Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A few of my favorite things

Internet, did I tell you that I now have my mom’s old piano sitting in my living room? It was my 30th birthday present from my parents. The reason I tell you this, is because at 6:00pm when Daisy is both screaming (actually, it’s more of a screeching) and crying one of the only things that keep her quiet is playing “A few of my favorite things” over and over and over on the piano. I am dangerously close to having it memorized. So, with this song on repeat in my head these days, I thought I’d write a post on a few of MY favorite things because whiskers on kittens, while cute, aren’t one of my favorite things. But, soap.com, an alternative to the time-sucking and always packed Target, is. (No crowds, connected with Diapers.com, free next day shipping on orders over $49. NEXT DAY! Basically, it rocks.) But, then I realized that I already wrote a list of my favorite things last year. But, on this list are entirely NEW favorite things. Which, I guess happens when fourteen months; two new jobs and a new baby come into the picture. So, I thought I’d share. And, maybe, just maybe, they might also become your NEW favorite things.

Lunch Skins

I make J’s lunch every morning (I know, I know, he is so spoiled, and somehow he’s got me wrapped around his pinky finger!), and after years of buying plastic baggies or trying to re-use Ziploc disposable food containers (which are bulky for someone who walks to work), I have found these little lifesavers. I have now saved approximately 20 plastic baggies (go ahead, call me a tree hugger, I don’t mind) in the past few weeks. They are dishwasher safe (although, unless disgustingly messy, I’ll probably stick with hand-washing), made in the USA, moisture and grease proof. Did I mention they have tons of different designs and styles? No more boring brown paper and clear plastic for us.

Half Baked: The story of my nerves, my newborn, and how we both learned to breathe

Alright, going into this book, I knew it had a happy ending; otherwise, I might have not finished. This memoir is both incredibly touching and hysterically funny. While her story of infertility and childbirth were extreme, Alexa writes her memoir in such a way that anybody who has ever experienced baby lust, worry, anxiety, or motherhood could relate. This book is about infertility and death, family and science, self-discovery and grief, it is so much more than just that. It will make you think and discuss, and cry and laugh. The writing is amazingly well-written, clever, touching and hilarious considering the serious subject matter. This is a funny book, but it’s also a book about life and death and the thin edge between the two. While being a spectator to a stranger’s horrific tragedy, it forced me to think about my own good fortune, to not sweat the small stuff, and to wrap my arms around Daisy and hold her just a little bit longer. So, this book isn’t for those who can just relate, it’s for anyone who is willing to put their own struggles in perspective, and realize above all else, that even the worst-case scenarios are survivable, with a bit of humor to boot. And if you read this book and find yourself saying (as I did), “I could never do what she managed to do,” Alexa pipes in to respond: “You could so. Yes. And you would.” This book is about premature babies and motherhood is full of lessons, but not just lessons on motherhood and premature babies. These are lessons about life. Essentially, this book is too good to miss. Read this book; you won’t regret it.

Charlie’s Soap

My life these days revolves around laundry between spit up, cloth diapers, a mud-loving dog and my clumsy nature. And, I finally found a detergent that works well, is gentle enough for Daisy’s new skin, and doesn’t cost a fortune WITH less mess. All I can say is HALLELUJAH! (You can buy it at soap.com!) It works in both HE and Regular machines, takes the odor out of clothes, and fights stains (I recently mopped up a spill of cranberry juice with my WHITE dishtowel, and it came out of the wash perfectly white again.) Plus, I can use it on all our laundry: from delicates to play clothes (and cloth diapers!) There is no need for fabric softener, it’s environmentally friendly (no more big plastic bottle) and is absolutely fantastic for our family’s sensitive skin. My laundry room is tiny, with very little space to store anything, so because this detergent comes in a tiny 3 pound bag for 80 full loads of wash...it was like icing on the cake.

Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder

This is the perfect afternoon snack for Daisy. It keeps her little hands occupied and gives her something healthy to munch on. Daisy’s favorite is cold apples – a perfect alternative to a teething ring. From the reviews, I always rinse immediately after she’s finished, and I always hand-wash (even though it claims to be dishwasher safe).

Sarah’s Key

Honestly, I picked up this book because the title shared my name, but I fell for this book immediately. In the middle of reading this book, at breakfast with some friends, I said (out loud), “I actually almost cancelled because I wanted to stay home and read.” It may not have been polite, but it was the truth. This novel tells the story of a little-known period in the history of France where thousands of Jewish families were rounded up and forcibly kept in the Velodrome d’Hiver before being packed up to Auschwitz, a Nazi death camp. Yep, another book with a serious story line, but a novel that honors the unsung heroes who risked their lives to save others. The author, Tatiana de Rosney writes without melodrama, plot surprises, and excessive sentiment, but through a child’s viewpoint, which makes the writing more authentic and touching.

Gin & Tonic

Did I mention that Daisy’s been testing her vocal chords? Need I say more?

Love & Olive Oil

I am obsessed with this cooking blog. I checked it daily for their new recipes. My favorite are the apricot and white chocolate cookies (in fact, I have a stockpile of the dough in my freezer!) or the quinoa with mango & curried yogurt (perfect for a picnic), or the crispy black bean tacos with feta & cabbage slaw. I really want to try the butternut squash and vanilla risotto sometime soon as well and the Mexican chocolate and almond ice cream. Besides the gorgeous pictures and unique recipes, I love the writing style, and the authenticity of the authors (a Nashville based husband and wife team.) I also want to visit their cool loft. What can I say, I’m obsessed. And, maybe, somewhat stalker-ish.


Have you all heard of Groupon? I’ve become a little obsessed with Groupon, if we’re being honest. I’ve never been able to get into couponing, or becoming a member of other shipping sites, but alright: I love this site. It works like this, the company offers a single deal each morning in each of its many local markets. There are something like 80 cities featured. It could be $50 worth of yoga lessons for $25, or a discount for a car wash. If enough people purchase the coupon, the deal is “on,” which usually always happens – and most of the time a year to use it. I get the one for Los Angeles, but I sometimes browse some of the other cities. For example, I recently bought one for soap.com from the Long Island, NY Groupon. You’ve got a day to buy the Groupon, and most of the time, a year to use it. I’ve seen Groupons for massages (okay, okay, I bought that one!) cupcakes, language courses, flower delivers, Gap, and lots and lots of pizza. I try to only buy Groupon’s for something that I’ll actually use (like, I rarely buy the pizza ones since I’m committed to my local pizza delivery). But, if you like to score a deal (and trust me, I like nothing more), have a look and see what you think. I guess my only regret is that I didn’t think of this first.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October: Are you doing your spring cleaning?

In large part just because it’s October, but to some extent because we’ve got the holidays looming and am chomping at the bit for something I can control, I have been tidying up my life for the last week or so. I have cleaned out my closet with extraordinary results, and though I have yet to take the bag of donations to the thrift store down the street, I have got plans to do so soon, and I think you’ll agree this should count. I have shredded old paperwork no longer needed (I don’t think I need those checking account statements from 2003), taken apart the inside of my refrigerator and washed every single piece in the sink before putting it back together again, and have made three to-do lists – Home, General, and Freelance – from which I plan to tackle a few items every day.

I have ordered all my Christmas cards, have almost caught up on email and paperwork (hold on, Santa Monica, I paid that parking ticket yesterday!), have reorganized the ridiculously disastrous hall closets (almost!), have indulged in some fairly fruitless pantry organization and some less fruitless baby proofing, and have discovered that I may be the only person in the world who has (finally) thrown out their never-ending stash of Christmas gift bags in October when the rest of the world continues to stockpiling them. In addition, I identified the three biggest things that make our house messy and stress us me out to the point of distraction – errant dog hair, miscellaneous dust and office clutter – and I am working on solutions for two of them (a renewed commitment to dusting for the second, and putting away stuff instead of leaving it half-hazard in the office. For the first one? We got nothing. A lint brush? A better vacuum? Because the dog stays.)

And I have been tidying up myself too. I have been feeling quite moody and stressed out and on the verge of grumpy-ness for weeks now. So, I have started taking time to enjoy the little things. First, I made an appointment to get my hair cut and styled (granted, it’s not until December, but hey...I don’t have much baby-free time these days), last weekend I left Daisy in the very capable hands of Daddy, and indulged a long walk with an old friend and then followed my tired feet up with a pedicure, and I purchased a Groupon for a massage in the somewhat-not-so-distant-future. Hopefully this will help with the massive head-aches I’ve been experiencing. Also, Casey, Daisy and I have begun taking a lunch-time walk to the park for a picnic.

IMG00050 (3)

Parenthood is hard work. I had just settled into a full-time mommy, part-time freelance writer/editor routine when the semester started back up. And you know what? Teaching a full-load and full-time mommy-hood is exhausting. Not to mention that my freelance work has picked up. Hey, I’m not complaining, someone has to pay off those school loans, so I’m grateful for the work. But, I find myself staring at a computer, shoving toy after toy at Daisy to keep her fussiness at bay, in order to get just a little more done So, I have vowed to start saying no to excess busyness, taking time each day to relax with a cup of tea, and some fun toys and books with Daisy to just enjoy her. She’s only little for a short time, and I don’t want to miss it because I was in a stressed out irritable haze.

And yes, it’s sort of woo-woo Oprah-ish and certainly not the sort of stoic, always being productive household I was raised in, but you know the saying, “motherhood is part joy and part guerrilla warfare.”