Thursday, March 31, 2011


Nice little thing, a sabbatical.  Well done, it is an opportunity to stretch out and discover new things without abandoning the old.  

Sabbatical:  (from Latin sabbaticus, from Greek sabbatikos, from Hebrew shabbat, i.e., Sabbath, literally a "ceasing") is a rest from work, or a hiatus, often lasting from two months to a year. The concept of sabbatical has a source in shmita, described several places in the Bible (Leviticus 25, for example, where there is a commandment to desist from working the fields in the seventh year). In the strict sense, therefore, sabbatical lasts a year.

This sabbatical is nearly over.  We are on our way back with tales of new adventures and ideas and perhaps even a new direction.  Stay tuned.  In the meantime, the editor has included a photo of how she is spending her sabbatical.  She said she was working on a book but I'm not so sure anymore.  Seems to me she is becoming a slacker....


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Eating Better

Want excellent information on living a healthier lifestyle?  Want to cut dollars off the grocery bill and know which food is okay to buy non-organic?  Don't care about organic?  Think about it.  Maybe you should.   

I am a strong advocate for organic food.  Yes, it can be expensive, but not always.  And yes, it supports an industry that now can be as misleading as the big food giants have been. 

In this country in particular we have become accustomed to large portions, perfect looking food, and excess in general.  Consider eating a better balance of food and a higher quality and maybe the super-sized snacks won't be so attractive.  The healthier we eat, the less opportunity we have for future illness. 

Many reliable sources, including the Environmental Work Group, a highly respected non-profit organization with a mission to "....use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment" have created easy to follow lists for what to buy organic, and what isn't necessary to buy organic.  Here's their list of produce, dirty (loaded with pesticides) and clean (not so much):

Dirty - Multiple pesticides found on these fruits/veggies - Best purchased organic - always wash produce regardless of where or how you bought it

Domestic blueberries
Sweet bell peppers
Grapes (Imported)

(This is one of the those times when I like frozen organic produce.  The produce is blanched on the spot, and then flash frozen.  Pesticides are gone.  Flavor and nutrition is locked in.  Buy a reputable brand and make such things as spinach omelets, cherry tarts, etc.)

Clean - fewer pesticides, considered safe, not absolutely necessary to buy organic but as always, please wash carefully

Sweet corn
Sweet peas
Sweet potato
Honeydew melon

Want a downloadable version of EWG's 2010 Shopper's Guide? click here.

Always, ALWAYS, wash your produce.  Even if you buy organic, you simply don't know who has touched the produce or where it has really been.  Be safe.  Soap and water, as my mother always said, never hurt anybody (well, some soap, but that's another blog...)
And in case I haven't given you enough of a nudge, read what the Washington Post had to say about strawberries.

Happy Eating!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

My New Best Friends


I'm not much of a plastics person, especially in the kitchen.  I really do love quality stainless steel cookware, glass storage containers, and I'm having a torrid affair with my chef's knife which was a lovely gift from good friends.

I love to cook, not full meals daily for a family, of course (I'll leave that to my friends Rosemarie and Cathy who have fed their families well over the years and have received many, many compliments).  I would perish.  More importantly, they would.  But I love to cook simple meals for myself and friends and occasionally go full out and be totally creative with it. 

How do we reduce kitchen stress while trying to be good to the planet, our wallets, and keep our cooking integrity?  I think this is an ongoing game of sorts and I'm always looking for kitchenware that does not interfere with the quality of the food.  Technology provides us with some really cool tools now and then.  Here are some of my new favorites from Fusion Brand, not new on the market, but new to my favorite things:

Isn't this the sexiest ice tray you've ever seen?

(multi purpose...) @$16.00
but how to resist that figure and that shade?
You need at least two!

Starbuck's should marry them.  If you're still using paper cups then try these and buy a few for your bag and car.  They are cute, reusable, and they will save a few trees, and @ $4.00, well, why not? 

Here's the cutie of the bunch, in my opinion:

You can wrap just about anything and cook it. Beats twine.  Beats all those ways we wrap food that we won't tell anyone about.  Beats everything I've seen.  @ $10.00 for a package of four (and isn't the color magnificent?), it's a good deal.  Personally, I have not fried (excuse me, "sauteed") anything wrapped in one of these, but that's me.  I do, however, use them for steaming and poaching (there is one for the grill which is flameproof and they also have a mini loop)

But here's my absolute favorite of all the Fusion Brand products:

This is so alien looking that I love it.  It holds several heads of broccoli.  You can boil one dozen eggs.  Consider the possibilities.  (I'm thinking you could probably hand wash your delicates in one also (let me know how it works if you're brave enough to try but please don't tell me you used the same one for the broccoli) and @ $15.00, I think this is something you'll want to use all the time.

Take a look at Fusion Brands products. What I really like about them, besides the colors and the design: 

Their products are made of FDA/EU food-safe silicone and BPA-free nylon

(Note to Fusion Brands should you see this blog post:  I could use a few more iceorbs.  They are fabulous at keeping the cat's drinking water cool in this weather, thanks)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Food Cure For Kids

I don't believe in following gurus but I do like to pay attention.  Sometimes it really pays off.  Great book, published recently by Oz Garcia, PhD, well known nutritionist to the stars and author, and Natalie Geary, MD,  physician author of the popular blog modernmums we have: The Food Cure For Kids.

Quite the interesting read on how to feed and educate your children about healthy food.  Here is Oz Garcia on Fox Five News  discussing the book, the issue of childhood obesity and how we can combat its ill effects.

Online Parents Magazine has an interesting article about healthy snacks for kids.  Even though I don't have kids, I read it periodically.  Knowledge is knowledge wherever you get it.  Their emphasis is health and happiness for future generations.  So that's a good thing all around.  Here's a photo teaser from their health snack article.

Dr. Geary's blog, modernmums, has an interesting article about The Food Cure For Kids in addition to other excellent nutrition information for kids.  Well worth the read.

And something close to my heart which I see becoming more mainstream for kids is yoga.  I've been in and out of it for years and currently am more in it since, for me, is an excellent way to soften the blow of stiffness that comes with aging.  Why not for kids?  And why not for you?  A few links for you with a few interesting people.

Yoga for Kids Silly to Calm

Angel Bear Yoga

I hope this information happily whets/wets your appetite.  Old/new.  Change is a good thing. 


REMINDER:  Check out the jbax Amazon store link in the upper left of the blog......some of my favorite things.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What To Do When You're Officially Unemployed - Besides Looking For Work

One Way To Pass the Time -

I'm a film buff.  Always have been.  My mother raised me that way.  I've seen every Cary Grant movie, every western, and every war movie ever made.  Or so I feel that way much of the time.  And it never gets boring.

One of my favorite actors is Tim Roth. 

Yup.  Mr. Orange in Reservoir Dogs.  Emil Blonsky, the "Abomination", in The Incredible Hulk.  You can check out his list of films here, or see clips from various shows and clips of him discussing his character Cal Lightman on the TV hit series Lie To Me on Fox channel here.
I suggest, however, this - if you want to watch him in full force, acting with incredible diversity and genius, then try these films:

Deceiver (1997) in which Roth plays James Walter Wayland, a rich young man who is a suspect in a murder.  Excellent cast including Chris Penn, Michael RookerEllen Burstyn, and Renee Zellweger......his portrayal of James Walter Wayland was riveting, and an excellent study in character portrayal.

For family viewing, try Skellig: The Owl Man.  (TV movie 2009)  This is a lovely film about 10 year old Michael, a boy in the UK, played by Bill Milner, who finds who he thinks is a homeless man in a shed attached to his family's new home.  Roth plays the disheveled Skellig wonderfully.  You can check out the film synopsis here and if you want a quality evening at home with the kids, consider renting this wonderful gem of a film.  And pay attention to the details in this.  Better yet, consider buying the book here because its a wonderful story by David Almond
Or, you could just look at Roth wearing his jammies and bunny slippers in the twitter photo below - its really him - its a verified account - he's a funny guy.....either way, he's a fairly impressive fellow.


Monday, August 30, 2010

A Month Later... a whirlwind....time, time, time.

Le Chat and I have been happily busy. So many fun things going on. Now that I seem to have conquered a bizarre and unfriendly stomach "thing" I've been plagued with for years, I have to say our house is a much nicer place these days. It's been a great month. Le Chat has been studying the art of concentration, and I have been working down a list of things I've been wanting to do for a long time.

I'm back to yoga. I've finished one year of looking at the DVD's and telling myself "I use to do that" and I've actually achieved "Wow! I can still do this!". This is an accomplishment.

I've been working on that writing project I occasionally talk about to my friends. I've completed 10 pages after hitting a wall. It was a very large wall. I am not always such a good climber. I do eventually, however, climb. Ten pages is good progress for me. It's been akin to giving birth except the baby isn't born yet but it is definitely on its way, although by the time it arrives it might be in grad school. We'll see. At least I'm not stalling any longer. And I'm wearing the climbing outfit. Especially since it now fits after conquering the stomach "thing" which, according to medical science and other intelligent folks, is probably some insanely odd food allergy, probably genetic. Oh, lucky me. Thank you Mom and Dad.

And jewelry: Though not ready to share the rings and things I've been developing, I am going to post a few pieces I've been playing around with. Metal, metal, metal - and beads. Sterling silver and copper, mostly,and I'm having fun with some abstract and fun pieces. So here we are:

Sterling Silver and Copper Necklace with Crystal Briolettes

I'm working with cold connections and taking a break from metal clay just to add some variety to my life but will surprise you soon!

Sterling Silver Ring with Copper Flower, Serpentine, Sterling Silver Tendrils, Rock Crystal

A whole lot of unusual! So much fun to wear. So much fun to make. It was an experiment and a happy one at that.

And then there is Ivy's necklace:

Sterling Silver Necklace with Glass Beads and Antique "Turquoise" Seed Beads

Ivy is the sweet little daughter of a friend of mine. I wanted to give her a necklace. Next time, however, I think it should be pink. She's apparently a pink kind of gal, at least for now. And she's a vegetarian this month. Maybe not so much next month. I think I'm going to take some lessons from Ivy about being open and looking at everything as if I'm seeing it for the first time.

So, I'm still just having fun, pulling some things together such as a blog store where I will be offering some of my favorite things, and acting as parental advisor to Le Chat who, despite what I've always thought, doesn't really care about much other than her chicken, turkey, and snacks. Apparently, she doesn't have anything wrong with her stomach.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Attention Must Be Paid

Unemployment throughout the country - including my own year long trek - and the failing economy leaves so many feeling as though they live on a cliff. Its easy to wake up some mornings and want to jump. For some, it seems to no longer matter whether they made wise investments, ate the right food, or chose the right career. Life seems to have ripped off many people, or so we think. And maybe there is no easy answer for all.

In this past near year and one half, I've lost a major income, had a nearly fatal car accident, health issues, and lost a significant family member. No, I'm not trying to elicit sympathy. I am a very fortunate human being. For every traumatic event, I have been blessed with the gift of friendship, love, and growth. I have no real complaints.

I try to post information of interest to whomever reads my blog. I make jewelry, cook, have a bizarre sense of humor and so I try to post along those lines. And I try to keep my personal politics away from the blog. Basically, its just an opinion. And religion. Also, just an opinion. But now and then I have a strong statement to make that I feel compelled to share.

This week, in my circle of extended family, there was a passing of a child. I can't think of one thing that could be said to these parents to console them. Not one thing. And so I won't say anything to them other than "I am so profoundly sorry for your loss". I know them very, very well. It touches me that this has happened. And that touch is deeper than I'd have imagined.

A friend and I had a conversation about Willie Loman in Arthur Miller's Death Of A Salesman.

The play illuminates the relationship(s) in Willie Loman's life, and his seemingly unbreakable failures. What always clings to my own memories about Willie Loman is what many of us remember most, the following quote - "Attention must be paid to such a person". Such a person as a man who at the end of his life seemed a failure to so many, a non-entity, someone to ignore, etc. Someone who could pass, quietly, and not be missed.

The death of the child this week in my extended family's life brings up another sad issue. Why? What is the reason? What possible meaning is there? Religious people will have their answers. Atheists will have theirs. I think none of them matter. I think what matters is that a child has left our consciousness, here one moment and gone the next. And there is absolutely nothing to say to the parents, to the grandparents, to the siblings and aunts and uncles and cousins and neighbors and friends. This is, in my mind, the ultimate and most devastating of all losses. So I am saying that "Attention must be paid to such a person" - to all people. Perhaps in the current climate of the troubled economy we have our wires crossed, our priorities out of order. Maybe we need to take a step back, re-think what we are doing and why we do it.

We are in the midst of crises. The country, the world - everything seems to have changed. What do we do? How do we cope? Is this the measure of who we are, the things we own, the titles we hold, the houses we live in? I think not, or it shouldn't be. We shouldn't be measured by our accumulations. We should be measured, and measure others, by whom we love, how we love, how we treat our families, friends and communities. This is who we should be. We should be compassionate souls. Not financial failures.

Every time someone we know is touched by loss this profound, it triggers our own experience and the repressed feelings that are hidden in our hearts return like new born fire eating dragons. We are all told to strive to put the feelings into place, to adjust, to move forward through the grief. "I know how you feel". Do we? I don't. I've lost parents, a husband, a brother, and more....and I don't have a clue as to how they feel. Not one single clue. I only know this: "Attention must be paid....".

Each birth and death should be shouted from our centers. Each human should be celebrated regardless of age, position in life, or accomplishments as they are born, while they live their lives, and as they leave us. We would not be who we are without having known them, no matter who they are. Once the shouting of recognition is done, then a moment of silence, and their names should be spoken often encouraging their memories and essences to stay with us. While we touch each other on our various paths, the idea that we have ownership or control is an illusion. The only control is in the moment and maybe not even then. While I don't personally believe in winged angels that are visible, I do believe in the presence of grace. I've felt it. I've felt angels coming and going and am always struck down to my knees with gratitude for knowing every single one of them. When it is my time, I want my friends to be sad that I have left, to tell silly stories about me, to be grateful I was here for however long that might be, and to feel the essence of my spirit as it climbs, or whatever it is going to do.

To the dear, sweet child who left us this week, I send you love on your journey. I send your family love and the hope that they can function, that they can love again, that they can find some way of breathing.

Everyone we know throughout our lives deserves to be shouted about whether coming or going. In my opinion, not much else really matters if we can't do that.
Writing this post is my way of shouting the spirit of a child, without betraying the privacy of her family. I encourage you to hug the people you love and be grateful for them. That's what I'm going to do.