Monday, April 23, 2012

Pinterest Echo Chamber

I recently came across a photo that might solve some of my design issues issues related to the reno of my boys' bathroom. I Pinned it, not so much to share it with the masses, but to place it on my design board, so I can find it later.

Then I decided to search Pinterest for more bathroom ideas.

This is what I got:

Rather than dozens of ideas, my results only included a handful of ideas (many of which are in the high-end fantasy realm) that were repeated over and over as I scrolled down the page. Even that image on the upper left, with the dark cabinets showed up more than half a dozen times.


I mean, it's nice when your network serves as a curator, but it's no fun when everyone's talking about the same thing.

At any rate, I'm headed to the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show this week where I'm sure to find many original ideas and lots of inspiration.

We're redoing two bathrooms and I'm gutting them both myself(!). Take a look at how our pink bathroom has been transformed already.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Red Mango is Coming to Skokie!

I've been in a funk since we returned from the State Science Olympiad Competition, but I'll save that for another post. I was driving home from a grocery run when I saw a Red Mango sign in a vacant storefront.

Red Mango is coming to Skokie!

Red Mango is coming to Skokie!

I'm going all Steve Martin in The Jerk on this one. For the next few days, everyone who sees me is going to be forced to share my glee over this tart frozen yogurt coming to town.

Well, the town I used to live in.

(edited to 4/18/12 to add) Duh! How about I share the location? Skokie is a sizable village. The Red Mango will be on Dempster between Gross Point and Lockwood, across from Lockwood Park.

I still like to see them succeed you know. (Speaking of which, the gifted school my boys used to attend kicked butt in the Science Olympiad meet. Ugh.)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Passover Seriousness

Jon Stewart has a great take on Passover vs. Easter (below) and notes that Jews take the holiday very seriously. We sure did. In addition to lots of cooking in preparation for hosting our first seder, DH and I spent a bit of time preparing our own haggadah for our gathering.

It wasn't until two nights before our big event that I found online resources that would have made selecting, cutting and pasting the content of our booklet a breeze, so I did it the old fashioned-way. I headed to the local library and poured over a bunch of books, as well as my small collection of haggadot.

The Women's Seder Sourcebook was the most intriguing book of the lot. In fact, I was so moved by much of the material in the book that I planned to host a women's seder. Then I realized I'd likely be tired from hosting dinner for 25 the night before, and we wanted to start demolition on our main floor bathroom after our seder.

Instead of hosting a women's seder, I created what my husband called a feminist haggadah.

That felt like an accusation to me, but it wasn't. He was merely noting that instead of sticking with the same old stories about Moses, the burning bushes, slaves and the parting of the Red Sea (though they were there, too) I'd mentioned women, by name, during our service: midwives that defied Pharaoh, Shifra and Puah, as well as Moses' sister Miriam. I might have mentioned Yocheved, their mother, as well.

I say egalitarian. He says feminist.

Tomato. Tomahto.

Considering that the Women's Seder Sourcebook was published in 2003, I was surprised to see how timely some of the readings are. For example, Sara Buchdahl Levine wrote:

In every generation, there are threats to women's rights, autonomy and reproductive freedom. Previous generations of women fought for and won many rights and freedoms for us. We should respect the feminism and passion that brought us to where we are, and we must sustain that legacy. But many of us have become complacent, confident that our rights and privileges will not be taken away. Today's political realities tell us that is not true.
She followed up with a call to action, that is even more true and necessary today than it was in 2003.

Zoe Baird wrote:

As we taste the maror (ed. note:a bitter herb, usually horseradish) tonight, we remember the bitterness of [our ancestors'] plight. The Passover seder calls on us to rededicate ourselves to alleviating the suffering of our fellow humans, whether it is from hunger, disease, oppression, or strife. While we are thankful for the bounty we are able to enjoy at this table tonight, we are also mindful of those who do not enjoy such privilege.
The seder is a powerful call to action, a reminder of how lucky we are to be free and how hard we must work not just to stay that way, but help others achieve freedom as well.

If only the holiday had a mascot and better candy.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

No Wonder Things Have Been Slow on This Blog

Things have been moving along at a pretty slow pace here because I've been working on some projects (top secret, of course) and I've been spreading my love and talent around the interwebs.

I've been writing about things like toilets and terrariums over at Aiming Low: Teach.

And I'm sharing some of our renovation progress along with tips for my local peeps on Angie's List. I don't have a landing page there yet, so I'll recap: How to Find a Chicagoland Contractor, Planning a Kitchen- Chicago Style, and (coming soon) April Showers Bring May Flowers and Flooded Basements in Chicago.

Most of my recent writing and vlogging is on my new home, Reluctant Renovator, so stop over and catch up with me.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

The Serendipity of Blogging

I was checking out my stats the other day, not because I obsess over them, but out of a general curiosity about how or why people end up here. Often it's because of something related to raising gifted children, though I largely feel like I've abandoned that topic (and then feel a bit guilty because, obviously people are looking for information, but, honestly, each year I become more cynical about public education ever meeting their needs).

Anyway, I noticed someone landed here search for "pesah dvar". Really? My blog? What was Google thinking? And who spells pesach (Passover) without a "c"?

I had to check out the landing page. On it, I rediscovered this gem from 2010:
Bad will be the day for human beings when they become absolutely content with the life that they are living, with the thoughts that they are thinking, with the deeds that they are doing; when there is not forever beating at the doors of their souls with some great desire to do something larger, which they know they were meant and made to do because they are still, in spite of it all, the Children of God.
Philip Brooks

I have been feeling a restlessness, a nagging (from my deep down in my soul, not just my kids in addition to my kids). Maybe it's a good thing. I just don't know where it will lead.

By the way, if you're looking for Passover action, check this out.  To be clear, though, making schmaltz is not my calling.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Spot It! Family Fun Game

We are loving the material comforts of our new house (ahem), but our greatest joy is entertaining friends and family in the new space. Our casual dinners (Note: I need to find a replacement for chili as our go-to meal. Any tips?) are topped off with family games. Telestrations, part Pictionary and part old skool Telephone, is now our standard. It's great fun and works well with a group of 6-8 folks. And now Spot It! has joined the rotation.

The folks from BlueOrange sent me the game for review and it's quickly becoming a family favorite. We like the fast-paced action of Spot It! for groups of 3-5 and because no reading is required, it's good for all ages.

Spot it! is a deck of round cards that comes in a tin (great for travel) on which each card contains one symbol that matches any other card in the deck.

I know there's got to be a simple mathematical formula to achieve this matching thing and yet, on some level it's kind of mind-boggling. But it's true. There's always a match.

A sheet in the tin describes several games that can be played with the deck. They way we've been playing is to distribute all the cards to all the players holding one card back as the starter. Players keep their cards in a stack face down and once the starter card is revealed, players turn over the top card in their pile.

The first player to find a matching symbol that her card shares with the starter card places her matching card on the starter card and calls out that symbol. In the instance below, she'd call out, "Ladybug!" and that card becomes the new card to match.

Play continues until a player uses up her pile of cards. As I said, its a fast-paced game (at least with older kids and sharp middle-aged adults). Deceptively simple, Spot It! feels mindless, but actually hones a gal's observation skills.

I give it a thumbs-up. I'm bringing it with me to our State Science Olympiad competition later this month, where low-tech distractions between events are always welcome.

Spot It! retails for about $12 and is sold at a variety of fine retailers around the country (i.e. not WalMart or Target). Click to find a BlueOrange retailer near you.