Retro Americana

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September 2, 2013


Or that unidentified blob that floats around in a lava lamp.

That was my summer.

We thought we were going to move this summer. Find a new adventure, have a new beginning somewhere else. But instead we stayed, and stayed. And we didn’t plan a trip anywhere. To make our summer more memorable, and less blahhhh, we decided to quickly pack up our people and pug and go to Santa Barbara.


But because staying in hotels is for chumps, we stayed in an Airstream.


For those taking notes, it was called the Santa Barbara Auto Camp, and they have five redesigned and restored Airstreams. Ours was the most “original” with this birch wood cabinets and rose pink bathroom.


The bathroom looked just like my grandma’s. But what really set it apart was the Airstream was stocked with Malin+Goetz toiletries, while grandma’s just has Breck extra hold hairspray.

We stopped at Figueroa Mountain Brewery.


The beach


The Santa Barbara Mission




And then the beach again.


Here’s our only photo with all of us, and hey, look at us, we’re all wearing backpacks!

I’m pretty sure the kids had a good time.


Zoey had a good time.


We had a good time.




1 Comment:

Ha!! My grandma had a baby blue bathroom and Brecks extra hold hairspray. Looks like a great time.

by Sara on September 2, 2013

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Cool Backpacks for School


August 17, 2013

As a mom, we all have to draw our line in the sand somewhere, a place you’re not willing to go beyond. For me it’s many things: I won’t let my kids wear Crocs, I won’t drive a mini van, and I won’t let them have a Dora the Expolora backpack. I’m a meanie, right?

My 6 year old daughter is starting first grade in the fall and needed a proper backpack. Because her taste level cannot be trusted,  I had to scour the internet for some non-princess choices to present to her.

Here were my top pics:


cool backpacks for school

1. Watermelon backpack by Lazy Oaf x Nasty Gal

2. Coral Peaches by JanSport

3. Herschel Supply Co. for crewcuts

4. Herschel Supply Co. for Tea

5. Denim-dye by Mi-Pac

6. Fjallraven Kanken 

We already have the Fjallraven and offered that to our daughter, but of course she snubbed her nose at, because I need something neuw mooomm! So finally she made a decision on the pink striped Herschel one from JCrew.

Done and done and no Dora.

Everybody wins.


I don’t have a child, so maybe this is where the difference lies. I cannot see spending $55 on a kids backpack, when they would be happier with a $18 Dora one. No one will judge you based on your child’s backpack… and if they do, they have a serious problem. I do agree that the choices offered to your daughter are significantly more pleasing to the eye than any Dora back pack I’ve seen. AND I suppose that if you have to look it and having hanging around your house for an entire school year, it might make a significant difference in what even i would allow. 🙂 Ok, FINE, I see from your perspective.

by Rachelle on August 17, 2013

Yes, Rachelle!
and I totally agree, $55 on a kid’s backpack is steep. It’s nuts. But I think it’s a small price to pay for sanity, and she will use it until it falls apart. And then I’ll duct tape it back together and she can keep on using it. That’s the plan at least…

by beckey on August 19, 2013

OMG. A watermelon backpack? So great!

by melinda on August 19, 2013

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Summer is for Lovers


August 8, 2013

When I was little I used to bite my fingernails. A disgusting habit that carried me well into my teen-years. I finally broke free of it when I started wearing acrylic nails. I’m embarrassed to even admit that I wore them. I would endure the layers upon layers of toxic chemicals and an hour every week in the nail salon just so I could point at things with a casual authority. Oh look, the directions say to go this way, and then my hand would manage to find my chin while I stroked my jaw line with all the awkward conviction of a child wearing an oversized glove. I’d strum my long thick fingernails on the table, just to really drive the point home that I paid for these pieces of plastic on the ends of my fingers, and I was going to draw as much attention to them as I possibly could.

Thruuump, thruuump, thrummp.

I remember I got talked into wearing them on my wedding day, and every time I looked down at my hands that day, with new nails and a ringed finger, I kept thinking that they didn’t belong to me. Those must be someone else’s hands. They belonged to someone older, someone classier. We went to Paris on our honeymoon, and I pointed to something, a piece of art at the Pompidou maybe, and it all felt so foreign; the hand, the country, the marriage.

I’ve since come home, and my hands and marriage feel like my own, but I have started biting my nails again, along with the hardened pieces of skin around my nails that just beg to be gently torn off with my teeth.

I blame this on summer. Summer with it’s promises of greatness, it’s lazy cadence, and warm and carefree breezes have all catapulted me into a new type of crazy.

I think for me, summer has really convinced me that I am a mother to three children.


You know for some people when something crazy, or great, or unreal happens to them they say, “It still hasn’t sunk in.”

Well for me, it has finally sunk in. Three people call me mommy, and while I am in love with each of them, and and adore being a mommy, all three of them at once is really starting to cramp my style.

Lately the hardest part has been the constant arguing from my 6 and 3 year old.

At the beginning of summer when school had just got out, they relished in being near each other. They would play for hours upstairs building forts and dressing up, turning doll shoes and trucks into fake food, or they’d do a series of artistic renderings of my face on watercolor paper. And on a rare occasion they would pause and do something thoughtful for me: sweep the bathroom floor or feed the dog. I thought summer was for lovers, and I was in love.

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Then slowly at first, there was a sea change. The hours of uninterrupted play time turned into 30 minutes tops before I heard shrieking, crying and the unmistakable hollow sound of a blow to the back.

I guess it was inevitable. I actually thought I had highly evolved children. Like somehow I was the exception, “Oh my children never fight. They are each other’s best friends.” Well the egg is now on my face. Turns out they are not highly evolved, but instead Hudson is a cry baby, and Berlyn is a tattletale.

So my nails get shorter. I munch them while waiting in line at Trader Joe’s as I watch Hudson rearrange all the candy bars and Berlyn slap his hand and tell him not to. I tear off a large piece of skin while they violently argue over who gets to open the automatic door at Nordstrom. I’m out of things to do. We did VBS, we did the library, art projects, lemonade stands, nature hikes, beach, pool, water park, we did picnics, farmer’s markets, zoo, lunch with friends and park dates. Now I’m out of activities, my kids are out of patience, and my fingers are out of nails.

Summer can end now.


The onion plant has a fan of hollow, bluish-green leaves and the bulb at the base of the plant begins to swell when a certain day-length is reached. In the autumn the foliage dies down and the outer layers of the bulb become dry and brittle. The crop is harvested and dried and the onions are ready for use or storage. The crop is prone to attack by a number of pests and diseases, particularly the onion fly, the onion eelworm and various fungi that cause rotting. Some varieties of A. cepa such as shallots and potato onions produce multiple bulbs.`*-..

Have fun

by Lakeshia Singco on August 13, 2013

I totally agree. We brought our kids to Sharm el Sheik (Egypt) for their summer hols (I’m in Dublin, Ireland). You wuold think that they would be grateful. NO. Our little darlings (aged 11, 10, and 7) fought the whole first week. So much so that I text my Dad and Mum and told them I was miserable and he called them and gave them what for on the phone. After that the 11 year old stepped back from her brothers and the 10 year old stepped back away from his brother a bit. I love them dearly but BRING ON THE SCHOOL TIME!

by Alison Behan on August 18, 2013

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Brigade Parade


August 1, 2013

Things have been happening over here at the ‘ol Brigade lately.

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Like the ridiculousness of my face in the above photo.

Additionally here are some other fun things:

I got an award from the Orange County Press Club for the cover story I wrote in the December issue of OC Family.

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Which OH WOW, I was floored that I even got a nomination. It was an honor to be recognized and attend the Press Club event. Plus, I got to eat a fancy dinner with 5 forks, and perfect my golf clap as other writers were awarded too.

I wrote an article for the Orange County Register newspaper that was published on Tuesday:

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And I’m featured on the talented and always adorable Curly Girl’s blog today!



Now I’m going to hibernate under a rock because this is all too much for me.


Holy cow. I am a die hard Curly Girl fan- even to the point of ditching Boston on our very first visit to go find her lovely shop in Belmont (about 30 minutes outside of the city). Once there I practically drooled over every single card/magnet/cutting board with her cute designs on them. (I may or may not have required a really large bag to carry all of the goodys I could not leave without…) Now to hear that you guys have teamed up? Mind blown. Congratulations! I look forward to reading your funny/inspirational/honest posts in 2 places rather than just one. Go girl!

by Amanda on August 1, 2013

Awesome Beckey! So proud of you!

by Debbi on August 1, 2013

SO proud of you/thrilled for you! You are my hero.

by Rhea on August 1, 2013

Not surprised, not at all, your writing is witty and awesome! One of the view blogs that I follow and actually read! 😉

by Lisa J on August 1, 2013

It’s always the ones who don’t pay attention in class who are the secret geniuses. Take that, Torrey Programers (unless you were secretly a part of them, too).

by Erin Huckaby on August 1, 2013

Curly Girl Design is how I found you!!! (Those flyers or post its on the side – whatever they call them). And I am so glad I did. Congratulations on your achievements. It was only a matter of time really. Don’t cha think?

by Jessica on August 6, 2013


by Emma on August 7, 2013

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Magazine Obsession


July 31, 2013

I am magazine obsessed.

Open any cupboard in my house and you might find slim shiny magazines stacked underneath fitted sheets or stowed away behind glass vases. Yoga Journal, Fine Cooking, Dwell Magazine, are all dog-eared and reserved incase of accidental boredom, or a power outage, or the sudden urge to make a fire.

I even love sitting in doctors’ waiting rooms so I can thumb through a fresh W Magazine or a copy of Self. I love them all. I think it’s because of their laconic nature. Magazines aren’t lengthy books that mock me from my nightstand, instead they are easy, and they have pictures! It’s basically at a comfortable second-grade reading level, and that’s just where I like it. And I always have time to leaf through a magazine. Sitting at the table with a bowl of raspberries and a cup of coffee just feels more relaxing while reading about tips on how to achieve the perfect rustic cherry tart or hidden camping getaways.

Two of my favorite magazines get delivered to my door each month, Sunset and Martha Stewart Living. I get so thrilled when they come, that I stop what I am doing, and slowly turn the pages, taking in all the beautiful pictures and delicious recipes.



But beyond the glossy comfort of a mass produced magazine, lives a captivating new subset of magazines that are heartier, more beautiful, and advertisement free.

Here are my very most favorites:

Kinfolk is stunning with its clean style and thoughtful articles. It’s smart, well written and makes me feel like I can throw together a dinner party using only the ingredients from my backyard.


Lucky Peach is a food magazine that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The copy I have is about what to eat in case of apocalypse.  Each issue is centered around a single subject and its thick matte pages are loaded with bold and in your face photography, coupled with satirical and smart prose.


Apartamento is an interiors magazine. The Barcelona based bi-annual comes into homes of creative types and takes photos and talks to them about their living spaces. It feels comfortable because it’s not about high priced sofas and artwork set up in a cold studio, instead  it’s about real people living in real homes.


Wilder Quarterly is all about things that grow: gardening, flowers, nature, wearing long flowing hemp skirts and twirling on top of a grassy meadows. Flowers and floral prints cover this magazine’s heavy pages, as do recipes, guides for growing veggies, and a general love for being outdoors.


Those are some of my favorite magazines, what are yours?


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Cookies Make the World Go ‘Round


July 24, 2013

Because of my last few blog posts, I keep getting some worried questions from friends and relatives. Are you okay? You seem a little stressed? I have some Xanax in my purse. Thank you truly for your concern, and extra thanks for your drugs, but I think this is the normal progression of my life stage. It’s hard, and I’m in the weeds. Things are a little dirty, a little frayed at the ends, and please don’t’ pull that loose thread or else the whole thing will come undone, but dammit, we’re all alive, and that’s something worth celebrating. SNO-CONES ALL AROUND! Actually no, that’s gross, I hate sno-cones, all that fake food coloring…and syrupy sugar– barf. I’ll take a cookie. Cookies are my happiness. And because they make me so happy, I thought I’d share them with you.

This is a Martha Stewart recipe.

I think premium ingredients make them taste the best. Don’t buy junky stuff. Buy organic if it’s available.  If you’re going to eat it, it better taste good, that’s what I think.

Speaking of ingredients, I buy my chocolate chips from Costco and they are from responsibly sourced cacao. So I already feel like a winner when I eat these cookies. Hi-five to myself.

2 and 1/4 cups of all-poupose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 sticks of unsalted room temperature butter

1/2 cup of granulated sugar

1 cup of packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon of coarse salt (and then some more, because salt tastes good)

2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract

2 large room temperature eggs

2 cups of chocolate chips

1 or so cups of walnuts

Hippo Brigade chocolate chip cookies ingredients

Pre-heat your oven to 350.

First I like to start my mixer going with the butter and sugars for a looong time. See how many O’s I used? That means like 5 minutes. I like them fluffy. While those ingredients are getting to know each other, get your flour and baking soda and salt combined. The kids like to help me out with this part. I give them a big bow and a whisk and they try not to cover my entire counter with flour.

Crack your eggs and add them to the party. I like to do this in a small dish, to make sure no yucky shell pieces get in those delicious cookies. Because my 3-year-old thinks he’s Mario Batali, he does a mean one-handed egg crack, which means most of the time I’m fetching egg shards out of the bowl.

Mix on, mixer.

Things should be getting nice and fluffy. Fluf-fay.

Add in the vanilla. I throw caution to the wind, and just pour. Who needs fancy measuring spoons?

Wait. I do. I love them. I’m convinced they help me bake better.

Hippo Brigade chocolate chip cookie batter

Turn the mixer down and slowly add in the flour, baking soda, and salt. Don’t over beat. Then throw in those chocolate chips and walnuts. I like to turn the mixer on for a few revolutions to get everything incorporated.

Then I stick my finger in the bowl and have a taste. You have to make sure it tastes good.

Hippo Brigade chocolate chip cookies

Drop them onto parchment lined baking sheets

Bake them for 10-12 minutes alternating the baking sheets half way through, let cool and then EAT THEM!

Hippo Brigade's chocolate chip cookies


I am so making sure Billy reads this blog! He is the baker in my house and makes the BEST chocolate chip cookies EVER! He has combined different recipes to create his own! He is all about vanillas from different countries! You should totally drop some off at my house on your walk! Ha!! 🙂

by Debbi on July 24, 2013

I want these NOW. Gimme. I also want to lay out all my ingredients so pretty-like too.

by melinda on July 27, 2013

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OC Register Family and Instagram

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July 12, 2013

OC Register Family chose one of my Instagram photos to be featured on the back page of their magazine this month!


And here are some words I wrote about the photo:

Most of our weekends are sloppy amalgamations of birthday parties and obligations.

We bustle all week to find respite on those two special days, but plans get made,

and respite gets overlooked. This photo was taken on a rare day where we had no plans.

Our morning was warm and lazy, and the afternoon slowly appeared.

“Let’s go outside!” We laced up our shoes, and waked out our front door.

Our home sits in a perfectly manicured master planned community, but slightly beyond the permitter, there is space.

Houses disappear behind emerald green hills, and tall rag weed grows unattended.

The sounds of SUVs and school children gets muffled by the wind in the trees and our own thoughts.

We found our much needed respite. It was outside waiting for us all along.


So cool!

I was honored.


To see the actual page in the magazine go here.

To follow me on Instagram go here.

1 Comment:

Great shot! Life is too busy most of the time, I love those rare lazy days.

by mariah on July 25, 2013

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Table for Glasses

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June 26, 2013

My days are hard.

Lately, I am a pin watching a glossy 13 pound ball roll straight for me, and it knocks me over.


That giant 13 pound ball is my three-and-a-half-year-old. He’s lazy with direction, careless with liquids, he’s loud when I ask for quiet, he is a bulldozer in a field of daffodils. And lately he has stopped sleeping. I’m convinced he’s an alien, or a robot who is surviving off of bananas and Triscuts. He is the first to wake up in the morning, has given up his afternoon nap, and at night, hours after we put him to bed, he finally gives in to sleep. Not sleeping is one thing, but the symptom of no sleep is ruining our relationship. He’s tipsy with tiredness, he falls over and breaks into a million pieces. If I don’t cut his apple just right the whole afternoon is destroyed.


Additionally, I have two other children, one of which is a tiny baby who wakes up in the middle of the night crying for milk. I feel run down, constantly tired, and I need a break.

My husband had to work late, so I called my mom, and she told me to come over. Into the car I threw all three kids, some of which were not properly clothed, and drove to her house for fast food with an ocean view. The kids plodded around the inside of her home, and I quietly retreated onto the deck to watch the trees bend under the weight of the heavy salted air.

I can’t find large chunks of time for myself, so instead I need to uncover small respites.

After tangerine popsicles and sticky fingers they went into the bath, fresh jammies, and I drove them home.

The drive home was detoxifying. The children were uncharacteristically quiet and the music that was playing through the speakers elevated me; Old Jimmy Eat World, Table for Glasses. I rolled the windows down just enough for my kids not to scream at me, “MAAA! TOO MUCH WIND!” And I watched the hills turn gold from the reflexion of the sun setting. My fingertips curled over the glass of the window, they flexed and relaxed with the tempo while they flickered against the breeze. I was having a sort of transcendent moment. The crescendo of the song built up and hit our car with force, I was the drummer, biting my lip and hitting the air with my imaginary drumsticks, because the percussion made me do it, because no one was watching, because it was good. It all felt good.

 Lead my skeptic sight to the table and the light

It happens too fast, to make sense of it, make it last

The light was brilliant, golden and pink and shiny. If the sunset could request a song, this one would be it. Sparkly, soft, and brilliant.

And then I saw a dead deer in the road…

“Mooomm!! Wa-waz dat!?

“Was that deer DEAD?!”

Mmoomm! Git da window up!

“How did it die?”

“What happens to deers when they die?”

“I want to listen to Veggie Tales!”

Thus ending my transcendent experience.


1 Comment:


by Jean on July 30, 2013

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The Chartreuse Rombus


June 18, 2013

Sometimes I get an email from a reader asking me a question.

And the question I hear the most is, “why is your blog named Hippo Brigade?” And the answer is, NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. In all caps, like I’m shouting, and then I smack your burrito to the ground and run in the other direction.

Alright fine, I’ll give you the real answer.

When Pat and I first got married, it was the name of our wireless internet.

For some reason, we take pride in naming our wireless internet. We find you positively dull and uncreative when we see that your internet is called Jones542, because your last name is Jones and your house number is 542. So a few beers and an entire package of Twizzlers later we were shoving words together like it was craft night with Aunt Mildred. Proverbially hot glueing words to pipe cleaner-wrapped popsicle sticks until we liked the combination.

Eucalyptus Auditorium

Theoretically Frenetic

Raspberry Jungle

Hippo Brigade

Hippo Brigade stuck. We moved out of our first place, and forgot all about Hippo Brigade. We later went on to name our wireless internets Hey Hermano, The Chartruse Rhombus, and Mr. Chang’s Imagination.  Then I started a blog and was all, “Omg what should it be called?”

Hippo Brigade.


Because it’s better than Mr. Chang’s Imagination.



I love everything about that!

by Julie on June 18, 2013

So funny!

by melinda on June 23, 2013

deer, not dear

by Jean on July 30, 2013

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hoping that we can outrun the sun


June 13, 2013

While laying on the table at my chiropractor’s office, my doctor adjusted me and told me that my body was emotionally overwhelmed. Oh and he also moonlights as a psychic. Actually, no he doesn’t’ need to be a psychic to realize that I’m emotionally overwhelmed. Just look at the little people I brought with me to the appointment, fighting over who gets to hold the iPad and hooow much looongerrr to we have do beee herreee!?? And then there’s Silas in his carseat carrier, like, “I’m cool right now, but leave me in here for another 4 minutes, and I’ll go crazy. CRAZY! Don’t believe me? Try it.”

So my doctor knows that my kids drive me crazy and I need a break. I don’t need a stranger justifying my role as an overwhelmed stay-at-home mother of three, but somehow in that moment, when my doctor was tapping my foot and telling me my life was difficult, my eyes yielded tears and my voice got soggy.

Silas is now seven months old. He does all these fantastic tricks now. He sits for a wobbly minute or two before he tips over like a buoy in the ocean. He’s opinionated, loud, and grabby. He’s basically an old man: He looks like Mr. Magoo, loves boobies, hates loud noises, loves naps, hates when things go off schedule, loves reading the paper (or Pat the Bunny), doesn’t have any teeth, talks to anyone who will listen to him, and has a hard time getting around. See? Old man. He has old man eyes too. Somehow when he looks at me, I feel like he understands more. More than just my face, and my nose, my eyebrows. He gets me. I think it’s because he’s already been through a lot. He has gained wisdom and perspective. … at 7 months old, he’s a magi.

Magoo Magi.

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We want to sell our house, which makes my stomach flip and my head weak, and I can’t feel my legs, and I’m scared. Scared because we don’t know where to go yet. There’s all this pressure we’ve heaped upon ourselves to find the dream home. But I want a modest life, and a simple house. Simple but beautiful with trees and a yard, maybe some chickens and a garden. I want a dutch door off my kitchen that opens to the outside where I can watch my kids run in the grass while I bake a cake, and wear an apron with cherries on it.


And then I get sentimental over this house that we live in, with it’s walls and rooms and sounds and the way the sun comes through the shutters at dinnertime and blasts my face with it’s shiny brightness.

I’ve been walking around my home lately, touching the walls and feeling the weight of what we created in the 3.5 years that we’ve been sleeping here and eating here and making babies here.

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It’s just a shell, I keep reminding myself. We’re going to find a new shell. We are merely slugs, a family of slugs sliding around on the wet sidewalk looking for a new home.


can you come decorate my house?! my walls are SO BARE!! I love that all of your walls are so unique and special!

by allie on June 13, 2013

Slugs love seattle…just sayin!

by Anna on June 13, 2013

One day, Beckey my dear, I will paper the walls of my art studio with the pages of a book YOU have written … xoxoxo

by Jan Brandt on June 13, 2013

Omg, we want to sell our house too! It’s so stressful! I want a yard and a driveway and just space. But we love our home because of what we have built here. A family of two became a family of four. I understand what you are going through. *Sigh*

by Debbi on June 13, 2013

I have the same dreams as you. Right down to the dutch door and chickens. And with the house prices up right now, we could possibly make a nice chunk of change on our house. I’m so ready.

by Camille W on June 15, 2013

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