Sunday, December 23, 2007

Altered Books

C.R. introduced me to a very very cool art form that I had not heard of before. Its called 'altered books'. One site described it this way,"t is any book, old or new that has been recycled by creative means into a work of art. They can be ... rebound, painted, cut, burned, folded, added to, collaged in, gold-leafed, rubber stamped, drilled or otherwise adorned ... and yes! It is legal!"
There are all sorts of things online about it but here is one of the best sites I found.

Friday, November 30, 2007


Courtesy of E.J., I just had the "Lush" experience. There is a store at malls near you (maybe) called Lush. It is all handmade soaps, gels, and cosmetics. They are all about fresh, vegetarian, and vegan sort of values. The products vary in smell, color, and texture more than any store of it's category. There are bath bombs with scents you wouldn't imagine. There are shower gels that are actually a "bar" of gel... think a block of jello that you rub and lather. There are cleansers that look and feel like silly putty with seaweed weaved through out. You squeeze off a portion and stuff it in a small container... and then use it... on your face!

The website doesn't compare to the experience of the store itself. Its worth seeing; without a purchase, I can't say if its worth using.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007


BTW, I used VistaPrints to design and print the postcards this time. They have a great online interface for designing business cards, mailers, etc. for great prices. We just ordered 1,000 full color glossy postcards for $85 (including shipping). I called Kinkos just to see what their price would be on the same job: $651.

A Little Sprout

I just wanted to mention a wonderful seamstress on Etsy that I came across. A Little Sprout makes the most adorable dresses for little girls, for really reasonable prices ($24 for the dress pictured).

Friday, November 09, 2007

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


A GREAT deal at CB2: I have been looking for appetizer/desert plates for a while now, and have finally found them.

They are only $.50 each!
That's cheaper than the plain glass ones at Ikea ($.99). And they come in both blue and green, though the top face is just white.

The other thing I have to mention is the CUTE elf candle holders! They are adorable, cast iron and only $3.95 each!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Christianity & Art

A woman from church wrote and sent this out this week. I think it's spot on. Enjoy!
The Weekly Encourager - October 19, 2007 - Christian Art

I was surprised by the dismissive attitude of dear Christian friends who had no interest in going to the modern art museum with us because so much of the art would be "non-Christian." They seemed to have jumped to several conclusions at once. Did they make a wise choice, or did they miss an opportunity?

In exploring the question of what makes art Christian or non-Christian, renowned author Madeleine L'Engle says that it's not whether the artist or even the subject matter is Christian, but what God's Spirit does through the art. If the artist has captured something that is true, it resonates with those who are of the truth. She believes "Kandinsky and van Gogh say more than they know in their paintings," whether they were Christians or not. "We may not like that, but we call the work of such artists un-Christian or non-Christian at our own peril. Christ has always worked in ways which have seemed peculiar to many men, even his closest followers. Frequently the disciples failed to understand him. So we need not feel that we have to understand how he works through artists who do not consciously recognize him. Neither should our lack of understanding cause us to assume that he cannot be present in their work."

A second disturbing thing is that so many Christians think that because the artist and art are "Christian" it's good art. Furthermore, they see no need to apply to Christian artists the commonly accepted standards of what makes good music, art, or writing. Our Christian friends who are also professional musicians cringe with us when we hear most of what passes for praise songs on Christian radio. It's an embarrassment to the honor of Christ to have some of that stuff on the air, especially in cases where the music is clearly just an imitation of some worldly style but with "Christian words" pasted on. I consider these falsies particularly disappointing.

As L'Engle states, "A sad fact which nevertheless needs to be faced is that a deeply committed Christian who wants to write stories or paint pictures or compose music to the glory of God simply may not have been given the talent, the gift, which a non-Christian, or even an atheist, may have in abundance. God is no respecter of persons, and this is something we are reluctant to face.

"We would like God's ways to be like our ways, his judgments to be like our judgments. It is hard for us to understand that he lavishly gives enormous talents to people we would consider unworthy, that he chooses his artists with as calm a disregard of surface moral qualifications as he chooses his saints."

copyright 2007 janetamarney

Madeleine L'Engle, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith & Art, Wheaton, Illinois: Harold Shaw Publishers, 1980, pp. 30-31.

By the way, just do a Google image search for "Christian Art" to find ample evidence of the sad state of affairs in this regard.

Fairfax City Library Book Sale

Fairfax City Regional Library
3915 Chain Bridge Road
Oct 27 - 30
  • Friends of Fairfax City Library TGIF (THANK GOODNESS IT'S FINAL) Booksale
  • 12,000 Books! 95% Donated
  • Fiction, nonfiction, specials
  • Tons of CDs, videos, audio books, classic and collectible LPs.
  • Oct 27-30, 2007
    • Saturday, 10am to 5pm
    • Sunday, noon to 6pm
    • Monday, 4pm to 8:30pm
    • Tuesday, 10am to noon
  • Bargain Prices
    • Saturday and Sunday:
      • Hardbacks $3, Tradepaper $2, Mass market paper $.50
      • Specials individually marked in pencil on first light-colored page
    • Monday: BAG DAY ($5 first bag/$3 additional)
    • Tuesday: FREE TO ALL (bring your own bags and boxes)
  • Great Categories including:
    • Art/architecture, American history, including large collection of Viet Nam era
    • Cooking, gardening and DIY
    • Education, including homeschooling; foreign language, particularly Korean language books
    • Religion/spiritiality; medicine and health
    • Geography/travel
    • Women's issues
  • Tons of high-quality children's books sorted by reading level!
  • SILENT AUCTION including multivolume reference and items that belong together
  • This is our final sale at this location. We'll be moving to our splendid new library just down the street in early 2008.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Kalpana's Fine Soaps

At the Fairfax Fall Festival today, I bought some really delightful soaps. Kalpana's Fine Soaps are are mastered with the finest ingredients of olive oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, and other nourishing vegetable-based oils. Premium oils then unite with exotic fragrances and essential oils to create soaps that are elegant and lush.

I chose Goat Milk & Honey, Wheat Germ & Honey, and Unveil. And I bought a silk washcloth from her as well. They are just beautiful and they exfoliate and buff your skin gently.

I was specially glad to note that when I took the box out to look at my soaps I saw that they were printed with Ps. 106:3 and John 14:6.

Friday, October 05, 2007

George MacDonald on Parenting

Ann Landers

My mom gave me this list of parenting cues that her mom sent to her--I thought I would paste it up here.

Don't Suffer the Little Children (From the Opinion Journal)

Don't Suffer the Little Children
A father of four explains the realist approach to parenting.

Friday, September 7, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Another school year has sprung itself upon us, which is always an occasion for my wife, a former Detroit public-school teacher, and me to remind ourselves why we home-school. Part of the reason, in addition to my wife's expertise in this area, can be found in Thomas Sowell's "A Conflict of Visions," published 20 years ago. Mr. Sowell contrasted the "unconstrained vision" of utopians, who want to radically improve humankind, with the "constrained vision" of realists, who begin with the proposition that man is inherently self-interested, and not moldable into whatever form the high-minded types have in store for us once they get their itchy fingers on the levers of power. Mr. Sowell's book has been influential among conservatives for its compelling explanation of the divide between people who want to reshape us--often via large intrusions on liberty--and those who believe that the purpose of government is to protect institutions (like markets and families) that channel our inherent selfishness into productive behavior. It is also a handy guide for parenting.

While some mothers and fathers stubbornly cling to the utopian beliefs of their childless years, the vision of humans as inherently sinful and selfish resonates with many of us who are parents. Nobody who's stood between a toddler and the last cookie should still harbor a belief in the inherent virtue of mankind. An afternoon at the playground is apt to make one toss out the idealist Rousseau ("man is a compassionate and sensible being") in favor of the more realistic Hobbes ("all mankind [is in] a perpetual and restless desire for power"). As a father of four sons, I've signed on to Mr. Sowell's summation of a parent's duty: "Each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late."

For the complete article.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Here's an illustration from a recent commission! More sneak previews for the Fall Sale to come.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Pool Floaty thing

At the beginning of the summer I bought a $3 inflatable floaty thing for G, and it worked fine... but then it popped. And I realized that I didn't like it that much afterall! It was bulky and took a lot of blowing to inflate! Anyhow, I got this one, and love it. It's a cinch to blow up and is much more fun for G, since she can actually touch the water and splash around.

Also, it twists up (like my KidCo PeaPod Plus) and pops open, so it takes up a lot less space!

Snacks G Loves!

Snapea Crisps. You can get them at Trader Joes. They are addicting, and really made of peas. They're baked too, so it's a great snack.


Teddy Puffs.
These were some of G's first foods. I try to varry her grain intake (since Americans tend to be so wheat heavy), and these are another wheat free snack. These are widely available (Wegmans, etc.)

Organic whole grain oats, organic whole grain brown rice, organic whole grain corn, organic evaporated unrefined cane juice, calcium carbonate, tocopherols (vitamin E)

Trader Joe's Schoolhouse Cookies. They're called cookies, but really they only have 8g sugar for 15 cookies!

Also at TJ's: Just Banana Flattened. Literally.

KidCo Tent

I can't believe that I haven't put this up here before now, but I was talking to a couple at the REI Attic Sale and wanted to make sure it's up here.

The KidCo PeaPod Plus has been the greatest thing we have bought for G yet. We use it all the time--camping (in our tent with us--I don't have to think about her rolling anywhere, etc.), going to the beach, at the pool, hanging out outside while I refinish furniture. And G loves it too! We even took it with us on our Minnesota trip, and she could sleep anywhere. The plus is a little bigger than the other PeaPods (we thought she could use it longer that way).

It is the coolest thing though--no annoying rods to feed through nylon sleeves, etc. It just springs open on it's own. It weighs about 5lbs and twists up flat, so we could put it in our suitcase. We use it without the mattress too, just putting down the sleeping bag. The link above was the best price I found for the Plus.

  • Virtually indestructible frame folds for storage
  • Mattress easily inflates with included hand pump
  • Bottom pocket hides mattress away from baby and prevents mattress shifting
  • 50% UV protection
  • 4 mesh panels
  • 4 adjustable wind screens
  • Open Dimensions: 52.5" x 34" x 25" High
  • Storage Bag Dimensions: 19"L x 6.5"W x 19" High
  • For use from birth and up
And at $73 it still beats the price of a bulky (ugly) Pac N' Play.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


I love my new Sigg water bottle. I was really excited to see that Wegmans is carrying them for only $13.99. I am slowly getting rid of all plastic! I replaced all my tupperware with glass three months ago.

SIGG: The History

SIGG Switzerland dates back to 1908 when metal processing specialist Ferdinand Sigg established an aluminum product factory about 30 kilometers outside of Zurich. Along with his colleague Xaver Küng, the two men combined their love of metal and the strong belief that "aluminum is the material of the future". Their product line, which was called SIGG AG Aluminiumwarenfabrik, was initially comprised of saucepans, frying pans and bottles, all of which sold rapidly and were immensely popular. By 1958, SIGG had thousands of products that were all manufactured in the company's own rolling mill and drawing shop.

It was in 1990 that the course for the future of the SIGG bottle was determined: a new shape, still typical of today's bottles, was developed and the quality achieved was superior. The beautiful shapes and design of the bottle is one of the reasons that in 1993 SIGG was incorporated into the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. In 1997, the company was bought by an investor group and changed direction to focus on its #1 "star" product... the SIGG bottle.

Approaching its 100 year anniversary, SIGG has its sights set on growing the brand outside of Europe. In 2005, SIGG launched a USA subsidiary based in Stamford, CT. "This brand has tremendous history and for generations has been the must-have water bottle for Europeans," stated Steve Wasik, SIGG USA President. "Americans are now discovering that using a high quality, reusable bottle like SIGG makes great sense – both financially and environmentally."

For the last 90 years, corporate headquarters have been based in the charming village of Frauenfeld Switzerland where SIGG employs about 60 dedicated people. "With nearly a century of Swiss expertise and craftsmanship, we take tremendous pride in the quality of our product," claimed Stephan Lack, SIGG Switzerland CEO. "Today, SIGG remains the world leader in premium water bottles, sold in over 40 countries... and counting!"

SIGG, "The Original Swiss Bottle", is recognized world-wide for Swiss quality and craftsmanship that comes with nearly 100 years of heritage and experience. Produced from a single component that is seamless and has no comparable weak points, SIGG bottles are tremendously durable and virtually unbreakable. In June 2006, Backpacker magazine conducted a relentless field test of leading water bottles brands. With the services of a 100 pound cannon packed with golf balls, they were able to destroy all of the targeted bottles – except one! Following the bottle barrage, they dubbed SIGG "The World's Toughest Water Bottle."

SIGG bottle linerAs tough as they are on the outside, it's the inside of SIGG bottles that make them so special. Due to SIGG's special, proprietary internal coating, these high-tech bottles are resistant to fruit juice acids, energy drinks, alcohol and virtually any consumable beverage. Because the liners are taste and scent neutral, you can enjoy any beverage you'd like – without any lingering smell or taste of the last beverage you drank. The composition of the liner also reduces the chances of bacteria build-up. And because the liner is virtually baked into the inner walls of the bottle, it will not flake or chip even if dented on the outside.

Recently, there has been a lot of press concerning Lexan plastic water bottles (Polycarbonate #7) leaching harmful chemicals into the container's ingredients. It's extremely important to note that SIGG bottles exceed FDA requirements and have been thoroughly tested to ensure 0.0% leaching – so they are 100% safe.

Combining function and fashion, SIGG bottles come in over 100 unique, eye-catching designs. Utilizing 30 independent artists from around the world, SIGG Switzerland introduces new, cutting edge styles every year. And the leak-proof caps are interchangeable creating over 1,000 possible combinations – so you can find the SIGG that meets your needs and expresses your personality.

SIGG bottles are manufactured in an ecologically-friendly environment and are 100% recyclable after their very long lives. In fact, most SIGGs in Europe are still being used 10-20 years after purchase.


Thanks to MP for a link to this guy's blog.

With so many good illustrators out there, it's a little intimidating to get started.

A final word on smells

I finally found the thing to do it... to take away those odoriferous wafts coming from the diaper pail. I got it at Home Depot: The Gonzo Odor Eliminator for Homes. I liked that last thing I posted, but it only worked for about a week before it's powers were overwhelmed. This is a bag of volcanic minerals. It claims to be environmentally safe (whatever that means), and is non-toxic. They last for years. I have now been using this bag for months, and when the potency wears down a bit you just lay it out in the sun for 6 hours to get it recharged. There are no deodorizer scents added either, it seems to really just absorb smells.
Would Byatt be happy with my choice?

How We Lost Our Sense of Smell

AS Byatt
The Guardian Unlimited

Imagine a modern room. Its magic window is open on another world where once the hearth used to be, with its wood smoke, or its smell of hot coal with a ghost of tar. The artificial paradises succeed each other. Sunny glades in dappled woodland, inviting tunnels of greenery like the shadowed rides in Keats's Ode to a Nightingale, where

I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs
But in embalmed darkness guess each sweet...
Keats lists the guessed-at flowers and grasses:
White hawthorn and the pastoral eglantine,
Fast fading violets covered up in leaves;
And mid-May's eldest child,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine
The murmurs haunt of flies on summer eves.

The television screen shows branches and violets. It shows pine forests and sheets of falling white water ending in curls of clean, shining spray. It shows meadows full of buttercups and pine forests full of mystery and crisp needles. It is telling you - enticing you - to recreate these atmospheres in your own home with air fresheners, with aerosol sprays of scented furniture polish, with jigging and extravagant canisters of flowery and fruity powder which will "freshen" your stale carpets, with droplets or waxy cones which drink up the odours of tobacco smoke and shaggy dogs and damp wool and replace them with tangy fruit and flower bouquets. Think how many such smells contend for supremacy in the room with the television. The lavender polish (with its sharp aerosol undertow), the rich, peachy freshener hanging in the window, the orris and attar of roses and orange peel in the carpet, the Glade, the Lavender Antiquax, the appley Pledge.

Move out into the kitchen, where the floors have been washed with sugary hyacinth disinfectant, where the dishwasher is scented with lemon and honey, where there is a kind of mixed artificial flower scent in the washing machine, and perfumed paper strips making the contents of the dryer smell of essence of concentrated plums and overwhelming extract of cloves, or vanilla, or potpourri, or all at once. You have seen ecstatic dancing women on your TV screen pressing their noses into heaps of enhanced-white towels, which do not smell of damp cotton but of lightness and freshness, you are told. Does pressing your nose into your own towels induce ecstasy?

You have a deodorising block in your refrigerator which does not smell of nothing, but of ersatz orange or lemon or lime. Your steam iron emits aromatherapeutic steam, valerian for headaches and stomach cramps, nutmeg for digestion, neroli oil as an anti-depressant and aphrodisiac.

Go out into the lavatory and your floor will smell of spring forest, your lavatory cleaner of "pine forest" or "aqua", which is not a smell of mussel shells and seaweed, or of froggy ponds and marsh marigolds, but another swoon-sweet mixed floral bouquet. The water-softening block in your loo tank will have its own strong, sweet odour, as will the little block you hang from the rim to odorise the water in the bowl, to make it smell "clean". There will be air fresheners in canisters to spray high into the air, from where they drop and drip in wisps of rosy or spicy or peardroppy vapour. In France, even your lavatory paper will be printed with rosebuds or fleurs-de-lys and be " délicatement parfumé ". ...

.... If these were sounds they would be a cacophony. As with sounds, you are inured to it and turn up the volume. ....

.... Scent also comes from the French, sentir, a word which means both to smell and to feel, acknowledging the primitive nature of the scenting sense. Scent is to do with our sense of our own identity, with our recognition of other people's identities and their emotions, with sex, with infant-mother bonding. It is also to do with finding things and places, with tracking prey and locating food, from mushrooms to honey. It is not an easy thing to describe at this level. ...

For the complete article click here. It's so Byatt (good).

Little Paper Planes

Cool prints, bags, jewelry, etc.

Esp. a tiny acorn necklace that I just love. [Note: Acorns are very popular in Norwegian folklore and decoration. They mean both longevity as well as protection from storms, since Thor evidently found shelter under an oak tree once.]

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

"Avoid bendy broccoli"

I have been browsing a couple of cooking sites/blogs and have to mention a couple:

Eat the Seasons. This is a site that has weekly updates on what should be most fresh right now, and all year around. There are both American and British versions available. The British site includes admonishments such as "Avoid bendy broccoli." I have been wanting to compile a cookbook doing just this, but it seems as though the www has beat me to it!

Seasonal food information, tips and recipe ideas, updated every week.


foods in bold link to articles


artichoke | arugula | beet | beet greens | bell peppers | carrots | cauliflower | corn | eggplant | garlic | potatoes (maincrop) | radishes | sweet potatoes | wild mushrooms | zucchini


almonds | apples | cranberries | figs | limes | melon | pears | plums | pomegranate | raspberries | tomatoes


duck | lamb



Another blog that I ran across as I was searching for Bouddha Bleu is Oswego Tea. I really like her recipes and her fod photography is really sumptuous.

I am beginning Choice Cuts, ed. by Mark Kurlansky. It is an anthology of food writing from throughout history, arranged by theme. MK is the author of Salt and Cod as well.

"Food is about agriculture, about ecology, about man's relationship with nature ... about nation-building, cultural struggles, friends and enemies ... and at times, even about sex." Thus Mark Kurlansky, author of the award-winning Cod and Salt, introduces Choice Cuts, his anthology of food writing throughout history. Kurlansky has cast his net very wide and presents a legion of food writers on every possible culinary subject.

The usual suspects are here, sometimes in triplicate: Brilliat Savarin on gourmets, female food-love, and how to gain weight; M.F.K. Fisher on bachelor cooking, the dislike of cabbage, and dinner at France's famed Monsieur Paul's in the 1940s; Elizabeth David on the folly of the garlic press, the glories of toast, and English pizza. But Kurlansky's trail starts much earlier with Plato on cooking (food as a branch of medicine, a notion shared by many modern advertisers), Heroditus on Egyptian dining, and, resoundingly, Mencius, a student of Confucius who, in the third century B.C., implored Chinese leaders to observe saner food and environmental policies.

There is a great deal to digest here, but readers can take small bites at their leisure. Enjoyed in this way, the book provides an endlessly fascinating glimpse of humankind's second--or is it the first?--greatest pleasure. --Arthur Boehm

Mariage Freres: Bouddha Bleu

I am just finishing up a tin of Mariage Freres' tea called Bouddha Bleu and am looking for another tin. I think my mom got this for me either at The Inn at Little Washington or at Coppola's vineyard. Does anyone know of a good source for this tea? It's absolutely delightful. It makes the perfect cup of tea.

Monday, September 10, 2007

In Defence of Harry Potter

A really fine review and defense of the Harry Potter series, specially the seventh.

The Youngest Brother's Tale
Harry Potter's grand finale.
by Alan Jacobs

A little more than a hundred years ago, a number of British educators, journalists, and intellectuals grew exercised about the reading habits of the nation's children. The particular target of their disapproval was the boy's adventure story—the kind of cheap short novel, full of exotic locations and narrow escapes from mortal peril and false friends and unexpected acts of heroism, that had come to be known as the "penny dreadful." Surely it could not be good for children to immerse themselves in these ill-made fictional worlds, with their formulaic plots and purple prose; surely we should insist that they learn to savor finer fare.

Then came riding into the fray a young man—twenty-five at the time—named Gilbert Keith Chesterton, who, though a journalist and an intellectual himself, repudiated the hand-wringing of his colleagues and planted his flag quite firmly in the camp of the penny dreadfuls: "There is no class of vulgar publications about which there is, to my mind, more utterly ridiculous exaggeration and misconception than the current boys' literature of the lowest stratum." Chesterton is perfectly happy to acknowledge that these books are not in the commendatory sense "literature," because "the simple need for some kind of ideal world in which fictitious persons play an unhampered part is infinitely deeper and older than the rules of good art, and much more important. Every one of us in childhood has constructed such an invisible dramatis personae, but it never occurred to our nurses to correct the composition by careful comparison with Balzac."

For the complete article, click here.


I would add to this that the epilogue is not some cheese-ball soapy ending at all. I think Rowling's whole point of the seven books is that sure, this is a great rip roaring adventure, but the whole point of the struggle is that life goes on, that families continue. This is exactly that for which they were all fighting! To miss this point is to miss how actually counter-cultural these cultural phenomenon are. Almost every other kids book or movie promotes th idea that family life is bad, working and sacrificing for the norm is for goons, and that life ought to be about seeking enjoyment and excitement. Not so in Rowling's epic.

Thanks to FK for the article. It put many of my own thoughts and impressions into a much more able wording.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Big Draw

The Campaign for Drawing’s aim is simple: to get everyone drawing. Its annual showpiece, The Big Draw, proves that drawing can be a public activity as well as a private passion. In October, 1000 venues throughout Britain, from large national institutions to village halls, join in to offer more than 350,000 people of all ages the chance to discover that drawing is enjoyable, liberating and at everyone's fingertips.

The Campaign takes its inspiration from the visionary Victorian artist and writer, John Ruskin. His mission was not to teach people to draw, but how to see. Each Big Draw season reveals how drawing opens our eyes to our environment and heritage, encouraging us to think, invent and communicate.

We attended the first American Big Draw at the National Building Museum in Washington DC, where David Macaulay (of The Way Things Work) kicked things off on this side of the pond. It was really a great event, and worth trying to find one (or sponsor one) in your area. They handed out sketch pads and pencils at the door, There were workshops, demonstrations and sidewalk artists. We even had the opportunity to get right down and draw on the same canvas as Macaulay was. And it was all free!

Slow Food

I recently read about the Slow Food movement. Now, I don't know that I support all their distaste for agri-business (I'm pretty glad that I don't have to grow my own corn), but their determination to enjoy good food is a pretty great cause!

They even have an Ark of Taste!

U.S. Ark of Taste

Saving Cherished Slow Foods, One Product at a Time

  • Click here to view the full list of USA Ark of Taste Products.
  • Click here for a list of US Ark-Presidia Committee Members

The Ark of Taste came into being in Italy, at the first Salone del Gusto in Turin in 1996. A year later, in Serralunga d'Alba, a Manifesto was drawn up to define its objectives. The Ark seeks, first and foremost, to save an economic, social and cultural heritage - a universe of animal breeds, fruit and vegetables, cured meats, cheese, cereals, pastas, cakes and confectionery.

Our mission is to preserve endangered tastes - and to celebrate them, by introducing them to the membership and then to the world, through media, public relations, and Slow Food events. Nominations for Ark products can now be made online.

On a personal note: My problem with these great movements/organizations, is that they almost without fail miss the whole issue of giftedness. In their rush to preserve community (a good thing), they forget that part of what community is all about is each of the gifts that the Lord has given us--so why not let the farmer farm, the baker bake, and the teacher teach, and I will enjoy the fruits of their much more skilled efforts than any paltry attempts of my own.

To be fair, this particular organization does seem to value the farmers' own contributions, without feeling the need to preach about growing and grinding our own grains.

Crunchy Cons

My sister-in-law was reading Crunchy Cons by Rod Dreher when I saw her recently. I flipped over the book and began reading the Crunchy Con Manifesto. I was really excited, b/c my husband and I had been recently talking about how we were politically conservative, but (specially having worked in the Conservative political non-profit world) it seemed to both of us that conservatives have lost their personal mooring in what they claim to believe. They say they believe in family values, but you can't tell that from the way they relate interpersonally, etc. They say they are Christians who are carrying out the Creation mandate, but who don't care to conserve the environment, etc. It seems as though a lot of Republicans are really just capitalists period. Libertarians in sheep's clothing. But the Free Market is only a good thing when it is held in check by a populous that is also committed to the other fundamental institutions of family, church and the government. Free market alone is just as wrong as Big government alone. They become giant unwieldy thumbs.

Anyhow, I picked up a copy as soon as I got home. I was sitting there reading the manifesto and thought, "Wow! We are not alone!" I guess there is a whole movement out there of political conservatives trying to actually live out those conservative principles in their daily life. Now, I don't agree with everything that Dreher espouses (ie. homeschooling, is a good example), but I do think he brings up a lot of really interesting points for discussion. I generally agree with his concerns, but don't always arrive at them for the same reasons, or think the solutions he proposes are the best, but it's a good book for prompting some vigorous discussion. I often find myself turning to whomever is near me to find someone with whom I can chew over these ideas.


On another, though similar, note... We just recently returned from our vacation to good ol' liberal Minnesota where we realized just how concrete our conservative beliefs are. After many interesting discussions, I still think that Conservative political thought is the most rational, comprehensive and un-contradictory political perspective one can have. Also, the one that most is most closely aligned with Christian principles.

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish cooking

I am going to post a little on soem of my favorite cook books. My friend recently picked up The Clay Pot Cook Book called, One Pot, Clay Pot, by Jenni Fleetwood. She is a Brits, so she overdoes the vegetables in my opnion, but the cook book is a lot of fun, everything always turns out and the recipes are easily adaptable.

You can someties find it on the Borders Bargain Rack for $5.99

My friend asked for some of my favorites out of it, so I'll include them here, along with my cook's annotations:

p. 27 Moroccan Harira
I double this recipe.
use 2 cans of chopped tomatoes (instead of chopped fresh).
When doubling I use 3X the spices, and 2 C beef broth along with the doubled amount of water.
I use 1 can of chickpeas rinsed, instead of soaking overnight.
And instead of the garnish at the end, I just add a dash of lemon juice.

p. 26 Sausage and Pesto Soup

p. 24 Chinese chicken and chili soup.
Almost without fail I use red pepper flakes whenever she calls for chilis. You can use whatever kind of mushrooms you want. I use a can of baby corns. Also, I don't know if you ever shop at Super H Mart, but they have really great produce for cheap (like they were having 6 bunches of green onions for 99 cents), and they have this great stuff that is just a jar of grated fresh ginger, nothing else... so it saves a lot of time, and you don't waste the left over ginger root, the jar lasts in the fridge for a long time. this recipe is really quick, specially if you use one of those rotissery chicken you can get at costco for $4.99 and pull it.

the p. 28 spanish potato soup is good, but not a meal.

p. 36 pasta squares in broth
This is one of our all time favorites. a lot of times when we can't think of anything else, we go for this. it is so good, and satisfying! I use a ham steak cut into 1 inch slices instead of the pancetta (i don't put in the bacon or the procuitto cubes). And I throw in the frozen peas at the very end, just as the pasta is almost done, otherwise they are British peas! Also, I often add more broth than is called for.

I love p. 75

We have tried I think 75% of the recipes and like them all, I am just trying to give the highlights.

p. 87 Lentil Dahl-- so good! I tried making it once, and not letting it cook the allotted time, but it was not that great. We brought this to church dinner on sunday and it was soooo good. To make the garlic puree I just popped a head of garlic in the over at 350, while I was preparing other things (chop off the tips of the top, and drizzle with olive oil), the you can just push out the garlic easily. Also, I usually use olive oil everytime she calls for some fancy kind. and I didn't put the curry leaves inthe garnish, since we didn't have any, and it was still great! I doubled this one, and used a 14 oz. can of crushed tomatoes, slightly strained instead of the chopped fresh.

this'll be the last, but this is like the ham/pea soup, we eat this all the time. p. 108 chicken with tomatoes and honey
I use boneless skinless chicken breasts, 1 14 oz can of crushed tomatoes, just whatever nuts I have around, and olive oil. you don't have to cook it as long as she says either, just until the chicken are done. i put the nuts in at the beginning-ish of the cooking, so that they are soft by then end, i don't blanch them. I cook it in a regular stove top pan, and i don't take the chicken out, blah blah and put them back in. It cooks nicely without all that. It's totally easy, and the flavors are excellent!

p. 120 is good
i don't like her boeuf bourguignion at all. bleh.
p 133 is good
p. 138is great!
p. 156 is good

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Need a place to stay?

Try looking at something other than a Holiday Inn. This site shows the best of unusual hotels and places to stay around the world. Airstreams, Tree houses, fantasy islands.... Who knew? Has anyone been to one of these or a hotel that should be on this site?!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Who am I?

This is a pretty cool site. All these personality profile sites have to be taken with a grain of salt.. or a teaspoon of sugar... but this is impressive! Thanks to BSC for the tip. Now we can all know ourselves, thank goodness.

Monday, May 21, 2007

On the Hip

Finally! A place that sells hip tees for tall/long torsoed women!

Also, XXI (or Forever 21) is having a sale on simple tees for $4.98 each. They are long and fit great.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Mother's Day

"The Lanyard"

The other day as I was ricocheting slowly
off the pale blue walls of this room,
bouncing from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one more suddenly into the past --
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sickroom,
lifted teaspoons of medicine to my lips,
set cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light

and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift--not the archaic truth

that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hands,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

Poet Billy Collins, former poet laureate of the United States, now poet laureate for the state of New York.

A selection from his new collection, The Trouble with Poetry: And Other Poems.

Plant some flowers!

Click anywhere on the screen...

Thursday, April 26, 2007


I am trying to create a webpage, but am frustrated with the current one I am using (google's free pages).

Does anyone have a program/host that you like?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Owen and Mzee

I just watched the documentary posted on their website, and it is really amazing. I'm not usually going to post schmultzy things on here, but this is just too sweet and increadible.

In December 2004, a frightened young hippo, separated from his family by a devastating tsunami, bonded with an Aldabra tortoise named Mzee. The 130 year-old tortoise accepted Owen as his own, and an inseparable bond was forged. Watch the Documentary.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


I am trying to come up with a design team name for my mom and my art (company? is that the right word?) that we are starting....
What do you think of:

From Dust Designs


Earth to Elegance


I'll be posting more to get some feedback. Let me know!

Walking Town

Walking Town, Washington DC Spring edition 2007

Saturday, April 21, 2007 - Sunday, April 22, 2007
Location: Across the City

Join Cultural Tourism DC for more than 60 free walking tours (and a few bike and boat tours) in 18 neighborhoods across Washington, DC. Select from the schedule below!

Too much information? Check the overview schedule. Not enough? Email or call 202-661-7581.

What you need to know:

  • All tours are free.
  • Reservations are not required, with the exception of the bike tours and a few others. Just show up!
  • Consider taking Metrobus, Metrorail, or the Circulator. Most tours are readily available via public transportation.
  • Tours are held rain or shine.
  • Visit the City Guide at to check special features and post a review.
  • Need more info or tips to plan your day? Click here!

Meteor Shower

THIS Saturday night! at 11P.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Bodies, Bodies, everywhere

I went to a special teacher reception at the " Bodies " exhibit which is now at The Dome in Arlington. While some of it made me queasy, the whole show blew me away. Not only the process and how complex of a procedure it is to do that to the human body, but to be able to see so much of a REAL human being. The body is so amazing and complicated, I was struck by how ridiculous it would be to say that all of that happened by chance, by mutation and evolution. You can't help but see a Creator!

The tickets are a bit pricey, I hear, but I can say that it is worth seeing in your life time. I don't think I'll ever go again, but WOW.

Christianity and Conservationism

"But there is equally--indeed primarily--a dimension here of the doctrine of world conservation. When man gets out of step with God, 'nature' gets out of step with man and is corrupted and polluted from its purity. Thus, in Gen. 3, the breach between God and man had its immediate corollary in the thorns, thistles and sweat which thenceforward marked man's relationship with his physical environment (Gn. 3:17ff.). The Old Testament follows this teaching through consistently. The very land itself becomes polluted by the sins of its inhabitants (Jer. 3:1-3), and its beauties are destroyed by human pride (Is. 2:12-17). We see this in action wherever once-beautiful valleys are disfigured by the slag-heaps and debris of industrial covetousness or wherever rivers become the running sores of careless pollution."

This too is from Motyer's commentary on Amos, but I wanted to give it its own posting. I think it's a powerful description on why Christians should be active conservationists!

For more on Christian conservation see works by Loren Wilkenson, a Regent College faculty member. He has written many scholarly and popular articles developing a Christian environmental ethic and exploring the human relationship to the natural world in its environmental, aesthetic, scientific and religious dimensions.


Our Bible study is going through J.A. Motyer's commentary on Amos.

I wanted to post a couple of quotations from the last two weeks of study; there were just so many interesting thoughts spurred on by these passages:

We should each think to ourselves every day, "'...I have a vocation from God to obey, a word from God to speak, a work from God to do.' This is what holds the man of God firm in the time of trial and opposition: he is where he is by appointment." (p. 173)

"The product of a deep sense of authority and of a deep respect for the Word of God is at its best and purest the quiet word of reason and respect, never the word of ill-manners or abuse, never the word of vociferous controversy. The wrath of man cannot accomplish the righteous purposes of God." (p. 173)

"Like all the feasts of Israel [the Feast of Booths] was given historical orientation so that it also recalled to the people the fact that they had been gathered in themselves from among the nations to be the people of God." (p. 177) (I thought this was interesting when thinking about the Lord's Supper, in terms of it being a memorial--that the feasts and sacrifices of the whole history of redemption had that role).

"How lightly expressions like 'God-forsaken' are used! They are part of terminology of casual blasphemy in cultures where religious formalism prevails or where the mass of the population is in a post-religious phase." (p. 178)

"It is entirely allowable to treat verses 8 and 9 [of chapter 8] as metaphorical of a society which has suffered the loss of stability and regularity, that is to say, where absolutes are no longer recognized and rules are there to break, where, maybe, human personality is showing more and more signs of breakdown and unreliability. This is abundantly true: the further man gets from his moorings in God the further he gets from all moorings." (p. 179)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

This is Why I'm Hot

DK linked to this. I couldn't help but do the same:

If the images do not show up on your browser, click here.
The Village Voice
Down in Front
Hot Hot Heat
A graphical dissertation on the number one song in America
by Rob Harvilla
March 13th, 2007 1:12 PM

This is why "This Is Why I'm Hot" is hot: Because it's hot. There are of course other reasons the breakout single from Mims, a Washington Heights rapper who intends to carry New York hip-hop on his back and restore us to glory, is hot. It ascended to number one on Billboard's Hot 100, for example, and topped iTunes' singles chart as well. But consider these other, purer, more intangible reasons why it's hot, best explained by Mims himself over the course of the song. Where appropriate, we will back him up with visual aids.

The most amazing line in "This Is Why I'm Hot"�and, even at this early a juncture, quite possibly the most amazing line of any song to see release in 2007�is "I'm hot 'cause I'm fly/You ain't 'cause you not." Brutal and unassailable in its simplicity. Consider the reasoning, first, of just "I'm hot 'cause I'm fly":

Mims is hot because he's fly. But it raises the question: Does being hot guarantee one's being fly? "You ain't 'cause you not" would seem to clear that up:

It would appear that fly and hot are interchangable. If you are one, you are both; if you aren't at least one, you are neither.

If you find completely overlapping Venn diagrams visually unhelpful, consider this tautology:

If that's a bit pretentious, then maybe a blunt flowchart works best:

The other remarkable, oft-quoted line in "This Is Why I'm Hot" is "I could sell a mil' sayin' nothin' on a track." Critics gibe that "This Is Why I'm Hot" proves precisely that; others muse on what Mims would sell if he deigned to actually say something on a track. Would he sell less than a mil'? Exactly a mil', as when he said nothing? Or a great deal more than a mil'? The song does not elaborate. In any event, note that he can do those things, not will, which suggests he might not. As these claims and predictions are speculative, there are more possible outcomes; it seems reasonable to assert that Mims can't sell more than a mil' sayin' nothin'. Though we would love to see him try.

Sonically, the most entertaining part of "This Is Why I'm Hot" is the first verse, in which Mims underscores his hotness by touting his skill at adapting to regional styles, as the slow, minimal, eerie beat morphs beneath him, sampling both "Nuthin' But a G Thang" and "Jesus Walks." In the Dirty Dirty (South) he makes the ladies bounce. He slows it down in the Midwest per their preference. He does it the Cali way in L.A., and in Chi, in addition to adeptly moving the crowds from side to side, everyone loves his fashion sense. (If you enjoy nothing else about "This Is Why I'm Hot," acknowledge the rakish, immensely appealing way Mims says the word attire.) Our quarrel lies with "If you need it hyphy/I take it to the Bay," an homage to the Oakland�San Francisco Bay Area's relentlessly knuckleheaded and sorta wonderful hyphy movement, with its proclivities for going dumb, making thizz faces, ghost-riding the whip, etc. (Yahdidabooboo.) But unlike Mims's other geographical shout-outs, that's all he says here�"I take it to the Bay/'Frisco to Sac-town/They do it e'y'day." First of all, no one calls it "Frisco" except rhyme-starved rappers, and the only worthwhile MCs living anywhere near Sacramento are in prison. But even worse, there's no style adjustment here�he just takes it to the Bay. This is wholly insufficient for hotness�several entities that take it to the Bay do not qualify:

The song's other two verses are a relative letdown�Mims can get chopped birds by the flock, he's got money in the bag, he coordinates his outfits, he compels you to Google the word guap, people tend to like how he records, he's into big spendin', bah. He does intimate that we will find him "with different women" that we personally have "never had," which is awfully gentlemanly of him, really. Since we're feeling charitable we'll assume all of Mims's women are hot; with regard to our own conquests, it's best to be honest with ourselves.

Though a fantastic song, "This Is Why I'm Hot" verily reeks of Skee-Lo. It's so distinctive and goofy that no follow-up could possibly do it justice. But even if Mims is not built for endurance, he has given us an invaluable gift nonetheless�reclaiming and re-energizing the word hot after years of abuse. Plumbing one's memory (with a bit of Internet aid) reveals how even reputable musicians have overused the "I'm hot like _____" construction. Behold:

Yes. Mere mortals are hot like other people or things; having ascended to a higher plane, Mims is hot like Mims. It doesn't get hotter than that.