My First Song Writing Success (Or, The Husband Sings a Happy Song)

When I was 3, my mom and I made up a song about giraffes.

The giraffe has a very long neck
a very, very, very long neck.
He eats the leaves from the tops of the trees,
he goes chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp.
Oh, the giraffe has a very long neck.

There is another verse about a pig and his curly tail. It hasn’t been picked up by any record labels or placed in the soundtrack of children’s television shows, yet.
Now considering all offers.

the giraffe has a very long neck

I have more hope for the song in this video, co-written with my husband, the musical genius. It’s my first legit songwriting credit! I woke from a dream with the voice of an old black lady singing this song in my head. It was easy to remember the four simple lines. I wrote them down and sheepishly showed them to the husband. Three years later, he surprised me by playing the song at a show at the WitZend in Venice! What do you think?

The Husband also goes by the name Carlos Calvo. He’s a singer/writer who happens to be incredibly talented in all things guitar. Carlos would never tell you this (but I am the wife and I am allowed to brag), he has toured as the opening act for Bob Dylan and Colin Hay, was the guitar player for King of the Hill, and was Adam Levine’s guitar teacher for years. When he’s not busy in the kitchen or performing live shows, he teaches private guitar lessons and coaches actors to play guitar for roles in films. If you dig the music, you can get more of the magic on Facebook and Twitter.

We’ll be in the Northeast this summer for a little music tour through Maine, New York and New Jersey. So expect to see posts about lobster rolls, haddock sandwiches, chowdah’, meals from my friend Angus’ organic garden, and rock and roll.


Radish and Feta Salad

Radish and Feta Salad
I am always on the lookout for a great way to use the radishes that come in my produce box. And, lately, I’ve been trying to build a repertoire of healthy snacks. This simple salad is right up my alley. The combination of crunchy, peppery radishes, salty feta, and black pepper surprised me. I drizzled a tiny bit of olive oil over the top. Chopped mint or parsley would be a nice touch. This would be tasty on top of baby greens or arugula for lunch, no dressing required.

Radish and Feta Salad
6 radishes, sliced
1 oz. crumbled feta cheese
ground pepper
1 tsp. olive oil

**In the year since this post was published I have made this salad at least a dozen times. I sometimes skip the olive oil, because the feta coats everything like a dressing. I add a handful of parsley to add bulk and flavor. It’s so tasty, my chef brother added a radish and feta salad to his menu after seeing this photo! 3/27/14

La Brea Boulevard Is On the Move

Drive north or south on La Brea Boulevard and you are going to see the city as you’ve never seen it – or at least as I’ve never seen it – in a frenzy of construction. Multistory wood frames are being nailed together as fast as the red cranes can haul the timber. Fossilized dinosaurs are giving way to stylish opportunities. New shops are turning on their lights. I hope the expansion will breathe life into the businesses that have soldiered through the recession. I decided to walk the length of La Brea to take in the metamorphosis. But, La Brea is a really long, major thoroughfare of our city, so I am going to take it slowly. Here are the moments my camera liked best between 3rd street and Wilshire Boulevard.


La Brea Boulevard, Los Angeles








Cherimoya, the “Ice Cream Fruit”


Have you ever tasted cherimoya? When this heart-shaped, alligator-lookin’ fruit showed up in my produce delivery, I scratched my head. How did I not know its name? Ladies, and gentlemen, this is what a cherimoya looks like. I should have taken a picture of the creamy white interior, punched with dark almond-shaped seeds, but we chowed down instead. It’s nickname, the ice cream fruit, is well-deserved, cherimoya tastes like ice cream, if ice cream grew on trees.

Lake Balboa Cherry Trees In Bloom







You missed it. They are gone. We almost missed it, too. A local news report alerted me to the fact that more than 1000 cherry trees were in bloom around Lake Balboa in Van Nuys. The clouds of pink petals were fleeting, nearly finished with their show when we took my mother-in-law to see them only a few days later. Serene Balboa Park is an emerald in the middle of the San Fernando Valley. We missed the cherry blossoms in their full glory, but I have a feeling the best show happens in a few months, when those trees become heavy with ripe fruit.

Spring Peas Are Here!

Give peas a chance!

Give peas a chance!

Fresh peas are so delicious right out of their shells, they need little else. I prefer them barely cooked and lightly seasoned. None of this “mushy peas” business for me. I fill a produce bag with pea pods as soon as they are abundant at the market, and enlist the husband to help shuck them. It takes half an hour to hull a small bowl’s worth from a mountain of pods, but only two minutes to cook them. I blanche the peas in boiling salted water for about 2 minutes, testing frequently for tenderness. They get a quick toss in olive oil or melted butter and torn mint leaves, and then immediately served into a bowl to arrest the cooking. A little fleur de sel on top makes them sing.

39 Great Grocery Store Foods



The inner aisles of the grocery store should be avoided as much as possible, but what should you do when you need a food product that comes in a box, bag, or can?

If you’ve been following along, you know that my work has something to do with nutrition. From time to time, I go out into the real world to research nutritional values and ingredients in the processed foods people eat. My iPhoto stores hundreds of images like these, hastily snapped fronts and backs of packages.

I find a lot of scary stuff. For example, compare these bread crumb options. Above, we have Progresso’s Plain Bread Crumbs, the ones I grew up eating and until recently was still buying. Holy cow, there is a lot of toxic crap in there. Ian’s Whole Wheat Panko Breadcumbs? No crap. Less crap = better choice. See where we’re going here?

Recently, Rebecca Swanner and I teamed up to find the best foods in the grocery store. We searched high and low for products that have no nitrates, preservatives, fillers, MSG, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and chemicals that do God-knows-what. You can read our findings in this article, 39 Great Grocery Store Foods.



Give a Little Love to My Vision Board

Several hours flipping magazine pages, and many more arranging and pasting went into this year’s vision board. Attempting to give it cosmic good vibes, I started my project on the winter solstice. I felt like that was a good time to turn my attention to shaping my life into something more healthy and abundant. Last year, I displayed my vision board here. I liked that so many people came to Oranges and Avocados to see it, and I felt like they added to the intention.

This year, my vision board exploded in size! I felt my small, quiet life quickly expanding, and I needed more room to dream even bigger. I brought home the largest display board I could find, and stocked up on glue. When I ran out of room, I still had a stack of magazine clippings that demanded to be included. I turned the board over and filled the other side.

To me, it is gorgeous. A wall filled with wishes. But the real beauty in it is that I see that many of the things I wish for and want, are already a part of my life. It is too large to hang in my home, so I am hanging it here. Thanks for stopping to take a look. Your positive energy is appreciated.













Handmade Creme Eggs from Secret Marmalade

Hand-made creme eggs from Secret Marmalade.

Hand-made creme eggs from Secret Marmalade.

These beauties are the first Easter Egg “basket” I’ve received since childhood. I purchased them, but finding the egg carton on my desk this morning made me feel like a kid again. Thank you, Secret Marmalade, for your mad chocolateering skillz.

Speaking of Juice: Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead

I have been telling anyone who will listen about this movie, Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead. I don’t have a fully formed, or informed, opinion of juice fasting yet. However, this heartwarming film speaks volumes to the benefits of green juicing for people who suffer from obesity and the diseases that come with it. Clearly, green juice is a healthy addition to any diet. At the very least the film has inspired me to dramatically increase my fruit intake and is the impetus behind wanting to buy a Nutribullet. You can watch the whole movie for free on Hulu.