My So Charmed Life

So Charmed

Winners!

01.04.12

Greetings bloggy folk, we have winners of my first giveaway, as picked out of a hat this morning by the bf (BEFORE his coffee, poor guy). They’ve been contacted and just need to send their mailing addresses to get the goods! And, happily, it worked out that the 3 lucky ladies, got the earrings they preferred… Lot 1 goes to Debbie, Lot 2 to Chis, Lot 3 to Cindy.

Thanks to everyone who played with me on this! It was so much fun I’ll be doing it again soon. Turns out I LOVE giving stuff away!

School Projects: Ring & Bowl

12.22.11

So the way the first-year metalsmithing class worked was that complex projects were assigned for completion, and you pretty much worked on your own to figure things out. It was VERY self-directed and extraordinarily challenging.

The hollow-form ring pictured above was the second project, and I was more or less clueless for the duration of this one. I was still struggling with the &^#$!@ saw, which you can see in the flame cut-outs, and I honestly didn’t fully understand the end-product concept while I was working through the various steps to build and solder this thing. A big shout-out to substitute teacher WanJin (who studied at Cranbrook and Parsons) for help with the impossible soldering! BTW, locals, you should take Wanjin’s Crafts class at MoCo. She really rocks.

FYI, everyone’s rings were gigantic, that was the point of this exercise. When it was all done, I understood what I’d been through and felt I might be able to do it again more skillfully. That said, the number of man-hours to make something like this is absolutely mindboggling. Anyway, not a thing of great beauty, but fun, and I learned a lot. Now on to another even uglier object!

Another project to struggle through, hammering a flat piece of 18g metal into the shape of a bowl, and then affixing a base. OMG people!

I was all but ready to abandon this thing but b/c the bf somehow really liked it, I finished soldering the base on the last day of class, filled it with candy, and gifted it to him for Chanukah. I think what might have been hard for me to love about this one was that there wasn’t really a lot of self-expression built into this project and it just wasn’t a form or functional object that truly intrigued me in any way.

Of course I suppose one could turn it upside down and wear it as a hat… (runs to take bowl back from bf…).

A Few of My Favorite Things #14

12.14.11

So, maybe it’s too late to handcraft gifts yourself for the holidays… OR IS IT??? With Julie Jackson’s wonderful, and mostly beginner e-z cross stitch kits, you too can join the handmade revolution. Trust me, I’ve got several of these completed goodies around my Home Sweet Ironic Home… and if I can, you can too.

Over at Julie’s shop, Subversive Crossstitch, you’ll find snark for any occasion, including some hilarious R-rated stuff.

The ornate baroque frames are also available at her shop… and if you ask me, it’s a not-to-be-missed part of the joke. Happy @#$^&*ing Holidays people!

A Few of My Favorite Things #5

12.05.11

Although my taste tends toward the baroque, occasionally something very simple and elegant grabs ahold of me and won’t let go. I pay a lot of visits to Sarah Robinson’s shop: La Chica de los Anillos, which Yahoo’s Babelfish site translates from Spanish to The Girl of the Ring.

I’m struck by the quietude of these pieces, and yet my favorite ring (the one I want to be the girl of), pictured above, carries a lot of emotion. I don’t want to try to attach a particular “story” to this object, but for me, there is one, evocative, poetic, beautiful, a little dark.

All of Robinson’s reasonably-priced handcrafted rings are beautiful; above is another favorite. I love how the prongs are an emphasized design element, highlighting a concept of capture. The stone turned upside down is just a wonderful bit of humor, turning the idea of a diamond ring literally on its head. Rustic, organic, subversive, lovely.

Jodi’s (alleged) Fountain of Youth

07.14.11

I posted this photo to Facebook this morning and a friend asked: Jodi, how do you stay so young [looking]? I tossed off a quick facebooky answer but have been thinking about this excellent question all morning. First of all: I’m as old as the rest of you! I have wrinkles and lines, and a chicken waddle that makes me wish I liked turtlenecks (HATE them). My metabolism is sluggish, my joints ache, I go to bed way too early, &tc, &tc. All of that established, here is a more thoughtful answer (and this is really personal, not a prescription… this is sort of me talking to me, if you will), and it really has nothing to do with putting a lot of weird colors in one’s hair, although that can be a fun diversion, no doubt. In no particular order:

1. Learn something every single day.

2. Have sadness, anger, frustration, grief but don’t let them have you.

3. Break a sweat, daily if possible and stay hydrated.

4. Vegetarianism and foods as close to their natural state as possible. Favorite pleasure/junk food(s) occasionally!

5. Rock ‘n roll music (or insert your choice of tunes here).

6. Forgive your parents, your ex’s, your kids and YOURSELF. And I mean really forgive, no matter what. This does NOT mean condone.

7. Be an expert at: Looking backward, treading water, moving forward. Cycle thru each mode many times daily.

8. Gratitude. For every little thing and every big thing. Freedom. Fresh food. Choices. Toothpaste. Loved ones.

9. Face cream, a good haircut, good dentistry.

10. Wear something a little outside your comfort zone, stylistically.

11. Choose your life every day and take full-on responsibility for the results you are (or are not) producing.

12. Have a young person in your life. Respect that they may well be smarter than you’ll ever be. Listen to their music when they offer, even if you don’t like it much. Ask them for fashion advice but don’t always heed.

13. Ask for help when you need it and find an expert. Give help when asked.

14. Have no expectations and thus, no disappointments. And, good luck with this!

15. Fail. Try again. Repeat.

16. Be the best and the worst at something (anything) and laugh at yourself for both.

17. Laugh. If you can’t make yourself laugh, surround yourself with very funny people.

18. Be high-tech and low-tech.

19. Fall in love with a cat, dog, horse, cow, chicken. Spend time daily adoring this creature and spend at least a few of those minutes really trying to see the world through their eyes.

20. Go outside. Notice things. A bug. A building. Shift your focus between large and small.

21. Try a week of saying yes to everything you are asked of others. If you can’t say yes, renegotiate so that the other person is satisfied.

22. Fight the good fight, and don’t let it make you old. Let it keep you young.

23. Even during the worst day, find joy in something(s). If you can’t, make sure you do so tomorrow, non-negotiable.

24. Consider harmlessness.

25. Be childish, once daily at least but NOT when you should be being adult!

26. Realize that some of these ideas might become part of your life immediately, others take a lifetime to master. Fall off the wagon and jump back on.

26. Excellent posture! No slouching or hunching. Shoulders back, open your heart to the world!

28. Open heart, open mind.

Anything you want to add? Please do! I’d love to know what keeps YOU young.

South Beach Vegetarian: Summer Lunch P1 Variety is the Spice of Life

07.13.11

Oddly, I seem to be on a Mediterranean kick this week, even though the theme of this post is variety… especially regarding salads. I’m the only one in our family of 3 eating this way, and I just can’t get to the grocery more than once per week. This leaves me combining some of the same things in different ways in order to not be tossing out piles of rotten veggies, yet I don’t get bored if I vary it enough.

Today’s lunch salad seems easy enough right? But the secret to making this especially flavorful and not just your lettuce/tomato kinda thing is the addition of two ingredients. First, feta cheese, allowed on Phase one, and so tangy and yummy. Keep a variety of cheeses on hand, always buying low fat if available. Second, chick peas, canned variety, which will last pretty long in their packing juice in your fridge. Chick peas add a different texture AND, very importantly, another boost of protein.

Of course there are endless varieties with this… add some sliced black olives (sorry, I hate them) or some sliced veggie pepperoni (YUM!). Try arugula (you can buy it washed and bagged now) or fresh spinach. Anything goes, just try to consider complimentary ingredients and remember that variety is really key. Mix it up to dazzle your tastebuds.

I like to keep several bottles of tasty low-fat olive oil-based dressings on hand for variety’s sake too. Don’t forget the fresh ground pepper! Bon appetite!

South Beach Vegetarian: Summer Lunch P1 / Crunch Your Veggies

07.12.11

This is my second time using the South Beach Diet as a vegetarian, and I’m feeling so great about it that I thought it’d be fun to share some ideas for success.

First of all, don’t let the name fool ya. I know, they all say this, but SB is less a diet and more a way to eat. I think it is about the best, most healthful, practical, delicious and easiest way to go to lose a little or a lot of weight, and to keep it off. If you are not familiar with this system, buy the book and READ it. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but the more info you have, the better. The main take away is: maintaining a MUCH more even blood sugar level. And how this is done is by eating only the right carbs & fats, and in reasonable amounts. IE: goodbye refined, white foods.

Second, come on people… it has nothing to do with South Beach! You know me, I’d rather hang out in the Mission District in San Francisco or the East Village in NY, than South Beach in Miami… any day of the week. This is about looking good, yes, but also feeling good (make that great) and being super healthy, nutritionally.

Phase 1 of the diet itself is strict and you will eat no carbs except those found in the allowed foods. Yep, it’s tough. The first few days can be really tough. But you’ll get through it and you will lose 8-13 lbs without being hungry. This phase is designed to boost your weight loss, but even more importantly, to put an end to the cravings for blood sugar spikes produced by super high-carb refined foods. It’s only two weeks, and it is worth it.

Now, being a vegetarian is an even greater challenge to some extent and there just isn’t much out there on creatively adapting this way of eating. Welcome to this and hopefully many more posts!

My lunch today, above, was truly delicious. I’m full, satisfied and not spiking/crashing from carbs. The secret to this one is BAKING some of the vegetables so that they get a little crispy. Any sanctioned Phase 1 veg will do, I used summer squashes (green and yellow) and two different varieties of ‘shrooms, including those weird curly ones, which are DELISH!

Preheat oven to 425. Lightly spray baking pan with olive oil spray. (NOTE: the olive oil, a good fat, plays a role here, so don’t eliminate it). Slice veggies thin, about 1/16-1/8 inch. Not too thin or they’ll burn, not too thick or they’ll stay soft. Spread on pan and give a very light spray of olive oil on top of them. Sprinkle with ANY seasonings… even just salt/pepper. But also try bay seasoning, garlic salt, oregano, anything. Bake for 15-20 minutes until brown, flipping once to brown other side. Serve with chilled tomatoes and/or cukes and a nice heap of hummus (I like the Sabra brand best) and enjoy. Remember, make a nice sized serving (which at first will look like it will NEVER fill you up)… eat and wait 15 minutes to see if you really want more. You may not, but if you do, have a little more. Crispy veggies go soggy in fridge so only make what you plan to eat. NOTE: In Phase 2, toast a half of a whole wheat pita and cut into small pieces to go with your veggies. To drink: sugar free ice tea.

Even during my Phase 1, I modify to have dessert twice daily (instead of once as recommended)… and you will know if this is something that helps you be successful or helps you to fail. For me, having a little sweet taste at the end is important and doesn’t make me crave something truly evil. My downfall is more about salty/crunchy than sweet/gooey. You know best on this!

Vegetarian purists, this is Jell-O brand and I don’t *think* it’s really veg, sorry! There are veg versions of gelatin, so go for it. This is the non-fat, sugar free version in kiwi-strawberry. I keep a variety of flavors on hand during Phase 1 since I can’t have fruit. I’ve put some Cool Whip on top, also not allowed in Phase 1 but allowed in Phase 2/3. So, the dessert is really a Phase 2/3 dessert. Cool, sweet, satisfying. A small handful of fresh berries, with or without the Cool Whip, is also a choice for Phase 2 and definitely healthier than the Jell-O thing. But…. NO fruit in Phase 1.

I went from 122 to 116 in Phase 1 (two weeks–including 2 small cheats–and excluding exercise which I had to table until I started having a few carbs in Phase 2). This small, but otherwise impossible weight loss, took my BMI down toward the lower end of the normal range for my height. During Phase 2, I’d like to get to 110-112 and stick there, a very comfy weight for a short (5’1″) small-boned person like me. The interesting thing is really not so much the weight loss, but the feeling of just being leaner and firmer, without being even a little bit hungry and without missing refined carbos. More soon…

 

Au Revoir Paris and SEE YOU AGAIN SOON.

05.24.10

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Everything must come to an end and thus concludes my Paris blog. This will serve as a simple photo essay with captions; the images I love that didn’t fit neatly into the other posts. Above, night walking in the City of Light.

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View from the bedroom window of the apartment on Montmorency. Soundtrack: A Flock of Pigeons.

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Molly was wowed by Notre Dame. Very cool at night… those gargoyles… and were there (perhaps) vampires hanging about?

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This. Is. Paris.

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Belle Epoque Carousel, beautiful and fun to ride.

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My favorite piece at the Pompidou Centre. It just made me laugh! Love the irreverence of this one.

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Can’t you see the BF on stage in that pink suit? Window shopping at Gucci.

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The window of an autograph shop. I think Man Ray would like this…

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Drizzly dusk in the courtyard of the Louvre. The I.M. Pei Pyramid is fantastic!

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Apres rain. Really, does it get any better? A freaking rainbow in Paris! This almost makes me believe in god. Or fairies. Or something.

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Kids are crazy everywhere you go…

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Lover’s locks on a chain-link fence over the Seine. On our last night we left some with our initials on them. And so we say au revoir Paris, and we’ll be back someday.

Quite Possibly the Most Wonderful Bookstore in the Entire World

05.18.10

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The BF is a serious student of the early 20th century lesbian art & literary salon society of the Left Bank area of Paris and has read many books about the likes of Natalie Barney, Kiki deMontparnasse, Gertrude Stein, Djuna Barnes and founder of the best bookstore in the world, Sylvia Beach. Shakespeare & Company–the colorful history of which reads like a history of modern 20th century art & literature–opened in 1919 and was located at 8 rue Dupuytren. In May 1921, Beach moved the store to a larger location at 12 rue de l’Odeon, where it remained until 1941. The shop was often visited by artists of the “Lost Generation,” such as Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Man Ray and James Joyce among many others. Closed in December 1941, due to the occupation of France by the Axis powers during World War II, it was allegedly ordered shut because Beach denied a German officer the last copy of Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. The store at rue de l’Odéon never re-opened.

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In 1951, another English-language bookstore was opened in Paris’s Left Bank by an American, George Whitman, under the name of Le Mistral. Much like the original Shakespeare and Company, the store served as a focal point for literary culture in Bohemian, Left Bank Paris. Upon Sylvia Beach’s death, the store’s name was changed to Shakespeare and Company.

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Jeremy Mercer, of the Guardian writes eloquently: “George Whitman has been running what he calls “a socialist utopia masquerading as a bookstore” for 50 years. His store has long been a literary hub, attracting the likes of Henry Miller, Richard Wright and William S.Burroughs. More importantly, George has been inviting people to live in his shop from its very first days. There are now 13 beds [sic] among the books, and he says that more than 40,000 people have slept there at one time or another. All he asks is that you make your bed in the morning, help out in the shop, and read a book a day. After living here for five months, I was inspired to write my own book about the place.”

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The shop is every bit as magical as it sounds. The tiny rooms (nooks and crannies, really) are crammed from floor to ceiling with an incredible selection of books and although the store is small, I had the distinct feeling that I could spend a lifetime there in blissful discovery of worlds unknown to me. History and greatness seem to seep from the very walls as one notices book after book to add to one’s must-read list. My favorite nook is pictured above, a dusty blue old velvet chair that calls me to curl up forever… reading and dreaming.

Silly Kitties

01.05.10

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Where’s Iggy?

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THERE’S IGGY!!!!! (And his brother, Angelo, in the background)

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Angelo often hides under blankets too, but tends to do a better job tucking in paws and tail.

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