A Shiksa on a Mission

Balaboosta (n.)(bah-lah-b00-sta) A Yiddish term meaning the perfect housewife
I'm a shiksa on a mission...
It may not be perfection but it's the journey that counts

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Man Cold

Although we are slowly emerging from the winter of our discontent (again), it is not quite over yet. It seems as though everyone is getting sick one last time. I know in this household that February was one thankfully short month of continuous illness. If it had been a leap year and we had one more day to be sick, there may have been a murder/suicide here. But my heart really goes out to those women who have sick kids and then sick husbands (and mostly it's the sick husbands). To you ladies stuck at home, this one's for you. . . .

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Good Life

I am heartily aware of the decadence of being able to have a slice of pie, a tasty beer and watch a bit of baseball in the middle of the day with my man.

Nails Like Steel

My current favorite nail polish--Steel Her Heart from Revlon.

Also, I'm available to help make up names for new nail polish colors and ice cream flavors. I think I would be a terrific employee. Call me.

Taking a Stand. . . On Shoes

I recently had this conversation with Reg, who I will absolutely admit is a wonderful husband and father, about Flannery, who is a lovely child made from equal parts sugar and spite, that really kind of sums up where I am on the whole parenting spectrum right now. Spoiler Alert!! Parenting changes as kids change and as you change. Huh. Yup, it's a dynamic process that sometimes makes you long for those halcyon days of absolute surety. I know for a fact there were things that I felt solid to my very bones about when we had Emerson and he was new and we were new. Those carved in stone ideas are some of the first things thrown out the window in a postpartum fit of sleep deprived, hormonal rage. Then the second kid comes along and parenting, for at least a short time, is cobbled together bits of survivalist nonsense. And I won't go on about having a third child (which I believe to be the gateway child) or more. You are asking for it when you move from man to man and into zone defense. But eventually parenting hits an even stride with the occasional speed bump. Of course, every once in a while, I realize that between the cobbling together and the even stride, maybe some lesson wasn't learned or this little phase needs some direction back to the norm or I just can't take it anymore.

The morning started as usual and I'm pretty sure it was Flannery's insistence on weather inappropriate footwear that sent me over the edge. It doesn't matter. Sometimes you have to dig in to win an argument on principle and possibly out of sheer antagonism. But mostly out of principle. So I told Flannery how she needed to change her shoes because sandals (even with socks on) are not going to keep her warm and dry in the winter rain that makes up anywhere from 4-6 months of Portland's year. Please notice that I told her what to change and WHY. Because she did not like my stance, she started on her melodramatic, Oh Woe is Me tirade of I don't have ANYTHING to wear and I don't like ANYTHING in my closet. There were tears and slamming doors and very passive aggressive yet strangely loud sighs from her room downstairs. And something in me snapped (which is also a very melodramatic way to put it since much of this scene happens on a pretty regular basis) and I got a glimpse of our teenage future. I turned to my dear husband and told him:

Listen to me closely. You are either with me or against me. It's time to choose sides and you had better choose wisely. The teenage years are coming. I think it will get worse before it gets better and you are going to want me in your corner. Think about how hard she'll fight for some teeny tiny mini skirt or if bare midriffs make a very unfortunate return. If she wins this one, she'll think we're weak on wardrobe battles. We need to nip this in the bud now. So, focus. I want you to go downstairs to talk to Flannery. And you had better back me up because if she comes upstairs with sandals and you claim it's a compromise, it is every man for himself. Look at me. I'm not kidding.

Maybe it wasn't my finest hour but it was a very honest communication between a husband and wife and that is something that I do feel makes for good parenting. Well, that and some good old fashioned spite.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter, It's Like Butter

For Easter this year we had a brunch with our wonderful friends. But even better? Our wonderful friends had the kids spend the night on Easter Eve. Score! We simply had to make sure that the Easter Bunny knew the kids would not be here and baskets would be delivered to the right place. Flannery wrote a note that told the Easter Bunny where they would be and asked for him to kindly RSVP. Emerson, sly devil, wrote a note stating that they were at home and to make sure he left everything there.

On the menu for Easter this year was Coconut Cupcakes. I made them with and without for the coconut haters out there. They turned out cute as a button. Our friends' child, Flynn, even announced he likes coconut. . . .green coconut. The recipe is from a Barefoot Contessa cookbook. I love her stuff but be warned, it's not for those who fear butter. Her butter consumption can only be measured in pounds. I bet she and Paula Deen keep the butter people in business. So when you look at the recipe and think HOLY *&^%! just know that I didn't make that frosting. I try to keep my cupcakes from exceeding a pound of butter. I made a simple cream cheese frosting. I can't even imagine making her entire recipe for frosting. I think I could have frosted everything in sight had I continued on with it.

I also made a French Apple Tart that I will be making on a very consistent basis now that I know it's a) easy and b) more addictive than crack. Again, butter alert. But, you know, it's Easter and I'm hoping the butter slows down all that sugar in our system. It would be our biggest Easter treat.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Be the Light

Inspiration strikes.

Last October, a charming young photographer was in a hit and run accident that left her paralyzed from mid-chest down. Her name is Rachael Short and I had the honor of meeting her at my high school reunion last summer--a mere 3 months before her life changing accident. I'm inspired by her today for several reasons:

First of all, she struck me as so very confident and loving when I first met her because she came to a gathering of her boyfriend's old friends. Daunting? I'd say. You know how friends seem to adopt a sort of linguistic shorthand? It's not easy for the newbie. But Rachael just jumped right in and impressed us all.

Secondly, immediately after her accident, she asked her photographer friend to come to the hospital. When the nurses went to check on whether or not pictures were allowed, Rachael had her friend start shooting so she could document as much of the event as possible. That takes courage. I'm sure I'd be asking the nurses to secure more pain meds but Rachael was simply taking charge of a seemingly hopeless situation.

And lastly, the community that has gathered around Rachael, rolling up their sleeves to chip in to make a difference, has to be a testament to the woman herself. A recent benefit in her California town raised over $100,000 for her. And now two teams are running in the Big Sur International Marathon Relay on May 1 to raise money for Rachael.

Rachael's spirit has not seemed to dim one iota since her accident. I'm sure she has her up days and down days. She is human after all. But I, for one, am inspired by her sense of humor, her poise and her dedication to her own dream. When I look at her photos, I can see that this is a girl who doesn't take life lightly but sees it with eyes wide open and reaches for it with both hands.

Please take a moment to check out Rachael's Recovery blog and watch the video a friend made about her. The video is short and completely worth it if only the see the happiness in Rachael's face when she says she can now pick her nose again. And if you are interested in donating to the racing teams, check out this site.

And while you're at it, take at look at Rachael's photography.

My last request? Spread the word. . .

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Oh, cilantro. . . I once had a friend in college who broke up with a seemingly great guy. When listing his many faults and the reasoning behind this decision, his excessive use of cilantro was mentioned. I've never thought about anyone's feelings about spices one way or another being a relationship deal breaker but taste is a very funny thing.

These two bunches of cilantro were staring at me the other night. They really needed to be used and enjoyed while they were this verdant and lively. The result? Cilantro Pesto.

I put about a bunch and a half of just the leaves in the food processor with two cloves of garlic and about a handful of pecans (maybe 1/4 cup) which I whirled up while pouring olive oil through the chute. The amount of olive oil depends on your preference (don't want to upset any significant others if you like it saucy but she prefers a chunkier sort of paste). Then I added some pecorino romano, a pinch or two of salt and some pepper and whirled it up again. Done.

The awesome thing about pesto is you can make it out of just about anything. And I do. But I think I'm partial to cilantro and I'm really glad that my marriage has survived this fact.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Music Man?

Listening to NPR in the wee hours of the morning after another brutal 5:30 (that's AM, folks) workout--brutal for both the time of the workout and the workout itself, I heard about this interesting British guy who goes by Gold Panda. He started making music with a computer and an Atari. Yeah, that's odd. But I like it. Of course, it sparks the ol' debate about music and musicians. He's not a musician. He doesn't even consider himself a dj. So where does he fit? His bass and snare on one single actually came from a Japanese album of fireworks. Hmmmm. If the ears like what they hear, is that okay?

Starving musicians of the world, what do you think?

Monday, April 18, 2011


I'm currently reading a book called The Alphabet Versus The Goddess. The general theory behind it is that the creation of an alphabet and move to a more literate society also moved us from matriarchal to patriarchal. So, yeah, it's some light reading. It's all very interesting in a geeky way but I have to say that I had a hard time with the basic idea since I'm a complete word junkie and also a fan of the Goddess. Words and books are my drug of choice. Hello, my name is Bradi and I can't stop reading the written word. Thinking about words and the change in society led me to thinking about all the books I have read and still want to read. So I thought I'd share some bizarre little books that just popped into my head recently. These books fall under the kind of cult classic book. It grabbed you. It surprised you. Someone told you about it and you had never heard of it before. The book that you thought would be good and it was so much more. It lingered. That kind of book.

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
is a for those of you who were wondering what it would be like to intentionally create your own family of freaks for your own carnival. If you were wondering that, let me assure you that it's a frightening future. This book is creepy and disturbing and I could not put it down. The narrator is a bald albino hunchback dwarf who was deemed too normal by her family but allowed to work at the carnival despite her lack of true oddity. Enough said?

The Secret History by Donna Tartt is a strange story of a group of students who move from studying ancient Greek to murder. It may seem like a leap but this books draws you in and makes it real.

White Teeth by Zadie Smith is the first novel by this author. And, to me, her best. It was a little bit rocky at the very beginning but it pays off in so many ways. There are so many characters and they are all interesting and rich in strange twisted ways. Their lives intersect in billions of different ways. And the language creates a whole other world.

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy has such a beauty of language and tragedy, I get sad just thinking about it. I loved this book. And I'm fascinated by the author because is a tiny dynamo of intelligence and raw courage. Not only did she write this wonderful novel, but she writes essays and speaks as an activist. She's fascinating. And so are her characters.

Next up for me?
The Magus by John Fowles since it's the one that other people have told me they loved and I hadn't heard of it. But after a few of my reading-est friends said they loved it, I was sold.

Unless anyone out there has another suggestion. . . .

Friday, April 15, 2011

Cowgirl Blanket

Finally finished this blanket for my awesome little niece. It's her cowgirl blanket of warm fuzziness. I was inspired in three parts. One was my friend, Sarah (aka Rah Rah) who made a gorgeous blanket for her friend's soon to be arriving little one. Secondly was the wombat costume that I helped make for another friend's kid who needed it for a play. Because when you think of me, you think there is a chick who knows how to craft a good wombat costume for a fifth grader. And, lastly, I was inspired to finish it by a friend who sent me an invitation to her annual Get Your S*!t Together Day. So I did. Voila. With a little help from Pandora's Kings of Leon station, some Stumptown coffee and the continual downpour that is Portland's version of early spring, I was able to put all the pieces together for my first blanket.

The denim is from some of Emeron's old jeans that had too many holes in them. Still had to pry them from his hands even though they bared several inches of ankle along with scabbed knees. I embroidered the denim with all the accessories a good cowgirl needs like pink boots, a pink hat and even branded it with the family brand.
Hope she likes it. . . you know, enough to spit up on it or something.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cookbook Love

If you don't know Donna Hay, you should. I mean if you like to cook. And also if you don't love to cook. Her recipes are delicious and super duper fast. She fits four amazing recipes on each page. I find that awe inspiring since some cookbooks take up that much for one part of a recipe. Each time I make her desserts I get rave reviews and an angel gets its wings. . . Last weekend I made this Orange and Almond Dessert Cake. It was perfect. I'm in love with it. I'm thinking about dating it. And you can make it all in a food processor. Ta-DA!

I find these recipes are especially suited for those nights when you want to cook but you have less time and then the kids want to "help" yet you want to actually be able to eat the dinner. Her Basic Baked Risotto is exactly that. I could eat the entire recipe (luckily it only serves 4 so I'm not too much of a glutton, right?). In that recipe I actually substitute chicken stock for this incredible vegetable broth I get at the Asian market. I'd share it with you here and now but I don't speak or read whatever language it is. But, trust me, it's so fantastic that I didn't need to add any seasonings. I have to admit that the kids weren't too fond of the risotto but I chalk that up to their immature little taste buds. They can't be too sophisticated since they go absolutely bonkers over my white rice (that would be add rice to water and boil --you heard it here first, people).

Her recipes are also wonderful for entertaining since they aren't labor intensive. I've added her Grilled Eggplant and White Bean Salad and Molten Chocolate Cakes to my go to list when people are visiting. Neither of these recipes are available on her site but they are in the cookbook Instant Entertaining. Well worth the price. She puts menus together and has so many good tips and ideas.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011