My So Charmed Life

Steal These Valentines



Are you racing around like a lunatic looking for something unique to bestow upon your sweetie tomorrow? Well, it’s too late for gorgeous handmade jewelry from So Charmed (there’s always next year though!), but have you considered your local Trader Joe’s grocery store? No? What’s wrong with you?

After ignoring TJ’s for over a year I returned last weekend and was pleasantly surprised to find vast improvements in their offerings… the produce was WAY better and the gourmet prepared foods were fabulous, creative (eggplant parmesan with filo dough!) and will keep me happliy microwaving for the whole week. But what really hooked me were the unusual and remakably well-priced exotic treats that TJ’s is famous for, such as edible, sort of candied, dried Hibiscus flowers (shown above and below) which have a delicate cranberryish flavor that is truthfully nowhere near as exciting as the visuals… they seriously look like weird aliens. Even run of the mill strawberries were spectacular visually (lots of leafiness and some stems!) and produced a pop of crispy tart-juicy flavor when I finally finished photographing them and served them up for breakfast.


Molly and I have been late to school two mornings running now due to my “need” to photograph foods purchased last weekend at TJ’s. The least I could do was share, right? So, if you don’t have time to pick some up, or you are one of those poor unfortunates that doesn’t have TJ’s, Whole Foods, and an actual old-school Food Co-op fiercely competing for your food dollars, yank these photographic valentines off the blog and pass them on. But you better at least show up with chocolate in person… and I KNOW you have a drugstore nearby so get going, it’s slim pickin’s out there at this point.

Print Advertising




It’s really challenging (but way fun) designing ads for print magazines. The challenge is space… a small fry like me can only afford a couple of column inches. So how do you maximize that space, especially when your ad will be in there with a gazillion and a half other ads? Here are my most recent efforts.

Why They Call Them Hermit Crabs



I am not, in general, a fan of caged pets of any kind… be they rabbits, gerbils, birds or whatever. It never seems right to me, and living with such a situation would keep me awake at night wracked with animal-rights guilt. So why on earth did I ever agree to become the landlord for a sad-sack bunch of crustaceans? Answer below.

Despite my own moral/ethical dilemmas, there are a few things I end up doing just because the look on my kid’s face will wrack me with worse guilt than having caged pets in my home. I suspect this is the reason most caged pets end up living out their sad-sack lives in suburban homes and backyards all across America. Which doesn’t really make it any better does it?

Such was the case last summer at Rehoboth Beach. Dear readers, I’ll spare you the whiny details, the begging, cajoling and PhD-level manipulation that lead to my purchasing not one, but three crustaceans, and not some dinky mini handbag-sized cage, but the full-on super deluxe Hermit Crab Condo, complete with Egyptian pyramid (a wise decision) and various hippie-dippie hand-painted shells the crabs could move into when they felt inspired to do so (hasn’t happened yet), plus peripherals: hella-bright dayglo stones (something tells me that whoever conceived of the idea of Hermit Crabs as pets was, you know, “on something”), 2 jars of specialized food, spray bottle, driftwood and a Hermie Hut which turned out to be a yet another handpainted hippie-affair, a half-coconut shell with door cleverly carved into it.

We have since cleared half this crap out of the Hermit condo because there was no room for them to walk an inch, but that doesn’t matter really. Because all these creatures do is sleep (see title of post). That is, unless you rudely awaken them (they spend 100% of their time hanging out in the freaking pyramid) which you must do daily in order to spray them or they’ll dry out, and that is just too hideous to imagine. After you bother the heck out of them they will “enjoy” a period of wakefulness for about 7-10 seconds before lumbering back into the pyramid for more of what they love best: Hermitting, Hermitage, Hermittance. I hate waking them up. But it’s the only way to make sure they haven’t kicked the bucket.


The death of a hermit crab is something you never want to experience. One of the three we brought home only lasted about 10 days. I hesitate to share this in any great detail. It was gross, slimy, stinky and sad. It depressed me for weeks. It depresses me just thinking about it and will haunt me for the rest of my life. I suppose an argument could be made that there is something dreadfully wrong with me. I’m TOO SENSITIVE to own pets. Even, or especially, crustaceans.

The fact is, they are extremely fascinating critters and despite everything, I sort of love them. They have this one freaky bigass claw in front, the cutest eyeballs, and you can actually have fun watching them haul butt across the floor or carpet. They move surprisingly lightening fast. They are comical and pretty sweet, unless they get become agitated and pinch you. This produces mad pain and will find you racing for the nearest sink to run your hand (or god forbid other body part) under cold water… the only way to make them raise the white flag and let go. After this happened once (early on, before I understood the limit of their desire for acrobatics) Molly decided she’d pretty much had plenty enough of caring for the crustaceans.

They now fall solely under my jurisdiction. They can die in 10 days or live for 20 years. Parents, be warned.

Shameless Self-Promotion



Posting a few portfolio images from my graphic design studio: designfarm. Above: Projects for the American Library Association. I LOVE those librarians. They are seriously the grooviest clients ever. We got to party with them (with over 10,000 of them in fact) at their annual conference in Orlando the year that Complete Copyright was published and it was an amazing fun time. Illustrations by artbabe Jessical Abel, design by Jessica Snyder, art direction by Jessica Jodi “just call me Jessica” Bloom.



Based in DC, so lots of our work is for non-profits, NGO’s and the Feds, various agencies. We’re good, real good. For more info, visit designfarm online. Know someone who needs great design? We’re looking for a few more clients to add to our roster, so hollaback, ok?

PS: The Chicken’s Name Is…



Isn’t that the BEST?! If you’ve been reading this blog, you know the very chicken I’m referring to. If not, see January, about mid-month. After sending a link to Terry, the director of Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary, she emailed and reminded me of my plump little friend’s name. I can’t wait to visit Sylvia next Fall. Join us there!

Made With Love



Sometimes my day-job business life is pretty stressful, like this week, when we had a very important press check for a very important project… a day when I really wanted to feel on top of my game, on top of the world and just plain good about myself.

For many DC businesswomen, this would mean a power-suit, but for me, it meant donning a cute outfit that was a mix of pinstriped fitted straight-leg pants and a layer-y jacket with a built-in hoodie (Urban Outfitters… I still love that place), and accessorizing from my massive collection of, well, accessories.

It’s so easy to overaccessorize isn’t it? While I do have a tendency to over-layer clothing (jeans under skirts under jackets with tank tops and t-shirts–oh my!) I actually don’t wear a lot of jewelry during the week b/c I’m so freaking busy and it always feels fussy and bothersome. But that day, I pinned on this adorable handmade flower boutonniere (above) that had just arrived in the mail from Alicia Paulson’s ingenious store Rosy Little Things, along with one of my newer charm bracelets called Bluebird of Happiness (below). I wondered if I’d overdone it, but as I entered the conference room where my staff and the client were awaiting my arrival, I felt a surge of… not power exactly, but goodness. Happiness. Worthiness.

And, as I toyed with a teensy sterling silver Jack charm, staring down past my left shoulder at my wrist, it was clear that the warm feeling of goodness was emanating from the lovely pin, and yes, my bracelet too. Maybe also a little bit from these kick-ass pointy boots I had on, but that’s another post entirely.


Wearing handmade goods is like walking around with a big hug squeezing you. You are saying, well… duh! Didn’t I know this?? I mean, I MAKE handmade goods, don’t I? Yep, I do. So, I can’t explain the epiphany; maybe it was the day, or the particular combination of another crafty-girl’s stuff plus mine. I can’t say for sure.

If you’re thinking that perhaps I’m tooting my own horn here, and asking you to go buy my jewelry, honestly, I’m not. In fact, I’d like to ask you to go visit Rosy Little Things because Alicia is an absolute GENIUS of art, craft, color and design, and her things are full of love.
Support handmade goods, with all your heart (and your pocketbook too). The love will flow back at ya.

The Naked Brothers Band + Other Hip Stuff for Kids



Last night Molly planned a TV date for us that included viewing The Naked Brothers Band movie on Nickelodeon Teen Teen Nick (says Molly, gosh mom quit embarrassing me) and the consumption of delicious baked apples, made earlier in the day (core apple, stuff with as much butter, brown sugar, cranberries & walnuts as possible and bake at 375 for 1-1.5 hrs depending on how soft you like them), then warmed up in the microwave. YUM. If I’m discovering this movie late, I apologize; I see it was released in 05, and I don’t know how I missed it. INGENIUS, hilarious, sweet and seriously rocking. If you have kids, or ever were a kid, do not miss this flick

I think most kids either want to be in a rock band at some point or at least hang out with kids who want to… and this movie (as well as the series which is coming to Nick soon) treats you to a mockumentary style send-up of those heady days. The film, by Polly Draper, stars her two sons Nat and Alex Wolff, ages 9 and 6 respectively. For my money, Alex, the drummer who wears a do-rag, steals the show. When asked how they boys came up with the band’s name they answer: Well, we liked playing music. And we were naked. And we’re brothers. The humor is sharp and deadpan, and the music is sweetly adorable.

My 1960’s suburban version of this story was hanging out in the garage across the street where some “older boys” practiced in their band, Steel Tangerine. Leader, Brad, was super sexy and we all had crushes on him. The Tangerine played at my bat-mitzvah party (incuding their 20 minute cover of Innagaddadavida Baby), a major throwdown held poolside at the Columbus, Ohio, Howard Johnson’s where the indoor pool was housed under an enoroums clear bubble. I kid you not, I am not making this up. Unfortunately, at that very party, the star of the show (moi) got into some serious trouble, but that’s another story for another time.


Another movie we’ve been into is Dinsey Channels Jump In, which is really just their “urban” (read: the actors are black and the film is shot with grittier [for Disney anyway] grafittied city rather than squeaky clean suburban sets) version of the ubiquitous and mostly intolerable Highschool Musical. Jump In is much better, and chronicles the trials of a rather lame all-girl double-dutch team whose boring routines are saved by Izzy, played by Brooklynite teen Corbin Bleu, who we think is trés awesome (see above) . Grown-ups will reasonably enjoy the movie once all the way through, but during successive viewings (if you have children you know they can watch stuff like hundreds of times until you want to kill yourself) bail out until the last scenes of the big double-dutch competition, which are wild and incredible to watch. Go Corbin! It’s Disney, so it’s not possible to call this film hip, but it has its moments.


Then there’s the über hip Pancake Mountain starring a puppet named Rufus Leaking (above), not a movie, but a local DC-cable TV show that is available on DVD and really worth the bucks. Filmed at cool live music venues around town when bands are here to play shows, PM features dance parties for kids ages 3+, skits, and lots of goofy fun. And the band line-up is most excellent, including Subways, Shonen Knife, and the Go! Team, to name just a few. Molly and I attended the taping of the Go! Team show at the Black Cat, and it was fun. Fortunately, ear plugs were handed out… I’ve NEVER in my life heard music played so ear-bloodyingly LOUD. Please, if you take your kids to rock shows, be a smart mommy and bring ear plugs; it’s actually even more dangerous for their hearing than for yours.

Sweet Charlotte



Before reading this post, please know that Molly, age 8 at the time, took all of these gorgeous farm photos with a disposable camera.

Each Fall, we spend a day visiting with our rescued friends at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary–400 acres of heaven located a stone’s throw from the bustle of city life. We have our faces painted, roam the grounds, eat fabulous vegan food, and have all kinds of opportunities to snuggle up with the hogs, pet the goats and sheep, and (scroll down) hold a chicken… all while tens of thousands of dollars are being raised to support this dear place.


On those warm sunny days, I often think of one of my favorite childhood books, E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, the first work of literature that that I remember touching me deeply with its terrors (Farmer Arable and his errant son Avery dispassionately wielding their axes and shotguns at the baby pig!), joys (much of the rest of the story) and sorrows (death, particularly) regarding love, friendship and the cycle of life.

Reading the book again with Molly, it resonated in newly profound ways… still about love and friendship and life and death, but also politically, as well as a treatise on the sheer power and potential salvation of the written word (um, not to mention advertising, which is essentially my chosen profession).

If you haven’t read this book don’t read this next pp. At the end, White writes of Wilbur the pig’s love for his dear friend Charlotte the spider (who essentially saves his life but does in fact die): “She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.”


Some pig! Terrific! Radiant!

No, I am not trying to work a radiantly pregnant-at-50 look in this photo. For goodness sake people, I’M HOLDING A CHICKEN. Even the boy behind me knows how alarmingly special this is. But, I really do look pregnant, don’t I? Trust me. I’m not. And if you’ve never held a chicken, it’s well worth looking pregnant for, so there.

Sexy New Packaging




I’m not going to say much about this, hoping the photos speak for themselves. Just received the new So Charmed boxes and velvet bags and they are SWEET. Kinda tough to get a good shot of, but the boxes are a slightly sparkling granite black, with SC logo embossed in matte black; the bag is rich black velveteen with logo stamped in silver. Still waiting for the smaller boxes to arrive and then will start shipping jewelry in these groovalicious wrappings. Magenta faux cheetah fur not included, sorry. That’s a bean bag chair here at the designfarm office!

Nancy was So Minty Cool



Living here in DC means living at ground zero in so many ways and when I’m feeling superficial (which as you know is quite often), fashion tops the list. Fashion in DC pretty much sucks. Unless you like sensible pumps and Ann Taylor Loft. (Ok, so I actually did buy something there recently, guilty as charged! It was a very low shopping moment indeed so please, I beg you NEVER to mention it again).

For example, have you ever noticed the totally hideous colors worn by political women, be they elected officials or wives of same? At last night’s televised State ‘o Union soiree, it was just the usual dreadful sea of garishly over-saturated reds, blues and a spattering of other silly crayola hues that I’ve heard described as “jewel tones.” Is there a meaning to this? Is it like some patriotic thing? Does bright red from head to toe mean you’ll kick some ass if anyone messes with you (or your husband)? ICK!

Yet there, in the midst of all the scary bright predictable hues was Nancy Pelosi. Along with being a superhero, she’s super attractive (note I didn’t say “for a woman her age” b/c we women of a certain age are sticking together, right Nance?) with a smile that can light up the Hill, and that’s saying something; trust me on this one. Watching her up there on the old podium made me feel so proud and hopeful, politically, and fashionistically.

So, to get to my point… I think it was verrrrrrrry purposeful, savvy, and quite gorgeously hip that Nancy opted out of that whole Power Red thing, selecting instead a very pretty, minty cool, palest green suit.

Can you say: Breath of fresh air? Yeah, dudes. Nancy is so minty cool.

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