Garden Camp

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crafts hung on the tree

We aren’t big camp people.  I never went to overnight camp because my parents were afraid of child molesters and mosquito bites.  Vivien has given me the evil eye, “I’m so not happy with you mommy” stare when I’ve pushed her to go to camp.  The big assemblies and rah, rah, “We are the Mighty Turtles!” cheers shut her down.  While I see a fun day of crafts, and waterplay she sees an over earnest intrusion into her psyche.  Both can be correct.

great camps for kids in LA

popsicles made from the garden

But, last year a friend told us about the  garden camp.  It combined two of my favorite things: nature and old parts of LA that posers who live in Brentwood or dine on Sunset blvd wouldn’t be caught dead in.  Correction, they don’t even know these areas exist.  You see The Garden School Foundation started about 11 years ago to educate Title 1 kids (ie, low income) kids about nature, nutrition, and wearing floppy sunhats.  In the West Adams district of LA, an area famous for beautiful Craftsman homes and the evisceration of LA’s upper class African Americans when the 10 freeway plowed through it’s neighborhood in the 1960’s, sits the 24th street school.  A typical LA unified asphalt covered elementary school.  But, there is a hidden part!  A big one.  A 2 acre garden in the back of the school that abuts the 10 freeway. It is an oasis in the urban jungle.  A drink of water in a concrete desert.  A snow ball in the desert.

There are sweet garden teachers who show the kids how to make humus with a blender powered by a bicycle, how to grow kale and make art with beans..and glue and stuff.

One of my favorite things to this burnt out mom is that you do NOT send them with snack or lunch.  They eat from the garden.  My kids ate salad every day and liked it.  They came home excited to try recipes.   Rex has tried to make a few things since he went.  Do I have to spend 30 minutes cleaning after he does so?  Yes, but at least he is trying!

sweet garden teacher

sweet garden teacher

Vivien even liked it because the groups were small, there was no assembly or cheering. Plus they are OUTSIDE all day.  OUTSIDE around pretty green things, not the outside of their school in Hollywood with homeless, smells of pot and obnoxious billboards.

“I wish school was like this” said Rex.  I wish life was like this.  I could sit in that meandering, folk art strewn garden for hours, even if the hum of the 10 murmurs nearby.

City kids need any bit of nature they can get.

what’s a matter with that ladies face?

4 days after surgery

4 days after surgery (photos nicely done by http://www.nylaportraits.com/)

 

 I had an eye job.  Let’s get that straight right from the start. I wasn’t beaten by my husband or in a car accident. I get that you might wince or feel empathetic pain looking at these photos but when they were taken a few days after my surgery I felt fine.  A little tired from the pain meds, but considering I had my face cut open, pretty good.

could have been in season 3 of Daphne Dishes!

could have been in season 3 of Daphne Dishes!

 

I had been thinking about doing this for a while.  I can see dwindling collagen and gravity were altering a few things on my face… and other places.   Finding out my show wasn’t renewed seemed like a good time.  Don’t need to be in front of the camera’s any time soon.  I’m not going to apologize or feel I have to justify it. In the grand scheme of things it’s not such a big deal.  In an age of self transformation from multiple piercing to transgender, who really cares about a middle aged lady fixing a saggy eyelid?

 

Yet, when women do it ( and men too) they hide.  Why?  I’m greatly influenced by my brief time living in Miami.  Miami is populated with lots of South Americans.  Maybe because Brazil is in the top 10 of countries with plastic surgery ( South Korea is number one)  Or maybe because Miami is a city you can reinvent yourself, but people walk around with some bruising.  People say, “oh, did you get the fat pocket surgery?  I’m thinking of doing that.”  It’s no big deal.

 

Why not be open?  People will judge me for it, but I judge the sloppy dressed lady behind me at the supermarket.  I cringe at  pierced septums, I fixate on mucus hanging from their hoop when they have a cold.  I’m startled when I see a neck tattoo.  So judge away.

While these pictures are a bit alarming I’m glad we took them because by the next day a lot of the bruising had receded.  Moms at school would remark, “It’s really gone down.”  and “I’ve never seen anyone out after surgery, everybody hides.” I’m outspoken and honest to a fault.  It’s gotten me in trouble.  A lot.  But, the flip side is this is my authentic self.  When my friend Cheryl sent me the photos she took she said, “they are vulnerable and funny, like you.”  I think it’s why comedy resonates with me.  I’ll make fun of myself before you can.  Funny people are famously a bit dark.  Yep. Think that’s true.  See my mangled face!  Bwahhh.

 

The question I get asked the most is ,”Did it hurt?”  A bit, but not much. I did it without general anesthesia.  Partly because I find recovering from that difficult, and partly because not doing it saved me $2,500.   I took two xanaxs, a vicodin, an antibiotic and a few minutes later as I was getting woozy my doctor started shooting me up with lidocaine around my eyes.  That kinda hurt, about like a botox shot feels on your forehead.  That was maybe 30 seconds, then I fell asleep.  When I woke up my husband was there ( I took a cab solo to the procedure, no use someone waiting around).  That was when I had the most pain.  I felt throbbing soreness around my eyes.  They gave me a pain pill and by the time I was in our car I felt nothing.  I slept propped up and my husband dutifully woke me up every 4 hours to give me the meds so I could stay ahead of the pain. He also woke me up at dinner time to give me a bowl of homemade Carbonara pasta.  My favorite!  “Hmm, this is good.” I ate a small bowl and passed out again.  By the next day I was feeling better.

 

Now, it’s not without problems.  Mostly because I’m taking an opiate for pain and I went cold turkey one day.  At that point the pain could be controlled with a little Advil, but I started to slip into Kurt Cobain like depression.  I called my husband who said, “Go take a half pill, you have to wean yourself.”  Which I did over the next few days.  Between the surgery and pills I was a bit more emotional than normal.  

I'm bruised, but still your wacky mom

I’m bruised, but still your wacky mom

I had prepped my kids that I was going to look like Frankenstein when I got home.  They were fascinated to see the stitches on my eyelids.  They are pretty grizzly looking at first.  The lower lids were artfully stitched up on my lash line so they were unrecognizable. The uppers, yikes! My kids liked helping with my cold compresses the first few days, and later the warm ones.  They let me sleep the first two days.  Then they wanted mom on the go again bruised or not.  Kids roll with it.

 

call me crazy, but I love this picture

call me crazy, but I love this picture

I hear,  “ I didn’t think you needed this.”  Well, thanks friend/family/dude at gas station.  That’s kinder than saying “I wondered when you were going to tighten that up!”  But, I didn’t do it for anyone else.  I did it for me. My own selfish, self centered, vain self.    It got to the point that when I put on liquid eye liner on my top lid it would end up near my eyebrows as my drooping lid would fall and catch it. When I smiled a ridge of flesh like a caterpillar was forming under my eyes, especially my right one. It bugged me.  So, the doctor removed some skin at the bottom and artfully stitched me up on my lower lash line.  Very well done.  Harder and longer to heal is the upper lids.  A month later all bruising is gone, but I still have flesh bumps on my lid where the stitches were.  They say it can take 6 months for the swelling to completely go away and for it to settle.  I hope so, because of after the hassle and expense of this I do want to look refreshed. That’s why I thought I needed this.

 

I get the resistance, but  I didn’t think that pretty girl at the sandwich shop should have put that large tattoo on her shoulder and gauges in her ears, but she didn’t ask me.  

no make up?, that's just the start

no make up?, that’s just the start

Don’t worry I tell friends, I’m not going to become the cat lady and change the plane of my face and have puffy lips.  At some point, I will go gently into the aging process, a lineless 80 year old might be unnerving.  But for right now I just want to look a smidge more like the lady I’ve been staring at for years.   I’m not justifying, I’m explaining and I want to support anyone who has done this or wants to.  If you saved your acorns to do it, good for you. We all have our reasons, and they are our own.

sweet ’16

Happy New Year!!

Resolution easy to keep:  DVR the reruns of my show “Daphne Dishes” on Food Network starting Jan 2nd, Saturday 8am.

Hello New Year!  before shooting a scene on Daphne Dishes

Hello New Year! before shooting a scene on Daphne Dishes

Check it out, pleeze and got to the site and find recipes you might like HERE

Before I get out of town taping a cooking segment on the always delightful Home and Family on Hallmark channel.  Airs Jan 4th

If if does well again I might get a 3rd season which will keep me from having that mid life crisis that I have on my “maybe To do” list.

I’m breaking out a bit and taking my first ever, trip for me for no real concrete reason ( work, wedding) and going out of town with a bestie.  I was so nervous about leaving children and husband, but once I announced that I wanted to do this they all seemed pretty non plussed.  So, goes to show you limitations are so often OUR OWN creation.  I hope I can retain this lesson for 2016 and breakout out more in other areas of my life as well.

Have a great 2016!!

Bomb Threat day

Well, here in Los Angeles us  public school folks have our kids home due to a bomb threat.  Mark and I were doing the “NOW, we really have to get out of bed now” chatter.  I was walking downstairs in my ugly, comfortable slippers and nightgown to make coffee when Rex yelled, “mommy, you have a call.”  He knows if he wakes up really early I’m so desperate to keep sleeping I will give him my phone and he gets screen time.

Who would be calling this early?  Oh, maybe my neighbor to see if we can take her son to school today.

No, a robo call from LAUSD saying school is closed because of a “credible threat”.  All this before coffee. Hey, what??  But, we are in a charter so does this apply to us?  A flurry of calls and texts.  Yes, it does.

I go to tell Vivien who didnt’ want to wake up. “no school today”  Yeah, she cheered from her pillow. The new snow day.

A mom sent an email out that she would be happy to take some kids if moms had to work.  I did the same.  Within an hour two were dropped at my door and my neighbor came down later with her son.  As we tried to get three first grade boys to do homework I thought, as I have thought many times, how do teachers do this?  Exhausting.

I think it’s all a bit creepy and maybe alarmist.  I really hope this is not the new normal.  I hope at worst we look back on this like we do the old ’50’s duck and cover videos. lausd the new duck and cover? Those seem funny not because we now longer have nuclear bombs, but because it seems so foolish to think hiding under a desk would save you.

Course last year  I did hide under a wood lectern when a gunman came into the building I was in.  So I know how terrifying it is to be involved in a shooting.  I bet the schools would have been okay, but I of kind don’t blame officials for being a bit jumpy.

Side note:  I’m doing much better with my pneumonia.. been a month and two days.  I am still deaf in one ear, and have a TB cough, but MUCH better.  Trying to take it easy so I don’t relapse, but I did go to a holiday ball I help put on at our women’s club and it was so fun to get dolled up and feel like a person again.. or at least out of my nightgown!

at dinner with one bf's and "second husband" Jasen

at dinner with one bf’s and “second husband” Jasen

 

brain draino

As I lie in bed.. and I’m not going to lie.. lying in bed for a month, I’ve lost weight and I like it.  Look for my new book “Do nothing, lose weight.”

cover of upcoming book

cover of upcoming book

Anyway as I lie in bed and read the paper and the internet it’s hard to not feel dread and sadness at the shootings, at Trump’s hate speech, feel like the world is going to hell in a hand basket.  What helps me is not to stay in the macro, but to also look at the micro. Let me offer you some brain draino from the negative of the day.

In my micro world I’ve been humbled by the goodness of friends of neighbors helping me and my kids while I have been sick.  The first week when I thought it was a bad cold it was hard to make sense of what was going on .  Mark was still rushing off to work per normal.  I got pretty upset and emotional.  “I can’t do what I normally do.”  I can’t be the one who makes breakfast and school lunches everyday.  I would have filed for divorce if I could have gotten out of bed.  The fevers where making me loopy.  I wasn’t sure of my thoughts. I was so tired I could barely get to the bathroom.

Slowly, he started to step up, but there are still gaps when he is gone and week two I was much worse.  I texted a neighbor, “can you please bring me soup and feed my kids?”  I didn’t know I could do such a thing.

food made with love tastes the best

food made with love tastes the best

So  desperate an ask.  But she came over with soup for me and took my kids to her house for a few hours where she made them dinner and they had a good time.  She continued to bring tea or soup over the next several days.  I just gave her my key.  I wasn’t going anywhere.

I had to punt Thanksgiving to my sisters.  I cabbed over for about an hour, but I was a zombie at the table.  I thought I would have made my creamed spinach, my cheese pinwheels..but was a feverish day dream.

Days kind of blurred. Another neighbor texted, “may I bring you dinner?”  Please.  Meanwhile another neighbor whose son is at our school was picking up my kids almost everyday.how to bring food to the sick

I think people think if people are married they are covered, but “it’s takes a village” is a real statement.  It’s not it takes a nuclear family.  When I’m healthy I need my friendships, I need the camaraderie of the world and certainly when I’m sick I’ve learned my level of need.  I knew I had to go back to the doctor ( I went early and I tested negative for everything).  I decided I would call a cab and get to the Sunday clinic when they opened.  My friend Anya came over with a big tea pot and said, “I will be here at 8am and take you.”  I said, only if you promise to leave because the stress of her waiting with me would get to me.  I don’t want to be burden.

at the doctor's they asked me to put this on. My Tinder photo?

at the doctor’s they asked me to put this on. My Tinder photo?

She drove me the next morning while my family slept and sure enough the doctor said, “pneumonia”. I got some antibiotics and the fevers lessened.

Long story, but I needed to go to my regular doctor the next day to adjust the meds.  An uber took me there and back.  I love just being able to lie down in the back seat.  Money well spent.  I got the right medications.

A friend texted me, “anything I can do?”  Yes, can you get chicken tenders from Vons for my kids?”  I had soup, but I needed a ringer for my kids and I couldn’t stand let alone cook.  Now, at this point you might say, Daphne, aren’t you married to a chef?  Couldn’t he have made a week of meals for your kids that you could heat up in his absence?  But, friends that’s how I ended up with a cooking show on the Food Network.daphne dishes  I am the cook of the house.  Mark is still annoyed that the kids don’t want some fancy multi part dish he would like when they really want butter noodles.  Plus, when you cook for a living I don’t think you do at home. I don’t know.   I needed to figure out work arounds. This same friend brought some take out a few days later which I made about 4 days worth of meals out of.  By the way, ones appetite is pretty dinky on pneumonia.

My  sister Cecily took Vivien to a Christmas event I couldn’t make.

good aunt

good aunt

My mom came and hung with the kids because I started to worry that they were alone too much.  My kids have been so kind to me.  They haven’t complained.  Vivien fills my pot of tea.  Rex gives me massages.  One weekend Mark took Rex to a long planned father son camp.

won the first two heats of the box car race

won the first two heats of the box car race

One of those nights I got Vivien a sleep over so I could totally rest.  I knew I was no fun, not able to help with homework, zippo, so I kept wanting to find my kids fun time, company.

I was also fortunate to be friends with an Eastern Doctor who makes house calls.  So, I got acupuncture which helped open my breathing and relax me. She gave me some herbs and pro biotics that erased some side symptoms I was having.

Week 4.. I’m much better, but weak.  I drove to school for parent teacher conference.  Walking in and out of campus.  Talking for an hour my chest hurt.  I felt light headed. I went back to bed.  The kids and Mark went to get the tree.  “help us decorate the tree mommy?”  I can’t.  I got some boxes out and lay on the couch.  “Okay, unspool the lights and walk them around.”  I directed.  I’m so proud of 2014 Daphne, she organized the lights and ornaments for 2015 Daphne. organized christmas So, it’s not just about taking care of others when you can.  Take care of yourself!  Because you don’t know when you will be broke down and your stronger self can help out.  I was so proud of them.  They did the whole tree. I just had to stand on a chair and put the star on, that’s it.trimming the tree

As this was going on a dear old friend ( more than 20 years) showed up with three different entrees.  Home made mac and cheese ( fab) home made chicken soup and a frozen chicken curry.  Also from her kitchen.  It’s people like this that make me strive to be a better friend, a better person.

So, when you read the bad things let’s remember that most people are good.  That if we ask for help it comes!  For years Mark and later I too have done some fund raising for Meals on Wheels.  Man, I really get it know. Being a homebound, elderly person with no one visiting you but a sweet person bearing food.  That would make quite a difference in your life.   I don’t need any presents under my tree I already got more than I could ask for.

The Italian Tampon

As I’ve written about we we lucky to go to Italy this summer.  What can you say about Italy that hasn’t already been said?  The food is sublime, the language is beautiful.  Contribution to the art world is deep.  The lifestyle, the wine!  Bellissimo.

However on my trip there was one Italian thing I did struggle with.  This is my story

Prosaic adventures in Italy

More on that Europe thing. No, not the humanitarian crisis, just my little trip.. right before the pudding hit the fan.  There are the instagramable moments when you travel abroad, but there are more that are not.  So often travel is more about all the little bits inbetween the “Hey Facebook friends, look where we are” moments.

So, beside Milan expo we stayed in a villa ( we were lucky to be asked to be there) North of Milan in the Lombardy region.  The first 3 days we were very jet lagged and their was a wicked heat wave. jet lagged with kids So despite the fact that we were in Italy. We barely moved.  The kids and I in particular stayed low and I perfected my Cacio de pepe.  ( buttery spaghetti with parmesan and black pepper)italy with kids

 

I did spend a fair amount of time in Italian grocery stores.  Most excitedly I learned there Rex is a supermarket tycoon!  Rex supermarkets in Italy

The non fancy grocery stores have such nicer food than we have in US markets.  They don’t have has large a variety, but what they have is great.  Fresh pasta galore, great meats, Vitello tonnato at the ready.  Yum.  They do organize things differently.  We were all confused that toilet paper and paper towels where on opposite sides of the store.  To us, it’s all paper.  To them they probably think, oh, gross, why put your hand towels next to butt towels.

Because of heat and jet lag I wanted to lay low the first day, but had to rally. Mark and I and his business partner needed to go to a chef event associated with the expo.  My luggage had been lost (found a day later) so I borrowed my sister in laws shoes and dress.  My feet are smaller so combined with cobblestone sidewalk I went down.  Hard.  A kind woman came running up as I lay spread eagled on the ground and she asked in English “Are you okay?  Do you need some water?”

Are American’s known klutzses? Is that why she spoke English?

We naively drove and drove around the expo for about an hour looking in vain for a place to park.   Well laid out highways, big, new asphalt parking lots.  But, no room at the inn for us.  This is a “sustainable” event which made parking unattainable.  We were told by guards the only parking must be made by reservation online.   I thought, oh, but SURELY, like would happen in the States, there is some scrappy entrepeneur who will flag us down and sell us a space on his brother in laws lawn for $40  ( exactly what happened to me once when I tried to go to a Trojan game).  After an hour we would have paid anything.  We couldn’t figure it out.  We finally sort park/abandoned it in a corporate area, and grabbed a cab.  Luckily we weren’t towed. When we got to the Expo I blabbed to every English speaking Italian I could pigeon hole “what’s with making parking so hard?  Why is no one trying to turn a buck here?”

They shrugged, “It isn’t done.” (one of those I am so AMERICAN moments)

The next time we went we made a reservation, but the parking was more than a mile away with Rex’s little legs and my little crankiness it was not ideal

parking for expo milano

now this is a parking structure!

The third time was the charm  I searched and searched online and found a parking lot that promised a shuttle to the expo.  When we finally found the lot it looked like it was semi abandoned space ( good I thought, it’s these kind of areas that have reasonable priced parking.) Manned by two immigrants… I think East Asians (Yes, scrappy Immigrants, this is what I’m use to).  “Where is the shuttle?” Over there they kept gesturing.  Apparently,
“shuttle” must be Italian toward “walk that way”.  We used our divine trust in enterprising immigrants and walked.

Seriously, this is the way to the big international event?

Seriously, this is the way to the big international event?

It looked like we were headed toward a freeway.  But, lo and behold, once we rounded the top of the ramp.  There was the entrance to the expo! Eureka.

When the heat broke we did explore Lombardy.  Major highlights:  A cooking class with a real down home Italian chef.  A wonderful woman named Giovanna.  I highly recommend her class if you are ever in the area and in general it’s a great thing to do so that you feel connected to where you are.  cooking class in lombardyOur group of family was a diverse group of professional chef, Mark to Vivien, to a friend of my niece who can’t boil water.  We all enjoyed it and learned.  The great thing too about cooking is while there was a language barrier between our teacher and us, it didn’t matter.  We spoke a different language.

Watch out Food world.  Vivien was very good

Watch out Food world. Vivien was very good

Then we sat in her lovely garden and ate the food, drank wine.  Perfecto.

Our day in Lake Como was also a perk.  So many places in Italy are over run with tourists but not here.  We took a boat up and down the lake.lake como with kidsThe wind, the light rain starting as we looked out on the vista. It was exhilarating.  Everyone always looks better with a wind machine. mark and daphne in italy

But, you look even better as an action star! how to be an action star

Speaking of stars.Yes, I did see George Clooney’s house. But, I’m not saying where it is.  I’m a degree away from someone who once stayed there.

I said how I wished we’d find a good wine store.  Mark found an enoteca online.  Charming place that gave me MANY tastes. enoteca in lake como I wanted to take some wine back to the house where we were staying with many others, but I didn’t want to schlep back to the car.  Then they said one of the workers could bike it back to our car.  Oh, well, then I’ll buy a case.

Vivien guards  the wine

Vivien guards to the wine

When it comes to wine I’m an old world sipper.  The California wines that were big, bold, oaky, buttery 1990’s wines.. NO thanks.  I’ll take a dry, crisp, mineral vino.  I like Italian wines.. but I LOVE French wines.  Of course, lot’s of California wines have improved since the old buttery days.

Another moment when I felt my Americanist come over is when I was driving in Italy.  Stick of course, small, winding roads.  Our Tom-tom would say every few Seconds “make a right in 400 meters, go around the roundabout, make a left in 500 meters, make a right in 300 meters, go around the roundabout.”  I think round abouts a great idea, but I was muttering, Ah, my kindgdom to just be able to gun it down a long straight away!  The 101 heading into Ventura!  The other problem with the small, windy roads was some of us got car sick.  Then I’m trying to spot from the road what looks like the “Italian Target” so I can get a change of clothes for the sickie.

Yeah, I guess there are moments that are not instagramable.

 

colon diaries

I know what you are thinking, Daphne, how is your colon?

As some of you may recall while filming season 2 of Daphne Dishes for the Food Network ( Oh, Please food god let their be a season 3, pls, pls pls) I was hit with a bowel tornado.  As I made delicious food that I eventually couldn’t swallow it was found that I had C-diff.  A perfect storm of too many antibiotics and picking a germ that KILLED the good bacteria in my gut.  It lead to some misadventures like getting locked in a bathroom at UCLA hospital.

you would never know, but this was the day it hit.  Filming Daphne Dishes at Santa Monica Pier "Food that scare you"

you would never know, but this was the day it hit. Filming Daphne Dishes at Santa Monica Pier “Food that scare you”

So, 3 rounds of medication later I’m about to set sail ( fly) to Italy.  Again, I prayed, “Please let me eat in Italy, pls, pls, pls) Maybe it was the meds, the chinese herb tea, the acupuncture, the begging, the mediterranean heat, but I did well.  I did not need to rush to the Toilet, I did not have super grinding pain.  I had some pain with beef, cheese and more pain with raw vegi’s.

So, lucky me I enjoyed the trip.  Now, when I come back I see the specialist I had booked months ago.  He is a big booster of the fecal transplant.   So, get this.  A company has monetized crap. It goes and finds the best crap. Tests it for bad…stuff.. then freezes it. So if I were to get this done, if the C-diff returns, I would have a colonoscopy and this ice cube of crap would be put deep into my intestine.  It is said to work very well.

In October this same company has a new pill coming out basically full of crap.  I would have to go to the doctors office, take 30 pills with lots of water. Then come back the next day and do it again.  So, swallow someone’s doo, or have it put in my back side.

For, now I don’t have to decide as I’m mending. (pls,pls, pls)

By the way, all those who tell you to lose weight by not eating carbs?  Bread was virtually the only thing I could eat with C-diff for weeks. I lost 10 lbs.my diet since I got sick and I’ve  I knew that was … crap.

back to school photo

Of course I’m going to post a picture of my kids going back to school.

Rex 1st grade!

Vivien 5th grade.. hate how that is the last year of elementary school now.

I’m glad I will able to work uninterrupted and go to a couple of yoga classes, but the return of frantic time is not great.  I like sleeping in till 8am with Rex snuggling next to me.  Not the frantic dash and the battle over lunch.

“I’m making you the ham sandwich you liked last week.”

“I don’t want it”

“I can make you the pasta you liked?”

” I don’t want that”

“Then you are having hot lunch”

“what is it?”

” pizza”

” I don’t want it.”

I have warned them this year, tough, if you don’t like the first choice I give you eat hot lunch and deal with it.  I like the lunch fine.  Way better than when I was in school pealing back the foil top, steamy something up my nose.

So yeah, I love seeing everyone’s kids in their back to school best and seeing how much bigger they are.  But, parent’s need their own back to school pic.

So, here is my back to school pic.moms back to school

 

“We are going to be late, hurry up,  I don’t want to get a tardy,  Cody got out.  Rex, find your shoes!  Vivien you are lollygagging.”

 

What would yours look like??

#IalreadyMissSummer

Home from Epic trip

I didn’t think we would be able to take a trip like this. perfect italian villa But, certain forces conspired to help us have an Epic European trip.

Look ma I'm in front of the Duomo in Milan, oh yeah Ma, you are taking the picture

Look ma I’m in front of the Duomo in Milan, oh yeah Ma, you are taking the picture

I’m going to pick out one part today.

My darling husband spoke at the USA Pavilion about dining trends in the USA,front of usa pavilionedible garden at usa pavillion

My wife told me to wear this shirt, wait that's not what I was talking about!

My wife told me to wear this shirt, wait that’s not what I was talking about!

at the Milan Expo. In THE Milan, you know, the one in Italy.  By the way the Expo is an underated attraction. Sure there are some odd translations here and there, but it’s a coming together of countries across the globe to entertain, feed and educate the world… well, mostly Italians in this case, but I felt really lucky to get to be one of the people there. This is what the world’s fairs of old have morphed into. Remember “Meet me in St Louis”?  This was Meet me in Milan.  Every five years a country hosts and the host country picks the theme.  Last time it was China and the subject was “Clean Cities”.  Which I know if very important, but sounds as sexy as a flushing toilet.  The Italians hosted and they picked food, or rather feeding the world.   I had assumed in our jaded, TV, social media age the quaintness of the world coming together for education and recreation would be over.  But, oh no.  It felt like the United Nations meets Disneyland.  It runs through October and just in case you can get there I would advise you go.

spoiler alert: it will affect the food supply

poster for Expo

We visited different countries, ones that we know, France.. great food, natch.  Holland… which had a ferris wheel restaurant.

why didn't we think of this?

why didn’t we think of this?

The most charming, whimsical eating experience I’ve ever taken part in.  The kids and I got in, thinking it just and old ride and then the lady said, “no, would you like some wine or beer?”  Well, yeah, sure.  I sipped Rose as we went around, next round we got Rex a grilled cheese, then another round or two a sweet crepe.  It went very slowly. We loved it.  Another little food truck at the Holland area was offering “Silent Disco”, okay, what is that?  Dancing with myself! I love the irreverence.silent disco

funniest sign at expo

is that what the kids are calling it now?

Each country had a different take on the theme of feeding the world. USA took it seriously.  As we walk up there entrance of usa pavilionwas President Obama on a loop saying we have to figure out how will we feed 9 billion people by 2050?  I got choked up.  From seeing homefolk abroad and the enormity of that proposition. Then you walk at your pace to different  areas where there are video presentations from chefs, farmers, etc talk about how they are trying to create food that is sustainable.  It was educational, and important, yet I couldn’t help but be amused when I saw that USA had one of the odder translations at the Expo

We went to places we’ve never been, Turkey ( best tasting rice), Estonia ( one of our faves… when do we go), Poland, Russia ( impressive, but we were NOT going buy the Putin T shirts), Bolivia ( a mini pavilion in the are with countries who didn’t speak the mega bucks) and places we are unlikely to ever go, Iran, Zimbabwe.

Strangley there was a big pavilion for Sudan.  I didn’t get to it, but I was curious.. how are they feeding their people with civil war?  But, that’s what’s interesting about the Expo.  You get a lot for your travel dollar.  A sampler of countries and culture.  I said the the man I bought tea and spice from in Iran Pavilion, “I feel like I’m doing something illegal to be here.”  He said, the government is not the people, that Iranian people love Americans.  I didn’t want to belabor watching the hostage crisis as a child.  Let’s move on.

Russia had clearly spent some rubles on their pavilion.

Back in the (former) USSR

Back in the (former) USSR

 

russian pavilion

cool mirrored over hang at entrance to Russian Pavilion

By the way, USA was the only pavilion that was privately funded ( Source: USA pavilion).  Russia showed off it’s grains and grain based beverages if you know what I mean.  There was a line to sample some Russian delicacy they were handing out.  I thought of making a joke about Soviet era bread lines, but thought better of it.  Makes me seem older than I am the way  I know history.  Rex really wanted to go to the top of the pavilion which was hot, so we didn’t stay long.  The roof top was partly given over to a Sky bar like cocktail lounge where the vodka was available.top of russian pavilion

 

We were most moved by the former Soviet bloc countries.  There is an earnestness there.  As if they are saying , “We survived Nazi’s, Soviet Union and now we are HERE!”  They really celebrate their food, dance, customs.  The Polish were very smart.  They thought of EVERYTHING.  People will be tired, okay, big couches in front so people can relax.  While there a stage with music and stunts by off road cyclist, which is a big deal in Poland.. who knew?  Everyone will want to charge their phones.  Free charging stations.  Free cotton candy made to order.

forget the jokes, the Poles are smart

forget the jokes, the Poles are smart

That’s before we even walked in!  There was a beautiful upstairs garden surrounded by mirrors. Showcasing what grows in Poland.  Rex went twice, “mommy, this is enchanting.”  It was. IMG_3678 Mark noticed we were there just in time for a Chopin concert by an award winning Polish pianist.

go Poland

go Poland

We listened entranced.  Later the same spot was used to show wordless videos of different Polish chefs cooking.  It was probably the most beautiful food photography I’ve ever seen.  Rex and I didn’t want to leave and only did so because Viv and Mark were downstairs in the cafe waiting for us.

getting lots of ideas in case there is a season 3

getting lots of ideas in case there is a season 3

They had a 3-d movie of the history of Poland in about 8 minutes they covered over a thousand years.  Spoiler alert, lots of wars.  They showed what they produced, great water, grain, vodka.  They had beads for the kids to make bracelets.  They had a Chocolate Village!

I can smell it now

I can smell it now

It was good propaganda… We walked out impressed and ready to fly to Poland. Lord knows they have been through a LOT and keep trucking.

I know what you are thinking: How was the Estonia pavilion?  Swinging good time!

Swings that go in and outdoors

Swings that go in and outdoors

Did you know that swings are big there?  Well, they had swings on every level.  One way you were indoors, the next you were out.  Great little sandwiches at their cafe too.  Plus, they know sometimes you just need to crash.

relaxing..like an Estonian

relaxing..like an Estonian

 

From there we went to the Vatican pavilion. It was small, but was basically pictures and videos of the poor throughout the world.  While one can feed their face at the other places The Vatican asks us to consider those who do not have enough food.  Then you get a complimentary pope magnet when you leave. My kids curled their lip at it.  I had made them finish their cotton candy before they entered and all they got was this dudes blessing?   Um, did you see that kids don’t have food..?  Okay, let’s keep moving

In Zimbabwe I spoke to a nice man there about his country.  They had a yummy soda that was from some plant they have there.  They also had some hand cream.

“why is it all written in Italian?”

Him, “No one was going to buy the Zimbabwe cream, but our ingredients manufactured in Italy, people like that better.”  Makes sense. We show how we are ready to embrace the culture for a few minute and not get into the into any dictator talk kids love zimbabwe at milan expo

They were in the area with smaller pavilions.  Next door was Bolivia

talk about your instagramable moment!

talk about your instagramable moment!

 

I went for 3 days and didn’t scratch the surface.  The kids were with me for 2 of the days and they loved it.  While there were bigger message in some places, a lot of pavilions featured their local cuisine more than weighty issues.  Rice from Turkey, is a winner.  Best I’ve ever had

Hmm, Turkish rice

Hmm, Turkish rice

 

Turkey had a pretty outdoor pavilion,

Turkish Delight

Turkish Delight

though the first day I was there it was 100 degrees

it's so hot

it’s so hot

and I ran to..well, crawled to the French pavilion which had air con and the best beet soup I’ve ever had.

We all enjoyed the Iran pavilion.

Undercover in Iran..pavilion

Undercover in Iran..pavilion

Though their exhibit was wanting.. some herbs, a little music, yawn, but they had a great shop and we got cool spices, tea and cross cultural connection.  I said to the nice man working there, “I feel like I’m doing something wrong by being here,”  He seemed optimistic about US Iran relations improving if the Nuclear issue was soon to be resolved ( full disclosure.. I have next to no opinion on it).  “Iranians love Americans.”  I told him how I love the Iranians in LA.  Nice people, great tea, good sports in soccer ( I left out that I hate the remodeling some have done in Beverly Hills).  It was a people to people moment like Eisenhower had once envisioned. eisenhower people to people

Which is really kind of why the Milan Expo is so great.  Because I don’t have the time, money, energy, shots to go to all the countries represented here, but I get a little taste of them.  Well, actually since I think I ate my weight in food while I was there I also got to taste the diverse, delicious food of our world.  Hopefully, it will sustain us.