Saturday, December 24, 2011

This blog HAS MOVED!

After a good amount of experimentation while working on a site for my kids (KidsBookyBubbles), my eyes were opened to the joys of owning your own URL!  So I looked into purchasing the logical URL for this blog -- which would be -- but SOMEONE OWNS IT!  I was shocked. It was kind a word I made up, and I didn't even really love it, but it was what I could cobble together in the mental state I had with two children under the age of three.

Alas, my mental state is no better nowadays, and any other name I could think of was already taken.  And so my new title is just that:  All the Good Blog Names are Taken . I was very much at risk of what happened to Dillon Edwards Investments on Saturday Night Live.

So all this to say that if you want to keep subscribing, please visit  All the Good Blog Names are Taken.
If you subscribe via RSS, if I've done things correctly (50% chance) your feed should have already been updated.  If you subscribe by email, please go to the new website and click on the email icon in the upper right hand corner to sign up for updates.  Happy holidays everyone!!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Figs by Moonlight

Food is the best.  I went to a farmer's market today and the food was so good that I just had to give the picture more space than usual.  One of the happiest days of my life was when a friend made roasted figs filled with goat cheese.  I think figs should grow on trees.  Wait, maybe they do.

Last week there was a blackout all over San Diego.  At first, I was annoyed because I couldn't work.  But then, gradually, I became glad, because I couldn't work.  I took the kids to the pool and the pool manager told me he heard the power wasn't going to come back on until sometime the next day.  I felt a little giddy.  This was as close to camping as I would ever want to get.  I'm the type of person who, born in a different era, would be dead by now.  I would have been naturally selected out and consumed by tigers because of my poor eyesight.  If required to hunt rabbits for survival as a result of the power outage, I wouldn't make it (should I hunt with a spatula or a collander?).

But I survived the power outage.  I cooked -- on my gas grill (no, can't make fire with twigs either).  I quenched my thirst with beer (which was made of hops and barley that someone planted).  And the most startling thing happened that night.  I discovered...moonlight.  I'd heard that word before -- and I've certainly seen the moon -- but I didn't get it until I saw it in the absence of other light that the moon actually provides light.  And that night, a lot of it.  So much of it that it actually kept awake up as I was lying on the floor in an attempt to keep cool (weakness #4: cannot withstand temperature fluctuations of +/- 3 degrees).  [Full disclosure:  I am the person who once walked in a field behind my childhood home and ran as if doing a jig because grasshoppers were touching me.  Observing me, a friend of my brother's asked, "Has your sister ever been outdoors?"]

But, moonlight!  I've seen it.  It only took me 40 years to experience it.  Now I get it.  Moonlight.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

This morning, a few days before my 40th birthday, I put two contact lenses into one eye.  Who says 40 is the new 30?

Photo to the right was taken on a recent whale watching trip.  This was about 10 minutes before I got too seasick to care about whales.  And actually I think these are dolphins. 

So recently, I've started going to an acupuncturist.  Combination of not wanting to be heavily medicated and hearing the tales of others, including some friends in the medical profession, talk about the merits of acupuncture (one friend, a 43-year-old physician, has had numerous surgeries and procedures in an effort to get pregnant; enter acupuncture -- she's 4 months along now).  Of this I am convinced:  it certainly does something.  The first time I had it done, about 10 minutes in, alone in the room, I started laughing uncontrollably.  Nothing was funny.  Although I wouldn't rule out mental illness, it seemed to be a strange response to the acupuncture.  Apparently this isn't uncommon.  And after my first session, I felt the best I've felt since I was probably two.  It's what I imagine nirvana is meant to be like.  And best of all, I slept that night, which hasn't happened much lately.

Last time I went, the acupuncturist checked my pulse and said that my lungs sounded weaker than normal.  I had felt that day that I was coming down with something, and had just started feeling slightly headachy, with some sinus pressure, and that overall run-down feeling.  She prescribed me some herbs to take -- apparently these are very effective if you can catch something at its onset -- and within a few hours, I felt a lot better.  By the next day, I felt fine.

So I'm a convert.  I was always skeptical of Chinese medicine, but I've realized that having a Chinese mother who randomly instructs you to ingest herbs is not the same as having someone who has actually studied Chinese medicine prescribe you herbs.  And I can't explain the acupuncture, except to say that it works.  

In case you're wondering, and you're probably not, if there's an earthquake you're allowed to pull all the needles out.  And then run outside in your glamorous paper robe.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Entitlement, China and Other Things

You know you're getting on in years when you hear yourself talking about "young people these days" and their sense of entitlement -- as someone who's recruited and worked with people now in their 20s (and to be fair, as with all generalizations, there are some very clear exceptions), I think there's something there.  I once had someone suggest that in a self-review that they should get an exceptional rating because they showed up for work every day (imagine the rating if they had actually worked while they were there!).  There are so many philosophies out there nowadays on child rearing, from Tiger Moms to the coddlers;  here is a great article about trends that a psychologist is seeing in young people today.  Where is the pain of growing up of yore, where you could actually not get a trophy because you sucked at sports and didn't deserve one?  Where is the humility and sense of reality you get from the experience of losing?  Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World: Seven Building Blocks for Developing Capable Young People is one of the best books I've read on how not to raise a brat.  Unfortunately, my enforcement of its principles is probably weak.

I've recently started reading Mao's Last Dancer, Li Cunxin's autobiography of how we went from a poor (and I mean, poor) peasant boy in rural China to being selected for the prestigious national ballet school.  I'm only halfway through the book (but based on the movie previews I know that love and defection ensue), but what really stood out to me about his description of his childhood was that despite being part of a loving family (without being coddled), and perhaps even because of his poverty, he had his head screwed on right.  Anytime you want to recalibrate your view of hardship, pick up a book about living in Mao's China.  

Of course, this book has nothing to do with child-rearing.  I've just twisted it here to fit my topic of choice.  It does give a good picture into the mindset and environment of communist China, and actually reminds me a bit of some companies at which I've worked.

On the topic of China (yes, this post is going to ramble), I also recently ready Peony in Love: A Novel.  Let me just say that it wasn't at all what I expected, but like all Lisa See's works of historical fiction, was an enjoyable read while painlessly educating you on various events, customs and philosophies (in this case, of dead people).  

Recently I started reading Louisa May Alcott's Little Women with my daughters.  I think I last read it when I must have been 8 or 9.  But I was struck each time the mother (who, I strangely didn't recall, they call "Marmee") spoke, at how she addressed my own sense of entitlement.  A lot to learn from that old Mrs. March, there is.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Liquid Breakfasts

I love breakfast.  I love eating, and breakfast is the first thing you get to eat every day.  I love bacon. Eggs.  Butter.  During the week, though, breakfast is a lot less fun.  For me, it's a rushed time, and with my new job I am usually on a call with an international group of people at an ungodly hour.  I need to be able to prepare something that can be done in increments as I hit the mute button periodically, and it needs to be quickly consumed.  But it also needs not to be disgusting.  I'm a snob like that.

So here's a little meal that my friend Patricia suggested.  It's actually surprisingly good.  You'll need (the stuff I took an ugly photo of with my cell phone):
  • Almond milk (about a cup or so...though I don't usually measure so you might have to experiment here); I've tried unflavored as well as vanilla and they both work fine
  • 1 Banana
  • 1 Avocado
  • Whey (I don't really know what this is except that Little Miss Muffet ate them with curds in a nursery rhyme) -- but at Patricia's suggestion I got MRM brand 100% all natural whey in Rich Vanilla
  • (optional) Flax oil
All you do is slice up the banana and avocado, add in about a cup of the almond milk, a squirt of flax oil and a scoop of whey, and blend (I have a handy little Braun hand blender that makes this easy).  You can add in ice if you want it to be more smoothie-like, but I'm happy with it so long as everything else is cold.  The whey protein makes it filling -- unlike with smoothies, this one tides me over til lunch. There you have it -- healthy liquid breakfast!

    Saturday, May 28, 2011

    Bumble & Bumble Dry Shampoo

    If you're wondering why I haven't written for a few months, which you're probably not unless you're me, the person who reads this blog, then I will tell you.  Somehow, weeks after I left my last job, I ended up at a venture-backed company.  That means that I am no stranger to the 16-hour workday.  And better yet, I can start my day as early as 3:45 AM.  Needless to say, this has shifted my priorities a bit.  I am now willing to pay 40x what I was previously willing to pay to save myself a minute or two. 

    So I know I am the person who said that the best dry shampoo I found was the $1.99 corn starch from the grocery store.  And that was true back then -- but it does take some work, especially when you have black hair (though perhaps I won't for long -- in the past few months I've seen a frightening emergency of gray -- very wiry, gravity-resisting grays), to make it disappear.  Enter the Bumble & Bumble hair powder (pictured here in black, but I actually got the white, imagining that after a harrowing day at the office I would have worked a black-colored powder all over my face by the end).  It smells like nothing (all the others I tried smelled revolting once put on my hair).  It sprays a really fine mist so you don't end up looking like Wolfgang Amadaeus Mozart.  And yes, it costs about $40 from my local salon, but you can get it on Amazon for cheaper.  Totally worth it to me for the extra few seconds it buys me in the morning.  I've started running too (which warrants a separate post -- those of you who know me will now also know that hell has frozen over and pigs do fly), and this is a great post-run time-saver.  And so far, no clogging of the nozzle which was a real problem with the Oscar Blandi dry shampoo.  Thank you Bumble & Bumble for letting me sleep in until 3:46 AM!

    Thursday, February 10, 2011

    Rancho Valencia

    A couple of months ago, I had the Best.  Day. Ever.  Me and four of my friends spent the day at Rancho Valencia , in Rancho Santa Fe (California).  Despite the picture on the spa website, rest assured that there is no requirement to stand in an outside shower half-naked.  To the right is another picture of the resort, right outside the relaxation room.  I didn't take that picture.  In fact, woman in the picture isn't even one of the friends I was with that day.  The woman in the picture is my friend Alice, who went to Rancho Valencia on a totally different day, and who has no idea that I've nabbed her Facebook photo for my own selfish purposes.

    From what I hear all the Auberge resorts are to die for, and the service is spectactular.  Rancho Valencia in particular has a seasonal "quench", which is a service that varies by season that's 60 minutes long and costs $100.  It's great value when you consider that you have access to the resort grounds, which includes a huge, gorgeous relaxation room with a big fireplace and silk tea bags, yoga classes, pool and hot tub, and cabanas for lunching poolside.  Even though the place was only minutes from where we live, we felt that we had escaped to a serene paradise where our sanity could once again be restored.

    Next on my wish list?  Solage Calistoga, which is affiliated with Auberge.  Best saved for when I'm making money again, but I am pretty sure from looking at the website that I should be living there. 

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010

    Ippolita Wonderland Party Ring

    Recently, I was up in San Francisco, and was shocked at how little plastic surgery I saw.  Living in SoCal I had largely forgotten that most people are not actually blond and that the average 50-year-old woman doesn't naturally have the full, perky breasts of a Barbie doll.  I saw people with...brown hair.  Boobs that didn't resemble globes.  Facial expressions.  And they were eating food.  Really good food.

    While we were in SF I celebrated another that is precariously close to a rather large number.  I started realizing that I had outgrown certain things.  One of those is the hope that someday I'd be perfect. I'm appreciating that being flat-chested means I can sleep on my stomach.  That my stick-straight hair can only really successfully be stick straight.  That my inability to do just one thing at a time enables me to, well, do more than one thing at a time.  And I've come to know that I'm officially too old for some of the clothes in the catalogs I still get, and no matter what anyone says it's ridiculous for a woman of my age to be wearing a micro-mini.

    One thing for which you can never be too old, thankfully, is jewelry.  While the world most likely no longer appreciate viewing a large swath of my thigh anymore, they'd surely enjoy a well-positioned delicacy made of semi-precious stones, something that says "maybe I can't wear short skirts and over-the-knee boots anymore but I can afford better costume jewelry now".  I saw this Ippolita Wonderland Party Ring in the Bloomingdales catalog, juxtaposed to a stack of a dozen or so rock-candy bangles with gorgeous hammered workmanship and thought, yeah, that still works.  At $795 a pop you'd hope to be going to a lot of cocktail parties to get your money's worth, but nice work, Ippolita -- the online photo doesn't do it justice.

    Thursday, August 26, 2010

    Custom Drapes

    Rodeo Home Milan 50"x96" Luxury Drapes / Curtains in SesameI was unhappy today.  I took three days off since the kids start school next week and my plan was to spend time with them.  Which so far has involved letting them watch DVDs, play on the iPad or otherwise independently eradicate the house of any semblance of decency (did I teach these people that it was ok to throw used tissues on the ground when you're done blowing your nose?).  Partially because I must not be a very good mom.  And partially because there was stuff going on at work and my boss called me and I had to look at spreadsheets and think and write emails.  But really I just wanted to think about custom drapes.

    A few weeks ago I went over to my friend Stacy's house and was struck by how adult her house looked.  She has a kid, but I didn't see any puke or juice on her sofas, nor did I find any booby traps made of string on the way to the kitchen -- her house was completely pulled together, with her furniture going with her decorative accents and most importantly, seeming to belong in her house.  When I got home I felt like my house was really juvenile (and not just because of the artwork made by the juveniles in my household, haphazardly taped onto walls with scotch tape, which I only occasionally find in places like under the bathroom sink or on top of a Build-A-Bear).  I've given up on having nice furniture for now -- at least until my kids stop walking on the sofas and the youngest of their friends becomes older than three.  But the drapes -- the drapes I can do!  So I've been looking into designers, stalking their websites, and learning about the differences between custom and ready-made drapes.  And custom drapes done right (that would be, not the way I've made them in the past) look full, have good heft, and look really great.  But I've also seen some bad custom drapes -- so I've chosen to go the designer route to get a referral to a good workroom.

    The other thing I've learned about custom drapes is that they're expensive.  Will my life be way better once I have them?  One can hope.

    Sunday, July 18, 2010

    Melaleuca and My New Non-Toxic Life

    After a couple of months of dry-heaving from stress, I've started to re-examine my life and have decided that I should really focus on the living part.  One thing that's helped me feel a little more sane is de-cluttering and streamlining.

    Enter Melaleuca, The Wellness Company.  A co-worker of mine recently introduced me to the products.  They're non-toxic, concentrated (and thus space-saving: I took back four ginormous bottles of toxic cleaners like Cascade and Jet Dry that I could barely carry -- and a single normal-sized bottle of Melaleuca's Diamond Brite did the job far better), effective (who knew natural products could be even better than harsh chemicals?) and economical (much, much less expensive than buying non-toxic products through regular retail channels).  A lot of the products serve multiple purposes, like the Tough & Tender all-purpose cleaner, which is also a fruit and veggie spray, or their toothpaste, which can also be used to polish silver.  Their vitamins are far superior to grocery store brands -- I started getting up early to do yoga in the mornings -- and my husband asked that I buy him some of these vitamins because he's never seen me with this much energy!  No more headache-inducing fumes after the cleaners come, no more giant Costco containers that don't fit on my shelves, and no more paying extra for companies' advertising and distribution costs (Melaleuca is customer-referral-only, so you get better value).

    I've still got a long way to go before I'm as streamlined as Jay Shafer, who is apparently making it all work in a 89 square foot home -- and I'm pretty sure I'll never get there (where would I put all my handbags?).   But this is a pretty good start.