Pumpkin 2.0: Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

Shocker, the pumpkin I roasted last night (after ravaging it for seeds) didn’t suck! It needed a good bit of brown sugar, but I’m not entirely sure that I ever liked the taste of unadulterated pumpkin so I’m not holding that against myself.

I got about a cup of pumpkin from the roasting and I knew instantly that if I didn’t immediately use it in a recipe I was going to pass it over every day until it went bad in the fridge.

So! I found a recipe that a. looked amazing and b. I had nearly every ingredient for in my kitchen: one pot pasta with pumpkin. Before stopping home I grabbed some cream and Parmesan at the corner store (yeah, yeah, a fridge without Parmesan is super depressing but I have a newborn baby and I’m blaming it on her because she can’t talk yet) and I was ready to go.

20 minutes after Ellie went down for bed, Alex and I were sitting down to a super tasty dinner of what is basically pumpkin macaroni and cheese. It tasted like pepper and fall and was so freaking good! 

Big win. There’s some leftover if you want to stop by and try it, Nora 🙂




First Non-Baby Post: Pumpkins!

Does this post lose its non-baby status if I call attention to its non-baby content in the title?

While you think about that, let’s talk about pumpkins!! When the world refuses to give me wind and rain and weather that begs for a fire in the fireplace, I have to look for fall in other places. Tonight, I found fall in a mini pumpkin.

I had been googling recipes for pumpkin seeds and getting my appetite all hot and bothered when I realized that because of daylight savings, it was only 7pm and I had more than enough time to make this thing happen tonight. So, I decided to crack open one of my decorative little pumpkins after my other little pumpkin finally went down (sidenote: babies don’t ‘get’ daylight savings and that really sucks when you’ve spent 30 years thinking, ‘spring forward, fall back… back! yes! an extra hour of sleep!!’). 

After I axed the thing open, I picked my seasonings (too much garlic salt and cayenne) and baked up some seeds. It only took about half an hour — way less than I thought — and the crispy little guys paired perfectly with the smug satisfaction I felt as I sat down to eat them all.

Bonus: I had more than enough time to try roasting the actual pumpkin! It’s in the oven now and, honestly, I’m not feeling super confident in my ability to pull off a two pumpkin success night. But either way I’ve got enough residual smug and good fall feelings from the seeds to keep me going until at least Thanksgiving… I’m easy that way.

Moms Don’t Need More Reasons to Feel Responsible for All the Bad

It’s no secret that when you’re pregnant there is an insane amount of pressure around what you put in your body. The list of foods you’re not supposed to eat can be as long as you want it to be depending on your anxiety level at any given moment, and making the perfect choice 100% of the time isn’t helped by your carousel of exhaustion, irritablity and endless hunger (when you’re not sickeningly nauseous, of course).

All of this despite the fact that many of the foods pregnant women are told to avoid come with an incredibly low incidence rate. Listeria for example, the reason I avoided all deli meat until Eleanor was born and then immediately worked my way through an entire party platter until I wanted to vomit, has an incidence rate of less than 10 cases for every 3 million people according to the CDC. But the implications are so terrible, including miscarriage or seriously damage to cognitive functions, that many women decide it’s just not worth it (opting instead for a glutinous post-birth indulgence).

Then, there’s alcohol. There are so many competing arguments on moderate alcohol consumption (a glass or two a week… no one is advocating binge drinking!) and I remember feeling super conflicted about the few glasses I had during pregnancy. Even though I knew it was more than likely completely harmless, the stigma was so strong that I still felt guilty… but damn it if I wasn’t going to celebrate the purchase of our first home with a glass of champagne! 

I just read about a new report issued by the American Acadamy of Pediatrics that advocates complete abstention from alcohol for pregnant women, even while citing the incredibly low incidence rates for moderate alcohol consumption. And I get it. Yes, the only way to completely eliminate your risk of alcohol related disorders is not to drink any alcohol. But a woman is already going to blame herself for any health issue her child has, whether it was preventable or not, so throw us a freaking bone and acknowledge that in most cases a couple glasses of wine is completely harmless and she’s not being a selfish monster by treating herself once in a blue moon.

When I was pregnant I stopped eating soft boiled eggs. These are on the ‘don’t eat’ list because, like any undercooked item (good by ahi tuna poki lunches…), there’s a small risk of salmonella. So, every morning I would eat my second favorite breakfast: oatmeal with a banana and walnuts. Risk free and yummy. Until one day, well into my third trimester, I go to the market and see a recall of my walnuts for possible salmonella contamination! I first called my doctor to make sure I couldn’t have had a mild case that affected my baby without causing symptoms in me (turns out you have to have an incredibly intense poisoning from salmonella, so bad that it enters your blood stream, in order to put your baby at risk), and then I cried a silent tear for all the soft boiled eggs that had gone uneaten under the false pretense of ensuring a salmonella-free pregnancy.

I walked away from that experience with a new outlook: the constant stress and anxiety that comes from trying to eat perfectly throughout pregnancy was far more of a risk to my overall health, and therefore my baby’s health, than the one in a million chance of contracting a serious food related illness. I didn’t start eating a Russian roulette of risky foods, but if I was going to get salmonella poisoning from a fucking walnut then you better believe that I was going to have a mile-high mortadella sandwich in the final weeks of my pregnancy.

Best. Sandwich. Ever.

Child Care IRL

There has been a lot of recent coverage and debate about child care in the U.S. — issues ranging from access and affordability to timing (in California we have paid family leave for a total of three paid months of baby bonding… in most other states families are forced to choose between a paycheck or spending time with their barely month old child after just six weeks).

I’ve been following a lot of these discussions because a. child care is a necessity and soon-to-be reality for my family and b. it’s been in the news a lot with the 2016 presidential election ramping up.

Anyway, all along I had been thinking about child care from a purely financial perspective (I was less concerned with finding the right person to watch Ellie since there are far more options in our price range here than in San Francisco). 

Would we be able to afford it or, like many people, would the cost of child care match or even exceed my or my husband’s income? Turns out, we’re fortunate enough to afford child care so long as we do what’s known as a nanny share: usually two children from different families who share the time of one nanny at a reduced rate. Fine. Great. A playmate and a discount, score!

With the financial aspect squared away, I thought I was clear to avoid any emotional breakdown about this particular topic. Spoiler alert, I was wrong.

With my return date to work less than a week away I’ve realized that the real cost of child care is the time that you lose, not the money. At less than four months old, my child will spend more of her waking hours with someone other than her mom or dad. There might be days when I get home and she’s already down for the night. It happens to my husband at least once a week. I can’t even wrap my head around that! 

How is this ok? How is this the norm? Three months of bonding time and then you become ancillary to your child’s everyday experience and development?  The second-most important influence? 

I understand that this is why it’s so important to know and trust the person you choose to watch your child — but we’re lucky enough to have several candidates to choose from and it still feels impossibly hard to relinquish that kind of time and responsibility to another person. Those with less to spend have far fewer options and it’s unconscionable, not to mention heartbreaking, that income is a determining factor in a family’s ability to place their child in a safe and nurturing environment.

On a somewhat related note, I wonder if there will be a different breakdown for every day of the week leading to my first day back at work… that could be interesting…

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Staying is Hard Until You Have to Leave

Motherhood is something I still haven’t come even close to wrapping my head around. This is ok since I’m pretty sure it’s one of those things that never stays the same long enough for you to really ‘get’. 

Still, three months in and I continue to be surprised by my inability to predict things… Ellie’s next feeding, how long she’ll be down for a nap, if that’s a diaper cry or a tired cry. And my emotions, those things I’ve been feeling for years, are even more unpredictable.

Three weeks ago I was so excited to get back to work that I spent a whole night cleaning out and updating my task management system. Night hours are like gold, precious and in short supply (at least in my world). I get maybe two or three full hours each night when I have enough energy to keep my eyes open and Eleanor is sleeping, and I chose to spend this time updating a to-do list? 

It seems crazy to me now as I stare down the barrel of a Friday return date at work, but at the time all I could do was daydream about leaving. In between deciphering crying fits and feeling like I always had my boob hanging out, all I wanted was the predictable monotony of my old work schedule. And then it changed.

We started to get a real routine down. Up between 6 and 7, out the door with papa to walk him to BART and then on to a coffee shop for breakfast. Nap time while I ate and read my book. Another walk home for a feeding, quick change, and then out the door again for grocery shopping and errands. Another nap and a late lunch  then some reading and time at her baby gym. Maybe a visit from a grandma or friends. Instead of feeling hostage to a barrage of unpredictable whims, I started looking forward to our days together. It was amazing, and unfortunately it was also just weeks before my scheduled return to work.

Now, I find myself approaching these last days like the last four M&Ms in a bag. I want to savor each one. Every second of it. As if there’s some way to bottle up this time we have together and relive it after it’s gone. Instead of putting Ellie down at nap time, I let her sleep in my arm (long after it goes numb), bath time is twice as long and I take a little longer reading to her in the afternoon while we snuggle together on the bed. I’ve even started bogarting burp time during midnight feedings, something I’ve always gladly handed off to papa, because I can’t get enough of the way it feels when she’s passed out on my shoulder.

I know it’s not like I’ll never see her again, but I’m blown away by how much it truly feels like that. At the same time, I also know that I’m not built for staying home to raise her full time — something I’m reminded of at least once a day when my exhaustion reaches epic proportions or she flips out and I can’t for the life of my figure out what’s wrong. 

So, here’s to living for nights and weekends! There’s no real option and deep down I know it will just make me slow down and cherish our limited time that much more.

Also, she’s currently snoring on me. Are babies supposed to snore?? God, I hope so. It’s adorable.

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Please Don’t Talk to Me While I’m Huffing Uphill

Yes. It’s been a while. Too long. And I’m looking forward to posting more regularly and chronicling the most recent life-project idea in the Mozi household… we’re calling it ‘in-with-the/out-with-the’ (step 1: come up with a better name) where we’ll spend 28 day cycles cutting something out of our daily routines and introducing something else in its place. For example, December is officially ‘out with the morning snooze-slapping’ and ‘in with yoga or a.m. meditation’. Good, right? We think so. There’s something about a boozy squirrel but I can’t remember how that fits in right now. Needless to say, all signs point to awesome.

First, back to the here and now. This is a minor rant about people who feel compelled to launch into conversation when you’re clearly busy trying to better yourself by pushing your sweaty butt up a San Francisco hill. The rant is less so about the poor people-reading skills of these strangers (seriously, nothing about me when I’m running screams ‘talk to me!’), it’s more a grating annoyance at the things these people choose to say.

No… I do not find it encouraging when you look at me and say, “wow. you’re a real inspiration!” as I’m trying to catch my breath after finishing a tough post-hiatous morning run. However well intentioned, a. please don’t talk to me, b. are you calling me fat?, c. stop looking at me like I just accomplished some massively heroic feat, d. I’m pretty sure you just called me fat, and d. seriously, don’t talk to me.

Because of my only-child handicap (which causes me to see everything through a self-centered lens of sensitivity), I’m going to give this old man the benefit of the doubt and say that he could have been having one of those days where everything inspired him. Maybe I was the fourth thing he’d said that to today, right behind his favorite pair of socks, a Muni driver, and a boozy squirrel…

Either way, let’s safely assume from here on out that when I have sweat dripping off the tip of my ponytail I’m really not in the inspirational-words-of-encouragement or general chatting mood. In that moment, silence is a basic human courtesy that should be extended to every person everywhere. Always.

Feed Me, Fall!

An unfortunate incident involving myself, a pair of pants, and a lunch meeting today has landed me in front of the computer googling healthy fall recipes and elastic…

Kidding aside, it’s time to get this train back on track. It’s amazing what a few weeks of work travel, a special-occasion friend visit (although I’m pretty sure calories don’t count when Nora visits SF), and a weekend away to celebrate 12 months and counting of matrimonial bliss can do to your resolve to eat well-ish and exercise regularly.

Thankfully, I’ve been talked off the cleanse ledge… although I’d be lying if I said that my web browser didn’t currently have the following tabs open: ‘diy juice cleanse’ google search, first person narrative about some adorable but irritatingly tiny chick’s diy cleanse, and this article on diy detoxing. As tempting as these things look (and by ‘tempting’ I mean that they’ve all convinced me I’d be more willing to pay through the nose for bottles of juice to magically show up at my door than wage war with a juicer I don’t even currently own), I’ve been on solids for years now and realistically don’t see myself throwing all that hard work out the window now.

So instead I’m currently drooling over the following (and trying to convince myself that I’m man enough to tackle the mid-week grocery shopping required to make any of these a reality). I will not do pizza again this week… I will not! Besides, why would I when I could eat:

Great. Now it’s 10:30 and I want to raid the kitchen… probably not the ideal outcome after researching healthy eats to curb the amazing expanse of my bottom half, but I probably could have predicted this would happen.

TTIL: Michelle’s Wardrobe Strategy

I love knowing that when I visit my girlfriend — especially on a Sunday — I get to see her entire weekly wardrobe laid out in perfectly organized fashion on the back of her bathroom door hook. That’s right, weekly. Michelle is a full-week advance planner… and it pays off. Here is what I’m going to try and repurpose for my own still-trying-to-break-out-of-adolesence-at-30 existence:

1. the forethought of planning outfits ahead means more time in the morning for eyeshadow and other adult primpings (read: more time for coffee and a healthy helping of oatmeal… fine, breakfast burrito)

2. never forgetting an adorable accessory means that I won’t feel naked at that meeting when I show up in my casual-cool attire without the statement necklace that makes the whole thing work appropriate

3. finally, and most importantly, I won’t waste 20 minutes on Thursday wondering if I already wore that blouse earlier in the week… god, I hate that.

In summation, it’s time to get grown-up about my wardrobe. Thankfully, my friend Michelle has all the OCD trappings of a total success story in that department. Thanks, Michelle.

Politics in SF: Best Served with a Trumpet


Living and working in San Francisco has had the unfortunate consequence of hardening me to any and all form of aggressive politically-motivated protest. It’s nothing personal, it’s a basic survival instinct. When you can’t schedule business calls in the afternoon because your office is sandwiched between the corporate headquarters of a Wells Fargo and Chevron, and the noise coming from people in the street is loud enough to drown everything else out, you die a little inside.

At some point, the occasional inflatable rat truck-float, the ‘power to the people, my people’, and creative rap ditties about economic injustice and inequalities don’t even elicit an eyebrow raise.

While I’m angry that overexposure, we’re talking once a week minimum — daily during high season, has made me deaf to the voice of unions and advocacy groups, I also take solace in the fact that every once in a while a little ray of sunshine pierces through.

This weekend I experienced one such magical moment while waiting for a girlfriend to join me at the Farmers Market. Completely unaware of my surroundings, I pulled out of my I’m-waiting-for-someone-fog when I heard a trumpet blowing ‘When the Saints Come Marching In’. The sound was beautiful. It was coming from a young kid, fully dressed and pressed and overall winning at life. It took me a good minute to realize that I was staring at him through an angry anti-government mob (complete with fake helicopter bleeding streams of monopoly-money cash).

The juxtaposition of the two made me smile. It made me listen. And it made me feel like I was witnessing a secret commentary on something larger than any one issue or performance could ever offer.

Of course, before I could decipher the deeper meaning of it all my girlfriend showed up and I was instantly wrapped-up in where we could find dill and a whole chicken for her soup recipe. I’m naturally averse to critical thinking, sue me.

It did however give me a great idea for when I go off the rails one day (it’s happening…) and start pounding the pavement with glitter-glue signs decrying the dangers of god-knows-what: hire an adorable child trumpeter to walk a few paces ahead… it will give your protest that allure of depth you’re striving for and likely not achieving, while also providing a rhythmic guide for your unintelligible chanting.


…minus the I’ve-clearly-gone-crazy-if-I’m-taking-this-advice part.

Three Things: My 30s Thus Far

Ok, ok… I swear this will be the last 30s-themed post on The Dilly Daily. What started as a necessary break from life to recover from a hat-trick of amazing birthday celebrations turned into a week away from posting. And I missed it. Let’s quickly discuss what transpired so we can move on to deeper, funnier, and, as previously stated, non-30s-themed writing.

The first week of my 30s, in three (non-sequential) acts…

  1. While jogging in my neighborhood I was passed by a woman walking a three-legged mini poodle. Let me say that again, my running speed was outpaced by an animal (admittedly, a badass animal) that is minus one leg. I couldn’t make that up. It happened. I’m trying to accept it and move forward. I think this is supposed to symbolize the heights I have yet to attain… meaning, despite my current super-awesome state, I still have room to grow and improve… lots, and lots, of room.
  2. I fell in love with Philosophy’s Hope in a Jar (who wouldn’t? it feels like liquid silk and my skin definitely looks brighter for it…) and ordered my first thing of eye-cream. Apparently I’m way behind the curve on this one, but I still haven’t been convinced that the deep lines around my eyes aren’t sexy because they announce to the world that I have the funniest friends. Still, maybe the lines could be ever-so-slightly more subtle… you know, speak to the world using an indoor voice instead of a megaphone.
  3. During the warm-up routine for a new class at my gym, I expertly re-tweaked my lower back. The herniated disc strikes again! Or, more accurately, my over-exhuberance to execute a totally mundane weight-bearing exercise struck my disc. Whatever. Point is, it sucked. Things that don’t suck about this include: being able to laugh at the fact that this happened during warm-up, having soldiered on through the rest of class (which is really to say the entire class…) I was rewarded with a full-body soreness that only burpees, followed by mountain climbers, transitioning into jumping jacks, and ending with plank push-ups can elicit, and, finally, with the trauma a few days behind me, the pain in my abs and quads has eclipsed that in my back proving this to be but a minor re-tweak which shouldn’t prevent me from attempting to do it all over again next week.

So, there it is… my 30s. Having lived it and written about it, I’m now ready to shut up about it.


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