Plein Air Field Trip


Bug’s class had a plein air field trip to the beach this last Monday. You know I signed up to chaperone that trip! I’ll skip the mile walk to the farm in the sun, the overnight trip on the boat with pirate ghost stories and even the sing-along at some fancy schmancy concert hall but I am NOT going to miss out on a trip to the beach with painting.


That is MY KINDA field trip! I was supposed to schlep water to and from the bathroom to the children’s painting stations and supervise a bunch of rowdy kids on the beach who weren’t supposed to be getting wet (heh-to-the-heh on that) but when one of the teachers said I could sneak off and paint some too I was on that like a fly on… well, you know. I was ON IT!

I love love love painting outside and what could be more beautiful to paint than a foggy day at the beach?plein-air-painting-3

It’s funny. So many people moan and complain when a day like this comes along. Where is the sun? Where is the blue sky? Where are all the vibrant colors? How am I supposed to wear a bathing suit and get a tan on a day like this?!  You know what I say? Where are all the hordes of tourists?! Shut up and be thankful and consider this your one way ticket to your own private beach. How often do you get the beach to yourself? Not often!!


Personally, I love the colors of the beach when it’s foggy. I say this all the time and my long time readers will probably know what I’m going to say before I even say it. The beach is different every day. I used to walk it every day, Bug and I and our big fat jogger stroller. Every day it was a different ombre paint stick of beauty. Soft blues and grays, shades of lavender and beige blending with softness and then the next day zillions of bright red tiny lobsters might show up out of no where. You never know what you are going to get. The sky and water are constantly going back and forth in a playful battle over who’s going play the biggest color or lack of color card. You come to appreciate the subtleties when you see it every day. The foggy days are more personal, like a soft moody hug from nature.



But back to painting. We all had so much fun. They had different artists from the community helping the kids in groups of ten or so. It was a brilliant plan and you would not believe how the kids ate it up. The squirrely boys who can’t focus their attention span on anything that isn’t bouncing or loud, were quiet and focused. The shy girls who usually fade into the walls were shining with talent. It was just a great mix of involvement. Nobody fails at plein air painting. It’s an emotional experience and no painting is wrong. It’s how you interpret the colors and your palette. I was amazed at how good their paintings were. Blur your eyes and you might even think their works of blurry art were photographs.


I think they learned more about creativity and their own potential on this day than they probably did all year. I’m always for kids getting outside and learning. They will never forget the memories they made on this day.


Of course my beach girl was in her element, showing off her billy goat climbing skills like she learned to walk on the beach or something (she did).


It was just really fun. I am loving these years. Bug and I had a picnic lunch together and pretended that our peanut and butter sandwiches were fancy French pastries. Because that’s not really a stretch for us.


Her class had a blast. I imagine some of them haven’t really been to the beach that much, if at all. It’s always good to see kids let lose and have a little fun. You should have seen so many of them jumping in the waves, shoes and all. They had no fear of cold feet or the bus ride home with itchy uncomfortable sand in their shoes. They were just there in the moment full of joy.


Maybe we all need a little more foggy joy in our lives. I apologize for the nice neat bow ending but you know what I mean.


Persian Breakfast


One of my favorite things that Payam has introduced me to is Persian Breakfast. We eat it all the time. Sometimes even for dinner, which is awesome because it is quite easy to make if you have all the necessary ingredients on hand. But it’s kind of like having enough ice cream to go with your cake in that if you are missing one ingredient, it throws the whole ratio off.

Most importantly you have to have bread, cheese, grapes, walnuts and sabsi. Everything else is extra. Sabsi roughly translates to greens and it usually includes Thai basil (my favorite), chives (not my favorite because of stinky breath) and mint. Extras can include any other fruit, tea of course, coffee (for me) and any other type of sweet you might like to throw in.


Isn’t this teapot beautiful? I borrowed it from Joon. Her mother brought it over from Iran for her and we keep it in her closet to keep it safe. She let’s me use it for special occasions. The glass tea cups are traditional tea cups.

Persians are very interesting in the way they drink tea. They put a large piece of sugar (like that yellow saffron sugar you see above) in their mouth and then sip the hot tea around it. I’m not a fan because I like my tea strong without sugar but it’s kind of cool to watch them do it.

The rest of the table is set with a basket of hot (freshly toasted) Arabic bread covered in a towel and then a plate with feta cheese, walnuts, grapes and sabsi in the middle.


The way you eat Persian breakfast is you take a piece of bread and smash some feta cheese onto half of it with a fork. Then you place grapes and walnuts onto the cheese and top that with sabsi. You can put strawberries or candied kumquats on your cheese too instead of grapes, it really doesn’t matter as long as you have a nice balance of sweet to go with your salty, creamy cheese. Then you fold your bread in half and eat it like a taco. It’s delicious!


A few of my friends have been having Thursday morning get-togethers at each other’s houses because the local tea and coffee shops near us suck. After spending half an hour trying to find an open table big enough for all of us at Starbucks (which ended up being a tall table, two tall chairs and two low chairs and being in the way for everyone passing through) and spending the other morning waiting forever for them to get our various orders right, we decided that we could do a better job having tea and coffee at our own houses! It worked out brilliantly!

We had English Breakfast with fancy tea and crumpets at my travel agent friend’s house and so I decided to serve Persian tea and breakfast at my house!

Don’t be mislead by my friend having her nose down to her phone. She wasn’t bored of us, she was just fielding emails from her busy job. We’re all pretty lucky that we can work from home but that also means taking our jobs with us when we have leisurely breakfasts during the work day.


A new special treat that I brought to our breakfast are these almond cookies. I can’t find a link to them anywhere and when you buy them from the local bakery they don’t really have a name for them either. They are like florentines but they are very lightly sweet, not your usual heavy caramel or dipped in chocolate. They remind me of a delicate granola. In fact. I put some in a bowl and poured milk on them and they tasted like the best granola cereal ever.


Decorating for a special breakfast is half the fun. I don’t do this every day but when friends are coming over it’s nice. Payam’s brother brought us these decorative lace table coverings from Beirut when he was working over there. They are perfect for dressing up a table that might have a million scratches on it from all the various crafts I do.

The dangly star candle isn’t middle eastern at all but I like it because it’s cozy and sparkly.

And that’s pretty much it! If you are ever in the neighborhood please stop by and request a Persian breakfast! It’s the best!