Wednesday, February 5, 2014

rogue parenting - playing hookie

Deviating, renegade, playfully mischievious?  Yes.   Dishonest, to destroy, knavish?  Of course not.  To cheat or no longer belong?  Well, here it gets a little fuzzy. 

Rogue.  It's exciting.  It's adventurous.  It's "a handsome rogue." It's "She's gone rogue!"  Oh my goodness, what is she going to do next!  It questions the norm in its actions.  Typical artists... to love this word.  However, rogue is for everyone.  It's unplugging from the matrix.  It's connecting.  Are we stretching the definition a bit?

This little cutie has gone rogue.  We know.  You didn't think that this is what rogue looked like.  Stretch your mind a bit.  It's a wonderful rainy school day.  These children have made a lovely morning tea party... on a school day.  Yikes!  Rogue!  I warned you.  

For the moms - green tea.  For the kids - chocolate chai (decaf).  For all - black berries and rasperries on top of coconut cream.

Requisite contemplative rainy day photo.  Just couldn't resist.

Our magical destination for going rogue today?  Disneyland?  Six Flags?  Build a Bear?  No.  Atwater!!

This or Die.  A place where you can see art, feel hip AND get your hair cut.

And like, that really cool tattoo artist kind of art.  All fantasy and delicate.

Even the rain boots are celebrating this rogue outing with their purple and gold colors.  

No, the salon is not enough.  While the haircuts commence, we need to go buy coffee... and tea... and hot chocolates so we can have a haircut party.

The excitement of the hairbrush!  So many beautiful colors on one head of hair.

Here's something we do when going rogue.  Going on adventure?  Throw a sketchbook at it.  Oh, and don't forget the drawing tools like we did.  There is no perfect in going rogue.  No map.  Sometimes you have to wing it and borrow a number two from someone.  And we just want to say the grown ups were drawing, too.  Just have to say.

Indulging in the soft light on a fresh cut.

Indulging in the soft light on a butterfly earring.


Atwater.  And the sun came out.

Bon Vivant Market and Cafe.  A site of riches. It's like we are on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride!

See, it is a ride.  Hiding monsters.

Not doing that right now, but it's really pretty.

Hey, maybe this is someone else's rogue parenting moment.

by Laura E. Alvarez

Thursday, January 30, 2014

thrifting into the new year

How lucky are we... to have boys who love to go thrift shopping and are passionate about food?  An added benefit is to adore the mother of your boy's good friend. So, I guess the answer is that we are very lucky.  

The Goodwill on La Brea in Los Angeles rocks!  I had NO idea.  Oh my goodness.  Some Goodwill locations really seem to cater to the "get dressed for your corporate interview" need... which is great, but this Goodwill...  This Goodwill caters to the "need an outfit for time traveling pronto" people.  That was us.

Ravenclaw Prefect pin  and fez from Whimsic Alley

These two boys are really into Dr. Who right now, thus the tweedy jackets and fez.  It's all about who you become with that outfit.  For example, my go-to all black stretchy evening wear means I am a relaxing Korean soap opera watcher, while a tweed jacket and a fez for someone else means only one thing:  time travel!  Well, and maybe eating Cuban food.

Did I say Whimsic Alley?  Why yes, I did.  See, we started this little outing at our favorite Harry Potter headquarters, Whimsic Alley.  Yes, I do love it there.  It's like a little trip to Hogsmeade.  Thus, we have the young lad hiding his butter beer (It's really just butterscotch soda.  I love it.) behind his menu at El Colmao, one of our favorite spots for Cuban food.  Liquados de mamey?  Check.  Garlic roast chicken?  Check.  Cuban coffee.  Oh, yes.  We need our fuel to thrift.

Black beans, rice, avocados, and garlic roast chicken at El Colmao

When I go to El Colmao, I feel like I am time traveling.  Even though I didn't grow up coming here, the 1960's time capsule look with the chandeliers and vintage signed head shots make it feel like a place I would have come to after church every Sunday.  I can just picture it.  Instead, we were going to an Orange County K Mart where we might get a submarine sandwich. Did I just share that?  Anyway, this food shot is so not a foodie shot because I think usually foodies remember to take the photo before they start eating the food.  

Here is a silk, Hong Kong made dress I got that day at the Goodwill.  It kind of reminded me of Kiki's Delivery Service even though I couldn't find an image of a character wearing a dress like this in the movie.  The good news is that I found this when I was looking for a Kiki image.  (Note to self:  Do a post on the espressos and amazing blue of Espresso Cielo in Santa Monica)

Earrings by Evan Hartzell

And lastly, a terry cloth top from the same Goodwill trip that makes me feel like I am a soap maker in the Japanese countryside.  You see it, don't you?  Oh, those days of making soap.  The soft breeze from the garden coming in through the open windows.  The intoxicating soap scents wafting through the air.  I think I just heard the sushi rice cooker go "ping!".

Fashion.  Food.  Art.  Repeat.

By Laura E. Alvarez

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Put a Little Reggio in Your Life

I am a strong believer that your environment teaches you and gives you some of the most valuable experience that no traditional classroom will ever be able to give you.  But, to get anything out of it, just like a traditional school, you have to pay attention.  The reason that the Reggio Emilia Approach speaks to me is that as an adult I'm always searching for beautiful and imperfect, sensitive and firm, freedom with boundaries.  What I needed for my children was a place of safety,  a place of expression where there was encouragement, but where each new accomplishment was not lauded as genius.  There is a respect that takes place in a Reggio environment.  These children learn it from an early age.  They learn how to respect their surroundings, each other, their lives.

Reggio Emilia is predominantly found in toddler and preschool environments.  But, it speaks to all ages because it's philosophy is timeless.  Below, I have have given you some examples from a profound
book called, The Hundred Languages of Children.

"In a strongly firsthand way, deeply rooted in ongoing cycles of observation, interpretation, and documentation, Reggio educators have borne witness to child learning in its earliest genesis and in its least restrictive environment…Least restrictive in this case refers not to an "anything goes" chaos but an environment liberated from false boundaries and external caveats that inadvertently impede or unnecessarily parse the complex development of children.  Instead, the whole school environment of Reggio-infant-toddler centers and preschools is positively influenced by the presence of the atelier.
Teachers endeavor to continually provoke children's natural propensities to search for meaning, to pose questions of themselves and others, and to interpret the phenomena of their own lives."
-Margie Cooper, The Hundred Languages of Children (pg. 298)

"Often Reggio educators use the phrase rich normality to describe the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive environments to which they continually aspire, calling important attention to the promise of ordinary moments.  For it is the stringing together of  ordinary moments that ultimately give shape and quality to  human life over time, just as it is the stringing together of ordinary moments that ultimately gives shape and quality…"-Cooper (Pg. 298)


"How much positive attention do we give ordinary moments in our programs for young children in North America?  For example, the physicality children naturally express in their everyday encounters-running fingertips along a fence line, spinning and darting in open spaces breathing deeply the fragrances of the natural world, handling objects to view every angle-are wide ways children build understanding through natural dispositions for researching worlds polysensorially-that is, through all their senses.  Within these natural ways of children, there lives an aesthetic dimension, described by Giudici as the 'pursuit of loveliness, of harmony, of balance, poise, equilibrium and sensibility to relations' that exists epistemologically…aesthetics is not a separate dimension from experience but rather an element of it"-Cooper (Pg. 299)

Stop when you can, when you think about it and talk with your kids about what you are seeing, feeling. If you smell something desireable or even undesireable, what kind of sensation does that invoke in you? Be present with yourself, your kids.

I am convinced that this Reggio way of thinking does not end in preschool. For, I live it everyday.
-M. Byron Trent

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Boccalone Days, Boccalone Nights

Chris Isaak sings about San Francisco days, San Francisco nights.  I would have to change it just a bit to Boccalone days, Boccalone nights thanks to celebrity chef Chris Cosentino's salumeria located in the Ferry Building.  Yes, I said celebrity chef.  When I go somewhere, anywhere, it has to be to eat.  I want to try it all.  For all the times that I had been to San Francisco, I had yet to dine at Cosentino's Incanto.  So, for this trip I was geared up and ready.  I was ready to throw down some cash and since I was fresh off of watching Anthony Bourdain in Parts Unknown,  I grabbed my crew ready to waltz into Incanto and have Bourdain's life fall into my lap.  Really?  I mean, who do I think I am?  Clearly someone who did not call ahead.  I'm even embarrassed to be admitting it.  It was a Wednesday night and in my experience if you go early enough, like when they open, you can usually get a table or sit at the bar.  When I'm with my girls, I usually eat quickly and enjoy an amazing meal and everybody wins!  The kids get exposure to culinary adventures with my guidance and the server gets a early quick turn of a table with a nice tip to go along.  I like doing this even when I don't have my kids.  I like to have time to soak up the city and grab a drink or, with my kids, move on to another place for dessert.  I should have taken it as an omen when we learned that Incanto was closed that night.  I was crushed.  This is pretty much how the trip would go.  A culinary comedy of errors.  The trip was short and dinner would not be in the cards for us. 

Fortunately, the Hotel Monaco in Union Square offered a lovely reception in the lounge where I regrouped and pretty much realized that we were not located in the best walking center for food.  My six year old could not have cared less as she was busy socializing and getting her Martinelli's Apple Cider on!

The Ferry Building itself is a feast for eyes and going there on an empty stomach gets one all aflutter.  Laura immediately noticed the spring in my step and said, "we have stepped into your Disneyland!"  Whenever I enter a food paradise I feel just like Tim Burton's character Jack Skellington from  A Nightmare Before Christmas when he enters Christmas Town, "what's this? whatever could it be?"  The apple does not fall far from the tree.  At one point I thought I lost my 6 year old only to find her nuzzled up to the the sales girl at the Stonehouse Olive Oil boutique noshing on bread, dipping away into various oils.  We walked away with 6 bottles.  We tasted our way through the Cowgirl Creamery Artisan Cheese Shop, later slathering fromage blanc and sheeps milk ricotta onto our freshly baked onion bread from Acme Bread Company. The best was left for last.  Meat cones.  Yep, I said it.  For those of you who know me well,  you are already agog by the sheer fact that I have consumed this much gluten and dairy (albeit, I stuck to my usual goat and sheep) and now I am about to talk not only about meat, but, "tasty salted pig parts," in a CONE!   I had to people!  It was beautiful, man!  I had Lonza (Cured and dried pork loin, it is very similar in both taste and texture to prosciutto. This is the back loin that is cured in salt and fennel.), orange and fennel salami. Delizioso!

There are the greatest chefs, the masters, who are analogous to our greatest musicians and then there are the others, either marketing geniuses, or those who were in the right place at the right time.   Their melody is lacking, but we all listen just the same.  Cosentino has the melody and the marketing.   In fact I wouldn't be surprised if he is a music aficionado of some sort.  I wonder if music has had an impact on all great chefs lives?  In fact, isn't it a symphony when you have the perfect meal?  It just depends on my mood.  It could be a handmade tortilla, the inside perfectly seasoned, spicy and wet, dripping from my fingers downed with an ice cold beer with a shot of good tequila, or maybe some sweet slightly briny oysters with a crisp chablis?  That's why food is fore play especially when accompanied by a great playlist, and well, I'm done.