Monthly Archives: July 2016

sea salt + hot honey ice cream

sea salt + hot honey ice cream | the original mb

I’d like to start this post by stating the obvious: photographing ice cream is a skilled man’s game; it’s über tricky. I’d give my attempt a 4.5 out of 10. Just being honest. However, the flavor of this easy, no-churn ice cream trumps all of that. It’s sooo creamy and thick and yummy. This, I’ve succeeded at. I found the recipe on Pinterest (surprise!) and I knew I had to try it. People! This was so easy! I’ve made 3 different ice cream batches since this one and they’ve all been amazing. The recipe requires a mixer, a few ingredients and a freezer. Done and done. The only tweak I made was using my hot honey instead of regular honey. I love it when spicy meets sweet. I’m telling you this flavor combination works! If you’re a salted caramel fan this ice cream should be added to your To Do list. Like, now. Do it. Write it down. Thank me later.

hot honey

hot honey | the original mb

While cruising Pinterest a while back I came upon this recipe for hot honey. I like spicy, I like heat, so I thought it would be fun to give this recipe a try. Plus, it was super simple. Your girl’s not much for the complicated stuff; if it has more than like 5 steps I’m out! I made two different batches: one with Red Fresno and Anaheim chili peppers and one with Jalapeño and Hungarian Wax peppers. I only used 1 pepper of each variety but I think next time I’d use more. The chilis added a hint of flavor and heat to the honey but not enough in my opinion. Still, I drizzle this honey on buttered toast, I use it in marinades, and I even made it a star ingredient in some homemade ice cream recently! I’ll be posting about that later. Next go round I’m thinking habañero honey might be the ticket. ¡Olé!

a birth story

a birth story | the original mb

a birth story | the original mb

a birth story | the original mb

a birth story | the original mb

Alright, alright this post is way overdue. I’ve wanted to get my version of JJ’s birth story down in writing since he was born. It’s a story that I’m always eager and proud to share because I had an amazing delivery experience.  I feel that it’s appropriate for Jude to claim 50% of the credit and for me to take the other 50%. If I’ve learned anything from this childbearing adventure it’s that genetics, timing, and plain ol’ luck play a huge part in this mystical & intense series of events. Preparation, health and attitude lie on the other side of that coin. Okay, enough of that. Here goes…

DISCLAIMER: If you do not enjoy reading about childbirth in all of its glory, do NOT proceed. I’m holding nothing back and this is some real woman s*#! we’re talking about. #kthxbye

As my due date approached I tried all of the old gimmicks to kick my body into labor. Eating spicy foods, exercise, visualization, raspberry leaf tea, membrane stripping, the works! I was sooooo ready to get things started. At 39 weeks (to the day) I began to have some mild cramping and spotting. I spent the day with H doing our usual stuff and at night we went out on a movie date. When we got home we watched some TV to wind down and went to bed around 2 or 3 am. I woke up not long after because I just couldn’t fall asleep. I’d been subject to some pretty horrific heartburn towards the end of my pregnancy so this wasn’t exactly anything new. I got up out of bed and went to watch some TV. I remember that I binged episode after episode of Genevieve’s Renovation and snacked on Uncrustables until the sun came up. The downside, of course, was the heartburn, cramping and insomnia… but the upside was the beautiful, peaceful sunrise that I got to watch that morning. As time ticked by I started to feel things a bit more. More cramping, more discomfort – mostly in my lower back. I kept googling symptoms of labor because I wasn’t fully convinced that it was happening. I’d heard so much about Braxton Hicks and false labor starts so I really didn’t want to jump the gun. I let Holly sleep through the night like a good little wife. (You’re welcome, babe! 😉 )When I started going back and forth to the bathroom I began to wonder if this was really it. I couldn’t tell if I just really had to go or if it was just cramping. The pain started to increase enough that I couldn’t find relief. I just kept pacing and bending over to lean on the furniture. At this point, I decided to wake Holly up. It was around 6 am when I went into the bedroom and shook her awake. I said “I think I might be in labor.” She sprang out of bed and began to ask a bunch of questions. I remember still not being 100% sure that I was actually in labor. She calmly called our doula and the hospital to let them know. As she went about packing and preparing the vomiting started. This might be TMI but every time I vomited (which was maybe about 3 or 4 times?) there would be an uncontrollable amount of liquid that came out of me. Still not sure to this day whether it was pee or just fluid in general. My water hadn’t broken yet thought, that came later. Things began to intensify and H, bless her heart, attempted to perform some of the comfort measures that we learned in birth class. Unfortunately though, it just wasn’t in the cards. She’d start rubbing my back and I’d promptly stand up and lurch my way to another room. I couldn’t escape the ever-increasing pain and I kept trying to quite literally run away from it. I couldn’t stay still! So, Holly diligently went about her business  while I labored independently. At one point she made herself french pressed coffee and I shot her a glare. Like, really?! I’m over here in labor with your child and you’re in the kitchen having a snack and a warm beverage? The moment passed quickly though and my focus was brought back to the pain in my back. Aside from the mass exodus of all fluids and waste from my body the main problem was my back. Alllll in the back. Nowhere else. Also, I was tired because I hadn’t slept at all that night. I started to complain quite a bit but still labored quietly. As she was instructed to do, H tried to get me to eat and drink. I wouldn’t. I couldn’t. She kept trying to get a read on the timing of my contractions but I couldn’t pinpoint them at all which didn’t help things. I later found out that this is common when you have back labor because the pain just sits there the entire time. There is less of a contraction wave and more of a constant, increasing pain in your lower back instead. It was all getting too serious now and I wanted to head to the hospital. Holly stalled. In hindsight I now know that Holly was concerned because it was a Monday during rush hour and we had to cross the Bay Bridge. Also, first time labor doesn’t usually progress that quickly so she was being told by the hospital and everyone else that we had time. So, she stalled. I started to demand that we go. Eventually she said OK and we went downstairs and she loaded the car. I got into the backseat since our doula Ali was on her way to our house.  I think we spent like 15 minutes in the car. I don’t quite remember but I reeeaalllyyy wanted to get to the hospital. Waiting was torture and at around this point I began to sink into what I call the “zone.” What I mean by that is that I entered into a phase where all details, facts, feelings, etc are very fuzzy when I try to recollect. I was no longer cognizant. All of my focus and energy were on the pain in my back and trying to breathe through that pain; trying to deal. When I hear H’s version of the story it’s amazing how many things happened that I was completely unaware of. Our minds do this by design and it’s incredible to experience this very primal coping mechanism firsthand. Ali hopped into the front seat of our car and we hit the road around 9:30 am. While in the car I moaned and shifted around. Car safety rules went right out the window! I climbed around the car like a dog in the back seat, trying to find comfort. I remember Ali and Holly cheerfully chatting in the front seat. The drive (thankfully!) didn’t take long and we arrived at the hospital by 10ish. Holly dropped us off out front and Ali wheeled my miserable butt up to L&D. Now, safely at the hospital, I didn’t hold back. I BEGGED for pain relief. I remember saying “my back, my back my back” over and over broken-record style. You guys, the pain in my back was killer. I can’t express it enough nor can I really explain how it felt. It was all-consuming, we’ll just put it that way. During my entire labor I didn’t feel anything anywhere else. I was probed and checked and stuck with needles over the course of my labor but I didn’t feel any of it. Just the agony in my lower back. I got to triage pretty quickly and the Dr. came in to check me. I had the same issue in triage that I had at home and in the car…I couldn’t stop wriggling. He was able to get an approximation on my dilation (7 cm) but the nurse gave up on trying to get my blood pressure. I was wheeled immediately into a delivery room without delay, all while begging for an epidural or ANYTHING that they would give me. Now, I think it’s worth mentioning that in my Birth Plan I chose to list Nitrous Oxide as a pain relief method if needed. The hospital that I gave birth at is one of the only hospitals in the country that offers this option and I wanted to avoid an epidural. I had a cute fantasy of a mellow labor, huffing on laughing gas, feeling happy and even giving Holly a little bump of gas along the way. But PEOPLE, let me tell you, that alllll flew right out the car window as soon as shit hit the fan. At that point in labor (I was in transition which is the most brutal phase) I would’ve accepted any and all intravenous drugs, legal or not. When I got into the delivery room a team of nurses and a midwife were there to help me deliver along with Holly and Ali. Felt like a lot of people were around me and the room was very bright and buzzy. I remember feeling more optimistic when I got in there because I thought that I was going to get my epidural or something. Of course, I find out later that the name of the game that morning was to keep telling me “all we have to do is (insert small step here) and you can get your epidural.” Truth was, it was way too late for me to get one but you never tell a woman in labor that. You just stall instead; keep her hopes up high. The nurse offered me the Nitrous so I put the mask on my face and attempted to deeply inhale the gas. Hyperventilated breathing – I was desperate and it’s not easy to take deep, intentional breaths when that much pain and adrenaline are involved. The gas was achieving jack squat. NOTHING. I ripped the mask off of my face because I couldn’t breathe while wearing it. It was only a matter of minutes after that when I felt the strongest, full-body urge to bear down. I remember letting out a substantial moan/growl noise that took me by surprise. Completely involuntary. The nurses and midwife yelled not to push in chorus as if that would’ve been possible! I was checked again and given the go-ahead to push. Things were moving very rapidly, faster than anyone anticipated. I tried a few different labor positions but ultimately ended up on my side with one leg up. Holly told me afterwards that an issue with JJ’s heart rate came about and the delivery team was concerned. Apparently the midwife came over to the side of the bed and gave me a pep talk about how important it was to push the baby out with haste. This was a blur to me and I vaguely remember it. I just recall feeling rushed and like I wanted to just take a nap and start it all again later when I was rested and ready. Ha! They were yelling at me to “Push! Push!” and giving various directives. They kept shouting to hold my leg and to lean into the push but I didn’t want to. I think I may have even said “I don’t want to.” *shrug* It took great effort to get any words out so I definitely meant it. All of this is happening over the course of maybe 30 minutes, not long at all. I had one point of clarity during my labor that I remember well. During the chaos of trying to push Jude out in a rush because of the heart rate issue I felt overwhelmed and hurried and exposed. I wanted everyone to just leave me alone for a minute so I said to the room that I needed a break… and to my surprise they gave me one. I laid there for a moment in silence and just took a breath in and took a breath out. Tried to calm myself a bit. I talked to the baby and told him to give Mommy just 1 minute to breathe. I don’t know how long this lasted – perhaps 1 or 2 minutes? That little pause really helped because when my next contraction came I was prepared to push with all my might. When his head popped through it was the biggest sensation of relief I’ve ever felt. No ring of fire, no real feeling of tearing or stretching down below. When he came out it it felt kind of good because the pressure was off of my spine. I guess he was sunny side up with his noggin on my spine. This above everything else contributes to horrible back labor. He turned completely on his own though and was born right-side-up. 2 or 3 pushes and he was born. Somebody announced that it was a boy and I was so shocked and elated. I could not believe that I had myself a little boy. Happy doesn’t describe it. Neither does proud, relieved, gobsmacked or any other words. The feeling that a woman experiences after giving birth to her baby should have its own term. There’s nothing like it. Just pure joy and awe. Despite being torn, bloody, exhausted, jittery and in shock.Truth be told, the dreaded uterine massage immediately after was more painful than the actual birth. Perhaps that’s because I was aware of it. After staring at him for what seemed like forever while all of the business of after-birth occurred, it dawned on me to actually look around the room at the team of people that just helped deliver my baby. I gave thanks and introduced myself. I apologized for being out of it but of course that’s all a part of their daily lives on the job. When all was said and done I was in labor for less than 7 hours. I think I pushed somewhere around 6 times total during the whole labor. Baby J was born at 11:05 am (1 hour from the time we arrived at the hospital!) weighing 7 lbs even and 20 inches long. Perfectly healthy. Perfectly perfect.

Our stay at the hospital for the next couple of days was very pleasant. Our treatment by every single staff member was impeccable. So caring. We were up during sunrise each morning with Judah and it’s one of my favorite memories from that time. Holly and I in the room with him; tired, waiting for the coffee to arrive from room service. Holding him and glancing out of the window at the sun rising over the the Bay. I couldn’t have asked for a better birth experience than I had. Until next time. 😉


*iPhone photos taken by us and Rachel.



no likey

no likey | the original mb

Much to my chagrin my little boy does NOT like his baths. Sink baths, tub baths, any of it. He’s a shower with Mom type of guy. Is that odd for a 4 month old? We tried the whole bath time/wind down routine with him before bed. It didn’t soothe him at all… it only pissed him off more. As a result my blood pressure would shoot through the roof and I’d be sweating by the time I got him diapered and dressed for bed. It gave me a slight case of PTSD because I haven’t given him a night-time bath for a while. I’m scared to try again! Mamo and I decided to give him a kitchen sink bath the other day and he lost his shit, yet again. So many people have commented that he’ll love his baths eventually and that I’ll have a hard time getting him out. On what day, at what time, in which alternate universe will this be true? Really, somebody tell me.

Eagerly awaiting your reply,

Bath Battle Mom from the Bay


baby’s first flight

baby's first flight | the original mb

baby's first flight | the original mb

baby's first flight | the original mb

We recently flew to FL to visit family and soak up some rays. It was JJ’s first flight and a cross-country one at that! We were pretty anxious about how he’d do at only 3 months old. We did all the research, pinned all the pins, printed all the packing lists, etc, etc. We really wanted to make everything go as smoothly as possible. Traveling is a big part of our life as a family so having a baby who can roll with that is pretty important to H and I. I’m happy to report that he did great! The flight wasn’t without a few hiccups but for the majority of it he slept like the dead. Nursing was key, of course. And so was Mommy’s extra anti-anxiety pill and whiskey cocktail. It’s all about balance, you see. We all had our needs met. He had a minor crying fit on the flight back to California but we survived…and we still received compliments about how good he was! Go Baby Jackson! 2 flights down, a lifetime of flights to go! You made us proud, bud. <3

sunny obsession

sunny obsession | the original mb

sunny obsession | the original mb

I heard somebody say one time that “everyone should collect something.” For such an empty statement it stuck with me. For the longest I couldn’t think of anything interesting enough to collect. When I was younger I became very fond of Coca Cola memorabilia. Why? I honestly have no clue. I didn’t even drink Coke. Still don’t! Yet I had Coca Cola wallpaper border wrapped around my room and a big, red Coca Cola clock to match. Perhaps it was the old-timey style. Felt classic and nostalgic…I guess? Who knows. I was a weird kid sometimes and the border completely clashed with my blue and gold wall paint. Ugh. But even that little phase was nothing but a half-assed collection. Fast forward to adulthood and I’m pondering what kind of knick-knacks to accumulate. And then it dawned on me that I already had a sizable collection of one thing: sunnies. Cheapy plastic sunglasses were my thing. Now and forevermore they will be my thing. Now that I’m in my 30’s a few nicer pairs have been added but overall it’s the same – no pair of shades over $15, bold style and flattering lens shape. I can’t help myself! Even when I’m in the gas station I check out the circular displays to see what they have (They have crap. Always crap!). I display them in my home and people always make comments about it. I have relatives, who shall remain nameless, that treat my collection like their own personal sunglass boutique. *wink* It’s all good, though. At my wife’s request, I throw a few scratched/worn pairs out each year. Doing this keeps me from that thin line of being a hoarder vs. a collector. Or so I tell myself. 🙂 Okay, g2g. It’s Prime Day and I’ve gotta check our their sunglasses before it’s over!

small victories [baby spoons]

spoons | the original mb

Yes SPOONS; of the silicone variety. I picked these up the other day at Target while shopping for other, more important things. An upcoming milestone has firmly planted itself in the forefront of my brain since our last visit with the pediatrician, and I’ve been counting down the days. JJ’s almost 4 months old and that means that he can start eating real food, you guys! As self-proclaimed foodies it just makes us want to jiggle with joy! It’s been an ongoing discussion in our house  – what will his first food be? So far it looks like it’s coming down to an avo or a banana. Not super thrilling but we’ve got to start somewhere. Of course, safe and basic is best in this case. Pump the brakes on that truffle oil, Mya. But let’s be real, Baby J will be sampling the good stuff before you can say Stracciatella. Fish, cheese, pasta, weird seasonal fruits and veggies, ALL of it. Can you tell that we’re determined not to have a picky eater? Please oh please, wish us luck!


On a side note: My Ma still has a couple of my baby spoons from when I was little. It’s sweet to see them whenever I open the silverware drawer at her house. I hope to keep these forever assuming that they hold up!

Remember that show COPS?

Did you watch COPS in the 90’s? Oh man, I did! <raises hand> On the regs. I remember it being on during a time slot that my brother and I would routinely watch TV; late afternoon/early evening perhaps. From what I recall about that show, the entertainment value lied in watching people interact with, evade and defy the law. You had your meth heads, your gangsters, your lousy drivers, families having domestic disputes, drunks, etc. People from all walks of life – but many from the fringe of society. There were lots of hot pursuits. There were lots of people being pulled over. There were lots of people approached for petty crimes. There were lots of times when the cops would surely be fearful for their own safety. There were lots of times when the situation would escalate quickly. However, from what my young mind remembers, there were NOT a lot of times where shooting first and thinking later occurred.  Talking back and questioning why you’re being arrested didn’t automatically equal being shot to death on the spot. Nor did resisting arrest. (White) People would wave guns around in the air all willy-nilly and still live to tell about it. What’s my point you ask?!  Just yesterday, two stories broke that involved black men dying at the hands of overzealous police officers. Reading about this stuff each day takes the breath right out of my lungs and sets my stomach on fire. What has become of our country? Our world? Make no mistake- this is authentic, systemic racism caught on film. Those that try to reason their way out of the obvious say things like “Well they should’ve listened to the cop! Then there wouldn’t be a problem!” or “He ran. Obviously he was guilty of something.” or “If the cop feared for his safety, he had the right.” or “(listing the prior details, however minute, of the person’s life as if that’s justification for being murdered in cold blood).” It has really opened my eyes to see people that I’ve once called friends or classmates justify a point blank murder, just because the killer was wearing blue. According to their logic, most of the people that appeared on COPS could and should have been fairly executed for any of the following offenses:

  • selling CD’s
  • tail light out
  • running away
  • reaching into your pocket to produce identification when asked
  • simply being in police custody
  • etc,etc,etc
  • being black at the wrong place and the wrong time

But who would want to watch that? Truly, my mind is boggled and my heart is sickened. How come when I think back on the show COPS I can’t conjure any images where people were killed on the spot without due process? What’s different now? Why is shooting to kill the first line of defense for these police officers? Aren’t they trained to do anything else? I have so many questions. I’m completely befuddled. And also, helpless. As I write this there are still helicopters circling over my apartment from the protests happening in Oakland today. They’ve been going round and round for about 2.5 hours now. Just outside of my window, the city is rebelling. I’m not removed from this situation. This is real and it affects me deeply. I’m agitated and my chest is tight. I’m worried. Most of all I just don’t know what the fuck to do. What can I…me…as a woman…as a mom…as a wife…as a daughter…as an American…as a woman of color do? Please tell me. This has to stop.



*NOTE: I’ve made a choice to abstain from watching any more videos of these tragedies. I’m not into snuff films. Instead, I read about each case (on an array of credible news sites) as they occur.

independence day 2016

independence day 2016 | the original mb04

independence day 2016 | the original mb06
independence day 2016 | the original mb05

independence day 2016 | the original mb07


independence day 2016 | the original mb03

This year we celebrated America’s birthday over the course of a few days. Holly had to work on the 4th so we had to be creative with it. We made some r, w & b foods + corn dogs from scratch. I got the recipe for the cake pictured above from Pinterest, as one does, and ended up botching it to high hell. It’s supposed to be angel food cake with coconut cream and fresh berries. The cake turned out denser than George Dubya. I mean, it was embarrassing! JJ and I took a trip over to the City to visit the wife at work. The weather in SF was not very patriotic. Chilly, grey, foggy; and the City was a complete ghost town. Hmph. All that matters though is that we got to spend time together and celebrate in little pieces here and there. We’ll do better next year. Happy Birthday, my beautiful country. xo

oakland art

oakland art | the original mb

oakland art | the original mb

oakland art | the original mb

If I could, I’d ride around all day and photograph the beautiful works of art that adorn our city. Oakland has tons of murals, in every neighborhood. Even our garbage cans have ever-changing mosaics applied to them. This isn’t graffiti it’s straight up art. On one of our usual morning walks we stopped by a mural that’s in our ‘hood. It’s pretty fresh so the colors are super vivid. Don’t ask me what it all means. The walls were connected but one proudly read ‘ROOTS’ and the other said ‘RUN.’ Why? Dunno. I just see pretty things and take a pic of it for memory’s sake.The art culture of Oakland is something that H and I will indubitably miss when we leave this great place. For now, we gaze, maybe snap a pic and enjoy.


UPDATE 7/5/16: H lovingly explained to me that the mural means ROOTS RUN DEEP. I told her that I don’t remember seeing that third word ‘DEEP’ anywhere on the mural. But, this makes a helluva lot more sense. Thanks, dear.

<laughs sheepishly>