Another Slow News Day! Let’s tour the garden. Zzzzz….


It’s raining today which is BIG fat news here in Southern California, Land of the Everlasting Drought. We are all very confused by this weather. It’s wet and inconvenient.  We don’t have any kind of overhangs in our backyard to keep our puppies from sleeping in puddles. Why would they want to sleep in puddles?! We don’t have mud rooms either for them to dry off their wet muddy feet after a mucky walk in the rain.  Amazingly, I do have a raincoat (thanks to a purchase for my Japan trip) but I do not have rain boots! I want to get the kids rain boots (because walking in wet grass in vans is the pits) but I know they’ll probably only wear them once (if that) before they outgrow them because it NEVER RAINS here! It’s all very puzzling and worrisome. But we don’t need to adapt or anything because it will be gone by tomorrow.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying my nice fuzzy sweater, my heater under my desk, my third cup of coffee and Lucy sleeping on my laptop bag beside me. Cold weather is cozy.


Hey Lucy. Nice window seat you have there. It’s so funny, this window used to be blocked by the expedit bookcase that is now our new and improved office divider. So now that the window is open, Whiskey parks himself outside this window and stalks the cat. He is a terrier through and through and lives and breaths to hunt the cat.  Did I tell you about the moth and rat incident? I thought surely I had but I just looked through my archives and I can’t find hide nor tail of it. Weird.

Anyway, a few months ago when it was still summer, Lucy became quite the outdoor hunter. She wasn’t supposed to be an outside hunter of course because we have coyotes where we live and anyone who knows anything does not let their cats outdoors at night. But there was a hole in the screen door in our bedroom, thanks to the puppies, and Lucy soon discovered that it was the best thing ever. Freedom!

Lucy is a very, very skittish cat (to the point of almost being feral)and super fast so we told ourselves that she could probably escape a coyote if one ever tried to eat her. We can never catch her, Whiskey can never catch her. Even our neighbors who like to write mean notes about us on Nextdoor about being bad cat owners cannot catch her (thank God.)  Lucy has pretty good odds. So we let this outdoor hunting go on for a few days while we scrambled to figure out a screen door fix. Closing the slider was out of the question because it was SUMMER and we have no other windows or doors in our bedroom.

Then much to our dismay, Lucy caught a black witch moth and brought it into the house at who knows what hour of night and woke poor Bug up with the frightening sounds of a kitten-sized moth fluttering around the corners of her room. It was terrifying! I hate moths anyway but a six-inch death omen moth!!! Yes, I googled it and apparently in Mexico they are believed to be omens of death, especially if they fly to all four corners of your room. Thankfully, we’ve lived a month or two since this happened so I think we’re good.

That happened twice. Then Lucy caught a mouse or a small rat and let it go in Bug’s room. Bug freaked. It’s not that she’s so much afraid of mice or rats but the rat POOPED IN HER ROOM (probably from fear) and then hid behind her desk and bookcase. I know bringing in your kill is a sign of love from a cat but Bug was not feeling the love AT ALL.

We couldn’t get the rat out of Bug’s room. It lodged itself deep behind Bug’s bookcase and into all of her various crap that lived next to her bookcase. So we decided to bring in the big guns and let Whisky have a go at it. He didn’t do a very good job but boy was he excited and focused! It was like he was finally able to realize his true purpose in life. His Irish ancestors were bred to catch vermin on farms and now realize his true potential!!  He ended up chasing the rat down the hallway and into the living room where it hid behind another expedit bookcase (How many expedit bookcases do we have?!) and from there we were able to use a broom and sweep it out the dining room sliding glass door.

All ended well and no animals were hurt but one kid was traumatized and one screen door got barricaded with a piece of dog crate. The puppies have reduced us to Shanty Town in so many ways.

Whisky has never been the same since. Every time he gets lose he either goes straight to the closet (where Lucy likes to hide) or straight to Bug’s room to sit by her desk where there was once upon a time a rat. Because it might happen again!! Silly dog.


Back to the garden. That’s where I was going originally with this post. As you know, because I have documented it a few hundred times, the puppies have eaten all my plants. I have moved most of them up to table tops and the rest have become fiber in Cody’s poop. But! I have learned through process of elimination that the dogs don’t really eat my cacti. The spikes might have something to do with it. They also don’t eat my serrano peppers.


I decided to un-plant my many pots of aloe vera (those things multiply like bunnies) and replant them into the planters that used to house beautiful, lush palm trees which have been eaten down to nubs. Yeah, it looks like a hurricane hit it now but I predict these hearty aloe vera plants will perk up and propagate throughout the whole planter box and it will become a lovely, spiky bed of greenery. Not Payam’s or my idea of what we wanted to do there but puppy-times call for desperate measures. Consider this the before picture.


And speaking of Shanty Town, we also put this really classy fence up around our baby pomelo, mandarin and nectarine trees. All the trees have been heavily pruned by Cody and will forever hold a bonsai-like beauty in their crooked, not-usually-found-in-nature shaped branches. It is what it is. I’m just really happy the pomelo tree survived at all because pomelos are what Brendaritas are made from!


In other news! Did you know I have a test kitchen? Not really but from time to time I post recipes on alphamom and they usually involve experimenting in the kitchen, not something I’m really good at but I try. I wanted to invent some cookies like these. Please do go look at that link if you at all a foodie because I want you to behold the beautiful magenta of those spiced fenugreek beet baked mathri. Yes, I realize they are crackers and not cookies but why couldn’t I make them into cookies? It wouldn’t be that hard to switch them from savory to sweet would it?

Apparently it is because I failed like a mad, mad woman. It was horrible. I made brown turd cookies. The first batch was NOT purple at all and they were thin and sticky like those really cool lace cookies except they didn’t harden they just stayed sticky and when you raised one to your mouth it folded over in your hand like limp banana peel. The second batch I cut the butter and sugar in half and they turned into dry, tasteless brown turds. There was no magenta or purple at all!  Now this could be because I used grated beets ala this recipe and not beet juice but I don’t understand why beet juice would color something and grated beets would not. Do I suspect the beet juice is chock-full of food coloring? Yes, I do!

Unfortunately my deadline came and went and I never got a chance to experiment with any beet juice but I did push my dry-tasteless cookie dough into a cake pan and topped it with a gooey mixture of butter, walnuts and molasses that was actually downright delicious. I also put a ton of ginger in the dough. I failed to mention that earlier but it is an interesting detail later because the grated ginger has the texture of cat hair when it’s mixed into dough which means I made walnut-encrusted molasses beet ginger brown-turd cake with cat hair inside it!  I win.

Slow News Day. Let’s tour the new office!


You know how I was belaboring the point that I wished I had my own room? It’s a very spoiled thing to wish for. I live in a very beautiful house with many rooms. Each girl has their own room. We have a giant living room/dining room, a nice big kitchen, an office, all the main rooms have vaulted ceilings, there is even an atrium!  Everything feels very big and grand and there really is no lack of space unless you fill it all up with knick knacks and tchotchke, like you do.

The main problem, that is really not a problem at all, is that there are a lot of windows in this house. Windows that I love. Light pours in everywhere creating all kinds of beautiful spaces (except when it’s shining onto my computer screen and then it is the stupid angry sun out to get me but usually I love it.) But this also means there are no walls that are bare. All the walls have either windows or furniture against them so I am constantly looking for blank walls to shoot un-distracting pictures against. It’s a losing battle and usually I end up walking to a nearby park and shooting in the handball courts instead, which is also very cool.

That said, I was kinda wishing I felt less cluttered and had some space to call my own. I do call the kitchen my own because I am the boss in there but it’s also the kitchen. Not really somewhere I want to hang out when I’m not cooking.

I couldn’t figure out a solution. I scoured every nook and corner of the house looking for a space that I could set up my desk and make a special office just for me. There was nothing. All the rooms are packed. There is no empty corner anywhere. I just gave up and thanked Payam that at least we have an office. It really is a luxury that I don’t have to use the dining room table for work and pack up my office every meal time. I have a lot to be thankful for.


But then Payam was wishing he had a blank wall too. He is a recruiter and makes a lot of video conference calls. It’s part of his job. He went through the same conundrum, moving his laptop from space to space trying to find a background for his calls that wouldn’t have his clients reading all the books on the bookshelf or judging us for how much alcohol we keep stored in various nooks.

So we stood and looked at our cluttered office and hemmed and hawed. There had to be a solution. We can’t just move into a loft office space downtown somewhere. (Though can you imagine how great that would be?!) We had to make this beautiful house work for us. Should we just do a giant purge and get rid of everything on the one wall that we have? I was all for that idea of course. But all the things on the office wall are Payam’s things.

Payam is a car aficionado and this wall is the one place where he can hang his car posters (that I don’t love). Believe me, I give him a hard time constantly about his car posters and if he didn’t love me so much he would probably tell me to get my things and go find someone else’s house to rearrange. But he does love me. And I love him so I think I can let him leave his car things up and his Barcelona soccer scarf and his karate black belt fake nunchucks hanging next to his African masks and beaded necklaces from Hawaii….etc etc. You get the idea. It’s a very Payam wall and I’ve Brenda-ed up the rest the house enough. I need to let it be.

Yet there had to be a solution. Like that time I lived in a mobile home out in the sticks and I didn’t know where to put my office so I just divided the living room in half and even though it was shocking and weird it totally worked and I had the most awesome living room/office ever. Remember that?

So we divided the office in half! Dun! Dun Duhun!!!!

Payam put his desk in the middle of the room against my big expedit bookcase. We put all our plants on the dividing wall bookcase to create kind of a privacy wall between us. I left my desk where it was. We moved the collaboration table that was in the middle of the room, pretty much collecting junk, to my side where it has now become my art table which is pretty much what it was anyway. Now I am in charge of the junk collection and I’m much better at it so that makes me immensely happy.

Payam positioned his desk so that his computer camera points to the one point on the wall that is not covered with car memorabilia and he even has more room to move his chair around and relax a bit without butting up against the collaboration table.

I realize you are probably lost by now because my descriptions must seem terribly confusing but the bottom line is we are together but we each have our own space. I don’t have a blank photo wall but I do now have this big giant space that is all mine!!  I love it.


Awwww. Home sweet office. Can you believe that stiff old wooden chair never bothers me? It creaks a little but I’m pretty comfortable in it most of the time. Payam offered to buy me a fancy ergonomic chair at Costco yesterday but I passed because it wasn’t cool looking. If they could make one in orange I might think about it. But this old chair that I bought at a garage sale ages ago at the beach and then my Grandpa so kindly fixed for me is sentimental and I think I’ll keep it forever.

I was going to mention my new day planner, that pink book in the top photos that says, “I Am Very Busy.” What a silly book right?  It comes with stickers and prompts like “dress up like a zombie and go out to dinner” and “National Taco Day” etc.. all written in funky writing. I fell for the fun-silliness hook line and sinker. I’ve never been a planner type, I like seeing the whole month at a glance but I do keep a daily list. Well guess what? I started keeping my daily lists inside my planner! What a break-through!!! Now I get what planners are for! You can write down things to come and things that have passed, like a journal and a list all in one!!!  Crazy.

Anyway, it’s really cool and everyone should go rush out and get one though I don’t recommend the “I am very busy” one it mocks me when I am not very busy and I feel like a big fat fake.  I also feel a little bit silly putting heart stickers on date night and coffee cup stickers on National Coffee Day…except maybe I do like that a little bit. Part of me will always love stickers, even when I’m

Lucy clearly agrees that I am not very busy.


What else is going on in pet-land? I haven’t updated you on the puppies for about a minute.

Well, there was the peanut butter incident yesterday. As you know we go through peanut butter in our house. Bug and I alone can go through a giant jumbo size jar of peanut butter in about three months, maybe four. Add in some dogs who love kongs and it goes even faster. Yesterday when I realized that there wasn’t any more scraping to be done to get any more peanut butter out of the plastic jar I decided I’d let Cody have a go at it. He approved of that motion heartily.

I can haz peanut butter? 


But then Whiskey was sad and jealous so I had to give him a chance at the jar and hold Cody back by his collar. Whiskey was very happy and very growly and protective of the jar. He got most of it out with his very long snap-chat filter tongue. It was a great thirty minutes of dog fun.

Aren’t slow news days great?