DIY Sunburst Mirrors (using SHIMS!!)

I've been trying to step away from the Pinterest lately (old habits die hard). My motto in helping me conquer the beast is "10% Inspiration, 90% Perspiration." (I talked a little about this in my Alt panel.) But apparently I need to come up for air more often, because there is some magic happening in the blog world that I was completely unaware of.

Look at all these GREAT sunburst mirrors made from those cheapy packets of shims from the hardware store! Most of these finished mirrors are really quite big (22 - 40" in diameter) and the supplies cost less than $30! What the WHAT.

Natalie Roe and her sister, Rachel, emailed me a link to their version HERE. I love the staggered edges.

This Old House (do I like this one. Or not...)

Westerman Family (love the gray stain!)

K Sarah Designs (I love how big the mirror is on this one. It feels a little more functional than decorative. PS, love the styling.)

Momtastic (I'm more of a gold sunburst mirror type gal, but I really like this white painted version! And how pretty does it look hanging on top of the canopy curtains? Really cute.)

Did I miss any of your favorite shim sunburst tutorials?

The PC side of the nature/nurture debate

The actress Cynthia Nixon provoked a minor stir last week when she stated that for her, homosexuality is a choice.

She added that for many people it's not, but that those others shouldn't get to define her gayness for her.

This flies in the face of what gay activists claim: that they have no choice but to be what they are, and thus ought not to be criticized or discriminated against for a "lifestyle choice."

I agree with the gay activists. When I run across those who don't agree, I usually ask, "Could you just will yourself into a frame of mind where you wanted to suck dicks?"

They usually concede the argument at that point.

There is no one "gay gene" that has been discovered, but homosexuality does seem to be a matter of brain chemistry and hormones, with maybe a small environmental component thrown in. The vast majority of gay men seem to have just been predisposed that way from time they were very young.

The separated twin studies seem to bear this out, with identical twins having a much more highly correlated sexuality than fraternal twins, and both having a much higher correlation than adopted siblings. These studies are pretty much irrefutable proof of the role of genes, and perhaps hormonal exposure in the womb.

Women in general do seem to have a somewhat more free-floating sexuality that can adapt to circumstance. There are women whom I can't imagine ever wanting to be with a guy. But I've seen many others who seem to turn lesbian by default, either because they don't attract men or had bad experiences with them.

In any case, the politically correct belief is that homosexuality is preordained, and that you have no choice in the matter. Genes rule.

However, if you entertain the notion that intelligence might also be genetically determined, you're considered evil. To be politically correct on this issue, you must believe that there are no 60 watt bulbs or 100 watt bulbs, merely different outlets. Your genes have nothing at all to do with your brightness. Your environment determines all.

So when it comes to IQ, you must disregard all those separated twin studies.

For those of us who try hard to be PC, it's all quite confusing.

OOTD: 1/31 - mini me

Sweater: Jcrew Cashmere cardigan
Shirt: Zara
Skirt: Jcrew Timber Tweed pencil skirt
Necklaces: Jcrew St. Kitts

On the second day of Teacher Appreciation, my students gave to me...a Mini Me! I don't know if it's that accurate but I was honored! I do like her purple shoes though!

Note: the awkward black cable behind my head is my hubby's HDMI that he's uses for our iPad in his science classes Unfortunately, that spot was the best spot in the classroom for light :)

How much does Hillary hate Barack?

During Obama's State of the Union speech a few days ago, he made reference to the teamwork that taking down Osama bin Laden required -- and how on that fateful evening he sat next to Hillary Clinton -- "a woman who ran against me for President."

When he said that, the camera panned to Hillary's face. I was struck by how pained Hillary's smile was. And it hit me how much she must hate Obama.

Put yourself in her shoes. In 2008, it was fairly obvious that a Democrat was going to win the White House. The public was sick of the two wars Bush started. The Iraq War was widely viewed as a mistake. The mortgage crisis was heating up, and the stock market was down.

Hillary had Bill on her side (she hadn't stuck with him all those years for nothing). And she had experience: she understood the kind of games she would have to play to win the Presidency. After all, she had learned at the feet of the Master. (Though not on her knees -- that was Monica's job.)

Hillary also had big money on her side, a raft of endorsements, and the rabid support of the feminists. She was all set to make history by becoming the first female President.

Then along came that brash young pretender, who traded on his race the same way she traded on her gender. (There's nothing more annoying than to see someone use your own tricks against you.)

Well, we all know what happened next.

Now Obama is the one who gets to jet around on Air Force One. He's the one who is greeted with shrieking adulation by adoring crowds. He's the one who gets to meet all those heads of state on an equal basis. He gets to live at 1600 Pennsylvania, which used to be her house. (How much of a dagger in her heart is that?)

And all this despite the fact that it's become increasingly apparent that he has little idea of how to run a country.

So now Hillary has to watch him give the State of the Union speeches, while she sits in the audience and tries to look appreciative.

While swallowing her bile.

There are a lot of people who hate Barack Obama. But almost certainly none more than Hillary.

Is That The Sound of Groceries?

OK, so I know I've gushed about my grocery store before and all, but focus on the center of this photo and you'll see just another reason why I love it.

Yep, it's live music, right there in the middle of the store! Seriously, how cool is that!

They have it on Sundays and it's like a neighborhood block party in there and the sample stations, oh there is something yummy to sample about every ten feet.

I see one couple in there almost every sunday and they always sneak in their own personal Bloody Mary or Mimosa and they don't even grocery shop that day--they just roam around eating and visiting with their drink from home in their hand. It's so cute.

Onward grocery shoppers! To the "cheesey" department I've now taken my gushing.

OOTD: 1/30 - Colorblockin

Sweater: Jcrew Cashmere boyfriend cardigan
Shirt: Zara
Pants: Jcrew Wool Cropped Trousers
Bracelets: Jcrew Resin color block and Jcrew Golden stripe bracelet in Mint

My outfit today was inspired by a Pinterest pin of a bedding set. The designer had put royal blue with a deep turquoise. Makes me think of the ocean and vacationing on a nice beach. ahhh.

Today also is the start of our Teacher Appreciation week at our school. We each received a carnation to wear from one set of parents this morning, and on Friday, they have declared a half-day and are treating us to lunch! It's looking like it's going to be a good week.

Custom Black Out Roman Shades

Every decorator has a favorite thing to see installed. I think mine is a toss up between new pillows (they really can transform a room!) and new window treatments. I was so happy with the way Joanna's roman shades just transformed her bedroom!

The white linen fabric with the cheery yellow trim has such a brightening effect on the room! The shades are also super functional. You know I am a big fan of making shades out of mini blinds and also glueing fabric on top of matchstick blinds. Both are great methods, but for this project I knew we needed something a little more permanent and hard-wearing, so I had my seamstress make the blinds. We had them blackout lined, which, beyond looking great and giving the linen a nice weight/drape, it's so nice for blocking out the city lights at night or the morning sun which always comes too early for us parents!

Custom shades are not inexpensive (that's why the DIY method can be great to keep around for some projects), but if you are using the shades every single day, I think the extra cost is justified. Joanna lives in a prewar apartment and her windows are extra, extra long so the cost was a little more than standard windows.

I had these exact shades priced out at the Shade Store for comparison to my work room, and they quoted me $650 per shade. Yikes! My seamstress did BOTH shades for several hundred less than that. So again, ask around. If you look on craigslist for a great seamstress, you can get custom work for a lot less than you might expect.

PS The mustard yellow vintage trim completely makes these shades for me. We bought the trim at JEM in Tribeca for just a few dollars a yard. They still have some left if you'd like to stop by and snag some for yourself!

OOTD: 1/29 - Windy Weather

Jacket: Jcrew Schoolboy in Canvas
Shirt: Jcrew Boho embroidered top
Jeans: Jcrew Trouser jeans
Flats: H&M

Boy it was windy today here in Spain. We had blue skies and sun but the wind made it much cooler. But that didn't keep the hubs and I from enjoying some tapas at an outdoor restaurant in our town. Our patatas bravas were excelente.

Romney's expression

During the Republican debates, whenever the other candidates are speaking, Mitt Romney always seems to be wearing an appreciative half-smile. It comes across as if he's demonstrating an avuncular, almost paternal pride in the other candidates as they speak. It's as if he's saying, "I find your little foibles quite cute and charming, and it's always a pleasure to listen to you despite your being wrong on so many issues. Anyway, my occasional annoyance with your errors is far overshadowed by the enormous affection I feel for you. And aren't we all having just a swell time with these debates?"

"Aw, go ahead Newt, give it your best shot. You know, despite all your vitriol, I actually like you." 

It's a masterful performance, and it works. It conveys the impression that Romney is somehow above the fray, and that even when his opponents are doing their best to savage him, he just takes it with the same patience an indulgent father might show when his five-year-old lobs snowballs at him.

"Rick, I want you to know, you've been like a kid brother to me. And even though 2012 may not be your year, I know you're going to get it right eventually. I just know it."

Learning how to look appreciative is a highly underrated skill that can serve you well in any number of social milieus. It can make people feel appreciated. But by far the best thing about it is that it makes you look as if you are in charge, and as if you're the one who's in a position to judge them, not vice versa.

"Ron, others may say you're like the crazy uncle who needs to be locked away, but I enjoy your company. I really do."

When someone insults you and you just laugh, it not only takes the sting of his insult away, it makes him look utterly powerless.

"That was a good one, Newt. I really enjoy your sense of humor, seeing as how you're no threat to me."

OOTD: 1/28 - A Night on Broadway

Coat: Jcrew Wool-Cashmere trench
Scarf: Spain
Glasses: H&M
Dress: Banana Republic Outlet
Jacket: Jcrew Velvet Schoolboy
Necklace: Jcrew Crystal Orchid necklace
Belt: Jcrew

Our school had their Winter Banquet last night. Their theme was a "Night on Broadway" and they had each table decorated for a different show (i.e. "The Newsies", "Singing in the Rain", etc.). The staff ironically was put at the "High School Musical" table, which, I apologize for my ignorance but, I didn't realize was a Broadway show. We enjoyed Chicken Parm, salads, homemade chocolate pie, and listened to show tunes for the evening. Whenever a Wicked song came on, I gave a little squeal and then sang along happily. 

Buttons, buttons, buttons buttons

I've been a busy boy..

Recycled woods

Multi Colored
All Natural Color of the woods

Western Red Cedar
Cedar from our Back Yard
Flowering Plum from the front yard
Yew wood

The Most Counter Productive Religion... and Veteran Suicide

I was raised in the worlds most counterproductive Religion.
Or what these days you might call "Spiritual Practice".
At the time it wasn't as organized as it is today.
And as most of the counterproductive religions do,
it hid it's true Nature in Platitudes,
that on the surface sounded almost logical.
Platitudes like:
"If you don't have something nice to say,
don't say anything."
"If it's painful to think about,
Just don't think about it."

Sounds nice....

sounds reasonable.

And these days the words have changed a little to things like,
"If it's a lower vibrational thought,
just replace it with a higher vibrational thought."

So as I say I was raised in this Religion,
which like most religions has a major basis in Fear.

This manifested in a household where
we never ever ever spoke about anything that Mattered.

In my home the Government's decisions were never questioned.
The Church's ideas were never questioned.
And the Medical Profession...
and anything born of technology
were revered as Godlike...
Never Questioned
and held as superior to Common Sense
and Mother Nature.

In fact when Bush was first stealing an election
and I was sending emails to my folks trying to educate my parents on
Bush's history, and ties, and motivations.
And I pointed out text of Cheney's speeches to his oil buddies
in the company where he was CEO...
many years prior to Sept 11th
where he was guaranteeing they'd get into Afghanistan
and get their pipeline from the Caspian Sea built,
"One way or another."

My Mom threatened to disown me,
refused to show my letters to my Dad,
and told me that once upon a time I'd be shot as a traitor.
(Years later she forgot all this
and became a staunch anti Bush Crusader)

During the Viet Nam war...
another US led assault upon humanity
 created to make a few nasty rich people
much richer
and many poor people
much deader.
My protests landed my belongings on the front porch of their home.
Where my beliefs 
were no longer welcome.

So what is this Religion
and why do I say it is "Counter Productive"?

The religion is Denial..

Recently I've been appalled to see
the incredible number of Veteran Suicides.

And it is mainly because of this religion
that these sad unnecessary deaths are occurring.

18 Veterans Suicides a day 

18 Veterans Suicides a day 

Can you believe that.
And there are lot's of reasons given for this high statistic.
But most are bogus.
Because at all cost the government,
who happen to be the primary clerics in this Religion of Denial,
must keep the Truth from being Revealed.
Because if it were revealed.
They would lose their Army of Pawns.
And without this Army of Pawns...
The Big Business of War
would come to a standstill. 
(although they are working to get around that).
So how is it that this religion of denial is responsible for these deaths?
Well it's on a lot of levels.

From the Pawns perspective:
Hypnotized into believing they are doing,
"the right thing"
"fighting the good fight"
these poor soldiers go into war.
They are not allowed to look at those they kill as fellow humans
they are the enemy
"Slant Eyes"
Less of a person.
They are commanded to murder their fellow man
for reasons that if scrutinized
don't hold up.

They do their duty..
They murder who they are instructed to murder
they become numb through Denial
so they can do this..
It makes it easier.
And sometimes in this numb state they murder
innocent women and children.
They are "good soldiers"
Carrying out orders as "good soldiers do.

Then they go home...
they see the protestors 
(who the clerics like to blame for their suicides)
And pretty soon they start to listen ...
and then they start to hear....

and then they see...

The religion of Denial often fails them now
as awareness dawns upon them.

They were pawns in an evil game
with the sole purpose of making a very few
very rich....
They murdered their fellow man,
to make a very few
very rich.

I tell you what,
I remember some past lives.
I remember being murdered
in "Wars".

I remember watching the women and children and old men
in my tribe being murdered.
I was a holy man.
I was with the women, children and elderly

not our fighters.
And every single time I think of this memory
I cry.
It hurts to my very soul.. 

And it isn't because I was killed by the Bluecoats.

It isn't because I watched my tribe murdered.

It's because in my anger

I slit the throat of one of the Bluecoat soldiers.

There is nothing more painful
to a good man.
Than killing his fellow man.

No excuses,
no bullshit platitudes
ever take the pain away.
When I remember this.
the killing of just one man
even when he was murdering my kin...
Just one man.
And lifetimes ago.
AQnd the Pain that I still carry because of this.
I can not imagine the pain in the heart of a soldier in Iraq
or Afghanistan.
Who may have murdered many. 
We can only deal with so much pain..

We can call the Murder of innocent civilians,
"Collateral Damage"
to lessen the Truth that it is
the murder of innocent civilians.

And bullshit platitudes
 from folks lost in the religion of denial,
...all the chaplains yammering
and Psychiatrists psychoanalyzing
can not take that pain away.

Hey, lifetimes don't take that pain away.
So that is the first level of how this denial causes
the deaths of these poor soldiers who commit suicide.

Denying the Truth
 Pretending that our Murdering our fellow man
is somehow noble, or heroic..
Will catch up with every good man, 

The next level is the denial of everyone else
to admit that we have no good reason
going into these foreign lands
to sacrifice the lives of these poor soldiers
and their victims
to make a few rich piggies...richer.
Rather than even look at the Truth
the masses pretend to believe the lies
their governments
led by the corporations
tell them.

" If we don't have anything good to say about this...
don't say anything? "

 "If it's too painful to think about,
just don't think about it? "

And soldiers will just keep dying
and just keep murdering
and just keep killing themselves...

Precious Life
Sacrificed on the Altar of Denial

Fueled by Greed

and Fear.

Have all these Veterans
who have taken their own lives died in Vain?

Well if we sit blindly wringing our hands saying,
"OH how could this Happen...
it's soo soo sad".

Yes they have.


And say,
"Sending our Young People to die
for the rich mans gain

"If you are thinking of becoming a soldier
DON'T. "

"There is no Honor in it."

"And you will come to figure that out..."

"And the Pain might well be beyond what you can bear..."

If we Face the Truth.

Their Deaths might have some small purpose..

18 Veteran Suicides a Day..

Denial will never wash that away..

Craig James

In a previous post I raised the question of whether sociopaths loved their children. I concluded that they don't, at least not the same way other parents do -- but that that doesn't mean that if you cross their child they're not going to get more vindictive than the average parent too.

The following story popped up on Yahoo News yesterday:

Craig James, an ESPN sports analyst, is now in the news because he is running for United States Senator from Texas. James was a star running back at SMU, and played five years with the Boston Patriots. His chances are basically nil. He is evidently extremely unpopular in Texas for having used his position at ESPN to have gotten the popular football coach at Texas Tech fired. James actually hired a PR firm to effect this.

Why? Because the coach didn't give his son enough playing time. Which pretty much makes James the Texas Cheerleader Dad.

This one act isn't enough to prove sociopathy. But it is the type of extreme vindictiveness that sociopaths often display. And a vanity run for the U.S. Senate certainly shows a lot of narcissism.

I know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover. But those thin lips, cold eyes, and proud expression all add up to a look that I associate with sociopaths. And even when he smiles, the smile doesn't seem to reach his eyes. I realize I'm being subjective, and I'm not claiming to have sufficient evidence to convict him in the court of sociopathy. But James just looks mean to me. Look into his eyes, and see if you get that vibe.

Revenge of the Hummus

So I put hummus in some rude kid's shoe.

That's right, I had a huge scoop of hummus on my pita chip and I shoved in way up in this kid's sneaker at the roller rink.

He deserved it and much worse I assure you. He crushed my friend's child's slushy and not only did he not offer even a hint of an apology, he didn't even try to help clean it up or acknowledge her in any way. It was like he was spaced out, although I couldn't really see with all the stringy hair in his eyes.

We were at the rink with all our kids and he came in and sat four feet from my friend on the same long bench. Little Jackson's brand new blue slushy had been sitting there for all of two minutes when the kid just plopped down on it with a super loud "POP" heard over the blaring Maroon Five song. Everybody within a ten foot radius turned to look, but the kid whose ass landed on it acted as it nothing happened. Rude.

He was exactly the kind of under-acheiving, dirty-looking, impolite and clueless kind of loser jerky boy I'm trying to raise my kid to be the opposite of. My friend and I were stunned at the degree of his non-reaction.

I mean, she spoke very clearly to the boy and when I say clearly I mean it. My friend happens to be the local news anchor in our town and she has one of those voices that people listen to and really hear. She enunciates. She said: "Excuse me, that was my son's drink," but Darwin with the saggy britches didn't even make eye contact. He continued removing his very nice high-tops, laced up his roller skates and hit the wood without so much as a look back toward us old ladies or the ten year old silently lamenting his blue slushy.

After my friend cleaned up the blue dye #6 and threw away the crushed styrofoam, we sat there sipping our smuggled-in red wine and eating our secret hummus. We're stealthy, crazy rule-breakers, sneaking in decent snacks like that...we're bad, we're bad, we're bad, we're really bad.

As I looked down at the giant scoop of hummus I was about to eat, the payback hit me. Right took over. I suddenly stood up, and as I walked past the shoes, I shoved the loaded chip way down into the shoe without even breaking stride. I could hear my friend's booming laugh but I just kept walking toward the restrooms with a smile bigger than Dallas creeping across my face. I was very proud of myself.

It felt good. I wish we could've stayed around to see the winner of a kid shove his foot into the oozy tan mush, but we left during the Hokey Pokey. I hope he thinks it's cat poop.


"The President Plays Small Ball"

Excellent article by Charles Krauthammer on the State of the Union speech:

Boys... On a Goddess Path?!?

I belong to a couple of Pagan Parenting groups on numerous Social Networks. And I'm always a little surprised when I come across parents who aren't sure how to incorporate their sons in to their practice.  Recently this question was posted in one of my groups:  "Paganism is such a woman's religion, so how do I incorporate by boys?"  And I have read many similar questions over the years.

To me, these questions tend to answer themselves... If you view Paganism as something which is about women, it's going to be hard to include your sons, husbands or other men. But to me, Paganism is not all about women. Many Pagan paths do focus on the feminine and the Goddess/Goddesses. But the male aspect and the God are just as important. Nature is about Balance, and you can't have one without the other...  If we lack the feminine we lack life... If we lack the masculine we lack life... Personally I can see how many would see a lack of masculine focus in many a modern day Pagan path, but there is simply no need for that.

In my practice the male is as important as the female and neither aspect is more sacred that the other. However, even I, have a stronger connection to the Goddess aspects than I do to the God, simply because I am female. I can not, for instance, connect to the Father aspect of the God, the way I can to the Mother aspect of the Goddess, because I am not a Father...  But for the most part my practice and overall beliefs, have equal placement for both male and female.

Because of this, I see no issue including my sons when it comes to things like Sabbat celebrations. While I don't include them in ritual or anything that's overly religious (because of our interfaith home) I do include them in story and craft times which celebrate different mythologies and each area of the nature cycle.

Simple ways to include children - regardless of gender - include stories, basic crafts, nature walks, dance and songs, music (drums, rain sticks, bells and rattles are all great), rhymes or chants, dream journalism, basic herbalism, art, basic geology, gardening, cooking, learning about different Gods, Goddesses, Spirits and/or Fae... And numerous other things... For us, I like to focus on teaching my children to live Green and Clean and to celebrate the seasonal cycle.

Paganism doesn't HAVE to focus on either gender... And because each child is going to connect differently it's sometimes best to simply focus on neutrality and allow them to find their own connections to the divine. It's not so important that they have a direct connection to the Great Goddess at 4 years old. It's more important that they learn to honor the gifts she gives them. At 4 or 5 or even 10 it is difficult for them to even completely understand the concept of a God or Goddess. Hell, I know people who have issues understanding the concept of a God or Goddess at 20 or 40 years old... But learning to live in harmony with the world around them and honoring the gifts they have - food & water, sunlight, the moon cycles, animals, plants, rain, and so on - than it is for them to connect to an abstract idea of a God or Goddess.

If you do feel the need to impress God or Goddess on your child. Then you may want to brush up on the mythology surrounding the God(s) in addition to that of the Goddess(s).  And make a point to put time aside to celebrate the God aspect in addition to the Goddess.

In my own practice I do a daily devotional to the Great God first thing in the morning, and to the Great Goddess before bed. For me, I view the sun as male and the moon as female, so I use the balance of day and night to represent the balance of male and female in my daily practice. This, among other things, is a good way to help children remember to include both aspects in their day to day beliefs and practices...

If you choose to include your child in rituals, or host "child rituals" for them, you may want to ensure that you always include the male aspect as well as the female. If you invoke the Goddess, also invoke the God. When you talk about the age or condition of the Goddess, make a point to mention the God as well. Always include a representation of the God as well as the Goddess on a child's alter...

By making a point to include the God or Masculine aspects of your beliefs in your day to day and ritual life you will have no issue including your sons, husbands and other males in your celebrations.

Please don't take this to be my speaking out against Goddess worship in any way. As I said I, myself, have a stronger bond with the Goddess and female aspects of life than I do the male. If it were up to me, it would always be night, but again, we need to have balance, the dawn must come at some point...  And if your practice is currently Goddess centered and you feel fulfilled with it, then there is no need to change. But if you have a son or you want to include your husband, you may want to shift at least some of your focus to the Gods or male aspects simply so you can better include everyone better.

OOTD: 1/27 - Come on Spring!

Sweater: Madwell bright coral daydreamer cardi
Dress: Jcrew Embossed shift dress
Belt: Jcrew
Necklace: Spain

I can't wait for Spring especially after seeing Jcrew's new rollout yesterday. Wow! Such beautiful pieces and color! I'm loving the Natasha in Watercolor floral print, schoolboy in chambray, dotted moon bracelet, baby brompton in vibrant coral, and bubble necklace in sweet papaya. And honestly I could put a lot more in my cart but wow the prices. I'm definitely waiting until a % off promo.

What did you like the best in the new rollout?

Josef Frank Ceylon Fabric Pillow

Joanna and I both share a love of Josef Frank textiles. The designs are so gorgeous! But the fabric is really hard to find and it is extremely expensive. We splurged on one yard of the Ceylon print at Just Scandinavian in Tribeca.

We used this down blend insert from Pottery Barn Teen because the dimensions were perfect for one long pillow on Joanna and Alex's queen size bed (most body pillows would have been too long). I really love the look of a single pillow on a bed. It's so unfussy - and it was a great way to maximize our yard of Josef Frank fabric.

We used black piping on the edges for a bit of contrast.

Here are some affordable fabrics with a Josef Frank vibe that would also look pretty and graphic on a big pillow.