OK Go rocks the primary colors like nobody’s business

LA (by way of Chicago) band OK Go has been making music since the late 90′s and extraordinary videos to accompany said music for just about as long. They even won a Grammy for Best Music Video in 2007 (Here We Go Again aka The Treadmill Video).

The above stop action video (created by OK Go for Sesame Street) teaches kids the basics of color mixing. More importantly, it is evidence of the magic that happens when insanely creative, thoughtful and talented artists put their heads together to transform a potentially pedestrian topic into a multicolored joyous dance party.

Or, more simply, videos for kids don’t have to suck.

Last night’s dinner

A lovely photograph of Emily Weinstein's corn risotto by Melina Hammer

A lovely photograph of Emily Weinstein’s corn risotto by Melina Hammer for the New York Times.

This fall, I am planning on conquering my fear of cooking dinner. Sure, I consider myself a good cook, though I always need some kind of recipe, at least to start out with. I actually didn’t see this as a sign of my obvious inadequacy until I met my make-everything-up-from-scratch-and-it-is-always-delicious cook of a husband. I am still mildly jealous of his abilities, though I have learned to use them to my advantage by cajoling him into cooking as often as I can.

Which these days, what with his late hours and frequent travel, is not all that much. Still, beggars can’t be choosers, and I am determined to reinstate my kitchen confidence by hook or by crook. Especially as I find my problems to be more with organization and time management than with the actual food preparation.

(To be honest, I think the vast majority of my problems are rooted in time management and organizational issues, but I digress…)

So I’ve decided to try and narrow things down a bit, and to make a meal plan… at least till Friday. For starters, this week, all of our meals are coming from the new Cooking site from the NY Times. Which I do love, though at times it feels a bit overwhelming. So many choices (over 16,000!) where does one begin?

I started off the adventure with a celebration of corn, as this is probably the last week we’ll be able to get our hands on any fresh ears. Enter Emily Weinstein’s corn risotto which I prepared last night to rave reviews.

I made a few changes… my daughter hates pepper, so out it went (sob!) and I didn’t have time to make the corn stock, though I did scrape the juice from the corn cobs into the chicken stock I already had and then simmered the cobs with the broth to give it a bit of that flavor. I didn’t use wine, only because I forgot about buying some and was too lazy to go back outside, and I skipped the whipped cream part (also out of laziness). Next time I might do that last step as it does sound amazing.

But even with all of those simplifications and alterations, the dish was lovely. Light, sweet and a bit like a memory of a 9 pm sunset on a summer evening. A perfect way to say goodbye to one of my favorite foods. Today’s lunch will be a salad that includes the leftover kernels of corn (I bought one too many ears– I couldn’t help myself) and then it’s so long till next July.

I guess I’ll just have to drown my sorrows in fresh apples…

Monday, Monday– or more links about getting in shape and eating right…

SoulCycle polaroids

A few images from my first day of creating a new Polaroid installation for SoulCycle

I have started working on a new (black & white!) Polaroid installation for my friends over at SoulCycle. Being around all of those fitness fanatics has got me back into a bit of an exercise routine. And not a moment too soon, as my summer was not super sporty, to say the least. Below is an assortment of the types of links I am suddenly interested in these days…

Step one of any get-into-shape program is an evaluation of where you are now, right? To find out where you stand, answer these questions and the computer will magically crunch some numbers and spit out the result. Here’s hoping you are 50 and as fit as the average 20 year old, rather than the other way around…

And then there is the question of joining a gym, or trying to fit exercise classes into your already overbooked days. Fear not! The answer is here in the form of the intense 7 minute workout (made famous by the NY Times article) that Huffpost blogger Sarah Klien wrote about not too long ago.

Most importantly, here’s where you go to buy really dope kicks online…

Evidently, this Thursday is National Food Day. I’m not sure how a person is supposed to keep track of all of this stuff, but at least in this particular case, we can now all consider ourselves in the know. Here’s how to find related activities in your area, should you feel the urge to be part of the official celebration.

Perhaps something else one might do, for Food Day, is consider ingesting something altogether unfamiliar. Like crickets.

And while we’re on the topic of food… In an effort to get it together and not be paralyzed by the daily chore of dinner-making, I have decided to cook entirely from the NY Times Cooking site this week. I figured limiting my options would be a good thing (if one can call over 16,000 recipes limited). Tonight we’re having corn risotto, to celebrate the very end of summer corn season…

Pictionary for real

webster's picture dictionary

The little red dictionary that fits into your (slightly oversized) pocket

The other day, after a trip to my favorite neighborhood hardware store (Crest, on Metropolitan Ave. The only hardware store I know of with it’s own beautiful Tumblr…), my daughter and I stumbled into Desert Island, a quirky shop overflowing with art/comic books. We quickly lost ourselves in all sorts of illustrated worlds and would probably still be there, were we not so hungry for dinner.

I managed to escape with only one purchase (see above)… and how can a mother say no when her kid is actually begging to buy a dictionary? The Pictorial Webster’s Pocket Dictionary is, in it’s own words (or rather, the words of author John M. Carrera) “a collection of G & C Merriam dictionary engravings of the nineteenth century printed alphabetically as a source for creativity in the human brain.” If you see several seemingly unrelated images on the same page, he reasons, you will inevitably begin to make associations, and from these all sorts of inspiration can and will occur.

An interior page of the dictionary, selected at random.

An interior page of the dictionary, selected at random.

Or, you’re a six year old, and you are first excited to see a drawing of a Heron (“Grandpa’s favorite bird!”) before becoming distracted wondering what kind of space alien the Holothurioidea (on the opposite page) might be.

Suddenly the dictionary is transformed from a somewhat outdated tool, into a visual and literary experience that changes and grows with each viewing.

But I digress. Lets just say, it’s a great book with beautiful reproductions of old fashioned engravings. While it is not technically a kids’ book, there is an equally profound experience awaiting readers of all ages, as long as they are willing to dive in. And if you can’t make it over to the east side of Williamsburg (which you should, because Desert Island is a treasure of a store) you can of course just order one of these up on Amazon and be done with it.

Monday, Monday on Tuesday (again) or more links to help get you through Halloween

Photo courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens.

Photo courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens (bhg.com).

Take a break from the traditional leering Jack O’Lantern and check out these alternatives for the pumpkin you are about to pluck from the patch and plop on your doorstep (or table, or shelf…)

Planning on making your kid’s costume? Martha Stewart has some ideas for you (of course). She’s got some plans for your own costume as well…

Or there’s always this eagle mask (hat?) I saw on Pinterest…

Looking for an alternative to that plastic pumpkin basket? A ghost bag could work, or this embroidered one, or this little black-cat-on-burlap number…

If anyone is interested in being a Native American, or Robin Hood, or an elf, this is the bow and arrow for you.

Kids like their candy, but the adults need a little something else to survive this holiday. The people over at Saveur have gathered up these 13 cocktails that should fit the bill perfectly.

Last but not least, give your kids a non-candy alternative with these 13 healthy Halloween treats. And if that ain’t enough, here are 64 more!

Monday, Monday– or more links about music

keyboard set up

Here’s what a girl needs if she is 6 and a half, lives in a small apartment and is learning to play the piano. The pedals are potentially superfluous, but I was so happy to unearth them, so I kept them in the picture.

I have spent the better part of today cobbling together a music set-up appropriate for my daughter’s first piano lesson tomorrow evening. It has forced me to uncover all sorts of keyboards and cables and reunite with all sorts of toys from my once and future musical life. (See above for some photographic evidence of the effort.)

The beautiful thing is, pretty much all of the stuff still works, and as I blow the dust off of that part of my brain, I find that the musical part of myself is still alive a kicking as well. Which makes me happy, because to tell you all the truth, I was a bit worried.

So in honor of my own reunion with the world of making music, and my daughter’s continued integration into the same, I give you a whole bunch of links about this nearly universal form of communication that is so central to the way we humans tick.

For starters, there are two (yes, 2!) new brand new Prince albums out for our listening pleasure. Ben Greenman writes an appropriately intelligent review for the New Yorker that is well worth reading. And if you want to skip straight to listening, start out with this one, called U Know, which should warm the hearts of Prince fans everywhere. The Purple One is still very much in charge, Allah Akbar.

Last night I made a rare voyage down the street to the Music Hall of Williamsburg to see my longtime friends The Afghan Whigs play. Their shows are always a treat, and well worth the haze of exhaustion that envelops the following day. As an added bonus, Usher jumped on stage for a surprise and inspired co-performance of Climax… Here’s the video for your viewing pleasure.

Listen to this beautiful recording of and about the eerie songs of the humpback whale published in 1979 for National Geographic. Watching the record spin around is almost as gratifying as listening to what they have to say…

Lisa Jaeggi, a friend from the hood, has a new band and a new CD out… Band is called Darling Din and you can stream their songs on their website, but if you’re smart, you’ll order up one of their limited edition CD’s. Each one has a handmade cover and inner sleeve which reckon back to the days when people used paper, scissors, and glue (instead of computers) to make pretty stuff. However you get it, you should all listen up. We’ve been dancing to it in our house all morning.

And if you like dancing around in your house, try making a real difference in the world by making a video of yourself singing Joan Jett’s Bad Reputation and sending it to my friend Sarah Sophie Flicker. She and some friends are making a PSA to help get out the female vote for this crucial midterm election! Submissions are due on Oct 12… Get all the info you need here.

I don’t know if you guys are familiar with the cultural salad of a website called Here We Go Now, but you should be. If for nothing else, because their playlists never disappoint.

And last but not least, the brilliantly madcap Dr Who tells us a thing or two about the music of the spheres and reminds us that there is music inside of each and every one of us.

My kid was home sick today so I didn’t really have a chance to do anything productive

So instead, I give you this hilarious story about Jimmy Fallon playing ping pong with Prince, in recognition of HRH’s 2 brand new albums just out today.

Please enjoy.

And afterwards, join me in praying that my daughter’s fever breaks and she is up for reconnecting with the outside world tomorrow. Because I would really like to be able to listen to those new Prince records in peace.

My fall uniform

maria cornejo lola skirt

I know that Maria Cornejo didn’t actually have me in mind when she cooked up this skirt, and yet it really is one of the most perfect-for-me things I’ve ever worn.

I have always dreamed of being one of those women who wears a uniform. And by uniform, I of course don’t mean a plaid kilt with a white shirt and navy shoes, but rather a small set of perfectly-suited-to-me clothes that I just alternate. I’d always look pulled together and great and chic and all that, without having to think twice about what to wear on any given day.

My closet would be all neat and whatnot, with space between the hangers holding several variations on my personal wardrobe theme. I’d be able to see everything at once. My drawers would open and close with ease, the contents neatly folded. All of my socks would be in perfect pairs and of course have no holes…

I could go on and on.

The reality is that I’ve saved t shirts from as far back as 1985. And sweaters. And dresses. And pants. The list could go on and on…

It would be easy if I didn’t wear them, but of course they all come out from time to time and I get a kick out of rocking a bit of my own personal history through the streets of ever-in-the-current-moment Williamsburg.

However, there are a few items that have elevated themselves to the status of uniform… that I find myself turning to again and again, that can be dressed up while still feeling like pj’s, that automatically make me feel like a lady. The above “lola” skirt by the brilliant Maria Cornejo is one of those pieces.

I should probably just buy 3 of them and be done with it. And you guys should too. If you’re into wearing skirts, that is…