Friday, May 30, 2008

quite accidently...

I found the way to replicate one of my favorite treats from Wrights Dairy in Rhode Island. It came as I was making these cupcakes yesterday! I am so excited to have "cracked the code". I now know how to make the infamous radio bars!!
Okay, it was selfish of me not to share. Please send special praise to my BFF, shelah, and the mastny family vault of recipes! you could make them in radio bar shape I just made them as mini and reg size cupcakes!
Mastny Wedding Cake
2 white cake mixes with pudding
2 1/2 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. melted butter
4 eggs
2 T grated lemon rind
1 T vanilla
1 t almond extract

mix first four ingredients for 3-4 minutes on high speed, stir in rind and extracts at the end.

Bake at 350 for 35-40 min for round layers.

Coconut milk icing:
3/4 c. butter
1 1/2 lbs powdered sugar
1/8 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
1 t. almond
1/3 c. coconut milk

Cream butter, slowly add powdered sugar, thin with coconut milk and extracts.
1 can of Dark chocolate fudge (store bought) frosting.
Place in bowl and microwave 20 seconds- until melted but still thick. Coat cupcake with a very generous layer of coconut frosting. Chill for a few minutes (I threw mine in the freezer for 2-3 min a couple at a time as I worked). Remove. Dip in the melted fudge frosting- up to cupcake paper edge. Sprinkle with sprinkles. Let sit until the frosting is set! MMMMM!!
1. kismet
2. a business trip that ends early
3. rethinking play

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

deep thoughts cactus edition

So I let my son buy a cactus yesterday. The trouble Home Depot only has medium largish cacti not exactly what I had in mind, but I gave my word that a cactus would be purchased. I have yet to find a suitable home for our cactus where unsuspecting fingers will not be pricked. SS#1 learned the great law of the cactus last summer when he stopped to touch one at the beach.

So meet our new friend, Jerboa Punta Raymon. Yes, because we lack pets my children resort to naming plants. SS#1 thought long and hard and chose Jerboa after the lesser known, long haired Asian jumping rodents. SS#2 was allowed middle name selection and came up with the very random Punta Raymon (which has a good Florida retirement community ring to it).

The funniest part of the evening came when it's SS #1 said "I bet back before the modern age. People actually used cactus spikes as weapons, (chuckles softly to himself. I'm sure imagining a dimwitted Cro-Magnon man wielding a cactus) but, they probably stuck themselves a lot, trying to get them out in the first place".

Meanwhile SS#2 was sitting on the floor fashioning himself, a pair of Mexican huarache sandals out of masking tape- seriously this is why i signed up to be a mom- you never stop laughing!

Yes, that is black and red not so washable marker on his arm, Which unfortunately was also used to create a lovely drawing on my studio room carpet. That part did not have me laughing.

1. laughter 2. funny boys 3. paper towels

Monday, May 26, 2008

decision 2008

Seriously- I have a hard time with making decisions. I seriously think I burned 1000 calories today with all my decision making. I waffle back and forth. I don't want to settle. I try to wade through my flavor of the week impulses and go for the deepest truest desires. Here were some of my mental quandaries!

1. Shed decisions...what type of shed to get to keep the riding mower in (there are a must in new england) do we need the 8x12, will the 8x10 do, what about the grading of the are and putting down gravel? Which way should it face? Which options should we go for? If we put the shed there can we put up a basketball hoop and not have all stray balls roll into the poison ivy filled forest? Or should we do a patio slab by the walkout basement slider?

2. Couch decisions- we need a new couch (ours is fading in the sunlight- and has given 9 yrs good service- but what to get next? what style do we want to commit to for the next decade? fabric or leather? i really love my giant red couch and will probably get another big red couch because I am a red kind of person- but everyone always says leather- but I don't like the cold feeling of leather and I don't the like way you stick to it when you are sweaty- so I guess I am back to fabric. But could so many leather lovers be wrong? I do wear leather pants and like them?! Also I want to recover the office couch (which i never really picked out for my home- it wound up here by default as part of my husbands previous job office furniture). So where to find twill- do I want it creamy pale yellow? chocolate brown? darest I do white?

3. New grill- Our grill died. Therefore must buy new grill- which of the 3 reasonable consumer reports picks do i choose? Which store do we go to? Do we get that exact model or similar one with slightly different feature?

4. New plants for window sill- varigated? deep green? bright bold croton? should i get another really cool neon green plant for the family room or will i kill it? Do I let my son get an aloe vera plant and a cactus? or Just the cactus so i can throw out the dumb cactus garden that we've been growing for 2 years and can never getting any to grow taller than 1/2 inch without dying!

5. The stool and tall chair dilemma- the other week we bought a great wooden step stool at IKEA- we also have a great elevated chair- booster height -I love it - it gets my son up to a normal table chin ratio not shovelling food horizontally into his mouth but, it has been waiting to be painted for about 6 months? What color? white/black/red??

6. New light fixture for my bathroom- chrome, brushed nickel- which shape, how many lights? cheaper, more expensive?

7. New Cabinet knobs/bin pulls- style/finish?antiqued or brushed??-- ahhh!!!

8. Do we build a big addition over the studio room or just finish off the basement- do we move one of the kids to the current playroom? do we move the playroom to the basement? do we move my studio? Do we do a bathroom in the basement? Do we move the office couch there instead (it's a pull out bed) to make another guest space and buy another sleeper sofa for the office?? Are we going to move? is this all a moot point? smart daddy-o vests this august we said we''d stay minimum 7 years and we will have reached our mark? where should we go? when? what is the right thing for our family?

9. oh i almost forgot - a new kitchen table dilemmas my husband often disparages the "midcentury" (that's the new PC hip term for 60s) danish modern kitchen set we inherited from my uncle's mother when she passed away- I told my husband danish modern is back in and i guess i am sort of attached to it seeing as i grew up with danish modern my parents purchased when they got married? Should i trade up for a danish modern rectangle a guy is selling on craigslist for 60$- what about that cool Frank Lloyd wright craftsman table that comes with 10 chairs for 900$ Deep down I really want a pedestal round table-I really want the Eeo Saarinen tulip pedestal table they are remaking this year- but am I ready to take my house in a really contemporary direction? Am I ready to drop thousands for undoubtedly one of the coolest design tables of the last century? but back to rounds are they getting to trendy? i ma seeing them alot lately? will i regret it? should we just recover the chairs and stick with what we've got for another year or two?

10. Ice cream - my 7 year old is reading the book of mormon before his upcoming baptism in dec. and is half way through he gets a little incentive for every 50 pages- however cheap mom says why go to cold stone when you can go to stop and shop and get a whole container (in fact 2 because breyers is on sale 2 for $5) for the price of one small CSC treat. So there i stand beaten and exhausted trying to help 2 boys decide on their "own" containers of ice cream which we can use for treats for the next month and i of course had to buy a box - because although my freezer has 3 types of frozen novelties and 5 flavors already i need more? am in a chocolate mood? a fruity mood? gelatto? sorbet? sherbet?

11. blog? go to bed? paint? clean?

1. the sacrifices of many in the cause of freedom
2. seeing american flags
3. being together as a fmaily for 3 days straight!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

making the world more beautiful one tissue box at a time

My latest project tasteful tissue box covers. No, there is a really no room in my schedule for a new project, but my child life recertification professional development hours (50 hours every five years) are due next month. So I'm wrapping up by listening to an entire conference on children's play. So why am listening to thoughtful discussion in this on the future of children's play or the role of creativity in children's outcomes I need a project to keep my hands busy productive. You should know me well enough to know-- It's all about the multitasking,baby. (Which I am doing at present feeding my baby and dictating this blog entry with my voice recognition software Mother's Day gift. It works so well). I have always despised the ugliness of tissue boxes. I know, I know the solution is simple. Go buy a tissue box cover-- trouble is it's very hard to find covers in a large rectangle shape and I for one refuse to resign myself to buying the more expensive square boxes of Kleenex . So after looking long and hard. I was able to find these inexpensive, plain tissue box covers that cover the big family sized boxes I ordered them in bulk and I'm working on them for all the rooms in our house with Kleenex boxes (and if you're on my Christmas list watch out because some will be coming to you also). They are perfect for paint, decoupage, trim and other embellishment. I may start selling custom ones, as well because hey, I have found a great niche market, and world deserves, no the world needs better looking tissue boxes. Maybe my true calling is not in painting but in tissue box covers. so if you'd like cool plain or fancy Made to match tissue boxes covers you know who to call) What person could walk away from such an opportunity to make the world more beautiful. Especially the worlds of us too thrifty to buy the square boxes. No more ugly tissue boxes for this family, no sir!! I be sure to post the full cadre of when I am done!
1. new tissue box covers
2. a husband back in town
3. listening to interesting lectures

wonderful wednesday

Wednesday I took the boys to the Children's Museum in Boston with our friends the Jones. Our was a "cool van" the kids voted for showing a showing of the movie legacy for the trip in. (Nothing like a little pioneer history thrown in there) We had a fabulous time. It was a gorgeous day, the museum was mostly empty and the seven kids occupied themselves delightfully for hours on end. We played in the bubble area, made some ball tracks, did an art project in the art room, dropped some change in the recycle room (in the name of good creative fun) , enjoyed Arthur's house, the Japanese house, the China exhibit, the blue Man group pipes, the green roof, etc. Fearless smart son #2 was the first to the top of the giant three-story net enclosed climbing structure. We ended the day with dinner at our favorite Chinese restaurant. 2 moms, 7 kids, and at the end of it all thinking it was a pretty great day! What could be better?
1. fearless friends
2. the city of Boston
3. great kids playing

Thursday, May 22, 2008

It's all your fault, MOM!

There are some things you pass onto your kids, things you don't intend to, whether it is genetic or environmental who knows the cause but all you know is you are responsible for it. There are those things you see in your childs and can't deny they got that from you (beyond just the ted koppel hair)

Example 1: My ss2 (3) if he isn't asleep in a few minutes has to flip his pillow over so he feels the cool sheets against his face. I do the same thing. If I don't fall asleep or have been reading in bed or something a pillow flip is a must. He has never seen me do this- yet he does it.

Example 2: My ss1 (7) was at the dentist getting sealants the other week. They gave him the remote to watch whatever he wanted on the ceiling TV. The dentist remarked to my husband "He's the first kid I've ever had who chose the news!" This same child was upset we had to get out of the car Monday am for a meeting at 9. Because he really wanted to listen to NPR , "On Point" at 10am discussing the developments of the crisis in Myanmar/Burma. He's also the child who asks you on the weekend, "Please see if wait wait don't tell me is on NPR". His poor brother (3) pleads- "No news! No NPR!". I had too had a news fetish as a child in fact when I was in first grade the NBC Nightly News was my favorite show. And believe it or not, I actually remember sitting on the gold couch in our home in South Dakota in 1980 (at age 4) watching Ronald Reagan defeat Jimmy Carter while my parents had a candlelit dinner for their anniversary in the dining room.
So boys go right ahead,this is one time you're allowed to say "It's all YOUR fault!"

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Pieces of the week: sci fi mixed media

My two new mixed media pieces. I worked on these last week from salvaged science magazines. (I actually hate to throw magazines away often because I am so drawn to images in them. So this is a good outlet- I get to gather those images and turn them into something and then I can freely toss the magazines in the recycle box.)
I will admit it, at first glance you wouldn't guess it but I am a science girl, yes totally a geek, maybe I should pull out my biology student of the year medal and wear it around (along with my math club and latin scrabble honors). I guess I am expressing it in my art. These are fun, kitschy, sci-fi art. The big one is my favorite it is 18x24 with comics, retro science, Einstein, atomic images, and a lot of biology images, playing up the alien, microorganism, workings of the brain images.
I enlightened my dh on the complex art of collage and mixed media. I explained to him the careful symbolic selection of images, the cropping and under lapping and overlapping choices, the repetition of shapes, the harmony and flow created by color, patterns, shapes and lines, the grouping of images to create effects. Its not just randomly gluing things together. The play between various textures and surfaces are all important effects. I actually think alot of less artsy people are sometimes put off by mixed media- it's not straightforward, it's not neat and tidy, its not always "beautiful". The big one is one of my current "favorite pieces". I know most people who came into my studio wouldn't not put it in their top 5, but i think it goes to show how beauty and meaning is in the eye of the beholder or creator.
I've had a few stressful weeks lately and the cutting of magazine tidbits has been therapeutic, for my slightly neurotic state. I decided if I ever had a major psychological break you'd probably find me in an institution sitting obsessively cutting and piecing collages.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Frog and Toad Party Plan

I have always love the Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel. Frog and Toad are Friends, Frog and Toad All Year, and Frog and Toad Together. When I was at Curious George's, a great kids book and toy shop in Harvard Square the other week, I ran across these frog and toad characters and knew instantly that it was going to be my son's party theme. After all one of his classic lines is that he applies to all treats is..."one very last one, then done" shortened from the "Eat one very last cookie then we will be done". (the cookie will power story)

Our party was a mom and kids casual lunch party. I prepared all the food in easy to pass out cups. Lemonade, white mac and cheese, grapes, and mini crackers and pretzels (perfect three year old portions in Dixie cups covered in streamers) for the kids and a bowtie pasta Caesar salad for the moms.. We used camouflage prints and a green and brown theme.

We set up our dollhouse (I have all boys, we call it a "wooden structure" here because it is normally not a house usually a museum or some other building) with frog and toad and used some rocks, fabric, fake plants to make this little diorama. We had a frog and toad birthday mural for the kids to draw on as everyone arrived.
We played a cookie relay game. You could use real cookies I used laminated ones from my days as a teacher. We did a reading from the books. The kids sat on cushions "lily pads and logs". We also played a button game similar to duck duck goose- when toad's "white, four holed, round, thick button" gets dropped behind you get up and run. We had another button relay to put the buttons on toads coat but I scrapped it to tend to my 5 mo old crying baby.
We served up frog and toad cake (here is a link to the green frog cake recipe and tutorial) and mini cones! (Tip: If you set them in a mini muffin tin they are easier to prepare and transport!)
For favors we did green bath foam and manilla drawing paper tablets with frog and toad salvaged images.
We love books in our family and children's book themed party was the perfect thing for my 3 year old!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Frog and Toad Cake Tutorial

Frog and Toad Cake
1 vanilla (white cake mix)
1 small pkg pistachio pudding
3 eggs
1 1/2 c. water
3/4 cup oil
Bake as directed on cake mix box. For frog and toad, divide the batter to fill 6 muffin cups and then divide the rest evenly between 2 large loaf pans.
Chocolate Frosting
9Tbsp cocoa
2 Tbsp melted butter
1/4 hot water
3 c. powdered sugar
6 Tbsp butter softened
1-2 Tbsp milk.
Add the first 3 ingredients. Add sugar, add remaining butter. Beat well. add milk to desired consistency.

Marshmallow fondant or Wilton fondant
Wilton colors (brown, yellow, green, orange, black) for fondant tinting.
Wilton premium dark cocoa candy melts

(To make log bark tiles melt choc candy melts spread between wax paper layers, cool and cut.)

1. Stack loaf cakes to make logs. Frost and add chocolate bark.

2. Trim and stack 2 cupcakes to make toad (secure w/ Popsicle stick)

3. Trim and stack three cupcakes to make frog. (secure w/ Popsicle stick)

4. Add twizzlers to create base ("armature") for arms and legs.

5. Frost cupcake mounds.

6. Color and Model fondant drapes for body, hands, feet. Then do pants, jacket, belt, buttons and face details.

7. Decorate around the log with chocolate candy melt wafers.

Happy birthday, cutie!

Okay so you're three now- that means time to say goodbye to those crazy twos- right?! Despite your mischevious ways we sure love you. You keep me humble and on my toes. You provide me with much bloggable material. When I asked you what you wanted for your birthday, you asked for only a toy motorcycle! Here you are with your birthday vehicle loot! A new pinto, lebaron, greyhound bus, pacer, herbie cars, motorcycle, and gremlin (aka gremyin). You cute little juicer, you! I couldn't resist this classic shot of you "dissecting" aka eating the frog from your cake.
1. my second son, feeling special
2. birthdays to celebrate with friends
3. ugly 70's cars that make me laugh

Friday, May 16, 2008

Microcredit for the everyman

Kiva - loans that change lives
As you all know, I am big on helping my children understand more about our world, how other people live, and appreciate all they have. I blogged a while back about my favorite books for children on the subject. I am a big proponent of microcredit (which has been gaining more recognition since Muhammad Yunus was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in this area). Basically it is giving small loans to support entrepreneurs who are in poverty. Giving loans that enable them to improve their business and their lives. We used Kiva which allows you to select and entrepreneur you would like to lend to. The use the loan, then repay the loan, you receive the money back, and can reinvest it. So tonight each person in our family chose someone to lend money to. (You can lend in $25 increments). My boys were so excited reading the profiles. It is amazing how a loan of even 500$ can drastically change someone's livelyhood.
My 2 year old chose - Sangimurod Holikov, Livestock Salesman in Tajikistan
My 7 yr old chose: Mujeres Progresistas de Almada Group, a collective of artisans and market sellers in Paraguay
I chose, Fati Dawuda, grocery store owner in Ghana
And my husband chose, Chheangmeng Mao, a blacksmith in Cambodia.

I added a sample entrepreneur link in my left sidebar, so check it out and join in the fun and change the world one person at a time.
1. opportunities for giving
2. beautiful deer walking across our lawn
3. soft rain

overhead at my house

Congratulations, Jeannette! Our may giveaway winner!! Like bottlecaps always say: Sorry, you're not a winner. Try again. The June giveaway stars June 1st with a new crop. I wish you could all be winners-
Consider it qualitative research documenting the comedy of home life. Here's the May edition of overheard at our house!

"get milking!" 2 yr old to his hungry baby brother
"uh-oh I broke it", two year old says semiremorsefully.
"please put it back in the can and don't play with it again," exasperated mother.
"don't worry I won't, it's broken!?!, " total serious 2 yr old.

"stop playing and Poop!" mom to child.

"please don't tong my bum" by mom after being goosed with salad tongs

"the first time I read it, it totally gave me the snickers" by 7 yr old after reading the stinky cheese man book

"I am drawing atoms" two year old to 7 yr old. "Wow that's really good for a two year old. But did you know most people thing atoms are the smallest particles, but the smallest particles are quarks- but not corks like in a bottle" 7 yr old to two year old.

when asked to write a sentence using the word many my 7 yr old wrote:In the Philippines, there are many shiny jeepneys.
when asked to write a sentence using the word bugle my 7 yr old wrote:Humans can create bugle playing robots.

when asked to write a more descriptive word for house: "villa" (No we don't live in the Italian countryside?)
when asked to write a more descriptive word for man: "pops" (what is this the late 50s?)
"would you like some crackers for snack?" (mom)
"Actually I'd like banana bread, but you could bring me crackers as an appetizer?" (7 yo)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

will barter fondant webkinz

My friend asked me if I'd be willing to trade some fondant webkinz heads (for cupcakes for her son's birthday) for photoshoots for my boys-- of course. So here's my end of the deal. Along with a tutorial for any moms and dads out there trying to make your child's webkinz birthday party dream come true. These can be attached to sugar cookies, cupcakes, or made larger to cover all cake or a few mini cakes.
Tutorial for webkinz birthday cakes, webkinz cupcakes:
1 batch marshmellow fondant or wilton fondant
wilton frosting colors: orange, pink, red, green, blue, black
silver dragees for "eye glares"
Pink poodle webkinz cupcake: In pink fondant: roll out an egg shape for head base in pink fondant. Roll out a tiny snake of fondant about 1/2 in long. Flatten for ear connectors. Then roll out an oval for top of head "poof" use a paring knife to cut triangles out around the ends to make ruffling texture. Repeat with slightly smaller ovals for side/ear and face "poofs". Then in black fondant: roll a very fine snake cut and shape moon shaped eyes. Make one oval nose and on tiny mouth line. In red fondant make a tongue. Stick the pieces together by dabbing with a drop of water).
Frog webkin cupcake: Roll a cherry size ball of white fondant. Flatten with a smooth surface. Make upper half with green fondant- use thumb to make upside down u indention.
Roll a tiny ball of green fondant and flatten it. Roll a slightly smaller ball of white fondant and flatten it. Roll a slightly smaller ball of black fondant and flatten it. Attach the green circles to the top of the head. Layer white circles topped with black circle. Add a silver dragee for a eye glare.
Duck Webkinz cupcake:Roll a ball of white fondant the size of the cherry. Flatten it. Roll each a pea size ball of black fondant and flatten it. Attach as eyes. Add the silver dragee for eye glare Roll a very fine snake of black fondant cut and shape to make eyebrows. Use yellowish orange fondant to make beak wedge and shape a pink fondant tongue.
Blue hippo Webkin cupcake: Roll a ball of blue fondant.size of the cherry. Flatten it. Shape rounded trapezoid out of blue fondant for the hippo nose/mouth. Roll to a large pea size balls of blue fondant for ears. Roll for slightly smaller pink balls, two for the ears, two for the nostrils. Attach.. Roll each a pea size ball of black fondant and flatten it. Attach as eyes. Add the silver dragee for eye glare Roll a very fine snake of black fondant cut and shape to make eyebrows.

pieces of the week

2 quick paintings, 2 mixed media pieces. Trying to get my creative groove back. Another mixed media underway.
1. clean babies
2. learning your own lesson
3. a clean office

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I get no respect for my work

So as you can see my boys don't take my art too seriously-- or at least it doesn't merit the "gallery/museum etiquette" treatment (no touching stand 1 foot away, etc)
My 7 year old has been learning about simple machines in science and I heard him call out very excitedly to his brother,
"Look this will make an inclined plane!!".
This was the scene I happened upon when I entered the room. My work in progress propped on the footstool being used as a hotwheels ramp. Ahhh...boys! Maybe I'll get more posthumous appreciation.
1.banana bread
2. my 2 yr old sneaking in to cut magazines with me at 9:30pm
3. my husband taking a vacation day so I can sort the house!

Monday, May 12, 2008

sibling peace boot camp

So, school gets out in another few weeks and I have come up with a winner of an idea, one that could surely make a lot of money. Sibling peace boot camp, a place where moms can send their children before the summer begins to improve their skills in cooperation, getting along common and general peacefulness. I know I have unreasonably high hopes, a summer with no screaming, no quarreling, no fighting, no crying, no arguing, no whining, only peaceful, kind, interactions of brotherly love. A mom can dream can't she. We only have two more weeks of school (of our current part public, mostly homeschool set up) and soon my boys will be spending many long unstructured hours together. The previews I have seen are not looking promising. Despite the 4.5 year spread between my 1st and my second- they do not coexist peacefully for long periods of time. In the current developmental mix is a "hold me and feed me lots, i-like-to-squawk-at-dinnertime" baby, a highly autonomous, power hungry, scrappy two year old, and a very independent, "don't wreck my stuff" justice minded, 7 year old. Three boys, with three very different agendas, and one mom to make it all happen and keep the peace. Isn't it time we give peace a chance? Maybe when unsavory behaviors arise i will blast them with our cat stevens summer anthem--until they beg for mercy.
So boys, everyone jump up on the peace train (or plasma car as is the case in our house) cause we're about to leave the station.
And that’s an order!!
1. a summer together
2. peace train (stuck in my head)
3. sorted laundry room bins

Sunday, May 11, 2008

feed the birds

I'll give I you my accusation clue style (if I am wrong I am out of the game):Mr N, in the family room, with unsupervised access to rolled oats...
1. food storage
2. taking a picture for your blog instead of getting upset.
3. the yellow vacuum

Saturday, May 10, 2008

my trophies

My work as a mother doesn't fill my bank account or my resume, but it does fill my heart (and lots of spare cups and jars)This is my quote always sums up for me the essence of motherhood.

"We must not drift away from humble works, because these are the works nobody will do. It is never too small. We are so small we look at things in a small way. But God almighty sees everything great. Therefore if you just go and sit and listen- go visit somebody, or bring somebody a flower- small things, wash clothes for somebody, or clean the house, very humble work. That is where you and I must be. For there are many people who can do big things. But there are very few who will do the small things.” Mother Teresa
1. yard clippings turned gifts of love
2. having children

scrumptious saturday showoff

one boy with arnie the doughnut inspired "downtown bakery" painting
It's perfect you can almost taste the treats-He can tell you the exact flavors of all the doughnuts and bakery goodies he pictured- giant eclairs, maple frosted, a neopolitain doughnut, strawberry muffins, blueberry fitters, and of course the classic "sprinkled". I think this calls for a doughnut celebration.
He told us if he wins their competition, every person in family gets to pick something form the store.
1. childrens books
2. details
3. a generous child

Thursday, May 08, 2008

what kind of blender are you?

My blender died last month so I had to choose a new one. We got it when we got married 9 years ago today, so it's done pretty good outlasted more than 20% of marriages and probably more than 20% of blenders.

As a "Whyte" it is in my genetic code to research before purchasing. So I began interviewing possible blender replacements via various consumer reviews.

I finally narrowed it down to two blenders the Braun PowerMax and the Oster Classic Beehive Blender. Both got good reviews. The Oster blender came in a hot red (my favorite color) and had a classic retro vibe. It's stats:40 oz capacity, 500 watt motor and weighed in at 11 lbs. The Braun, not appliance eye candy, but boasted a 58 oz capacity, 7 lbs, 525 watts, design for better blending (2 serrated and two plain blades a triangular shaped jar for more effective chopping?) and a cooks illustrated recommendation. (okay and 5 bucks cheaper)
The siren song of the sexy red blender had almost hooked me. I'll admit it, I wanted the cool looking blender. I was about to drop it in my shopping cart when my true voice kicked in with the following arguments.

1.It's a color- did we not learn anything from the green and gold 1970's? color can come back to haunt you! We don't keep any appliances out on the counter so I really wouldn't enjoy it's luscious redness very often- but still I figured it would cheer my pureeing when it ventured out of the appliance parking lot cupboard.

2. It's heavier-- and no lugging it around the kitchen wouldn't quite count as weight bearing exercise for warding off osteoporosis.

3. It holds less. As family of 5, three of those being boys, lets remember the role quantity plays in my life especially when it comes to food)

4. It cost more- okay no good counter arguments in favor of paying more.

5. Then there are the Braun "good design principles"- well science is the sexiest of all so you guessed it- Braun won.

Yes, that's me science, smarts, and savings over sexy!
Some people embark on great quests to come to know their true self, when I can sum up exactly who I am in the experience of buying a blender!
(I am happy to report it performed beautifully on its inaugural milkshake run- although we are still trying to figure out the "universal" pictures which correspond with the various speeds- see if you can help-- I am good with Pulse. Ice- margaritas-1. smoothies-2. gravy-3. soups- 4. ???? maple leaves and chestnuts? hamburgers??? and 5. whole pancakes- WOW! I have never seen whole pancakes in a blender before but if you say it can be done- who am I to argue?)1. 9 great years of marriage 2. 1 great husband and 3 great kids 3. a new blender

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

our ethnocentrism

Okay I have to ask- is it just me is anyone else bothered by our American ethnocentrism- Sometimes I get so irate at American media outlets for their lack of balanced global coverage- they spend hours and hours on the most trivial things and banter about minutiae when all over the world devastating things occur and get maybe a 20 second mention if any at all? I have been so sad the last few days thinking about the devastation in Myanmar. Seriously the estimates projecting up to 100,000 people dead, 1 million people displaced. That is more than 30x the loss of life in September 11th attacks more than 50x that of Hurricane Katrina. How can that not make you sad, how can that not profoundly impact you. As if it weren't bad enough on top of the devastation to be held down by your countries isolationist government? By next week most people here (if they even heard about it) will have forgetten it has even happened, meanwhile a million people try to build their lives again. Events like this happen all the time yet when they aren't in our own backyard, we easily brush past them or forget them.

I wish we were more globally minded. I wish our cultured cared more about countries in turmoil and less about what people were wearing and who the latest Hollywood couple is. We get so caught up in our own little worlds we forget to see the whole picture. I wish we could talk about real issues and spend our wealth helping people who need it through things like micro credit, education, empowering politcal change, and finding sustainable solutions to global issues. It makes me ill to see our culture so egocentric, so self obsessed, so pleasure seeking, so wasteful, so luxurious. We live in the days of "it's your money who am I to tell you what to do with it". This attitude sickens me as though we live in so godless void with no morality where our choices don't matter. They do matter, we have a moral obligation to help. It's easier to sleep at night with our full stomachs and comfortable beds waking up to good jobs, education, health care, opportunity if we just pretend the ugliness isn't out there.

Sometimes I can't keep my mouth shut- I am not above asking probing questions-- How often to really help those who are less fortunate- those who weren't born to such affluence and opportunity. When was the last time we sacrificed enough of ourselves our our means to even really feel it? If our bond runs no deeper than as one mother to another trying to creating a good life for her children- Let us reach out more- in whatever ways we can. Lets make a few more sacrifices, lets give up more of the unimportant things for things that can literally save or change lives forever! I won't tell you what causes to support, they are many good ones- but find one, and do your part. Because when it is all said and done we will wish we had done it more!

1. my home
2. plenty of food
3. the opportunity to do something for others

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

the smart mama empire

Alexander the Great, Napaleon, Genghis Khan...smartmama? No, really I am not that power crazed- but I do have high hopes for the smart mama empire-- which will one day extend to all corners of the earth (LOL)- actually I am only expanding the little smart mama kingdom slightly to create a recipe archive because invariably people ask you for them and you wind up typing them out multiple times- so to save myself the work I am just going to start archiving them here for all the world (okay mainly myself)! Here are it's meager beginnings!

ps cathy this saved me sending you the cinnamon roll recipe!

Monday, May 05, 2008

boy with koi

One of my friends who comes to "studio night" at my house is my friend sumiyo. Her work is AMAZING, she teaches art at a local college, and shows all around the country. (There is a great video of her talking about her art here). Yes I feel honored that she comes to my humble studio for art night! I met her through my friend Christy. Anyway, we were talking the other night and she told be that besides the 5th of May being Cinco de Mayo it's boy's day in japan. So in honor of that I will give you a cute picture of my cutest baby boy with his toy koi (compliments of my fun cousin & his wife). (ps thanks jess for the mothers lounge color tip)
1. adorable toys
3. the whitman sampler my son threw in the grocery cart under the radar