Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I was intrigued when he told me when he told me he wanted to be a black panther for Halloween.  It turns out, he meant the big cat.  I will be cleaning up black fur from my workspace until the end of time.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Wylie Cat

We actually thought about naming him Rory. With his red hair and healthy obsession with lions it couldn't have been more fitting.

Take It Slow

We ate this up, we loved it so. Sausage, White Bean and Kale soup is a weeknight staple at our house. I add ginger to my broth to soothe after a weekend of rich food. To make the meal more substantial, I served our dinner with al dente farfale pasta, but it's delicious on it's own, and it would be even more nutritious (and gluten free) over quinoa or brown rice.  

Sausage White Bean and Kale Soup
Serves 6

2 large savory chicken sausage links, uncooked, casing removed
2 cans white beans, rinsed
1 bunch kale, stems removed, cut into strips
1 yellow onion, diced 
12 cups chicken stock (prepared or homemade)
2 tbsp fresh ginger, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
optional 1 tsp red pepper flakes for extra heat 

Combine all ingredients in a slowcooker/crock pot, portion sausage into tbsp sized meatballs.  Set to low cook for 4 hours, keep warm until ready to serve. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Together We Are Giant

Hope you had a great weekend.  Ours was busy, as we hopped from one youngling party to the next. Yesterday we hosted our annual pumpkin carving party here in Petaluma. Picture a packed house full of screaming little children smuggling cookies with some pumpkin carving on the side. We capped it all off with a party of 3 in my family room, which ended in a fit of excitement when our San Francisco Giants won the World Series.  Jasper has become quite the baseball nut, and we let him stay up well past his bedtime to watch what we all suspected would be the final game of the long season.  He got the go ahead to throw a cauldron of popcorn in the air to celebrate.  It was better than champagne.


This week I'll be burning the midnight oil sewing furry costumes among other things, and I won't have a ton of time to write or even make dinner, so I'll be doing a lot of simple slow cooker recipes.  With 15 minutes of prep into the crock pot, they make your house smell amazing at the end of a long day. Stay tuned, I'll be sharing a few throughout the week. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

DIY Friday: Black Sea Salt Caramel Apples

salted caramel apple

I'm about to make about 40 or so of these as a favor for our pumpkin party.  I found course black sea salt at Whole Foods to make this irresistible sweet and salty combination; using extra small Fuji apples keeps them crisp and slightly tart.  For 10 apples melt one 11oz package of caramel with 2 tbsp of water. Insert small craft sticks into washed apples (you can also use cake pop sticks) and dredge them in the caramel.  Sprinkle with sea salt and allow to set in the refrigerator for 1 hour.  Have a spooky weekend!


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Memory Keeper

I'm not the most sentimental person you'll ever meet, but I really do have a soft spot for the little things from my childhood that meant something special to me.  I keep my beloved, now in tatters, baby blanket "Stinky" in a box close by.  He traveled with me across the country and through Europe when I was growing up, and made an excellent tear catcher when I needed a good cry.  I love to see pictures of me, thumb in mouth cuddling with my constant companion. 

I try to keep this in mind when I see my kids favorite things lying around. I will sometimes snap a picture of their disheveled bedrooms with the most special, matted fur stuffed animals lying on their pillow.  I also take picures of them playing with their favorite toys. I know they will remember these things, and looking at a photograph years from now may take them right back...


Monday, October 22, 2012

North By Northwest

After 4 long months, we finally got away to do some wine tasting, this time up in Healdsburg.  Adam and I used to make monthly trips before we had the boys, but even now that we find ourselves at the edge of two wine regions, we tend to visit the grocery store for wine and craft beer.  This obviously needs to change.  To be honest, I really prefer European style wines, and we were in jam jar zinfandel country, but we found a handful of places that knocked my socks off. We began our day at Quivira, a Demeter certified biodynamic winery, with farm grounds nearly as impressive as their wine. I LOVED their Refuge Savingon Blanc, and Grenache.  They sent us to Preston, a family owned and operated biodynamic vineyard.  On Sundays they bake bread in their hearth and pour Guadagni, a Zin blend table wine, into jugs straight from the barrel.  We picked one up for our pumpkin carving party.  Preston is quirky, and all kinds of awesome; a must visit, with tasting room that looks like it was designed by Jonathan Adler's country cousin.  You must try their Cinsault and  GSM.  We stopped off for a bite at the Dry Creek General Store, and made our way to UNTI.  Adjacent to their small tasting room they were processing Montepulciano while rocking out to Modest Mouse. We really enjoyed their Benchland Syrah and Petit Frere GSM. To calm our pre-game jitters (Go Giants) we ended our day lounging with a view of the vines at Ridge. They offer outdoor tastings with more of their Rhone varietals, with the option of tasting their signature Monte Bello Cab blend.  

Friday, October 19, 2012

DIY FRIDAY: Pumpkin Recipes

This weekend I turn the big 35 and my parents are coming to celebrate their accomplishment by watching my children so I can dig in at Central Market and spend Sunday wine tasting. To make it easy on them, I created two new dishes to feed the kids while we're gone.  For breakfast they'll have a pumpkin spiced granola made from oats, pepitas and shaved almonds.  For lunch they'll have macaroni and cheese made with goat cheese and pumpkin puree (a cow milk free recipe). Using pumpkin puree adds sweetness and color without a distinct flavor, and softens the bite of the goat cheese, while adding vitamin A and iron.  My little helper Wylie tried both dishes today and they got two tiny thumbs up. Recipes below.  Have a happy weekend!

Click below for the RECIPES...

Thursday, October 18, 2012


I've long fantasized about having a tiny kit house studio out back, ala Modern Shed or Modern Cabana, but they are not really all that tiny in price, and I do sometimes question whether or not I'd like to have a super modern design behind my not so modern home.  When I was poking around Etsy this week, I was thrilled to find this shop that makes backyard studios/greenhouses using some reclaimed materials, clean lined, but not particularly modern.  They are handmade by Seattle based, and aptly named Schuan Carpenter of Little Mansions Designs.  Pricing is in the $2-3K range, with free delivery in the greater Seattle area, but he ships anywhere in the US and Canada. It's funny, I tend to think of Etsy as a place to find handmade gifts and vintage pieces, but it can be so much more than that.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Youth Vote

In 1984, when I was 6 years old, my dad had the talk with me.  No, not that talk you weirdo, the one about elections and politics. It was the summer of Reagan's big re-election campaign and "It's Morning In America" was all over the airwaves (written and narrated by my future boss Hal Riney). It was my first election cycle, and I had lots of questions.  Fast forward to 2012 and I'm finding myself having the same conversation with my own 6 year old.  While he's not sitting and watching the debates, he is exposed to the occasional attack ad, and parental grumbling about their opposition candidate.  I struggle to find the best way to teach him about elections, party platforms, and the bigger questions like "why don't you like that guy".  I try to edit myself to give him  more neutral answers to his questions, keeping it factual and saying things like "I feel" or "I believe", rather than presenting my opinions as fact. I wish there was a book for know like for the other "talk".  For everything else having to do with this year's election check out  Download their beautiful workbook for your school aged kids to register to vote, make campaign posters, even do a redesign of white house spaces.  I especially appreciate the page dedicated to negative and positive rhetoric.  It reminds me to keep it nice myself.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Case For Big Bird

While my blog is most definitely apolitical in nature, I can't help but contemplate the upcoming election, and the rhetoric and posturing, and how it affects my life, and the life of my children.  You might suspect from my geographical location that I am a PBS fan, and you'd be right. I also get pretty fired up about the school lunch program. While I think this whole Big Bird thing has become a talking point, and not nearly as important as issues like jobs, the economy, and education, I do think there is connection between early childhood education and those big issues, and it's worth my time to stand on my own soapbox to give a quick pitch.  

I have the absolute luxury of being able to stay at home with my younger child.  I have to make financial sacrifices in order to do so, but I do it, because it makes the most sense for our family.  Every morning while I clean up the breakfast dishes, make the beds, and get the laundry moving, Wylie gets to watch a show. His favorites include Wild Kratts, Dinosaur Train, and occasionally Sesame Street, all on PBS. To say that these shows have enriched his understanding of the world, sparked his curiosity, expanded his vocabulary, and helped to develop his critical thinking skills would be an understatement.  Because we have access and the means to afford it, he attends preschool a couple of days a week; an enrichment that many families in this country simply cannot afford. While I know that Sesame Street itself gets most of it's funding from sponsors and private donations, federal de-funding would compromise countless programs, and severely limit access to PBS for rural populations.  

Here's my case for Big Bird: The people with the least access to early childhood education need this the most, and at 1/100th of one percent of our federal budget, why single it out? Anyone with a television can have access to this enrichment. Truly, kids deserve better. They deserve access to preschool, but until then we have Big Bird and friends. Our government should leave it be, and as individuals, if we can afford it, we should support our local public television and radio stations. It's really the least we can do.

Friday, October 12, 2012

DIY Friday: Crepe Paper Tassels

tassel garland

I've adopted a black and white look for Halloween this year.  I was inspired by all the black and white pumpkin painting I've been seeing around Pinterest. A few years back I had quite the Halloween party and acquired a lot of oddities like crows, spiders, and candelabras. It was before I had kids, and the look was pretty moody; more Hitchcock than Charlie Brown.  This year I added to the mix with a black tassel garland made from crepe paper, an idea that's everywhere right now. Easy to make, I think it would be beautiful in mixed metallics for the winter holidays.  You can also vary tassel sizes for more dimension. The tutorial's pictured below, enjoy your weekend!  


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sweet For You

This will mark the 200th post on Poppy Haus. Today I want to thank you so much for reading.  It's just nuts that I've had that much to share in a little over a year.  I'm proud that I've amassed a small collection of recipes, projects, and musings, and I've had the chance to flex my creative muscle and started writing with regularity. Here's a little treat for today.  It's a ginger-molasses cookie bowl with a scoop of pumpkin ice cream.  Made from a new prepared cookie dough* from Trader Joes, they take minutes to craft and can be assembled ahead of time and frozen, making for an easy treat for a pumpkin carving party or Thanksgiving dessert.

xoxo, Heather

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the dough to a 3 inch rounds, about 1/4 inch thick.  Bake for about 7 minutes. Using a spatula, pick up the cookie, placing it in a small bowl (I used 4 inch).  Allow to cool, scoop ice cream and serve, or freeze on a cookie sheet well covered with plastic wrap.

*It just so happens that this dough is dairy free (yay!).  I couldn't find dairy free pumpkin ice cream for Jasper, so I got vanilla and I'll sprinkle a little cinnamon and nutmeg on his scoop.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Home At Last

Zara Home finally launches in the US today. Judging by the plaid and Union Jack in this preview, I'll be a fan... Ready steady shop

Monday, October 8, 2012

Antique Roadshow

I spent most of Friday and this weekend solo parenting, finishing up our bathroom, carting kids around to play dates and birthday parties. Fortunately one of those chores landed me in Sebastopol kid-free for 2 hours. I spent my time driving up and down the Gravenstein Hwy exploring the myriad of antique and vintage furnishing shops on the south side of town. I'd noticed them on our way to Sunday Farmer's market, lining the road, dotted in between small farms and hippie coffee shops, but antiquing is considered the most boring of all activities by my children, so this was my very first visit.

I made a quick stop in town to Retrospect, a vintage modern furnishing shop.  Artist in residence/owner, Gregory Odle has a beautiful collection of mid century and large canvas paintings.  The space is quite small, so selection is somewhat limited, but a treasure trove for the mid century enthusiast. 104 Petaluma Avenue. 707-291-7058 

I began my driving tour at Trader Bucks, an antique shop with a bit of a Grandpa's garage feel to it.  I spotted a leather sling chair, slat bench table and some interesting art.  Shop here for vintage flags, mismatched kitchen chairs and curiosity pieces like mounted antlers.1140 Gravenstein Hwy So. (707) 829-7722

My next stop was at Windmill Antiques.  This place had a range of early 20th century furniture, collectibles, and depression era housewares.  I did find a pretty mint colored typewriter, beautiful mixing bowl sets and a blue velvet occasional chair.  The highlight of this pop in was meeting Billie, the owner.  She was so chatty and welcoming. 2830 Gravenstein HWY So. 707-823-7945 

Last stop, and my favorite find, was FFT Antiques. The large space is curated into vignettes by era. I found several mid century pieces I would LOVE to bring home. They had a vast selection of art, tchotches, lighting, and furniture. Shop for good: Proceeds benefit FOOD FOR THOUGHT, the Sonoma County AIDS foodbank. 2701 Gravenstein HWY So. (707)823-3101   



Thursday, October 4, 2012

Home Boys

I am the mother of two boys and I am hell bent on making gentlemen out of them.  I want them to be good partners one day, which means they need an education in the domestic arts, including cooking, and I'm starting them young.  At two and a half Wylie can now crack and beat eggs and he's learning how to use a knife.  He's been practicing with a peeler and pumpkin carving tools (ideas I borrowed from his preschool). I try to include them in the kitchen as much as possible so that they observe my techniques. Given the opportunity, they really love to cook and often surprise me with their ideas. I've also found that they become more adventurous with their eating when they help out. I try to be very mindful when they are in the kitchen. I always turn pan handles toward the stove, keep sharp knives out of reach, and encourage lots of hand washing (boys are icky), but I give them enough space to make a mess and have fun. Here are a few more ideas to get your kids involved:

1. Have them help you with the planning/shopping.  Get their ideas for meals before you shop to get them fired up about what they'll be cooking/eating.

2. Swap out cooking shows for cartoons, they love them. Read recipes and look at cooking magazines together.  Real Simple, Martha Stewart, Cooking Light and Saveur are all good visual options. 

3. Grow your own food together.  Plant a seed, watch it grow, eat it.  Wylie refuses to try prepared green beans, but he freely eats them in the backyard, and he loves to pick and wash them in the sink. Next step, on a plate...

4. When you're at a restaurant try out something new together and then try to recreate it at home.  This get's them thinking about ingredients and flavors. 

5. Give them specific jobs that they can own. Let them measure and mix.  Let them flip the pancakes, stir the soup, frost a cake. Talk to them about how to do things safely. They love kitchen equipment. Let them grind the coffee or man the Kitchen Aid. Their abilities in the kitchen might surprise you.
Wylie's Vegetable Stew (it was pretty tasty)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Coffee Talk


Monday, October 1, 2012

The Westend: Dillon Beach

West Marin

It was 1000 degrees today, the first day of October.  We headed out to the coast after school to cool off and watch the sunset. Dillon Beach is where Bodega Bay meets Tomales Bay, due west of Petaluma, a stones throw from Pt.Reyes. It's a quiet town, with colorful vacation rentals sitting atop the cliffs.  Driving out of town you see white barns and black cows dotting the coastline. In a word, it's serene. 

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