Friday, October 26, 2007

three together

It's time for one of those "I'm tired but I'm grateful" posts because, well, I'm so tired right now and it's good to remember why.

I'm tired because I haven't slept a full night through for a few months, because my baby's teething and wants to sleep next to us instead of in her crib.

I'm tired because I'm planning Paloma's first birthday party, which is tomorrow.

I'm tired because I ate too much sugar today, unable to keep my hands off the amazing cupcakes made from the Cheeseboard Collective Cookbook's Deep Dark Chocolate Loaves recipe.

I'm tired trying to do a lot of good work for free for nonprofits, also trying to finish a job application before Monday's deadline.

Put in other words...

My home is filled with the sounds of a growing baby, a baby who's learning to talk and walk and express herself in so many ways. A healthy baby who's thriving. My home is not silent.

My home is filled with joyous memories and anticipation for more good times with dear friends who have been with us so much of the way.

My home is filled with the delicious scents of baked-from-scratch-with-love goods.

And I'm holding out hope that I can do something I enjoy, from home, and actually get paid for it- a good hope to keep one going.


When I say it like that, it changes everything! It reminds me to revel in the delicious beauty of this time in our lives, this precious time when we two became three. Three figuring things out, three to share the ups and downs, three to share life together. Together!

To family! I can stay up. I'm not tired.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

due date anniversary

Today is Paloma's due date anniversary! This time last year, I was waiting for those contractions that couldn't reasonably be called Braxton-Hicks. And I had a feeling I'd be waiting another four days, since I ovulate on Day 18, not Day 14 like those 40 week wheels count on. And I was right!

October 24, 2006, I called in to a radio contest-- and was one person away from winning $1000. But that's ok. :)

Because four days later, I went from having this:

to having her:

and I will always delight in seeing this:

Freezer Paper Stencils=Magic!

I have recently tried my hand at the magic and wonder that is otherwise known as freezer paper stenciling. If you haven't tried it, be warned that the amazing results will have you feeling like a legitimate crafter right away. Even artistic.

And it is oh so easy! (I swear, the Home Shopping Network needs me.)

You can find good instructionals by googling "freezer paper stenciling" and great stencils by our friend google as well (or goodsearch, if you're so inclined).

The basic idea is:

1. find freezer paper at your supermarket (can't be waxed paper; must be paper on one side, waxed on the other)

2. draw your design. Soon you too will be discussing islands and bridges with your stencils.

3. Use an Xacto or some such cutter to cut out your design. (I feel like I'm in that "@!*? in a Box" video from SNL. You have to YouTube that. It is *hilarious.*)

4. Iron it on your shirt.

5. Use fabric paint to fill in your design.

6. Let dry, then carefully peel off the stencil. Voila! Perfection!

My first attempt was with a labor intensive lettered design: "PALOMA." It turned out really well. A friend said it looked silk screened. Here's are two photos of it:

I can't wait to do this all over the place!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Vanity Fair, a dance, and the War

In the latest issue of Vanity Fair, James Wolcott writes an article on The Twist that directly follows a heart-droppingly beautiful piece by Christopher Hitchens on Mark Daily, a 23 year old soldier who was killed in Iraq. Hitchens' piece brought tears to my eyes, and I felt somewhat surprised to see such gaiety following.

But Wolcott so gracefully brings the message home, bridging from the boisterous times that birthed The Twist to our current time and space on Earth:

"If we can't Twist again, like we did last millennium, that doesn't mean we should embrace soft internment inside our own bodies. At some point the talon grip of the War on Terror will relent out of pure tension fatigue, and perhaps then new excitements will bubble up through the floorboards, pour through the speakers, and set us momentarily but exaltedly free. Because lockstep is no way to go through life, and we've been under marching orders long enough."

Oh, amen, amen, amen.

day of the dead!

This Sunday, Oakland Museum is having a Dias de los Muertos celebration. I'm thinking of taking Minkie. It sounds like a great way to spend a weekend- cool art, demonstrations and performances. If you've celebrated this, tell me about it!

The sky is shades of gray and I can see a bright orange Japanese maple, a burgundy maple, a yellow maple, a live oak, a persimmon and an apple tree outside my window. Fall has fallen.

I always dread this time of year, but when it comes I always feel glad. It's such a good excuse to curl up and nurse a hot cup of cocoa or tea and feel good about staying in. But at the same time, I love walking and hiking in the rain.

And of course, fall brings football! Minkie's first game was also, sadly, Cal's first loss. But we had fun anyway.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

poison kiss

I am so, so troubled by the reports of independent lab tests revealing LEAD in my favorite of all accessories- lipstick. I know I just blogged this, but I can't help it- I'm blogging it again. I wear this stuff everyday- mostly lip gloss, not a heavily pigmented lipstick, but still-- some sort of lip color daily.

What's an eco-savvy, health-conscious, neurotoxin-avoiding, lipstick-loving girl to do?

Well, I started off at my go-to website for this kind of thing: The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. There I found their latest study and a quick FAQ about lead in lipstick.

Honestly, lip color is a lot of fun for me and I'm going to miss it. But ew- letting lead scramble my brains and mess with my neurons isn't worth it. However!!! Lip gloss fans, we must unite!!! I'm going to fill a lip gloss container with pure vitamin E oil. It's glossy, wears well, and leaves my lips utterly soft. It doesn't have a color, true, but it looks great with flushed cheeks and a lightly mascaraed eye. (I know, there could be lead in the cheek color.)

Lip glossers, tell me what's going on in your makeup drawer!

Saturday, October 13, 2007


I have this thing about brands. I'm ok with big box brand names if the quality and value are good. But aside from things like cars (we've got a Toyota), I've found pretty consistently that small gem brands are my favorites-- especially when we're talking about food and clothes.

When it comes to food, I mostly prefer knowing farms over brands-- I'm not super into most foods in boxes or cans. But I know I love Full Belly Farms, Twin Girls Farms (best apples besides my parents' tree), Martinez Farms. Good fresh stuff.

And when it comes to clothes, you know I admire Verrieres and Sako and fabulous local clothiers. It's just nice to find real quality instead of picking over stuff on plastic racks under fluorescent lights. Now just to clarify, I'm no snob about the fabulousness of plastic-rack-free shopping. It's just that for me, it's nice to feel like there's a person behind the the object, a crafter or artisan who loves their work.

Which is why the etsy website is such a Danger Zone for me-- small business people, mostly women from what I can tell, selling their handmade wares. I'm warning you-- it's some of the most wonderful stuff you can find on the internets.

Here's my latest small brand find: Tusk!! My old Target wallet was falling apart after five years of use. I saw this beauty at Atmosphere in Boulder, CO. Atmosphere is a really fun boutique, where you can find exquisite little items like the Tusk wallet-- I got the quilted silver-studded one in brick red (shown in olive). After dreaming about it for months and not finding anything comparable for less, I went for it.

It's wonderful! This is a classic-yet-unique-and-chic-and-sexy find. In other words, the Holy Grail of wallets (and most things!). I recommend Tusk highly!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

picky eaters!

Before I got pregnant-- even before I tried to get pregnant-- I knew one thing about my progeny. I was not going to have a picky eater. And if somehow a rotten, ungrateful little parasite managed to be born unto my loins, I wasn't going to support his or her snarky ways.

It's Mama's cooking or nothing!

I felt pretty certain that I wouldn't be one of those parents cooking a separate meal for every family member, letting the littlest, pickiest one dictate what s/he and/or the rest of us would eat.

Guess what? I still feel that way! Ah, consistency, you are my friend.

The New York Times highlighted this issue in one of its top most emailed articles of the day. It talks about the possible genetic link between parents who were picky eaters and their picky kids.

There are parents in this article who rearranged their fabulous European vacations to accommodate their kids' food aversions. Parents who cook those individual meals. Parents who deceived their kids into eating something more than processed cheez foods.

I am not here to blame! No, I'm here to support parents. I'm here to say, stick to your ladles! Hold firm to your salad beliefs. Let no packaged processed semi-edible with a shelf life longer than God take over your kitchen and your kitchen-y beliefs!

The article ends with what I think is the most useful piece of advice: patience. Just keep calmly offering the food that you have prepared for the family dinner. The kid will take it eventually, or the kid won't and will be a bit hungry. Some kids might take their strike too far, in which case offering them some modification is of course just fine. But here's the main rule in our household:

1. Parents are in charge. Be consistent and don't break down just because the kid is screaming or refusing. The kid is allowed to her own opinions and allowed to express them, but she's not allowed to harm herself, and in the end eating crappily is harmful.

2. Parents have the responsibility to help a child expand her horizons and learn something. This is not going to happen on a daily candy bar.

3. Food is FUN, darn it!! Finding the perfect seasonal produce at the farmer's market, preparing the food, enjoying it with all our senses... I mean, this is life at its most delicious. I'm not going to deny my babies that.

Tomorrow I'm having a soup party. It's going to be delicious. I've made three breads, three soups, a potato salad, and cookies and salad are on the way. I hope this is the first of many parties like this. I want Minkie to grow up in a household full of conviviality. Viva la food revolution!!

the nanocamel

Ok, so D and I were talking this evening about work and making money. Basically, he loves his job and he's great at it, but there is no money in it. Folks, tell this to your kids who dream of being a physics professor.

And as for me- I've been in the nonprofit world for ten years-ish. While I've loved the work and the ethic and the people, I've found out a couple of things.

1. People who work at nonprofits can have that corporate hierarchical mindset, even though they're working for a cool cause.

Ok, that was supposed to be a list, but that was my big finding. It was a big disappointment to realize nonprofit people can be tools, too! (I must say that most of them are not tools, and my recent colleagues have been the most professional, most warm and friendly, smartest people I've had the pleasure to meet.)

Oh wait. I guess my other big finding is this: I really want to have more fun in life.

Which leads us to the nanocamel. D and I were talking about that parable where Jesus says it's harder for a rich man to get into heaven than a camel through the eye of a needle. D has a nicely nuanced understanding of that parable, which is that Jesus didn't say it was impossible for a rich person to achieve nirvana (ok, get to heaven for you purists). But he implied that it was hard-- that it required hard work. D summed that up with the always-pithy phrase "From those who have much, much will be required." D added that he also thought it implied that poor people don't have to do much to get into heaven.

I liked this interpretation very much. I decided that I am willing to do the work it takes to get my camel through the needle. Perhaps that means developing a nanocamel.

Is this just trying to have my cake and eat it too? Not quite. It means I'm willing to work hard. Especially if the hard work seems like fun. You know, like all those supermodels who are like, "Modeling is Such Hard Work!" (As they sip their umbrella drinks on tropical islands and someone does their hair for them.) Now that's not the work I'm after (or am qualified for) BUT! You get where I'm going with this.

Viva la nanocamel! May we all be so blessed.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

What's in my lipstick??!

This article in Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle should be a must-read for anyone who wears cosmetics or cares about someone who does. The title of the article is "Five Questions for Mark Schapiro," who wrote the book "Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What's At Stake for American Power."

The real question for me is, why is it that Europe has so much higher standards than the United States when it comes to regulating toxic chemicals? Why is it that European consumers can get so. much. more information on these things-- and American consumers cannot?

The article mentions the American culture of trusting corporations-- that is, trusting that products from large corporations must be overseen by the government or, at least, must be safe. Because otherwise people would get hurt and corporations would be forced to reformulate or get sued for lots of money. Right?

Well, a few consumers groups like Center for Environmental Health do the work the government should be doing. CEH had been testing products like children's lunchboxes, costume jewelry, candy and toys for lead for the past decade. And CEH has been forcing companies to reformulate.

The trouble with cosmetics is that its such a vast, vast market, and it does not have to reveal ingredients. Now, the skin is a very sensitive and intelligent organ, and I respect my skin. I also sometimes use makeup, and I often use cleansing and moisturizing products. I try to use simple, organic products or stuff straight from the kitchen (oats to scrub, olive oil to moisturize). So, considering how much is absorbed through the skin, well... I try not to use anything on my skin that I wouldn't eat. Because it's getting in my system, one way or another.

It seems the Europeans get this concept, as well as the "knowledge is power" idea. American consumers are still in the dark about what's in our cosmetics, cleansers and moisturizers. And we need to ask the questions if we ever want to find out exactly what those dyes, colors, stabilizers, emulsifiers, and preservatives do in our bodies.

Find out more at

the great balloon chase

Minkie is so great! She will give hugs if you ask her. She toddles most everywhere. She's a busy girl!

Check her out with her balloon, delegating balloon-getting duties to Daddy. Go Minkie!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Barney's in SF!

Barney's, the iconic department store of New York, is coming to San Francisco! And who better to present the fabulousness but Simon Doonan, the department store's creative director. 7x7 magazine did an interview with him and I have to say I'm totally on board.

I mean, this man flatly states,"Say no to ho." And: "Barneys is a great fit with San Francisco. We both love beautiful design, and we both share a dislike for that tarty look-- butt crack jeans, fake tans, hair extensions, skimpy halters, ugly scrotal bags, massively enhanced boobs. Gnarly."


It's time that SF was properly recognized for its unique style. And I don't mean "unique" to be a euphemism for "butt ugly." (I'd say butt ugly if I meant it.) The SF style is endlessly changeable, because it has to be in a city where you might have a wintry, foggy morning; a sunny afternoon; and a cool, breezy evening. Where you might head to the gym, the office and the opera without going home in between. Where the local dive bar serves tapas.

It's great to live in the Bay Area, especially if you're a people watcher, because you get to see how much fun people have with the variable weather and social forecasts. Street style is so much fun around here.