Nov 262012
 

These are long on words and short on eye candy. So here’s a gratuitous adorable photo. Squee!

The first day or two back after a holiday is always slow. If you need a break from all that Cyber Monday shopping, here are some interesting, thought-provoking, or otherwise worth-it reads from the past few weeks.

  • Most useful blog post I’ve seen in a while: 50 Home Remedies. (Have you ever tried black pepper on a cut? I’m fascinated! And I finally learned why my go-to hiccups cure works every time.)
  • One for all my parent friends. It’s so easy to second-guess yourself when you see other families do things differently, or lose yourself in everyone’s (sometimes conflicting!) advice. But every child is different, and you have to parent the child you have. “I Use Different Parenting Styles for Each of My Children.”
  • Something that’s bugged me lately about kids’ TV: In a recent study, only 19% of kids’ TV shows and 11% of kids’ movies show females in roughly half the speaking roles. And the females they do show are more likely to be sexualized and less likely to work in a job. What does it mean for both our daughters and our sons to grow up viewing shows where being male is still the norm? Via Good.
  • And while we’re on the girls-in-society front, a whole slew of articles on body image:

Mommyish has been pushing back against every aspect of the “MILF” idea lately. Loved this rant against the whole MILF concept (there is now a MILF Diet book, my friends). And a gentler and funnier version: “Eff the MILF, I’m Bringing Frumpy Back.”

I’ve Started Telling my Daughters I’m Beautiful.”

Glad I’m not the only one who has avoided cameras since giving birth. Love the movement to “get back in the picture,” and this article that started it all.

Wordy, but this post eventually gets to real truths: Beauty challenges aren’t really about finding a mate. “[M]y disappointment with my appearance, and the squirming, insistent anxiety that I didn’t look right, I didn’t look good enough— those things felt bigger than men. They felt like they were about what I could accomplish. They felt like they were about me failing as a person.” Some wise comments too. At Eat the Damn Cake.

  • But it’s not all bad news! I passed the psychopath test (and, in context, kind of felt bad about that). I joined the Facebook feed of Toward the Stars and have been enjoying their updates on strong girls and inspiring women. And a few affordable apparel brands actually got As or Bs on a roundup of labor practices, so you don’t have to feel too guilty buying Zara, Hanes, Gap, and H&M.
  • Also this study: “The current atmosphere of parenting puts so much emphasis on what we can afford to give our child. It’s kind of nice to hear some evidence that proves that good, old-fashioned nurturing and happiness does matter.” Via Mommyish.
  • Finally, a little hope that there are solutions to the current “can women have it all” hand-wringing: In Sweden, fathers routinely take several months of paternity leave. Result: closer families and a more family-friendly culture. Via The Guardian.

Each of these could be its own post. Wish we could all sit down for coffee and actually discuss. Any thoughts?

Sep 252012
 

Do you read blog feeds via RSS feed reader? When I first started following blogs, I kept a long list of bookmarks that I visited every day to check for new posts. I was thrilled to finally discover that feed readers automatically pull those new posts and give them to me in one place.

Unfortunately, I’ve had bad luck with the actual feed readers. Every time I find one I like, within a year or two the company decides to stop supporting the program. And I hate the search for new readers. There are plenty out there, I find most of them flat-out ugly. If I’m going to look at the interface for hours every week, I don’t want ugly!

 

Luckily, the latest search led me to a reader that I really, genuinely, kind of love. It’s called Feedly. Have others heard of it? Apparently it’s been around for years, but I’m always behind the curve. (See “long list of bookmarks,” above.)

Feedly integrates with Google Reader but puts the content into a form I find more appealing. I’d call it “attractive minimalist.” The default is the magazine-style layout above, but you can customize the settings to read posts however you prefer (I like full-text), group related feeds into folders (I’ve got “Friends,” “Travel,” “Deep Thoughts,” etc.), play with background colors, and more. There’s always one small ad, like the black-and-red one in the screen shot above, but I find them unobtrusive and they make the program free. Best of all, Feedly integrates well with my phone and I’m now reading blogs from my phone for the first time. Both the web and mobile versions make it easy to save posts for later, email links, and share with Facebook or Twitter.

My main grumble with Feedly is that I don’t like the magazine-style defaults on the web version — I prefer to read one blog at a time, in full text. I’ve updated my preferences to make that possible, but it takes a few extra clicks to get there on each visit. And once I reach the bottom of each long page of posts, I have to click the “up” arrow to get back to the navigation areas at the top of the page. All minor things, but for me it keeps the system a few clicks away from perfection.

A few basic details: Feedly is free and well-reviewed, even by people who actually know a thing or two about technology. Apparently there are “integrated” versions for Firefox and Google Chrome, but it works for me as a regular website in Safari. There are mobile versions for iPhone, Android, iPad, and Kindle. You can find it here.

How do you read blog feeds? Have you tried Feedly, or do you recommend a different program?

Sep 182012
 

I’m not usually big on link roundups, but lately I’ve read some particularly interesting articles. These are all worth a read:

  • Courtesy of the principal at Vera’s school, how — and why — to teach your children that smarts are something developed rather than inborn. How Not to Talk to Your Kids at New York Magazine
  • The “white supremacy” theory is (to me) a reach, but this makes interesting points about Breaking Bad‘s meth-making storyline: The White Market at The New Inquiry
  • Speaking of TV shows, home decor photos so rarely show the owners’ giant flat-screen televisions. Here’s an article about how to work your decor around the TV. (Actually, the TV doesn’t bother my much in our house. But whither the cable box, DVD player, and stereo in all these photos? What do I do with their ugliness?): 9 Ways to Design Around a TV at Centsational Girl
  • Most “best of beauty” awards are more about sponsorship than science. Here are some recommended products from the Good Housekeeping testing process.
  • When I was young I didn’t care much about beauty, body image, and the like. Turns out I was so easily able to “get beyond” those issues specifically because I was young and slim and reasonably pretty. Now that I’m old, sick, and heavier, I don’t have any of the skills for dealing with appearance uncertainty. I recently discovered Eat the Damn Cake and am in love with this smart blogger’s discussions of body image. Suspect most women know the feeling that life would fall into place if they could just drop the last 10 pounds or find that perfect hairstyle: Stop Waiting to be Prettier. And I could stand to go back and re-read this one frequently: The Extreme Importance of Letting Yourself be Occasionally Ugly.
  • (But I suspect the most-thought provoking thing on that  blog was actually a comment left by an older woman who gives some historical perspective. Comment 4 on this piece was an eye-opener to me. How have women allowed this overwhelming focus on appearance to distract us from so many more important issues?)
  • And finally, speaking of important issues, last week was Diaper Need Awareness Week. Many poor families don’t have enough money for diapers, and diapers aren’t covered by aid programs like food stamps. Families risk diaper rash and other health problems when they leave a baby in wet diapers to stretch their supply. Thankfully, diaper banks across the country have stepped in to provide free diapers to families in need. Here’s a list of diaper banks across the US. (Here in the DC area, they’re doing great things at the DC Diaper Bank.) Please consider picking up some extra diapers or Pull-Ups next time you’re at the drug store and dropping them at the nearest collection spot.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read online recently? Know any good regular round-ups?

Feb 222011
 
Baby Giant Anteater at SF Zoo, via Zooborns

Not a nameling*

A few months ago, Mrs. Hot Cocoa posted about an effort that encourages people to “adopt” rarely-used words from days gone by. As a fellow word nerd, of course I rushed over to the Save the Words site.  The experience was a bit sad — all those sweet, abandoned words waiting for their forever homes. Several gazed at me hopefully as I walked past, blinking their liquid vowels and wagging their stubby consonants, but none seemed like quite the right fit.

And then I found it:

namelings (plural noun, c. 1706)

persons bearing the same name

If there is one type of word I love, it’s anything that sounds like a little forest creature.** Nameling definitely fits that bill, so nameling it is.

Also?  Totally useful!  Lately I’ve been receiving alumni mail from Boston College. I never attended Boston College,*** but my maiden name is so unusual, I think they did an Internet search, found me, and assumed there couldn’t possibly be more than one. There actually is one other — a few years ago I met someone who actually knew her. And now she is no longer just “the one other person in the world who shares my maiden name” … she is my nameling.

Do you have namelings?  Have you ever met one?

———————————————————————————

* But isn’t this baby anteater OMGcute??!?  Why haven’t I visited Zooborns before?

** Favorite Dutch word — makelaar (mah-keh-lahr). It means real estate agent, but tell me that doesn’t sound like something you’d find scampering around in the underbrush….

*** Dear Boston College: I’m sure you’re perfectly nice, but I have zero plans to donate money to my own law school because it’s a pricey private school … can you guess how likely I am to donate to a private school that I didn’t even attend??!?

Jun 012010
 

I took a break from blogging in part to decide whether to continue.  For a while, I really thought the answer would be “no.”  But in the end, I emerged not only re-dedicated to this blog, but determined to start 2 more!  (Much more on that in coming weeks….)

Why blog, when it takes precious time and even money?  There are so many stories in my head! Without some outlet, I fear my brain would eventually explode.  I picture the famous Monty Python gluttony sketch — cramming in blogs and books and TV and articles by hour after endless hour, until all it takes is one more celebrity factoid or YouTube kitten video and — KABOOM.

(image here)

Baby and illness make me slow.  There’s no getting around that.  So, to let off some mental pressure until I can get a few posts written, may I present some links?

Amusing blurb on a 9-year-old overachiever.  I described this girl to Vera, with a request that she start supporting Mommy and Daddy in the style to which they hope to become accustomed.  (Unfortunately, she countered with the story of the baby with a black AmEx.)

Amazing, affordable home office makeover.  (Via Belle Maison)

Kotex has clever new ads poking fun at traditional “feminine care” commercials.  Media censors objected.  Which is why we have those goofy, euphemistic commercials in the first place.  (Via NY Times)

All I understand about astigmatism is that it’s harder to buy contacts.  Thank heavens for I Am Bossy’s convenient tutorial.  (Ah, who am I kidding, I still don’t understand.  But I got a good laugh.)

One of my major regrets from pregnancy = not strengthening my abdominal muscles.  This video tutorial describes a low-stress way to work that giant belly.  (Via Trainer Momma)

Colorful rooms from Project Nursery.

We all suspected it, and here’s some proof — how advertisers control content in fashion magazines.   Also interesting: how magazines cover trends.  (Via Searching for Style)

Chicken coops and high-end gardens: bringing new meaning to traditional homemaking, or just a new form of whitewash? (Via BigThink)

Edit, Add, Appreciate: 3 steps to a more authentic life.  (Via MakeUnder My Life)

What’s inhabiting your brain at the moment?

Mar 152010
 

I am sick, so this is a “phoning it in” post.  But here are some highly recommended links.

(I love this. Via Awkward Family Photos.)

If you enjoy food blogs, get thee immediately to Salad in a Jar.  I borrowed one of her photos for my instant espresso post, then stuck around for her beautifully designed blog full of appealing recipes.  I predict a best-selling cookbook in her future.

Stroller Traffic offers tidbits on baby products and ideas, via email or Web.  There are local editions for NYC, Dallas, and LA, and an “everywhere” list for everyone else.  It’s new, but promisingly stylish.

The Weight I’m Still Carrying is From a Baby Named Krispy Kreme.”  Just discovered the odd mix of humor, cursing, and deep thoughts in F—- Yeah, Motherhood.  I expected something funny from this lighthearted title, and came away truly touched.

Lost watchers, have you discovered The Final Season of Lost as Seen By Someone Who Has Never Seen Lost?  Highly entertaining.  Start at Episode 1.

Sep 272009
 

Despite severe sleep deprivation, Mr T and I set our alarms Friday morning to attempt Springsteen tickets.  And we got them!  Which, … what?  What happened to 2-minute sell-outs?  Those anti-scalping measures must be having an effect.

Anyway, seemed a good occasion to share a quote that spoke to me as a former recovering perfectionist.  According to a recent Slate article on the making of Born to Run, Springsteen had a lot of trouble finishing the title song.  Over 6 months, he made many, many changes. Eventually, producer Jon Landau told him this:

According to writer Dave Marsh, Landau called Springsteen and said, “Look, you’re not supposed to like it. You think Chuck Berry sits around listening to ‘Maybelline’? And when he does hear it, don’t you think he wishes a few things could be [changed]? Now c’mon, it’s time to put the record out.”

Man, I’ve had that feeling of revisiting the not-quite-perfect project.  Guess knowing there’s good company out there puts the whole thing in perspective!  (Which is why I’m hitting “publish” in 3 … 2 …. 1….)