Five Things I’m Glad I Brought

Remember how I wanted an award for fitting two months’ worth of stuff into a single bag?

It turns out…I might have been able to do with even less. Because there’s a bunch of stuff that I brought that I thought I’d use constantly and don’t, and a handful of other things that I packed “just in case” and ended up being what I wear/use nearly every single day.

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Fringe Booties. I totally anticipated wearing flip-flops every single day out here, but these boots have barely left my feet - they feel totally California-perfect to me, and make me feel “dressed” even when I’m wearing the same old tank and shorts.

(The pair I brought with me, pictured above on a cocktails-and-mocktails park picnic, are no longer available, but click here for a bunch of similar options I found.)

deux lux backpack

Backpack. I’m a huge bag lady, as we know, and brought out a couple of clutches, a black tote, and a backpack because I figured I would want to swap my bag out once in awhile. As it turns out: I don’t. I wear this backpack every single day, because despite the fact that it’s kind of annoying to have to take the thing off every time I need my phone/a tissue/hand sanitizer/whatever…it is so wonderful to have both hands completely free.

I remember this from middle school backpack-wearing; it was the best way to lug around lots of stuff back then, and it’s the best way to lug around lots of stuff now. I’m not tossing my bag collection anytime soon, but I’ll remember this next time I have to bring along the bare minimum on a trip.

marula oil

Body Oil. I felt silly about toting out both my African Marula Oil and my Lierac Huile Sensorielle, but am glad I did, because I didn’t anticipate quite how much I’d enjoy having them with me in this dry heat (and with an expanding-by-the-day body that benefits significantly from constant oil application). Every night before bed, I spend ten minutes rubbing every inch of my body with one oil or another, and it’s a great, luxurious little wind-down.

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Candles. Another indulgence that I wasn’t sure made a ton of sense to allocate valuable suitcase space to, and another thing I’m really glad I brought. I’ve been lighting them every single night while I knit/watch TV/read, and it really does make our apartment feel that much more like a home. (I got homesick last night for the first time, and lighting a candle and making our bedroom feel nice and cozy did help.)

Travel Steamer. I am both inexplicably terrible at ironing and hate it with the fire of a thousand suns. Kendrick feels the same way, so even though our handheld steamer took up quite a bit of space in our luggage, it’s saved us ten or fifty arguments at this point, so: excellent choice.

Adventures For Two In The Middle Of Nowhere

watsonville ca

City girls don’t get many opportunities to pick strawberries. As lovely as strawberry-picking sounds, I’ve never been before in my life, and neither has Indy. So this weekend, since Kendrick had work and I’m trying to see as much of the area as possible before the baby gets here, we went on a little just-the-two-of-us adventure wayyy out to more or less the middle of nowhere.

wildflower

(There were stops to pick wildflowers by the side of the road, of course.)

Where we ended up: a farm down near Monterey, Gizdich Ranch, that’s yet another one of those spots that, were it to exist on the East Coast, would be completely overrun by people because it would be pleasant to visit for approximately ten seconds out of the entire year.

Here? Empty, and full of berries even this late in the season.

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strawberries

I’m about to sound like a Hallmark card, but it’s true: sun-warmed berries taste better. (I’d say my son’s ratio of berries in mouth : berries in bucket was about 7 : 1.)

AND it had a pie shop with pies containing something called “olallieberries” (which are apparently a cross between a Logan berry and a blackberry). I’ve never eaten them before (or heard of them), but yes: good. Sour.

AND there were apple dumplings, which I have also never had before (really) but now expect will haunt my dreams (in a good way).

AND there was a little antique shop filled with tin cars and Fire King mugs.

jadeite hand

I bought this, which is a completely ludicrous thing to buy at this particular juncture in my life, but I couldn’t help it: I like it so much I figure it’s worth spending a few bucks to ship it back home.

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California does retro ice cream stands really, really well.

California does retro ice cream stands really, really well.

I haven’t seen Worms ‘n’ Dirt in about twenty-five years.

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Saratoga exploring.

Kind of freaked out over this cooked sushi roll (from Masu in Saratoga). These creamy, baked rolls are a staple in L.A., but until now I haven’t been able to find them anywhere else, and they are SO GOOD I CAN’T STAND IT.

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#gogiants #badnewyorker

And completely unsurprisingly, it turns out my sports team allegiances are nonexistent when comfortable t-shirts are involved. Go Giants?

Halibut Baked In Foil With White Wine And Lemon

halibut in foil

If you have never tried baking fish in foil, let me tell you: you need to try it. Like, tonight.

Because it’s both the easiest thing ever (I promise), and the coolest-looking thing ever; it’s guaranteed to have whoever you serve it to all “ooh, ahh, how did you do that?!” And your answer will be: “With hours of intense labor.” Except that will be a lie, because the total amount of effort that you will have put into this fancy-looking dinner will be approximately what is required to assemble a bowl of instant oatmeal.

I usually make salmon this way, but halibut is another nice, light, summery fish that goes well with things like white wine and lemon, so I thought I’d give it a shot. And: delicious. Nice, light and summery, as expected.

halibut white wine

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Serves 2

What You Need:

2 halibut filets

2 large rectangles of tin foil (approximately 2 feet each should do it)

2 tbsp butter

1 lemon

1/4 cup white wine

4-6 garlic scapes (optional; these are in season in spring through early summer, and make a nice addition to the dish if you can find them – if you can’t, maybe throw in some chopped scallions)

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 handful chopped fresh parsley

What You Do:

1. First, preheat the oven to 400F. Now make a sort of foil box with an open top out of each piece of foil, as pictured above (except please pretend that the spice jar is a piece of fish; I don’t know why I thought it was a good idea to show a spice jar in the foil box rather than what should actually go there).

2. Place 1 tbsp butter in the bottom of each of the boxes, and rub it around to cover the area where you’ll be placing the fish.

3. Put a piece of fish into each foil box on top of the butter.

4. Drizzle a little olive oil over each piece of fish, then add the juice from half a lemon, half of the white wine, and half of the sliced garlic cloves to each box. If you managed to find garlic scapes, toss those in too.

5. Close up the box – you want a tight-ish seal so that the steam stays inside, but leave some breathing room around the fish itself.

6. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the fish flakes easily. Serve by plating the fish, pouring over the sauce remaining in the foil box, and sprinkling over a little fresh parsley.

Serve with roasted asparagus.

Mini-Indulgence: So Many Scarves

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{ Anthropologie tunic dress (majorly on sale right now); LAGOS Voyage pendant ℅ }

My favorite find from last weekend’s trip to Carmel: a $9 scarf that I suspect will end up coming out to about 1 cent per wear in the coming months. Aren’t those colors gorgeous?!

You know what’s one item that makes most mother’s Must-Have Lists, but that I didn’t buy the first time around and don’t plan on buying this time, either? A breast-feeding cover. It just feels like one more thing to have to carry around in an already-overstuffed diaper bag. And besides: I figure why buy a special (and probably overpriced) product when the scarf I already have looped around my neck will do just as nicely…and probably be prettier and not covered with sheep and such?

I obviously haven’t been doing a ton of shopping while I’m out here since everything I pick up is just one more thing I have to carry back home (on a cross-country trip with both a toddler and an infant; let’s not even talk yet about what that flight is going to involve, because I’m doing the willfull-ignorance thing for the time being)…but scarves are fun to hunt for in thrift stores and at flea markets, and take up next-to-no room in luggage, and make even the most basic t-shirt and jeans feel like an outfit, and so they’re something I tend to pick up whenever I come across one that’s especially pretty.

Just for fun, a few scarf finds for you. (The ones I’m into right now are oversized and fringed or tasseled, with light base shades and colorful patterns, and the first one pictured is my by-far favorite – it’s huge – big enough to wear as a shawl to weddings and such - and has the most amazing pattern.)

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