Posts filed under Uncategorized

List Love Book Club: The Golden Years

Each Week ElleinadspirA Place to Share and I will be working our way through the Listography 2011 Book with a rotating Link Part-tay! To find the list of the years topics, check out the Listography Link above. Today’s Topic: List how you would like to spend time when you’re a senior citizen

Yay! This is not just a great topic, it's also the subject of many random daydreams.

  1. Visiting my kick-ass son who is a Top Chef and has at least one even more kick-ass child
  2. Traveling everywhere
  3. Driving a mini-cooper. A bumble bee yellow one. All electric hopefully.
  4. Living in a loft apartment (I mean obviously, your knees go as you get older, no more stairs!)
  5. Patronizing the arts (in my daydreams I am not just retired, I am also wealthy)
  6. Dancing tango
  7. Cooking through my 30th-something cookbook project
  8. Enjoying the memories of having completed large chunks of stuff on my list and dreaming up new ones!
  9. Sleeping in everyday
  10. Doing things that make young people say "I hope when I'm your age..."

Am I the only one who fantasizes about retirement? I do my best to enjoy each moment and stage in life but living as chronic-overplanner-ahead is in my nature. I'm the only one left with the link so feel free to hitch yourself to this wagon.

PS-This is the last week of the LIst Love Book Club but (obviously) not that last list because I'm working on some New Years resolutions!


Posted on December 27, 2011 and filed under List Love Book Club, Special Projects, Uncategorized.

The best gift

The gifts we treasure most over the years are often small and simple. In easy times and tough times, what seems to matter most is the way we show those nearest us that we've been listening to their needs, to their joys, and to their challenges.-Fred Rogers

Posted on December 22, 2011 and filed under Uncategorized.

A Progressive Party

My friend Danielle is hosting a progressive holiday party on her blog and today I am serving up a super-easy main course. Check it out on her blog.

I am a party angel, trust my main course instructions implicitly.
If you like what you see you should check out the rest of the contributors too. Here's the instructions for a completely crowd-sourced holiday party:
Monday Dec 12: Michelle of Pinque dressed us for our party
Tuesday Dec 13: Danielle of Domestic Dish tempted us with an appetizer
Wednesday Dec 14: AK of Tipsy Society served up a cocktail
Thursday Dec 15: Katie of Salt and Pine helped us buy our hostess gifts
Monday Dec 19: Estelle of Under A Pink Moon provided our soup course
Tuesday Dec 20: Me! Me! Me! Wednesday Dec 21: Melissa of Pineapple Lily will share her wish list of Holiday Decor
Thursday Dec 22: Carrie of This Free Bird will give us a yummy end to our party
Posted on December 19, 2011 and filed under Uncategorized.

Excising the double negatives

My child is a picky eater and (like all toddlers) a wee bit whiny. It's very annoying and I've been trying to teach him to talk about what he wants instead of the constant no no no's. Complaining is like candy, it feels good for a little while but too much and you feel sick.

The problem with this whole scenario is the effort involved in being a good role model. Being bossy comes naturally to me, being positive? Not so much. A friend pointed out that even the way I generally ask my son to be positive is negative! "I don't want to hear what you don't want" is my go-to line. Notice the negative spin? Negativity is an clinger.

Just to be clear, I don't think it's realistic to not have complaints but I do think it's important to practice moving towards solutions. Don't go to your boss whining about problems, go in with a vision for how you think things could be better. Don't systematically reject everyone's ideas unless you are going to come up with one of your own and (attention toddlers), don't tell me that you don't want to eat something unless you are going to provide an alternative idea for dinner (not cookies/french fries).

Last week my friend Torrie wrote a great post about the busyness of the holidays and how she wanted to think about things she wanted to say yes to rather than worry about all the obligations she needed to say no to. What a great model! So today I'm following her lead, practicing my own advice and doing the same.

This Holiday Season I would like to:

  1. Put up simple unbreakable Christmas decorations and sparkly lights
  2. See my family
  3. Have whipped cream, spiked hot chocolate and eggnog with my friends
  4. Celebrate the New Year with Sparklers
  5. Go to church every Sunday
  6. Excercise when I can
  7. Take extra time to pray
  8. Light the advent candles with my family every Sunday
  9. Relax. Christmas is a time of peace, of waiting for Jesus. I want to choose peace and not crazy this year.
  10. Wear cozy pajamas cause baby it's cold outside!

How about you guys? What do you want to say yes to?

Posted on December 11, 2011 and filed under Uncategorized.

List Love Book Club: Pet Teachers

Each Week ElleinadspirA Place to Share and I will be working our way through the Listography 2011 Book with a rotating Link Part-tay! To find the list of the years topics, check out the Listography Link above. Today’s Topic: List all the teachers you can remember

  1. Mrs. Erickson-My 1st grade teacher  was in musicals in her spare time. She had us perform a musical called the Happy School of Fish which is an insane amount of extra work. I like to think she'd be pleased with the musical nerd I've become.
  2. Mrs. Manning-My high school Spanish teacher. She was so, so kind and so, so good at what she did. I didn't appreciate her skills as an educator until I got to my first upper-division Spanish class at UC Davis. I had already read the entire reading list in high school. Crazy.
  3. Sara Harris-My piano teacher. I took piano lessons from the age of 9-18 from the same teacher. Although I don't play at anywhere near a professional level I still can bang the keys well enough to be my own personal kareoke machine. Sara taught me to love, appreciate and understand music in a way I never would've had I not learned to play piano. She and her elderly parents were also weekly fixtures in my life throughout my childhood: I loved them and still do.

Who are the teachers you remember? I'm hoping they were influential in a positive way! Leave 'em in the comments or hop over to link up at Danielle's!

Posted on November 29, 2011 and filed under List Love Book Club, Special Projects, Uncategorized.

The art of Negotiation

I would rather go to the dentist for a filling than negotiate for a car because I hate the bargaining process. The process fills me  with dread and the paranoid certitude that I am getting ripped off. As my anxiety level rises I start getting unpleasant and rude, making the whole experience even MORE FUN! It is not at all like the negotiation dance that Neil and Sabra did on Season 3 of So You Think You can Dance. There is no spandex and I am not able to do the splits.

I was not looking forward to the car buying process but with Internet research, moral support from my more-skilled friends and the the handy podcasts over at's Negotiation Academy (Free and Highly Recommended) everything ended up being fine. We bought our Prius for $2000 below Kelly Book and $5,000 below the lot sticker price. Ta-dow!

Here's my tips:

  1. Do your research. Don't be lazy. Just do it! Our car was marked on the lot for almost $3,000 over the price we found it listed for on the Internet. Dealers now that people who look for cars on the Internet do their homework so make sure you shop on the web before you go to the lot and find out the value of your car on Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds.
  2. Decide on your overall budget, not a monthly budget. Car dealers love to pretend they're lowering your price by fiddling with the financing. Don't take that crap. Decide on your upper-limit and keep it to yourself so you know when to walk away.
  3. Go on the last day of the month when sales is trying to reach their quotas. We were offered a really good deal on a new car on Halloween, we didn't take it because we wanted to buy a luxed-up used car instead of a base-model new car, but it was a very good deal.
  4. Listen to's Negotiation Academy podcasts. Seriously, listen to all of them before you negotiate anything, salary, peace in the middle east, whatever. These podcasts are golden.

Only in the blogosphere could a person who has bought one used car write an article giving out advice. Hah! So how about you guys? What are your tips for negotiating a fair deal?



Posted on November 27, 2011 and filed under Uncategorized.

Chinese Super Heroes

So last week I was invited to guest post over at the Burning Hearts Revolution. With the exception of myself all of the other guest posters were writers(read: the kind who are published and paid for writing). It was pretty exciting to be included in such great company and also fun to highlight the unsung heroes of my neighborhood who bring me persimmons and generally make my life better in all sorts of small ways. You can check out the guest post here. PS-As 2011 comes to a close I have to crank out some Mexican food to finish the Bayless Project. While I still enjoy eating the food, I feel like it's getting hard to blog about the dishes in creative ways. Do you have some ideas for how I can keep it fresh? If so I'd love to hear them!

Posted on November 6, 2011 and filed under Uncategorized.

Elmo represents Love

Stories about people who have found their calling always inspire. I have so many dreams for my little boy and one of them is that he would find something he loves unreservedly. To have both a gift and the opportunity to share it with others is a blessing that goes both ways.

Posted on October 12, 2011 and filed under Uncategorized.

Dark Girls

When we first brought Elian home there were a few people who commented on his light skin. "Wow he is so white! So adorable." I found these compliments extremely disturbing. Is the insinuation that he would be less cute if his skin was dark? People used to say the same thing about me when I was a child. Quite frankly it makes me sick and I think it's a problem that needs to be talked about more openly. This documentary looks like a good addition to the conversation. Let me know what you think.

Posted on September 30, 2011 and filed under Uncategorized.

90 & 1000

Today marks my 1000th post and my Grandmother's 90th Birthday. Good synchronicity right? My Grandma is amazing, even my friends call her "Grandma" because that's just who she is! She has been my cheerleader, my teacher, my inspiration and my friend from the first day I came into this world and I'm so blessed to have her. I love you Grandma.

Posted on September 25, 2011 and filed under Uncategorized.

BlogHer Book Review: Slow Love

In 2008 House and Garden Editor in Chief Dominque Browning lost her job when Conde Nast abruptly shuttered the publication.  Her new book Slow Love is a recounting of the year she spent recovering from the shock.

Parts of this book were perfect. Her description of the nastiness of the magazine world was fascinating. Similarly I loved her recounting of her physical reactions to unemployment: manic bursts of energy followed by long periods of lethargy plus the irresistible urge to eat peanut butter. There were many moments in this book where I smiled with a knowing nod. We’ve all been there.

Despite the many shining moments the book didn’t work for me. The plot concentrates heavily on her relationship with a man who I found infuriating. Her inability to leave him behind was immensely depressing. He’s thanked in the book credits, which made me feel queasy and sad. Secondly, I felt that the overall story lacked a definitive narrative arc. The conflict drags on indefinitely but the resolution is vague.  Thirdly, I think for many it’s hard to identify with Browning’s struggle. Her emotional problems are real but she is still very privileged. It grates to hear Browning talk of the difficulty of selling one of her two houses.

Overall I appreciated Browning’s candor and enjoyed her voice. She is immensely likeable, so much so that I wish that I enjoyed her book enough to recommend it with more enthusiasm and fewer caveats.

The BlogHer Book Club sponsored this book review and post. To learn about Slow Love and the BlogHer bookclub please click here.

Posted on September 7, 2011 and filed under Uncategorized.

Summer Nostalgia Week-BlogHer & the State of the Blog Address

Back in June I made a "Summer To-Do List". All this week I've been reporting out on how I did. Today is the final day of this series. Goal #9-Attend the BlogHer 2011 Conference in San Diego!!!!

I tired of blogging sometime this summer. I'm sure those of you who read this blog got a little tired of me too. I felt uninspired and overwhelmed and quite frankly sick of hearing myself type! By the time BlogHer rolled around I didn't even want to go. In my mind Blogging=One more chore.

Sad, but true.

BlogHer was just what I needed. There's nothing like hanging with 3,000 women who are passionate about writing and sharing and (insert topic here) to get you going again. I remembered that blogging is an amazing way of connecting with people and new ideas. I went to great panels with bloggers and artists that I admire like Karen Walrond of Chookoloonks and Penny de los Santos who is a food photographer for Saveur and National Geographic magazines. After each session I felt renewed to improve my writing, my photography, and everything that lives in this space. Blogging helps me remember and record all the beauty in the world. The discipline of recording thoughts in this space pushes me to see things with a clear heart.

As summer ends I have a new goal which is to blog less but better. Over the past two years I've hustled hard to post something every week day and it was a great discipline. This year I want to do more with less. I want to work harder on each post with the goal of providing something of value to each of you who visit. I've been thinking about Frank lately and his legacy. This blog will eventually be part of my legacy and I want it to be something that is not merely a catalog of things I've done but a place that encourages others: humor to lighten a foul mood or a bit of beauty when you are feeling low.

Grandiose? Probably. Self-important? Perhaps.

I don't care, I'm still going to shoot for the stars. I did say I was Notorious after all, right?

Posted on September 1, 2011 and filed under Uncategorized.

Summer Nostalgia Week-The DECK!

Back in June I made a "Summer To-Do List". All this week you'll be holding me accountable! Let's be grandiose and call the items on my list goals.  #11-Host a barbeque on our soon-to-be-finished deck.

Deck Before

It's hard to know what to say about what might possibly the world's most perfect deck. Our after-school hours are forever changed ( you can't imagine the relief of playing outdoors with a toddler whose normal speaking voice can only be described as a roar). Per Mark's requirement that the deck be awesome it's built to withstand about 500 lbs or so at any particular point. I really appreciate this because you never know when I might need to suddenly triple my body weight.

Deck During

Even though the deck is truly an architectural marvel the best part about the deck is not the deck itself. It's the people behind the deck. I know that for as long as we live in this house we'll remember that our friends generously gave up most of their weekends for half a year to help us build our backyard into an extension of our home. I'll think of all the Saturdays spent hearing the buzz of the saw and laughter as the deck builders troubleshot their way through each phase of construction.

I'll think of Maya and the way we got to see her grow. When we started the project she was working on sitting up straight by herself. When we finished the deck a few weeks ago she was crawling around on the carpet, inspecting for debris and other signs of inefficient vacuuming. It's all these little moments that make up a lifetime of friendship.

Most of all though, every time I look at the deck. I'll always feel so lucky: to have a home to call my own, a family to share it with and friends whose generosity surpasses all reason.

Posted on August 31, 2011 and filed under Uncategorized.

Summer Nostalgia Week-Tacos and Ice Cream and HP oh my!

Back in June I made a "Summer To-Do List".  All this week you'll be holding me accountable! Let's be grandiose and call the items on my list goals.  Goal #5-Continue to explore the upper limits of taco binging.-We are still on a multiple tacos a week schedule. The most recent recipe tested were Tacos Dorados. They were a delicious, holy mess.

Goal #6-Eat an ice cream sundae at Ginger Elizabeth’s-I ate two. A+ for me!

Goal #7-Harry Potter 2-We went, I cried. Now I "need" one of these posters, found here.

Goal #8-The Hell Run-Oops? I missed this one. Nobody's perfect, right? I did sign up to run a half marathon relay in nearly October with my friend Jason. We spent a significant amount of time thinking up our team name, the result "Equipo Burrito".

Posted on August 29, 2011 and filed under Uncategorized.

Summer Nostalgia Week-All fun all the time.

Back in June I made a "Summer To-Do List". Sadly summer is coming to a close and all this week you'll be holding me accountable! Let's be grandiose and call the items on my list goals.

Goal #1-Bake Amelie's Plum Tart. This is a fancy cake with a fancy name, Kouign Anna which is Bretonnese. Did you know that Bretonne had it's own language/words? I didn't until I interrogated my French co-worker on how to pronounce and she said "Uh, that is not french." But I digress... If croissants and creme brulee got together and hand some fun this cake would be the result. It is rich yet suprisingly un-heavy. You heard it hear first. Get the recipe here.

Goal #2-See the New Kids on the Block. Uh? I didn't just see them, I got hands-on.

Goal #3-Complete Phase 1 of my Living Room Makeover I'm almost there! Here's a sneak-peek.

Goal #4-Celebrate my Grandma’s 90th birthday in Tahoe with my ca-razy family!-Check and Double Check. Bonus points for playing two rounds of mini-golf and daily naps.


Posted on August 28, 2011 and filed under Uncategorized.

For Frank

Yesterday at work we unexpectedly received news that one of our colleagues had died over the weekend. We didn't work together directly and I didn't know him well. He was always known for being polite and kind in the break room. He had a cheerful sincerity that we had all remarked upon at some point. We called him Friendly Frank, it was a term of endearment. We were practically strangers and yet he left a legacy of smiles and encouraging moments in my life. It is often the sum of small things that tips the scale of a day from frustrating to fruitful and he always added to the good. Thinking of him reminded me again of the difference our small actions make. Frank always took the time to greet people with sincerity and a kind smile. If he left such a positive impression in the lives of people he didn't know well, I can only imagine what he left behind for those close to his heart.

Posted on August 17, 2011 and filed under Uncategorized.

BlogHer Bound

I'm hitting up BlogHer for the first time on Friday. Anybody else going to be there? Should I be scared? They sent me a pass with approximately 10 million drink tickets. I can drink approximately two drinks before I am drunk so I think I may be a teeny bit out of my league. If you are going tweet me @lanotoriousmle so we can meet up!


Posted on August 3, 2011 and filed under Uncategorized.


Guess what? Earlier this week I guested over at Glitter and Grunge. My first guest post on a local blog! I'm sure you can't imagine what topic I discussed. To check it out, click here.

Posted on June 29, 2011 and filed under Uncategorized.