Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Mama Made Fright

The awesome Annie seemed to sum up my feelings on the whole all night costume debacle perfectly....

"I'm so stubborn that the costumes from the MIL would tick me off and I'd stay up all night tonight too finishing costumes even they were sewn upside down and backward ;)"

So with all due respect for my mother in law and her very sweet intentions, after staying up all night to make costumes I was certain that some unwritten cardinal rule had been broken, that after you give birth, you have the right to choose all holiday attire for your children, until they can verbalize what they want themselves OR unless you abdicate that right to someone else (you can see that the failed prelaw student in me comes out when I'm miffed;}).

I took Wednesday night off to let off steam with Ivan and take-out Indian food and I did what I had to do on Thursday night to make the costumes wearable. By Friday morning, my boys were dressed and ready to go....

Matteo is giving his scary dinosaur impression, while Nico looks on woefully.

Yes, woefully. The poor kid hated the costume. I used "ecofelt" (aka recycled plastic crap fabric) because it was cheaper and I thought it would be OK for something that would be worn for an hour maximum. I think he is just so sensitive to textiles that it really, truly made him uncomfortable. It also didn't help that I snarled at him tersely beforehand that He.Will.Wear.That.Costume. Definitely not my finest parenting moment. It was a hard morning for my lovely, sweet son. While his friends danced and sang in circle time, he huddled up on my lap and as soon as the teachers announced that it was time for the Halloween parade (a walk up the block and back), Nico burst into tears. I felt really and truly horrible.

So I very gladly and happily helped him take off the hated costume that I was up all night sewing and we followed the others up the street, my Nico dressed just as his beautiful, lovely self for the Halloween parade.

Holding hands with his friend, the highpoint of Nico's Halloween Festivities

So this Halloween day, The Small Tribe will spend it in a very low key way. During the day, a walk to a friend's block party, complete with jumpy house, and an evening making popcorn, homemade candy and telling stories sounds like a perfect Halloween for us all.


Wishing you and your little goblins a Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

WIP Wednesday- Halloween Costumes at Midnight

Last night at 11:30PM

Last night I unearthed my sewing machine from the ungodly mess that is my crafting area with the understanding that I only had 35 hours until the boys Halloween parade at school and I had better get crackin' on the dragon/dinosaur costumes that I had promised them 6 weeks ago and for some reason I thought last night was Wednesday night, which gave me less time.

(Wow, that was quite the run on sentence, I guess that happens when you're blogging after sleeping for an hour)

Yup, stayed up ALL NIGHT to sew those costumes. Even managed to sew a sleeve on upside down... and they are still not finished. I was making so many mistakes by 5AM that I decided to put them aside and go at them again tonight.

Obviously I am delirious and sleep deprived, but for some odd reason thought this was worth posting.

The best part? My dear husband mentions to me this morning that his mom bought dinosaur costumes for the boys and would be dropping them off today.

I'm going to bed

Happy WIP'ing Wednesday to you all.

Monday, October 26, 2009

And the winner is....

*erin* from My Faery Garden! Congratulations, Erin! Please email your mailing address to me (pablohoneysf at gmail dot com) and the two-tier stainless steel lunchbox will be on it's way this week!

I cannot begin to thank everyone who joined the fun and left a comment! I was amazed and inspired by everyone's snack and lunch suggestions!

Kay from Luncharound was also extremely very thrilled that the word is out there about Earth and kid-friendly lunchbox systems that she passed along this little note with a coupon code for those of you who are interested in getting one and for local folks, places to find them here in Berkeley...

OK, So, I was thinking.... for those loyal followers of yours who wanted to have a stainless steel tiffin or oval, there are MORE ways to find them!!

Locals can now test-drive and feel the quality of the Zebra brand tiffins and ovals. I find that when someone actually handles this products or have their kids work the latches, they'll understand why we were so impressed and HAD to make them available for ecological minded folks in the States. These products are made responsibly in Thailand since 1967 using high grade as well as thick gage, stainless steel. As we've seen in the seen from the Sigg BPA issue, knowing how and where products are manufactured is just as important as the products intended use. Also the tiffins are designed to where a child can easily stack them on top of each other, where the bowls are interchangeable and the lid can be used on top of either tier (the pyramid types were found to be trickier for younger children as they had to make sure that the bigger tier was on the bottom otherwise it wouldn't stack and lock in place). The Zebra brand products are built to last- and I'm so happy to know that this simple, old school product will help encourage parents to think about how our children's lunch is being packed and try to make a conscious decision to reduce the amount single use disposables and plastics that end up in our city's landfills. Ok, enough preaching- Luncharound proudly distributes Zebra brand tiffins and ovals to:

Hannah's Children's Resale
1871 Solano Ave
Berkeley, CA 94707

Berkeley's Ecology Center Store
2530 San Pablo Ave (near Dwight)
Berkeley, CA 94702

On line shoppers can receive15% off by visiting:
Coupon Code: SMALL15

*Luncharound does not ship international, but I can help you locate an on-line shop that will. Just contact me at:

Thanks for your support everyone!!!

Thanks again to everyone for the well wishes on my blogiversary and for entering my first giveaway... you've made this a fun celebration!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My Blogiversary, Some Ramblings and FINALLY, a Giveaway!

What a coincidence, I finally some time to sit down and blog this morning and realized that it's been a year since my very first post! So much has happened, our little Luca has joined us, Matteo and Nico are in school together and we suffered some heartbreak. Through it all, you have been with our family on this journey, rooting us on and holding my hand through the tough times. Thank you so much my dear, dear friends. In my wildest dreams, I never would have expected to make so many lovely friends, near and far and I feel so much the richer for it. I'm sending my deepest and most heartfelt gratitude to you all.

So, a funny thing happened while our computer was down and I was on an internet break...

I really, really liked it

My house was a little cleaner, I caught up on some reading and most importantly, I felt more connected to my family. It was eye opening how much being online can take over mental space even when you're not on the computer. For me, it was less time to be writing posts in my head, surfing for the "perfect" toy for the boys for the holidays (because goodness knows, the last thing they need is MORE toys!) and reading status updates on people who I haven't worked with in a decade on Facebook. But what I realized as well is that I did miss communicating with my friends who are in my now. I missed visiting your blogs for inspiration and I missed just the online community of dear friends that I have. So I wonder and ask of all of you, how do you do it? How do you make that balance work of being fully present with your family and then having the time to be present with the world of friends online? As parents, we all have so many challenges when it comes to time management and I wonder how others do it (and still have time to craft on top of it all!).

I am rambling, and thank you for indulging me on my blogiversary.

I've been wanting to talk about lunch for a long time now (since it seemed like a fitting conclusion for food week) and FINALLY get to do my giveaway!

In trying to reduce waste and the use of plastics, this year the very wonderful and generous director of the boys preschool gifted every child with these oval stainless steel tiffin containers! One of the many reasons why we love the school is that the director and teachers help make the children become better stewards of our planet. I had previously been using a plastic lunchbox system which worked well, but I hadn't been entirely happy with using plastic and actually had been keeping an eye out for an alternate lunch solution.

Kay Glanchai, the founder of Luncharound is a parent (and in full disclosure, a very cool crafty mama who is in my Inspiration Circle!) who has researched very thoroughly and endlessly to find a lunchbox solution that was very earth friendly as well as easily usable to young children. I have to admit that I am a bit of a geek when it comes to the presentation of the lunches for the boys. As well as being nutritious, I want the lunches to be aesthetically pleasing as well (as Kay calls it "the feng shui of food") and she has given me numerous tips on how to prepare the food using halved avocado peels as little bowls, leftover baguette bags to wrap items in... she is an amazing resource for how to make fun lunches!

I wanted to share the wealth and fun and giveaway a set of the two-tier, stainless steel tiffin lunchboxes so generously donated by Kay and Luncharound (Thank you, Kay)! All you need to do is leave a comment (help a mama out and tell me what you like to make for lunch or snacks!) and I will randomly draw a number/name on Monday afternoon 10/26, 5PM PST.... and of course I would love it if my friends overseas enterred!

As befitting my procrastinational (is that a word?) nature, I will also sew 2 cloth napkins to send with the lunchboxes, but the winner has to swear not to tell others about my inability to sew straight lines :D... I had all these plans to sew them and post pictures, but well, you know...

Thank you so much for reading my long novel of a post, for your patience and understanding during my absence and most of all for your friendship this year.
I love you all!

(now PLEASE go leave a comment!)

xoxo, Marina

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Saturday, 6:14AM

Luca is a very early bird
Mama is not
Coffee is in order

Early morning walk for scones and happy face latte...

Happy Weekend :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Quiet now,we pause to rest,
Silence is our tranquil nest.
Our movement stilled,our voices cease,
We bathe our souls in quiet peace
-Verses for Quiet, Seven Times the Sun

Our main computer went down last week, so please accept my apologies for sporadic posting and emails. Hopefully we'll get things up and running in a few days, but in the meantime, wishing everyone a blessed and happy time...
As always with love,

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Mom's Night Off... Cheeseboard Pizza

After the debacle that was last night's dinner and the fact that I am cooking far more than I usually do), I decided to take tonight off and pick up a pizza from one of my favorite food places on the planet- The Cheeseboard.

The Cheeseboard is a true Berkeley Landmark. I love that the worker-owners there make you feel like family. When Ivan works from home, our morning ritual involves a walk up the block to pick up some lattes (which I consider the best in North Berkeley!) a corn cherry scone for Ivan, an asiago cheese roll for me and the boys split an incredibly decadent Chocolate Thing, an enormous roll of warm bread with chunks of melted chocolate baked in, and is actually called a Chocolate Thing :).

Cheese Rolls

... and while our family knows it as our place for morning coffee and freshly baked treats, it probably best known as a cheese lovers paradise, with offerings of hundreds of different types of cheese. I recently became smitten with Il Boschetto al Tartufo, a mild semisoft cheese blend of sheep and cow's milk, loaded with white truffle bits...mmmm

Il Boschetto al Tartufo and grapes, my special treat
Cheeseboard pizzas are truly special. They use gourmet cheeses, olive oil rather than tomato sauce and seasonal vegetables. They serve only one kind a day and it varies. Tonight's pizza is fresh corn and chile pasilla, onions, feta and mozzarella cheeses, garlic olive oil, cilantro and Mexican key lime :)

Thanks so much for your gadget suggestions! I'm leaning towards an immersion blender, especially after last night's soup. I'm taking your suggestions and going to cook it again and blend it. You have all been so lovely in joining me in my cooking journey, wish I could have you all over for warm soup, crusty bread and some good wine!

Please come visit tomorrow as I am finally going to do my first giveaway!
(and I promise it's something really fun!)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Autumn Gifts

It's Fall Nature Table time and the boys and I finally got around to assembling it this afternoon. I participated in the Autumn Seasons Round Exchange recently and received these incredibly creative, wonderful items from my swap partner Grace to put on the table!

A Fox and the Moon applique in an embroidery hoop (an idea which I am stealing!)

Robin and real Georgia Buckeyes

Thank you so much Grace!

With the weather not feeling like Autumn for so long and the leaves refusing to turn until recently, it was hard to get the mojo going to put the table together. But as the days cooled and the leaves began to fall, the boys have begun to bring more of their natural treasures into the house. Here are a few of my favorite things on the table...

This season the Jizo Bodhisatva sits at the center

We have our witch and kitty mixing up spells before her cauldron

A little squirrel gathering up buckeyes (for our lack of acorns ;) ) for the winter

I'm so glad we finally got around to putting together our altar of Autumn Celebration. It makes me feel like the season is really upon us now and we can enjoy the gifts of Fall.

And lest you think I'm shirking on Food Week ;}...

In addition to the tomatoes, my dad also brought us squash from his garden. Though I miss the bounty of fruits that come in the summer, Fall always gifts us with those vegetables that just seems so right for the colder weather.

Feeling the need for the warm comfort that soup brings, I decided to do the Winter Squash with Fried Sage Leaves recipe from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (probably my favorite cookbook, even though I'm not a vegetarian).

So this is what I am going to tell you about tonight's endeavor... my soup sucked.

Did you really think I'd get through this week without some culinary mishap? I took a picture of the soup and was so excited to sit down and eat it and when I did, all I could taste were crunchy onions. I didn't saute them long enough. Which really sucks because I really don't like the texture or taste of raw onions.

So here is a pretty picture of my darn soup which I found almost inedible. And you want to know what else sucks? I have a TON of this soup left...

Here is the question of the day. Can this soup be saved? Will time just soften up the onions so that they're not so darn crunchy and obvious? Will cooking it longer soften them up? Or is this a lost cause I should just think about using it tomorrow for some crazy paper mache arts and crafts project with the boys?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Last Bites of Summer

My parents came to visit last weekend bearing the last of my dad's tomatoes for this season, which made me a bit melancholy.

...but they also brought free babysitting which allowed Ivan and I to actually go to a movie, which lifted my spirits immensely :)

We went to go see Julie and Julia, a story of 2 women living in different times, struggling to find out who they are and finding themselves saved through cooking. I loved the movie and it was part of my inspiration for Food Week... the fact that the modern day Julie is a blogger, well that was just ganache icing on the cake :). One scene that really stuck out for me and made my mouth water is when the Julie character made bruschetta for her husband and he could barely speak as he stuffed his mouth with it while oohing and ahhhing ecstatically over the taste.

Voila! I found the perfect way to say goodbye to the summer tomatoes!

Bruschetta is wonderfully simple and easy to make, but what really made me salivate was instead of toasting the bread in the oven, Julie pan-fried it in a pan of butter... and I just love butter so very much. So I found a recipe for Portobello Mushroom Bruschetta on the Food Network and fried the rustic baguette slices in minced garlic and butter instead of toasting it in the oven.

It was really, truly wonderful, the fresh happy taste of tomatoes and the crisp buttery bread...mmmmm... I felt I did justice to the last of the tomatoes....
Goodbye Summer!

The past 2 days of Food Week have been great for me as I've been finding new confidence in the kitchen. Recently Ivan and I came across an old Williams Sonoma gift card from our wedding (over 4 years ago!) which surprisingly had a little over $50 left on it! This is where you, my foodie friends can help me out in deciding how to spend it. Is there a small appliance in your kitchen you'd be lost without (I'm happy to add on a bit to the gift card for something truly useful and worthwhile)? A number of small gadgets that you find invaluable? As I grow more confident cooking, I think a little trip to buy kitchen gear will keep the motivation going! (As an aside, we do already have a Cuisinart food processor and Kitchen Aid Artisan Mixer- both of which I am building up the confidence to learn how to use.)

Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Rooted in Filipino Food

The blessing we say before our evening meal

Growing up Filipino, food was always the center of everything. I remember family gatherings with tables groaning under the weight of sinigang (pork or fish in tamarind stew), pancit (stir fried noodles with vegetables) and lumpia (fried egg rolls) while my mother and her sisters were in the kitchen preparing even more. If it was a special occasion, lechon (an enormous roasted pig with an apple in it's mouth) would be served. Filipino food is my comfort food. It reminds me of the way my house smelled growing up. It reminds me of when my children were born and my parents would come to stay with us to help out and prepare our meals. It reminds me of family.

The rice cooker, a staple in every Filipino kitchen

I'm a bit ashamed to admit that I don't know how to cook traditional Filipino dishes. Truth be told, I'm not a very experienced cook at all. I didn't really start cooking regularly until I had children and even now, my repertoire is mostly comprised of dishes where the prep time doesn't exceed 20 minutes. So I am starting this edible journey called Food Week in the hopes that I can push myself out of my comfort zone and try some new things.

Today I decided to try the staple of Filipino Cuisine- Chicken Adobo, stew cooked with vinegar and soy sauce. I had a small problem in that my mother does not have any of her recipes written down. My source for the chicken adobo recipe? Ironically, Ivan's Family Cookbook... may I emphasize Ivan's FRENCH Family Cookbook? Ivan's lovely Aunt Jennifer married a wonderful Filipino man and she adapted the traditional chicken adobo recipe to be a bit lighter than what I had growing up (which is probably a good thing). It's a very simple recipe with ingredients that we already had at home. It took about half an hour total to prepare, but was very easy to do. I made a few adjustments to the recipe (sauteing the onions before mixing everything, crushing the garlic to emphasize the flavor), and I have to say, I was pretty proud of my first attempt at Filipino cooking. I think I may even ask my mom for a cooking lesson :}.

So tell me dear friends, what foods remind you of your childhood? Do you cook them now as an adult?

Chicken Adobo a la francaise, served with steamed asparagus

************ Aunt Jennifer's Chicken Adobo*************
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 cloves crushed garlic
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup vinegar
3 TB. soy sauce
4 chicken breasts (used skinless and boneless)
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. oil
2 bay leaves

Saute onions in butter until transparent. After mixing the rest of the ingredients into saucepan, add chicken.
Cook on medium flame until all liquid is gone and chicken is cooked

Sunday, October 4, 2009

For The Love of Food

The neighborhood in which I live in is often called Gourmet Ghetto. It is home to Alice Water's restaurant Chez Panisse which is considered the birthplace of California Cuisine (which emphasizes the use of the freshest ingredients which are in season and procured solely from local farms). This is truly a foodies paradise with a cheese shop that boasts hundreds of different cheeses, the very first Peet's coffee shop and a weekly Farmers market to name just a few things. The neighborhood celebrates every Autumn with the Spice of Life Festival, a fun food-filled street fair with craft booths and plenty of food from neighborhood restaurants to savor. We spent today out and about, mingling with neighbors while feasting on the local flavor.

Fig Danish from The Cheeseboard

Matteo partook in some Dragon facepainting

Apologies to my vegetarian and vegan friends... menu from one of the food booths
Having done most of my street faires when I lived in the Midwest, this was quite a change for me after feasting on deep dish pizza from Taste of Chicago or brats from Milwaukee's Summerfest :)

There was an area for kids to make art using materials from nature,
this was Nico's sweet creation

Though there were carnival rides, Nico's favorite thing was quality upside down time with Daddy

The perfect T-Shirt from Like Minded People

Feeling festive from the fair today, I am declaring this my Food Week on A Small Tribe. I may attempt a few new dishes, share some favorite foods from local restaurants and ... stay tuned for an incredibly fun giveaway...

My first! I am soooo excited!

Bon Appetit!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Inspiration Circle

I started knitting again!

I received this email earlier this week sent by one of the mothers from the boys preschool ...

Hi all you crafty and would be craftster mamas,

Who is up for a casual morning craft together at my house? I am talking
this week, Friday morning after drop off. Anyone want to knit/spin/embroider or make stuff with me for a couple of hours before we pick our kids up? There will be tea and coffee and some kind of croissanty thing. I also promise breakfast crumbs on the floor, general clutter and probably an abundance of cat hair. I'm totally going to ignore it all and I hope everyone else will too, isn't this the essence of crafting? Not cleaning your house so you can make out with your yarn/fabric stash. You know what I'm talking about.

Now really, who wouldn't jump at the chance for a gathering like this??!! So this morning, The Bean and I headed over to the Amazing Andrea's home for some communion with other crafty mamas. I don't think there are enough words to express how inspired and energized I was to spend time with other mothers who nurture their souls through crafting. I wanted to share some photos of the morning and of the lovely home Andrea has created...

Andrea drop spindles

The promised croissanty things and tea

Emanuela shows her socks in progress

The spinning wheel I covet... never mind that I don't know how to spin

Namja and her grandmother's beautiful craft bag

Courtney cuts her son's Halloween costume

Yay! Deanna learns to knit!

Sandra shows off the gorgeous felted lotus she made for our hostess

Kay breathes new life into her daughter's T-shirt

Andrea's home was such a warm, inviting space to create in and she graciously allowed me to take a few pictures to share...

Nature table


I was tickled that her boys turned the Ostheimer farmhouse into a firehouse (Daddy is a firefighter)

It was truly a magical morning with old and new friends. Too often I spend too much time in my own head, crafting by myself at midnight. It was incredibly enriching to spend time with others working with our hands, learning new skills and getting encouragement . My wish is for all crafty mamas to have their own circle of inspiration too!

Thank you Andrea and friends for such a wonderful morning!