hopped in her car and drove away from her home in New Mexico. She drove 16 hours to essentially “start over”. Within a few days of her being gone we lost contact. We later found out that her phone, iPad, and the $6000 or so she had in her bank account had been stolen. We no longer had any way of contacting her. A week or so after we lost contact, her car was found abandoned in a lot with all her belongings inside. I lived for over a month thinking my sister was dead, crying myself to sleep, playing over in my head what could have happened to her, and waking every single night with nightmares. After countless attempts to locate her, my mom was finally able to get in touch with an FBI agent, and two days later we were able to confirm that she was alive, but wanted nothing to do with us. It has been about three weeks since she was located, and while I obviously feel so much relief knowing she wasn’t “done in” like one of the many scenarios that played over in my head late at night, it is far from a happy ending. We still don’t know where she is, she has no source of income, her identity has been stolen, she is off some, possibly all her medications, and the likelihood of her getting back in contact grows slimmer by the day. It has been a very scary time.

Figuring out how to move on with this hole in my heart is the hardest part. To go from talking with someone almost every day to not at all has been a real adjustment. I have tried to fill that void with extra time with friends, my relationship with my mother has improved tenfold and we now talk almost daily, but it still doesn’t replace the lack of Hallie I have in my life. No one can replace your sister.

I have been cooking a lot of big and delicious meals, buying cookbooks left and right, like I do. Checking even more out from the library. Some days it feels like all I can accomplish is a delicious dinner. Cooking is very therapeutic to me. The weather has been warm. We have spent much time outdoors. Russ built me a beautiful new table. We have been working on projects around the house. I am thankful for the distraction these kids and this life provide. I am ready to move on from the sadness and focus once again on the good in our daily lives.

Much love.

homemade naan bread



building a farmhouse table

pomegranites growing

indian scrambled eggs with papadums




Merry Christmas & Happy New Year


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

A week or so before Christmas, as I was working on some time sensitive projects this old computer of mine shut down and refused to power back up for me. While initially frustrated, I took it as a blessing and decided to focus entirely on our family and the holidays–distraction free! It does feel good to be back.

The Sunday before Christmas a cough started sneaking into our house. It was five days before Christmas though, no big deal, we had plenty of time to heal before the big day.  I was sadly mistaken. Never have we had such a long lasting illness. Christmas eve was filled with the pukies and Christmas day was spent in urgent care. Russ took Lucy in where she was diagnosed with pneumonia. We decided to try to make the most of it, and do everything that we could to make the day special. It was special. June, took off her diaper, as she does so frequently these days, pooped on the floor, picked it up, and carried it in the kitchen to show us. She was also  munching on something, but I am going with the idea that she found some floor bread right before she picked up her own feces to share with us. We streamed Netflix the entire day and order a pizza. It was truly a Christmas to remember.

June’s hat is called Silkefin. I knitted it up for June while I was pregnant. It was a slow project, but I am so pleased with how it turned out. Maybe because with the fingering weight yarn it really took some time, compared to the worsting weight that I usually work with, but this is the first piece I have made that truly feels like it could be an heirloom someday.

silkefin knitted baby cap

stringing cranberries

christmas tree

homade pasta

silkefin knitted baby bonnet

birthday cake



Thanksgiving in Taos

thanksgiving dinner in taos

While I was solo parenting for the majority of our vacation, we were fortunate enough to be able to have daddy fly out and join us a few days before and after the holiday. What a treat! He came in during the night, and snuck into bed beside us. The girls were so happy when they woke Wednesday morning–what a surprise!

This was my first year cooking an entire Thanksgiving meal (other than the bird, my mom was in charge of turkey). I started the Monday before and did one or two dishes a day. It all came together so well, with no stress at all (though the wine may have played a part in that as well). I’m not sure if I have ever felt so proud of a meal I put together.

We made a gratitude tree in the days leading up to Thanksgiving and filled it with things we feel thankful for. Lucy’s leafs took up about 75% of the tree. It was such a treat to read through them all.

Mid meal it started hailing, which left us with the ultimate treat–a rainbow!

I hope you and yours had a happy holiday as well.

making gravy

thanksgiving tree

thanksgiving dinner in taos

mashed potatoes

hail in taos

hail in taos

thanksgiving dinner

rainbow in taos


Traveling to Taos


What a whirlwind the past two weeks have been. Flying solo with young kids alone is no laughing matter–and I am so happy to be home and done with the traveling. If you can imagine, I, with June strapped to my chest, carried an enormous backpack on my back filled with the few valuables I decided to bring, as well as backup clothes for the girls, snacks, coloring books, crayons, two baby dolls, diapers, wipes, water bottles, books, and my laptop. I also had a carry on bag with a portable DVD player and movies to keep the big kid entertained en route to our destination along with my camera and lenses. We were all layered up, because going from our low desert and 70-80 degree weather in California to the high desert of Taos, meant we had had to be prepared. We layered well, and after shedding sweaters in the airport they were tied onto my already overweight backpack. Getting two car seats to our destination was no easy task. A friend lent me her umbrella stroller and showed me how to stack the car seats and bungee chord them to the stroller in order to transport them to the gate to check. We were certainly a site at the airport–and I don’t think I have ever received so many sideways glances, words of encouragement, or all around attention. Oh, and there was the exactly 50 pounds of clothes in an ugly purple rolling duffle that we thankfully deposited promptly upon arriving at the airport.

Whew. I am happy that is all over. Here are a few pictures from our first week out there. Lots of snow, far too much sugar, and lots of FaceTime with daddy.




giant cream puffs


taos new mexico mountains

The Latte Baby Coat in Taos

latte baby coat knitting pattern

Well, this isn’t San Diego, is it? Last week the girls and I made our way out to Taos, New Mexico to visit my mom and sister. Two nights prior to our arrival they had a pretty nice snowfall–eight inches! While we have had to do a bit of shopping out here to get them properly attired for the snow, I did knit up this sweet little hooded jacket for June just before we left. The coat is called the Latte Baby Coat, and I am pretty sure it is my favorite thing I have knitted yet. I gave it a nice soak in lanolin right before we left for our vacation and it has kept my sweet girl perfectly warm and dry (with a few layers underneath of course).

We are out here celebrating a slow and small Thanksgiving. My sister is in the hospital, and tomorrow after we eat, we are going to drive out to give her our love. However you are spending your day, I hope it is filled with love, laughter, and lots of thanks. There is so much good.


knitted hat and beret

latte baby coat knitted pattern

snowy feet


latte baby coat knitting pattern

Newsflash: It Has Finally Cooled off in California


The days are getting shorter and our cool weather has finally arrived. I have seen memes on facebook joking about us California folks in 60-70 degree weather dressed in full winter gear–and to be completely honest it is true. I have pulled out my slippers, the sweaters have had a wash to refresh them and are now in regular rotation, soup is bubbling on the stove most nights of the week, and I have finally picked up the knitting needles again. My mind and body feel at ease once again.

Maybe it isn’t the fall of my dreams, the leaves are still green, we still have occasional 80 degree days, and most days we are still dressed in tank tops and flip flops (groan, bring on the layers!)….but I am taking what we have and rejoicing. I love the cold, err, cool weather.

The cooler weather has me back in the kitchen. Keeping the oven going for a few hours a day when the rain is coming down and the wind is blowing is so comforting. Many hours were spent this past weekend roasting pumpkins. More hours than I planned on, but nearly 3 gallons of pumpkin puree is now resting in my freezer–and I am feeling pretty excited about that.

I also made the most delicious batch of scones I have ever had from the book Einkorn: Recipes for Nature’s Original Wheat. In this ongoing quest to better our food choices, I have seen a lot about einkorn, the ancient wheat, and have wanted to learn more. I really did not need another bread book in my collection, but this one is already looking promising. The scones were possibly the best I have ever tasted, and I look forward to getting started making on the sourdough recipes from this beautifully composed book.

I hope you are all celebrating this beautiful season, whether you are in flip flops or wool. <3




(Einkorn was provided to me for an honest review from Blogging for Books).