Thursday, December 31, 2009

best of 2009...surprise!

{ideally every day from now until december 31st, but more like every 4 or 5 days, i will be including a "best of 2009" post, with lists & thoughts galore about my favorites and best ofs the past year. check back in and feel free to share your related best of 2009 in the comments, or suggest a best of topic!}

today's topic: best surprise of 2009

(another bundle of delight to keep our hands full, coming our way in may 2010)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

best of sink category

{ideally every day from now until december 31st, but more like every 4 or 5 days, i will be including a "best of 2009" post, with lists & thoughts galore about my favorites and best ofs the past year. check back in and feel free to share your related best of 2009 in the comments, or suggest a best of topic!}

i'm trying to catch up...

todays topic: random best of's from this year
best future blaƧkmail shot
best vacation stop off...ostrich land!
by the way, feeding emus and ostriches is more stressful than you'd imagine
best old-school, cheaper, closer & cooler than disneyland, no product placement, little person friendly oakland location: fairyland
best pretend big sister: elodie.
sad for us (& little m) that she moved to france.
best christmas gift from 2008 that we used all of 2009 (besides my hobo wallet):
matt's pasta maker from my sister rebecca.
mmm. yummy homemade pasta abounded at our house.
best 2009 hangout spot at our house: the firepit.
somehow it always attacks me with smoke (i swear, it is like i have a bullseye on me), but nonetheless, we spent many an evening with many a friend having good long conversations around this cozy firepit.
best artsy & simulateously yummy cafe: blue bottle, on the top floor of sfmoma
best go-to recipe: alice waters' carmelized onion tart.
i've said it before: easy, addictive, and beautiful. yum.
best contortionist/future cirque du soleil member: little m while sleeping in her crib.
she moves just as much while she sleeps as she does when she's awake.
(and that's a lot in case you were wondering.)
best accessory purchase: these cute grey suede heels i bought for my sister-in-laws wedding.
love them.

lies, all lies

so, whatever happened to a blog post a day these last few weeks of december? sigh.

i was on a roll, and then christmas happened and all my glorious plans went out the window.

add to that a series of very sleepless nights, and ...out goes my blogging time...and in goes a few more minutes of more morning sleep. then one sick 20 month old, her sleep deprived and sicky feeling mama, and we go into survival mode. survival mode does not include blogging time, in case you were wondering.

so, i promise, lots of best of 2009 in the next couple days.

if anyone is still reading this blog, that is.

p.s. also, i should note that in a furious attempt to amend the fact that i saw zero movies in 2009, my husband has made it his mission for me to see a few in these final days of december. so i've seen 3 in the last 4 days.

p.p.s thanks for all of the good movie recommendations so far. i think january will be renamed movie-uary in our household.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


for my family this christmas, there is a healthy dose of hard mixed in with the good.
a lot has changed in the last year, but we'll be gathering as a family tonight and tomorrow to worship, give, receive, eat, laugh, make new traditions, savor some old ones, talk, snuggle, and celebrate.

last year, i wrote this at christmas, and it rings true today as i prepare to celebrate the birth of a jewish baby in a nondescript village once again:

one of the things that is easy to forget at christmas is that regardless of whether you follow the teachings of jesus or just know the christmas story in a cultural way, that baby jesus' birth is a story of hope and joy. jesus, this scrawny little screaming infant is literally born into crap, as an oppressed people group in an occupied land, with no money and no power, essentially homeless and without a family of much significance. and somehow this little child is good news to weary, forgotten people.

whether your heart is bursting with joy this year, breaking with sadness, distracted with the hustle of holiday activity or just lonely, may the "birthday" of this small baby be good news to you.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

best of 2009...athletic feats

{every day from now until december 31st i will be including a "best of 2009" post, with lists & thoughts galore about my favorites and best ofs the past year. check back in and feel free to share your related best of 2009 in the comments, or suggest a best of topic!}

today's topic: athletic feats

unaware that she is already a yoga expert,
little m masters the plank pose at the tender age of 8 months.
well done, little one!

(impressive, since i can't even rock a plank pose that nice.)
technically this was a few days before the calender turned to 2009,
but it was in the last year (and i can bend the rules, right?)

note, this list is comprised of one, and only one feat.
as in, i have personally accomplished zilch when it comes to athletic endeavors this year.

best of 2009..chip off the block moments

{every day from now until december 31st i will be including a "best of 2009" post, with lists & thoughts galore about my favorites and best ofs the past year. check back in and feel free to share your related best of 2009 in the comments, or suggest a best of topic!}

today's topic: chip off the block moments

the older little m gets, the more i see little glimpses of matt and i in her. she is, and has been from birth, fiercely independent. but at the same time, my heart wells up with pride here and there as i see her mimicking her mom and dad. here are 9 of them:1. social as she can be, she needs healthy doses of alone time, just like matt.
2. at the same time, our little one gravitates to other human beings- strangers or friends. (just like her mommy...) she can't help but interact with people if they are close by. i'd say i don't know where she gets it from, but then i'd be a liar. usually she hates the cart at the store & melts down (as in, strangers come up to me and ask me if my screaming child is ok); when she got to sit with micah in the cart, she was happy as could be.
3. mmm. our mini foodie. here she devours a salted chocolate cookie at cafe fanny in berkeley. (smart girl)
4. picking wine with her daddy
(she looks like an expert, right?)
5. my mini me artist. her new word is "co!" i finally realized she is saying she wants to color! on paper, on the floor, on her clothes, on the bills, on her hands. i have a difficult time coming down too hard on her, since, well, that is exactly what i used to do.
6. little m has definitely been around some dinner school last week she pulled chairs up to the table, and then proceeded to plop a baby into the highchair. (note the position of the poor baby in the highchair) she then gathered and set the table with cups, plates, silverware, a pitcher, and bottles for her guests. so serious. so focused.
7. so. my daughter is a flirt. this may be many years in my past, but at one point, maybe, a little bit, here and there, i was known to be a teensy bit flirtacious. it must have just been passed on in the gene pool somehow.
8. my poor mom- she always wanted to read me stories, but i wanted to "read" them to myself, and now i am reaping that with little m. she likes to snuggle up on my lap too, but she prefers to read stories to herself, to turn the pages by herself, and to pick the books by herself. (the "by herself" theme being one that is replicated in many areas of her daily routine.)
9. apparently we talk on our phones.

how about you? does your kidlet mimic you? or as you get older are you realizing that you do things exactly the way your mom or dad did?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

best of 2009...movies

{every day from now until december 31st i will be including a "best of 2009" post, with lists & thoughts galore about my favorites and best ofs the past year. check back in and feel free to share your related best of 2009 in the comments, or suggest a best of topic!}

today's topic: movies

this is going to be a short one...and this is why: i just didn't watch movies in 2009. i've wracked my brain and the only movies i saw in the theater this last year were the following: ghost of girlfriends past, bride wars, funny people and julie & julia.

(please don't cringe at the first two. so just maybe it is a tradition that my two former roommates and i take turns treating each other to the latest girlie movie. the key is to have low expectations for the actual film quality)

i really liked funny people. (it was a little on the long side, but a good movie)
i really like julie & julia. (i'd read as far as i could in the book the film is based on, but the author (who is played by amy adams in the movie) was super annoying & abrasive, so i put it down about 150 pages in. amy adams, although not as good as meryl streep, definitely redeemed julia, transforming her into a much more likable character.)

tell me.
my list is too short
(i do love movies. it's just for some reason or another we haven't had space for movies this year. maybe it has something to do with watching the entire 5 seasons of the wire on dvd.)
and i need some tips!
what movies from 2009 should i watch?

Friday, December 18, 2009

best of 2009...road trip

{every day from now until december 31st i will be including a "best of 2009" post, with lists & thoughts galore about my favorites and best ofs the past year. check back in and feel free to share your related best of 2009 in the comments, or suggest a best of topic!}

today's topic: road trip!

i remember the very first grown-up road trip i ever took- it was with my two best friends in high school, karin and sirena. our senior year, in december of 1991, we drove from the bay area to palm springs, in southern california. i didn't have my license yet so i lucked out and got to just go along for the ride. at the time the drive seemed so long, and like such freedom! no parents (well, we were meeting karin's dad in palm springs, but no parents in the car as we drove!)! for me, that was a first. i had grown up going on family road trips for vacation, but this was different.

i still remember that first road trip almost every single time i drive down the long, boring, monotonous stretch of freeway that cuts through california from north to south: the 5. i was just 16, a few weeks shy of 17 years old, and despite the boredom of the route it was a monumenta weekend in my life. i remember singing at the top of my lungs to love and rockets, that one hit wonder, creating random jokes about the aquaducts we passed over, and having conversations that just didn't happen outside of a long car ride.

i've gone on countless road trips since- with family, friends, college roommates, post college roommates, with matt. sometimes they aren't so magical, but each drive that contains rest stops, gas stations, fast food, long conversations, new or old routes, favorite songs has the capacity for something different outside of the daily grind.

this year, two favorite road trips.
#1: my mini road trip in august to big sur with matt.

he planned it all, and just like in high school, i was just along for the ride. (i didn't have to drive at all! you may notice- i don't really so much enjoy driving. i prefer the passenger role.) it is the same route we took the day he proposed, and we drove right by the spot he asked me to be his best friend forever. we left little m at home with my mom, so the drive itself was incredibly mellow, and beautiful as we wound down the california coast. the best part is that the whole point of our trip was essentially to eat at big sur bakery and restaurant. it was worth every dollar we spent on gas. beautiful drive, peaceful time with my beloved, yummy food, hotel room overlooking the coast. yeah- pretty great road trip (and destination.)

the fabulous
you should really go there
i am not kidding
big sur bakery
so maybe we ate lunch, the next day's breakfast and lunch there.
just maybe.
ok, we did.

road trip #2:
me, passenger (shocking)
brothers jonathan and aaron, my companions...
to the u2 concert in arizona!
we drove straight through the night, and if you need the details you can read the post here
um, this was the first time i'd been at carl's jr in a looooooong time.
but i think on road trip fast food is kind of, well, obligatory. this is also at hour...oh, maybe two. so we look bright and cheerful. we had a long freaking way to go still. sometimes the road trip is as much about the destination as the drive itself. our ride had its relational ups and downs- how could it not when we were driving on very little sleep, siblings stuck in a car for almost 26 or so hours there and back? but it's been a while since i've spent that much time with my brothers and it was good. good to push through the tough moments to better conversations, which we usually can gloss over in other less claustrophobic situations. and last but not least, it was so good to listen to old & new u2 songs and belt our hearts out. good stuff, my friends. it was a family sing along, and when i say family, i of course include bono in that.

have you had any good road trips in 2009?
(any bad ones?)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

best of

{every day from now until december 31st i will be including a "best of 2009" post, with lists & thoughts galore about my favorites and best ofs the past year. check back in and feel free to share your related best of 2009 in the comments, or suggest a best of topic!}

today's best of 2009 topic: gift

creative category: coffee bean birthday art

this year, on my birthday (january 14th if you need to put it on your calendar) i woke up, opened the front door, and lo and behold, my youngest brother aaron had written "happy birthday" to me in coffee beans. in cursive. on my doorstep. it was appropriate because he worked at starbucks at the time, but it was the most lovely, creative, and kind gesture to wake up to. (plus the latte and present that my sister had also anonymously dropped off right next to the coffee-bean installation art made it even more spectacular!)

the gift that keeps on giving category: monthly clean fest

my mom gave my sister and i the most amazing gift this year. she comes to our house once a month on a saturday morning and cleans for 3 hours. we get to write the list of what she does, and then we clear out. it can be absolutely any cleaning job we want-from tidying to a deep clean.

can it get any better than that?
so maybe life has gotten a bit crazy for some of the year so it hasn't been quite as cut and dry as that, but nonetheless,
my mom has washed dishes, cleaned out my fridge, washed windows,
scrubbed my tub, folded laundry...
you get the picture.
it may be the exact same gift i ask for next year!(taking a cleaning break with little m to listen to the airplanes fly over)

lifechanging category: little m's cochlear implant surgery

i don't need to say much about this, besides the fact that the amazing gift of cochlear implant surgery changed our lives. on february 24th, little m had her surgery, which enabled our baby hear her first sound on march 18th, 2009 at ten and a half months.

(moments after getting the phone call that little m's surgery had finally been approved)(post surgery snuggle)

gifts big or small, mundane or unusual, any category- what was your best gift in 2009?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

best of 2009...worth every penny

{every day from now until december 31st i will be including a "best of 2009" post, with lists & thoughts galore about my favorites and best ofs the past year. check back in and feel free to share your related best of 2009 in the comments, or suggest a best of topic!}

today's best of 2009 topic-worth every penny:

there are certain things in life that i feel should be free (or close to it). i'm not saying this list is logical or exhaustive, but there are a couple of things that i really, really wish i didn't have to shell money out for, and i wish would just be included in the all over, general cost of existing. (i repeat- this list is not logical. it is entirely based on my emotional response to paying money for the following services.)

a few examples of things that in susannah-world would be free: car upkeep/repairs, gas and electric (oh, how i hate to pay that bill), parking (this covers meters, parking garages & parking tickets), bridge tolls (similar to, but different from parking), iced coffee costing more than hot coffee (really? ice costs ten cents more? don't try to convince me. it won't work.), sunglasses (hello, i lose them as soon as i buy them), and gas for my car. (i see a trend- most of these are car related. maybe that's why my car is 14 years old and has 260,000 miles on it.)

on the other hand, there are some things that are worth every penny that you pay for them, and these are the ones that stand out to me this year:
  • my black hobo wallet which matt got me for christmas 2008. i use it every day. i love it. it works as a wallet or small purse. it has compartments for every single item, and i can now always find my credit card, license, assorted receipts, and on and on. it was pricey, but it is one of my very favorite things. i. love. love. it.
  • my neighborhood peets coffee. i know- i can make coffee and tea at home too. (and i do.) but i love coming to this neighborhood spot and running into friends and family. it's one of my very favorite things. plus, when i am working on freelance i can camp out here for 9 hours and no one cares. i use lots of gift cards here, but it's true- i've spent more than a few pennies at this cafe in 2009. it is my local watering hole, a place to blog, a spot where i can work in peace that is close to home, & a place i can meet friends to laugh, cry and catch up.
  • really good bread. fresh, good bread, made locally is so so worth the time and money of a trip to the bakery. lucky for me, this french bakery, la farine, is right next door to the peets. not so lucky for me, they also have really good treats which are not of the bread variety but of the sugar and butter variety. yum.
  • the new york times. i love carving out a bit of time every weekend to read the ny times- starting with sunday styles, the magazine, travel, and slowly making my way to the front section. plus i can pop online and read any article throughout the week even though we only get the paper version on the weekend. sometimes i think we should unsubscribe because, well, it isn't free (or cheap), and because some weeks i hardly make it through half the paper. but it is worth the extra cost because the photography is amazing (& visually inspiring) as are the articles. i often tear sections out to bring to my studio or to stick on the fridge. so, pricey but valuable.
  • counseling. this year matt and i have dropped quite a chunk of change on meeting with a therapist every week. it's kind of like a mortgage payment on my personal well-being. i won't lie- we get a discount, but it is still really pricey to go on a regular basis. initially we went to sort through the difficulties of 2008 with little m's deafness and things with my dad. but very quickly our conversations expanded into all sorts of things - relationships, little m, our marriage, healthy family patterns, etc. every week i kind of drag my feet at going, and then i am so so happy that we've gone and talked, listened, and done the hard work of working through live and being intentional as parents, friends, family members, and spouses. so, thousands of dollars later, happy as can be that we've made an investment in the future.
runner-up (& in the shallow, beauty category):
  • hair care products. i hesitate to mention this because, well, my hair is a hot mess these days. but that's because of my lack of haircut since february 2009. meanwhile, i have in between curly and straight hair, so cheap hair products don't work so well. it takes me a year to get through my massive bottles of aveda shampoo/conditioner and my bumble & bumble hair product, so when i buy them my heart does a little crunch. but then when they last for over 52 weeks and i am not tossing half used bottles of cheap shampoo that doesn't work, i feel frugal and wise. (may be justification, who knows...)
how about you? what was worth every penny to you in 2009?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Best of 2009...

here's the deal!
for the next 16 days, i will be posting some of my picks for best of 2009.
some posts may be along traditional end-of-the-year lists,
while other topics may be a little less conventional.
so keep checking in until the end of december-
maybe you'll discover a new book, memory, food adventure, blog (etc.)
to tuck into your pocket for 2010!

last night i went to celebrate my dear friend (and forever roommate) nancy's birthday, along with dear friend #2, amy. we channeled ten years ago and went out without babies in tow, ate a good meal together, and then headed to the m.a.c. counter (as in makeup, not computers) to get mini makeovers. every time i mentioned trying out a different color of eye shadow, the cute makeup-ista (i don't know- if a barista foams your milk, then i say a makeup-ista shadows & glosses your face) would say, "let's get this party started!" um, ok. it was super cute the first time, but then she said it like 12 times. and also, i think i could be her mom, because she was like 14 years old. nonetheless, she inspired me for today's close to this post...
let's get this party started!
lots of best of 2009 moments to come!

Friday, December 11, 2009

this little light of mine

yesterday afternoon, little m and i braved the freezing cold (i know- all things are relative, but to me, it is freezing!) to run some errands. i had been planning to stop at cost plus for a couple of things on our way home from m's school yesterday. there is one right on the way, but at the last minute i decided to skip it so that i could shop at the one in oakland and drop a few pennies into oakland's tax coffers, and help keep some local employees in a job.

we were browsing the store, and i was narrating everything to little m as we shopped for a few things. (poor thing- she'd already had school and therapy, and i was trying to stuff in a little more language to her day.) now, cost plus for a spunky 20 month old is basically a pit of temptation. between all of the sparkly, breakable ornaments, the international edible treats all at eye level, and the umpteen stocking stuffer displays which are packed with attractive toys that fit perfectly into one's hand, i was surprised that my daughter wasn't throwing one continuous temper tantrum. somehow, she wasn't.

i pointed to these cute red votive candle holders (see above photo), and said "mommy thinks these shiny red votives are really pretty. but i don't need them, i just want them. and we don't always get to buy what we want." we kept looking at things until m decided that from her perch in her cart, and with one swipe of her hand, she could dismantle an entire display of felted table runners and deposit them on the ground. i was picking them up and rearranging them on the shelf when a stranger walked up to me. she was waving at little m and saying hi to her. little m's response was to shake her head and say no very firmly. as in, "no, i don't feel like saying hi to you." the stranger pointed to the votives which were about 20 feet away. "were you just looking at those candleholders over there?" i said yes. she smiled, handed me a bag and said, "i bought you two. merry christmas." i wanted to say, "you have no idea. it has been a hard week, and i left the house to come shopping just because my mind was racing. this was so kind and generous of you. thank you." but instead i sort of stammered thank you & felt my face redden.

such a small but meaningful gesture. the stranger and i probably won't ever see each other again. i looked at little m and said, "sometimes we do kind things for people even when we don't know them. that's what kind of people we want to be."

and m lunged for a display of holiday wine glasses, so it was time to head home.

but it was a moment that i needed yesterday.

and every time i look at my votives, i will think of kindness, grace, and generosity.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


one of my favorite christmas traditions is baking day with my roommates!
it started many years ago when we were actually roommates and shared a house; now we are just roommates as defined in the first paragraph of this post. every year amy, nancy and i drive down to amy's parents house, descend on mommy marsh's kitchen and bake treats all day long. how can you go wrong with sugary goodness, hours to talk and fun friends? seriously, it is impossible. (unless you don't set the timer, and even then you can hide the flaws with frosting!)

this year, due to little ones, we stayed in oakland and mommy and daddy marsh came to us! we baked the usual deliciousness, sampled a few along the way, and ended up with plenty of goodies to share with friends, co-workers and neighbors.
{mommy marsh, aka the holder of all the best christmas recipes}
{daddy marsh and nancy frost the hundreds of sugar cookies amy baked}
{amy's baby judah tries to get in on the action}
{yum. chocolate chip bread & a new addition this year-peanut butter kiss cookies}
{so maybe we tried a few of the less cute ones to make sure they tasted ok}
{by the end, the cookies look much better than we do!}
i love treats.
if you were one of the lucky recipients of these treats
and you notice that your plate didn't have any peanut butter kisses,
you can address your complaint to matt.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

oh dear

{note: i know loads of bloggers write little letters as posts, so i am not claiming an ounce of originality in this one, but i was just feeling it}

dear house,
could you miraculously generate some insulation so that we can stop wearing like 18 layers of clothing twenty four hours a day? i think my new nickname could be chilly willy.

dear heater,
if house doesn't respond to above request could you actually become efficient and keep our tiny house warm?

dear little m,
please stop growing up so fast. i just love watching you discover the world, but you are full on tumbling into childhood and i think my baby is gone forever. please also rejecting your nap. you kind of need it. (and so do i.)

dear body,
first, i am sorry i haven't actually been exercising lately. it would do wonders, i know. i haven't meant to neglect you - i am just so so tired & it is so cold outside & i have way mre excuses than time for you. also, could you stop deciding that it is really fun to wake up at all hours? i'm really not into this tossing and turning for 2-3 hours every night.

dear matt,
um, sorry about that 2-3 hours of tossing and turning that i just mentioned. thanks for loving me even when i drastically cut into your sleep schedule. also, you are a very good daddy to little m, and i'm so thankful for all of the extra time you've been playing with her so that i can meet my freelance deadlines.

p.s. matt, that dinner last night was amazing- roasted cauliflower and homemade meatballs. too bad i didn't have room for the salad. the meatballs took over that section of my tummy. oops!

dear hair,
we need to figure out a new plan. this whole shaggy-growing-out-since-february look is not too becoming.

dear christmas treats in the kitchen,
stop calling my name.

dear shady real estate agent,
uh, you are very sneakypants. i don't appreciate the fact that you just ruined the offer that we put on that house with your complete lack of anything resembling professional and ethical behavior. i am very sad and i think you are lame.

dear brother,
i know life is really hard right now. i love you.

dear christine,
little alex's surgery is going to go great! be at peace and snuggle that little boy up!

dear studio,
i'm sorry that i've been so slammed with deadlines. i will return with a painting vengeance - i promise.

dear sufjan stevens,
i may not like christmas music (unlike 95% of the population), but i adore your christmas album. i could play it on repeat for days. oh wait. i do play it on repeat for days!


Monday, December 7, 2009

one o'clock in the morning

it's late at night.
i'm exhausted but can't sleep.
a dear one just told me the sad news of an unraveling relationship.
it makes me ache for the brokenness and frailty in human interactions.
it's raining outside -
i can hear it hitting the ground and at this very moment it feels like God is weeping for all of the ways the world is broken, hurt and messed up.
i'll finally fall asleep.
the rain will eventually stop.
light will come in the morning.
but at this very moment i am a little weary and more than a little grieving.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

light reading

we are getting our daughter started early with the joy of cooking.
at school she plays in the kitchen, stirring away at imaginary mixtures.
at home she chops her toy vegetables, tastes all of our random creations, and now...
catches up on the latest in culinary literature. here she is devouring the a16 cookbook, which i just checked out of the library. you may notice that it is side by side with an eric carle kids board book about food.

her latest way to play in the kitchen is to basically pull out every single cookbook that we own (and i may add that that is quite a few cookbooks), flip through each one, and point to different pages all while babbling away in her special narration language. once she's done perusing she arranges the cookbooks in small stacks that she can stand on top of, only to leave the massive pile on the floor for her mommy to put away.the other day she insisted that i help her by making her a special cookbook seat (comprised of three large volumes) so she could sit at the table and intently "read" the recipes. i think we have a sous chef on our hands!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

lover in training

my roommate nancy would always say to me, sooz, you're a lover; it's why i cry so hard, laugh so hard, and love the people around me from here to the ends of the earth.

it's true- i feel things deeply.

i tend to think little m is following in my footsteps; she is already quite the lover- meaning she can love you up, but that girl has spunk and she knows how to turn on the tears too.

she has some competition.
{and it's not me}

exhibit a: my friend amy's son judah, who is one year old, and who has quite the moves.

watch him and his open mouth smooch fest.

he is literally sucking face with, well, my face.

little m obviously has some catching up to do.