Monday, March 31, 2008


photo thanks to

Big news. The Mister is looking into a career change and if, as a family, we decide it's a good fit, we will be moving to NYC for 6 months while he trains. This is all contingent on a number of factors, both financial and emotional, but today we are leaning towards going. If we decide to move forward, we can start the interview process. The Mister hasn't been guaranteed a job, but he is a strong candidate.

So, what can you tell this die-hard southern California girl about New York? I like to research an issue to death before I make a decision, and I'm looking for all the information I can handle. The training center is in Manhattan, but will, in the future, move to Jersey City. It may already be in Jersey City by the time we move.

Do we need cars? What about all these neighborhoods? Upper/Lower East Side, Upper/Lower West Side, Harlem, Brooklyn, Washington Heights. Ack! I've looked around online, but all I found were real estate agencies and of course they don't have a bad thing to say about any of them.

We're a family of four with two Beagles. Is there enough room for us in the city? And can that room be under $2000?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Favorite Moment

Edit: This is a Pay it Forward give away. For a chance to win a subscription to Clean Eating, please leave a comment on this post. I will select one winner at random. If you win, you need to pinky promise to pay it forward on your blog or in real life. You don't need to pay it forward to sign up for the give away (only if you win!), but it does feel good. :)

I spent my week researching allergies and food options for Mikey. Some things I discovered were downright disgusting (I'm talking to you, dust mites), but I was fortunate to stumble upon a little ray of sunshine at the health food store in the form of Clean Eating Magazine. I know what you're thinking, but hear me out before you leave me to go drool over Nicole's new guest bedroom. I promise you something good if you make it to the end of this post.

This magazine is not your average whole foods magazine, which is why finding it was my favorite moment this week. For one thing, they don't presume you spend your weekends foraging for berries in a pair of recycled Birkenstocks. The demographic is young and hip with a good smattering of family friendly recipes and articles. Don't take my word for it; here is the spring cover.

Nice and pretty, like Domino or Allure, but instead of pretty pictures of decor and fashion you have lovelies such as Chocolate Almond Meringues

or Chicken Marsala with Grilled Carrots.

I loved the article on feeding a family of four for less than $60, while those of you who are single or married without kids might like the 30 day spring menu and shopping list. There really is something for everyone, as they featured recipes for vegetarians, raw foodists, and omnivores alike. Some recipes were marked gluten-free, and one article discussed a recent study in the journal of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology detailing how fish and veggies decreased asthma and allergies in children. Hello! Clean Eating magazine, I love you.

I only wish it was a monthly publication. Clean Eating magazine is quarterly, for now, but I'll take what I can get--and so will one of you. This week I signed up to Pay it Forward on Lisa's blog, Sweet Inspiration, and I've decided to pay forward her generosity with the gift of good health. I'm going to buy two Clean Eating subscriptions: one for me, and one for someone else. To have a chance at winning, you have to do two things. First, leave a comment on this post so I can randomly select one person to receive a 2 year (8 issues) subscription. Second, and most important, you must commit to paying it forward, too, either on your blog or in real life. When you do, please link back here (if you have a blog) or send an email or comment on this post so we can all hear what you did. The deadline to enter is Wednesday, April 2, 2008. Simple!

OK, who's in?

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Has anyone had any luck with Craigslist? I swear, I am so sick of reading in design blogs and magazines how people just stumble across original Saarinen Tulip tables in mint condition for $11. Not in my area! I'm lucky to find a 32 year old dining table from Wickes for less than $1500. I thought I might have found a potential refurbishing project, and even had an appointment for this morning to check it out. The table was a perfect 49" round with four leaves that extended the table to seat ten--and the table came with all ten chairs! I would have changed the upholstery on the chairs, but still--ten chairs! Alas, the owner called me yesterday after he sold it to someone else. Too bad, because it was originally from Denmark and had only one owner.

We have a small dining area (about 8x10) so we need a maximum 49" round table with leaves in order to also accommodate a sideboard. That's near impossible to find in stores today, as industry standard (so I've been told) is leaves on tables larger than 52". As much as I like round tables, I think I need to start looking at rectangular tables, too. In that case, it can't exceed 64" without leaves. The trick to all of this is finding a small table with 3 or more leaves so what normally seats 4 can expand to seat [gulp] ten. Like the designer in the showroom said on Monday, "Your dining room measurements suck. Good luck with that."

I admit, I'm also picky. If I'm going to spend thousands of dollars on a table, by God it better be solid wood. Most everything out there with my size requirements is solid plus veneer. Anything that isn't costs over $3000 for just the table, which is presently of my budget. I'll just keep searching Craig until the perfect set from the 50s-60s falls in my lap. I have one other table I found that I really like, but I just don't know. In case you haven't read my tagline, I'm scared to death of commitment a wee bit indecisive.

Have any of you had luck with Craigslist? I want to hear all about it. Maybe your good luck will rub off on me.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Things That Make Your Throw Up a Little Bit in Your Mouth

Spring is great and all, but I could do without the flying insect infestation. My house is teeming with gnats, mosquito eaters, and these skinny brown things that look like flying finger nail clippings. Disgusting.

I was trying to have a simple adult conversation with the Mister the other day when a gnat flew into my eye. Come on now, really. Where the hell am I, Bali? I live in the desert. Shouldn't these creatures be harassing people blessed to live near water?

I don't like flying insects, especially when they try to enter my body via my eye sockets.

(This picture scares the crap out of me. I refuse to look at it as I scroll up and down this post to edit. Picture borrowed without permission from EHSO--but seriously, they can keep it.)

Speaking of bugs, I've been doing research on dust mites to get a better grip on Mikey's allergies. Did you know 10 percent of the weight a pillow older than 2 years can be attributed to dust mites and their droppings? No wonder I never feel rested when I wake up in the morning. I've been sleeping on bugs and shit. I almost used my Websters Unabridged Dictionary as a pillow last night but realized a lost cause once I read mattresses house anywhere from 100,000 to ten million dust mites. Mites are especially happy when people are on said mattress because according to at least one website, they prefer warm, moist environments. My God.

Oh, and dust mites feed on dead skin cells. I knew that, and you probably did, too. But here's something I didn't know. You know all that dust in the air you see when the sun hits it just right? The dust storm that happens usually after making your bed or fluffing your pillows? Yeah, not dust. At any given time, 80% of that flying particulate is your dead skin cells, aka the dust mite all-you-can-eat China Star Buffet.

1. Flying insects
2. Shitty pillows
3. Mites and mattresses
4. Warm, moist environments
5. Skin cell dust storms.

I'm Catholic. All this talk of excrement and body parts and warm, moist environments is enough to give me the vapors. I'm pretty sure the only solution to all of this is to burn the beds and sleep on the floor with plastic sheeting to keep us warm.

Hey! What's the Big Idea?

Mikey loves to reenact his favorites scenes from movies, usually at the most inappropriate time. For a while he was on a Mary Poppins kick. There's one scene, in particular, that he loves. Jane and Michael Banks sing to their father, Mr. Banks, an advertisement they've written for a new nanny. Mr. Banks won't have anything to do with their request, and promptly tears it up into little pieces and tosses it into the fireplace. Here is the song leading up to Mr. Banks fireplace scene. I'm sure most of you remember it from childhood. My favorite part is at about 1:18. Mr. Banks expression is priceless, and one I use often.

Here is my fireplace after Mikey's stirring rendition of Mr. Bank's hissy fit following The Perfect Nanny song.

Mr. Banks

He's also imitated Stuart Little, The Peanut's Gang, Charlotte's Web, and the intervention scene in Finding Nemo--never good since this one is usually at school with some unwilling classmate playing the part of Bruce, the shark. His preferred source of inspiration comes from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. News flash: it's not Mickey Mouse. Nope, Mikey likes to imitate Donald Duck's classic line, "Hey! What's the big idea?" And if he says it in front of someone who, say, isn't well schooled in Disney dialog, I'm certain to be on the wrong end of all sorts of affronted looks.

What's that? You don't remember Donald's favorite line? Tsk. Tsk. Well, you're in luck! I have it right here in the form of a ring tone. Better listen to it fast, you know how Disney is about their characters and voices. I'm sure this website won't be offering this ring tone much longer.

I guarantee at some point in the following week you will look at someone and proclaim, "Hey! What's the big idea?" It's catchy, like a virus. Last week during the school Easter party, I was amazed to hear 6 miniature Donald Ducks (lead by Mikey, himself) wondering what the "big idea" was with the fruit salad I brought. "Keep up with that racket and next time I'm bringing you all some of Mikey's vegan cupcakes!" You could hear a pin drop.

Even I fell victim to Donald's favorite epithet on Easter Sunday, of all days. My stupid camera killed yet another card, only this time I hadn't downloaded my pictures. I only discovered this latest (4th!) malfunction as I was trying to photograph my sister-in-law's open-face tuna melt plate, which to my eyes looked like breasts. I tried to take a picture and wham! The white screen of death with a message that said This camera does not recognize the memory card. I lost all my pictures from Easter, and there were some good ones. I refuse to buy a 5th memory card, so I'm now saving my money for a Nikon or Canon SLR. In the meantime, I guess I'll have to borrow my mom's -0.75 mega-pixel camera and hope you all can make out the images.

Did you have a lovely Easter? Mine was fantastic. We visited my brothers in Marina del Rey. The weather was perfect, and for the first time in a long while Mikey was breathing easy. I'd show you pictures of the tuna breasts, boats, ocean, and boys in their matching Easter outfits, but, you know, I don't have any pictures to share because my camera sucks.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Favorite Moment

In case you've been reading every other post around here, Mikey's been sick every other week since October. The colds have been getting progressively worse, unfortunately. They seem to move quickly into his chest, and he spends the better part of a week wheezing. At his last appointment, the pediatrician had Mikey get some bloodwork to see if he was allergic to something in his environment. I got the results late yesterday. Sure enough, Mikey is allergic to cats, dogs, eggs, and dust mites. I knew about the cats already; we can't be in my mother-in-law's house more than a couple of hours before Mikey gets what appears to be the worst cold of the century. This last time was really bad. Before we could make it home, his left eyed had swollen shut and he was wheezing terribly. All this after my mother-in-law vacuumed the house top-to-bottom and without Mikey ever seeing the cat. Not good.

You know what else isn't good? The doctor encouraged us to get rid of these two:

Buddy & Buster

Buddy, age 8 and Buster, age 7

We're looking into alternatives. The pediatrician did say he was comfortable with the dogs staying outside. I'm also looking into some homeopathic remedies and treatment for Mikey to use in concert with the traditional options. All in all, we're still formulating strategy.

The egg thing sucks, too. After I found out last night about the allergy, I immediately made a mad dash to the store and bought ingredients to make vegan cupcakes for school the next morning. I wanted Mikey to have a cupcake like all the other kids in his class Easter party. I finished them at 10:00pm (plenty early!) but screwed up on the recipe. I had a choice between adding more vanilla or adding almond extract, and without thinking I went for the almond extract. Almond extract is an acquired taste--and Mikey hasn't acquired it, yet. There he was, looking very sad as his friends inhaled chocolate cupcakes he didn't for the life of him understand why he couldn't eat.

It broke my heart. I know it's just a cupcake and my first time baking without eggs, blah, blah, blah... but I'm still sad I couldn't make him a great tasting cupcake. Rest assured! By the time his birthday comes in June, I will have figured out a recipe for the best damn egg free cupcakes the world has ever tasted. I don't care if it kills me--I'm showing up to school on his birthday with treats that will leave the kids and teachers begging for more.

So why is all this my favorite moment? Well, because his bloodtest came back and shows he has an allergy to cats and dogs and eggs and dustmites and not Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia. Let's put things into perspective: it could be worse. So, the kid can't have eggs. I'll figure out how to cook and bake without them. The dogs? I won't stop until I have a solution for that, either. I don't care about cats. We don't own any, and I'm sure my mother-in-law won't mind visiting us instead of the other way around. Dust mites? Now I have motivation to actually clean my house when I'm not under the threat of people coming over. Maybe more than I would like, but a clean house never killed anyone. It may have driven people to drink too much, but there's treatment for that, too. And, let's not forget the really great thing about all this! Maybe, just maybe, we'll go a week around this place without someone being sick. Wouldn't that be something?

If anyone has experience with these types of allergies and would like to share links or tips, please do so in the comments. I have a feeling I'll be a googling fool this weekend!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Captain Red Beard

I feel guilty Mikey gets most of the attention on this blog. It's not intentional--Mikey is just older and therefore prone to funny antics. Make no mistake--Nicholas is as rambunctious as his older brother, if not more so. In fact, if I left Nicholas in his crib long enough with the right tools he would probably fashion a shiv out of his pacifier and use it on me to escape. He's an avowed opponent of any device intended to harness, enclose, or retain children. Car seats? High chairs? Strollers? All implements of torture he resists with every last ounce of strength in his compact little body. One day I will take a series of pictures demonstrating how I put Nico in the car seat. Let's just say it involves sweat, tears, toys, one somersault, and a well-timed pinfall.

He's also an incorrigible flirt. Today at lunch he would not stop screaming at the 97 year old woman sitting with her back to him. He seemed offended she didn't immediately fall victim to his mating call. Like all men, he eventually wore her down with his incessant caterwauling. She turned around and started screaming back at him. The old bird had moxie! Nicholas, suddenly face to face with his paramour, did what any lovestruck hero would in his shoes: pulled his shirt over his head and attempted a Swan Dive out of the stroller. It was very romantic.

And that is Nicholas: robust, earthy, and full of life. Not unlike the dinner he devoured earlier this week. Part comedy and part horror show, The Mister, Mikey, and I could do nothing more than sit slack jawed as Nicholas inhaled his pasta. At one point Mikey, with a look of pure disgust, turned to us and said, "Can you please clean him? And can you tell him to never eat like that ever again?" I'm afraid not, Mikey. I suspect Nicholas is going to eat like he lives: passionately.

Red Beard

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

An Unlikely Friend in Stephen King

Tristan and Kara tagged me weeks ago to list seven interesting facts about myself. Instead of listing seven small facts, I've decided to recount seven stories from my past. This is story number one.

I've always wanted to be a writer. I am embarrassed to admit this because at some point in life, doesn't everyone? Writing is a cliché, one of those idealized career choices children make when they are six. Marine Biologist, Fireman, Writer. As an adult, I can't help but admire the few who actually hold these dream occupations. They managed to keep a tenacious grip on the reverie of youth. I let my grip slacken, then fall, when I was eighteen years old.

I spent my childhood writing regularly and reading constantly. While other children played outside, I pounded out short stories on mom's powder blue Correct-O-Riter V. My affinity with words had no boundaries, but I worried about money. I knew my parents valued financial security, and very few people pull six figures by telling stories. In college I scrambled to find something that paid me to read and write, and settled on becoming a university professor. I decided to major in Latin American Literature in large part due to my love of magic realism.

Ol' Blue

I was eighteen and in my sophomore year when I decided to take an advanced Spanish lit class at one of the graduate schools. The class was entirely in Spanish which, as a native Spanish speaker, was not a problem for me. I blocked out the name of the professor long ago, but I will never forget her appearance or how she ultimately changed the course of my career.

She was a woman full of false bravado, clinging to her youth with the help of whorish outfits. One day she arrived in a micro mini and fishnet stockings paired with a black leather jacket and lace bra. I had never met anyone like her and, in retrospect, my lousy poker face must have made that clear. Likewise, her disdain for me-- a reserved girl from a strict Catholic upbringing-- was immediate and palpable. I was the Bourgeoisie; she was Che. She would later cry that I looked at her each day with contempt. It was actually embarrassment, but I never bothered to correct her.

The incessant posturing in that class intimidated me and, confident I wasn't good enough, I worked twice as hard as everyone else. I slaved over the final paper of the term. I took it home to my mom to polish up the vocabulary and grammar. She didn't love it. In fact, she told me to expect a "C." I turned it in, confident in my mediocrity.

The following week I took my usual seat at the front of the class. The tramp professor blasted through the door and, when everyone was seated, walk up to me and asked me for the name of my academic adviser and every instructor I had ever studied under in the Spanish department. I could hear everyone behind me shifting in their seats, no doubt wondering just like me why she would need that information. She then asked to schedule an appointment with me to discuss my paper. Crap! Was my paper so bad that she needed to talk to me about it?! Couldn't the final exam help? I agreed with her on a date and time and sat through the rest of the class, sick to my stomach.

At the end of class I walked up to her and asked her the purpose of the meeting and why she needed the names of my instructors. She refused to tell me until our appointment. I persisted, albeit respectfully. The students could sense an argument in the air and moved around the room like sloths hoping to catch an expletive or two. They didn't leave disappointed. She stood up so that she had everyone's attention and said, "I need your information because you did not write that paper. You are a cheater and I want to contact everyone you have studied because I am sure you cheated with them, too. My goal is to have you expelled."

Twelves bodies in one room and it was dead silent.

A few days later, we met. She believed the paper was PhD material and beyond my capabilities. "I know there are some shy and quiet people that can be intelligent, and actually quite gifted. You aren't that person. I am, and I can't believe that someone like you can be as intelligent as me."

You can imagine how the rest of the conversation went. No amount of convincing (or copious tears on my part) could convince her I wrote that paper. She contacted all my other professors, and I spent the rest of the week in meetings. Fortunately, my other classes had in-class essay exams. She cautioned the professors that I was devious and probably figured out how to cheat. The school denied her petition to have me expelled, and with the benefit of hindsight I can see she lacked as much respect among her peers as she did with her students. No one believed I cheated, but they gave me an "F" to make her happy. The faculty also allowed her to write a manifesto about my unethical behavior to include in my permanent school record. She wanted to prevent any future graduate schools from making the mistake of accepting me into their program. I don't know what happened to that letter, but it never did make it to my file.

The experience crushed me. I switched majors and started taking science classes. My professors told me I was making a terrible mistake but I refused to listen. I stopped speaking Spanish and stopped writing. She may not have won the petition to have me expelled, but she achieved something far more permanent. I believed her when she said I wasn't smart enough and that I was incapable of writing well. I never again wrote an essay, and two years later I graduated with a very safe degree in psychology. Four years after that I had a Masters degree in Public Health. Five years after that I had a law degree. All of it very safe, very respectable, and fundamentally not me.

Of course, I do some creative writing with my announcement verses. But for the most part, writing is a passion I had abandoned--until this weekend. On a whim I bought Stephen King's book On Writing. It's an old book, and many of you may have read it already. If you haven't, and enjoy writing at all (Laurel, I'm talking to you), read this book.

You know what's funny? I don't even like Stephen King! I have never even read a Stephen King novel. But, this weekend, I found in Stephen King an unlikely friend. Here is a guy who is routinely persecuted by negative reviews--and yet he is one of the most prolific writers of his generation. The man writes what some refer to as drivel, and yet he has legions of fans and has published over 150 works (short stories and novels). Why the hell do I hang on to what some maladjusted little harpy said 15 years ago? Stephen King takes his criticisms to the bank, and often. I learned something from Stephen this weekend, even if it's something I've known all along. Don't listen to the haters, because they most likely hate in you what they wish they had in themselves.

It's time for me to start writing again. Thanks, Steve. I owe you one.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Favorite Moment

The best laid plans of mice and man often go awry. (To a Mouse. ---Robert Burns)

Speaking of mice and plans going awry...

Yesterday I had planned to write down my recipe for my Famous-Only-in-my-House Portobello Mushroom Burgers. I figured a preschool friendly vegetarian recipe is always a bonus, right? Maybe next week, because this week I was too busy laughing my ass off. Why? Imagine my surprise when I unwrapped the cheese I planned to use for the burgers and saw this:

So Cheesy

Hi. My name is Mikey. I was sick. I wasn't hungry. I'm better now. I am hungry. Cheese is good. I think I'll go bite into a brick of cheddar.

Go ahead and click on it. You'll go to my flickr page and there you will be able to enlarge the image. Go ahead. I'll wait.

Are you back? Did you notice that smudge in the upper right hand corner? Do you know what that is? IT'S GLITTER. My cheese has glittery bite marks.

I really don't think I can top this. I think I just need to admit that there is no better favorite moment. I'm debating just shutting down the entire blog and calling this my final post. I mean, cheese with glitter and indentation marks? You can't make this stuff up.

Mouse in the House

One last picture of the cheese from a different angle, because this had The Mister and I laughing hysterically. It's a brick of cheddar. This is no meager Kraft Single. How hungry was he? Where was I? And what does so much cheese taste like all at once? There are so many questions that will never be answered.

The crap. The glitter. The dog kibble. The cheese. I love it. As crazy as it sounds, I really do. I can't wait until Nicholas is old enough to charge through the world making chili and fruit salad and eating cheese. For now, I'll just snuggle him and wait with a smile on my face--and a drink in my hand.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Welcome Back, Mikey

Wednesday started with me cleaning crap off the bathroom floor. And by crap, I don't mean Legos. These bricks were the kind you flush, not build. The toilet backed up and for the life of me I couldn't figure out why given the, ahem, original contents. That is, until a few hours later when Mikey skipped out of a different bathroom and said, "Mama! I flushed the toilet and this time the water went doooooooown not uuuuuuuup!" Uh huh. Something tells me an entire roll of toilet paper preceded the aforementioned flush in question. After I cleaned up the toxic waste in the bathroom, I spent the rest of the morning mopping down the house, mainly because the wood floors needed the attention.

Later that afternoon, I was in the office replying to emails when Mikey's proud voice called out to me like a siren's song from the enclosed patio. "Mama, I cleaned the floor all by myself! It looks great!"

Huh?! What the? I was already getting up and heading towards the patio. "Why does the floor look great?" I said nonchalantly. "What was on the floor?" I've learned to never sound accusatory. They can smell a stint in time-out coming from a mile away. Cajole them into telling you what really happened and you might actually find out why the floor you just spent all morning mopping would need to be cleaned by a three year old.

"Nothing was on it, Mama. I just cleaned it to make it better!" I looked him up and down. No stains or wet spots and everything in order. I didn't bother to look inside, because if he had spilled anything it would have been all over him. A rookie mistake.

"OK. No more cleaning the floor, alright? I already mopped them today." A quick kiss and a hair tousle, and I'm off ten paces to the office.

Now, where was I? I started working on an email and a few minutes later gave Mikey a quick glance. "Mikey! I told you not to go through my drawers. Put that glitter back right now!"

"OK, Mama!" And off he went. All of a sudden, it hit me.



"Yes, Mama! And I cleaned it ALLLLLLLLL UP! It looks GREAT!" I turned those 10 spaces into 5 and bounded up the stairs to the patio. There was Mikey, covered head to toe in gold glitter stirring what looked like gold soup in a miniature play-doh container. "Now I'm putting my chili in the bowl." Not chili. And, not a bowl. It's my white vase, which I keep on a tray table next to the picture windows.


I was ok with the messy hands. They were cute.

Glittery Hand

So were the feet.

Head to...

And I figured I could probably clean up the vase.

Glided Vase

And the table.


But you know what I can't clean up? The fine glitter on the hardwood floors-- or what we now refer to as "The #$%&!* Yellow Brick Road." You see, hardwood floors made from actual planks of wood have cracks in between each plank. And cracks accept all sorts of fine particles of matter--especially gold glitter. It's like I grouted my floors with fairy dust.


A few pounds of glitter did manage to escape the cracks in the floor and adhere to our bare feet. How do I know this? Because I have gold footprints all over the damn house. The bathroom--where I banished Mikey to wash the glitter off his body--looks like the inside of a gold disco ball.

After I finally admitted glitter defeat, I moved on to the kitchen to start dinner. I gave Mikey strict instructions to stay away from anything wet or sparkly. Mark my words: this kid is a born litigator. He finds the loop holes in everything, as I quickly discovered once The Mister got home.

The Mister: "Wow. Did you see what Mikey did?"

Jules: "What? The glitter chili and Yellow Brick Road? Yep, I saw it."

The Mister: "Noooo. Maybe not the that."

Jules: [Now moving quickly out of the kitchen and towards the patio] "Why? What did he do this tim... MIIIIIIIIIIIIKEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Field of Food

Mikey: "Hi Mama! I was just making fruit salad for Buddy and Buster!" This, my friends, is fruit salad in the eyes of a three year old. 10 pounds of dog food strewn as far as the eye can see. Because that's what I need: random bits of food to attract rats and hawks.

Image courtesy KK/used under the Creative Commons Share-Alike Attribution License

Hey! You know what's harder than cleaning glitter off a hardwood floor? Sweeping round dog food bits into a pile! Because, let me tell you, without a graduate degree in physics you'll have an easier time herding feral cats. Dog food is round, and when you try to sweep up round things they start to roll around and bump into other round things and before you know it you are barefoot and trapped in the middle of the world's largest game of miniature pool. Hundreds and hundreds of little pellets dancing beneath your feet, which by the way feel like bullets if you're unlucky enough to step on one while you're trying to avoid the twenty million others. Trust me--you'll only step on one at a time because that hurts like a bitch. It's similar in concept to lying on a bed of nails without hurting yourself but crying like a baby when you poke yourself with a pin. [p=dF/sA] Pressure is equal to force divided by area. See? You need physics to clean up dog food.

Golden Nugget

At least there was a golden nugget of wisdom tucked in all the crap, glitter, and pellets of yesterday. Mikey is feeling better. Welcome back, Mikey. Welcome back, welcome back, welcome baaaaaaack.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Sorry I've been away. Mikey has been sick (again) since Saturday and Nicholas since Sunday. We've been up all night every night. Mikey has a chest cold, and Nicholas is running a high fever. I thought things were looking good for Mikey, but when he sat down for dinner his face looked flushed. Sure enough, he has a fever, too. Naturally, The Mister is out to dinner tonight with clients.

Will my babies ever be healthy again? Will I ever sleep through the night for more than a couple days at a time? Stay tunned and see what happens in the next episode of As The Human Rhinovirus Turns. :(

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Only the Best Smoothie Ever

Smoothie Ingredients

Sunday is a good day for recipes. I don't know how many people out there are interested in healthy kids snacks (that are tasty enough for adults!) but here is our family's favorite smoothie. In the interest of full disclosure, it's really the only smoothie I make because I love it so much. With good reason: the few times I've ventured out and tried a different fruit combination the results were less than spectacular.

Young Coconut

I already know what some of you are thinking. What in the Hell is that?!


It's a young coconut, also known as a Thai coconut. I buy mine at the store for about $1.50. You can find them for less than $1 at Asian markets, but I haven't taken the time to find one in my area. They are incredibly good for you for several reasons, but are primarily known for the electrolyte and mineral rich water inside. I first got hooked on these last summer during the dog days of August. I live in the desert, and just one smoothie a day was instrumental in keeping this not-so-good-at-drinking-water-girl hydrated. As you can see, you need some heavy artillery to open them. Nothing expensive, I think that knife cost $5 at Target, because you definitely want to avoid ruining your good knives on one of these bad boys. Stick with something cheap and relatively disposable.


I wasn't about to try and take pictures and open my coconut at the same time, so here is a good video to check out on proper technique (there are many different ways, but this is how I do it).

See how he/she puts the straw in to drink from the coconut? Not so much. Mikey hates the taste of coconut water, and so does The Mister. It has a nutty/sweet taste. I don't mind it at all--in fact, I always taste a tablespoon or so to make sure the coconut is fresh. But as far as drinking it from a straw? Meh. I'm not there, yet. I just open up the coconut and pour all the water into the blender.

OK, so the main attraction to the young coconut is the texture. As you can see from the video, it's very soft. A mature coconut, the kind we are all used to seeing, can be hard as a brick and impossible to process to a smooth texture in a smoothie.

Scoop out the Inside

You pretty much scoop out the coconut meat with a spoon and toss that into the blender with the water.

Then, you add two cups of frozen pineapple and 1 frozen banana. The banana doesn't have to be frozen, but it makes a difference in texture (it's thicker and creamier). Likewise with the pineapple. Plus, I like my smoothies ice cold.

Tall Glass of Smoothie

Blend it all until thick and smooth. That's all it takes to make the best smoothie ever.

Only the Best Smoothie

You even get to sport a cute little "Got Milk" mustache!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Favorite Moment

Tonight we met my brother and sister-in-law at my parents' house for dinner. The Mister and I dropped the boys off first and then headed over to California Pizza Kitchen to pick up food for everyone. The thought occurred to me that I didn't have to wait with the boys in the car while he went inside the restaurant. Cool! I jumped out of the car and started walking alongside him, continuing the conversation we had in the car. We were half way to the restaurant when I looked down and noticed we were holding hands. I didn't know for how long we had been holding hands, nor did he.

JULES: "Hey, check it out! We're holding hands."

THE MISTER: "I know. It's nice."

JULES: "It's amazing all the things you can do with your hands when you're not using both to push a stroller."

That's it. That's my favorite moment. A display of affection without artifice or effort. In my opinion, that's the best kind.

I Hate My Keyboard

My keyboard is sticky, and I dn't want to know why. I'm not correcting any of the ytpis in this post so you can see what i'm dealing with. Ihave a MAc--how can I fix this relly annoying pobnl;em? DO iHave to buy a new one?

Wild Animal Kingdom

I opened the slider, stepped onto my covered patio, and for the first time in my life remembered to close the door before heading off to our office in the backyard. No sooner did I sit down to my computer did I hear a huge crash in the covered patio. I looked up, waiting to see Mikey. Instead, I see this:

I'll tell you what--that bird, when 10 feet from your face and tearing at wall screen, is the size of a beagle. And those talons? Yeah, they scared the crap out of me. Once I realized the slider was closed and the boys safe, I pretty much sat there with my head up my ass waiting for someone to tell me what to do. Lucky for me, Mr. Hawk didn't around wait for my enlightenment. He left as quickly as he came, knocking over boxes in the process, no doubt off to disembowel some mouse or rat.

Come to think of it...why did he fly into my covered patio? Was he swooping in for said rat or mouse? Oh, crap. I think I'm going to pass out.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A Missed Deadline


Hi. I know that you try to work when me and big brother are sleeping and that daddy is at dinner with clients and won't be back until late tonight and you have two really big deadlines for tomorrow but...but...but...


It's really dark in here! Even with the light on it's really scary and I'm lonely and I swear I heard something outside and none of the books you gave me to play with are remotely interesting and I have another tooth coming in and...


Everything is just really terrible for me right now.


Wait. What did you say? You'll sing my favorite song and rock me until I fall asleep?


Do you mean it? Are you sure?


That's just...that's just...




Don't give it another thought, baby. You want to know a secret? Mama used to be afraid of the dark, too.

The Magic Combination

Two things limit our success: drive and confidence. I really believe that if giving proper instruction, there isn't much any of us can't do. But, if you don't believe you can do it, you'll fail. Now, there are some things better left to those with a more congruous skill set. For example, you won't see me moseying into the OR to perform neurosurgery anytime soon. This all points to drive. I could be, potentially, the world's best neurosurgeon. Heck, even just a mediocre neurosurgeon. But I don't have the drive to study the way medical school requires; I don't want it enough.

This is hardly a new website, but if any of you are looking for a little inspiration from women in creative businesses you should read a few of the stories on Another Girl at Play. Here is a group of woman enjoying the synergistic effect of drive and confidence. When you want something bad enough, and believe you can do it, there really are no limits.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Raw Food for the Rest of Us

Over the summer I went to a raw food party. I know, I know. It sounds weird and it's probably a crunchy California thing, but I had a great time. It was the night before my endoscopy, and for the first time in months I was able to eat a meal that didn't leave me doubled over in pain. I also had a weird, buzzy energy. When I later got my endoscopy results (9 ulcers, esophagitis, and erosions in various parts of my stomach) I really felt that eating raw was the perfect compliment to my Nexium. I got all excited and started reading more about it. I even ate raw, off and on, for most of the summer. There was just one little problem. I don't have much in common with people who eat raw. Let's just say a lot of the people look like this clown.

I'll be nice and won't share his name--but he is a well known "raw foodist." He also has legions of fans, and I don't want any of them to find me and poke my eyes out with incense sticks or beat me over the head with their Birkenstocks. This guy doesn't use soap, shampoo or deodorant because he believes they are rife with toxic chemicals. He also wears medical I.D. tags stating he does not want any pharmaceuticals or IV medications because, again, they are toxic. Are you getting an idea of the people drawn to raw foods? My point exactly.

So, imagine my surprise when I opened Domino magazine today and saw this article on raw foods! The nutritional expert featured, Zoe Sakouitis of Blueprint Cleanse, looked [gasp] normal. A wee bit thin, but I'm a jealous harpy so my judgment may be clouded. It was a tiny blurb of an article, but she bathes, uses things like soap and toothpaste, and--wait for it--even eats cooked food every now and then! Her take on raw foods? Eat raw during the day and don't stress about the burger you had for dinner with friends. Now, that's a philosophy I can stand behind! Healthy eating (and the people who espouse it) can be, dare I say, balanced, normal, and hip. Who knew?

This article really came at a weird time, because since Sunday I've pretty much eaten only raw foods. There's no real commitment on my part to continue, but for now it feels fine. I think the warm weather we had last week got me craving salads and fruit. I told The Mister that I wanted to eat raw until Friday and hopefully flush out all the crap I've been eating since November. After Friday? Who knows. I'll just play it by ear and see how I feel, but I do like how Ms. Sakouitis' does things.

One thing about raw: the desserts are amazing. Every night this week I have inhaled raw cheesecake. There's no dairy (it's made with nuts) but you would never know. It's crazy, and you really have to taste it to believe it. Mikey and I also made some raw fudge today and Oh. My. God. it is so good. It doesn't taste like fudge, though. (I actually hate fudge, so that's a good thing.) It's just chocolate-y chewy yumminess. I love how every now and then you get a taste of salt. The Mister tried some when he got home from work and said, "These are going to be trouble." They are. I've already had 6 or 7 pieces. Here is the recipe, which comes from Raw Food Real World.

Chewy Chocolate Freezer Fudge

2 cups, or 1 16oz jar Raw Almond Butter
1/2 cup + 2 TBS Maple syrup
1/4 raw carob powder
1 TBS (heaping) raw coconut butter
1 tsp salt (I used kosher)
2 tsp vanilla extract

Put everything into your mixer and turn it on. Wait until it comes together.

That's it! I'm not kidding! At this point, it's like super rich, stiff frosting. Mikey couldn't resist licking the spoon.

Then you just put it into a saran wrap lined 8x8 dish, smooth it out, and cover the top with more saran wrap. Kinda like your wrapping a present made of chocolate. Toss that puppy into the freezer.

After an hour, take it out of the freezer and remove it from the dish, unwrap it, and set it on a cutting board. Cut it into 1 inch squares and put back into the freezer in a freezer bag or tupperware--whatever, just put it in something freezer safe. You'll want to store these in the freezer, otherwise the almond butter will just melt at room temperature.

Now you have an easy, healthy, and delicious sweet treat waiting for you!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Know Any Good Blogs?

I have yet to update my blog roll. I read plenty of fantastic blogs daily in addition to the 9 must-reads I have listed, so after I finish up a writing project at the end of this week I plan to considerably expand my little list to the left.

Do you know of any great blogs? Please let me know in the comments. Now only do I love to discover new-to-me blogs, I'm curious to hear what everyone else is reading.