Let’s get the basics out of the way: where you live, how many kids, etc.
I live in the tiny coastal town of Half Moon Bay, California (about 30 minutes south of San Francisco) with my husband, Chris, and our 4-year-old daughter, Lana. (No pets yet, though Lana has been asking for a golden retriever on the regular…and Chris is starting to echo her requests.) Half Moon Bay is about as charming a beach town as they come, equal parts trendy boutiques and rural farmland. We’ve got it all: a main street that’s actually called Main Street, holiday parades, friends and neighbors literally everywhere you turn, some of the country’s finest produce grown locally — and it’s all set to the tune of crashing waves and rugged seaside bluffs. Having moved here as adults, Chris and I constantly marvel at this spectacular spot we get to call home, so it’s crazy to think Lana will grow up knowing nothing else. Kiddo’s got it pretty good.
Three words to describe your cooking style.
Comfy. Fresh. Accessible.
Three words to describe your personal style.
Eclectic. Effortless. Edgy.
Who in the restaurant / cooking world do you find iconic; someone you admire and why?
Nigella set the bar pretty high when she jumped on the scene as a self-proclaimed domestic goddess and demonstrated how sensual and inviting simple food could be, even with sticky fingers and imperfect knife skills. She walked me through my first cola-braised ham (and then, a ham-flecked black bean soup enriched with cola drippings — sweet Jesus…). She introduced me to pavlova. She showed me that eating cold fried chicken bathed in the glow of the open fridge can feel downright glam. And I’ll never be able to repay her for that.
How has your personal style changed since becoming a mom?
I’ve always been a jeans-and-a-T-shirt kinda gal, and that hasn’t changed — though I used to rock heels with said jeans almost every day, and that’s no longer the case. I think, generally speaking, I’ve chilled out a lot. When I first had Lana, I remember feeling this tremendous pressure to “get ready” every day as I had before — as if putting on makeup and running a straightening iron through my hair proved to the world (or maybe myself) that I wasn’t fully sacrificing myself to my wiggling little milkworm. Four years later and I’ve relaxed a little. (Ok, a lot.) I can’t remember the last time I heat-styled my hair, and funky boots have replaced heels in my daily wardrobe. And sneakers! I love a good sneakers/dress combo to fake a little effort while still being playground-ready.
What’s your most-worn piece? (If it’s sweatpants…we won’t tell.)
My fave pair of perfectly distressed Levi’s 501s. Somehow they are both seriously slouchy and seriously flattering. Even the cropped length is versatile. They’re rad with Vans or flats, but I can’t stop wearing them cuffed with chunky Frye booties. So good.
What’s your go-to dish?
Anything that can be assembled into a bowl. Roasted veggies, a whole grain, soft-boiled eggs or crispy-skinned salmon, fresh herbs, a pickled something-or-other and a bright, citrusy sauce. Everything can be prepped ahead and assembled to everyone’s taste. Easy.
Sometimes it’s hard to gauge height from an Instagram or blog post – SO…how tall are you?
5’51/2” (and very much clinging to that ½ inch…)
Your top three cooking tools?
- Excellent knives. No matter the brand, invest in keeping them sharp. We have everything from commercial quality chef’s knives to high-end, custom Japanese knives but my favorite, middle-of-the-road set is this one from Shun Classic. They’re well balanced and beautiful and could easily be the only knives you’d ever need for basic prep.
- Instant Pot. At least once a week, I find myself without a plan 30 minutes before dinner, and the Instant Pot never fails. Mac and cheese, from scratch, in 15 mins, start-to-finish. Enough said.
- Cast iron skillet. A few years ago, we ditched all the non-stick cookware in our house for well-seasoned cast iron that functions just as well, if not better, and without the toxins. This piece from Staub (I love the white!) is pretty enough to have earned a permanent spot on our stovetop, but we also have this classic piece from Lodge that functions just as well at a fraction of the cost.
What drew you to blogging and when did you start?
I started blogging in 2012 on a total whim — I’ve always used both cooking and writing as creative outlets, so it seemed like a natural pairing, I suppose? — and with little regard for how best to start from a marketing perspective. It was…not the most aesthetically appealing space on the internet, let’s say, but it was a catchall for often-requested recipes and the sassy ramblings that went along with them. Never in my wildest did I think that small space would have afforded me so many straight-up cool career opportunities or introduced me to such a wickedly talented and widespread community of folks. I mean, the internet can legitimately be kinda creepy sometimes, but it’s also pretty dang cool.
What does a typical day look like? How do you manage time with kids vs blogging (or work)?
A typical day — whoof. Right now Lana is in preschool for just a few hours a week, so when I’ve got the house to myself, my to-do list doesn’t stand a chance. I try to do all my cooking and photographing during those school hours, and then I spend evenings post-kiddo bedtime editing photos and writing, attempting to keep up with social media, answering emails, etc. (Lots of late nights around here!) We also have a sitter that helps out one day a week, so that’s another several hours when I can work or knock out dishes (there are always dishes), housework, grocery shopping, more social media upkeep, etc. The rest of the week, I’m home with Lana, so it’s playground, errands, bike riding, hiking, prepping meals together, Legos, dolls (the princess obsession is so very real, despite our best efforts — I swear Disney just pumps glitter through birthing suite air ducts with reckless abandon). She even helps with the occasional photo shoot.
After the craziest, worst days we all find salvation in seeing our kids. What’s your favorite thing to do with them to decompress?
Ah, cuddling on the couch. It’s the best! In part because hi, cuddles, and in part because it’s such a rare occurrence. Lana’s never been a snuggly kiddo, but every now and then, she’ll actually suggest it, and it’s so heartwarming. I also love taking her out to eat. Her excitement for food is paralleled perhaps only by my own. She’s become such a fun little lunch date, and I love experiencing new things through her eyes (and taste buds).
If you could give only one piece of advice to a timid, new mom (we’ve been there), what would it be?
I wrote a whole post with my top five learnings as a new mom here, but if I could only share one thing, it would be to ditch any expectations you may have and just take in the experience. I had a not-so-easy transition into motherhood, and I think a lot of it had to do with feeling inadequately prepared for the shift that takes place when you’re no longer the center of your own world. Motherhood didn’t immediately feel natural for me, and since I had only ever assumed it would, I struggled with that realization. A lot.
Also! There’s no truer adage than the days are long, but the years are short. It sounds like a bunch of poppycock when your kiddo is cluster feeding at 3am and you’re certain this is the exact form of torture they reserve for prisoners of war, but it’s so spot-on. Those early days are over in the blink of an eye, and they’re sweeter than you realize.
Also also! Get out and do all the things while they’re still in sleeping burrito mode and not necessarily on a schedule. Errands! Date-night dinners out! Happy hour on the patio! Strap that kid on and go go go.
What did you dream of being when you were young?
Once upon a time I thought I’d illustrate children’s books, but I have a slam book from 6th grade (you guys SLAM BOOKS, what!?) that says I wanted to be a writer living in the Bay Area, so I guess I’m kinda living the dream!
What’s one fashion risk you love to see on others but would NEVER take yourself?
This isn’t a risk so much as perhaps a longing for my youth, but in another life (or at least one where the playground doesn’t beckon every day), I would live in tailored pants or a slim jumpsuit and sky high heels.
In an effort to branch out from the basics: pasta, tacos, etc. what’s your favorite unique, kid-friendly dish that’s actually doable on a weeknight?
Anything that comes together in a slow-cooker or Instant Pot always gets my vote for weeknight cooking. This Miso Red Bean Instant Pot Stew is a pantry clean-out dish that is surprisingly tasty — Lana always eats more than her fair share. And for an impressive chicken dish that’s seriously easy, these Pan Roasted Chicken Breasts with Lemon Pan Jus are SO deceptively simple. Toss leftover brown rice and a couple handfuls of steamed broccoli in the drippings and you’ve got a full on meal in about 30 mins.