Thursday, February 7, 2008

My Interview with "From Smiler, with Love!"

When I started participating in the meme Thursday 13 I was immediately drawn to Smiler's blog. She is a world traveler, a talented writer, posts about stuff I never knew existed - and poses in the bathtub! She's way cooler and smarter than I ever hope to be, and this was my chance to pick her brain on how she thinks the universe, or at least blogging, opperates.

Q: Why did you start a blog?
I started From Smiler, with Love to help me communicate with friends and close family members who live all over the world. It allows me to easily exchange with my mother who lives in France on a daily basis. She’s a writer and we enjoy bouncing ideas off each other. My father who lives in Israel is also a regular reader. Another reason I started this blog was because I needed a creative project that could encompass my eclectic tastes. I worked in magazine publishing for a number of years so it seemed like a natural fit, while giving me the kind of freedom I could only dream of when working with print.

Q: What has blogging brought to your life?
It’s given me a sense of continuity. I’ve traveled and changed living arrangements many times in my life, so it’s nice to know that wherever I go, the blog will still be there, and that I’ll still have access to some of the people I enjoy exchanging with regularly. It’s also given me a place where I can put down seemingly random things, and write out some of my memories and somehow find a continuous narrative through it all. That’s ended up being very therapeutic for me, especially when I find other readers responding to some of my experiences.

Q: What advice do you have for new bloggers?
Keep in mind that there isn’t a “right” and a “wrong” way to blog, so don’t be afraid to explore and experiment. Visiting other blogs will give you an idea of what some of the possibilities are for your own blog. I’d say do keep in mind though that everything you write on your blog ends up on the web and you have no control over who reads it so if you’re not sure you should share certain things, it’s best to save a draft and come back to it again fresh. Also, don’t worry about traffic at first. That takes a while to get going and gives you the opportunity to build up content so when new visitors come they’ll find more reasons to want to come back.

Q: What are your favorite blogs?
There are too many to name here which is why I’ve created a page especially for all my links which is aptly named Link Love

Q: I see motherhood as…
A lot of work! I seriously admire moms who are able to be so giving and put their own needs second, as is usually required, especially if there are young children to take care of. I don’t think every woman is necessarily cut out to be a mother and I came to the conclusion I was one of those. I’d rather put what little energy I have into creative projects such as writing, photography and painting. I’m always very careful when I talk about that around moms because I don’t want to make anybody feel like I don’t aprove of their choices which couldn’t be further from the truth. I just think to each her own and we’re amazingly lucky to live in a society where we can make those choices for ourselves.

Q: What keeps you going?
I’m a student of life. A lot of times just getting out of bed seems like a major accomplishment since I’ve been battling with a serious mood disorder all my life and the depressions are debilitating. But no matter what, there’s always something new to discover. Everything is an inspiration to me and I see many things as possible material for a creative project. That’s what keeps me going. If there were nothing to feed my curiosity and no outlets for my creativity, I don’t think I’d be interested in going on. Luckily it’s not possible to ever run out of either.

Q: Name an artist, photographer, musician, or author that you like or admire:
I’ll name just one from each category (it’s hard enough to narrow it down to one!)
Designer: Milton Glaser. Because he’s more than an artist or a designer, he’s a mastermind.
Photographer: Margaret Bourke-White. For a long time photography was practiced almost exclusively by men. She was one of the great women pioneers in news photography.
Musician: impossible to narrow down, but I’ll say Schubert (composer)
Author: Kahlil Gibran (for The Prophet)

Q: What inspires you?
Practically everything! Travel, nature, city, people, animals, objects. The one which usually blocks my creativity is an office setting.

Q: If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and what would you do there?
I actually posted a partial list of 13 places for TT a few weeks ago. I’d really love to go to India eventually take photographs and stay in an ashram for a few weeks. But more immediately I’d like to go to France to see my mother and spend some time in Israel to see my dad.

Q: What's your favorite gift to give?
We’ve never been big gift givers in my family, but I like giving books mostly.

Q: In 2008 …
I’ll continue living one day and one moment at a time.

-- Peace, love & namaste!

Please be sure to check out some of my interviews including:

Saturday, February 2, 2008


Too much going on -- I need to take a break until Friday.

Please check back with me then for my interview with the amazing Smiler!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

WFMW - Our RED Valentine's Day Menu

When it comes to holidays that are entwined with cuisine, Valentine’s Day ranks high on the list. We’ve been married too long to battle the crowds, and with this year’s Valentine’s Day falling during the week we’re celebrating with a simple RED meal at home. We’ll be lighting the candles (I believe in doing this EVERY night), putting on some nice music and quizzing the boys about what girls they might have a crush on.

Our Menu
Salad: Spring salad mix, Craisin’s cranberries, pine nuts and balsamic vinaigrette
Tomato-Basil Risotto
Chicken Parmesan
Red Velvet Cupcakes (see video)

Wisit other Works for Me Wednesday particpants here.

Friday, January 25, 2008

My Interview with Anne Glamore of My Tiny Kingdom!

If I could pick my neighbors, I’d want Anne Glamore, of My Tiny Kingdom fame, to live next door. She’s glamour-ous, loves her kids madly, and has a kick ass sense of humor. I read her blog so much that I’m afraid that if she checks her stats she’ll think I’m a stalker.

:: Why did you start a blog?

I did it because my friend, Halsted Sullivan, who is a Hollywood writer and thus very plugged in, suggested it. He'd been the recipient of many of my Tales over the years, and we'd talked about putting them together in book form. We'd get all excited about it, then I'd go off and have spine surgery, or twins, and the idea would get pushed aside.

In early 2005 he emailed me about blogs and told me I should start one. I looked at a couple and thought it was a great medium for me.

I viewed the blog as a way to discipline myself to write on a weekly basis, with the hope of developing an audience acting as a motivator. Halsted was convinced that publishers were trolling the web looking for writers, and that something bigger could develop.

Fifteen minutes after we concluded our emails back and forth, I set up the blog-- from work. (I'd never heard of Dooce.)

As it turned out, Halsted and I were both right. I've kept up a regular writing schedule for three years now, and I'd only been blogging for 5 months when I was contacted by a national women's website and asked to become one of their first five bloggers.

:: What has blogging brought to your life?

It sounds trite, but blogging has opened up a whole new world for me. I had no idea all these people were out there writing about knitting, or pottery, or cooking.

I've made friends blogging-- people I've never actually met but don't hesitate to call or email for advice, like Busymom, Suburban Turmoil, Boomama, and MetroDad.

Technical stuff is not my thing, but to the extent anyone's the expert in my house, it's now me. My HTML coding skills have been hard won. I've slogged through Flickr, installing ads, setting up Facebook and MySpace pages, and podcasting.

Blogging has also presented me with some fabulous opportunities: writing for iVillage, getting to speak at a seminar with Gay Talese and Richard Schickel, speaking engagements and writing assignments for local magazines.

I have a fantastic record of the last three years. I might not have remembered some really old stories, like the time I finally concluded Porter wasn't a complete idiot.

Blogging has made me a better writer, especially when I have a deadline. I'm also a more ruthless editor. I used to save every word. Now I'll write four paragraphs and realize that the last sentence is the beginning of the story and delete the rest without sobbing.

On days when I look around my house and think my whole life is Tostito crumbs and dresser drawers left open, I can look at my blog and see something I've accomplished that doesn't bleed, scream, complain, or ask for lunch money. It's a wonderful addition to the family.

:: What advice do you have for new bloggers?

My advice differs depending on a blogger's purpose. For this question, I'm going to assume that you're like me, and that you see the blog as more than just a place to spill your guts and drama.

From the beginning, I've hoped, and still do, that the blog would lead to bigger and better things. I've set goals for myself. The first year I learned how things worked technically, tried to find my voice, found a schedule that worked, and learned about creating a blogroll. Last year I worked on marketing the site, and really increased my readership. This year I'm expanding into podcasting and selling myself, not just my writing.

Listen to your readers, because they'll let you know what they enjoy reading and what doesn't quite work. Comments can teach you whether a joke came across or got lost. Occasionally I'll just ask a reader what they liked about something, and people have been great about responding. I often go back and edit old entries to improve them.

Read other sites, so you know what the new hot thing is and whether you want to try it, whether it's Twittering, the Blogrush widget, Feedjit, or whatever.

From the beginning, and until very recently, I viewed my blog as a place to publish "stories," and that's what I did. Twice a week I'd publish posts that are long by typical standards, and they'd be polished and edited. This is because I started by posting stories that had already been written, and then my iVillage columns were essay-like, not stream of consciousness. The result is that I've built up quite a portfolio of columns that are between 800 and 1500 words, which is great.

The down side is that I rarely published short posts that captured the mundane or frustrating parts of life, because I just wouldn't have time to write them up and polish them to my standards. I think readers enjoy those tiny moments, though, and so I'm trying to sprinkle in more posts that are just dashed off. Yesterday's post about the snow is an example. I'm a Type A lawyer, and I can get caught up in taking the whole thing so damn seriously! New bloggers should avoid that trap, as it will suck the life out of you. Plus, you'll burn lots of dinners and your family will protest.

:: What are your favorite blogs?

Dude! I have a feed reader full of blogs, but I don't mind hurting some feelings by pulling out a few as my particular favorites.

Consumerist- I'm hooked on this site, in which consumers tell tales of customer service woe. Sometimes a former employee of a national chain such as Best Buy (ALWAYS getting smacked on here) or Radio Shack will reveal how they're trained to treat customers. Maybe there will be a story about a store that refused to accept cash for a purchase and insisted on a credit card. Every once in a while they'll post emails and phone numbers of the head honchos at big corporations so a hapless customer can bomb the company with emails in an attempt to get justice. It's a kick.

Smitten Kitchen- Deb and I wrote together at iVillage and then she launched this beautiful cooking site. She has a post where she reveals how she creates such breathtaking food photos. I admire her ability to take them, because when I write about cooking I generally forget to take a picture until the meal has been eaten, and I just have a shot of a plate with a few crumbs. In case I forget to write about it myself, go read her post where she adapts The Red Cat's zucchini recipe, because Aunt Lulu and I made it over New Years and it totally rocked. Plus, Aunt Lulu says D'Agostino's carries zucchini already cut into matchsticks, so this dish is now super simple for those in New York City.

Perez Hilton- Yeah, I'm snobby and highbrow and read The New Yorker every week, but I've been known to panic when my US Weekly fails to arrive on time. I also need a daily shot of Perez, mainly to check on Amy Winehouse. He's as obsessed with her as I am, but has better sources.

Flotsam- She's a beautiful writer, whether she's being funny, which she frequently is, or whether she's going through an extremely tough time, as she is now. Her voice is true and distinct.

Pub Rants - I keep up with plenty of literary agents' sites. Kristin's is updated regularly, sounds like a note from an old friend, and often contains bits of wisdom that I hope to need in the future. She's located in Denver, which is unusual in that most agents are in NYC, but she has an enviable client list, so clearly her location is no drawback. Also, her music rocks.

:: Being a mom is…..

Being a mom is a job that requires me to argue with the persuasiveness of a lawyer, to pray with the fervor of a pastor, to mop blood automatically like a nurse, and to cook what's on the menu and accept both compliments and complaints like a chef. I issue orders brusquely like a captain, I rule on fashion choices with the certitude of Tim Gunn, I schedule activities with the expertise of Oprah's personal assistant. I rule in arguments with a judge's wisdom. I dispense money, factoring in fines and pay, with the mathematical genius of a CPA. The mom part comes in when you find yourself doing something you swore you'd never do, like pulling a booger out of your kid's nose, or spitting on your finger and wiping that smudge of Ovaltine off his mouth because it's picture day at school.

Mothering can consume you, but if being a mother is preventing you from making love, you’re carrying things way too far.

:: What keeps you going?

The alarm clock and the promise of the morning's first cup of coffee.

:: Name an artist, photographer, musician, or author that you like or admire.

It's hard to beat E.B. White's essays. They're simple and evocative. Plus, I'm in love with his dog, Fred.

:: What inspires you?

Whoa, that's a deep question.

:: If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and what would you do there?

I'd like to take the whole family to China. I've never been, and it would be thrilling to see a culture that's so different. We're way into trying wacky food, and China ought to provide plenty of opportunities for that. Most important, there's been a long-running debate in our family between the twins and Finn as to whether the Great Wall is held together by sticky rice (the twins' view) or a more standard substance such as mortar or mud. No one will be satisfied until we view it in person.

:: What's your favorite gift to give?

A book called Bitter With Baggage Seeks Same- The Life and Times of Some Chickens by Sloane Tanen.

In 2008… I'm going to keep cooking fancy dinners for my family, but I'm going to relax and not treat the recipe like the Bible. If the recipe calls for pearl onions, which are a pain in the ass to peel, and red wine, and I'm out, I'm tossing in regular onions or shallots and some port or sherry and the hell with it. It'll eat.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thursday 13 - Go Go Google Gadgets

Gadgets powered by Google are miniature objects created by users that that can be placed on your iGoogle homepage. Google is so good at this stuff I’m hoping they’ll move in and run my life. Thirteen of my favorite gadgets on my iGoogle pages include:

:: A reader link to 43 Folders
:: Recipe links to: Simply Recipes, My Recipies and CD Kitchen's crockpot recipes
:: Thinkmap's Visual Thesaurus to help improve my vocabulary.
:: National Geographic's Picture of the Day – incredibly inspiring
:: A reader link to Zen Habits. This site rocks my world.
:: A reader link to Lifehack because there is so much I don’t know.
:: Zytu's Interesting Photos of the Day from Flickr.
:: A weight Watchers point calendar (I joined WW last week)
:: Mark Mason's Daily Photo Tip
:: Brain candy for Artist of the Day
:: WikiHow's How to of the Day
:: My Google calendar and
:: Comedy Central's Joke of the Day. I am totally addicted to blonde jokes.

I’m sure I’m missing some great ones. Are there any you recommend? Which ones can you not live without?

Link to other Thursday Thirteen Participants here.
Please check back here tomorrow when I post
my interview with Anne Glamore of
My Tiny Kingdom!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Looking for a free version to your phone service's 411? Try Google's version for business numbers and locations by calling 1-800-GOOG-411. Check it out for yourself or watch this clip for more information:

YouTube - 1-800-GOOG-411: Google's 411 service

Please check back here Friday when I post
my interview with Anne Glamore of My Tiny Kingdom!
And be sure to check out my post Friday featuring
my interview with Ann Kroeker!
She has a lot of good information for bloggers!
Check out other great ideas at Shannon's Works for Me Wednesday
on her blog Rocks in My Dryer.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Honoring Dr. King

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

- Dr. Martin Luther King
I Have a Dream

-------------- The colors of my class --------------

Saturday, January 19, 2008

This Week

:: When I saw my friend Elizabeth on Monday my jaw dropped. She got a sassy new haircut and looks amazingly similar to Princess Di. After squeals she bragged that losing 30 pounds didn't hurt. Her secret? Weight Watchers. Motivated by her success, I went with her Tuesday night and signed up. I chose the Flex Plan and can only eat 21 points a day. That night I went out and ate a giant chicken taco salad with the works. Wednesday I failed because I haven't set up any food/meals. This is going to be HARD, but I want to lose the 10+ pounds I've put on this school year.
:: Dinner out with another couple at a Spanish tapas restaurant dining on lamb chops, calamari, peppered tuna, and more. The sangria tasted amazing with bits of passion fruit. For dessert? Bread pudding and some other thing I was too stuffed to try. I was fortunate enough to go to college in Spain, and I miss it. Going out for Spanish food brings back a rush of good memories.
:: A party at a friends. With a mime, face painter and a reptile guy I felt like a kid again. I posted a couple of pictures on my Flickr account. A few months ago I got a Canon Powershot and I neglected to read the manual. I inadverently pushed one of the modes and couldn't figure out how to get it back. I missed some great shots that night, but now I've read the manual cover to cover.
:: Taking a photo each morning for my Flickr Project 365
:: I finished report cards!
: Building electric circuits with my class
:: Reese had his first real heartbreak when he didn't get into a play he auditioned for. While he was home with the babysitter after school he opened the letter expecting good news. I was proud that he dealt with his sadness by tearing up the letter and burying it in the backyard.
:: I found a beautiful topaz bracelet at an antique mall. My friend Lynne eyes the same color, and I'm going to save it for her birthday next August.
: The boys had their Scouting Pinewood Derby last night. My husband spent many a sleepless night this week.
:: My monthly Bunco game. I always feel too exhausted to go, but once I'm there I am always uplifted by the most amazing group of women anyone could be blessed to know.
:: Listening to Fleetwood Mac's Tusk blasting from the car stereo
:: Finally, I had a conversation with a parent who was upset because I assigned her daughter Freaky Friday for a book report. I hadn't read the book in years, and apparently she was offended by some of the dated language. I've pulled the book from my classroom bookshelf because I didn't feel comfortable keeping it, but I also don't feel comfortable banning a book either. I wasn't surprised that when I "Googled" this topic that this issue has come up about the same book in other schools.
:: Posting an interview with blogger and writer Ann Kroeker!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

My Interview with Ann Kroeker!

I first discovered Ann Kroeker through Shannon's blog Rock in my Dryer, and her weekly community blog carnival, Works for Me Wednesday. I was immediately drawn in by her writing, and I wasn't surprised when I discovered that she is a professional author. She has the book The Contemplative Mom: Restoring Rich Relationship with God in the Midst of Motherhood and many magazine articles. In addition to her freelance career Ann gives speeches, and is the mother of three children. She's brilliant, beautiful and creative.

:: Why did you start a blog?
I started a blog back in 2003 because my editor highly recommended that his authors use them to build name recognition. I’d never heard of a blog and faked it when he suggested it. “Oh, sure…a blog. Okay.” Then I quickly turned to Google in search of a definition. At that time, early in the history of blogdom, blogs had just barely evolved from techies sharing cool links with each other to diarists pouring out their intimate life details. Each group kind of looked down on the other. I took inspiration from the original intent of the techies and tried to provide interesting links, but found myself wanting to tell stories like the diarists, so I’d mix it up a bit. My main goals were to:
1. Gain regular writing practice.
2. Experiment with metaphor, tone, pace, humor.
3. Write posts that in some way complement or enhance off-line writing projects.
4. Download wide-ranging ideas that flit through my mind on any given day. The blog became a wonderful repository for these thoughts that are prompted by daily curiosity.
5. Be helpful in some way to a broader audience than my family.
6. As my editor suggested, build some name recognition. That’s why I chose to use Ann Kroeker for the name of my blog. It’s not cute or clever, but hopefully you’ll recognize my name when you see it floating around on the Internet.

:: What has blogging brought to your life?
After years of blogging, I’ve been able to gain from all of those goals that I listed, experimenting and hopefully improving my writing skills through regular practice. I’ve had the pleasure of reading comments that something I’ve written is helpful, thought-provoking or encouraging to someone—that’s always a wonderful thrill. Plus, I’ve met like-minded people who seem to share some of my interests. I’ve come to appreciate the power of communication and learned about all the technology that’s available, even though I don’t really utilize much of it. I’ve been inspired by the knowledge, creativity, and talent of other bloggers I’ve gotten to know. It’s a connection, I guess; albeit virtual. I guess that’s what I love most about it—all the connections with people.

:: What advice do you have for new bloggers?
· Don’t worry if nobody comes to visit other than a best friend and your mom; it’s a great time to experiment. As you find your voice and define your purpose, you can set more goals and be more intentional and proactive about the whole thing.
· Learn everything you can about available technology (surveys, link gadgets like WFMW’s Mr. Linky, podcasts, etc.) and try out anything of interest.
· Unless it’s part of your job, don’t let it take over your days. And don’t substitute it for real life. Spend time with and nurture the people whose eyes you can look into and want to meet you for coffee.
· Everything you write has a consequence, so be careful what you publish. Read what others say about being careful with personal information. You can always say more, but you can’t take back what you’ve already published to the World Wide Web. Think, also, of how your words might affect a key person in your life—if you’re married, will something you write affect your husband’s reputation and negatively impact his career? Or your own? Or your children’s future careers? My mother-in-law warned me to be careful what stories I include in any of my writing projects (to avoid embarrassment later in life), so I discussed with the children about what they were and were not comfortable with, and I often wait for their approval before clicking publish. Even though I don’t name the protagonist of some funny incident, her grandparents can certainly figure out which one I’m talking about. I want them to feel okay about it being out there. I guess it’s summed up with this: respect people’s privacy, and think about the consequences of your words.

:: What are your favorite blogs?
·Visit my site and check out my blogroll!

:: Being a mom is…..
· …so complex, it can’t possibly be reduced to one paragraph or statement. I don’t even know where to start. This feels like the start of a twelve-part series moms should attempt on their blogs. Then again, maybe that’s what moms are attempting to capture, day after day as they post.

:: What keeps you going?
· As a blogger, or a mom?

:: Name an artist, photographer, musician, or author that you like or admire.
Just one? I find that I take away such different treasures from so many writers, it’s impossible to narrow down to one. Or even two. One person might dazzle me with her skill, though I wouldn’t want to use the same language. Another guy impresses me with his insight, though maybe his writing skills aren’t anything to showcase at a writer’s conference. Someone else might make me laugh, and another makes me think, and a third makes me weep. As a result, almost every book I come into contact with offers me something useful.

:: What inspires you?
As a working writer, I can’t wait around to be struck by inspiration. I have to turn out materials whether or not I feel inspired. Practically speaking, I collect articles (see my recent WFMW post) with content that generates an internal response in me that I want to explore in the blog. My kids inspire posts for the blog quite often, as do conversations with friends that get me thinking. Inspiration and ideas could come from anywhere; I just try to be receptive. I try to live slowly and deliberately enough to pay attention. When I’m running too fast, I miss it. When I slow down, I notice much more.

:: If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and what would you do there?
· I’ve never been to some tropical paradise in the Caribbean. I’d go with The Belgian Wonder, walk along the beaches and in the water. Swim. Maybe try snorkeling. Lounge in a hammock and read. Eat fresh fruit. Get my hair braided.
· Or I’d go to New Zealand and Australia. I’d hike and enjoy the coast and sightsee and talk with people.
· Or I’d travel to California and see some Redwoods. I fear I’ll live my whole life and never admire a California Redwood up close and in person. Runner’s World magazine has a page in every issue that shows a runner passing through some spectacular setting—a “Rave Run.” One of those photographs showed a guy running through a Redwood Forest, and I stared at it for a while. The pull was powerful; I really wanted to be in his shoes, dwarfed while running amidst those giant, ancient sequoias.

:: What's your favorite gift to give?
I’m not a big gift giver in a traditional sense—my gifts are usually in the form of time together listening and talking. I love having a good friend over and making a pot of tea, setting out some treats, and then sitting down to get to know each other better. I’m very practical, so in terms of tangible gifts, I used to enjoy putting together themed gift baskets, but I’ve gotten away from that. Perhaps your question is inspiring me! I recently noted some great gift basket ideas over at Meredith’s (Like Merchant Ships).

:: In 2008 …
Lord willing…
· By the end of the year, I will have completed a book project that will be nearing its release date.
· I’ll be reasonably fit from training for a half-marathon in the spring.
· I’ll try out some new blog technology.
· Travel with my family (but, sadly, not to the Caribbean, New Zealand, or the California Redwood Forests).
· Laugh a lot with my kids.
· And I’ll make a bunch of new blog-friends, like you!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Thursday 13 - My Favorite Online Magazine Sites

Part of what I've been blogging about this week is my addiction to magazines. Saturday I posted about my yearly treasure map using magazing clippings, and yesterday for Works for Me Wednesday I posted about my clippings notebooks.

I also love that magazines now have special features and access to some of their content available online. The following are 13 of my favorite magazine websites.

:: Real Simple - Amazing tips and ideas

:: O Magazine - She has improved my life. I was thrilled when I read this week that she'll be launching a second television network in 2009.

:: People - this is bookmarked on my iGoogle page to check out the latest gossip daily

:: Southern Living and Midwest Living - great recipies, decorating and travel tips

:: Martha Stewart. Martha now has a blog too!

:: Family Circle - My favorite magazine for suggestions that you can do in "real" life. Get six healthy slow cooker recipies here.

:: Family Fun - They have the best ideas for holiday crafts to do with your kids. Get ideas for homemade valentines here.

:: Cooking Light - I like their lifestyle suggestions even more than their recipies. Be sure to check out this month's cooking class video on braising here.

:: Bon Appétit -A foodie's dream. They seem to have revamped their format, and I can't get enough. The February issue has a great recipe for banana cream pie.

:: National Geographic - We get the adult and kid version at home, and I love getting their daily photo link on my iGoogle page.

:: Mary Englebreit's Home Companion - Great crafts and I love to read about real artist's lives.)

:: Country Living - Eye candy every month. Every month I find my dream home amongst their pages. Online this month be sure to check out Melissa Newfeld's printable vintage valentines.

:: Woman's Day - My second favorite magazine for suggestions that you can do in "real" life. This month be sure to check out the video they have on meals in minutes.

And for even more fun ...
be sure to check out other Thursday Thirteen participants!
Please come back tomorrow when I
post an interview with

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

WFMW - Magazine Clippings Binders

A few of my clippings magazine: Christmas,
Decorating, Crafts & Gifts, and Inspiration I&II

My heart pounds every time I enter the magazine section of the bookstore. I just know I’m going to solve all my problems in 10 simple steps, add the word “organize” to the cover I can’t get to the checkout fast enough.

My magazine addiction goes back to reading issues of Highlights and Cricket when I was little, changing Young Miss, Dynamite and Tiger Beat during my teen years. As a teen I spent hours I plastered my door with images of Leif Garret and Andy Gibb, and I remember learning about what not to do while dating from reading YM’s "Boy, Was My Face Red" column.

I started my clippings binders when I was in junior high, and in my Christmas binder I have craft ideas going back to the early 80’s. I can’t throw them away because it connects me to who I was at a time when my biggest worry was which flavor of Bonnie Bell lip-gloss I was going to wear.

A high school friend called recently to reminisce, and I felt embarassed when she asked me if I still collected magazine articles in binders. I don’t know why, but my initial reaction was to lie, to hide my addiction to being new and improved. Fortunately she said that she has several and thinks of me every time she uses them.

Titles for my over-filled binders include Cooking, Decorating, Exercise (I don’t think I’ve ever actually reread any of them, but they’re there – LOL), Gifts & Crafts (I am not crafty, but I love the idea of it), Photography (with the advent of Flickr I haven’t added to it in years), Seasons & Holidays (with an additional one for Christmas), multiple FlyLady Control Notebooks that I have good intentions of making work, and Inspiration (with a additional binder for Oprah’s "What I Know" and Martha Beck columns from O mag). I also have a box of writing ideas/story prompts for journaling. I try to put the best articles in page protectors, and I’ve covered each binder with pretty scrapbooking supply paper.

Finally, I have a box of clippings of images from magazines that I fall in love with. On Saturday I wrote about my annual treasure map collage, and I also like to keep them for inspiration for my photography.

Does anyone else reading this post do this?

I had a lot of fun reading your blogs, and checking out many I hadn't heard of.
Works for me Wednesday gals ROCK! Check them out at Rocks in My Dryer.
Saturday I posted about how I enjoy saving images from magazines to make into
my annual Treasure Map (inspired by the book "Sinmple Abundance").
Tomorrow I'm going to post about my favorite magazine's web sites for Thursday 13.

My Desk is a Mess

This is what happens after missing days last week while I was home with Will while he was sick. Report cards are due, there are stories to edit (the kids are currently writing stories to accompany their own versions of American Gothic that they made in art class), books to be read (I'm currently reading The Egypt Game for our mystery genre study), Dr. King projects to finish, circuit projects to build, and math games to play. It's the bestest job in the world.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

This Week

:: Will got pneumonia on Tuesday and his fever quickly shot up to 104. After a visit to the pediatric ER to get x-rays he was sent home with an inhaler and some heavy antibiotics. By Thursday he was back to himself, aside from the cough. Whew.
:: Knowing my class was in the hands of one of my Districts best subs ever. I barely had to plan a thing.
:: After school play dates for our healthy child
:: Trader Joe's chocolate ice cream and meringues from my mother-in-law dropped off by mother-in-law
:: Holiday cards still trickling into our mailbox, including one from a friend I adored from summer camp in Maine. I cried when I saw her familiar, sunny face.
:: Two massages at Massage Envy. I'm a knotty girl.
:: A pedicure with OPI's Midnight in Moscow
:: Sweet potatoes baked on the bbq.
:: Minestrone soup.
:: Listening to Sara Bareillis' Love Song and Ingrid Michaelson's The Way I Am
:: Keeping up with taking a photo a day for my Flickr Project 365. Anyone can jump in on the Project at any time. I joined to remember to work daily on my photography and to notice my life more. I was inspired by Alicia Alferman and Heather Smith Jones' Noticing Project that I linked to via Alicia's blog Mayfly. I didn't discover the inspirational photo blog 3191, A Year of Mornings, until recently, and now it's finished. I'm hoping to find new inspiration through the Noticing Project.
:: A new stack of magazines
:: Posting my first blog interview: be sure to check out Janet of A Slice of Pink
:: Working on my 2008 Treasure Map. I started making these in 1999 (maybe before) while Reading Sarah Ban Breathnach's Simple Abundance. She writes: "A personal treasure map is a collage of your ideal life that you create as a visual tool to focus creative energy in the direction you want to go...When making your personal treasure map, think fun. Think delight. Think seven years old. This is not an intellectual exercise in existentialism. This is a wish list to the Universe." Here are my treasure maps for this year and the past two years:
Have you ever made a treasure map? Even if you haven't, what images or words would you include? Any other Simple Abundance fans reading this post?

My Interview with Janet Wallace from A Slice of Pink

When I first discovered blogs I fell in bloggy love with Janet Wallace from A Slice of Pink. Janet, a semi newlywed, recently left teaching high school photography, and coaching the school’s robotic team, to purse her law degree. She is cute as a button, has a black belt in shopping, and a continuous sunny outlook on life.

:: Why did you start a blog?
I was bored! I worked in an office job with a substantial amount of free time to waste on the Internet. Also, my husband told me that blogging was "the wave of the future" and, being an Aquarius, I like all things futuristic and ultramodern.
:: What has blogging brought to your life?
Blogging is a great creative outlet for me. When I was a little girl, I would create little magazines and newsletters out of construction paper, paste, and photographs. I loved taking those little "All About You" quizzes in teen magazines and filling in blank books with collages, quotes, and miscellaneous thoughts and ideas. My blog is simply the grown-up version of all that fun. I've also had the good fortune of making many blog friends over the years--several that I have met in person for lunch, drinks, coffee, and baseball games.
:: What advice do you have for new bloggers?
Write often, be genuine, and run spell check. Describe your perfect day.My perfect day would be spent touring a foreign city--a visit to an art museum (one with a fabulous museum gift shop to browse in), lunch at a bistro with some fabulous chocolate dessert, exploring a used book shop, and dinner at a great local-favorite restaurant (with champagne!).
:: Law school is…..
A true study in contrasts--completely horrible and quite wonderful. Whether I absolutely love it or want to drop out immediately depends entirely upon the day. It's frustrating and demanding but interesting and absorbing.
:: What keeps you going?
:: Name an artist, photographer, musician, or author that you like or admire.
This is a hard one because there are so many--my bachelor's degree is in Art History so there are dozens of artists and photographers that I like and admire. Most notably would be Leonardo Da Vinci, Henri Matisse, and the Post-Impressionists.
:: What inspires you?
Kindness, pure and simple.
:: If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and what would you do there?
I'd go to Costa Rica where I would learn to surf and become fluent in Spanish. I might need to stay for awile!
:: What's your favorite gift to give?
I love to give Moleskine journals, wine, and gifts by local artists.
:: In 2008 …
I'm going to write more letters, embrace learning, eat lots of apples, be kind, and laugh with my husband as much as possible.

Thursday 13 - 13 Little Ways Our Family is Going Green in 2008

When I was a kid in the 1970’s during the Carter Presidency, I remember being energy efficient was big. Issues of Dynamite Magazine had tips on saving energy for kids, like turning off the water while you brushed your teeth, and we had stickers in our bedroom on the light switch to turn off the lights when we left. Do you remember? I don’t fully understand why, but we returned to being a consumer economy. Now were “Going Green” and my kids are coming home with the same tips I learned when I was a kid. The following is a list of ways we’ve decided to “Go Green” in 2008:

:: Installing Smart Strips for our televisions and computers.
:: Bringing our own basket and bags to the market
:: Using energy efficient smart light bulbs that use up to 75% less energy and last 8-10 times longer than standard bulbs.
:: Carrying our own refillable water bottles
:: Cutting back on consuming and spending. It will help reduce packaging and increase our financial bottom line.
:: Shopping more often at our local produce market. If we buy locally, we don’t have to rely on farms that ship food nationwide, which in turn helps to decrease use of oil and gas emissions.
:: Composting
:: Using biodegradable pine kitty litter
:: Using the clothes dryer less. My husband installed a wooden dowel handing line in our laundry room and I’m using it to dry some of our clothes to save energy. According to Project Laundry List, clothes dyers are the third-largest energy users in the home, behind the refrigerator and washing machine, costing more than $100 a year to operate.
:: Using rechargeable batteries. I recently got at digital camera that goes quickly through AA batteries. Using rechargeable batteries will reduce the number of batteries we go through.
:: Keeping our freezer full. This too will help the environment by reducing the energy we use, and it will help me with reducing our grocery bill by having dinners on hand when I’m too drained to cook.
:: Washing more clothes in cold water. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, almost 90 percent of the energy used to wash clothes is used to heat the water. In addition, according to the Alliance to Save Energy, turning the dial from hot to warm will cut your energy use by 50 percent per load, and save up to $63 a year.
:: Teaching our children to be environmentally conscious by turning off the lights, not running the water while they’re brushing their teeth, taking a more active part in things we recycle at home, and encouraging them to pay attention to how much they consume.

Any other little suggestions? Are you "Going Green"?
Visit Other Thursday 13 Participants Here

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

WFMW - What Are Your Favorite Blogs?

It’s a backwards Works for Me Wednesday for the Rocks in My Dryer community, so instead of offering up the little pieces of what works for me, I get to ask a question.

I was wondering what blogs and challenges you love and have to check out regularly? Which one is on your “Must Read” list? What blogs have inspired you, helped you push your life into new directions, or helped you make connections? I started this blog in November and I am excited about all the great blogs out there!

Please check back here Friday. I am going to post my first blog interview with one of my favorite bloggers: Janet Wallace from A Slice of Pink!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

This Week

:: A fresh start for 2008.
:: Writing thank you notes and packing away Christmas. I think our cats are really going to miss knocking ornaments off the tree, and they’re losing their new favorite hideout spot under the tree.
:: Rereading copies of Organizing from the Inside Out and Kathy Peel’s The Family Manager’s Everyday Survival Guide. Inspired, I went to The Container Store and picked up storage containers for drawers and the boy’s art supplies.
:: Ringing in the New Year with French bubbly, lobster and steak at home, just the four of us. This was the first year the boys stayed up until midnight to watch the ball drop and to go outside with noise makers and banging pots and pans.
:: Joining Flickr’s Project 365. You commit to taking one photo a day for a year, and they also post weekly challenges if you want to participate in that too.
:: Winter break celebrated with dinners out with friends knowing that I wouldn’t have to worry about waking up in the morning, and lunches out enjoying friend’s company without the sound of the clock ticking in the back of my head. After one lunch my friend and I shopped at a local boutique and I restocked my Curly Girl card supplies. I love everything she makes.
:: Frost on the car windows in the morning.
:: Reading Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously
:: Listening to an amazing NPR interview with Will about Foo Fighters singer Dave Grohl. Will is a huge Foo fan, and it was his first real “driveway moment.”
:: Our friend Matt’s big surprise birthday bash last night.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Thursday 13 - Looking Back at 2007

Reese's First Communion, April 2007

On the dock, Wisconsin, 2007

:: Becoming a better wife, friend, daughter and mother by clearing out some mental and physical clutter, keeping our house in order, and keeping our calendar clear for things that really matter.

:: Will and Reese performing in their first musical, and although Reese is the only one continuing, it was an amazing experience for both of them.

:: Being able to be the best mom I can be during an amazing time in my boy’s lives. They completely fascinate me, and I have learned so much from them about how to live and love.

:: Joining Al-Anon

:: My husband working a 12 step program and our marriage is better than ever. Not perfect, but pretty good.

:: Breaking off a couple of unhealthy relationships even though it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. On the other hand, I healed my tense relationship with my mom by going to a therapy session together last April and hashing out some important past issues. It only took one two hour session and our relationship is on the up swing. (My mom is hyper critical, and she mistakenly thinks it makes her a good mother.)

:: Losing over ten pounds.

:: Looping with my third grade to fourth grade. They are the best class a teacher could hope for.

:: Starting this blog, and practicing gratitude

:: Reading several good books including The Myth of You and Me, Emma, Small Wonder: Essays, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, finishing the Harry Potter series and tons and tons of poetry. But my heart really lies with magazines. Love 'em.

:: Getting our two precious kitties in September. The dog is still in shock, but they light up my days with the cute things they do.

:: Cutting back on TV. In 2007 I became so much more engaged with my life that I didn’t even realize how little TV I now watch until someone asked me about a program I’d never heard of. However, I do sneak in The Hills (a guilty pleasure) and Pushing Daisies on the web.

:: My favorite playlist from 2007 includes: Rihanna with Jay-Z: Umbrella (MY summer song of 2007), Justin Timberlake: What Goes Around, John Mayer: Waiting for the World to Change, Snow Patrol: Chasing Cars, Nickelback: Rockstar, Avril Lavigne: Girlfriend, Plain White T's: Hey There Delilah, Amy Winehouse: Rehab, Fergie: Clumsy, Colbie Caillat: Coco, and Robert Plant and Alison Krauss: Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On).

Update: Check out Susie J's blog today on making your dreams come true. Lots of good stuff!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

WFMW - Keeping Medicines & Vitamins Organized

Inspired by Target's color-coded medicine bottles, I started adding colored dot stickers, one color for each member of our family, to the lids of our medicine. It's much easier, especially on hectic mornings, to remember to pull each person's color. I initially tried drawing rings around the lids with different colored Sharpies, and writing the first initial of each person on the lid, but the sticker system is simpler. We have the weekly pill containers, which are a great way to remember if you’ve taken you’re daily dose, but we often forget to fill them up for the week.

We also store our Juice Plus vitamins and other daily vitamins in this basket in the kitchen. Juice Plus was something I originally felt obligated to buy from a trainer at our gym, but when we remember to take it we all feel much better and my skin looks better.

Happy New Year to all my new Works for Me Wednesday acquaintances! I have been inspired and have learned so many great ideas in the two months I've been participating. WFMW has motivated to regularly ask myself, "Does this work for me?" Not surprisingly, a few times the answer has been a clear no and I've been able to change. Thanks for all the blessings Shannon and YOU members of this blogging community have brought to my life!

Bright Beginnings for 2008

Freshly planted Paperwhites
(paperdolls cut by Reese today after we cleaned the art station in the basement)
My first photo for Flickr's Project 365

:: Participate in Flickr’s Project 365 Group
:: I also want to take a basic sewing class (I’ve tried before, and sewing is way harder than it looks)
:: Take a field photography class in late spring.

:: The clichĂ© resolution of losing weight (around 7-10 pounds) and exercising (mininum 4x a week, including weight training 2-3x a week). Some good friends are running in a ½ marathon in April and they are motivating me to get back to the gym. I know that working out early in the morning is the best time for my life.
:: To feed my body, and loosen the grip on my pocketbook, one of my biggest goals is to cook at home. We have been eating out, well, I’m too embarrassed to write how much we eat out.
:: Get back to the tennis courts in March
:: Packing healthy snacks and lunch

:: Family first, no exceptions
:: Find a church that nourishes me
:: Step work with my Al-Anon sponsor including
:: Keep in touch with friends
:: Use this blog to remind me of all the blessings in my life
:: Practice gratitude and let go of expectations

Home and Finances
:: Cooking healthy at home including freezing meals and using our Crockpot
:: Keeping a spending diary for January
:: Cutting out impulse spending by waiting 24 hours before new purchases
:: Purging “stuff” from our house, especially our basement, pledging to follow the 1 in/1 out rule, and following my FlyLady weekly routines.