Monday, January 25, 2010


click on image to enlarge

This photograph was taken some time ago; right now the wall is clear.

I'm starting a new series of self portraits this week, so I'm looking at the images I've collected over the years, choosing some to pin up on the studio wall for inspiration. I like to pin a bunch of images up for when my eyes and thoughts wander.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

How I Know I'm A Blogging Addict

Cake and Chips have a party.

At the supermarket the other day, rushing through to pick up a few things while a friend watched the girls, I saw this scene. I walked a few steps past it, but couldn't resist. I walked back, took out my camera and snapped some pics.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Snow Town

Even though lots of folks around the country are having record snow years, ours has been a bit flaky. Last night, things got a little more to our liking, a little more snowflaky.

The girls and their friends from across the street took advantage of the sticky stuff to get to work. They asked me if they could use our big wheelbarrow to bring some fallen snowmen parts from across the street. I said no. A little later, I hear from inside the house, their voices asking the older neighbor if he had a wheelbarrow they could borrow. He said yes!

A sweet winter scene in the neighborhood. More of this, please.


For Hayley


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Baker's Fail

It still tasted delicious, though! I have to go pick up the girls, so I'll have to tell you the story later.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

East Meets West Meets West Meets East

Tonight's menu
noodles in chicken stock
vegetable potstickers
heavenly salad

Lately, when choosing movies at Pleasant Street Video for family movie night, the girls are all anime, all the time.

This means that they want to eat with chopsticks whenever possible. It also means something that might surprise their Italian relatives: for the first time ever, they like spaghetti noodles (or as we call them, slurpy noodles). I have just been cooking them simply in chicken stock. The girls love to eat the noodles with their chopsticks and drink the broth from the bowl.

The vegetable potstickers are from Trader Joe's, served with soy sauce and hot sauce.

So what do I really want to tell you about?

The heavenly salad.

Oh my.

The girls like steamed broccoli, but they only like the tree tops, not the trunks (perhaps from too many meals convincing them they were giraffes or dinosaurs to get them to eat their greens). I like eating the trunks raw for a snack, but even I can't eat that many. Tonight, I decided to make some kind of broccoli slaw. I ended up with this amazing dish that made me so very happy.

Heavenly Salad

8-10 broccoli trunks, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large carrot, grated
1 meyer lemon, zest & juice
1 Tbs honey (more or less)
fresh ginger, peeled & grated (add as much as you like!)
fresh ground black pepper

That's it! Combine & inhale, I mean, enjoy. Actually, inhaling it did transport me to my mother's lemon trees in California, which took the chill out of this cold winter's day.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cornbread and Coffee

It is possible that my future may be gluten-free. Or perhaps I'll find a way to make moderation work for me. How could I live a life without the foods I love? Pie? Bread? Pasta? Pizza? As I struggle to find balance, I continue to experiment in the kitchen.

Cornbread with Chocolate

I used the basic cornbread recipe with slight modifications.

2 cups cornmeal (I used 1 cup corn flour & 1 cup cornmeal)
1 tsp salt (I used a little less than a teaspoon, 'cause that's how I roll)
2 tsp baking powder

1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk (I used 1/2 cup plain lowfat yogurt thinned with 1/2 cup water)
1/4 cup veg oil or melted butter (I used melted butter, of course!)

Preheat oven 400°. Grease 9x9 square pan. Combine dry ingredients. In separate bowl, combine wet ingredients. Add wet to dry, mix. Pour into pan. Bake 20-25 minutes.

Melting the chocolate on top was a last minute inspiration. The girls had recently found in my studio a couple of old tins of dark chocolate wedges (with ancho & chipolte chiles & korintji cinnamon) that I had impulse-bought in the Trader Joe's checkout line and forgotten about.

I chopped up the wedges, sprinkled them on top the baked cornbread and stuck it back in the still-warm oven for a minute or so. Then I spread it around like frosting. Yum.


Picture of chocolates found here.

A Curative to the "Why Me?"s

Tsutomu Yamaguchi

Read this as often as needed.

Survivor of 2 Atomic Bombs Dies at 93

Published: January 6, 2010

HONG KONG — Tsutomu Yamaguchi , the only official survivor of both atomic blasts to hit Japan in World War II , died Monday in Nagasaki, Japan.

The cause was stomach cancer, his daughter said on Wednesday. He was 93.

Mr. Yamaguchi, as a 29-year-old engineer for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, was on a business trip in Hiroshima when the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on the morning of Aug. 6, 1945. He was getting off a streetcar when the “Little Boy” device detonated above Hiroshima.

Mr. Yamaguchi said he was less than 2 miles away from ground zero. His eardrums were ruptured and his upper torso was burned by the blast, which destroyed most of the city’s buildings and killed 80,000 people.

Mr. Yamaguchi spent the night in a Hiroshima bomb shelter and returned to his hometown of Nagasaki the following day, according to interviews he gave over the years. The second bomb, known as “Fat Man,” was dropped on Nagasaki on Aug. 9, killing 70,000 people there.

Mr. Yamaguchi was in his Nagasaki office, telling his boss about the Hiroshima blast, when “suddenly the same white light filled the room,” he said in an interview last March with The Independent newspaper.

Rest in Peace.

Picture of Mr. Yamaguchi found here.

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Mother's Stolen Moments

We did it.

After their twelve days of Christmas vacation, the girls are back in school today. Perhaps because I was dreading a morning battle from girls who'd gotten a little too used to staying up late and sleeping in, this morning ended up being one of our easiest ever. As the 9yo pointed out, the ease of the morning was aided by the fact that I got up with the alarm, so that I had some quiet time alone before I had to wake and ring-lead the girls. It is often hard for me to remember, when I'm snuggled in my comforter, that a half hour up in the house alone is worth more to my sanity than another half hour of sleep.

And now, for the first time since three o'clock on the twenty third of December (who's counting?), I have a stolen moment completely alone in my house. Ah.

As a single mother with no family nearby, school vacations often mean a lot of togetherness for our family. Some moments are wonderful, like this little adventure we had in town the other day, and some moments, I'm shocked by my shock at the way two sisters can treat each other.

In our small house, we all need to find the space and time to be alone. It isn't easy. And though the girls can play happily for hours together in their room, we've yet to figure out a way for each of them to have some one on one time with me. It is a gift we all need to figure out how to give each other, a goal for the new year.

My mother made the wooden figure above as a gift for me some years ago (I'm her honky tonk angel). I honestly can't remember whether we had precious one on one mother-daughter moments together when I was growing up. As an adult, I've lived on the opposite coast, and so we only see each other once a year. How lovely it would be to share a stolen mother-daughter moment with her now.

Right now, though, with the house so calm and quiet, I think I'll steal a moment to practice guitar.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Women and Competition

A friend of mine recently started a blog. She has a lot of interesting things to say. I wish her much success. Please visit her at Life on the Bus, when you get the chance and leave a comment if you can.

Though we've never met in real life, this woman and I are virtual friends, courtesy of the community at yet another blog. We see each other daily on Al Gore's internet.

It is an internet tradition with which many are aware that folks with blogs take every opportunity to blogwhore, to try to drive up traffic to their site, and hopefully receive comments. However, my friend was unhappy when I echoed* her pleas for visits and comments to her blog with pleas of my own. Although she insisted that she fled from competition, she also chose to characterize my typical blogwhore silliness as competition. She contrasted competition with kindness, asking me for "more kindness, less competition."

My question is whether she would've called out our male blogging friends in the same manner. When she claimed I was being competitive, I heard it as an accusation. Are women not allowed to be competitive? Although I didn't see my behavior as competitive, merely friendly teasing, were we both denying our competitiveness for fear of being perceived as unkind?

A wise woman blogging friend of mine addresses these issues much more articulately than I do over at her blog.

I do not have a sitemeter for this blog, so the only way I know anyone has been here is through comments. Another wise blogging friend left a comment on this post of mine where I bemoaned the lack of comments:

You cannot blog with ANY expectation that anybody will actually read what you write. I doubt that, on any kind of average, I get more than .5 comments per post.

you blog cuz you just gotta write it down; or at least have something you wanna/gotta show the universe.

And he also gave me a compliment that I ate up with a big spoon:

A real special place you got here, Ina...

Yes, we blog because we can. Let's all share the blogging love. Otherwise, I think it may be time for another bloggers ethics panel.


*pun intended

mud wrestler pic found here.

Just A Little More Holiday Spirit

It is warm and cozy here in the house.

But, baby, it's cold outside.

It's so cold, in fact, that the bathroom pipes have frozen yet again. I have been turning off the water main and opening the pipes at night, hoping that would keep things from freezing. It has worked until last night. So now I've had the space heater running all day in the hole in the ground. The good news is: the pipes haven't burst yet. The bad news is: the girls really need their Sunday bath before the go back to school tomorrow. I guess I could go buy some water and boil it on the stove for them. I know I could live this way if I hadn't gotten used to living the easy way.

Update: Yay! I just went to check one last time before giving up for today, as the temps continue to drop, and it worked! We have water! Thank you thank you plumbing goddesses. Now to do the dishes and bathe the children.


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Another in a Series of Self Portraits with Produce

Winter Treasure

This morning's plan was to wake early and go to the dump. Then go to Jake's for breakfast. Instead, we slept late and woke to a blanket of new snow. We decided to skip the dump and walk into town for breakfast. But first, I had a morning dose of internet where I learned that today's date is a palindrome: 01022010 and that our town has a winter farmer's market (but I didn't know where).

When we got into town and rounded the corner, I saw this sign.

We went to breakfast first. Then we came to check out the market. It was fun to see summer's outdoor scene transposed to this winter indoor hall. Familiar faces stood beside familiar treats and treasures. A small band played quietly in a corner. It was good to see old friends Michael and Lynn on my side of the river. In my version of local-lore, they are the farm share pioneers of our valley, having started the food bank farm. Now they are moving on to their next adventure.

We made the circuit, checking out each vendor in the hall. The 9yo fell in love with a piece of sheepskin. The 7yo wanted a bouquet of rosemary. Guess which treasure I was able to buy? I also bought other delicious treasures, and then we took the long shortcut home.

Once we came in from the snow, we enjoyed the fruits of our labors, thanks to the labor of our local farmers: apples, carrots, and big slabs of rosemary bread.


Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

The girls really wanted to try to stay up until midnight this year. They played happily for most of the evening, then definitely started to run out of steam about 10:30. They decided to have some snacks and put on "A Bug's Life." They got a little too comfy. The 9yo fell asleep. The 7yo's eyes started to close.

It was almost midnight when I found earthcam's live online streaming of the ball in Time Square. The 9yo woke up. We all rallied. We snuggled on the couch. We counted.






5... in stream...

Happy New Year!

Wishing all of us a bright 2010.