Friday, February 28, 2014

Portrait of an artist

Sometimes a simple sketch can capture a thousand things. I feel like this one of my brother-in-law does just that. As an animator, Andres spends his days doing his favorite thing: drawing. With pencils and a sketchpad, he creates beautiful worlds and quirky characters and tells timeless stories of love and loss.

Check out this 5-minute animated short which Andres wrote, directed and animated during his senior year at CalArts. It's one of my favorites.

Illustration by Andres' friend and Cartoon Network colleague Kent Osborne

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Links feb27


  • This 4-year-old fashionista creates her own version of famous Red Carpet looks. If only we could be as crafty and charismatic as her. (BuzzFeed)
  • The story of Guatemalan entrepreneur and philanthropist Haydee del Cid Abel, illustrated by students at the non-profit IMA School for Girls. (IMA USA)
  • Thank God Arizona governor Jan Brewer got it right. (The New York Times)
  • Sheryl Sandberg's organization, Lean In, is changing the way we see women in the workplace and at home. (A Cup of Jo)
  • Mozart, you dirty little birdie. (Mental Floss)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

From my table to yours: chicken soup

After a long winter and having a house full of sick people, I've become pretty good at making chicken soup from scratch. I think in the past month I've made a large pot of it four different times.

My recipe comes from a lot of trial and error, experimenting and intuition. But most of all it comes from the heart. Next time you need comfort food, slurp a big bowl of it. Enjoy and be well! 


good-for-you chicken soup

what you'll need:

  • organic whole chicken
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped (I like to peel the outer layer of celery before I chop it)
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup wild rice
  • 1 14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes
  • handful chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 6 cups (48 oz) boiling water
  • 4 tsp bouillon (my favorite is Better Than Bouillon organic vegetable base)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

what to do:

  • in a large soup pot add olive oil and garlic, onion, carrots and celery and saute on medium-high heat. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Add red and green peppers. Mix all the veggies together and saute for another 2-3 minutes. 
  • Add wild rice and stir together until rice is slightly browned (a few minutes). Add stewed tomatoes and fresh parsley. Add salt and pepper. Mix together.

  • place chicken in pot (on top of veggies), breast side up.
  • season chicken (as pictured) with salt, pepper, oregano, basil and cumin. Meanwhile boil water in teapot.
  • pour boiling water over chicken. Add bouillon and stir.
  • bring to boil, cover and simmer for 45 minutes (or until chicken is cooked through).

  • when your chicken is fully cooked, it should pull apart easily with a fork. (Tip: I like to let my soup cool for one hour, then transfer the chicken to a platter and pull apart the meat with my hands. It's so much easier and efficient than using a fork and knife.)
  • Mix all your cooked ingredients together and your soup should look something like this.

I like to squeeze fresh lemon juice into my finished bowl of soup. And a warm piece of French bread is the perfect accompaniment. 

Here's to good health!

Did you know there is actual science behind the benefits of chicken soup? Read about it here.

Like fusion? Kimchi tacos and Korean-inspired latkes!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Rihanna's Lisa Bonet moment

Rihanna is having a Lisa Bonet moment on the March cover of Vogue and I am loving it. 

I loved and I hated Adele's March 2012 Vogue cover.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

I see grass!

Today the sun smiled at us, the snow started melting, the grass was green and I wore my favorite sneakers. Spring feels right around the corner.

Life is good. 

p.s. the next day it dropped 30 degrees and started snowing again. (Sigh) 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Love is... cleaning your child's throw up in the middle of the night

It was just before midnight. Everyone in the house was fast asleep. I was finishing up some work when I heard a cry coming from the kids' room. A soft cry followed by coughing. Then whimpering. It was Izzy and she was in trouble.  

What's that saying? Bad things happen in threes? Well, for me it's been one mean case of the winter blues (four months of snow and I'm so over it!), getting knocked out by a terrible cold, going crazy from too many snow days (if school gets cancelled one more day so help me God...) and then last night's very unwelcome run-in with a nasty stomach bug. I guess that's four.

I ran downstairs and found my poor 4-year-old covered in what looked like extraterrestrial goop. I immediately went into what I call Mother Commando Mode and carried out my mission with military precision: get child in the bathtub, clean her up, dress her in new pajamas, put new sheets on the bed, tuck her in. Done.

When the storm seemed over, I had to debrief. I was utterly exhausted but I needed sympathy. I wanted a pat on the back. I needed someone to tell me how selfless and undeniably noble I was.

"Love is... Cleaning your child's throw up," my text to my best friend, Sam, started out. "OMG just survived a marathon vomiting session with Iz." 

But of course in parenting things are rarely straightforward. 

And just when you think all is clear.

But the craziest thing is you don't want to be anywhere else. You don't care that you've got slimy alien goo running down your neck. You're just so happy (yes, happy!) that you're the one who gets to be there for her, holding her hair back when she needs to puke into the bucket for the umpteenth time. 

And you kind of have a flash forward moment and wonder if she'll trust you enough to hold her hair back when she comes home drunk from a party one day. You hope to God that she doesn't ever stumble home drunk in the first place, but if that night does come it makes you feel good to know she'll be safe in your arms.

It may sound silly that I was supposed to have this cold. But you should have seen me last night. I felt half dead and called on God to Please Help Me! And I can't explain it, but in that moment I came alive. I was on fire. Feeling ill and overwhelmed and exhausted couldn't stop me from being there for my daughter. 

And that's what love is. Cleaning your child's throw up over and over and gladly doing it again if you had to.

This is the face I did it for. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I'll have a penicillin cocktail, please

Numb your cold symptoms with this bad boy.
(Photo: Milk & Honey/Sam Ross)

The bad news is I'm still battling this awful cold. It's been one of those stuck-in-bed with both nostrils plugged kind of deals. Where just sitting up is a chore and menial tasks like washing your face or walking up the stairs completely zaps your energy.

The good news is today I can breathe through my right nostril and my head doesn't feel like a balloon anymore. And outside my bedroom window it's raining. Not snowing. Also, I've switched from drowning myself in peppermint tea to sipping my favorite English Breakfast kind. So there is a rainbow somewhere amidst this bleak, brutal winter.

Whilst sick, I came across this wonderful recipe for a magical elixir called the Penicillin Cocktail. Invented by bartender Sam Ross of NYC’s Attaboy, it’s the perfect blend of sweet and sour with the added benefit of kicking your cold right in the ass.

Move over, Nyquil.


Penicillin cocktail
(adapted from Sam Ross' recipe)

What you'll need:

  • honey syrup (1 oz honey dissolved in 1 oz warm water)
  • 1/2 tsp minced ginger (using a garlic press)
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 2 oz Scotch whiskey

What to do:

  • In a shaker mix honey syrup, ginger, lemon juice and whiskey. Top with ice. Shake, strain over ice and garnish with sugared ginger. Drink up and be well!  

Click here for a Penicillin Cocktail tutorial, courtesy of Sam Ross himself.

No boots? No worries!

These New York men are braving this brutal winter and they won't be caught dead looking less than dapper. (Kind makes you wonder if it's all for the sake of vanity, masculinity or just plain folly. You be the judge.)  :)

Video by my favorite New York Times reporter, the ubiquitous Bill Cunningham. Click here for more of his brilliant On the Street video snippets.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Links feb19

Modern day gladiator. (Photo: Tim Tadder and Christian Girotto) 


  • This cool photography collaboration features Olympic athletes posing as modern day Greek and Roman statues. (Flavorwire)
  • Can being a daredevil be in your genes? (The New York Times)
  • Famous people rejected by Saturday Night Live. (Mental Floss)
  • The government predicted "above normal" temperatures for this time of year. Boy, did they get it wrong. (The Atlantic)
  • Holy raw food! This blogger makes food not only good-for-you, but GORGEOUS. (Messy Nessy Chic)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Kinda like a rapper

The coolest form of storytelling? Rap.
(Art from Def Jam Rapstar)

Do you have a secret indulgence? Perhaps cigarettes and Grey Goose. Maybe lacy lingerie and lots of Louis Vuitton. Or getting scrubbed down by an ajumma at a Korean spa followed by the occasional plastic surgery. 

Mine is rap. 

And not just the bobbing-your-head-to-the-beat kind. I like it dirty, gangsta and straight-up 90s. I love rap for its power, grit, ambition, the bravado, pure poetry and storytelling. That and the fact that I secretly wish I could carry a rhyme like the best of them.

One of my favorite things to do is put on my headphones and listen to rap really, really loud while riding the subways in New York. It makes me feel really badass. 

Kinda like a rapper.  



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

This week's obsession: ice blue nails

The sun is finally out and it's giving the snow this cool blue hue.
Kind of like my fingertips right now. Get it here.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

How to survive (yet another) winter storm

And this on a recent afternoon run. 

Last night we got hit by another winter storm. I woke up to find half a foot of fresh powder outside. It was Christmas morning all over again. Though the winters here in Cleveland are looooooong, I admit I love it when it snows. It makes everything so magical. Like a fairy tale.

But even fairy tales come to an end. Around here that means melted snow turning into a gross brown slush, sore arms from shoveling, and the inside of your car smelling like wet rat. Lovely.

That's when the California girl in me desires palm trees, sun-drenched beaches, wearing flip flops and going for long drives along the scenic Pacific Coast Highway.

I kind of miss this right now.

But when in Northeast Ohio, do as the Northeast Ohioans do: just go with it. One day it will be 65 degrees and sunny and that very evening it will drop 40 degrees and snow.  

After living here for a year, I've learned a few things about surviving long winters. I hope these help you, too.

1. Get into a good book. I'm reading New York by Edward Rutherfurd. These also come highly recommended. 

2. Do something that reminds you of summer. I like to wear pink nail polish (like this) and serve summer salads for dinner (try this one and add raisins!).

3. Take photos. Do you have a favorite tree? Take a photo of it right now. Then take another photo in the spring. Summer. Fall. Make a collage using a fun App (I like FrameUrLife) and stick in on your fridge. When you're feeling blue, you'll be reminded that seasons change -- just like that tree.

Sometimes a little perspective goes a long way.
(Photo: Raising Cubs in a Campground)

4. Use a neti pot. I use mine every winter and I swear it keeps colds away. The moment I feel like I'm coming down with something, I wash out my nasal passages and neutralize those germs. (But before you start, do it right.) 

5. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. My skin gets crazy dry during the winter. So I do this every night before bed: slather on a thick cream or lotion (I like Vaseline, straight up) on your feet and put on socks. They will be baby soft in the morning!   

6. Get something new at Sephora. A new lipstick. A pot of lip gloss. Something to make your cheeks look more flush. I recently picked up a new eyelash curler and it makes me feel sexier, even when I'm getting snowflakes in my eye.

7. Take a deep breath when your kid(s) gets another snow day. I dread snow days. The kids may cheer but I'm secretly grumbling inside. Some mothers take snow days as an opportunity to turn their homes into Disneyland or a craft zone (like mom bloggers at the New York Times' Motherlode). Unfortunately for my kids, I'm not one of these women. I pour myself a glass of wine and let my kids watch waaaaay too much Curious George.

8. Go outside. I make it a point to go outside at least once during the day (picking up the kids from school doesn't count). I will go for a run or simply take out the trash. There's something important about breathing fresh air.

9. Leave a voice memo for your best friend. One of my closest friends lives in California and I really miss our impromptu girl dates. Instead of text messages or voicemails, we've got in the habit of texting each other really long voice memos. Think of it as a verbal diary. So therapeutic.

10. Have yourself a good cry. Like I did yesterday morning. I don't what it was -- a combination of feeling overwhelmed, cooped up, exhausted, homesick. So I gave myself permission to hide in the bathroom, turn on the fan (so no one could hear me) and have a good cry. Five minutes later, I felt so much better.           

"Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the
blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts." --Charles Dickens, Great Expectations.
(Illustration: Joe McDermott)

11. Listen to classical music. I put on my headphones and blast Beethoven. There's something about winter that puts you a dark, Beethoven-type of mood.
12. Fantasize. You're spending a lot of time indoors with your thoughts so you might as well put them on paper. What are your dreams? What do you want to do? What scares you? What inspires you? For instance, I recently realized that I want to take ballet again, at 40.

The Shaker Lakes at springtime. I'm looking forward to this.

Spring is right around the corner (44 more days to be exact!). Here's to "just going with it" and embracing what the day may bring!  

More great ideas on how to beat the winter blues. (A Cup of Jo)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Four galore

Happiest of days to you, my darling flower.

Links feb04

Sleeping Beauty by Henry Meynell Rheam.

Today's links, in celebration of my daughter who turns 4.


  • Everything you wanted to know about Sleeping Beauty. (Mental Floss)
  • Remember the guy who tripped out on that double rainbow for a full three minutes? (YouTube)
  • Beauty and the ballet. (The Kirov Ballet)

Death of a master

mas * ter: a skilled practitioner of a particular art; expert; adept; genius; virtuoso; doyen; authority; champion; philip seymour hoffman.