We first spotted Brooke, who had been a contributing editor at Domino, back in the days when the Cookie and Domino offices shared a floor. While we had never officially met her, we admired Brooke’s work in the magazine–not to mention her great personal style.
Needless to say, we were excited when we had coffee with her last fall that she agreed to be a part of our collective as a Momfilter contributor. She lives in Williamsburg with her husband Joshua Liberson, and has, in her words, “a marvel of a 3.5-year-old daughter named Ada”.
She’s a total Renaissance mom—a musician, an artist, a cook, and she has fantastic taste. And while we are jealous of her effortless chic, she has a healthy dose of self-deprecation, which only makes us love her more.
THE FULL INTERVIEW
Tell us about yourself, since you are such a jack-of-all-trades:
The easiest thing to do is just to say that besides being a full-time mother, I am an artist and then hope that whoever has asked me the dreaded “What do you do?” question will get caught up in some other conversation and walk away before I have to elaborate.
But if I’m forced to go into detail, I would say that while I have spent the majority of my professional life as a photographer, (shooting everything from indie rock record covers and beer ads to the more esoteric large scale grids of SX-70 polaroids of hands) I have also dedicated lots of time to writing songs and playing music both for my bands and others (like Sybarite and Beastie Boys.)
And then I’ve also done my fair share of writing words, as a contributing editor to Domino Magazine for its entire, too-short life, among other things — including my current role as executive editor for the Krrb blog, which is fun because I can shoot photos for that too. And because I’m just like every other person alive in 2011, I have my blog where I share all kinds of nonsense I’m into with whoever wants to tune in. And that lives on a website where I’ve put the huge mess of stuff I’ve done so that people can decide for themselves what it is that I do.
Who cooks in the house? Do you have a go-to dinner that appears weekly? What’s in the breakfast rotation? Any food-based family rituals?
I used to think of myself as a good cook till I met my husband, who is one of those people who just go into the store, picks things that look appealing, and then invents a delicious meal out of it all. I now feel slightly lame because I need a recipe to riff off.
But my hours are more flexible, so I tend to do the cooking most weeknights, and we do try to eat together as a family as often as possible. And we all eat the same thing. I’m not one for making peanut butter marshmallow macaroni and cheese for Ada and filet mignon for the grown-ups.
So she’s got a pretty sophisticated palate, loves strong cheese, a good cornichon, some edamame, and a slice of prosciutto as much as the next gal, and will try just about anything. I worship the Gourmet Magazine special edition called Gourmet Quick Kitchen. Their sweet and sour chicken thighs with carrots appear on our table probably every 10 days if not even more often.
I also tend to get ideas from the Cooks Illustrated 30 Minute Suppers magazines. And I love the Mark Bittman/Jean-Georges Vongerichten Simple to Spectacular cookbook for pared-down but sublime dishes. I also really try to get Ada involved in the cooking even if it’s just washing the lettuce because she’s always more enthusiastic about the meal if she’s helped to make it.
As for breakfast, it’s a struggle to get Ada to eat anything in the mornings, so I tend to give her a glass of green kefir which has some kale and other goodies mixed in with the fruit and makes me feel like she’s getting something substantial to start her day. I eat oatmeal just about every morning, and lately, she’s been having some of that too, so maybe we’re entering a new phase.
Oh, and our one food-based family ritual these days is a loaf of fresh Challah bread every Friday from Bakeri, an amazing bakery and cafe a couple of blocks away from our apt in Williamsburg. And making our own ‘ice cream’ by running frozen fruit through the Champion juicer.
How do you feel about screen time?
We don’t have a TV in our house. It drives me crazy, so I lay down the law. We do occasionally watch movies, though they are super limited as well, right now we’re really into this short animated film from Australia called The Lost Thing. I could watch it over and over again, which is good because so can Ada.
How do you celebrate birthdays?
So far, we’ve just had people over, danced around the house with balloons, and had birthday cake. Nothing too elaborate, though this year’s cake had to be pink with pink turtles on top. And I must say that I resent the goody bag phenom. Though I’m not against giving out balloons or party hats.
What websites inspire you and for which parts of your life?
I probably shouldn’t admit this as a professional blogger, but I’m not a big web person. I spend lots of time on Krrb.com both for work, and because I am dedicated to the idea of reusing as much as possible and giving away or selling rather than tossing it into the landfill.
And then everydayisawesome.com I find makes me think whenever I read it. Momfilter (not kidding!) makes me feel like there are other parents out there like me, and who can give me tips on great cookbooks and activities to do on long plane trips that don’t involve Disney videos. 14tracks.com always has some cool obscure music to download and impress all of my 20-something friends.
Favorite activities for when you’re stuck indoors?
We tend not to let the elements get in the way, though if it’s cold or rainy, we’ll go to the Museum of Natural History (aka The Dinosaur Museum) or MOMA or a gallery show to look at art. A good thing to do when it’s super hot, too. If we’re staying home, sugar cookies are often baked.
What music are you into?
Ok right now, I am listening to the most recent Radiohead record, which I love. We’re also really into this Brooklyn-based electronic band called Javelin. And TV On The Radio. And Tune-Yards. And in the mornings we like to listen to my friend Xian Hawkins’ band, Sybarite, which is calm and uplifting at the same time.
The perfect way to get the day started. Ada is also particularly into Prince, because of “the girl drummer”, and she also loves the Elvis Costello song “Beyond Belief” which she sings at the top of her lungs whenever it comes on. Oh and just this weekend, we got the new J Mascis record, which is all acoustic guitar and beautiful.
Ada kept wanting to hear the songs again and again, which was fine with me. We tend not to listen to a lot of ‘kids’ music, though Elizabeth Mitchell and Free to Be You and Me do sneak in sometimes. We also spend a lot of time listening to the songs that Ada writes while strumming her toy guitar. I think it’s time to get her a real one.
What’s the thing that always stays on your to-do list and never gets crossed off and nags at you?
Ugh. Don’t get me started. I have saved all of those god damned art projects because I want to photograph them and make a catalog of my favorite ones. I thought it’d be cool to do one for every year. But have I done even one?
Top three favorite books—for Ada, for yourself? Last book you read?
Hard to pick their favorite books for Ada… Right this second I like Flotsam, by David Wiesner, Story Number 2, by Eugene Ionesco (out of print, but you can still find it), and D’Aulaire’s book of Norse Myths. And Ada would probably add Dr. Suess’ The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.
I don’t think I’ve read a book that didn’t have something to do with childcare or education or nutrition since Ada was born. But my mother gave me the Keith Richards autobiography for Christmas (best gift ever) and I swear I’m going to read it one of these days.
Do you have a fail-safe beauty product or routine?
Does taking a shower count as a beauty routine? I figure if I can get any beauty product from Red Flower before I leave the house, I’m good to go. I LOVE her stuff.
Your favorite family trip ever?
I’m sure it will be our trip to Hawaii when we finally get there, but since that hasn’t happened yet, I’d have to say our trip to Amsterdam. Ada was about 7 months old and we rented a little apt which was right near a huge market and perfect because we could do our cooking.
It’s such a kid-friendly city, with little playgrounds on every corner. Plus it seemed as though every family was some kind of racial mix, so we felt right at home. We have been planning our return ever since we landed back in NY…
You feel your best when…?
I’ve had enough sleep.
Favorite clothing item and why?
Depends on the season– for the past 15 winters or so it’s been my Easter Airlines baggage handler’s jacket. But every year, by early spring, I’m usually over it. I’m more fickle in the warmer months, but right now I’m excited about wearing a white sleeveless dress by Tess Giberson that I’ve also had for a while.
It’s made out of pieces of really soft cotton jersey sewn together kind of like a quilt so it feels like I’m wearing a big t-shirt. But it also feels like a super modern princess dress, which is a great way to feel, especially after a day of running around after a 3 ½-year-old. I also love this high-heeled fuscia haircalf pumps that Eileen Shields did for Zero Maria Cornejo. Because they are insane and amazing and make me feel like I haven’t completely lost my edge.
Proudest moment in parenting?
When Ada turned to me, after listening to me complain about a frustrating experience dealing with annoying red tape, and said, very seriously, “You have to be nicer to yourself, Mommy. Don’t be so angry. It’s all going to be OK.” Wise words from a three-year-old. And I am working hard on taking her advice.
I want it to be some kind of crazy hallucinogenic drug binge or a private jet trip to a secluded tropical island or something, but in reality, it’s probably as simple (yet equally elusive) as taking 2 yoga classes on the same day.
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