Sunday, August 26, 2007 11:13 PM

Real Food

Let me tell you some things Real Food is not.

It isn’t to be eaten with one hand while you’re driving and talking handsfree on your cell phone. It’s not something you gulp out of a styrofoam container while you run to catch the train. You don’t absently take bites out of it while watching TV, only to look down and forget where it all went or how it tasted.

Real Food could be practically anything as long as you love it, and you are aware of what you’re eating and you really, really savor it. Real Food must be made with love and eaten in good company. (Especially if that company is yourself; the next time you’re going to eat alone, put on great music, use the nice dishes, sit down and really taste what you’re eating!)

Now let me take it one step further: I think Real Food has ingredients you can understand. Things you’ve maybe eaten before; definitely things you can pronounce. For instance... what goes into french toast? Eggs, milk, bread; if you’re me, there’s vanilla and cinnamon too. No mono-deoxy-nonpronounceable anything.

I happen to be known online as the French Toast Girl because I really like french toast, but also because I have a philosophy about it, which goes like this: Life (like french toast) is made up of simple ingredients that combine to make up a marvelous concoction we often take for granted. Your life is full of wonderful flavors, and meant to be relished. And if you aren't crazy about the way your life tastes, remember: you're the one who controls how much sweetness goes on top, or if it's soggy and underdone.

Okay - so are you picturing your toast? Is it on a paper plate? Did it come from a box? Or did you make it yourself? Mine is on good dishes, with raspberries from my garden, eaten out on the porch in the early morning, with a pot of tea on the table, listening to the birds sing. You might have your whole family sitting around you, asking to pass the maple syrup. Or you might be sitting by yourself, looking out at the way the morning sunlight hits the trees, with your journal at hand in case you feel like writing something. Maybe you’re in a 5-star restaurant and a dashing young waiter has just lifted the lid off a silver serving tray and presented a platter of french toast to you, and the aroma is so good it’s knocking you off your chair. Are you with me?

If you’re thinking, “That’s lovely, but all I can picture is warmed up microwave french toast,” then my friend, here is your chance to turn things around. Try my current fave french toast recipe for oven-baked french toast. Enjoy it in peace and good company. And if you have a favorite french toast recipe, please share. I'd love to try it!


french toast girl #

Friday, August 24, 2007 9:54 PM


I'm so excited! I got to design the 2008 Mutts calendar! I usually don't share too much about my day job, but this is too cool to keep to myself. :)

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french toast girl #

Tuesday, August 21, 2007 8:26 AM

My red crayon

We went to the Crayola factory this week, and darned if not too much has changed since this awesome Sesame Street clip from the 80s. I have wanted to visit the factory since then.

When they were making the crayons, the demonstrator let all the kids come up and put the wrappers on, and then asked if any parents wanted to do it. Of course I jumped right up! I said, “I thought you’d never ask!”

In my eagerness, I put my wrapper on backwards, so that you can see the stripes, but no name. The guy asked us if anyone did that, and to hold them up – I thought he was going to make us give them back! He said, "Now it’s your crayon! Name it whatever you want!" so the kids were all impressed with me that I beat the system.

Squid squid squid squid squid: Season 38 of Sesame Street started last week; this bit of hilarity is from the season opener. The second I watched this, I knew it was going to be all over the internet. I just love the way Brian Williams relishes the word "squid." What a ham!

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french toast girl #

Friday, August 17, 2007 11:08 AM

Snapshots around the studio

Alice In Wonderland painting for David T. This pic is older, just acrylic and coffee, now there's way more color. I will post more in-progress pics as I take 'em.

Unicorns, natch.

I think a fairy's going in this tree. Note the Henson poster to the side, waiting to get hung on the wall.

The painting for Petey with 25 more birds. I also painted him, by request, a chocolate-chip cookie; so that's up on the wall as well.

Hmmmm... I get the feeling that I like to paint trees, unicorns, and I like the color blue. :)

What are you working on now?

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french toast girl #

Wednesday, August 15, 2007 2:54 PM


The time will come when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desparate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

— Derek Walcott, from Collected Poems 1984-1984

Happy birthday to me.


french toast girl #

Sunday, August 12, 2007 9:08 PM


This week, Paul and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary. We had our first big party EVER since the kids were born, because we had more things to celebrate than we could count. My cousin Dean, who's a deacon and officiated at our wedding, gave us a special blessing - with the two of us surrounded by those who love us best. We are so blessed I don't even have words for it.


french toast girl #

Monday, August 06, 2007 3:05 PM

The week of magical thinking

Me and Sophie in PJs, in the backyard.

This past week I started an experiment that's been so successful I'm doing it for another week (and another, and another.... ). It's rather simple: whenever I have a choice, I ask myself what the most succulent option is. Every time I can, I try to make something everyday, more magical, more artistic, more creative. I found I was getting into a bit of a rut and this has helped lots.

So, for example....

♥ Flowery sundresses win out every time over jeans shorts and a tank top.

♥ I wore my "good" jewelry even though nobody was going to see it except us.

♥ I spent a few extra minutes to do something with my hair that did not involve me pulling it quickly out of my face into a ponytail. Braids, jewelled barettes, you name it.

♥ Meals, with a little planning, have been more exciting ... penne with broccoli rabe and soy sausage; tortellini with homemade spinach pesto, black olives, and salmon; tofu, grilled veggies, and couscous. I baked two loaves of bread and the house smelled wonderful. And I had wine with dinner! We've always eaten healthy, but this week we ate dinners with more creative flair. I even packed myself nice lunches so that I could look forward to it the next day (instead of my usual scrounge around the fridge).

♥ "The fairies" left another note in the backyard for the kids.

♥ I cleaned like mad, did some redecorating, bought lots of frames and took care of some paintings that have been waiting to be hung up for years. I also got into a very "zen" mindset about mat-cutting (usually stresses the heck out of me) and cut beautiful, stress-free mats instead!

♥ I found old paintings and gave them new life - one painting that originally had two birds in a tree, got 25 more brightly-colored friends. :)

I had a few other simple guidelines:

♥ I would paint every day.
♥ I would spend some time, by myself, in nature every day.
♥ I would write in my journal, every day.

And PJs in the backyard? Always a succulent choice.

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french toast girl #

Thursday, August 02, 2007 8:03 AM

Summers at Blue Lake

I know two fantastic, artistic Mamas - Jill and Michelle - who along with me have formed our own little Divine-Mama-Art-Society. We've made a tight circle who unfortunately don't live close to each other, but we stay in close contact through emails and Skype and the occasional package. We met on SARK's Marvelous Message board many years ago and gravitated towards each other as women who were serious about their art, and serious about being fantastic moms.

Jill's first book, Summers At Blue Lake, is coming out tomorrow. I have had the pleasure of getting to read it and I think it's just great. If you like Sue Monk Kidd, you should most definitely check this one out. There is so much fluff-lit out there, with the same recycled plot and stupid characters, that it's a relief to read something engaging and entertaining like Jill's story. You can read a book description and more here.

Help a new author out... If you know of any bookclubs, reading groups, or small bookstores you think might be interested in reading, purchasing, or doing anything else with her book, please let her know. She's available to book clubs over the phone (she'll call in), and she's doing readings and interviews at different book stores in Pennsylvania, where she lives.

I am so incredibly proud of Jill and how she's managed to write, paint (she's a fantastic artist and photographer), design, decide her job wasn't doing it for her and quit, be a wonderful mom and wife, and have two more books waiting in the wings. She and Michelle inspire the heck out of me (Michelle will be getting a post dedicated to her soon) on pretty much a daily basis. Their kids are all older than mine, and when I would be in the depths of despair, they would encourage me that things would get easier and to keep creating. Jill's book is out; Michelle just got her proofs back from the printer for her book with her illustrations... I have some catching up to do! :)

♥ ♥ ♥
ps ~ I haven't fallen off the face of the earth, but I have been doing a whirlwind of a (good!) dance around here. More to come....

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