Dispatches from Berkeley

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Today marks eight weeks in California. When I look back on the madcap weeks before we left New York City, it all seems like a blur of stress and sleepless nights. And then you realize that the knots that tie you to one city will unravel quite easily in the end. Quite suddenly, without even trying, we were here, in a completely new place.

We had the good fortune to find a house very quickly in Berkeley and it came with a garden and a view of the Golden Gate so clear that I sometimes find it hard to leave the house. I wish I could describe to you how the air smells in Berkeley, or how the same bird comes to sing outside our window every morning and evening, or how the amount and breadth of produce at the markets feels like a religious experience each and every time. Our house is slowly coming together, and I want to share photos of the interior and the garden as it grows. 

That's not to say I don't think about New York City either, though, it hits me at the oddest moments like when I'm lost in the winding Berkeley hills, or on a Friday night when we don't have the usual dinner plans with old friends. 

This house makes it all better, but I have to educate myself in house living faster than I thought possible. We have a magnificent succulent garden in the front, but the back is completely empty so I've been furnishing it quickly and happily with herbs, aloes, and even a lemon tree and a baby fig tree gifted from a friend. I only hope the doe and her fawn who sleep in the backyard every night don't find those things too tasty. 

This West Coast/Berkeley life is shaping up to be something spectacular. I still can't believe we did it. 

We're moving!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

I've let this site lie fallow for more than six months, and I've stopped and started this post so many times that it has almost lost its meaning. But how do you decide how to broach the subject that has consumed your family for the last few months? It's all we talk about, all we can think about, and all we can plan for. We are moving away from this terribly beautiful city, and when we step off the airplane, we'll be in San Francisco. 

San Francisco feels like a dream location for us. It's the one other city in this country that we could see our family thriving in. And after this year's endless winter, I'm only too happy to run from the east coast to the west coast. A bittersweet move, to be sure; we're leaving behind a lot on this side of the country, and New York has been my city for 13 years. Thankfully nothing will change professionally as I will still be able to do my job as a cookbook editor from the west coast. 

The actual move is happening in a few months, but we've been working feverishly behind the scenes for months to decide things like where to live, where to send our oldest to school, and what to even do with our stuff. Thoughts of the move sneak up on me unawares when I'm doing something mundane like buying shampoo or getting my morning coffee. I can't wait to explore a new city and fall in love with where I live all over again.

We have an awful lot to figure out over the next few months (who’s going to drive the car cross country? how do we get the dog out to California?), but underneath the stress runs a current of excitement at the possibilities. For the first time we’re thinking about having a house with a garden and I’m practically giddy thinking about the vegetables I can grow (keeping in mind the ones that will survive the drought, of course). The SF lifestyle blogs are constantly open on my computer, and I’m compiling a list of the best foodie havens in the area. I'll be checking in here a lot more often to share details now that the move is public. Thanks for traveling along with us for our adventure!


Thursday, September 25, 2014

So, we went to Ireland. And the light was exactly as I remembered - blinding, sparkling, and leaking through every low hanging cloud. We spent three days by the ocean in Galway, taking bracing daily walks on the beach to watch the surfers. 

And then after three days of family visits we headed off to the south, to Cork, where I was born. I've always loved Cork, there's something there that feels so familiar (familial even) to me. And even though it's is not where we used to live in Ireland, it contains the most childhood memories for me, and so I always return. And now it will hold memories for my own children. 

We stayed in an Airbnb house in Cobh, a small town on the coast for the last week of the visit. The back of the house looked over the water towards Monkstown, and we watched gigantic liners and tankers sail by daily. Swans swam inland every night as the sky darkened, calling to us gently for bread. 

I never skip a visit to famous cooking school, Ballymaloe, when I'm in Ireland. That old house charms me to no end, and the surrounding grounds and vegetable gardens are so lush and beautifully tended. The house was having a garden festival the weekend we visited and it seemed as if the entire county came out for the event.

I was told that the hummingbird-like creature above the flowers in the center is actually called a hoverfly 

Trips back to Ireland never feel like a holiday because there is not a lot of downtime or relaxation, and there is always a great deal of driving. But it means more to me than any holiday to return to my home, to reconnect with my family, and to see my grandmother smile at my children.

Warby Parker

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

In my line of work I'm usually celebrating book launches (and there have been some amazing ones lately, like Erin Scott's Yummy Supper, Kimberley Hasselbrink's Vibrant Food, and Jessica Merchant's Seriously Delish), but today it's fun to celebrate something different: Warby Parker's fall collection launch day!

After months of seeing just about every stylish girl and guy on the subway wearing a pair of dark rimmed glasses, I just had to take the plunge. So, a few months ago, I got myself a pair of Warby Parker's. Even though I've only had my pair a little while, now I want to go back and buy another pair from their brand new fall collection - and their glasses are so affordable that I actually can!

I'm thinking about this gorgeous Annette style in petal tortoise:

Just in case the dark rimmed glasses aren't your thing, they also have a crystal line that I'm digging:

What kind of book editor would I be if I didn't jump for this Crane Ti in newsprint grey?

Happy launch day, Warby Parker!

We're off to Ireland!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

We're flying to Ireland on Thursday night, and my heart is full thinking of being back there after almost 4 years. It's been way too long. Last time we were there, Lily was only 10 months old, and now she's 5! This is probably the first holiday that she'll actually remember, which is so cool to think about. I also can't wait to introduce my youngest daughter to my family, and to show her where I spent my childhood.

I dug up some old photos from my last trip a few years ago. Now all I can think about is the way the sunlight cascades over the horizon on a summer evening, and the way that vibrant green seems to just leap from the fields everywhere you turn. I'm coming back this time with a fancy new camera, and I'm dying to get going. In the meantime, these shots will have to do.

view over the field of the Ballycotton lighthouse

Lily at 10 months in Ballycotton, Co. Cork

Ballycotton lighthouse

Newsletter reminder

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Just a quick reminder that you should sign up for my weekly newsletter if you want to receive my favorite food, interior design, and lifestyle blog picks! I sent out my third newsletter yesterday.

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Last week I got to see a phenomenon unique to Manhattan - a singular time of year when the setting sun aligns with the grid of Manhattan streets and shines right through the cross streets of the city. It's a incredible sight to see, not only because the sun seems to magically appear exactly where you're looking, but because the photographers gather for hours (hours!) beforehand at their chosen cross streets. I had scouted out the Tudor City Bridge at 42nd Street and First Avenue as my prime viewing spot earlier that day and was surprised to see photographers camped out at the spot at 2 in the afternoon! 

When the sun appeared from the left, coasting down to the right, we all clamored to get that perfect shot - for those few seconds that the sun was actually in the middle of the space between the buildings. I was craning over the shoulders of the two rows of photographers in front of me, and only really got a few shots of the sun in the very middle. I had a friend with me, who kept telling me to appreciate the moment and stop taking photos for a second. She was right. The sun was huge, and orange, and magnificent. And it looked so much better with the naked eye than through my camera lens.

In the end, the shots that show the sun in a blur make it much easier to see the perfect central placement of the sun on the grid as it sets. 

So cool, right? By the way, Manhattanhenge also occurs twice during the year as the sun rises. I'd like to say I'm going to make it up for that, but the sunrise version of Manhattanhenge falls in the wintertime (December and January), so it's going to take some serious motivation to get me up before sunrise. 

When we turned around after our sunset photos, we were faced with a full moon rising over the East River. And yes, that long tripod below is holding a tiny camera!

Manhattanhenge, I can't wait to see you again next year!


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