Archive for September, 2008


Posted by laura on Sep 29 2008 | Awesome

I’ve been a blue heron paparazzi the past few weeks, snooping and lurking, and I finally caught him.

And if you think that’s wild – have a look at this shot!

I must admit, I’m not sure in the heron world whether he’s being a complete dork or a total stud in this photo. We’ll have to keep a close eye on the “Hot or Not?” column in the Heron Daily.


He was just hangin with his buddy.

Then I could see they were getting ready to make a move. When they took off – I panicked – it looked like they were coming straight at me! Oh yeah… zoom. (Placing me squarely in the ‘Not’ column.)

When I saw the photo afterwards it did NOT have the same impact! But as my friend Lissa noticed – the heron looks like some sort of prehistoric creature, all angles and old shapes. The wingspan was pretty impressive too.

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Thoughts on Procrastination, Apple Muffins and Aggressive Grocery Clerks

Posted by laura on Sep 24 2008 | Tasty, Uncategorized

Let’s take this one in reverse order, title-wise. Yesterday morning I was at the grocery store, and I just did not hit it off with the clerk in the checkout line. I wasn’t at my neighborhood store, where all the cashiers know us and we have a nice discussion each time we meet. We talk about our families and jobs and movies we’ve seen lately – all the good stuff.

[Right here we should insert a headphones-wearing UN translator to put the above sentences into language my east coast relatives can understand. If you start chatting up your cashier in New England, you run the risk of getting that 'well, she's just not right in her head' look, so this is all gobbledygook to them.]

Back to business. The cashier yesterday was simply not a friendly sort, so after my initial pleasantries I kept quiet. As I was entering my credit card, she was sending the groceries down the belt. There was a big crunch, and we both looked down to see all the food piling up on a container of strawberries that had popped open, sending berries rolling. The clerk said, “Oh. We can get you a new thing of strawberries.” But then I paused for a heartbeat, and She Had My Number. Could it possibly have been the two 4.5 year old boys I had in the front of my unwieldy truck cart, who were saying, “Lauwa! Say squiefelsmish!” over and over? It could. So she looked at me and said, “Well, you have to wash them anyway.”

Snap! However, as I mentioned above – she had my number. I didn’t have time for her to call for someone on break out back to trudge over to produce and pick out a box of strawberries for us. But we were not through, aggressive clerk and I. I went to bag the groceries and she turned the belt on again and I was suddenly in an I Love Lucy candy conveyor belt situation. Fortunately you can turn the belt off from the end, which I did. She turned it back on. I turned it off. She turned it on. It was hysterical. She couldn’t bear to have the groceries pile up at her end, and I couldn’t keep up at mine! Why did I buy so much fruit?! Why the loose potatoes, and no boxes of cereal or tissues? Squiefelsmish!

All in all, pretty entertaining, although I had a couple of decidedly east coast thoughts about the situation. 

Now it’s time for a photo.

These are the apple muffins I baked for Hot Wheels’ snack day at preschool. I tried a new recipe that I found over at The Crepes of Wrath. How great is that name? Check out the site, and the recipe. You will not be disappointed. Just thinking about that site makes me hungry. The muffins are delicious, and they lead to an ridiculously obvious morality tale.

Last night, due to conditions primarily but not entirely her fault, our daughter did not finish her homework. (gasp) With utmost sincerity she vowed to do it quickly in the morning before school, and against my better judgement, I let her. This is a bewildering statement, since my cardinal rule is no homework in the morning. What, exactly, was I thinking?

Here we find out what I was thinking. In a move that neatly illustrates two common proverbs, namely ‘those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’ AND ‘the apple never falls far from the tree,’ I went out into the kitchen and decided it would be fine to bake the snack muffins in the morning. 

Suffice it to say, things didn’t work out quite as we planned this morning. She discovered that at the breakfast table, she is sleepy and her little brother is loud. I discovered that just because the recipe says 30-35 minutes doesn’t mean I should not check them at my usual 20 minutes. (They turned out ok, but it was really a bad plan all around.) 

And the obvious moral of the tale? Nobody expected the Spanish Inquisition.

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More Paper Flowers

Posted by laura on Sep 21 2008 | Making, Reusable


A couple of paper posies for some great friends. One was a little more arty and recycled, the other was pink crepe.

As I was making the crepe paper roses I first thought Boy! These are fun and easy to make! Who knew? 

Then I thought – I know who knew… every person who’s decorated a Fourth of July float, that’s who! These things have to be as old as the hills. It was like ‘discovering’ granny squares.

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Searching for a Match

Posted by laura on Sep 20 2008 | Uncategorized

We have a lovely friend here in Mill Valley who is just six years old and dealing with leukemia. She and her family are extremely cool and wonderful and they’re managing a tough situation with unbelievable grace. The thing is, she’s going to need a bone marrow transplant and they haven’t found a match yet.

Last weekend there was a donor drive at our elementary school, and we went for the last few hours to help out in any way we could. It was an incredible day; the good will and hope and encouragement were palpable. The last I heard, over 700 people registered in a 6 hour span. Phenomenal.

I wanted to put the word out – the National Marrow Donor Program has access to millions of donors worldwide, but they need more. I just read that the odds of finding a match outside a patient’s family are 1 in 20,000, and more for patients of minority heritage.

A number of people have asked me if I’m concerned about the discomfort of the donation process, and as you’ll see on the National Marrow Donor site – it’s not as simple as giving blood. But I do consider two things. First, I’ve been in the registry now for about 18 years, and I’ve never been called. When I consider that, in addition to the odds above, I feel the privilege of being someone’s match is great. Second, there’s no way my discomfort in donating could even remotely compare with what these patients have been through. I don’t treat the idea lightly, but it isn’t worrying.

Please consider being in the database. Our friend would have a slightly higher chance for a match with donors of Turkish descent, which I think rules out my readership, since you’re all pretty much related to me! But you have friends… I hope you’ll help us spread the word!                                                             

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Coconut Soup

Posted by laura on Sep 17 2008 | Tasty

Hot Wheels has a deep and abiding love for coconut, and a deep and distrustful approach towards dinner. This week I thought we should make coconut soup together and take advantage of two great strategies for encouraging kids to eat; start with foods/flavors they love and get them to cook with you. (Of course it’s even better if they can grow them with you, but those pesky coconuts prefer warm tropical climates. Come to think of it… we might have to move.)

Originally I was picturing a milky Thai coconut soup, but then I found this recipe on a site called The World’s Healthiest Foods, and it looked like a wonderful blend. It’s actually a Carrot Coconut soup and it has such nice flavorings – ginger and curry and coconut – a perfect early fall soup. YUM. We all liked it. I threw in some chicken at the end for the kids, and for Tom some tofu. I added minced serrano chiles and basil to the grownup bowls as well. I’ve been working on getting the kids to love shredded basil, since I think it basically should go on or in every dish I make, but they’re still skeptical.

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Family Files

Posted by laura on Sep 16 2008 | Uncategorized

File this one under Not Exactly What I Hoped To Hear:


Me: Hey Honey, you’ve been doing a great job remembering to brush your teeth in the morning.

She: Thanks! I think I like to do it because your toothbrush is nicer than mine.

Me: Ahh, so you’ve been using my toothbrush?

She: Yes! But don’t worry… I’ve been using your kind of toothpaste every time.


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Paper Bouquet

Posted by laura on Sep 14 2008 | Making, Reusable

There are certain catalogs that I just can’t bear to throw away because of the imagery and paper quality. We have a whole collection of stock photo company catalogs that I mine for images when I make cards and luggage tags, and I keep stacks of magazines that use nice heavy paper and great photography. So I’m always thinking about projects for my growing paper collection.

Friday was my lovely friend Satyam’s birthday, and seeing as she’s arty and environmentally focused, I figured a recycled paper bouquet might be right up her alley. It would have been better if I’d had a bit more time to dedicate to it, but I did like how some of the flowers turned out. I think with some effort these could even be wedding bouquets. My daughter got into the game with me and made one of the flowers for the bouquet – we had a great time working together.


In typical fashion, I finished them up just as I was heading out the door, so I just took a couple hasty shots of dubious quality. I do like the contrasting colors and patterns. The big lilly uses a photo of a pink and orange polka-dotted comforter as well as an interior shot of an office space filled with cubicles. I like how they’re nicely abstracted once you cut them up.

Right now my method is a little laborious – I’d love to know how designers at stores like Anthropologie take ideas like this and figure out how to roll them out in quantity. 


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Sending My Egrets

Posted by laura on Sep 11 2008 | Awesome, Bicycle, Fun


Yes I know. I’m just too funny for words. I’m sorry. I just can’t help it.

Ok, tacky titles aside – Hot Wheels and I had the best, best, best bike ride home from ballet this morning. It’s bird heaven here these days. I just simply had to take a few mediocre photos.

The bike path was quieter than usual. We could spot about a dozen different birds, and the long, still egrets were nicely juxtaposed by fast packs of small birds flying in close formation. We could hear fish darting up against the surface of the bay, and we sat out on rocks for what seemed like a week and a half trying to get a good look at them. No luck, but it was divine. 

(Check these guys out. The one on the left was saying, “I’m not talking to you,” and the one on the right was like, “Fine. I’m not talking to you either.”)



I have to confess a bit of confusion regarding the egret, heron and crane families. They’re like keeping track of second cousins and first cousins once removed. It gets a bit blurry. But they’re beautiful!

We did see one gigantic blue heron, but not until it was too tricky to get a shot. (Of it, not at it – this ain’t Palin country, people.) When I was in Peru, Tom and the kids actually saw a blue heron dart down, grab a gopher and eat it in one gulp. Tom is now a blue heron devotee.

I’m still mad at that heron for completely disappearing from the bike path for the duration of my parents’ visit last winter. My parents were all, “Oh you have a humungous blue heron that hangs out along the path to school? What’s his name? Harvey??” I ought to give that heron a piece of my mind. He sure made me look bad. Although eating a gopher is a nice way to make up for it.

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Make it Snappy

Posted by laura on Sep 08 2008 | Making, Tasty


We made gingersnaps yesterday, and frankly they were a little melodramatic.

You should have seen the list of demands – the organic sugar, the extra dark molasses, the stark lighting – and they pitched a fit when we didn’t have the right stylist for them. (It was just me, and they were so totally not impressed.)



But even with all their attitude, somehow I couldn’t bring myself to tell them that they really just looked like munchkins.


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Sausalito Sundays

Posted by laura on Sep 07 2008 | Bicycle, Fun

There’s a wonderful bistro style restaurant in Sausalito called Le Garage – aptly named, it occupies the corner of one of the big old shipyard buildings along the marina, and its two exterior walls are each dominated by huge red garage doors. One is always open and the other gets rolled up when it’s sunny.


We’ve taken to biking down on a Sunday morning – their brunch starts at 10, and it’s quite tasty, but we just love getting there an hour earlier, when all they have is counter service with drinks and a couple of different pastries. Tom favors a latte that they serve in a big white bowl. We get hot chocolates and croissants and sit and watch the boats and the early morning passing parade. We’ve biked down a few times now with friends and it’s always been just a stunning start to weekend morning. C’est magnifique, I tell you.

This morning there was a nice old Yamaha at the bike racks. 

A couple of weekends ago, we stopped at the Bay Model on the ride home. This place is wicked cool, as we’d say back east. It’s a working model of the entire bay – it simulates currents and tides, and it’s over 1.5 acres in size. That’s just nuts.


Hey look! It’s a tiny Golden Gate Bridge.

Perhaps our favorite section of the Bay Model building is off to the side of the model itself, and it talks about the history of Marinship, the WWII Liberty Ship building unit that originally erected all the buildings along this stretch of the marina. The Marinship exhibit was spectacular. 





There were so many amazing stories behind these ships, from the logistics of getting the shipyard up and running in record time, to the individual stories of the workers themselves.

I was particularly fond of one original poster for female shipyard workers, instructing them on proper bandana-tying technique. It never occurred to me that the Rosie the Riveter bandana arrangement wasn’t just for safety – it preserved the hairdo! Here’s what I learned.

“A gay bandana, properly tied, means efficient charm on the job, undiminished allure after hours.”

Because there’s nothing worse than diminished allure, right sisters?




Don’t you just love how the woman in this photo is just rockin her bandana and goggle look? Fabulous.

My friend Joan pointed out a terrific story about a man who left the shipyards every night pushing a wheelbarrow full of hay. The security guard at the gate carefully looked through the hay each night to be sure the man wasn’t stealing anything, but there was never any contraband to be found.

Eventually the man was fired, and the day he left, the security guard asked him why – was he stealing something?

Yup – wheelbarrows.

My last two shots for today’s post are of some pelicans that we saw on the way home this morning. Pelicans!

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