From DomesticEsq to City Girl Gone

As you may (or more sadly may not) have noticed, this little blog of mine has run its course.  When adding content started to feel more like self-induced pressure than pleasure, I knew it was time to take a long hiatus.  So I hung up my amateur blogger card and called it quits.  Two years later, Big N and I went and bought a ranch, and a vineyard, and we’re moving to the country.  And the calling to memorialize this crazy adventure couldn’t be ignored. So I started a new blog- which may or may not be a terrible idea.  If you’re interested, you can now find me on City Girl Gone.  Feel free to mosey on over and say howdy.


Thank you all so much for your wonderful and encouraging comments over the last few years since I’ve experimented with throwing my random thoughts, recipes, and projects out there into the world.  I know most of you found this little blog through Pinterest or other sites that featured my “Happy Stacker” ring toy, my latches board, and other various projects, and for your comments and trackbacks and pins I am eternally grateful.

While this blog has meant so much to me, since giving birth to my daughter Elliott I haven’t found enough time to devote to blogging.  You can be sure I’m still off making creations in my sewing room (and recently purchased an embroidery machine, tons of fun there), and in my kitchen, but alas I haven’t been successful in finding the time to blog about my projects (nor have I found a suitable location in my new home with the perfect natural light to photograph said projects).

In what came as a great surprise to me, I thoroughly enjoyed the last several months focusing on the “Domestic” in DomesticEsq.  But I also discovered that I’m not yet ready to hang up my briefcase or retire my Bar card, and at present I’ve shifted gears to focus more attention on the “Esq” part.  To that end I am working on building a mediation practice.  It is my hope that serving as a mediator will allow me the freedom to work part time and care for my family but also the satisfaction of helping those in conflict.

In the meantime, I will continue to strive for happiness and balance (between the Domestic and the Esq sides of me).  I may entertain the sudden urge to post a special recipe or project from time to time, but for the most part this little blog of mine will be on (what I hope will be a temporary) hiatus.


35: Oh Dear

So, 2012 minus 1977 equals 35. How depressing. Yup…

My husband asked me this morning if I’m where I thought I’d be by 35. I had to think about it. The answer is yes, and well, no.

No because when I was 5 I thought I’d be President of the U.S.of.A by now. And when I was 15 I thought I’d be a federal judge by now. And when I was 25 I thought I’d be a partner in my law firm by now. Sensing a pattern? On the one hand, all of my aspirations were wrapped up in my career over the years, but on the other those aspirations kept getting adjusted downward until they seemed more realistic. Last I checked, I’m not a partner in a international firm (though if I can just pat myself on the back for one quick sec, I think I could have been if I decided to stay put and keep my nose to the grindstone for another year or two). In fact, I just gave my notice this week and by the end of the month I’m not going to be a lawyer at all anymore.

So no, dear hubby, I’m not where I thought I’d be by 35. In fact, the whole lawyer thing that I was dreaming about for nearly my entire life may have been a bust, but time will tell if I return to it in the near future.

Then again, in place of those lowered career expectations over the years I started raising my expectations for a family. By 18 I declared emphatically that I didn’t want children. Not to bring the psychobabble into this conversation, but this declaration was likely due to a deep down fear of dying young and leaving my children without a mother, as my own mother died when I was 14. (Pity party over). By 25 I started to realize that while I was on my way to accomplishing my goal to obtain wealth and independence as a kick ass and take no prisoners attorney, which was pretty much the only goal I had set for myself, just maybe I wanted more. Could it be a family was in my future?

It took meeting the right man (whom I met at 26) to really get my act together. And now, at 35, I have a husband who adores me (the feeling is mutual), a beautiful baby boy, a little girl on the way, and we’re moving into our dream home in a lovely neighborhood and I’m about to become (dare I say it) a stay-at-home mother?!?. What the hell happened to that career-obsessed superlawyer? (Ahem! Subconscious note to self: the stay-at-home mother gig is only temporary until I can open a little bake shop, or a B&B, or until I go back to part time lawyerly work. Don’t start gorging on the bon bons just yet).

I’ve been lucky enough to travel the world, from New York to New Zealand, and while I started from humble Valley roots, I’ve lived in D.C., San Francisco, and even Beijing before settling here in Pasadena, and I’ve fulfilled another dream (one that materialized in my late 20’s) of going to culinary school. So, yes, my love, thanks in large part to my amazing life-changing-and-dream-fulfilling husband, I am well past where I wanted to be at 35, at least once I got my head out of my arse and learned that life wasn’t all about work work work. And, here’s the clincher: I…am…happy. Sigh!

So, happy birthday to me. Being 35, well, it sucks to be frank, and I pray that I still look like I can pass for 25 (or at least I will when I don’t have a planet growing out of my stomach). But life at 35? Life is good, and only getting better.

Thanks for reading. Self-congratulatory rant concluded.

Dressed for (anti)success: an outfit to quit by

I don’t remember the outfit I wore when I successfully interviewed for my first job as an attorney, but I can guess I rocked a polyester blend suit, likely from Petite Sophisticate, with a patterned silk undershirt, and sensible pumps.  As a broke law student, Petite Sophisticate was the only place you could buy a cheap suit that fit my size 0 frame (circa 2002, things have changed a little since then).  Unfortunately, I vividly remember my interview over lunch in San Francisco, while waxing eloquent about living in Beijing at the exact moment my potsticker slipped from my chopsticks and fell into a vat of soy sauce, splashing brown bits on the suits of 3 of the 4 attorneys lucky enough to be sitting at my table.  Despite my clumsiness, they took a chance and hired me anyway; maybe they found my blunder charming.

I spent the next 7 years learning the ropes, building skills, and trying to convince myself that my brain was actually worth the money they were willing to pay me for working 10-14 hours a day at my desk.  Somehow I lucked out, and managed to work with people who believed in me more than I ever could.  Life kept going, my career kept growing, and before I knew it I had a husband, a newborn, and a whole new set of priorities.  Suddenly the career I worked for my entire life didn’t seem to fit in my life any longer.  I took an extended maternity leave to sort these feelings out, and started a part time culinary program at Le Cordon Bleu.  On Monday, I took a leap of faith and said farewell to Tamara, Esquire.

quitting-time-1-of-1 Before heading to my Downtown office, it dawned on me that I may be slipping into business casual attire for the last time, especially now that I’ve joined the checkered pants wearing counter-culture.  I took a nostalgic tour of my closet, still filled with blazers, sweater sets, flouncy skirts, slacks, suits, gigantic purses for carrying briefs, heels, and more heels; clothes I no longer need but can’t bear to donate, just yet.  I may have abandoned a career in the professional world, but I’ll be damned if I abandon my respectable biz-cas wardrobe.  I snapped a photo of the quitting outfit*, hoping it wouldn’t be the last time I have an occasion to dress like a career girl.

7 years from now I may decide that taking an indefinite hiatus from my career was just plain stupid.  I’m putting “successful career” on hold to pursue playing with food and playing house.  Walking into my son’s room this morning and seeing him smile and laugh at me while standing in his crib ready to face the morning, I know I made the right decision.  For now.

*The quitting outfit: White blazer and gold sequin purse, vintage BCBG.  Skirt, Zara, purchased in Rome ages ago.  Platforms, Prada, purchased in Milan.  Gold headband,  Short gold chain, custom made for my wedding party.  Long gold chain, some cheap thing.

What it means to be a mother

Today marks my first official Mother’s Day, and I feel as if I’ve only scratched the surface of what it means to be a mother.  For nearly seven months I have devoted all of my energy to keeping my son alive, from the late night feedings to the early morning diaper blow outs, to the blown-out-of-proportion worries about things like runny noses and scratches.  Only now am I realizing that Worry and Sacrifice will be my constant companions, for the  So the fact that mothers everywhere get this one day where our families are required to make us feel special is way underkill if you ask me.

When the Facebook fad of the week called on Facebookers to update their profile pictures to a shot of their mother, I was reminded that nearly everything I know about being a mother I learned from my own mother, Marlene.  My mother married at just 18 years of age, probably to escape the horrors of her own Missouri upbringing, and had two babies by the time she was 24.  She never knew what it meant to experience the carefree, selfish, “finding yourself” phase most of us go through during our 20’s.  During her 20’s, she and my father were already struggling to raise 2 kids in the suburbs of the San Fernando Valley.  I grew up on a block where kids still played in the streets and neighbors went camping together during the summer.  I idolized my mother and would follow her around watching her cook dinner, put on makeup, or sew a new dress for me to wear.  She held our family together and put food on our table even after spending all day working on her feet.  She was nurturing, kind, and had a wonderful sense of humor.  Always up for an adventure, we spent our weekends hiking, camping, and taking 120 mile bike rides (not me, I complained about the long bike rides).  She was also the disciplinarian of the family (my father was a pushover) and had a fierce temper when crossed.

But what I remember most about my mother was her grace and strength.  She was the type of woman who was filled with empathy and compassion and made everybody around her feel special.  Anybody that met her noticed a sparkle in her eyes and her passion for life.  These gifts were taken from her when life as we knew it was abruptly cut short.  After a hiking accident left her paralyzed from the neck down, my mother was confined to a wheelchair.  For nearly a year my father, brother, and I put our lives on hold to care for my mother.  During this long year of hell my mother watched my father make himself sick with Multiple Sclerosis from the stress, my brother become depressed and despondent, and I refused to leave her side for a second.  Rather than live as a prisoner in her own body or be a burden on her family, she chose to end her life.

Every day I pay tribute to her sacrifice by not taking my own happiness for granted.  Even when I worry over some insignificant trifle, I look at my son and know that I have her strength in me and can handle whatever curve balls life throws in my direction.

This was the last picture we took together and I remember this day perfectly.  The Los Angeles Times was writing a story on the rehabilitation center in Northridge Hospital where patients with spinal cord injuries learned how to live with their disabilities.  The reporter chose our family to feature in the article and followed us around with a camera.  I remember it was right around this time of year and the dandelions were in full bloom.  At first glance this picture looks like any mother and daughter sharing a moment together.  If you look closely you’ll notice the headrest of my mother’s wheel chair and the joystick she used to maneuver it with her chin because she did not have the use of her arms or legs.  You’ll also notice that my hand was on her throat where the tracheostomy left her with a permanent hole that prevented her from breathing properly.  By this time she already lost the sparkle in her eyes, hidden by her sunglasses.  She would make her final choice to starve herself and die with dignity just a few months after this shot was taken.

I never questioned my mother’s resolve to end her life, nor can I fathom the strength it required to carry out her decision.  My son will never know his grandmother but he will learn her story and know what an incredible mother she was to my brother and me.  Whenever somebody asks me what motherhood feels like, I think back to our last year together and realize that while I’m still clumsily finding my feet as a mother, I’ve known since I was fourteen what it means to sacrifice yourself for the sake of another.  Now that I’m a mother in my own right, for the first time I can fully appreciate why and how she chose to make the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of her family.


Buh Bye 2010: Hello 2011

For the sixth New Years in a row, the Core has congregated at our cabin in Lake Arrowhead to celebrate one more year gone by.  Another lovely weekend of lounging by the fireplace, hearty eating, and plenty of celebrating with the Core over carefully selected bottles of wine and Champagne (I’m busting out a 1998 Dom Perignon for this year’s countdown, oh yeah!).  I can’t tell you how little I miss the pressure of finding an uber hip place on the Westside to celebrate along with the masses.  No, I much prefer dancing on our deck at the stroke of midnight in my PJs, then curling up next to the fire along with our dearest friends. 

Griffin, the Core’s newest inductee, is sound asleep in his travel bed upstairs, as I sit here ruminating about how much my life has changed in this past year and what is in store for me in 2011.  In 2010 I finished up my seventh year as an attorney and felt like I made some decent strides in my career.  Then again, I was pregnant most of the year and spent the last few months on maternity leave, so the career is now temporarily on hold.  This gives me time to ponder what my next move will be.  Do I continue working 50+ hours a week once the munchkin leave is over, inching my way towards partnership, or perhaps I return to work on a part time basis (which for a lawyer basically still means full time)? Or do I take a different direction altogether and use this time as a new mother to try something new?  Decisions decisions.  I don’t have the answers yet but I know 2011 will be the year that I figure it all out and I hope you’ll stay along for the ride.  In the meantime, Arrowhead isn’t a bad place to start all this hard decisionmaking. 

I wish all of you dear readers a happy new year and a peaceful and prosperous 2011.  Gan Bei!*

 (*Traditional toast in Mandarin, meaning “empty glass”.)

Something new: TBA

I fully realize this blog has become a little one-tracked since I entered Mommyland.  Do not fear dear reader.  TamaraEsq here is working on something that should provide myriad blog fodder and fulfill a dream I’ve had for years and years.

Stay tuned.

1 Click Heaven: Amazon Mom

I may have mentioned once or twice before that I’m addicted to receiving things in the mail.  Amazon feeds my addiction on nearly a daily basis.  So when my friend M., an unapologetic shopaholic like myself, emailed me about Amazon Mom, I signed up right away then sent her virtual kisses for turning me onto to such sheer genius.  (PS- M. also turned me onto my other latest obsession, Lucky Rewards.  If you’re not a Lucky Magazine subscriber, become one, then sign up here. You’ll thank M. later.)

Here’s how Amazon Mom works in my world:

Yesterday I killed both of Griffin’s pacifiers.  I put them in the microwave bottle sterilizer and instead of microwaving for the recommended 8 minutes to sterilize, I accidentally pressed another zero and set the microwave for 80 minutes.  Exactly 15 minutes later I realized my mistake, but not in time to save the pacifiers, which had by that point turned into a congealed plastic mess. [Read more…]

Speaking of Nesting: Hummingbirds

About a month after I learned I was pregnant with the Bambino, I discovered what could only be taken as a good omen.  Just outside a window near our front door, and balancing on a small tropical palm frond off to the side of our porch and just a few feet from the ground, was a tiny nest, no bigger than the size of an apricot.  The nest, and the branch on which it was placed, were swaying precariously in the wind on this rainy day in February.  I went outside to peek inside and discovered broken egg shells and two tiny birds each about the size of a kidney bean, with large black unseeing eyes and slimy brown bodies.  They must have been born just a day or two before.  The nest was quickly becoming saturated as water from the branch above dripped onto the tiny creatures.  Since the momma bird was nowhere in sight, I grabbed some gardening shears and cut the branch above to stop the flow of dripping water from harming the babies. 

For the next month, observing the nest became a daily ritual.  Every morning before leaving for work I would peek out the window to see if the birds were doing well, and every evening after returning home I would go outside for a closer look to see if the birds were chirping and appeared fed.  After a couple of days I finally saw the momma, a hummingbird with an orange neck.  On one lucky occasion I happened upon the momma bird feeding her youngins tasty grub as the babies craned their necks to feed. 

[Read more…]

Little Gopher That Couldn’t: Botticelli my weekend friend

While checking my mail yesterday, I discovered a tiny little creature struggling in the gutter.  She (no idea if she really was a “she” but she is in my story) was walking crookedly, collapsing every few steps, couldn’t open her eyes, and seemed completely out of sorts on the cold rainy road very far from the dirt.  Instincts kicking in, I decided she needed rescuing.  I picked up the fuzzy little thing, which was no bigger than a ping pong ball, and carried her into my garage.  She seemed to respond well to my warm hands and a little petting, so I placed her in a box and into the house she went.  (I couldn’t very well keep her in the garage with my rat-eating hunter of a cat lurking around with interest). 

Big N and I searched the internet to figure out what she was, and decided she must have been a baby Botta’s Pocket Gopher, because like the pictures, she had brownish gray fur, a short tail, and tiny ears.  We named her Botticelli.  In her new home we placed a warm blanket to burrow under, a few nuts and bamboo leaves, and some water, and watched with interest to see if we could nurse her back to health.  After a few minutes, Botticelli sprang back to life.  Her eyes were open, she picked up the bamboo leaves, darted with them tucked in her paw back to her little burrow, and began eating.  She even started chirping in approval.  We monitored her all evening, pet her a bit(she was a sweet thing and seemed to enjoy the attention) and then let her be for a while.  Our hope was that she’d start to thrive so we could release her back to our flower beds.  botticelli-1-of-2

Before we went to bed, little Botti took a turn for the worse.  She was sleeping but fitfully, opening and closing her mouth, shaking, and making squeaking noises as if she was in pain.  Big N told me to prepare myself that she might not make it through the night.  Alas, by morning I ran downstairs and found little Botti curled up under her blanket, still.  Her little body quit on her during the night. 

Though we had just a few short hours to get to know her, Botti was a fighter and I’m thankful she had a warm home and a full belly for at least a little while before she died.