an accidental detour…

April 21st, 2016

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Bear’s second birthday is in five days.  How is that even possible?  I’m working on a letter to him (my practice of writing monthly letters slowed to a crawl/stop in the last few months; the last one is at sixteen months here) that I’ll post soon.  Without having finished it, I can say this: motherhood has been the biggest, most fundamental shift that I’ve ever experienced.  It hasn’t always been easy, but I am so, so grateful for it.  It is, quite simply, the best thing that’s ever happened to me.  And after a lot of self-doubt at the beginning, I think I’m finally able to accept that I’m not half bad at it! 

In other news, I’m doing something cool in a few weeks.  More on that soon too.  Without being too mysterious, the photo above (a shot I snapped in 2007) is a preview.  Can anyone guess what it is?

→ CommentsTags: stuff and things




I support Bernie Sanders.  Here’s why.

April 14th, 2016

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A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the privilege of being able to vote in a democratic system, and in it, I argued that voting itself is the most important right that we have.

That’s true; I still think that. 

But that post strikes me as incomplete. 

The fact is, there’s a candidate this year who I’m thrilled to vote for.  Since turning eighteen, there’s never been one I’m this excited for.  And in a close race that will come down to a handful of remaining states, I feel like I’d be missing an opportunity if I didn’t share with you who that candidate is and why I think this is so important. 

But first, a word of background.  A few months ago, I eliminated advertising from this site.  I’ve stood by that promise.  When I stopped taking sponsorships on this blog, I told you that all I wanted from you was for you to listen.  That’s still all I want.  For you to listen to what I have to say with an open mind. 

I will probably convince very few people to actually vote for the candidate I support.  Maybe none.  That’s ok.  These are my opinions; they might not have an impact for a variety of reasons.  Your state’s primary may already be over.  You may not be registered to vote.  You may not be a U.S. citizen.  You may fundamentally disagree with me.  Or you may be sick to death of election news and decide to skip this post completely.  If so, that’s cool.  I get it.  See you next week. 

But if you’re still reading, I want to tell you a little bit about the candidate I support.

That candidate is Bernie Sanders. 

Here’s why.

Our world is changing, faster now than ever.  I’m thirty-five, which is not very old, but when I look back over my own lifetime, it feels like I’ve been on a roller coaster.  My childhood was largely spent in a pre-internet world, my adulthood in a post-internet world, and my teenage years somewhere in between.  This blog itself — the way I’m communicating right now — is a tool that didn’t exist for my parents’ generation. 

It’s not just communication.  It’s everything.  It’s education, it’s wealth, it’s foreign relations, it’s medical care, it’s our political system, it’s the planet.  That’s a list in five seconds off the top of my head.  Things that felt stable and certain ten years ago have changed, faster than anyone realized they could.  Things that felt sure and certain ten years ago are, it turns out, anything but. 

And the world is about to start changing even faster

Over the next few years and decades, we’re going to face challenges that prior generations couldn’t have dreamed of.  I’m virtually certain that we’ll face challenges that, sitting here today, I can’t even dream of. 

If this sounds scary… well, on some level, sure, it’s super scary.  But it’s also incredibly exciting.  And one of the best tools we have to grapple with these changes — to protect ourselves where necessary, and to foster and encourage the right developments — is through our political system. 

Which is why it’s critical to elect the right leaders.

I could talk about a lot of individual policy reasons that I support Bernie, but you may not have the same views as I do on specific policies.  That’s ok.  America has a diverse population with a huge array of different perspectives; that’s one of the things I value most about living here.  That’s not what I’m writing about today.

Because when we look at individual policies, I think we sometimes miss the forest for the trees.  The fact is, our government wasn’t set up so that each citizen could choose every single policy according to their individual beliefs.  In a country this diverse, that would be impossible.  Nothing would ever get done. 

Instead, we elect representatives.  We do our best to pick people who are competent and intelligent, who have the right values, who fight for the things that matter to us.  And then, if the system works, we let them do their jobs.  We don’t have to micromanage everything.  We put the right people in power and let them figure it out. 

Except over the last few years, our system has gotten bogged down.  It’s weighed down by money, by conflict, by politicians appealing to fringe groups instead of working in the public interest.  Something needs to change, quickly, before these problems become impossible to fix.  Issues like climate change and income inequality are existential threats to our world, and we are almost past the window to fix them.

But we have the tools to do it.  They are sitting right in front of us, waiting for us to pick them up.  And the first step is to elect a leader who cares more about the good of our country than about himself. 

That sounds like a small thing, doesn’t it?  It’s not.  For whatever unfortunate reason, our country seems to attract megalomaniacal politicians.  It’s one of our long-running jokes — that you can’t trust politicians and lawyers.  Do you know how screwed up that is?  There are the people who are setting and enforcing our laws, and we all treat it like a joke that they can’t be trusted. 

Even worse, we all accept it, like it’s nothing.  Like it’s just a given.  Like it’s something that can’t be changed.

And that’s because it felt that way, until this year. 

Bernie is different.  In a world where politics and authenticity have somehow diverged, he’s a beacon of unwavering personal integrity.  He embodies a model that I try my hardest to live up to in my own life, one of honesty and truth and standing up for what I believe is right.  He’s spent his entire career as a public servant, and time and again, he’s demonstrated a clear, unwavering dedication to helping this country.  He hasn’t always taken popular stances.  In fact, he’s often taken unpopular ones.  But he has held fast to an unchanging moral core for decades, even when it was hard. 

Voting for him is a privilege

A few months ago, there was a lot of talk about how Hillary was certain to be the Democratic nominee, that Bernie didn’t have a chance. 

But things have changed.  Bernie has won the Democratic primary in nine of the last ten states that have voted.  The gap between his delegate count and the number needed to win the nomination is closing with every state that votes. 

He is catching up. 

And with a couple of key victories in the next few weeks, he will win. 

But that’s not a guarantee.  For him to win the democratic nomination, and then the presidency, it’s going to take all of us who believe in him learning the issues, telling our friends, and spreading the message.  It’s going to take us engaging with our friends and family on both sides of the aisle to talk about why this is the right decision.  We need to explain why voting in this election season isn’t a messy chore — it’s an incredible opportunity. 

This year has given us a circus mess of unqualified, uninformed political candidates. 

And somehow, in the middle of all that garbage, there’s a diamond

That’s honestly how I feel.  I’m not just voting for Bernie; I’m thrilled to vote for Bernie.  I will do anything I can to help get his message out.  A few weeks ago, I stood in line for four hours at a rally for his campaign — that’s the photo above.  Thousands of people in a single line, hoping to catch a glimpse of him. 

It was too crowded; I didn’t get in.  I didn’t care.  I was happy to be there, happy so many people were there with me.  Against all odds, his message is spreading, faster and faster every day.

And yes, some days it feels like an uphill battle.  Some days, it feels like moving a mountain, one grain of sand at a time.  But that’s how it’s got to get done. 

I know this blog has a strong readership in New York and California, two huge states with upcoming primaries.  If you’re eligible to vote in either of those states, please take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the candidates and please, please, please vote.  There is literally nothing more important you can do this year than exercise your right to vote carefully, wisely, and for the right person. 

I’ve told you who I think that person is. 

Now go decide for yourself. 

→ CommentsTags: These opinions belong to Katharine Atlas and are not authorized by any candidate‚Äôs committee.




back to basics: burrata pasta

March 31st, 2016

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When I started this site almost a decade ago (some of you may remember!), it wasn’t to write about clothes or makeup.  Or motherhood.  Or my career, or politics, or my thoughts, or about life in general.  I started this blog with a very specific purpose: to keep track of the recipes I made as I was learning to cook. 

After about two years of posting nothing but recipes on this website, I took a detour.  I read an article about how bloggers were revolutionizing the fashion industry by posting real-life outfits that they were actually wearing, instead of magazine spreads with professional models and stylists and photographers.  And I decided to add fashion to this blog, and the rest is history.  (Sort of.  Eight years later, I’m not sure that’s exactly what happened with fashion blogging, but that’s a topic for another day.)

But you know what I’ve heard, time and again, from readers of this site?  They loved the recipes. 

So, hey, guess what?  I decided to listen!

With a two-year-old and a full time job, I don’t have a lot of time to cook these days.  You probably won’t see me rendering duck fat any time soon. (For years, that post about duck fat was the most popular post on this blog, FYI.  Duck fat.  Ponder that for a moment.)

But I still love cooking.  Sure, there’s something wonderful about a lazy night eating takeout on the couch, but give me a quiet weekend, and you’ll still find me scoping out the farmers market, making a giant mess in our kitchen, and emerging with something delicious.  So when a few of you guys wrote to me in January and mentioned recipes, I thought, hey, while I take a few months to figure out where this blogging thing is headed… maybe getting back to basics for a while would be a good start.

But here’s a wrinkle in writing about recipes.

I don’t always use them. 

In fact, unless I’m baking, most of the time, I don’t use recipes. 

I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen for long enough that following a set of ingredients or directions sounds kind of… boring?  I guess that’s it.  The problem is, when you don’t use a recipe while you’re making a dish, it’s really hard to post a step-by-step recipe online after the dish is done. 

(This is not to say, “oh, I’m such a great cook that I don’t use recipes.”  In fact, it’s more often the opposite.  Not using recipes is often a total disaster.  I once made an entire stock pot of butternut squash soup, and at the last minute decided to pour a beer into it.  It was completely disgusting, and I had to throw out the entire thing.  That’s not a lone example; I could tell a dozen stories with the same ending.  But if I’m telling the truth about how I cook, the fact is, I mostly prefer to do things my way, disasters included, than to follow directions.)

For now, I’m going to experiment with a new way to write these up.  I’m going to tell you, as best I can, what I did to create a dish.  But I’m going to do it as a narrative, not as a set of ingredients and a list of directions. 

So here we go. 

This recipe starts with some pasta.  Right about now, you might be wondering, “What type of pasta is that?”  The answer is: I have no idea.  No clue whatsoever.  It’s a type that I saw at the grocery store and I bought it.  A quick Google Image search suggests that it might be called gomiti, but truthfully, I’ve never heard of that type of pasta before and that might just be a word that someone made up.  Can you use other types of pasta in this recipe?  Again, not a clue.  Probably.  I don’t see how it would make much of a difference.  Live wild and free, people. 

Where were we?  Oh right, pasta.  Boil the water for your pasta.  Add some salt, because that’s a thing that the Food Network told me to do at one point, supposedly it makes the pasta more flavorful.  In a separate pan, simmer the garlic in the olive oil.  Add tomatoes (break them up with your fingers or chop them), dried basil, dried oregano, dried parsley, burrata (again, chopped), parmesan, and spinach. 

Oh, what’s that?  You have some more questions?

How much basil should I use?  I wish I could tell you.  I just shook some into the bowl until I decided there was enough.  Great method!  Super easy to replicate!  Not.  Maybe a teaspoon?  I’m just making that up.  It could be more or less.  The other spices are easier: a large pinch. 

Why did you use burrata instead of mozzarella?  Because burrata is pretty much my favorite food on earth and I use it in everything and if you haven’t tried it yet, your life is literally incomplete.  Please do so right now. 

What’s burrata?  Shoot.  You got me.  I don’t know.  In starting to type this, I was pretty sure that it was a type of mozzarella, but Google tells me that I’m wrong.  It’s a separate type of cheese made from mozzarella.  Basically, it looks like a ball of mozzarella, but when you slice into it, it’s this creamy, liquid-y goop that just might be the best thing you’ve ever tasted. 

Back to the recipe(-ish).  Simmer all the ingredients for about twenty minutes.  Cook the pasta for the number of minutes it says on the box.  Drain the pasta, mix everything together, sprinkle some additional parmesan on the top, and serve!

That’s pretty much it!  It’s really yummy.  Basically, just throw the ingredients into a bowl and it’ll probably turn out fine.  I’m not sure there’s much you could do to screw it up.  (Don’t dump a beer in it.  Take it from me, that’s always a mistake.) Rough instructions below.  Go give it a try!

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→ CommentsTags: food · main dishes




making it look easy?  i hope not.

March 14th, 2016

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Hi guys!  I’m currently in the process of redesigning this website, so I thought I’d revisit a few older posts that I’m really proud of.  If you didn’t catch these the first time, please check them out!  More updates soon.  xo

Sometimes when I post a particularly sweet photo, video, or blog post about our son, I get a comment back: “You make it look easy.”

Undoubtedly, this comment comes from a good place.  It’s someone telling me that I’m doing ok at this whole mothering thing (hopefully, I am), that life seems pretty good (it is) and that the baby and I are clearly happy (we are). 

But, oh my gosh.  The last thing I would want to do ever is make it look easy.

Social media and blogging are such wonderful additions to our culture; they let people connect across huge distances and cultural divides.  They make cooped-up new moms feel like they’re part of a community, they help us share knowledge and advice, and they enrich our lives in so many ways.

But they also make us competitive with each other.  They make us compare our real-life experience with a snapshot of someone else’s — a beautiful, happy snapshot, but one that lacks context and background.  Trust me: For every cute date-night outfit, there’s also a day when I don’t have time to even brush my hair.  For every sweet baby smile, there’s a night when he wakes up every two hours in tears.  Those moments are part of reality for any new mom, whether we choose to share them or not. 

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I don’t mean to say that there’s anything wrong with posting those beautiful moments — there isn’t, and I treasure all the sweet little smiles I’ve captured on camera in these last few months. 

But phrases like “making it look easy” make it seem like there’s something wrong with you if it’s not easy.  If it’s not easy, that it’s your fault.  That it could be “easy” if you would just do things differently. 

But here’s the thing: life isn’t rewarding or rich because it’s easy.  Life is incredible because of those tiny little moments, every day, when we appreciate something joyful or meaningful in our daily experiences.  Sure, there are great, easy days.  And there are also so many great moments in the not-easy days. 

If you’re expecting it to be easy — just because someone else might make it look easy — you’re always going to be unsatisfied. 

And I wanted to write this, because I worry sometimes that I contribute to it.  I worry that when I write about topics like breastfeeding, postpartum weight loss, or even how I’ve chosen to pursue my career, that others will feel badly because they’re struggling with those same issues.  To write about these topics suggests, in some small way, that you have figured them out.  But these are day-to-day struggles, and I don’t think anyone has fully figured them out.

All our lives are different.  And it’s important to remember that.  Each mom out there — each person out there, parent or not — has their own ups and downs that are unique to their family.  And I know that some of my toughest moments — the 2 a.m. wake-ups and the mornings that I frantically proofread a brief while our son naps in the next room — are the memories that I’ll look back on, years later, when he’s all grown up, and smile. 

So who really wants ‘easy’ anyways?

→ CommentsTags: baby · life




democracy is a gift, not a guarantee.

March 1st, 2016

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I’ll make you a promise at the beginning of this post: I’m not going to try to convince you of anything.  I’m not going to argue.  I’m not going to persuade.  But I am going to say some things that I believe.  You can listen if you want.

If you’re an American, you’re probably well aware that there’s an election coming up.

How could you not be?  Our media has turned into a 24/7 cacophony of political commentary.  It makes us all agitated and desperate, certain that the sky is about to fall if some other position gains any ground.  It’s exhausting.  And I think it’s kind of… wrong. 

I believe so much in our country.  So much that I’m not going to tell you who to vote for.  That’s not the point.  That’s not what makes our system great.  If you take my word for it, if you vote for a candidate because I tell you to, or because your parents told you to, or because the media or the leaders of a political party tell you to, something has already gone wrong.

An election is kind of like a jury.  For those of us who practice law, juries can be daunting.  You spend months or years putting together all the facts about a case, and at the end, you turn the decision over to twelve random people picked off the street, and they decide who wins and loses.  That’s our legal system, in a nutshell.  It places a tremendous amount of faith in the average person to get to the heart of things and make the right decision.  And most of the time, they do.  It’s amazing.

Elections are the same way.  There’s so much rhetoric and posturing and theatre that goes into them, but at the end of the day, the ultimate decision belongs to every single person in our country.  Our elections are decided by the tiny, individual decisions of 300 million people, each one of us contributing in our own small way.

When I think about our country, I’m almost overwhelmed with pride.  I’ve devoted my career to the law, which is the foundation of our whole system.  I’m so proud of that.  When I’m hung up on some day-to-day frustration with an aspect of my job, I remind myself of how fortunate I am to be doing what I do.  How fortunate we are to set our own laws through a democratic process, even an imperfect one.  What a privilege that is, and how much it matters.

Two hundred years ago (which is not really very long, when you think about it), in the wake of the American Revolution, we created an entire political system out of a few basic principles.  We based that system on two things: fundamental individual rights and checks and balances to prevent the abuse of power.  That’s pretty much it.  Every single American who is reading this has lived their life with the freedom created by that system. 

That freedom was an incredible gift.  And it wasn’t a gift that someone gave us.  It was a gift that we — as citizens — gave ourselves.  We agreed to come together to form our own government.

No, it wasn’t perfect.  But in just a few generations, it’s made incredible progress.  And it keeps getting better and better.  Want to know why?  It’s because we didn’t create a static system.  We created a flexible political system that would keep evolving along with us.  That was the miracle.  It wasn’t that we did something right, one time, two hundred years ago, and then sat back and watched it all play out.  Check the right box, and then enjoy a perfect life forever, thankyouverymuch.  That’s impossible.  That’s a dream world.  That’s not what we did. 

Instead, we created tools that could keep us moving toward what’s right, every day, in tiny increments.  That’s the miracle that I watch playing out around me, every single day.  That’s what makes me so proud of our country that I can barely breathe sometimes.  That we’re getting there.  That we keep going.  That we know better today than we did a hundred years ago, and we keep adapting.

That if we just keep pushing forward, we’re going to be ok.

I really believe that.

I argue about ideas all day long, but sometimes arguing for your ideas misses the point.  Democracy isn’t about getting one set of ideas pushed through, even if you think those ideas are totally, completely, 100% exactly right.  I’ve had political conversations with people of wildly different viewpoints, and I’ve always found that when both sides can argue with respect and information, there’s common ground.  We can usually figure out where we agree.  And that common ground is our democracy.

I originally meant for this post to tell you guys who I’m voting for.  I could tell you who, and I could give you my reasons why, but we all know that you shouldn’t take my word for it.  I’ll tell you this: The candidate I’m voting for is someone who I believe is a good person.  A true public servant who genuinely wants what’s best for the American people.  Someone who I believe can do this job, and do it well.  But if that person isn’t on the ballot in November, I’ll vote for someone else.

I don’t want to talk about any particular candidate. 

I want to talk about the choice itself.

Lots of states have primary elections today.  Others will have them over the next few months, and we’ll all have a general election in November.  Sometime between now and then, please register to vote.  You can do that online in thirty states (see the list here), or else by using this form.  If you need help, send me an email (use the Subject “Voter Registration” so it doesn’t get stuck in my spam folder).  The more of us who contribute our voices, the better our system works.  I trust that. 

Our democracy is a gift, not a guarantee.  The privilege to choose our leadership is an incredible one.  We were given it, and it’s up to us to ensure that our kids get it too.  There are a million ways that we have to work really hard to make sure that happens.  It takes a huge amount of personal responsibility, from each and every one of us. 

Sometimes it feels exhausting to have responsibility for the whole system fall squarely on your shoulders.  But that’s how the system works.  Through empowering millions of us to make our own decisions.  Through compromising to reach a middle ground.  Through respecting each other and listening to everyone’s opinions and perspectives. 

Through inching closer, day by day, to what’s right.  As best we can.  Until we finally get there, if we ever do. 

→ CommentsTags: life