Friday, June 24, 2011

{this moment}

A Friday ritual (inspired by Soulemama).
A single photo--no words--capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your "moment" in the comments for all to find and see.
Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Word About Grass

I do love a good patch of grass to run around on, but this little anecdote below made me laugh. I thought I'd share:

A conversation between GOD and St. Francis about Suburbanites

GOD: St. Francis, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the World is going on down there in the USA? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect, no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honeybees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But all I see are these green rectangles.

ST. FRANCIS: It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers weeds and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

GOD: Grass? But it's so boring. It's not colorful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It's temperamental with temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?

ST. FRANCIS: Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

GOD: The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.

ST. FRANCIS: Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it, sometimes twice a week.

GOD: They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?

ST. FRANCIS: Not exactly Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

GOD: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

ST. FRANCIS: No, sir -- just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

GOD: Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

ST. FRANCIS: Yes, sir.

GOD: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back On the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves Them a lot of work.

ST. FRANCIS: You aren't going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

GOD: What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves form compost to enhance the soil. It's a natural circle of life.

ST. FRANCIS: You'd better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

GOD: No. What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the Winter and to keep the soil moist and loose?

ST. FRANCIS: After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy Something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

GOD: And where do they get this mulch?

ST. FRANCIS: They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

GOD: Enough! I don't want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?

ST. CATHERINE: Dumb and Dumber, Lord. It's a real stupid movie about…

GOD: Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.

Along this topic, Mayumi and I have been enjoying a new book:

Makes me consider letting my little postage stamp-sized front lawn turn into a wildflower meadow!

Hope you have a lovely week, friends!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Deal of the Day! $20 for $40 Worth of Organic, Natural, Green, and Eco-Friendly Products from Abe's Market

This deal has popped up before and I was tempted to buy it then as I am tempted to buy it now. Groupon is offering a $40 for only $20 to Abe's Market, an on-line retailer of eco-friendly goods. This Groupon is available on the right side bar of the Westchester County, New York page but since it is an on-line deal, anyone nationwide can purchase it.

Before I buy any deals from these social buying sites like Groupon, I always check out the website of the retailer to see if there is anything I actually "need" (because some of us can be more impulsive than we want to admit). I found these stainless steel bento boxes that would be perfect for picnic lunches or in the car when we're out an about.
Right now I am using glass and plastic but the glass is so heavy and the plastic breaks all the time and doesn't really coincide with trying to live a zero-waste lifestyle. I don't know if it is just having a daughter that gets me paranoid about all the chemicals in plastics or just trying to be more environmentally conscious about my waste or a combination of both but I've been trying to slowly make changes to sturdier reusable items and when I see a deal like this, I like to jump on it (you think my husband will buy that?). I also want to make beautiful bento lunches for me and my daughter.

Another thing you want to check out is shipping for these types of deals before you buy. When you factor in shipping, sometimes the deal isn't quite the steal that you thought. According to the Abe's Market website, you can get free shipping on orders over $49 for a limited time or pay a flat fee of $3.99 so I think that is quite reasonable.

Are you all as addicted to social buying sites like Groupon as I am? I must subscribe to more than seven of these a day that flood my inbox and always tempt me with the great deals, whether I need them or not. Hope that this is a more useful one for our readers!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A father's advice

On this Father's Day, we'd of course like to honor our dear wabisabi father. He's at a point in his life where he has some time to reflect and recently shared some sage advice about raising a child. While I don't always love unsolicited advice, I think his four kids turned out pretty darn good, so perhaps he's qualified to dole out some tips now and again. Here they are, in his very words:

Raising a child.  Nobody asked, but here are my suggestions for raising a child.

Limit entertainment. The trick here is to understand what entertainment is. Entertainment may include watching TV, playing video games, playing with toys, surfing the web, shopping, hanging out, attending or watching sporting events, going to the movies, texting, excessive use of cell phone, and probably a myriad of other future technological advances not even conceived yet. You may have your own additions to this list.  Although we all need a break, 20 hours of MTV a week is probably over the top.

Expose the child to a wide range of occupations. A main goal in life is to not outlive one’s assets. Assets are usually acquired by work. Exposing a child to a wide range of occupations (not just areas of interest) focuses a child’s interest on what she would like to do (and not do!). This is just as important for girls as it is for boys.  Take-your-child-to-work day is a good idea. Take-your-child-to-someone-else’s-work day is even better.

Instill a sense of awe for the outdoors. Take her fishing. Go hiking. Paddle a canoe down a river. Climb a mountain. Take a 3-day camping trip with only what you can carry on your back. Bike in the canyons. Kayak on a lake. Watch a whale breech. Take a picnic in the park. Sleep in a tent in the back yard. Plant a seed and watch it sprout. You get the idea. Start out small and work your way up to grander outings. Not only will this be fun, but also she will gain confidence in being able to take care of herself when not in the womb of civilization.

Read, read, read. Learning is the (ongoing) destination, and reading is the road. Read to her every day. Teach her to read as early as possible. Don’t wait for school to do it. Have her see you read. Show interest in what she’s reading. Choose reading material from and about other countries, ethnic groups, and civilizations. Read a book, watch the movie. Take her to the library frequently. Build your own in-house library.

Involve yourself with the child’s homework/education. Know her teacher(s) and express thanks. Correlate your teachings with what she’s learning in school. Show interest in her homework. Do not undermine homework time with competing TV. If she doesn’t have homework, consider your own supplements. Help her prepare for tests. Shadow help, but don’t do the work for her.

Exploit teaching moments. Someone died drinking and driving? Point that out. Someone lose his job through alcoholism? Point that out. Someone injured by not wearing a helmet? Point that out. A candidate exposed for padding his resume? Point that out. Classmates injured or kill not wearing a seatbelt? Point that out. An athlete becomes a champion by working hard? Point that out. Dad got a good job by graduating from college? Point that out. Life is tough; it’s really tough if one is stupid.

Surround yourself with good music. There are many genres: classical, jazz, rock, country, hip-hop, Broadway musicals, religious, even barbershopping! Have a wide selection to play out load during household chores or other appropriate times. Avoid music with explicit lyrics or messages that are immoral, demeaning, or otherwise not uplifting. Music is powerful. Make it a power for good.

Monitor her friends. Unfortunately, studies show that peer pressure can easily be more powerful than parents’ influence. Learn who her friends are. Get to know them. Invite them over for a cookout. Invite them along for a hike. Invite them to church! Steer her away from toxic personalities, especially of the opposite sex. No one-on-one dating until the age of 16 probably won’t do irreparable harm.

Attend church together. Do not send a child to church; take her to church. A child has a very sensitive hypocrite detector. Do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do is a recipe for disaster. Church will usually have a reservoir of admirable peers and leaders. If not, consider another church.

Put the kid to work. This can start very early: picking up her room, helping mommy and daddy around the house and yard. Don’t expect her to instinctively know how to do things. Explicitly show her how to wipe the dishes, sweep the floor, clear the table, etc. Allow for mistakes if she does something wrong. Positive reinforcement is more powerful than negative reinforcement. Rewarding good behavior is a better strategy than punishing the lack of good behavior. Make sure chores are age appropriate (a child should not be mowing the lawn). Do not pay an allowance for normally accepted housework. This creates an attitude of entitlement. Pay (allowance or treats) for “extra” work. Do not tolerate tantrums, but avoid getting angry.

Friday, June 17, 2011

{this moment}

A Friday ritual (inspired by Soulemama).
A single photo--no words--capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your "moment" in the comments for all to find and see.
Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I'm lucky to have a little garden plot in the back area of my town home development. My plants are not as fortunate, having a forgetful owner like me. They get watered with driplines managed by the HOA, but weeds? Weeds are another story.

See that little sign that says green onions? Those are not green onions. Those are weeds. Everything green in the picture is a weed, except for the red-leaf  lettuce in the far background.

How am I the only one among my garden neighbors that can't seem to keep up? I try to do a little here and there (for heaven knows I don't have time to attack them all at once), but fresh ones always pop up quicker than I can pull them.

Sorry, little plants. It's going to be crowded for a while.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Meditation: Flag Day

A moth-eaten rag on a worm-eaten pole
It does not look likely to stir a man's soul,
'Tis the deeds that were done 'neath the moth-eaten rag,
When the pole was a staff, and the rag was a flag.
~Sir Edward B. Hamley, 1824-1893

Our National Anthem has sometimes been critisized and maligned - too war-focused, too difficult to sing, not poetic enough, not beautiful enough - but I love it. I used to perform it at the beginning of hockey and basketball games in high school (as did MamaM and MamaD) but it's been only recently that I've been able to truly appreciate its meaning and import. Because I realized that, in the song, the flag is a symbol of the spirit of the American people; a tribute to their drive and endurance. Despite the odds, that flag was still waving after a horrific night of bombardment. When I ponder on those words I am encouraged and inspired to endure my own dark times of trial and adversity.  I've been to see Old Glory - that flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the war of 1812 and inspired Francis Scott to pen those famous words - and I've been touched and humbled by its threadbare, ragged dignity. I'm reminded that survival, freedom, and victory don't usually come all touched-up and pretty. That I, too, will have wounds from the battles I fight, but that I, too, will still be there in the morning, battered but proud.

So hurrah for the flag of the free!

You're the emblem of
The land I love.
The home of the free and the brave.
~George M. Cohan

Happy Flag Day!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Enjoying the Bounty

A morning at the berry patch yielded many happy memories and 12 pounds of strawberries!

After eating as much fresh fruit as we can stomach, we made some strawberry shortcake. Why is this the first time I've ever made the biscuits myself from scratch? If I'd known how easy and delicious it could be I would've done this so much sooner!

Even bunny got to benefit from all the hulled tops - she was in heaven!

I still have a few berries left, but I don't think it's enough for a batch of jam (I want to try the strawberry lavender jam from Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff). Hmmm... this may require another outing to the orchard!

Friday, June 10, 2011

{this moment}

A Friday ritual (inspired by Soulemama).
A single photo--no words--capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your "moment" in the comments for all to find and see.
Have a wonderful weekend!

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to Kim on winning the adorable "Chowa" kokeshi print from Pinceau-Magique.
Thanks to everyone who entered. Please be sure to visit Corinne's Etsy shop to check out her other charming prints - and tell your friends!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Meditation: Facing Fear

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face.  You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.
 ~Eleanor Roosevelt

I can do this... (again!)


Don't forget to enter our June giveaway for a gorgeous art print from Pinceau-Magique. Leave a comment on the post by June 8!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I just read a blog post that mentioned how most "mommy" blogs tend to focus on the positive, happy moments instead of the challenging, disheartening days. I'm one of these bloggers--not because I'm trying to create a facade about how perfect my life is, but because I feel that it can be destructive to focus on the negative. It's the happy moments I want to remember.

That said, there are many, many things in my life that aren't picture perfect or that perhaps aren't what your typical mommy blogger might write. So, in an attempt to air some of my dirty, or just wrinkled, laundry, here are some of my confessions:
  • I used to clean my bathrooms every two weeks. Now I'm lucky if they get cleaned monthly.
  • I'm bad at getting my child to eat vegetables and remembering to brush her teeth.
  • I have let my daughter "cry it out" more than once. And it's worked.
  • I like the escape from motherhood that my part-time job provides me. 
  • Sometimes I purposely wake my husband up when I'm getting back in bed after a late-night/early-morning bout with the wee one so he can know I was up and feel a bit of my pain.
  •  I eat a lot of junk food.

Just a few of my little secrets. Now I want to know--what are yours??

Don't forget to enter our June giveaway for a gorgeous art print from Pinceau-Magique. Leave a comment on the post by June 8!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Oishii: Kabocha Cookies

Kabocha is a type of pumpkin very popular in Japan, but now widely available in the States. It has a slightly sweet taste, so it's often used to make desserts--like these kabocha cookies.

These soft cookies make a nice light treat and I can feel good (or at least not feel that bad) about giving my toddler a nibble.

But I have to admit--the cookies didn't look like the picture when I first made them.

No, not at all.

I have this habit of not following recipes exactly...not because I want to get creative, but because I have dyslexia when it comes to reading recipe instructions. Like how I was supposed to use a quarter pound of kabocha in the cookies , but I decided not to measure the kabocha, guessing instead that half a pumpkin was probably about a quarter pound. Wrong. (Note: the recipe below calls for a half-pound of kabocha because the initial yield was only about eight cookies, and that's certainly not enough for my sweet tooth!) I realized my mistake when the recipe called for flattening the cookie dough out and cutting shapes. My dough was so batter-y that there was no way to even attempt to roll it out.

So I doubled the recipe, going back and dumping everything in the already-made batter. Still terrible, but I figured I'd try it out anyway. I dumped rough spoons full onto a cookie tray, thinking the batter would melt into perfect little rounds. Wrong again.

BUT despite all my mistakes and the turd-like appearance of the cookies, the botched batch actually turned out pretty good! Cakey, but really sweet--just the way I like 'em. So I can say that this is probably a fool-proof recipe--the cookies will still taste good even if you completely screw it up like I did!

Kabocha Cookies

1/2 lb. kabocha
4 Tbsp butter
6 Tbsp sugar
2 egg yolks
1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder


1. Cut kabocha into large chunks. Steam kabocha in the microwave until softened. Peel kabocha and mash in a bowl.

2. Mix butter and sugar in another bowl. Add mashed kabocha in the bowl. Mix well. Add an egg yolk and stir well.

3. Sift flour and baking powder together. Add the flour in the bowl. Mix the dough. Rest the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 340 degrees F. Flatten the cookie dough on floured board and cut into your favorite shapes. Place a cooking sheet in a baking pan and place shaped cookie dough on the sheet. Bake cookies in 340F oven for 15-20 minutes.

*Makes 16 cookies

Sunday, June 5, 2011


My belated birthday/Mother's Day gift: a BOB jogging stroller. Isn't she a beauty?

I know money can't buy happiness, but I sure hope it can buy a stroller that will help get my butt in shape!


Don't forget to enter our June giveaway for a gorgeous art print from Pinceau-Magique. Leave a comment on the post by June 8!

Friday, June 3, 2011

{this moment}

A Friday ritual (inspired by Soulemama).
A single photo--no words--capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your "moment" in the comments for all to find and see.
Have a wonderful weekend!

Don't forget to enter our June giveaway for a gorgeous art print from Pinceau-Magique. Leave a comment on the post below and then go tell your friends to do the same and support this awesome mama-preneur!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

June Giveaway: Pinceau-Magique!

Our Wabisabi Giveaway for this month is from our sponsor Pinceau Magique. Pinceau Magique is the art company run by Corinne Le Strat of Brittany, France. Corinne is the mama of two children, six and eleven years old, and has been passionate about drawing since she herself was a child. Always looking for opportunities to encourage art in her home, she started her business four years ago when she began making paintings for her children's bedrooms. Since then she has joined the Association of Mampreneurs - a network of women who have created their own business and share the desire to grow professionally while preserving family life. 

In her own words:

On the encouragement of my friends I created my website Pinceau Magique. I realized that there was a real desire among parents to customize their child's room. With a playful and colorful style, I propose my paintings since 4 years on my website, at creative art markets and exhibitions. Somehow I hope to communicate my passion of art to children through my paintings. 

Corinne paints canvases with acrylic paintings and then has all the originals faithfully reproduced by a Canadian company working with artists and museums. With an emphasis on quality, each print is made with natural pigments on pure cotton canvas frame, is UV resistant and VOC free. She especially enjoys painting jungle scenes with vibrant colors and funny animals, embodying a certain sweetness as well as a spirit of brotherhood and harmony. She also loves painting kokeshi dolls because "for me they embody some wisdom and sweetness."

This month Corinne is offering one lucky reader this charming 9x11 inch "Chowa" kokeshi print that would be perfect in your little one's nursery! 

Comments closed! Thanks to everyone who entered. Winner to be announced on June 9th.
To be entered to win please leave a comment on this post. You can gain additional entries by becoming a fan of Wabisabi Mama on facebook (1st timers only - leave a separate comment) or becoming a follower by clicking on the sidebar (1st timers only - leave a separate comment). Comments close one week from today, on June 8th at 8pm EST. A winner will be selected by random number generator and announced here on June 9th.

In addition, Corinne is offering a 15% discount off the purchase price to all Wabisabi Mama readers at her Etsy shop when you enter "Wabisabi" at checkout. So please visit Pinceau Magique, and support this wonderful mama-run business!