Monday, November 26, 2012

Breastfeeding Baby Doll

With all the new toys out there for the holidays ahead, there is one that is getting lots of press.  Berjuan Toys has a doll that makes suckling noises prompted by a halter worn by its young owners.  The Breast Milk Baby has received much praise along with an equal amount of critisismBill O'Reilly says this kind of doll "sexualizes young girls" while others feel there is a valuable place for this toy in families who have recently acquired a new sibling.  It costs $89.00 but has not flown off the shelves here in the U.S. like it has in other countries.

I have an opinion but it isn't mentioned in all the press this doll has generated.  I loved dolls when I was young, like many girls, but when it came to the pretend babies' responses, we used our imagination.  My sister and friends did not need dolls that had robot reactions, we just pretended whatever it was the moment called for, based on our experiences and age.  One time when my family was camping out in the Colorado wilderness, my sister and I pretended that small logs set aside for the fire were baby dolls.  They had names and all kinds of characteristics that real babies possess but lacked anything physical that resembled live little ones.  And that was ok because we were playing for us, not the benefit of anyone outside the interactions.  Our imaginations were exercised in a way that led to creativity and the independent ability to make our own fun.  Kids are capable of that when they aren't force-fed alternatives.

I'm sure the debate this toy has stirred up will not be over anytime soon.  What do you think?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Ten Years Later

Ten years ago today my mom died as a result of breast cancer.

Ten years.  Sometimes it seems like so much longer that my family has been without her.  Some days I have an urge to call her up with news to share before I remember that I can't.  Ten years expands and contracts and remains the same on any given day.

Last month, I made this portrait of my mom through Bank of America's Everyday Portrait fundraiser.  It required a downloaded photo and a list of words that you associate with the person you are honoring.  Bank of America donated $5.00 to breast cancer research for every portrait made and you could download your own tribute.

I don't know how many words I came up with for my mom but I do know it made me go back in time to remember what kind of person she was and how she lived her life.  I got to really think about her in a constructive way, sifting through and choosing adjectives that described who she was during her 56 years on earth.

We all expect to lose our parents at some point in our life but knowing this does not make it any easier.  Many of you reading have lost your own mother or father and know exactly what I am talking about. There are no words, no preparations, no hiding spots to retreat to, that will lessen this sadness.   Our comforts lie in the memories we cherish, the legacy we were gifted, and the way this shared experience binds us to others.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Measuring Time

photo by Kristin Repp
There are so many ways to measure time:  seconds, minutes, hours, days, years....  and events.

Some events mark time in a way a clock or calendar could never do.  Some events define entire decades, movements, generations.  And they give us touchstones to refer to as we look back on our lives.

These events place us in an exact moment in time.

Yesterday, 49 years ago, John F. Kennedy was assasinated.  Can you picture where you were when you heard this devistating news?

Some other significant events include:

- The assasination of Martin Luther King, Jr. (April 4, 1968)

- The assasination of Bobby Kennedy (June 5, 1968)

 - The day Elvis Presley died (August 16, 1977)

 - The night John Lennon was killed (December 8, 1980)

 - The Space Challenger Shuttle Disaster (January 28, 1986)

 - September 11, 2001

These are some of the events that tie us together as a generation.  We suffered and grieved together.  Then we managed to move forward because we had each other to hang on to and provide for. 

If you have a moment, I encourage you to jot down a few notes about how you experienced each of these significant happenings, for yourself and those who follow.  Our stories matter.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Wishes

This photo was taken by my good friend, Kristin, who is such a talented photographer.  I love how it speaks of bounty and emptiness, reflecting the autumn season and the uneven beauty of life itself.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.  May this holiday find you surrounded by family and good fortune.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Look Who's Fifty!

[Doctor No poster]Skyfall poster

The James Bond film series has been alive and well for fifty years.  The first movie, Dr. No, came out in the UK during the fall of 1962.  The latest thriller, Skyfall, opened in theaters just a couple weeks ago.  I have yet to see it but my local newspaper gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars.  The main character is aging along with the rest of us, perhaps a bit slower than most of us, but the film industry is certainly not done with him yet.  There is even an official James Bond 007 website, if you would like to know even more about these exciting, entertaining movies.


Another fifty candles can be lit for the iconic Rolling Stones.  They started playing half a century ago in London and have managed to retain 3/4 of their most notable original members.  The new guy, Ron Wood, has been with the band for 37 years!  At their start, they were dubbed the "Anti-Beatles" for being the bad guys compared with the fab-four's shining reputation in the early sixties.  The Stones have a 50th anniversary tour coming up and a new documentary out on HBO titled "Crossfire Hurricane."  If you are a fan, or just interested in cultural longevity, you must check them out.

Both of these events make 50 look like more of a stopping point than a large number.  And don't we all love a Happy Birthday?!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Anthropologie - for the rest of us

 I love walking into an Anthropologie store in the mall.  Immediately, you feel transported from suburbia America to a vintage flea market in Europe.  French music is playing, fragrant candles flicker here and there, and the merchandise seems refreshingly different.  The skirts, blouses and assessories could make any of us look Parisian, complete with an amber aura as if we were being viewed through a retro camera lens.
But, and there are two big ones, the price tags are high and the sizes are small.  Trefis states that Anthropology appeals to affluent women  by selling a "lifestyle", rather than individual products.  I happen to like the lifestyle but am not affluent, by any means.  Their pants are offered in sizes 24 (zero) - 32 (size 14) but there is no way I could fit into a pair, which is more my problem than their fault.  Tops also come in XS - L or XL but even the more generous sizes seem rather petite and I doubt I would be comfortable for long in one.  *Sigh.* However, Antropologie is a very successful company and is not being held back by the small part I might contribute financially if I happened to be rich and skinny.
Still I can't help but wish there was something like this, unique clothing in a bohemian atmosphere, for people like me.  If you are an inspiring entrepreneur, I hope you will look into creating a store similar to Anthropologie for "the rest of us."  Maybe it could be called Budget-pologie Plus.  That kind of takes away all the ambiance, doesn't it?  And maybe that's why it doesn't exist.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ginger Snaps

My mom used to make these cookies as I was growing up and they became my absolute favorite treat.  This recipe is so easy and the smell of these baking is better than any fall-scented candle out there.

Ginger Snap Cookies

2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 egg
4 T molasses
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger

Mix oil, sugar, egg, and molasses.  Add flour, soda, salt and spices.  make small balls and roll in sugar.  Bake at 325 degrees for about 13 minutes.

Let me know if you make these and how you like them.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Say Yes

This beautiful image and quote is from the weekly newsletter of Where Women Create.  Here is their website. If you subscribe, you will receive goodness like this each week in an email.  And who wouldn't love a positive message to savor and think about every now and then?!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Yummy Fall Recipe

I made this dish for dinner the other night and it was so fabulous I wanted to share it with you:

Butternut Squash and Green Chile Enchiladas
3 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
2 Anaheim peppers
8 corn tortillas
1 cup shredded Mexican-blend cheese
1 can (about 10 ounces) green or red enchilada sauce (I used a green hatch chile style)
Sour cream and chopped cilantro, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss together squash, oil, salt and pepper.  Spread on a baking sheet and roast until tender, 20 to 30 minutes depending on size of chunks.  Move squash to a dish.  Place peppers on the baking sheet.  Switch heat to broil and broil peppers, turning often, until skins are charred and blistering, about 5 minutes.  Place peppers in a brown paper bag to steam for 10 minutes.  Switch oven heat to 350 degrees.  Remove peppers' skins, seeds and stems and cut into thin strips.  Pour half the enchilada sauce into an 8 by 8 inch baking dish.  Warm tortillas in the microwave for a minute or so, until pliable.  Place about 1 tablespoon cheese, one or two squash cubes on each tortilla.  Roll and place seam side down in the baking dish.  Top with remaining cheese and sauce.  Bake 15 minutes.  Garnish with sour cream and cilantro.
I got the recipe from my local newspaper.  It was easy and so tasty.  Let me know if you try it out - I'd love to hear what you think.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Safety vs. Independence

clouds over Arizona, my home
I read an article in the paper on Sunday by Larry Neumeister titled,"Superstorm Was Cruelest to Elderly" (you can read an on-line version of it here.)  Superstorm Sandy claimed victims of all ages, but those over 65 were especially vulnerable for a variety of reasons.  Older adults often have mobility or health issues which are affected when evacuation is necessary and power supplies are lost.  The article states that many elderly residents decided to stay put even when advised to leave their homes which were in the storm's path.  This leads to the question, "Should senior citizens be forced to evacuate when there is danger or should they remain autonomous in their decision making?"  No one wants another human being to perish in a natural disaster when there was plenty of warning and opportunities to avoid this scenerio.  But then again, I don't want someone making decisions for me just because I am a certain age that society deems incapable of weighing risks and doing what I feel is best for me.  I want to retain the right to stay at home, if I choose, in such a case.  What do you think?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Taking the Hard Way Home

Brandi Carlile's latest album (above) came out in June 2012.  It's a great collection but there is one song on it that I sang out loud all summer long because it resonated with me so strongly:  "Hard Way Home."

I'm not sure about you, but I could have made things a whole lot easier on myself by making better choices in the past.  I know that we learn through our mistakes and that those experiences are what make us who we are but did it really have to be that difficult?!  So this song is kind of a fun take on that thought. 

Give it a listen and you might be singing it loudly yourself.  And even if you don't relate to the lyrics, it has a good beat and it's easy to dance to.  :-)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

What Do You Want to Do (with the Rest of Your Life)

April is a creative business coach and has a website titled Blacksburg Belle.  She is oh-so young and beautiful but wise in a way that spans generations.  She recently created a video, "How to Figure Out What You Want to Do with Your Life", which included a list of ten questions to ask yourself if you would like to approach an answer.  I printed these off to ponder and I believe that, with a few tweaks, these inquiries could benefit the not-so-young, as well.

I know there are many of us mature women who have a second career in mind, whether this is a volunteer position after retirement, a different job for the rest of our employment years, or a "hobby" which may or may not be a financial venture for us at this stage of our lives.  We women live a long time and it is only natural that we could decide to have more than one career. 

You may already know what your want to do next but, if not, April's list could be just what you need to narrow it down.  I have added a few words (that are highlighted) to her original list to make it more applicable to the over-thirty (ha!) crowd.

10 Questions to Consider
By April (and me)
1.  What do you want to be known for (in your later years) ?
2.  What activities give you a thrill?  What can you get lost in for hours?
3.  What lifts your mood?
4.  What would your perfect day look like?
5.  What do people thank you for?
6.  What is something you'd love to do but your don't even let yourself go there because it's too scary (or impractical or even embarrassing) ?
7.  What do you think about doing when you retire (or reach age 50, 60, or any other milestone) ?
8.  If money wasn't a factor, how would you spend your time?
9.  What about your current work or career bores you or frustrates you?
10.  When are your fascinated with learning?  What did your always like learning about in school?

*  Is there any career/passion you wanted to pursue when you were younger that got pushed to the side by daily life?
I am still contemplating some of these questions but feel them pulling me closer to my own soul's longings.  I hope you take some time to go through them yourself, opening yourself up to what may be waiting for you just around the bend.