Turn That Insecurity Into I’m-So-Fabulous (Meet the Misfits)!

Hey all. Is there something about yourself you’re not fond of? Maybe you’ve got big teeth or a big ol’ booty you wish was smaller. Or maybe you hate wearing glasses and are unable to wear contacts. Or maybe you don’t have much up top (or maybe you have a lot)! We all have insecurities about ourselves – things we wish we could change. And sometimes people tease us for these things. It’s not much fun to be teased about things that make us different. But then again, these things are what make us who we are. And besides, there are other people who share the same insecurities (you’re not the only one!). So why not celebrate what makes us who we are and embrace what we’ve got?

It’s interesting – other people are actually the ones who make us feel insecure about ourselves. We beat up on ourselves and react negatively because of what someone else says or thinks. But isn’t it true that people won’t generally tease or make fun of us if we acknowledge and accept ourselves with love and confidence about who we are? Who teases a confident and loving person and gets satisfaction in the reaction? Nobody.

I want to you to meet the Misfits. My friend Rayelle and her twin sister, Cayla, created this wonderful family of 30 felt dolls to help you and me embrace our insecurities and be proud of and happy with ourselves. Each doll comes with a little storybook – Using rhyme and little humor, Rayelle and Cayla tell you about the doll and why they rock. They look at the positives about things like having some junk in the trunk, a short stature, or a stocky build.

Here are some of the Misfits below. From Frankie Four Eyes to Petite Pauline to Flatty Patty, these dolls share in the all the same insecurities as we do. But they encourage us to take these insecurities and turn them into positives we appreciate about ourselves.

Rayelle and Cayla have been making these clever dolls by hand and selling them for a while now; and they are wildly popular with both kids and adults. But making these dolls by hand is limiting. Not only can they not keep up with production, but to be able to sell them to children there are safety standards that come into play. Therefore, they have set up a project design fundraiser on www.kickstarter.com, a fabulous website dedicated to funding creative projects! If they can raise $12,000 by July 5th they will be able to begin their dream of having their beloved felt dolls manufactured for them, their little storybooks published, and helping to empower children (young and old!) by teaching them to appreciate themselves. Doesn’t this sound like a company you’d be proud to support?

There are just ten days left to raise this amount! But they have gotten a great start so far. And there are rewards for making donations! Depending on the amount you choose to give, Rayelle and Cayla will send you fun Misfits treasures, from Misfits stickers and tote bags to the actual dolls themselves (and you get to pick)! See for yourself. Meet Rayelle and Cayla (and the Misfits) in this video and hear all about their incredibly honorable endeavor – I tried to embed the video on this blog post, but am unable to for some reason so click HERE.

Here’s to loving ourselves for all we are (insecurities and all!) [glasses clink]. Cheers!

H

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Farmers Market Food Geek (and Nettle-Walnut Pesto).

I’m really into cooking lately. It happens in waves. I mean, I cook pretty regularly and enjoy it, but I have been much more excited about it in recent weeks. I mean like food-geek excited where I take photos of what I got and what I made. Like so excited that I text my friend (who is equally as excited about this as I am, by the way) these photos. And then I post them on Instagram after that with plenty of exclamation points!!! [Look!!! Pizza with caramelized onions, balsamic vinegar, canned tomatoes from our garden last summer, asparagus, fresh mozzarella, arugula, and a duck egg!!!] Whooo! I suppose we can conclude that the uber-excitement is because of the availability of delicious, organic/no spray local food right now. The farmers market here is in coming into full swing. I get so super-anxious each year come March or so, pouring over my cookbooks and foodgawker (a great food website!) and making plans and preparations and lists (plenty of lists) for when the first spring harvest shows up at the market and at the food co-op in April. Microgreens, arugula, spinach, stinging nettles, radishes, asparagus, cilantro, baby leeks, onions, oh my…sigh. Why is this so thrilling to me?

I suppose it’s because of the sense of accomplishment I feel when I make something from scratch from ingredients that were grown locally. It feels great to support local people and their hard work. Farmers markets are great fun – it’s so cool to talk to the people who grew or raised the food. Ask them questions and they’ll answer you – and honestly. I mean, how cool is that to actually get your food from people you can see each week and get to know? And to know that the vegetables were harvested within 24 hours? No fluorescent lights. No conveyer belts. No air conditioning. No plastic and Styrofoam-wrapped vegetables that have been sitting there for who knows how long. Sounds like a no-brainer to me. If you can get to a farmers market, that is.

Yes, I am completely spoiled. I am truly lucky and feel enormously grateful to have a farmers market like this where I live. Not everyone gets this wonderful opportunity to shop at a beautiful market like I do.

To celebrate spring and my farmer’s market goodies, I’d like to share a recipe with you. I know, I know. This was supposed to be a blog about art, design, love, and life. But, food can be an art. You can design it (or style it), you can love it (!!!) and it is what makes life. So I guess it fits into my categories quite well. Oh, and my disclaimer: I am not a food photographer. I did my best.

STINGING NETTLES AND WALNUT PESTO (Vegan)

I made this last week and it is delicious. I used some on pasta (I used Jovial brand einkhorn pasta) and froze the rest (some, of which I just thawed tonight to spread on a pan bagnat sandwich). Stinging nettles sort of taste like spinach. They have detox qualities, and are rich in vitamins C and B complex, iron, calcium, and other such good stuff.

INGREDIENTS

1 generous bunch of stinging nettles (Don’t pull these out of the bag with your bare hands, by the way. They are called stinging nettles for a reason – they have little hairs that create skin irritation. Now why would you want to eat these?!? Read on…)

3 – 5 cloves of garlic, pressed (Depends on your love of garlic and how big the cloves are)

½ cup or so of walnuts

Juice of 1 lemon

¼ c. nutritional yeast

¾ t. salt

Olive oil

DIRECTIONS

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the nettles (I turned the bag inside out and dropped the nettles in so I wouldn’t touch them). Let them boil for a few minutes. This gets rid of the hairs and therefore the sting. Strain the nettles and let them cool.

Press the garlic into a food processor. Add the walnuts, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and salt. Process until smooth. Add some olive oil (a drizzle or two). Process again.

When the nettles have cooled, remove the big stems. Then squeeze the water out of what you’ll be using in a clean towel. Add to the food processor and process until smooth once again. Add oil as you go until you reach your desired consistency.

Easy! Which is great, because although I like good-quality food, I get impatient if recipes are too involved. I’ve got other things to do too, you know.

Makes enough for 6-8 people for pasta. It freezes beautifully. You can freeze it in cubes (in an ice cube tray) or in a freezer bag.

Be well and happy spring!

H

I Heart Detroit. Part I.

Hello everyone! I just got back from a fun-filled weekend in Detroit. The significant other had to attend a convention and so we made a little vacation (staycation?) out of it. I thought I’d share some photos I took of some of my favorite places I frequent in this great big ol’ city. There are many more places to talk about than what I show here (hence the title of this blog post as Part I), but there’s no way to visit them all in one weekend.

The Westin Book Cadillac in downtown Detroit is a lovely luxury hotel and I admit I took a little pleasure in pretending I was “Little Miss Fancy Pants.” It was fun. We got a reduced rate, thanks to the convention, so we gladly took advantage of it to stay here. I love looking at architecture (Detroit, by the way, has SO many old, beautiful buildings) and this hotel was recently fully restored to its Italian Renaissance style of 1924. I think this building, inside and out, is gorgeous. And I love the 3 flags representing the U.S., Canada, and Michigan flying in the wind together.

Oh Avalon. YUM! Every time I come to Detroit I have to stop here in Midtown for tea, a loaf of bread, and a cookie. This women-owned company uses 100% organic flour and whatever local ingredients they can get their hands on. I buy their bread regularly (they distribute it locally) but there’s nothing like going straight to the source and buying the bread right there, freshly sliced. My favorite is the Dexter Davison Rye – it has caraway seeds on top. It’s not cheap (the large loaves are $7), but the quality makes it well worth it in my opinion. I could easily sit in here much of the day, watching people coming in and out, drinking tea, and breathing in the wonderful smells of bakery. The atmosphere is wonderfully cozy.

When this 40-story skyscraper was finished in 1929, it was first known as The Union Trust Building. But because of the Stock Market Crash, investors who believed in the building took it over from the Union Trust Company (a banking group) and it became The Union Guardian Building, and then simply The Guardian Building. A cool thing to know about this building is that it was designed and built completely by Michigan architects and contractors. The design of this striking building is incredibly unique with its bright colors and is described as “Mayan Revival Art Deco.” The Guardian Building represents the people of Michigan who believed in the success of Detroit and like the people of Detroit today, it still stands proudly. The Guardian Building is as beautiful as ever and has been designated as a National Historic Landmark. And rightly so.

Open since 1917, Lafayette Coney Island is a must for many who visit Detroit. I love the retro look, the diner atmosphere, and the fact that it’s really no different than when it opened. The funny fact about this place is that two Greek brothers who owned the place got in an argument shortly after their restaurant opened and so it split into two restaurants that sit side by side (the other is called American Coney Island). I am not sure which one was the original, but most people I know are partial to Lafayette. And going by looks, I’d pick Lafayette too. I do not eat gyros or coney dogs (hot dogs topped with chili), but I maintain an appreciation for this historic novelty restaurant. Plus, what’s cool is that both coney islands are still owned by the same family that opened them.

One thing I really enjoy about Detroit is all the art on the abandoned houses. There are many. This particular house sits in Corktown, near the old train station (one of the most famous and most beautiful dilapidated buildings in Detroit). This mural I consider to be very faithful, as it reads “The Dream is Now” and on the left in smaller letters (hard to see here), “If We Fight Together Our City Will Rise.” There is much hope and pride here in Detroit, and you can feel it all around when you’re here. It’s a precious feeling.

Another favorite food place of mine with incredible atmosphere. And soooooooooo tasty! We didn’t know until this morning that the Cork Town Race was today followed by the St. Patrick’s Parade. I am not sure why it’s a week before St. Patrick’s Day, but it was a gorgeous day for a parade – sunny and warm. It was packed all around Slows and all down Michigan Avenue so we didn’t know what to expect with wait time for food (side note: Slows wait times are often 2 hours! This shows how great their food is!).  Slows is obviously huge on the meat, but they source local and responsibly-raised meat.  And they do have some great vegetarian options too, much to my delight. I get The Genius sandwich, which is a barbecued seitan sandwich topped with cole slaw and pickles. Today, because of the parade, they were serving just a few different items and it was standing room only. But The Genius was just as delicious as it always is.

This is another beautiful piece of art work on another abandoned building near the train station in Corktown. I find it so captivating (I actually gasped when I first saw it). I just love the contrast of black and white. I wish I knew the story behind it. If anyone does, let me know.

Best,

H

PS. All photos taken by me using my iPhone. Check out Westin, Avalon, Guardian, and Slows.

My Photo-Per-Day Project. [art. life.]

I’ve been having a really fabulous time with Instagram lately. I have had this iPhone app for a while but honestly, I didn’t get into it right away. However, this changed when (ding-ding-ding!) I thought of a grand idea! See, I planned to take at least 1 photo per day to document my life starting January 1st, 2012. And actually, I tried this last year. But I thought of it in February last year, so it wasn’t the true start of the year. Plus, in the every-day-running-around called “life,” I forgot to take photos every day (by the way, I am also that person who regrets not taking pictures when attending different events and special occasions).

Enter Instagram. My photo-per-day idea has now turned into a constant and challenging, yet entertaining art project. For those of you that read my last post, you know my goal for 2012 is to make time for more creativity. And in this way, I am!  Each day, I take at least a few photos (using only my iPhone) of whatever I find interesting that day. Then, I play with colors and contrast a bit using either the CameraBag app or the options on Instagram. And once in a while, I keep them as is. BUT! I choose just ONE for each day to post on Instagram. That’s my rule.

Some days are incredibly boring! For instance, the other day I was running around the house, looking for something interesting to photograph. Finally, I looked outside and saw there were just two bits of melting snow in the yard (a very odd occurrence this time of year where I live) – it wasn’t my most exciting day, that’s for sure. But other days I get so much inspiration and find super-fun stuff to photograph (which makes it undoubtedly hard for me to choose just one to post!). Regardless of the day, however, I am filling my life with daily creativity and that is the ultimate goal.

Anyway, I thought I’d share what I’ve posted so far. Each day I post, the more I look forward to seeing what’s to come in 2012.

Best,

H