Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sweet n' Scrubby---Aye!

My friend Meg and my daughter Sage and I made sugar scrubs last night. I'm expanding my Moody Girl line and Meg was interested in making some too. It was a fun little gaggle of girls and we certainly did our share of giggling amid our sniffing of the over 50 different essential oils I have on hand. I wonder if my grandmother's quilting bees were like this. Did they sit around and talk about silly girl things and giggle at nothing in particular? I'll bet they didn't drink Mojitos which was the drink of choice for Meg and me (Sage drank root beer, what kind of mother do you think I am!) We joked about rum and pirates too. Why's the rum always gone? We tried 3 different scrub recipes, each with our own individual bowls and spatulas and each of us choosing our own scent combinations. For the first batch, Sage chose Lemon Sage (hmm, a little self promoting, don't you think) complete with added glitter to boot. Meg chose Ylang Ylang and Vanilla. For me, inspired by the Mojitos, I chose to blend Lime and Spearmint.

I think the lime green label I'd printed out beforehand helped with the inspiration but I think it really turned out well.

The second and third batches were a little more tricky. Meg couldn't decide on a scent for the third so, thinking like a pirate, she decided she needed more rum. Aye, me booty!

I'm not sure if it was the rum or the overdose on sniffing too many essential oils (I did warn everyone) but Meg and I both had trouble sleeping last night. She sent me a message this morning : "I totally see now what you mean about the fragrances keeping you up... I was SO awake, finally fell asleep, only to wake up at 1:30 having crazy dreams that you and I were pirates making sugar scrubs and a monster was after us."

I'll bet Grandma and her quilting bee ladies never had so much fun.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Purple Spuds

On a recent trip to Whole Foods, I came across these purple potatoes. I've only ever seen these in Whole Foods and Wild Oats so I figured, they must be good for me, right? I always feel so much better about eating food from Whole Foods even if its slathered in butter. Hey, its Whole Foods butter! (Shh, don't ruin the illusion.) So I thought, "wouldn't these make the prettiest mashed potatoes?" I have always heard you should have more color on your plates, right? It means you're eating a variety of foods. So, not one to shun good advice on healthy eating, I bought these to "color up my plate." (ahem...the illusion thing again...thanks)

Here they are all cut up and purty....

And aren't they even purtier all mashed up with a nice contrasting yellow tab of butter on top. (Whole Foods butter, its good for you!)
By the way, I made that bowl, from scratch, on a potter's wheel and everything. Homemade purple mashed potatoes in a handmade bowl. Ahh, life is good.

For those of you who are worried, I paired this with grilled chicken breast and a colorful salad. Only problem is, it didn't stay on my plate long enough to get a picture of that.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Magpie Skinnies

I do have real friends not just internet ones despite what my earlier blog entitled Blogging Chicks might have led you to believe. My friend Meg is awesome. She's real. I just opened a virtual store on to sell my infamous Moody Mud and she designed my banner in about oh, 5 minutes! We were chatting on IM and there it was, my new banner.

Thanks Meg! She also designs the cutest onesies and sells them on her etsy shop. This is one of my favorites. If I had a little baby, I'd have one of each of her designs. She's also does paintings and is working on a children's book which I think is a grand idea. She's far more industrious about art than I ever was. If you want to check her stuff out, go to her etsy store! magpieskinnies

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Austin's Uncommon

I visited this shop in Austin called Uncommon Objects. It was a typical booth style flea market but atypical in the fact that it housed the biggest array of some of the strangest and most fascinating flea market items I've ever seen amassed in one place. Unfortunately I had a whiny tween with me who seriously hampered my shopping ability but not before I could check out the bewitching display of vintage Shriner and Mason objects. I don't know if its the symbols they use like the "eye of providence" or the crescent that drew me in but I've always found those oddly intriguing. I really wanted the rich velvet cape with the eye of providence on it but it was a bit out of my price range....oh say...$500. That must've been the Grand PooPah's robe (or whatever it is they call him.)

Kind of like the $400 cowboy boots I found. I couldn't afford those either.

Oh well. It was sure fun to look...even with a whiny tween.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Blogging Chicks

I've spent a fair amount of time these past couple of weeks reading blogs and various women's forums and I have gotten a really good sense of female community that I find fascinating. I truly believe that girlfriends (with a select few male friends as well) are designed to hold each other up, listen, be there with a shoulder and sometimes to just plain laugh at life together.

Strangely enough, while the Internet has depersonalized alot of things in the past few years, I believe its also brought people closer together. I have revisited blog pages of people I've found interesting and with some, I feel like I know them. I feel like they're a girlfriend in a way sharing their daily lives with me like a phone call at the end of the day, just to chat.

Its also inspired me to actually look at some things in my life as "blogworthy" instead of as mundane things that I normally don't share with people. The other day I found purple potatoes at Whole Foods and when I made them into purple mash, I thought "Ohh I have to blog about these!" and it made it feel special somehow. That means I'm appreciating life instead of waiting for it to happen. I am appreciating everything and enjoying things in the "now" which is what I have been striving to do.

So thank you to all the bloggers out there who have helped me see that there are some really
cool people in the world and for giving me a new perspective on the ordinary.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Big Red's Workout......Lemon Raspberry Yogurt Cake

Just look at these healthy ingredients waiting to jump into Big Red. Big Red has been calling me ever since my blog post the other day about how neglected she is. I don't feel so bad about baking if I am using things like Organic flour, lovely brown eggs, organic yogurt, canola oil from Whole get the idea. I found a recipe for yogurt cake and I tweaked it a bit by adding raspberries and using lemon yogurt instead of plain yogurt.
Here's the recipe....

Lemon Raspberry Yogurt Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 heaping cup of lowfat yogurt (lemon is good)
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup Canola oil
1 cup raspberries (slightly thawed if frozen)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt (er…I rarely sift but at least mix it up.) Set aside.

In another bowl (or your Big Red Kitchenaid in my case) add yogurt, sugar, eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, and canola oil and mix until just combined.
If you don't know how to zest a lemon, just use the smaller holes on your grater and gently get the yellow stuff off the lemon.

Scrape down the bowl with a spatula (yours doesn't have to have the lovely melted handle) and add raspberries. Mix just until incorporated.

Pour your lovely swirly mixture into a greased loaf pan, or in my case since you just remembered you lent your one and only loaf pan to your mother, whatever groovy pan you have available. I even considered a muffin tin but was too lazy to put the little paper thingies in and dollop the batter into each little well. I opted for the valentines day heart pan even though its the middle of July. I digress. Sorry.

Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes or until you can stick a toothpick in and nothing goopy sticks on the toothpick. Remove from the oven and let cool.

This may be the most important step. DIG IN! Don't forget your favorite beverage. I think the milk jug says it all, don't you?

Dog Days of Summer

Sage is bored. Her friends are all out of town and she's got no camp this week. What's a bored girl to do when its too hot outside? Wash the dog!! This is an unexpected but welcome activity in my book.

I'm not so sure Yeta agrees.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Big Red

I love my Kitchenaid. I had coveted this one for years and finally was able to purchase one. The sad thing is, while she looks pretty sitting on my counter, she's sadly underutilized.

Why? Is it because I don't have the time? Is it because I'm a terrible baker? Is it because I need good recipes? Nope, its body image. Isn't it terrible when women feel like they can't bake because baked goods are bad for you? I've come to realize that no matter what food I eat, I have guilt. Instead of looking at food as nourishment and nutrients and the gift that it is, I look at every piece of food as a potential enemy...a wiley coyote there to tempt me only to result in making me fat.

Its an unhealthy attitude to say the least. Food is a life giver. Food should be revered. Instead it is shunned. If we were in another society apart from America, I believe our attitudes would be different. People are actually starving to death. They are literally dying from lack of food. Food to them would be a life saver. It would be something they would be incredibly thankful for. Something they would look at as a gift from the gods. Perhaps that is how I should look at it. So maybe Big Red needs to be revered too. Maybe I should use her today and make some incredibly delicious muffin or cake. And when I sit down to eat these wonderful gifts I can thank Big Red and the gods for providing me with such abundance and nourishment!
So thank you Big Red, you are curvy and beautiful...just like me!

Find the Birdie

My cockatiel, Lulu, thinks she's clever. She thinks I may not find her if surrounded by decoys. She does sort of blend in, but she didn't fool me.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


I love pie. Pie is the cure for everything. The main thing I remember about visiting my grandparent's house was the big cherry tree in the back yard and the sour cherry pie bubbling in the oven. I can smell it now. My grandmother was an incredible baker. She couldn't cook much else that was tasty but she could make a mean pie. I'm afraid the apple fell very far from the tree on this one. I can't make a pie crust to save my life and these days who knows what's in the store bought variety. Then I came across this recipe and the step by step pictures and voila! I could make a pie crust!

I love this woman's blog too. She makes living out on a ranch with a cowboy seem so idyllic. Sigh.


A few weeks ago I was thinking "positive thoughts" and saying affirmations while driving to my folks house. I did a silly thing, kinda like when I had the Magic 8 Ball fortune teller as a kid, and asked the Universe for a sign. I wanted a sign that things were on the right track and that my "intentions" were being heard.

I hit a red light, looked over to Kinkos, a place I pass nearly daily, and saw in the window a sign. It read, "Signs, You Need Them. We Have Them. Signs Work!" I laughed out loud at the humor of the Universe. Thanks for that.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


For the last 15 years, I've held Austin out as Mecca for when I'm feeling stunted in Kansas City. I feel like I'm stuck here but in reality, I'm the one who moved back here. I'm the one who made the bad decisions that led to me moving back here and technically, I'm only as stuck as I tell myself I am. So this year, my vacation spot of choice was Austin. Partly because I couldn't afford to go anywhere else, partly because Sage wanted to see this fabled city of gold and partly because I was ready to see if Austin was still as I remembered it, or if it had lost its luster since I left and since I'm in the over 40 crowd now.

Armed with stacks of CDs, we got in the car for the long road trip to the promised land.
I was pretty worried when the 11th hour of driving led us to the outskirts of Austin and there, in all its glory, was an exact replica of what I hate about Kansas City, strip malls for miles. The truth is, Austin's grown. Its spilling out over its jeans like a teenage girl with muffin top. Austin has managed to creep all the way north 30 miles or so to Georgetown leaving little evidence that the cities were once seperate. Sage looked around and said, "THIS is Austin?? It looks like Kansas." She was clearly disappointed that her aching butt was not going to be worth it. Feeling a lot less enthusiastic than I sounded, I said, "Oh, just wait til we get off the highway. Highways always look the same." As it turns out, my positivity paid off, and downtown Austin was pretty much how I remembered it.

We were lucky enough to have snagged a room in downtown Austin right on the lake near the Congress Avenue bridge that links South Austin with Central Austin. After settling in our hotel room we had a great first night in watching the 1 million bats emerge from that very bridge. The bats have made Austin their home in ever increasing number and Austin has embraced the newcomers and made them part of the city as they do with almost all newcomers. Austin is just that accommodating and full of southern hospitality. The bats are one of the top attraction for tourists and city dwellers alike.

It was under the bridge where I discovered that "Art is Dead." (I hadn't gotten the memo.)

For dinner went out to an Austin institution, Chuy's which was still there and exactly as I remember it complete with the neon sign and Elvis shrine inside.

This kitschy Tex Mex restaurant's main decor is Elvis memorabilia and colorful car parts from the 50's. The margaritas are strong and the salsa will sear your taste buds. What's not to love? While Chuy's may not be the best Tex Mex in town but it sure wins for me in the Austin ambiance department.

Austin is an oasis in the middle of what is otherwise a fairly conservative southern mentality. Austin is a pocket of hip and cool in a desert of Texas swagger. Yes, its the capital of Texas but its so much more than that. Perhaps due to the University of Texas being primary to the city, its got an eclectic, artsy, hippie feel all its own. Where else can you see cowboy hats mingling with dreadlocks, sometimes even on the same person. Where else can you slide down a sawdust dance floor to the sounds of Willy Nelson one minute and then jam to a reggae beat the next?

I'm glad to see the uniqueness is still there and I'm glad to see that not only is it still there, but part of what's grown in Austin is this too, not just cookie-cutter strip malls with obligatory chain restaurants. Austin has a campaign all its own to preserve the originality even. Everywhere you go, you see the slogan "Keep Austin Weird." I like this. I like that people are actually paying attention to what growth can do to the overall ambiance of a town. Austin is dotted with original and quirky shops and restuaruants all over town. The food is incredible and a huge variety abounds. We sampled the fare at many fine places.

Perched on the edge of the Hill Country, Austin has much to offer in the way of panoramic views, lakes, rivers and just pure nature like the view of Lake Travis to the left here.

It also has a spring fed pool right in the center of town that maintains a nice 66 degree water despite temps that often soar above 100. Within an hour away is the Guadalupe river which is also spring fed where you can rent tubes or canoes for a leisurely float down the river. Austin gets hot, so these are important diversions from the heat.

Along with the growth comes higher prices. I guess its inevitible. I used to live in Hyde Park which is a Central Austin neighborhood full of older Arts and Crafts style bungalows and just funky cool houses. Sage and I drove around and picked up Sale flyers only to find a 2 bedroom costs along the lines of oh...300-400K. Hmm, so if I move back, I may be able to afford this shinly silver lil beauty complete with pool in the front yard. I dunno, its got that Austin charm I've been missing. Looks cozy.

We drove around Austin alot, imagining what our life would be like if we lived there. We took day trips out into the hill country and the lakes. We even went all the way to San Antonio to Sea World. We were there for 6 fantastic days and we were so disappointed to have to leave despite the oppressive heat. We hadn't done everything I'd wanted to do. Sage cried the day before we were to leave because she knew it was her last day. I was proud to see she loved it as much as I did and that she really "got" the feel of the place and why I've always talked about it so wistfully and longingly. She wants to move there but for different reasons. She liked the cute boys there. For me, while boys aren't my main focus anymore I can understand the allure. For me its something else...I just can't shake the feel of the place. It feels like....home.

This Blogging Thing

Ok, I'm determined to figure this blogging website out. I don't know why my brain just can't seem to get the concept down on here. Maybe if I just start typing the blogs will be put in the right place. Do I have time for this? No. Do I want people reading my secret thoughts? Eh, who cares? I tell people everything I'm an open blog.