September 2013

Monday, monday: Some random links to get you going

Cute kitten, or international spy?

Cute kitten, or international spy?

No rhyme or reason with the links this week. Sort of like my life.

Turns out that some of our most effective spies aren’t human at all.

It also turns out the best thing we can do for our kids at school is to talk to them at home.

Learn how to say no. And then when you get good at it, please teach me.

Joanna Goddard shares a friend’s recipe for homemade masala chai… perfect for the change in season.

You can see all sorts of sculptures by world class artists for free in NYC if you know where to look.

Evidently, memory and fiction are more akin than we might think.

I do not have a harding problem compared to these people.

Wrapping it up

sandwich wraps on provisions by food52

These sandwich wraps from Provisions for Food52 are the perfect combination of stylish and sustainable. (ugh. that sounded like a magazine caption…) Photo courtesy of Food52.

I save and reuse my zip-loc bags. It drives my husband crazy, because I wash them and hang them up like flags all over the kitchen to dry. They are plastic, and hence automatically evil, I know, but they are damned useful. And I figure if I am using them over and over again, they’re less wasteful, right?

Kind of right. But really, if I could figure out some way to eradicate them from my kitchen drawer without sacrificing functionality, I would be a happy woman.

Turns out, I’m one step closer to Nirvana now that my friend Deborah Copaken Kogan tipped me off to these sandwich wraps from Food52′s online shop (called Provisions, which is kind of confusing for me as that is the name of the health food store I love in Sag Harbor, but whatever.)

Made in Georgia out of vintage fabrics (but with a stain resistant nylon interior) these wraps are machine washable and built to last. Plus they are pretty enough to cheer a person up when he or she is all groggy making lunch for the kids before everybody wakes up and the chaos of the day begins.

I haven’t gotten any yet, but I’m totally ordering myself up a set just as soon as I work out why the image isn’t loading properly for this post. I swear.

Lose yourself in the thicket

I generally try to avoid falling into the iphone/ipad-as-babysitter trap: we don’t have a TV, our movie watching is fairly limited (Ummm, except for this summer, when I totally broke all my rules and watched a movie pretty much every day with my daughter mostly to give myself a break from being her solo-camp counselor/playmate/chef/confidante, etc. More on that later.)

But I digress. What I want to say is that while I don’t often use electronics with my kid, there are times (horrible traffic jams, 6 hour flights, etc) when a good app can be a lifesaver.

Thicket:Classic is one of my favorite of these apps. I found the above video on youtube (where there is a video for pretty much everything, thank you very much) and if you watch it, you’ll get a pretty good idea of what it does.

It’s an interactive art piece incorporating sound and motion where the possibilities are mesmerizing and endless. And the sounds, for the most part, are soothing rather than jarring over-computerized harmonic barbie voices singing about boys. (OK, I admit that I come as close to hating those musical Barbie movies as a person can come without other people being worried about said person’s priorities) I have Thicket on my phone, though I imagine it’d be pretty great on an iPad, too.

And, to be honest, it’s as captivating for adults as it is for kids.

Monday, monday, or is less really more?

collyer brothers living room

I am not the Collyer Brothers. My office doesn’t look anywhere near as bad as this place looked. My problem is not insurmountable… right?

This past week, I have been forced to come to terms with a less-than-beautiful reality abut myself. I am a hoarder. There. I’ve said it. I’m sure my minimalist husband (if he ever even bothers to read these posts) will be laughing out loud at his desk, or shaking his head in disbelief at my admission. Maybe this will convince him to believe in God. Who knows? But here it is, in black and white.

Now, I am no Collyer Brother (see photo above for the extremes to which those Harlem based brothers took the fine art of hoarding) but I do have a problem. I realized this because it took me an entire week to clear out my office so that my landlord can come in and fix my ceiling (see last week’s post for details.) A whole week.

I have vinyl records that have not been touched for half a decade, magazine tear sheets from the 90′s (some of them were actually kind of good though– stay tuned for a future post featuring a few great things I forgot I’d noticed from back in the day) manuals for every piece of electronic equipment I have ever owned (plus the cords, attachments and accessories to go with them) and I could go on and on. In fact, I swore, back in January, that I was going to clear out the chaos. Clearly I haven’t gotten very far.

Someday, this (fill in the blank) might be useful, I say to myself. But I fear I may be wrong. In fact, I know I’m wrong, and now the fact that I’ve had to move so many of my piles of junk (did I say that?) into various other locations in my apt has forced me to see my situation clearly.

I am facing a challenge: I must not restore the office to it’s previous state of inglorious excess once the ceiling is repaired.

And so the battle begins with me looking on the internet for some kind of solace and inspiration to aid me in the struggle I am about to face.

FIrst off, evidence that I’m not so bad. A video documentary about the Collyer Brothers, who’s living room is pictured above. I am nowhere near this bad.

E. L. Doctorow, one of my favorite authors, wrote a beautiful sad poetic novel from the point of view of these two characters that is well worth reading. But if you don’t have time to read long form books, this NY Times review will do in a pinch.

Sometimes I find myself wishing that my place would just burn down, forcing me to start from scratch. Until I remember what happened to Q-Tip and how many records , recordings, digital files, equipment etc he lost.

There are countless online venues that claim they will help me. There is actually a website called: be more with less.

There’s also one called minimally minimal, which takes forever to load, but has nice stuff on it. Though maybe I like it because it’s all about getting more stuff, albeit minimally designed…

Brooklyn designer Jessi Arrington mitigates her love for acquiring clothes by only buying (and wearing) secondhand. I think she makes an exception for underwear.

But at the end of the day, I love homes that are all full of color and personality and look like my friend Lili’s place. Far from minimal, I know. Perhaps I’m a lost cause…

Covering your tracks

KillSwitch graphic

Sure breaking up is hard to do, but at least the aftermath has gotten a little easier, thanks to the fine folks at KillSwitch.

Call me crazy, but I cannot get behind all of this extreme sharing everybody is supposed to be doing online. Yes, I have a blog, yes you all now know that my office ceiling has crumbled, but I don’t feel compelled to tell you everything I’ve eaten this week, or show you photos of me at parties with people just a tiny bit cooler than you so you feel kind of bad, or photos of my offspring doing extraordinary things like clapping her hands or being a messy eater. Not that this stuff isn’t cute or interesting, but I just don’t think it needs to be a part of my permanent public record. You are welcome to come over if you have a burning desire to see how much food my daughter spills at each meal.

Well happy day, I have just come upon an app that helps you to un-share. Aptly called KillSwitch, it will go onto Facebook and, with just a few hints to get it started, erase all traces of a particular individual from your Facebook page.

Billed as a break-up tonic, it promises to make “breakups suck less” by getting rid of all of those “kissy pictures, gushy posts and sappy statuses.” Which will probably be doing us all a favor, because lets be honest, how many of you really want to spend your spare time looking at photos of other people kissing?

Mind you, I am nowhere near breaking up with my almost-perfect husband. I just want to celebrate the fact that there are people out there, hard at work trying to help save us from our over-sharing selves. That there are folks who actually want to help us to let go and move on like we used to back in the day.

Thank you, KillSwitch people.for helping to make the world a better place. May you live long and prosper.

Monday, Monday, or looking on the bright side.

ceiling has fallen in

Look what I found this morning when I turned on the lights in my office!

The long (lovely, but still long) summer vacation is finally over. School has started again, hallelujah. Routines have settled back into play. All is good with the world.

Oh no wait…

When we woke up on Saturday morning, we discovered that our tenants (we rented our place while we were in San Francisco this summer) left us a little goodbye gift. In the form of fleas. So much for renting to people with dogs ever again. Sorry dog lovers.

So instead of a relaxing weekend getting settled back into our place after being away for so long, we went on full offensive to get rid of the fleas. Plus we called the pros, who will be taking the fight to the next level over the next few days.

Then, this morning, I turned on the light in my office only to discover that a good part of the ceiling has fallen in. Yep. So fun. A good part of today, therefore, will be spent clearing rubble, relocating my piles of belongings, and cleaning. I did a little research and found this article full of good dusting tips.

But I must maintain a positive attitude. I must. No matter how much I want to cry, or how covered with dust my record collection is at this moment. According to the Huffington Post, my good attitude may even reduce my chances of heart problems. (Though there are times when I wonder if it might not just be easier to have a heart attack and get it all over with quickly.)

So now I will look at things that make me feel good about the world…

Like Tess Giberson’s new collection for Spring 2014.

Pretty much any post on the Ace Hotel’s blog. I mean, it’s called Everything Will Be OK, for crying out loud.

Making yummy pink lemonade popsicles.

Just the fact that Stripes exists is proof that the world isn’t all bad…

If at first you don’t succeed…

Trappe atlantic crossing in helium balloons

Jonathan Trappe’s attempt to cross the Atlantic, Up-style. Photo by Paul Cyr

While his attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean floating under hundreds of helium balloons came to an end before he’d even left North America, I still revere the true adventurer’s spirit of Jonathan Trappe.

I, for one, am pulling for him to try again soon.

Check out this article in the Daily Mail for some beautiful photos and a video of this great (albeit short) adventure.

Today, I’d rather just watch a video

Does anybody else remember this cartoon? I found myself singing it to my daughter yesterday, which led us to the internet, so that I could show her what I was talking about. Which is what I have been doing a lot lately (the internet, that is) because, while I am beyond happy that school is back in session and that the endless (childcare-less) summer of ’13 has finally been laid to rest, I suddenly find myself overwhelmed with all of the things that need doing now that we’ve returned home.

It’s fun to be away for 2 1/2 months. Until you get back and realize that those piles of unfinished business haven’t magically evaporated into nothingness. Or better yet, been transformed into crossed off items on a monumental to do list. Yesterday, I avoided reality by getting a pedicure and going to a yoga class, but today with a sore body and my feet presentable again, I feel like I need to start tackling the to do list. (Which I can’t even bear to write.)

Or, I could just watch videos.

So in honor of one last day of procrastination, here are a few links to some moving images I’ve found online that will help keep you away from doing whatever it is you are supposed to be doing. For a little while, at least.

Here’s a TED talk that’s right up my alley, about why digital communication, the internet and social media are sort of evil and make us more isolated.

Oh but here’s another talk about why the collaborations that are now available to us because of the internet are making incredible things possible.

Jon Stewart doesn’t understand why Fox (and CNN for that matter) seem all bent out of shape about the the new Syria peace plan. He’s confused about why avoiding a war is suddenly a bad thing. And so am I.

Check out this video of Paul Friedlander’s kinetic light sculptures. Maybe there are such things as wizards in England after all.

Despite it’s YouTube URL, this is not a video. It’s really great song called Some Place by a band called Nick Waterhouse and the Turn-Keys. They sound like they’re from the 60′s, but really they are from now, bless them.

Have you guys all seen the genius PSA Sarah Silverman and some friends made for “The Black NRA?”

Humidify me

stadler form humidifier

A humidifier that won’t bum you out every time you see it.

School starts tomorrow, and we’ve just gotten back to home base after basically two months away. So today is going to be spent trying to get ourselves together (school supplies, anyone?) The regular Monday links post will have to wait.

But while we’re on the topic of preparing for the upcoming seasons, here’s something else instead. Links coming soon…

I know it’s still hot and everything, but labor day has passed, the cold and flu season is quickly approaching and as I just happened upon this incredibly attractive humidifier (what?? seriously??) by Stadler Form, I figured I should share it with you all, should any of you perhaps be in the market for such an object.

Monday, monday: a celebration of labor

wwII riveters

Two women at work during World War II. Photo © Emmanuel Joseph.

In my life, Labor Day is generally a bittersweet day marking the end of summer. Bitter because the lazy afternoons on the beach or by somebody’s pool are pretty much done for a year. Sweet because school is about to start, meaning my days as sole care provider for my daughter are rapidly coming to an end.

Not that I don’t love hanging out with her, but, as anyone with a young kid can tell you, keeping up with them is a full time job in itself, let alone feeding them and preventing them from killing themselves by doing things like skateboarding across the street with their eyes closed or jumping into the deep end when they can’t swim.

I am exhausted, and am looking forward to a September full of more sleep, solo trips to the market and not having to squeeze my own work in between 6 and 8 am or 10 pm till midnight.

But I digress.

In reality, Labor Day is actually a celebration of, well, labor. And I am lucky lucky lucky to find myself surrounded by a bunch of women whose work is truly inspiring. So in honor of this auspicious holiday, please allow me to share some of the amazing things my friends are getting up to these days. — Read more