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Nursery!

The nursery is as close to finished as it’s going to get for the next few weeks. We’re still waiting on the awesome glider the grandmas got us, a floor lamp, and some stuff for the dress/changing table. Oh yeah, and a baby. But I think it’s ready for the early debut. The Design Guru will probably add some additional style magic when she photographs it for her porfolio, so I’ll be sure to share those pics.

These are from a quick grab of photos, and my flash was acting up so stay tuned for the really pretty pictures in a few weeks.

Left side of the room: painted book case, Indian wall hanging, some photos, and a placeholder for the glider.

Here's the crib (IKEA) and some decorations.

Check this puppy out: It's a toddler-sized duvet that was decorated with iron on images from David's and my photo portfolio. Brilliant!

The right side of the room: a hand me down dresser painted and then decorated for use as a changing table and storage. More iron on art above!

Decorative detail on the dresser, done by moi.

I’m a guest star!

My friend Nelson has this awesome food blog called Show Me Your Taco. I introduced him to the exotic tacos at Polvo’s and I got to help with the review and even do a little of the filming! It was fun, and tasty.

Spring!

First, flowers!
Zilker Botanical Gardens

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DSC_7844

Zilker Botanical Gardens

It’s so great to see all this color.

Work has been really fun lately. It seems like spring has really amped up my creative process. I spoke at a conference in Austin a few weeks ago called RISE, it was really fun. It was especially great to be around a bunch of entrepreneurs. It reminded me of the first time I went to music/arts summer camp in high school. Instead of being a weirdo, I was with my own kind, people who shared my values and ideals. In this case, it was fun to be with other irrationally optimistic, creative, driven people who persistently see our country’s financial difficulties as an opportunity for growth and change. It was cool.

My session was on defining and identifying core vision, values, and mission. It went really well, and has got me thinking about some very exciting possibilities to expand on the parts people responded to especially well. Next week, I’m guest speaking at Wisdom at Work, which you can read about here, if you’re interested.

Speaking of entrepreneurs, I got to meet one of my idols yesterday, Perez Hilton. What? That snarky gossip blogger who draws on pictures of movie stars in MS Paint? Yep. I have to admit his blog is a guilty pleasure of mine. But what I find more interesting is how he’s managed to go from just some dude who writes a goofy blog to a media mogul. Seriously – the guy had one of the hottest shows at SXSW, has a clothing line at Hot Topic, a book, tv shows, and more. I expect him to be in the company of Oprah as far as media influence is concerned in the next ten years. He is wicked smart. Anyway, I’ll quit gushing and just show you the picture:

Me dorking out.

I am such a dork.

I’ve been better about keeping my business blog updated, but less so here. I’ve got some new website stuff in the work, so stay tuned for updates. Oh – and I also have a new article in a journal called The Systems Thinker. Sweet! It’s on organizational politics and ethics, if you’re interested email me and I’ll send you a copy.

That’s all for now. I have to go wash some terriers.

Bokeh Eye-Candy

I’ve become obsessed with a photography style called “bokeh”. It’s macro photography, generally, which utilizes a large apeture (shallow depth of field) which results in your subject being very sharply in focus, and the background as blurry as possible. The smoother, the better. The people who are really good at it frame their shots so the composition of the subject, and the contrast with the background is almost like a visual haiku. I’m not at that level yet, but some of my attempts are not so bad:

Zilker Botanical Gardens

Zilker Botanical Gardens

Zilker Botanical Gardens

Zilker Botanical Gardens

backyard bokeh

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I’m keeping track in a set you can see here.

But if you really want to see the masters, check out these people:
Naro

okiraku_diver

Yochi

*Sakura* Her stuff is AMAZING. Check out the frog and ladybug sets, particularly.

michelann - View my most interesting photos on Flickriver

Food Porn

David and I went to Hudson’s on the Bend for dinner tonight. Highlights:

  • Amuse-Bouche: coconut fried shrimp in a lime-coconut shooter
  • Appetizer: smoked duck breast, jicama, jalapeno, figs wrapped in bacon with red chili glaze dipping sauce
  • Entree: american bison stuffed with spicy venison sausage on a 3 bean ragout with chipotle bbq sauce

O. M. G. That was some good food.

100 Things

I keep seeing these “100 Things” lists on people’s blogs. I could pretend that I don’t like to talk about myself and am too modest to try to come up with one, but that would just be silly. So here goes:

  1. My first name is Heather.
  2. I tested out of high school when I was 15 and went to community college for a year before starting at SF Conservatory of Music where I got 2 degrees.
  3. I hate pineapple.
  4. I don’t like to cook anything that takes more than an hour of prep.
  5. I make a mean crepe.
  6. I scored 158 on the LSAT.
  7. I take reasonably good macro photography with a Nikon D300.
  8. I suck at math.
  9. Some days I’m an INFJ, some days I’m an ENFJ.
  10. In college I sang a master class with Thomas Hampson, and he made me take my shoes off.
  11. I have two masters degrees (so far).
  12. I auditioned a role in the movie Dangerous Liaisons when I was 15. I didn’t get it, Uma Thurman did.
  13. I loved junior high and hated high school.
  14. I love corgis and terriers, but I hate poodles and cocker spaniels.
  15. I think Brain Candy and Zoolander are works of genius.
  16. I’ve watched the five hour mini-series version of Pride and Prejudice in one sitting at least five times.
  17. I love Jane Austin adaptations. That includes Clueless. And the Bollywood one.
  18. I read books multiple times until they fall apart, and then I get new copies and read them some more.
  19. I’m scared of cockroaches.
  20. When I was a kid I played classical harp.
  21. I don’t swim very well.
  22. I had a sadistic choir director in high school who told me I was a terrible dancer.
  23. I’m actually a pretty good dancer. Not great, but good.
  24. I take belly dance classes and perform fairly regularly.
  25. Both my pinkie fingers are crooked.
  26. I have persistent asthma. It used to flare up when I exercised, now it only gets bad if I have a bad cold or bronchitis. Yay regular exercise and modern medicine!
  27. I used to be an opera singer.
  28. I still want to sing a lead in one more Mozart opera someday.
  29. I almost flunked math in high school because I was in the chorus of The King and I in local theater and I wasn’t getting any sleep.
  30. My husband says I snore, but I don’t believe him.
  31. I’m not sure if I want to have children.
  32. I did children’s theater in elementary school and got all the short roles, including a munchkin and a hobbit.
  33. I’ve been in six musicals, six operas, and three operettas.
  34. I speak basic German, and rudimentary French and Italian.
  35. My hair is actually dishwater blond.
  36. I am allergic to cats.
  37. I had a TABC license for a while (so I could bartend, which I only did once).
  38. I’m the third (possibly fourth) generation of my family to elope.
  39. I used to read tarot cards, sometimes for money.
  40. I am so not psychic.
  41. I used to think Phantom of the Opera was the best musical ever written. I was wrong.
  42. I never thought I would end up settling in Texas.
  43. I don’t really miss California, though I do miss my friends and family there sometimes.
  44. I have two black and white Terrier mixes named Loki and Persephone.
  45. I love comparative religion and mythology.
  46. I’ve watched every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel several times, and can identify which episode and which season many random quotes come from. Scary.
  47. I want to get a PhD in Psychology and Mythology.
  48. I want to get a law degree.
  49. I have bad dreams pretty frequently.
  50. I used to love Victorian architecture and hate mid-century modern and later design, now it’s mostly the other way around.
  51. I read fiction incredibly fast, but am much slower with non-fiction. Imagine my dismay when I found this out after starting grad school.
  52. I am addicted to Flickr.
  53. I love Homestar Runner and Making Fiends. And I have the tee-shirts to prove it.
  54. I am largely over my life-long Hello Kitty fixation.
  55. I can order a few kinds of dim sum in really bad Chinese.
  56. The worst airport I have every been in was in Tel Aviv. I was three hours early and almost missed my flight.
  57. The farthest away I have ever traveled was Israel. Hawaii seems pretty far too, now that I live in Texas.
  58. I got married in Hawaii.
  59. I lived in Santa Barbara for 17 years, San Francisco for 7 years, Baltimore for 2 years, and Austin for 11.
  60. I lived in Austin from 1996-1999, and then moved back in 2001 right be fore 9/11.
  61. I find psychology fascinating and have read many books on it. I considered getting a social work or counseling degree before I decided on my most recent one.
  62. My birthday is two days before Christmas. This worked to my advantage when I was a kid, and totally sucks now.
  63. I belonged to a synagogue in Baltimore and was employed as a soloist at a Lutheran church at the same time. So that year I observed Passover while singing Holy Week services. They were more alike than you would imagine, and more different than they should have been.
  64. I grew up knowing how to swear in Yiddish but not knowing anything about Judaism (my grandmother was Jewish but was raised protestant). I learned how to make latkes from my grandmother, and everything else I thought I knew about my heritage was from Fiddler on the Roof.
  65. I refuse to roller skate, ice skate, or ski.
  66. I’ve been to Israel, Belize, Honduras, France, Germany, Italy, Holland, England, Belgium, Switzerland, Wales, Scotland, and Canada.
  67. I can quote large portions of Monty Python sketches.
  68. I am a nerd of epic proportions.
  69. I can also be quite redundant.
  70. I own all of Frank Baum’s Oz books, and a bunch of his way lesser known children’s books.
  71. I love elephants and collect SMALL amounts of elephant things. I consider the elephant my totem animal.
  72. I feel a strong calling to help people understand themselves and others better and nurture compassion.
  73. I can hand-code old school HTML.
  74. I love yoga, and I wish I did it more often.
  75. I’m a Capricorn with my moon in Pisces and Gemini rising. That means that I’m logical and stubborn on the surface, but introverted and mystical and intuitive underneath, and sometimes gregarious and changeable. Seems a little broad, doesn’t it?
  76. I used to write a food column for my former company’s newsletter. People would email me to ask where to take their SO for special occasions. It was fun.
  77. New Orleans has my favorite food in the world. I almost moved there before I decided to come back to Austin.
  78. I seem to have gotten somewhat used to the Texas heat. When I was a kid I couldn’t stand it when it got over 75 degrees.
  79. I still hate the cockroaches, though.
  80. Starting a business is one of the scariest and most fun things I’ve ever done.
  81. I read Perez Hilton.
  82. I hate misuse of punctuation, including but not limited to multiple exclamation and/or questions marks, incorrect use of apostrophes, and incorrect use of quotation marks.
  83. My chocolate chip oatmeal pecan cookies are possibly the best in the world.
  84. I have three tattoos: a lotus on my lower back, a hand of fatima on my right shoulder blade, and a scarab with a band on my left upper arm.
  85. I am addicted to makeup and skin care products. I shudder to think how much I spend at Sephora in a year.
  86. I’ve had consistent insomnia for several years in a row.
  87. I love coffee. Maybe there’s a connection there.
  88. I’m addicted to positive-message makeover shows like What Not to Wear, How to Look Good Naked, Clean House, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and Dress My Nest. Yes, I know they’re cheeze. No, I don’t care.
  89. I hate ugly reality TV, the stuff that encourages people to act out of self-interest and against their values.
  90. The movie Idiocracy scared the shit out of
    me. See above.
  91. I’m a liberal capitalist.
  92. I once meditated for two days straight. (weekend workshop, there was sleep involved) I mostly felt a lot of back pain and extreme grumpiness. It was still a good experience.
  93. I love blue dishes, purple clothes, burgundy lipstick, and my husband’s brown eyes.
  94. It makes me very angry that gay people can’t marry in most states.
  95. It makes me happy that it is finally changing.
  96. I want to write a bestselling book on relationship dynamics in the professional world.
  97. I want to go on Oprah to talk about my book.
  98. I liked being single. I like being married way better.
  99. I’ve indulged in an illegal drug exactly once. I don’t like alcohol all that much either.
  100. I know karate. (okay, I took karate for a couple of years in my early teens, but I still know how to break an arm or leg, given controlled circumstances)

The silly side of self-knowledge

Ever seen a tag cloud? It’s a cluster of keywords that’s visually grouped so that the most used words are larger and darker, and the least are smaller and lighter. Interesting way to get a visual snapshot of what people are interested in on a given site.

You can create a tag cloud of your own web pages at www.tagcrowd.com. Check mine out:

Hmmm, what does this say about me? I think it says I really like the word “really” really a lot, really. And chocolate. And people! Some interesting clusters of words turn into strangely alliterative phrases as well, like “interested labels learned less life” and “conversation cookies”. Try it out for yourself and see what shows up.

Grammar-Related Health Issues

I know that I do not always spell perfectly. I know that I really don’t have a high horse on which to stand. But I can’t help it, crazy bad use of punctuation, really crappy grammar, and lame spelling makes me nuts.

I used to be especially fixated on misuse of punctuation marks. It’s rampant in Texas, but it happens everywhere, including our hotel in Belize:


What? Why emphasize “book activities” (<–see, right there it's correct because I'm quoting, see?) This makes my brain hurt. My favorite of all time was Rosie's Tamales on Oltorf St. in Austin. They had a big sign (for a couple of years) that said "NOW" Open. Even thinking about it gives me a headache. My latest obsession is apostrophes. People use them so artistically! For emphasis, just cause it looks cool, for anything except what they're intended for which is:

  1. To indicate the possessive:
    This is Shaun’s tea towel. (The tea towel belongs to Shaun)
  2. To create a contraction:
    That’s my tea towel. (That is my tea towel)

There is a tricky rule about using “it’s” that I often screw up. You must not the apostrophe for the possessive, but you do it for the contraction: “It’s a brand new day” (It is a brand new day).

So I know, lots of room to screw up, and as my editors (hi, Mom!) can tell you, I don’t always get it right either. But I’m not talking about your run of the mill its/it’s screw ups. It’s the artistic license with which people use those little marks that really grinds me down. My favorite local taco joint recently revamped their website, and while it was much improved, there were frequent references to “chili’s” on the menu. So I sent them an email:

Your new website is very nice, but you need to fix a spelling error on your menu. “chilies” (also can be spelled chiles or chilis) is plural, not possessive, so it’s incorrect to use an apostrophe (“chili’s” would mean “that which belongs to chili”).
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/chilies

Love,
Your-friendly-neighborhood-know-it-all-who-loves-your-tacos

They didn’t respond.
I fear that I’m fighting a losing battle here. But I have run across a couple of sympathetic people on the web:

I am so glad that there are other people out there like me. Let me know if you have any grammatical pet peeves, and feel free to correct mine.

Pork Fat Rules!


I heart bacon. I really do. And yet, I also attempt to eat healthy on a semi-regular basis. Until recently, I never thought it would be possible to indulge my love of pork products with conscientious eating habits. But then I discovered the beauty that is Cooking Light’s online recipe search. They have tons of recipes that include judicious amounts of your favorite naughty foods, but do not contain obnoxious amounts of fat, calories, etc. Here are a few of my absolute favorites:

Pasta Carbonara Florentine – this recipe is the ultimate comfort pasta dish. Carbonara is an egg and cream based sauce (minus the cream in this case). Lots of nummy bacon, drained, with just a touch of the bacon grease reserved to sautee the onions and spinach. I use pecorino romano instead of parmesan, it has more of a bite, and I up the black pepper a bit. Heavenly.

Herbed Fish and Red Potato Chowder
– I make this when David brings me back a mess of trout and redfish from his fishing trips with his brothers and dad. It’s rich and tasty.

Pork Saltimbocca with Polenta
– My Italian food expert friend Ryan informs me that this is a traditional Roman dish, but it usually calls for veal which I don’t eat. So this is a double win for me, it’s relatively easy to prep and the flavor of the prosciutto (I recommend jamon serrano – the Spanish version of prosciutto) with the sage is just wonderful.

Wasabi and Panko-crusted Pork with Gingered Soy Sauce – Panko is a Japanese breadcrumb. Used correctly, it adds a crunch more reminiscent of battered fried food than Italian breadcrumbs. This recipe is super easy, really delish, and the same techniques can be applied to the alternate meat or fish or your choice with equally good results.

Finding these and other recipes seriously makes me feel like I’ve won the food lottery. If you’re interested in more naughty-healthy recommendations, leave me a comment or email me, I have a whole list of them, including some decadent desserts.

Heroic Harry

David and I read the last Harry Potter book on Saturday. I’m a HUGE Harry Potter fan. I’ve always loved fantasy and sci fi, and the HP books are up there for me with Lord of the Rings, the Oz books, and more recently the His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman.

There’s been lots of yammering lately about the quality of Rowling’s prose, but I’m going to sit that one out. I really enjoy the books, and I love the cleverness and imagination in them. But I read something really silly today in the Wall Street Journal.

The reviewer points out that the final book solidifies Rowling’s intentions to create a Christian allegory, much in the spirit of Tolkien and Lewis. Okay. Rewind. Tolkien – not a Christian allegory. Big, epic hero story, with roots in a whole bunch of different traditions. The dude created an entire genesis and mythology and multiple languages. He created actual languages. His work transcends one particular religion. Lewis, on the other hand, big Christian allegory. And, might I add, fairly one dimensional. I find his stories to be simplistic (and sometimes quite bigoted – see the later books in the Narnia series) morality plays. For a far more sophisticated Christian allegory, check out the Ender stories by Orson Scott Card. Again, it’s the hero story, but from a Christian perspective.

So let’s take a quick look at the themes underlying HP (avoid this if you haven’t read the last book yet and don’t want spoilers). Harry is raised in physical and spiritual poverty, discovers secrets of his birth, goes on a long, difficult journey where he faces many tasks, is guided by a wise man who subsequently dies, faces loss, doubt and disillusionment, sacrifices himself, visits the underworld/afterlife, returns, and defeats the current embodiment of evil. This is not a uniquely Christian allegory. This is the hero’s story, which has been told since the dawn of man, and exists in every culture in some form, and in every era. Parsifal, Jesus, the Buddha, Luke Skywalker, Dorothy… this is the monomyth. News flash – the redemptive power of love and forgiveness is a universal concept that is not tethered to one religion, race, or culture. Sheesh.

/end rant

I really enjoyed the last book, and the series as a whole. I’m looking forward to seeing what Rowling dreams up next. In the mean time, let me know if you’ve read any good books lately!