Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Migraines, Vampires, and a Recipe


I've been wanting to follow-up on a couple things for a while now, but there always seems to be something else fighting it's way out of my head!

First: Migraine treatment follow-up
I posted a little while ago about a suggestion made by a neurologist that I try a combination of vitamins (and occasional Aleve) to try to keep my headaches under control. I can say unequivocally that this has been a great success for me. My daily headaches are all but gone, and I haven't had a single migraine. On 3 occasions I have gotten what I'll call “weird” headaches — not quite migraines, but feeling pretty intense. All 3 times I took Butterburr and was fine within an hour! If you decide to try this, please let me know how it works for you.

Second: the Twilight series
At the time that I wrote, I was reading book 1 of 4. I have now read all 4 and, obviously, I loved it. My favorite book was the first, followed by the 3rd. I may have caught some flak in the comments (I believe a certain friend called me a “moron” — sound familiar, Dana?!) but I'm ok with that. The books aren't great literature, but the writing is decent and the characters are really, truly likable. And sometimes that's enough.

Lastly: the promised recipe
Yet another sign of Spring is that we fired up the grill the other night. I'm not a red-meat eater, and I really don't care for chicken. However, this simple rub was soo good that I ate every last bite. Together with some griilled onions and asparagus, and a French white burgundy… yum!

Barbeque Rub (from Real Simple, June 2008)
3 T paprika
1T brown sugar
1T dried oregano
1T ground coffee
1.5 t salt
.5 t pepper

We used boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, but I think this would be great on shrimp, too. Coat with a little olive oil, cover with the rub, and grill!


Skirts and Bags

After what seems like ages of sewing, photographing, and site prep, I am so pleased to finally announce the opening of my Etsy shop!

So far, I've got some sweet skirts for little girls and some fun handbags for bigger girls listed there. But stay tuned! I've got beautiful shopping bags, kid ponchos, funky dolls, and more coming as time allows.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Signs of Spring

We arrived home from Florida late last night, but even in the dark we could tell there were signs of spring everywhere. Despite the cold temperatures, and occasional brief hailstorm, it is beautiful outside. These photos were all taken right on my block this afternoon.







Thursday, March 26, 2009

Little White Lies

Tonight, as Anna sat “watching TV” in the hotel and drinking her “milkshake,” it occurred to me that one day she’s going to be really pissed off. There will come a time when she discovers the TV can actually be turned on — that you don’t actually have to make up the stories you’re “watching”. And that kefir is not exactly the same thing as a milkshake. I just hope that by then she lives far enough away that I don’t have to directly experience the fallout. Of course, she thinks that will be when she’s 58 (the same age that she can drink coffee, wine, or drive), and I haven’t told her any different!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Boca, Baby!

As I mentioned in the previous post, we're spending Spring Break week in Boca Raton, Florida, visiting family. Neither David nor I care much for Florida — we find it a very weird place, much more “foreign” to us than living in France ever was! But I have to say, we do manage to find much that amuses us here, from the drive-through daiquiri places to the bars that try to lure you in by offering a boxing ring in which you can pummel your best friends. And, of course, there are the old people. Everywhere you go, everyone is old.

The first night we were here my grandparents had us pick up Chinese takeout at one of the many, many strip malls near them. It was Saturday at 6pm, and the place was mobbed. They had told me our food would be ready in 30-40 minutes when I called, but I waited an additional 30-40 minutes beyond that, watching the natives. The constant arguments between the host and the clientele (who kept complaining and then commenting about how they keep coming back) was hilarious. My favorite was when two women who had turned down the table offered to them tried to take the next available table that they liked. Our host went running after them “You no go sitting yourselves!” while everyone else yelled at him about this or that.

In the end, the food was really only mediocre, but the opportunity to appreciate the fact that I don't have to live here? Priceless.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Memories found

We are visiting my 80-something year old grandparents in Boca Raton this week. My grandmother has a tendency to keep everything, which I’m sure has something to do with my tendency to get rid of everything.

During a previous visit, I was helping her reorganize the kitchen. She’s wheelchair-bound and can’t reach a lot of things, so I was trying to make her life a little easier. There was a stack of never-used “good” dishes, several of which had gotten broken during some kitchen remodeling. I had gathered up the pieces and put them in a bag to recycle when I was intercepted. “Maybe the store will take them back”, my grandmother declared, taking the bag from me and slipping the shards into a closet, away from my meddling reach.

Sometimes, however, I’m grateful for her inner pack-rat. Last night, while going through yet another cabinet where I found a coupon that expired in 1989, I found a little piece of my own past. There, among the stacks of unsent cards, old stationery, and other yellowed papers, was a stack of drawings that I did when I was about 4 years old.

They are especially precious right now because in many of them I am practicing my new writing skills, something Anna is just learning now. It’s so interesting to have the opportunity to glimpse a moment in time where I parallel my daughter. I can already feel my own pack-rat tendencies emerging!

Friday, March 20, 2009

New(ish) Music

Lately I’ve been changing the channel on my XM radio from my usual 80s to the “alternative” channel. I discovered all but the first of these songs there. I was turned on to the first song on the list by my amazing, talented, sweet, 18-year-old step brother who played a version of it for me on my dad’s guitar a few weeks ago. It’s definitely the most mellow of the bunch. I tried to put them in an order that wouldn’t be too bizarre if you listened straight through. What they share is an ability to get lodged in my head for days at a time. 

A bit of trivia: the woman singing in the Puscifer song is Milla Jovovich, the model/actor who held the fate of the world in her hands in the movie The Fifth Element (which I hated the first time I saw it, and loved the second and third!).

And, yes, I’ve noticed that several of these songs have sickness and/or death as the theme. No, I’m not sick or depressed — I just think they rock. But thanks for your concern. ;-)

Casimir Pulaski Day by Sufjan Stevens
The Mission by Pusicfer
Over and Out by Alkeline Trio
Time To Pretend by MGMT
Ghetto Love by Spinnerette
Ghost Town by Shiny Toy Guns

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


How does one reconcile the desire for material things with the understanding that the accumulation of things is a big part of what’s wrong with our society? I admit, it’s a bourgeois question to even ask. Many people in the world, especially in these brutal economic times, have no option to acquire things in the first place. Their main concern is how to feed themselves and their children today, tomorrow, next week. But if I go too far down that road, I end up nowhere except with a strong urge to put my head in the oven, and I have my own child to think about.

I read something once about only having in your home those things which you find really useful or really beautiful. I am both a designer and a modernist, and the idea appeals to me immensely. Today, while cruising the internet, I found this site and this site and they just made me sick with desire. I clicked through image after image on Flickr, wondering how I could not only acquire all those things but, more importantly, how to be the person who had such a sense of style and order to have collected them in the first place.

I promptly followed a link to one of the shops mentioned and ordered $50 worth of things I certainly don’t need, but which are pretty, and whimsical, and fun. Things that will make me happy to look at. But, in reality, I do think it’s part of the sickness of this culture. To always need to fill the empty spaces with stuff; be it food, or drugs, or “things”.

I fall victim to those desires, like most of us. But I also veer the other way. Constantly purging my home of things because the clutter overwhelms me, much like the way I can’t wear prints — there’s just too much visual noise. When I was a child I would lie on my bed with my head hanging off looking up at the ceiling. The only object in my reverse-room was a light fixture, growing out of the center of the floor. I loved the spareness of it.

I guess like everything it’s about finding balance — what the Buddhists call “The Middle Way”. One thing I am trying to do more of (previously mentioned impulse buy notwithstanding) is to buy more from local shops and artists. It supports the economy, puts money directly into the hands of the people who did the work, and cuts back on the environmental impact of shipping across the county or farther (man, talk about hypocritical — now I really feel crappy about my $50 splurge!).

So, now what? I guess I can consider this a lesson I’ve taught myself through you, my lovely readers. Desire isn’t the enemy here, but perhaps a little less impulsiveness would be beneficial. Will my home look like those featured in the other sites? Not likely. But maybe I can take a little more time to enjoy the things I do have, and to enjoy the feeling of supporting other local artists and designers (and farmers, merchants, etc.…while we’re at it) when I do acquire something new.

What about you? What do you do?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Anna mixing the granola

From time to time I like to make homemade granola. I don't know why I don't do it more often — it's really easy. I don't follow a recipe, so bear with me. This, like many things I make, is a very flexible recipe. All measurements are approximate.

In a large bowl, combine:
  • 6 c. organic oats (not quick or thick cut, just the regular ones)
  • 1 T. cinnamon
  • 1 t. cloves
  • 1/4 c. ground flax seed 

It should look like this:


  • Add in some nuts and/or seeds (I like raw sunflower seeds and raw, whole almonds) and stir to combine
  • Stir in 1-1.5 c. warmed honey or maple syrup (warming it makes it easier to pour and mix)


Spread the entire thing on a large cookie sheet, like this:


  • Bake at 375, stirring every 15 minutes or so, for 45 minutes (or until it's the right shade of golden for you).
  • Let cool completely. Transfer back to bowl and add in any dried fruit you want (I like dried organic cranberries).



Serve with milk, yogurt, ice cream, or just munch by the handful! Store in the freezer for extra crunchiness.

Monday, March 16, 2009

One small step

I am not a paper cup…

I am working on reducing my carbon footprint — making small changes (and some not-so-small ones). This clever product is a porcelain mug with a silicone lid. It is microwave and dishwasher safe and is designed to keep drinks hot or cold. I bought it last week at my local New Seasons, and I like it so much better than my previous to-go cup, which was stainless steel with a plastic lid and made my coffee taste nasty.

As always, if you're interested in buying one I suggest you try to do so locally. If that's not an option for you, you can click on the link below to get it through Amazon (and I'll get some spare change if you do).

I am Not a Paper Cup Reusable Mug

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Fear, and some catching-up

Today I have contributed a guest post about Fear to Arianne Segerman's blog, To Think is to Create. Go check it out!

If you're new to my blog, welcome! Here are a few links to get you to the heart of things:

Thursday, March 12, 2009


In case you missed it, Jon Stewart eviscerated Jim Cramer on The Daily Show tonight. After all the hype over the last few days, I expected Cramer to come our fighting and Stewart to mostly be his funny, articulate, but light-hearted self. Instead I almost felt sorry for Cramer. Stewart kept cool, but that really just gave his anger more impact. He nailed Cramer in a way that I’ve certainly never seen on The Daily Show, or on any ”real” news program in way too long.

I tried to embed the video, but they chunked it up into too many pieces. Instead, you can click here and it should let you watch it in its entirety.


Anna: What’s luck, Mama?

Me: Umm…

Anna: It’s like when you get chocolate cake with strawberries.

Me: Exactly.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Soup’s On


I love to cook. I especially love to cook for a crowd — brunch, dinner, bake sales — I’m not picky. And I love to cook with people. My fantasy is to one day have a big, wonderful-to-cook-in kitchen filled with friends cooking and laughing and eating (sort of like The Big Chill, without the suicide first).

Much as I love all of that, though, the reality of being a self-employed mom of many hobbies is that I don’t always have the time or energy to cook. Thus, I (like most of my kind) have favorite go-to recipes, sometimes considered “cheats” because they are thrown together with ingredients that are often ready-made themselves. Sort of like a recipe hack

This is my favorite cheat of late. Minimal prep work for maximum impact. This delicious soup is made by combining a couple different frozen seafood packages from Trader Joe’s with some canned, diced, organic tomatoes, and hot pepper flakes. That’s it! But it tastes so good when you want a hearty dish with a little kick. Paired with some homemade bread (5 minutes, people!) and a glass of wine and you’re set. 

I’ve served this many times and it’s always well received. Try it! Tell me what you think.
  • 1 package Trader Joe’s frozen Cioppino Seafood Stew
  • 1 package Trader Joe’s frozen Seafood Blend
  • 3 cans diced tomatoes
  • red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper 
Heat the cioppino sauce in a pan until it begins to simmer. Add the tomatoes and heat to a low boil. Add in all the seafood and cook through (about 12 minutes). Add pepper as desired.

Bon appetit.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Fascinating, I’m sure

Inspired by the “25 Things” meme that was floating around the net of late, as well as the aforementioned questionnaire by Bernard Pivot, my own variation. Or, as I like to think of it, the ultimate in narcissism: an interview with myself!
  1. Favorite word: Reinvention
  2. Least favorite word(s): Religious Right
  3. Favorite number: 17
  4. Favorite swear word: Fuck
  5. Favorite flower: tulip
  6. Favorite song: Cuts You Up by Peter Murphy
  7. Blogger I wish I knew personally: Amy Karol, Angry Chicken
  8. Favorite sound: these days, silence
  9. Least favorite sound: smoke detectors
  10. Favorite color: black, no, magenta, no, ahhhhhhhhh........... (sorry, Monty Python reference). Umm, it depends.
  11. Favorite way to spend time: good friends, good food, good wine.
  12. Famous people, living or dead, that I’d like to have at a dinner party: Barack Obama, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, James Lipton, Alice Waters, Leo Lionni, the Dalai Lama, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert
  13. If I had taken a different path, career(s) I’d like to try: trial lawyer, chef, author, social butterfly
  14. Something you don’t know about me: After having Anna, I seriously considered becoming a lactation consultant. I am still looking to find the perfect opportunity to combine my strengths and skills with a way of supporting women, preferably globally.
  15. If heaven exists, what I would like god to say to me at the pearly gates: "Shall we play again?"
A big shout out to my buddy and photographer extraordinaire, Duncan Davidson. Thanks, Duncie!

Hänsel & Gretel

hansel and gretel

I make my living as a graphic designer. As a kid, I was an art and design fanatic and that translated easily to graphic design when I got into college. I loved the way that design (good design, that is) served as a bridge between idea and art. A form of visual communication that could strengthen a message, not just decorate it.

I also love books. Both as a way of leaving myself behind and entering a world previously unseen or unimagined, and as a vehicle for art and design. When we were in France we went to La Galerne, a wonderful, enormous bookstore in Le Havre. I bought several books, including Le Scaphandre et le Papillon, with which I have yet to make much progress.

My special find of the day, however, was a beautifully interpreted edition of the children's book Hänsel and Gretel. This version, by Czech painter Kveta Pacovská, is definitely not like anything I've seen before. It is a beautiful, dark, mixed-media piece that (I think) fits perfectly with the creepiness of the Brothers Grimm.



Thursday, March 5, 2009

And so it begins

Anna is learning to read. Tonight we were playing with foam letters, trying to spell simple words. We started with DARK, and then swapped out the D for a B, making BARK. I then suggested she swap out the B for a P and see what she gets. Because she's new at this, she sometimes tries to read right to left instead of left to right. And there was my sweet little 3-and-a-half year old saying "KRAP, Mommy. It spells krap."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Subscriptions and RSS and Feeds, oh my!

Believe it or not, I am a bit of a technophobe. I hate having to upgrade software, and the real reason I manage to do as much as I do online is because I married a geek programmer.

As I'm learning more about this land of blog, however, I'm beginning to understand the appeal of subscribing. Instead of wondering if Redneck Mommy or Angry Chicken has updated recently (and having to go to my browser and hit refresh endlessly to find out), I can subscribe and simply get notified whenever they've got a fresh post.

Tsh, of SimpleMom has written a great post explaining all about RSS and subscribing here. She goes into just the right amount of detail without overwhelming you with geek speak.

Of course, I still cheat. By putting my favorite links over in the right side of my blog, I can easily see who has updated whenever I log in (and so can you!). But still, subscribe. It'll save you time and help you to keep up with your blog fix. And that will leave you with more time for wine and chocolate, and other of life's most important things!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Amanda over at SouleMama posted a link to this earlier today, and it's easy to see why. Go for the art, stay for the music.

This is one of those times when I can either feel like a total zero in comparison to the talent of others, or I can revel in my role as supporter of someone else's art. And if by reading my blog you get closer to your inspiration because I led you to this video, then I am happy.

Please, watch the video. It's amazing!
Note: If you follow the link then you can see it on YouTube and leave comments for the artist.

And, by the way, if you don't know SouleMama, she's pretty inspiring too!