Posted in Inside & Out

Doodlebug

IMG_20170623_135811Do you doodle? I remember my mom making these elaborate doodles of shapes and flowers and leaves on the margins of whatever paper she found lying around–usually when she was on the phone, I think–and thinking they were incredible, but whenever I would try to doodle I felt kind of silly, like it was a waste of time or effort to draw without really drawing. Well, the other day I was in a fairly stressful situation–I had to wait about an hour to go into a meeting that I’d been anticipating for weeks, maybe months–and so I got out my notebook and started to draw. At first I drew one of my usual comics–myself in a funny version of the current situation–but while I made myself chuckle, it really only served to amplify my nerves. So instead of drawing another comic, I drew a heart. And then a another heart around it. And then I thought, I’ll make this a paisley. And before I knew it, my mind emptied of my current situation and focused entirely on the few square inches of paper upon which I was doodling. Soon enough, I was called into my meeting, and I didn’t feel stressed out at all.

I think this is why adult coloring books are so popular. It gives you something to focus on, something completely meaningless but difficult enough that you have to devote your attention to it. I’ve tried coloring those detailed drawings while watching TV and I always end up outside the lines, even with the sharpest pencil. And mostly, I’ve used adult coloring books or doodles as a way simply to pass the time–my life is not filled with the kind of anticipatory stress I felt the other day–but when I really had something to take my mind off of, boy did doodling work. Next time I can’t sleep because I’m obsessing about something, you can bet I’ll doodle my brains out.

Posted in Cooking & Eating

My New Favorite Cookbook

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A year ago, I had no idea who Johnny Iuzzini was. Then I saw him as a judge on The Great American Baking Show (the US version of The Great British Baking Show, nee The Great British Bake Off). Okay, I still didn’t know who he was, but he seemed to be knowledgeable and he was pretty cute and worked well alongside my beloved Mary Berry. And then a few days ago I was at Barnes and Noble, browsing the cookbook aisle (as I so often do), looking for a baking book that was not just a compendium of recipes but something of a baker’s text. I thought I wouldn’t find one (how many books can people publish that are just a bunch of recipes for cookies?) but then the title caught my eye and lo! A cookbook by Johnny Iuzzini. And not only that, a teaching cookbook by Johnny Iuzzini. With tips and ideas and recipes I actually hadn’t heard before. Things that made me go, “OoooOoOooOh!” and run to the kitchen to try them. Things that make scientific sense despite their contrast to conventional wisdom. Plus quite a few recipes using tarragon. I LOVE tarragon.

I’ve only made one recipe out of the book so far–Spreadable Caramel–and several of his techniques within other recipes. And oh my god. If you’re a baker, you really need this book.

 

 

Posted in Friends & Family

Sesame Street, Boy Bands, and Other Parts of Growing Up

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I can’t remember what year it was, but I first learned about One Direction at the movie theater. They had a documentary/behind-the-music thing coming out and when I saw the trailer, it took quite a while for me to realize it was serious. I thought: mockumentary. I thought: I bet Christopher Guest is playing their manager. (Call Rob Reiner! Make it happen!) But no–these guys are really a “band.” A boy band.

The next time I encountered One Direction was about a couple months ago, when my daughter’s Elmo obsession led us to their appearance on Sesame Street, singing “What Makes U Useful.” I cracked up the whole time we watched it. It is now one of my very favorite videos on YouTube. Continue reading “Sesame Street, Boy Bands, and Other Parts of Growing Up”

Posted in Inside & Out

Long Time, No See

Life is funny, isn’t it? The way it twists and turns. For a while, you’re drawing comics every day, and writing like a maniac, and the next… screech! Stop.

Nothing.

But then, out of nothing, can come a spark. A big bang, if you will, of creativity. Of motivation, maybe. An inexplicable energy source.

Wherever it’s coming from, I’ll take it.

Posted in Friends & Family

6 Moms Share Their Magical Morning Routines*

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Gloria from Pittsburgh (age 46):

“I wake up each day at five-thirty and go to the garage to scream into a pillow. My kids wake up around six, and I figure the more I’ve screamed before they wake up, the fewer screams I’ll have left inside me, so I won’t scream at them. Especially when I blow out my voice and can only whisper. Sometimes, my screams will trigger my tinnitus and and my ears ring so loudly I can’t hear the kids whining about oatmeal or having ‘nothing to wear.’ It makes the whole breakfast/getting to school ritual a lot smoother.”

Alexandra from Encinitas (age 29):

“I tell my husband I’m going running and then hit the doughnut store while he changes the baby’s diaper and gives her a bottle. By the time I’m back, she’s already dressed and playing with her toys, and I have the energy to deal with her, thanks to one cruller, one chocolate with sprinkles, and two cups of coffee.”

Quin from Post Falls (age 24):

“A little tea, a little yoga, and one magic brownie for breakfast.”

Maria from Austin (age 40):

“We begin each day with feats of strength: moving the furniture, lifting weights, lifting each other. Even my five-year-old gets involved. He can lift our shih tsu over his head and do five presses. It’s a great way to make fitness fun, and it reminds them each day that Mommy is strong enough to lift a bookcase full of books without sweating. You don’t mess with someone who can do that.”

Janelle from Des Moines (age 31):

“There’s a little brook that burbles through our backyard. Each morning after breakfast we place out hands in the water and commune with the lifeblood of our planet. We say a short prayer of gratitude before plunging our hands into the rich soil, where we find beautiful, wriggling worms which we later sell at the local bait and tackle shop.”

Kelly from New York (age 37):

“I begin each day with a scented bubble bath and an egg white omelet with spinach; when I’m done, the children are waiting by the front door in their uniforms, ready for their hugs and kisses before Stefan takes them to school.”

 

 

*These women and their stories are purely fictional. Any resemblance to persons living or dead would be really cool or cause for concern, depending on the blurb in question. Also, coincidental. It would be coincidental.