My So Charmed Life

A Good Day Starts with a Good Breakfast


And on Sundays at Chez Darwin, that means homemade crepes! But wait… How did we get to the yummy deliciousness above, a warm paper-thin pancake smothered in blueberry jam… let’s see shall we?

It all started with a Fete de la Crepe in Molly’s 6th grade French class, a l’ecole. Merci beaucoup to Mme Mangiafico for teaching the students something other than conjugating verbs (not that there’s anything wrong with a well-conjugated verb en Francais, mind you).

It also starts with a glorious mess in the kitchen, pictured above.

The petite crepier has become so professional that she can now flip the lovely pancakes… IN THE PAN!

And who knew… the BF is a bit of a crepe-maker himself! He often assists the Master Chef in the kitchen and is also in charge of the espresso… so that we can really feel like we are in gay Paris.

Just so you know, the espresso machine is a holy shrine and occupies way more than its share of space in our tiny creperie. Move it one inch (should you wish to, say use the counter or perhaps plug something in behind it) and and risk the wrath of the BF.

It does make a gorgeous and delicious breakfast beverage.

During the festivities we can count on Bernie, the canine vacuum cleaner, to hover along the floor waiting for errant bits of food to come his way so that he can eat them and have lots of stomach distress later on.

Molly is tres hungry and wishes her mom would quit photographing everything every single second of every single day.

It’s all worth the mess and aggravation when we sit down to eat. Melted chocolate by yours truly, undisputed Queen of the microwave.

Bon apetite!

Stuff I Love that Other People Made


It had to happen. My daughter Molly and her BFF Corrie are now making–AND SELLING–jewelry. And I’m here to tell you, their stuff really rocks. I’m one of their bestest customers, and I am, as you know, a highly discerning jewelry-maven. What’s lovely about their work is that they very smartly operate within their abilities… while pushing themselves a bit to learn techniques, using available materials (much of it from their YMCA Afterschool program) and with their not-quite-grown-up girlish sensibilities… it makes for some very cool stuff. My favorites are a pair of assymmetrical earrings that use GLOW IN THE DARK glass beads, and, pictured above, the shell necklace. Sooooo lovely, so simple. Great concept, great colors, great materials (love the sea-green frayed ribbon). As I told Molls, when I wear it, it reminds me of our wonderful beach holidays. Love ya honey!!

Everyone who knows me knows I’m trying to grow my thick super-duper curly hair to never-before-reached lengths of Renaissance Jewess Goddess nirvana… (Why? I don’t know. B/C it’s a huge-mongous pain in the butt and takes like 4 hours to air dry). So, long story short, I buy a lot of hair crap. Products? Oh, yes indeed. I’ll try anything that comes along, esp. if marketed for curls. Barettes, clips and combs? HECK YEAH! The one above was scored on Etsy and it really is just so clever and adorable, made from the upcycled middle of a 45 rpm Motown record. I love it!! And, look for some new hair baubles coming in January at So Charmed.

And, arent’t these the sweetest things?? Two little handcrafted felt pins, made as a gift to me by Teresa, a dear client in Barcelona. Teresa asked which animals I’d like so I told her about Bernie and Maxi, (the Dachshunds) and Iggy and Angelo (the Tabbies) and voila! These adorable critters traveled ’round the world and came home to me. What a delightful gift. Teresa hopes to get her own shop up and running on the Internet, I’ll let you know as soon as she does.

Remember, buy handmade for the Holidays… there’s so much crafty goodness out there it’s just incredible. Your recipients will love the gifts and you’ll be supporting an entrepreneurial artist.

Does this look like fun to you?


Molly and I spent a week at our beloved Rehoboth Beach Delaware this August, basking in the sun and ocean, eating horrific but delicious junk food and chasing Amish people with our camera (another story for another time)… but the thing we did the most, or at least with the most intensity was… gambling at Funland. For this I am certain that I am destined for the Bad Mom Hall of Fame, but damn it, it was FUN. Why do you think they call it Funland??

Because it looks like a prison camp for (gasp) Bad Mommies, complete with monochromatic concrete slab architecture, a frightening guard tower (clearly manned by an armed guard stationed to kill the Bad Moms), ominous hovering gulls that resemble bats, and possibly the worst use of Helvetica ever imagined?

Nope, none of those things. They call it Funland because you can pump quarters into insanely noisy colorful machines, like the one pictured above, for endless hours and win prizes such as the one pictured below.

Funland is actually really fun. As a grown-up, you think you are going to hate it. Stepping inside this Barracks of Fun, you wish you had doubled up on your anti-anxiety meds. There is so much noise and color and so many kids racing around feverishly out of control that you think you may throw up. Then you put a few quarters into a few slots and watch those tickets come flying out. You start to buy into the promise of hitting a JACKPOT. And in minutes, your entire vacation budget is about to be blown to smithereens.

This was our favorite machine. Within the first 10 minutes of our first night at Funland, I hit that freaking jackpot when the machine had reached 567 points. Tickets spilled out for over 8 minutes while kids gathered round, jaws dropping, eyes glistening with envy. It was somehow both embarrassing, and glorious.

The loot. Molly and I high-fived for about a half-hour. I had a sense that this was how it felt to be lugging around a stuffed animal the size of a human being that you’ve just won for your kid. I never win anything!! It was a blast!

This photo really captures the energy of Funland. Molly does not think that at age Mid-Century I am too old to go on carnival rides so here I am, lurching camera in hand, riding the wacky tea cups and wondering if my dinner (Pizza from Louie’s. Again.) is going to come flying back up and out of my mouth.

At the end of our beach week, we cashed in. Molly had carefully folded our massive quantity of tickets so they could be easily fed into the Ticket Muncher machine, which handles the math, and spits out a reciept for you to take to the prize counter and drive some poor teenager to a life of underage drinking while you agonize for an hour, reversing decisions, asking to see and touch everything, &tc, &tc, &tc.

Kids passing by while we were feeding the machine were incredulous. 2033 tickets =¬† a LOT of Funland crap merchandise. We cashed in for THREE glitter lamps (kind of like a lava lamp only better), a Funland coffee mug and other tschochkes. We’d spent about $50 during our two visits, and had the time of our lives.

Memo to parents: It’s lots more fun than it looks and your kids will love you more than they ever have for any reason, good or bad. And, set a spending limit before you even head to the beach. Then… let yourself go go go even though you can’t afford to put gas in your car!

Summer in The City


It was 100 degrees in the shade but that didn’t stop me, Molly, Corrie (Molly’s BFFL), David (the BF), and Irene (the BF’s mom) from romping around both the Lower East and West Sides of Manhattan last weekend. Molly and Corrie dressed as twins the entire weekend, making it easy to keep track of them! Like a school field trip. The murals around St. Mark’s Place were so cool…

But the community gardens were mind blowing. As we made our way down 6th Street and Avenue A, we began to notice these little inviting entrances. It took awhile for us to actually understand… we could enter these magical places, some of which were over 30 years old, with ancient weeping willows and decorations made of cans and other debris (above).

We imagined ourselves in a foreign land, forgetting the oppressive heat and the pungent smell of the East Village on a blistering summer day. Mexico?

A peaceful retreat in India?

Even with decaying old buildings peeking through the willows, it wasn’t hard to imagine we were on an adventure in some wild forest.

When we finally managed to tear ourselves away from the gardens and return to the streets, we made our way to a tiny little neighborhood bar, Banjo Jim’s, which has live indie music 7 nights a week and whose unofficial slogan is “there’s a whole lotta love in the room.” There was a whole lotta of love at Banjo JIm’s on Saturday when one of my oldest friends in the universe, musician and surrealist painter, Wayne Kral, co-hosted his weekly open mic event.

We signed David up to play a couple of tunes, and Wayne put Molly and Corrie behind the bar to serve sodas, run the cash register and collect EIGHT BUCKS worth of tips!! When asked their age, they cleverly stated that they were 21. At ages 10 and 11 respectively, this is of course true. When added together. I was proud to see the girls using their math skills during the summer and felt that bartending was a smart career move from Molly’s last job in Homeland Security as a school patrol. The pay was better, anyway.

The BF may have been a tad bored awaiting his turn to play; it was a bit folky for his taste. It was probably Irene’s first time in 83 years hanging out in a bar in the East Village, and she had a terrific time. Really. She did! You could ask her!

Finally it was David’s turn and he tore the place up with an original tune, You’re Breaking Up (The Cellphone Song), and Graham Parker‘s Turn it Into Hate.

Earlier in the day we’d had lunch at Dumpling Man on St. Mark’s, a very sweet place that sells nothing but Asian dumplings (and a small amount of clothing boasting their cute logo) and those little kreplach (as Irene so rightly pointed is just exactly what a dumpling is) were sublime. Like many NYC establishments, the place was the size of a closet. We sat at a bright red bar behind which four Chinese women made the dumplings and chattered on and on. They were very taken with Molly and Corrie, and although we had NO idea what they were saying, we assured everyone that they were most likely remarking on how beautiful and sweet the girls were.

After our East Village Romp we shlepped West to Soho where we dined on amazing pizza slices in an unairconditioned joint that was as hot as the seventh ring of Haides. The pizza was divine, and David was certain that Ben Kingsley was sitting at the next table over.

Dumplings, pizza… by now you would think we’d be succumbing to a major carb overdose, but my little dumpling Molly wasn’t yet finished with Lower Manhattan’s boutique eateries. Bellies full, we slowly hiked over to Little Italy to our favorite rice pudding snackateria… the always FABULOUS Rice to Riches. There we treated ourselves to heaping bowls of the comforting pudding and Irene complimented the staff on the super clean bathrooms.

And then, it was back to New Jersey for a very tired-out crew.

We heart NY.

MyRight2Write @ SOWEBO Arts Fest, Baltimore!


The MyRight2Write Crew will be setting up and selling our beautiful handcrafted altered composition book journals THIS WEEKEND, Sunday May 25th, at the SOWEBO Arts Festival. As you surely know by now, for each journal we sell, a composition book will be donated to Piney Branch Elementary School this fall.

In addition to a huge selection of the wallpapered journals, we’ll be bringing a new batch of our one of a kind recycled Tee + Journal Combos, including a totally adorable must-have pair of pajama bottoms!! Come out and say hello and help us meet our goal of 300 donated composition books by the time school opens in late August.

There will be 20 bands, and loads of art, crafts and food, from 12 – 9 pm.

Directions from the DC Metro Area: Take 95 North to 395. 395 becomes Martin Luther King Blvd. Take MLK to Lombard and turn left. 3 Lights to Arlington, turn right… festival is there: 36 Arlington Ave. Baltimore, MD 21223. If you need more info, email me.

Oh, and what does SOWEBO stand for? South West Baltimore! Yay!!!

Q: Where do you buy these fabulous beads?



A: None of your beeswax.

Ok, sorry… but really! I get asked this question so often it makes me wanna cry. But I think the truth is that noone can imagine the obsessiveness of my collecting, and thus, in asking such a question, the questioner can’t possibly know how ridiculous the query is.

Case in point: Pictured above is a pile ‘o beads I scored last night at Molly’s YMCA Aftercare Crafts Expo and Bake Sale. Yes, folks, there amongst the handsewn foam wallets, the CostCo cookies (SO cleverly marketed in zip lock bags to look homebaked, but I was NOT fooled!), and the genuinely homebaked cupcakes (expertly decorated by my daughter and long gone without so much as a blog photo snapped), were these lovely beaded necklaces. I do feel dreadfully sorry that I’m going to disassemble them to make jewelry. : / Sorry kids. Cost: 6 bucks.

Q: Where do you get all of that funky ironic “art” that decorates the walls of your home?


A: Just kidding.

Generally speaking, no one (except my poor boyfriend) dares to inquire about the weird, tasteless, mostly thriftstore, crap that poses as art in my “eclectic” home. But, in case you are not asking b/c you are embarrassed, but would actually like to know where these coveted items originate, here is an example: Yes, it’s another YMCA Aftercare Crafts Expo and Bake Sale score, a hand magic-markered, velvet flocked (!!) Unicorn. With stars! Glitter! A rainbow! Maybe you don’t love this as much as I do, probably not in fact. Yet later you will¬† eye it enviously, I know you will! I was so glad no one else’s mom snagged this beauty before I arrived on the scene with my shopping karma in tact. Cost: $1.50. Bet ya I could turn it around for $10 bucks on ETSY. But I’m not gonna, it’s mine mine mine suckers. Seriously, I love this thing.

PS: I love a post that fits ALL my categories!

2008? Bring it on!



If you read this blog, then you know how proud I am of the non-Martha Stewart, totally punk rock crafts that take place at our house from time to time. Pictured above, the latest entry in this sparkling collection of images: Mom & Molly’s fantastical gingerbread house (please note the mini-marshmallow chimney… that was MY idea).

I didn’t want to go the elementary school evening Gingerbread Village event… oh no I didn’t. Look, my day starts at 6:30 a.m., and by 7pm the last place I want to be is in the school cafeteria, sweltering through a hot flash and participating in a vaguely religious–or at the very least goyishe–ritual (I’m sorry. The Bloom household may have had latkes at this time of year. We may have played dreidel. Ok, once or twice or several dozen times we even may have had our stockings stuffed by the fat guy in the red suit. We NEVER, and I mean NEVER had gingerbread houses) that Molly promises is going to be a total blast.

I traded her: Finish your homework AND practice violin AND eat your dinner including vegetables, and we’ll go. Suffice to say, you’ve never seen a 10-year old so… inspired… by homework, violin and vegetables.
So, by 7:30pm–a half hour late–we were on our way down the cold dark hill to the elementary school and I’m feeling sorry about the deal… who cares about homework, violin and vegetables anyway? Inside the warmly lit school, it was, well, warm. Too warm (instant hot flash). And there was madness… total gingerbread house insanity. Kids and parents were crammed tightly at the long tables, scrambling and bickering over the best supplies, slathering great globs of icing over cardboard boxes of every possible size and shape, using more globs of icing to glue on candy, fruit loops, pretzels, and other crap. I was NOT impressed. Not even a little. But we shed our jackets, squeezed ourselves into a table, grabbed a yellow styrafoam tray and started slathering.

It was only moments before my competitive spirit kicked in. Molly and I were going to make the BESTEST damn gingerbread house a couple of secular humanist atheist Jews (poor kid. And yes, she knows what that means) EVER made. So I started chasing down the PTA moms who were handing out the supplies, scoring a much-coveted can of chocolate icing. I will even admit to talking a couple of slightly terrified kids (the look on my face!) out of handfuls of precious GREEN fruit loops with which to complete our landscaping. I became thoroughly ruthless and scruples-free; it was not pretty.
Results pictured above.

And by the way, when the village was assembled up on the cafeteria stage… dozens and dozens of buildings, some of which were extremely… umm… “imaginative,” there was indeed one church complete with steeple, cross, etc.. ok, whatever. I didn’t see anything you’d recognize as a synagogue, let alone a mosque… but there were some very cool factories, devalued townhouse developments, forts with moats and major-league weaponry made out of licorice whips, towering crazy wacky fabulous constructions that could have easily doubled as Whoville. Really, it was one of the most gorgeous messes I’ve ever seen.
Bah humbug. It was loads of fun.

Wishing all of you a seriously Happy Hols, and thanking you for your love, support and friendship in 2007.

2008? BRING IT ON!

Moll’s New Career in HOMELAND SECURITY



Molly is officially a Patrol! Following her Mother’s (and several other family member’s) footsteps in childhood law enforcement, Molly will be watching over the cafeteria to make sure kids behave before school starts.

Back in my day, you know, a hundred thousand years ago, we patrols were outside the school–come sleet, rain, snow or hail, functioning as midget crossing guards in our neon orange belts and carrying long wooden-handled flagpoles to help herd kids safely across the street. We left our elementary school, marching along in tightly formed units (each with a pint-sized Captain, which was a VERY big deal and required promotion through the ranks. YES, of course I made Captain!), dispersing to the all of the street corners within about a mile radius of the building. Because back in those prehistoric times, EVERYONE walked to school! On the very coldest snowiest days (and there were quite a few, this being Columbus, Ohio) we’d get served hot chocolate when we came inside in the morning, and got to class deliciously late. How cool was that? Mighty cool, I tell you, mighty cool.

Congrats to Molly for making the force!

Cuteness Overload



Molly and Iggy Pop.

An Award-Winning Summer



I can’t believe school starts next Monday and thus another summer comes to a close. Ours began at the Jersey Shore, continued through splendid weeks at camp (ribbons won, above!) and ended at the Ohio State Fair (see previous post) and Cape Cod visiting family. In one week Molly enters 5th grade and in two weeks I enter my 5th decade. At the risk of sounding cliche, time flies when you’re having fun. And, trust me, I’m having plenty of that!

My little brother, Mike Bloom.

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