Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Beware of nutritional supplements promising miracles

Oh, gosh, what a shock: 
A dietary supplement aimed at children with speech delays is being deceptively marketed by NourishLife, LLC, and may be hazardous to children’s health, according to findings by truthinadvertising.org (TINA). TINA, a nonprofit based in Madison, CT, has alerted the company and is filing complaints with federal and state regulators.
They left a comment on my blog once. I deleted it, and posted this
Just don’t shill your shit on my site, asshole. I've got enough medical related expenses right now without someone preying on a parent’s hopes and dreams with false promises and testimonials. Fuck right off.
A reminder that the FTC says:
Dietary supplements may seem like harmless health boosters. But while some have proven benefits, many don't. Unlike drugs, dietary supplements aren't evaluated or reviewed by FDA for safety and effectiveness, and even "natural" supplements can be risky depending on the medicines you take or the medical conditions you have. In recent years, hundreds of supplements also have been found to be tainted with drugs and other chemicals. Always talk to your doctor before you take a new supplement, and avoid any supplement claiming it's a "cure."
Eat healthy unprocessed foods as much as possible, and save your money.  

Edited to add: this press release went out in March, but I just heard about it now. Spread the word!

Sunday, October 6, 2013


One day a long long time ago, I think it was in May, I went to a garage sale with the kids. I gave this bench a look, but from afar it looked like the price tag said $300, which was believable. A nice bench like that.  But as I squinted more carefully, I realized that this oak veneer bench with hideous stained fabric was really marked $30. No way, I thought very very quietly to myself. What a deal. I sprang into action, declared it sold, and made the kids sit on it for safekeeping. You know how crazy people can get at garage sales. I wanted to take no chances.

Isn't this great? I said to the kids. No, they said. They hated it. I proudly brought it home and showed it to N. He was not impressed. No vision, this family of mine. So I ignored them and went to the fabric store, clutching a coupon. And now, wah laa, it is finished. Got some nice baskets from Target to store our shoes underneath. Makes the back door all fancy-like. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

View from a blog

Gosh, it's been an age. Hello!

We had a fire in the chiminea the other night. I sat there quite awhile, as you can see. 

Trash picked items: hurricane lamp, sundial, candlesticks, and the lovely fern in the back.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Adventures in travel

View from the breakfast table, near San Gimignano
We recently returned from a long trip visiting family in Switzerland and hanging out like Eurotrash in Tuscany. There’s too much to tell, but I’ll try to hit a few highlights.

Turns out renting a GPS from Hertz at the Z├╝rich airport costs a completely ridiculous 30 euros a day. In retrospect, that would have been cheaper than the divorce that would have been imminent had we traveled with only a map. Thankfully, my cousin ripped his GPS off his dashboard and handed it over just as he was dropping us off at the train station the evening before we left.

We named her Inge. It was a love-hate relationship from the start. Her best lines included, “Sie befinden sich in einer Sackgasse,” (You are in a dead end.) while we barreled happily down the Autobahn. Also, she regularly chirped “Achtung! Gefahrstelle!” (Careful! Dangerous area!) for no discernible reason. And you haven't lived until you hear Inge say, “Poggibonsi,” which is a small Italian town.

Lastly, here's some very old artwork (1500s? Maybe earlier.) we saw at Florence's Duomo.

Apparently this Disney shit is much older than I thought.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Triathlon, revisited

So, unlike last time, two years ago, I very much do want to do a triathlon again, and here it is, only days after finishing this year’s. I managed to finish in a slightly better time than my last attempt, too, which was my goal. Hurrah!

While I was standing around in my swimsuit and swimcap, waiting for my wave to start, I made a little small talk with the people around me. Then one of them looks at me more closely and calls me by my most-commonly-incorrect-version-of-my-name. “Yes?” I say, because, well, close enough. She points to herself and says, “Kathy F---“! A name that sounded vaguely familiar from high school. That woman is seriously gifted. Recognized me after 25 years, in a swimcap. I looked her up in the yearbook when I got home. Yep. That was her. How do people *do* that?

Anyway, the water temperature was only 70, which worried me. A lot of women chose to wear wetsuits, but I decided I didn’t want to deal with all that. When I first started swimming, I took stock of why I was gasping and flailing about. Turns out I wasn’t panicking. I was freezing. Did a lot of backstroke. Tried to avoid hitting people. Felt pretty good when it was over.

Got on my bike and averaged 17.6 mph, despite the wind. Whee!

Parked the bike (after going down the wrong bike rack lane, gah! Transitions are tricky.) and started the run. At no point did the run really feel great. I chose to carry my water bottle, and I’m glad I did. I can’t drink out of those little cups, and I was really dehydrated. I am a little bummed that my time didn’t reflect all the running I did going into the race. I did 4 miles in 40 minutes on the bike path recently! But oh well.

I do love looking at the results in detail. The third and fourth place overall finishers were 16 and 14 years old, which is amazing. There was also a 77 year old who finished in 2:05! WOW! And a 72 year old beat me by 12 minutes. Inspiring.

In related news, I found out today that I raised over $1000 for the school garden. Fundraising is uncomfortable, but I assume most people I know give to charity, so it’s just a matter of asking at the right time. People feel good when they give, and I’m helping that along. Thanks to all of you who threw in some bucks!

Plus doing the fundraising gave me an excuse to call one of my college friends who I don’t talk to often enough. I love friends that still make you laugh even when you don't talk very often. Konrad, you are a gem. I bet I’d even recognize you in a swimcap. A really flowery old-lady one.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


In Real Book Club news, recent picks were: 
  • The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  • Machine of Death edited by Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo, and David Malki
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  • Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • Divergent by Veronica Roth
  • Lean In: Women Work & the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
  • Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Of those, I recommend Gone Girl the most, although it did make several people totally crazy, which I also understand. It’s got a plot that won’t let you go, though. No denying that.

Next month we’ll discuss The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson. I've already read it, which is good, because I've got a huge pile of other books to wade through.

For my Work Book Club we attempted The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt. Because everyone knows that discussing politics and religion at work is a good idea! But it worked out fine, in that I don’t think anyone finished it. It was very dry. I’ll try to finish it sometime, maybe. 

We also discussed Lean In, so that was a win for me, since I discussed it with both groups. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Holy moly, there's a lot of my purple asparagus this year. And it's mostly just me that eats it. And weeks left of the 4-week harvesting period! Just made a double batch of this Cream of Asparagus soup for tonight. I'll report back on how it turned out after dinner. (Note that the recipe leaves out garlic. Typo, probably.)

And I just had the most delightful salad. I can't quite pin down what made it so good. It was:

  • A little Romaine lettuce
  • A chopped hard-boiled egg
  • Some blue cheese crumbles
  • Sprouted lentils
  • Fresh from the garden organic gorgeous thick purple asparagus cut lovingly into tender beautiful chunks
  • Caesar dressing

It's a very nice time of year. Planted 27 tomato plants and 15 pole beans today. Cukes, herbs, whatnot went in yesterday. Still having trouble with the potatoes being eaten by chipmunks, and something is eating my beet leaves. This means war, vermin.

Edited to add: The soup was fantastic! N couldn't get enough of it. Naturally, the kids hated it, but oh well.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Updates on 2013 resolutions

I made an abundance of resolutions this year. I don't know what possessed me. I'm not going to talk about all of them. This is more of an overview.
Eco and volunteer work
Work on the new school vegetable garden. This has turned into quite the time suck. I organized volunteers to build the raised beds, shed, and benches. I've got nearly the whole summer covered for watering. I procured the seeds. When I look at my email sent folder, I’m a little shocked at the level of work I've put into this thing. Think happy non-raining thoughts tomorrow at 3:15 when the students are supposed to move dirt and mulch around! We already had to postpone once. For the record, there are other parents also putting in huge amounts of time and effort. It’s really quite a project.

Organize triathlon fundraiser. I got two people to sign up. I was hoping for more, but hey, two. I’m still sending out my own fundraising emails.

Grow one new vegetable at home. Kale! Lemon cucumbers! And while we’re on the subject, I’d like to mention that my fruit trees are all blooming out of control this year, including the pear tree and Russian quince. Let’s hope I actually get to eat some of it this year. Garden in general is looking great. Lots of work still ahead, putting in my tomatoes are all that.


Finished two jewelry projects.

According to Good Reads, I’m slightly ahead of schedule, having read 17 books since the first of the year.


Looking good! Big trip planned.

Me Me Me

Buy some new clothing. Got some great stuff at a rummage sale. That probably doesn't count.

Sprint triathlon training is going well. I can run 4 miles now, which is more than the race requires. A first for me. Biking is fine, swimming is fine. No complaints. Does take a lot of time, though. Exercising.


Uh. OK, probably should buckle down here a little.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Late start to Zone 5's Spring

I finally got my seeds started a couple of weeks ago, which is crazy late, but I just couldn't get excited about planting stuff when there was still snow on the ground. Winter came late and stayed late, in stark contrast to last year’s insane 87 degree days in March. Here we are, mid-April, and we've only had a small handful of nice days. Lots of rain, though, which considering the drought we had was very welcome. For awhile. Now it’s mostly just boring.

So, the rhubarb is coming up, but there’s no sign of the asparagus yet. I ate my first thing out of the garden today – chives! On my egg salad bagel for lunch. Yum. I direct seeded radishes, beets, carrots, peas, bok choi, lettuce, spinach, and broccoli raab. Mostly the radishes seem to be sprouting. Inside I started all the usual stuff, plus kale. I started tons and tons of cukes, including lemon cukes. I want enough to give a lot away, esp. after last year’s non-cuke production.  I think after school today I’ll finally buy my seed potatoes. I have the pots ready to go, but last time I went to Sneed's they weren't in yet. See: late snow mentioned earlier.

I put garlic in last fall, and that’s looking pretty good. Parsley continues to self-seed. Egyptian walking onions are also growing nicely.

I have so many seeds. I was in charge of getting them for the school garden, and I did not disappoint. I went to a local seed swap, and the woman in charge was nice enough to give me the leftovers. She had gotten 50 packets from High Mowing Seeds, so I applied for the same type of donation ($5 for 25 packets of seeds packed for 2012). They can’t take requests, though, so some of the seeds weren't what we needed. So I picked up the rest at Sneed's.

Speaking of the school garden, I was in charge of getting the build team staffed to build the veggie garden. The principal and 11 parents showed up, which was fantastic. Didn't take too long to build 6 raised beds (from kits), 2 benches, and a storage shed. Luckily, since we've been all DIY for years I knew who to ask to help. I wanted only people who knew how to work a screwdriver. The dirt and mulch will be delivered in a few weeks. We plan to have the students move most of that around. That’s the low-skill end of the job, so that should be fine.

Last week I invited myself to help make newspaper seedling pots with the school's Garden Club (4th grade, including Boo). We managed to churn out 150 in an hour, which is pretty good if you consider that they were very interested in getting the best possible photo to be showing on the outside of their pots. Kids are not very hard workers these days. Blame the unions.

Monday, March 18, 2013


Hi. I've been thinking about blogging. I just haven't actually blogged. Just posting a quick thought for a freezing rainy Monday, while I have a bad cold and strep. Good times.

I don't really watch the Simpsons. Never much did. But this was one of my favorite TV moments ever. Can you believe this episode first aired in 1995?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Easy reader books

Our library at some point decided that since every publisher has its own ideas about how to rank reading difficulty levels, they would have their own system. So, our easy readers go from yellow to orange to red to light blue. After that, you move to chapter books. Unfortunately, most easy reader books are awful. Just horrible crap. And that is why, my friends, Dr. Seuss made a fortune. His books are entertaining without being too difficult. Most authors are total shit at this. A new contender in the field is Mo Willems, with his wonderful Elephant and Piggie books. Sadly we didn’t discover them and/or they weren’t published yet when they would have been truly appropriate for my kids. But we read them anyway. Good fun.

Nea has finally graduated (third grade, 8.75 years old) to the light blue books. Maybe that’s why the quality is slightly better. The first one at this level that blew my socks off was No More Monsters for Me! by Peggy Parish. 64 pages, and I was gripped by the plot the whole way, as was Nea. You may think I’m overstating the case, but no, really, I swear. So I checked to see what other wonders might await us from Ms. Parish. I had no idea she was responsible for the awful Amelia Bedelia books. I thought they were dated when I was a kid. But she’s got a few others, so we’ll be checking those out.

Any other suggestions? Nea has made great strides in reading, but it’s still hard for her, and a good story helps so much. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Hey, look at me go with my resolutions! Did some jewelry already. This necklace with matching earrings is for my old buddy old pal Tish, who I've known since 9th grade English class. The last two times Tish and I got together, we were both wearing purple, so I went with that. I'm almost finished with mine, which is very similar but slightly different. For that total Bobbsey Twins look. 

And in case you were wondering, that is a porcelain rubber glove mold, size 5 1/2, purchased at Architectural Artifacts a long long time ago. I think it's one of the coolest things I own. We've been wanting to take the girls to that store again for awhile. In the meantime, feel free to buy me this. Would look stunning in my house.