Thursday, January 31, 2008

Hold Youth to the Light

Image by Me: King Richard's Faire 2003

One of the reasons I am really terrible at math is that as a school aged child I was bullied by my teacher. In second grade, in 1966, I was repeatedly hit on the hands with a ruler if I was caught counting on my fingers. Already not wired for math, this exacerbated a tense situation and has subsequently made it really difficult for me to learn math skills.

Recently, one of my daughters was humiliated in front of her class by her teacher. Her teacher told her she was "too thin" and asked the class if they thought she was anorexic. My daughter was mortified. She has been on medication for her occular and painful migraines, which kept her out of school a lot last year. That medication has a side effect of causing her to lose some weight. She is NOT anorexic. She is 5 foot seven inches and weighs about 127 pounds. But that isn't the point. The point is that kids, of all ages, need the support of the adults they trust, and this teacher was one she trusted. What was done was far reaching, and did not effect just my daughter. Imagine the boy sitting in the second row, who has a sister who may be fighting an eating disorder, or the bulimic girl in row 4. To be outed like that, or humiliated like that would be seriously damaging. Hell, my family has been effected by this. I have been really upset all week. So has the other daughter. The tension here is palpable.

Yes, I have talked to the school officials. Yes, I have had her removed from that class. Yes, I am trying to have that teacher experience some consequences. But, it just really amazes me that someone could be so mean and careless. At the very least we have a legal and ethical right to privacy with regard to medical conditions (FERPA Family law with regard to education documents this).

I tell ya. This week has been about as much fun as holding hot coals in your armpits while someone hammers your toes with a frozen mallet.

Hold youth to the light, people. Smile when you can. Compliment often. Direct. Give them bumpers, and for the love of everything holy, do not humiliate them.

Not feeling Cool Enough for anything else today.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Feeling Icky Today

Image by Me

Yesterday was a quiet day for me. I almost never get sick, and I have been fighting some ick for a few days. I decided that staying warm and quiet would do the trick. I baked a few things, which is always a comforting thing. I love the smell of baked goods in the house, and sitting with tea and freshly made pumpkin bread is soothing.

I found myself making a list of things in my head, areas in my life this week where things are not going smoothly. I counted over 5 facets of my life which are presenting problems this week. Most of these things are temporary, and I know that they will shift and move into better things. I have the foresight to see that. My opportunity is to try and see these things as calling cards of puzzle pieces which are not snapping together into the Big Picture well. I remain calm, and move the pieces around until things work better.

This sort of stress does tend to make me very introverted, though, seeking refuge in my quiet alone time and needing plenty of it. In order to keep my Inner House happy and clear I need the time to reflect and rest and be free of external influences. I long for a cabin in the woods.

What do you do when you get stressed out?

How about some cool things, eh?

Your Daily Dose of Cool Things:

Right Brain Terrain:Alternative Motivational Posters

Bubblegum Sequencer

Your Daily Dose of Wonderful Design:

Qbic Hotels

Your Daily Dose of Inspiring Words:

“Your health is bound to be affected, if day after day you say the opposite of what you feel, if you grovel before what you dislike and rejoice at what brings you nothing but misfortune. Our nervous system isn’t just a fiction, it’s part of our physical body, and our soul exists in space and is inside us, like the teeth in our mouth. It can’t be forever violated with impunity.” [Boris Pasternak]

Your Daily Dose of Wicked Good Food:

I am cheating today in giving you a recipe not original to Keen Things. Most of the recipes I give you are my own, unless otherwise noted. I did make this yesterday and it is yummy. I got this from Simply Recipes

Pumpkin Bread:

1 1/2 cups (210g) flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (1/4 L) pumpkin purée*
1/2 cup (1 dL) olive oil
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup (1 dL) chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Sift together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda.

2 Mix the pumpkin, oil, eggs, 1/4 cup of water, and spices together, then combine with the dry ingredients, but do not mix too thoroughly. Stir in the nuts.

3 Pour into a well-buttered 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Bake 50-60 minutes until a thin skewer poked in the very center of the loaf comes out clean. Turn out of the pan and let cool on a rack.

Makes one loaf. Can easily double the recipe.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Another Wonderful Tuesday

Image by Me

I would like the world to know that I have not had a cup of coffee in five days. Anyone who knows me understands the deep meaning of that. I finally decided that it was time to detox from coffee. See, it is not the caffeine that does me in. Actually, I do fine with the stimulants. It is other compounds in coffee that lead to muscle spasticity for me, and I was having some TMJ symptoms, aching jaw, cracking and popping sounds on chewing, and headaches. Those things are abating now, and that means I can probably nosh on a bagel this weekend. Yay!

Life has been a bit complex these past few days. Raising teens is not easy. I am also having some difficulty with one of my clients. One of the kids was home sick with stomach flu yesterday. And a certain financial burden reared it's ugly head yesterday. And then there is that nasty car accident to deal with. So, um, yeah, lots of things going awry. But, I remain calm and positive. Just more to put on the List of Things To Do.

And, of course, high on that list is Looking For Cool Things on the internet!

Your Daily Dose of Cool Things:

Periodic Table Printmaking Project

Kiva Loans

Melanie Horsnell

Your Daily Dose of Wonderful Design:

John Ferdinand
"Our focus is on creating beauty, that every piece you hold in your hands is tactile, it's arresting, and it makes an emotional connection. We care passionately about quality, about integrity and uncompromising attention to detail."

Your Daily Dose of Inspiring Words:

"Einstein was wrong when he said "God does not play dice". Consideration of black holes suggests, not only that God does play dice, but that He sometimes confuses us by throwing them where they can't be seen." Stephen Hawking

Your Daily Dose of Wicked-Good Food:

Frommage D'affinois

For those who adore the creamy type cheese, this is a real treat. Frommage Daffinois is a smooth, lightly nutty soft cheese. Read More Here! My favorite way to serve this cheese is simple and delightful. I use the mini toasts (similar to melba toasts which may be used as well) a dollop of the cheese and a smidge of Red Pepper Jelly. So very Yummy.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Mastheads, Music, and Much Goodness

A Most Avid Reader (M.A.R.) asked me about my past mastheads. So I am throwing this out there. Hard to believe it has only been three months now. I have readers all over the world! *waves enthusiastically in the direction of Europe and Eastern Asia* I am almost done designing February's masthead. Actually I have designed two, and I can't decide which one to go with quite yet. I guess it will be a surprise next week! I will give you a hint, though: Green.




Your Daily Dose of Cool Things:

I would like to address something here that I am really pleased about. I call it the Softening of American advertising. Over the holidays, J.C. Penny used music from my beloved Weepies in their ad. I was so happy not to be yelled at, cajoled or spoken to in stupid ways. I have since heard a number TV ads using my favorite style of music, indie folk. Take a look at the ad using music from Peter Droge for Toyota. Hits the poignant button like crazy! I say this. KEEP GOING AMERICAN AD AGENCIES. I like it. Thus I lay at your feet:

The Weepies

Peter Dorge Toyota Ad

Old Navy

Landon Pigg-diamond commercial

Joshua Radin-Mothers Day JC Penney

Um, say WHAT?

Monkey Picked Tea???

I suppose this is far better than coffee beans plucked from civet poo...

Your Daily Dose of Wonderful Design:

Green Depot

And, ironically, located ON Green Depot Lane in the UK:

Element 7
I mention this site for more than one reason. First, it is a really slick site computer design wise. It uses a muted and "different" color palette, something I believe in deeply. It uses photography well to portray the products and the site is really pleasing to my eye. Secondly, the stuff they sell is really nice. Really. Nice. Wood. Mmmmmm.....wood!

Your Daily dose of Inspiring Words:

“Love is the ability and willingness to allow those that you care for to be what they choose for themselves without any insistence that they satisfy you.”-Wayne Dyer

Your Daily Dose of Wicked-Good Food:

Yummy Eggs atop stuffing

2 cups stuffing cubes
1 tablespoon butter or oil
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced red pepper
1/2 cup broth
2 eggs
grated cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Cook the onions and peppers in the butter/oil until translucent. Add the stuffing cubes and stir well. Add the broth and stir more. turn off the heat and let that sit for a few minutes to absorb. Grease a baking dish and place the stuffing mixture on the bottom. Crack the eggs and place them over the stuffing. Sprinkle the cheese on top. Place in the oven for about 12 minutes or until the eggs appear to be cooked to your liking.

It's Saturday So...

It must be a Pinch and Sprig Day! Go take a look and learn about herb wrangling.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

My addiction to Beauty

Looking back on some of my work over the past few years, I would have to say that this is one of my favorite portraits. The reasons are not apparent, though, because it has more to do with the alchemy between the child and the image. This girl's mother contacted me because her child was historically difficult to photograph. She had some neurological issues, and sitting for traditional shoots was nearly impossible. I went to their house and played with beanie babies on the floor in the kitchen for a long time. Bubbles were blown, and over time she opened up a bit. Of the nearly 200 images I shot this day, this was the "Ah HA!"one. When I go into a shoot with an idea of what I would like to capture and I find it evolving right before my eyes, it is sheer magic. In this case, because I could not use and flash or strobe as it could trigger seizure activity, I had to use available light, aka God's Softbox. In this one instant she leaned into a sun beam and stared me in the eyes, something infrequent for her. I live to shoot photographs that move me. This was a moment captured that I will never forget.

Your Daily Dose of Cool Things:

Keep Calm

Your Daily Dose of Wonderful Design:

Next Co.

I send you this link for more than one reason. I really enjoy Next and in particular their selection of clean and simple interior design offerings. Aside from that, though, I really groove on the layout of the pages on the site, and find myself enjoying messing around with the colors they offer. I find the above two images very appealing, calming and clear. I am working on a new website currently, and these two pages have given me much inspiration with regard to the color palette I will be using.

Your Daily Dose of Inspiring Words:

"It was one of those days when it's a minute away from snowing and there's this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it. And this bag was, like, dancing with me. Like a little kid begging me to play with it. For fifteen minutes. And that's the day I knew there was this entire life behind things, and... this incredibly benevolent force, that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever. Video's a poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember... and I need to remember... Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world I feel like I can't take it, like my heart's going to cave in. "- Ricky Fitts in American Beauty

Your Daily Dose of Wicked-Good Food:

Banana Bread

oven preheated at 350

4 overly ripe bananas
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 3/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick butter melted
2 eggs
pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
as always nuts optional

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.
Whip up the eggs and add the vanilla, butter. Smash the bananas until they resemble a goopy mess. Add those to the wet ingredients. Combine the dry and wet ingredients. Pour into a greased baking pan. (I tend to use the 9x11 pan because I find that using the traditional loaf pans tends to result in a more doughy middle. One that even toasting just can't spackle. BAke for 30 mins. or until a knife comes out clean when inserted in center of bread.

Oh, and frozen raspberries in January are almost as good as a hot tub in January.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Humor adjustment

Contrary to popular belief my adventures at the insurance adjuster went well this morning. At least I *think* it went well. I suppose when I get the final report on how much they are gonna cough up of the almost $1,500.00 I give them a year back to me. I think Fred Flintstone had the best bumper around. And the best dog, too. Hell, even Wilma was sorta hot. Today is a dog walking day for me. good thing, too. Four hours of hiking in the woods is exactly what I need today. And my iPod. Which reminds me...coming soon to Keen Things is a segment called iPod uPod wherein I give you a link to and iPod playlist available on iTunes. One of my favorite bloggers, Anne, at Ample Sanity is the reason I learned about 24 new to me artists last year. I figure, gotta spread the love, so keep your eyes peeled for Auditory Keen in upcoming posts.

Your Daily Dose of Cool Things:

Something most likely to be ON aforementioned iPod uPod. WARNING; THIS MAY NOT BE FOR EVERYONE. BUT, REALLY, IF YOU ARE SITTING AT HOME AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT WITH NO WINE IN SIGHT, WELL, IT HITS THE FRIKKEN SPOT. SO THERE. (caps on purpose, 'cause I am like that) (I think it is my responsibility to look at life in a positive way today. Thus the silliness you are subject to today, so put on your Giddy hat and crank the lever to 7.)

Your Daily Dose of Inspiring Words:

"Where do I get my ideas from? You might as well have asked that of Beethoven. He was goofing around in Germany like everybody else, and all of a sudden this stuff came gushing out of him. It was music. "I was goofing around like everybody else in Indiana, and all of a sudden stuff came gushing out. It was disgust with civilization." --Kurt Vonnegut, August 10, 2004

Your Daily Dose of Wicked-Good Food:
Roasted Beet and Carrot Salad

I usually roast a huge pan of vegetables on Sundays. That way I have them to pick at all week, my kids love to munch on them, and then we have them to put into quesidillas as snacks. today I made a salad for my lunch later, with roasted beet slices, roasted carrot slices, chevre and broccoli rabe greens. The colorful dressing was a simple olive oil and garlic maceration, with some smashed roasted beet to extract the color, a spoon full of apple cider vinegar to brighten up the top note, a pinch of celtic sea salt, a 1/2 teaspoon of Agave Nectar, and crushed black pepper.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Update: Funkytown

"Funkytown" by Alvin and the Chipmunks!!!

And "You Had a Bad Day"!!

This made me so very happy.

Antioxidants? Anti-accidents? Whateva...

I know some of you are laughing right now. But, really, I seem attract this stuff. None of the accidents I have been in in the past 8 years have been my fault. There have been three. The first one happened when the car in front of the car in front of me stopped suddenly, causing all of us to crunk. That was the end of the 89 Toyota Camry. The next one was 2 years ago, about now, actually, when the car in front of the car in front of me decided to BACK UP from an off-ramp. Totaled my 2001 Toyota Corolla. Today, I was sitting in my VERY STILL car on the approach to Storrow Drive, after driving almost 2 hours in bumper to bumper (no pun intended) traffic for a drive into the city, when the car behind me and in the lane to my right decided to cut in front of me. See, we had been sitting for a while, and the car in front of me inched up a wee bit. I decided to wait as the oncoming traffic from the bridge by the TD/Bank North side was really VERY ONCOMING. He/she seriously misjudged the distance involved. Bam!

So, yeah, I got swiped. I put my car in park, turned on my emergency lights, checked my left to see if it was safe to get out of the car to exchange information, and when I looked up, the car was GONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Gah. Bah, and Foo. Traffic all around me, I got in my car and drove to my destination. When I looked behind me after starting my engine up I saw the lady behind me on her cell phone, and I can only hope she was calling in the hit and run.

$500.00 deductible applies until we can find that sucker. I am probably looking at replacing the bumper and the front panel.

I hate city driving. I am not feeling too very much KEEN today.

Maybe this will cheer me up?

Your Daily Dose of Cool Things:

Snow Sculpture in China

Venus Orrachi Illustator Extaordinare!

This guy is simply amazing!! The things he does with a computer astound me. Photo realism at its best! I can only dream to be this good.

Your Daily dose of Wonderful Design:

I wrote about a jacket made with this type of voltaic material once before on another blog. I am ceaselessly interested in this type of futuristic thinking when it comes to clothing and accessories. While watching an episode of Project Runway a while back, one of the designers used this type of fabric on a futuristic design for a jacket that was really stylish. I only hope my kids don't ask for one for school, cause they cost major Washington's.

Voltaic Backpacks

Your Daily dose of Inspiring Words:

"Their carma may have hit my carma, but just wait until their karma hits them back"- Me

Your Daily Dose of Wicked-Good Food:

I am going to slide a bit on this today and report to you about antioxidants. I have several things I drink that I really enjoy, all of which are horrifically high in antioxidants. The first is Pomegranate juice.

I drink the POM brand, if it is on sale. I slug about 1/4 bottle a day. It is really strong and juicy (ahem) and it is bursting with fresh flavor. Bottle tells me little but the site tells me lots. Apparently, the phytonutrients in this tonic are beneficial for many things, such as atherosclerosis
, and, well, erectile dysfunction. Well, at least my veins is happy. *cough*

The next beverage I drink is Guayaki Yerba Mate a flavorful herbal brew (especially the mocha one!), though I do not yet have the fancy gear to drink it like the indigenous folk do. Maybe after I pay off my car repair...

The other drink is a tea made from Wolfberries/Goji berries
which are sweet and sour dried berries yielding a fruity tea. The berries, when soaked, are really yummy to eat, and I look forward to the bottom of the mug so I can munch on them. I have not been sick in a really long time, and I owe that, in part, to the antioxidants that I consume daily, lots of fresh air and a calm life. well, except for today....*sigh*

Monday, January 21, 2008

Compassionate Monday

Image by Me, chosen in remembrance of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Another cold weekend here in Boston. I was fortunate to dine at Betty's Wok and Noodle Diner on Huntington Ave in Boston. Giddy was I. Thrilled and rather enraptured with the decor, the food, the company and the people watching. I saw no less than 6 full length mink coats among the diners, many of whom were girding their loins for the theatre or symphony, which are located blocks away. At Betty's you choose what style of noodle you desire, and what sauce among several (I chose the Red Thai and Coconut milk). Next you choose the protein (I chose chicken) and then you may go pick your veggies from the veggie bar and leave them for the chefs to stir fry. Your huge bowl, really, the size of a generous moon crater, arrives, steamy and teaming with goodness. I ate until I heard my sinuses filling with the broth and decided that if I ate any more I would have to sleep standing up to prevent nasal leakage. I loved it so much that when I went grocery shopping yesterday I got bok choy and soba noodles and other yummies to replicate the meal for today. If you live in Boston, or within a 50 mile radius, go to Betty's, and tell the waitress that Julia, from Keen Things sent you. She will look at you quizzically and seat you anyway, cause she wants your money.

Your Daily Dose of Cool Things:

Oh, say, Mr. Science, lookie here!

Amethyst, a microscopic view

Microscopic Backgrounds
Birthstones under the Scope

So you like Gum, eh?

Italian artist Maurizio Savini has distinguished himself by using a very unusual material for his sculptures: pink chewing gum. Here are some of his works.

Your Daily Dose of Wonderful Design:

Sprout Bowls by viva Terra:
A pattern of newly sprouted legumes defines the design of these large airy bowls. Brass-welded and made from re-crafted metal, they blend classical elegance and contemporary style into functional sculpture. Used as centerpieces to display collections or as servers, the interlacing sprouts evoke the beauty of nature in form and texture.

Your Daily Dose of Inspiring Words:

Image by Me "I refuse to live a perfunctory life."- Me

Your Daily Dose of Wicked-Good Food:

Mini "pizza" appetizer


(for the four pieces pictured-multiply ingredients as needed)

2 pieces whole grain bread
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic

1 Italian plum tomato
four small slices of cheese (I use goat's milk cheddar or chevre)
olive tappanade (olive spread) or bruchetta
sprigs of fresh oregano

Toast the bread and cut out circles using a cookie cutter. Brush them with olive oil that has smashed garlic in it. Spread tappanade on the toasts. Cut tomato into circles and place one on each toast. Top with slice of cheese. Broil on High until the cheese melts and is bubbly. Top with fresh oregano.