Tuesday, September 24, 2013


For those of you not already in-the-know, my name is Leith.  Pronounced "Keith", but with an L.  My entire life, people seem to be afraid to pronounce my name right, but it makes for an interesting conversation piece when I introduce myself.  I probably end up spelling out my name five times a day on average, and it doesn't even occur to me that I'm doing it.

Anyway, long story short my name isn't your average American moniker.  In fact, I've never met anybody with the same name as me.  Ever.  In all my travels.  Sure, they're out there.  I've searched for them on Facebook and they do, in fact, exist.  But I've never met any of them personally.

My parents chose my name because, being the hippies that they are, they wanted all us kids to have a name revolving around water.  Which I still don't understand because my oldest brother's name means "pile of rocks", and my sister's name means "life" in Greek, but hey, whatever.  That's their story and they're sticking to it. 

Leith is a wide, rolling river in Scotland that apparently once had wild roses and meadowland all around it.  Today, it's a river that flows through the dodgy port district of Leith in Edinburgh.  And yes, since you asked, I am incredibly proud to be named after a port town known for its prostitutes and drunken, gambling sailors.  Incredibly proud.

Going so long in life without a buddy who shares my name left me feeling lonely as a child.  I never had the chance to buy a magnet license plate bearing my name at the tourist shops in Chinatown, after all.  Which is all a kid really wants out of life.  But as you get older you start calling this lonliness unique and, especially in this day and age, unique is what everyone wants to be.  So...

...Imagine my shock when, a couple of weeks ago, I open up my Yahoo homepage, only to be rudely informed that there is a town in North Dakota that stole my name.  Oh, and not just any town.  It's a town that white supremacists are trying to take over and call their own.

I just kind of had to laugh at this news at first because, when your namesake is known for prostitutes and drunken sailors in Scotland, is a white supremacist town really that far behind?  But if I'm being completely honest, I was pretty dismayed that, from now on, people would associate my name with the most despicable types of people on the planet: North Dakotans.

Don't worry, I'm just kidding.  North Dakotans are great.  But racists aren't, and as a girl who has owned this name for 28 years, I feel like I should have some say here.

Well, fate must have taken pity on my plight and offered me a helping hand by way of one of my guilty pleasures: clothes shopping.  I opened up a link today for a cute skirt and what did I see?  My own five-letter name staring back at me!

That's right: Leith has its own clothing line.  Booyah!

A little quote from the designer of the Leith line, Sadie Tapper's profile:  "The Leith girl is more of a risk taker. She mixes influences from the runway and the street to create her own unique look."

Sure.  Yeah.  What she said.  See?  Us Leith girls are unique, I tell you!  Unique!

Truth be told, I miss the good old days (meaning only two months ago), when no one had ever heard the name Leith until they met me.

Sure, it was a bit intimidating knowing everyone's impression of the name "Leith" depended on how I presented myself.  Because then one day someone might go, "let's name our kid Leith!" and then the mom will be all, "No!  I knew a Leith once and she was the most annoying, despicable person I've ever met!"  Because I say things like that and there are certain first names I know I will never, ever consider calling my children.  But I'm a pretty kick-butt person, so I wasn't too worried about that happening with me.

Now all that seems to have changed, and I have drunks and racists to compete with.  So at least I have a Nordstrom clothing line fighting on my side to keep our unique name sacred, fashionable and mispronounced for all eternity.

The end.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Happy List

{}animal print and eyeliner parties

{}visits from faraway friends

{}sleeping past 7 am

{}The New Girl, seasons 1 & 2

{}this song

{}I went on my first "first date" since 2009.  And yes, I made it as awkward as possible.  And yes, it was entirely too soon.  But I looked fabulous, and that's really the most important thing.

{}I am going to start pouring my store-bought milk into jugs.  Because I can and they're adorable.

{}H&M has housewares now.  What?!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Spring Rolls

Back in the good old days (aka college), I used to cook a lot.

No, that's a lie.

I used to bake a lot, but sometimes I'd throw a savory recipe into the mix just for show.

These spring rolls have been my go-to recipe for appetizers since those days oh-so-long ago (ok, so I graduated from college five years ago, which feels like a lot longer ago than it actually probably is), and the most flattering part of this recipe is someone always wants to steal it from me.  And who am I to deny anyone any recipe having anything to do with peanut butter?  I mean, really.  That would just be rude.

These spring rolls are a meal unto themselves, and they're the perfect dish for San Francisco's Indian summer because avocados are in season (and on sale!), and they require absolutely no hot oven when the house needs to be kept as cool as possible.  This is an even better recipe when paired with a glass of crisp white wine or beer, both while making them and while eating them.

Everyone seems to have their own variation of this recipe, and that seems to be the best part: you can change it however you like (even, I suppose, without the peanut butter.  Which would just make me sad).

-Vietnamese Inspired Spring Rolls-

You will need:

  • 1 package rice wraps (found in the Asian foods section of your local Safeway or Whole Foods)
  • 1 bottle sriracha sauce (optional - this stuff is spicy and should be used sparingly unless you're a masochist.  Use your favorite hot sauce as a substitute if you can't find it or like your food a bit more on the mild side)
  • 1 jar creamy peanut butter
  • 1 bag loose leaf baby spinach
  • 1 bag pre-shredded white or red cabbage depending on taste preference (essential - if you don't buy pre-shredded you're adding a lot of unnecessary time to this recipe that's better spent drinking...err, I mean, cleaning house)
  • 1 bag grated carrots (again, make sure you buy them already grated for the same reason as the cabbage - I'm just trying to help you out here)
  • 1 bunch mint (or basil), rinsed
  • washed and trimmed romaine lettuce leaves
  • 2 ripe avocados, sliced lengthwise into tenths
  • hot tap water
  • baking dish or plate large enough to soak rice wraps in
  • plate for wrap prep
  • cooked rice noodles or spaghetti
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro
  • thinly cut strips of lightly-cooked firm tofu
  • 1 bag white bean sprouts

{step 1}  Fill your large, shallow dish halfway with hot tap water (as hot as you can stand to touch with your bare hands).

{step 2} Place one rice wrap in the water until thoroughly moistened and soft, then hold the wrap over the water and let the excess drip back into the dish.

{step 3} Lay the wrap flat on the prep plate.

{step 4}  Add the ingredients you've chosen into your wrap.  If you're adding noodles, start with those, though I personally think they're great without the noodles and take less prep time.  Then add little bits of cabbage, spinach, carrots, and three or four bean sprouts (if you really, really like veggies).

*These wraps are small, so remember to be quite conservative with the amount of ingredients you add or else they turn into a sloppy mess.*

{step 5} Now add one slice of avocado on top of your mini array of veggies, as well as a sprig of cilantro (if you must - but I personally find cilantro revolting).

{step 6} If you want these to be a single layer wrap, you're going to want to add the peanut butter (as much as you prefer) on top of your veggies, and then a tiny dash of the sriracha and mint to taste.  Then put the lettuce leaf on top.  However, these can get messy and hard to wrap, so you may want to double-up on the wrap (see below).  The choice is yours. 

{step 7} If you're doing a single wrap, fold one end tightly over your mound of veggies, then each side tightly over as well.  Finally, roll your newly created wrap up into the excess flat part of the rice sheet until all of it is neatly tucked into itself, and you're finished!  Just repeat until all the rice sheets are gone or you're tired of making them.

{step 8} If you're going for a double layer approach, you'll want to wrap up your veggies in step 6 with the avocado, lettuce leaf, and cilantro.  However, hold off on adding the mint, sriracha, and peanut butter just yet.

{step 9} Once you're all wrapped up, moisten a second wrap.  Lay it flat on the plate and put your first wrap on top.  

{step 10} Spread some peanut butter on top of the veggie wrap, add a very thin, pin-striped line of sririacha across the peanut butter, then neatly place two leaves of mint (or basil) on top.  

{step 11}  Stretch the top of the rice wrap over the roll as tightly as possible without ripping it, folding it like a burrito.  Then stuff three, or four, or five into your mouth.

Single Layer v. Dual Layer Approach: Why the difference?  

The single layer is less chewy and time consuming, but messier and falls apart easily.

The dual layer approach takes more time and is a bit chewier.  However, it is much sturdier and pleasing on the eye.  If you're planning on transporting these a long distance, then I suggest the dual layer approach.

No matter how you decide to make these and which ingredients you decide to add, I promise that people will love them.  Plus they're healthy (and vegan/gluten-free!)...so make sure you wash them down with something less healthy, like a big slice of coconut cake or a thai iced tea.  You know, just to balance everything out.

If you decide to add any new ingredients that turn out great, please let me know.  I'm always looking for ways to mix these up!

Monday, September 9, 2013


after a particularly trying week last week, i looked in the mirror at my dry hair that more closely resembled rotting hay than commercial-worthy luscious locks and a face that hasn't seen real makeup since before obama's second term, and decided i deserved to have an "oops" day - that is, a day when i "accidentally" treat myself to things i really can't afford.  and then, when i look at my bank statement the next day, i say to myself "oops!"

you might say this is a highly irresponsible and materialistic habit for someone who can't afford to be irresponsible or materialistic, to which my response is: quiet, you!  retail therapy is a highly respected cure for many things...i am sure there's a study out there about it somewhere.

this time around, after getting a horrifying haircut in the castro district on saturday which i sulked about for the rest of the afternoon, my oops purchases were a kerastase hair conditioning masque and nars makeup.  so far, the jury's still out on whether or not the kerastase was worth it, but nars is quite possibly the most amazing makeup i've ever used (i've been using their tinted moisturizer for over a year).

i spent an hour being worked over by a nars salesgirl yesterday, and by the end of the consultation i was all dolled up just in time to head home, wash it all off, and head to bed.  but that didn't matter.  i don't know what it is, but there's some sort of sick satisfaction i get in watching my cheeks be covered up in glorified face plaster.  like my water baby doll or blanket when i was little, a fully made-up face, a bright shade of nail polish, and a shoe with a heel does wonders for my confidence on those down days.  i know how sad this must sound, but since i sometimes go several days without shaving my legs, i still can call myself a modern day feminist, right?

i wish i could have taken that salesgirl home with me to pull me out of bed in the morning and slap that stuff on my face every day, though.  i promised myself before going to bed last night that i'd wake up early enough this morning to put my new makeup on before work.  it took me precisely 7 hours to break that promise. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Ma Famille

i am pretty lucky i ended up with the family i have.  i grew up with three pretty awesome siblings, and parents who continue to have adventures all over the country together after 36 (!!) years of marriage.  even though our hectic lives get in the way, we make it a point to visit each other as often as possible.  and lots of fun is had by all, especially when theme parks are involved.

case in point: last week, after getting back from tahoe, my mom, dad, sister, dogs and i spent a few days with my brother's family in the santa cruz mountains.

in an attempt to spoil her rotten, the visit started by taking my 3-year-old niece, sedona, out to the santa cruz beach boardwalk for their dollar ride night.  my parents have taken all us kids to the boardwalk every year for the past 28 years, and thankfully this tradition continues with the grandkids.  everything is more fun when you get to share it through the eyes of someone who's still learning the alphabet.

 ^sedona, a born thrill-seeker, got a bit underwhelmed by all the little kid rides after a while.  she made it clear that the roller coaster was her favorite by asking each of us to ride it with her "just *one* more time."  four times in a row.  naturally, we were all too happy to oblige.^
 ^umm, is that granni on a roller coaster?
 my parents are not roller coaster people.  sedona must have some strong powers of persuasion to get my mom on that ride. i need to ask her for some pointers.
at her age, i had a much harder go of talking my mom and dad into things.^

 ^that is definitely my mom's terrified face.^
^sedona even managed to convince dumpy (as grandpa maver is affectionally called) to ride with her.  i swear, if sedona asked my parents to dress up as clowns and do a song and dance routine for the circus, they would.^

^looks like dumpy enjoyed the ride a bit more than granni did^
^no maver family outing to the boardwalk is complete without a ride on the carousel.  and though there's no picture of the blessed event, i even managed to throw a ring inside the carousel clown's mouth.  a personal achievement akin to walking on the moon that i will not soon forget.^
 ^that is the face of a 3-year-old who's ready to pass out ^
^but miraculously she mustered up enough energy for one more ride^

after the boardwalk fun and games were over,  we lounged around my brother's house and enjoyed the warm late august weather.  

san francisco, i love you, but have i mentioned that i've missed 80 degree summer days in the sunshine?
yeah, i have?  over and over again?  oh.

 ^no family photoshoot is complete without pictures of these two adorable babies^

 ^sedona, our little award-winning photojournalist in the making, took this picture for us.  
thanks, sedona!  you're a natural!^

i hope one day i'm lucky enough to find a man to grow old and have lots of babies with (and by lots of babies, i mean more like two).  but in the meantime, i'm pretty darn happy just being around this wonderful family i've got now.

thanks, dylan and erin, for hosting us and for having such beautiful children!  i don't know why i never managed to snap any pictures of your gorgeous faces.  next time!