kathryn's chocolate cake // 15 jan 2022

lucy always asks for chocolate cake for her birthday. i'm okay at cake – stella parks' white mountain layer cake usually turns out pretty well for me, as well as my sister's carrot cake and this ricotta raspberry cake, but i've failed repeatedly with mediocre strawberry cakes, yellow cakes, chocolate cakes, and citrus cakes. and don't even get me started on frosting. my nemesis. 

for lu's birthday i just planned to use a box mix from the pantry and a can of betty crocker frosting. then i remembered my secret weapon! how could i have possibly forgotten?!

enter: kathryn's magic chocolate cake. as a teenager, this was our go-to special occasion cake at my aunt kathryn's. i remember having it on father's day with my grandparents, after baptisms and baby blessings, and on my sister emily's birthday the day after we got our wisdom teeth out. 

this cake is truly perfect, plus it's ridiculously easy to make. dense but soft, extremely chocolatey but not too sweet, with a bit of texture from the chocolate chips. the glaze has a pinch of salt in it so it brings the whole cake together. this is a very dangerous baked good.

- - - 

Kathryn's Chocolate Bundt Cake

1 (18.25 oz.) pkg. devil's food cake mix 
1 (4 oz.) pkg. instant choc. fudge pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 c. vegetable oil (olive oil ok)
1 cup sour cream (or greek yogurt)
12 oz. semi- sweet choc. chips (2 cups)

optional glaze:
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
dash of salt
3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  In a large bowl combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, oil, sour cream and 1/2 cup water.  Beat on medium speed 4 minutes scraping down sides of bowl often.  Stir in chocolate chips.
Turn into a greased 12-cup bundt pan.  Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean.  Let cool 10 to 15 minutes in pan, then invert to unmold onto a rack or serving plate and let cool completely.

for glaze:
In a 1 quart glass bowl, combine butter, corn syrup, salt and 2 tablespoons water.  Heat in a microwave oven on high 1 to 1 and a half minutes or until boiling, stirring once.  Stir in the chocolate chips until glaze is melted and smooth.  Set aside to cool to room temperature and thicken slightly to spreading consistency.  Glaze should not be thick.

eve's birth

in the beginning the Gods
(Mother and Father - yours and mine)
first constructed

and then, the queen mother

let us tell it like it is
and retell the versions where
Eve is a derivative
or a ribbed re-write of the first man;

the creation of Eve
was a miraculous assembly of DNA 
painting her
building her
birthing her –

she was only begotten
of her Mother.

look closely:
Adam slept through labor and delivery.

he had as much to do with the birth of Eve
as Abel had with Cain's

CA Coast // April 2021

Spring Break 2021: we rented an RV and drove up the coast with Emily and her family. We started in Malibu and worked our way up through Santa Barbara, Solvang, Cambria, Monterey, and down through Big Sur and Carmel-by-the-River. It was one of the most memorable family trips we've ever done! I love our gorgeous state. More photos right this way:

palm springs // nov 2021

We left the kids and spent 36 hours doing *practically nothing* in Palm Springs. Nate found a super cheerful, super retro Airbnb and we spent the afternoon at the Ace Hotel pool and spa. We ate delicious food and shopped for vintage and talked about our dreams and took photos of each other. 

It was just what the doctor ordered. 

Kodak Gold 200, Kodak Portra 160 // Canon eos 3

Thanksgiving Turkey 101 // 11/17/21

Here's what I know about Thanksgiving turkey:

- People often get it wrong.
- It's not hard to get it perfect, but there are rules that must be followed. 

Dry brining and flipping while roasting are the two keys to a perfect turkey. Dry brining enhances the bird's natural flavor and tenderness and prevents it from drying out while cooking. Flipping ensures an evenly cooked turkey, and, again, prevents it from drying out in the oven.

Here's how I have made four perfect Thanksgiving turkeys.

to my great-great-grandmother, the second wife

What was it like?

Did you lay awake at night?

Did you have hope that someday someone would thank you for hollowing out your entire self in the name of propping up the patriarchy?

I wonder if you laid there praying to your God, crying for clarity. I hate knowing you died without it. 

I hope some part of you knew your daughters would have that clarity someday. That they would learn at their mothers’ knees to listen to a still small voice and grow into women who know that voice so well they could never deny when it quietly whispers, “Sometimes even good men are wrong.” 

It’s in our bones. Our DNA is build with strands of you that knew there is nothing virtuous or lovely about coercion. Nothing of good report or praiseworthy in oppression. 

I can picture you in despair in the bitter mountain winters, wondering how you ended up in this horrible predicament. Looking around and recognizing nothing about your life. Knowing you never truly had a choice. Trying fiercely to convince yourself it’s the right thing. 

I hope there were glorious, brilliant streaks of joy, nursing a warm baby, braiding little heads of hair, teaching the alphabet. 

You were robbed. Tricked, bullied, squashed, shamed. 


They are still trying to rewrite your sacrifice. They are still forgetting to follow Moroni’s sharp counsel and to ask if it was even God’s word in the first place. 

My gut says the men never laid awake.

Thank you.

where to find me // 11/4/21

I keep feeling this nagging to post a picture, post a story, put something out there. I can't tell if it's an unhealthy nag of millennial technology attachment, or if it's some type of subconscious brain insurance, imploring me to leave a trail of alexcrumbs for my babies to follow one day. 

Dad's wallpaper sample book might have something to do with this. The book, an enormous scrapbook obediently and neatly filled with his tidy elementary school assignments and progress reports, is a portal to a completely familiar yet wholly unknown person: Dad as a child. "John is chatty but obedient. Gifted reader." A C in tenth grade German. Cards from Mary Jane. Photos with Brian and Red and Jimmy.

The book was like a magnet drawing me to it anytime I set foot in the attic as a teenager. I never got sick of it. I still don't. As a kid I wanted to rip my favorite pieces from the book and put them up around my bedroom. Stick them to myself somehow. 

But then I worry. Dad didn't care about what he was putting in the wallpaper book, he simply did what his mother asked. There was no ego in it, no guile. It was a purely unselfish way of preserving pieces of himself. Is it even possible for me, a self-centered so-called artist, to duplicate such a masterpiece of personal history? Is there even a point to trying? 

Something within me has always called me to share, publish, create, talk about. My earliest memory of it is bringing my baby brother for show and tell in kindergarten. The most embarrassing example is when I monologued my entire life story – including major events of my parents' childhoods – to the nurse tending me as I came off of anesthesia post-wisdom teeth extraction at age 16. 

I'm no different today. As I write this, it occurs to me that I don't actually care if anyone ever follows the alexcrumb trail. I'll leave it anyway. 

Maybe I'm laying it to help me find my way back to my own self.

To my children, I hope you'll find me here. The version of your mom who wrote blog posts while you watched Daniel Tiger, collaged and curated after you were in bed, made photographs for my clients while Dad fed you dinner. The tired one, the one with bad body image and amazing friends. A person who wanted to teach you emotional intelligence, Christlike love, integrity. Who wished she made more money, had a bigger audience, kept the house more organized, knew how to get you three to stop being such picky eaters. 

I love you Eleanor Pie. I love you Lucy Cup. I love you Charlie Boy.

This is where I keep some of my favorite pieces of myself. And you, too. Look for us.

The Gift Guide for the Person Who Has Everything // November 2021

We all have that one person who is impossible to shop for, right? They don't need or want anything, we've already gotten them a super clever/ heartfelt/ fancy gift in previous years, and we're stuck. 

Not this year!

I've narrowed it down to three categories, practical gifts, random beautiful objects, and food gifts, to wow that very specific someone. Betcha a pint of ice cream there's something here for your "I don't need anything this year!" person. 

* = I have this! I love it!

Part 1: Practical Gifts

For your mom, who loves to travel: a Clear membership* ($179/year) + TSA pre check ($100/5 years), to help her get through airport security in a fraction of the time

For your sister-in-law, who loves gadgets but is on the $50-or-less in-law gift loop: a Swiss Army card ($32) to keep in her glove box

For your dad, who remembers your kids' birthdays, but sometimes misplaces his keys... or phone... or wallet: a set of AirTags ($100)

For your father-in-law: a really fantastic chef's knife* ($75) or paring knife* ($85), because a knife is one of those tools that really does change your life

For your newlywed brother: a year of Amazon Prime ($119)

haiku of babies

i never realized
eleanor lucy charlie
you are my poem