A tasty green smoothie


I’ve been experimenting with green smoothies for a while now. But I’ve never been able to get the results I wanted until today. I’m so excited that I wanted to share it with you. I think it was the lemon that did the trick – I’ve found lemon to be a great flavor enhancer. Plus it helps keep the colors bright.


  • 2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup lemonade (use one with real juice and less sugar for a healthier option)
  • 1 tsp Agave syrup
  • 1/4 cup fresh blueberries
  • frozen apple slices, about 1/2 of a large apple
  • 1/2 large banana
  • 1 cup ice

Blend spinach and blueberries with juice and syrup until pureed. Add in the apples and banana, then re-blend. Add ice until desired thickness.

Note – this smoothie will be fibrous, which I don’t mind. In fact I don’t even peel my apples. I’m just lazy like that. But you might. I learned that Jamba Juice actually juices their greens and vegetables rather than using whole which is why their smoothies have such a smooth/consistent texture. And why I never achieve similar results. For a smoother version of this recipe, strain the spinach and berry pulp, then use the remaining juice with the peeled apples, banana, and ice.

Organize those pets


In our house, stuffed animals are called pets. Unfortunately for my boys, I am severely allergic to all furry animals so we don’t have any of the real ones. Though I honestly think they prefer the pretend variety anyway. It’s fun to observe the games and plots they come up with their eclectic cast of characters. But all too often, the pets are just in the way. I wanted a way to keep the stuffed toys picked up, while keeping them easily accessible for nighttime snuggling or daytime playing.

I hunted around the house for some supplies and inspiration. I found some kids fabric that I’d bought a few years ago that I’d intended to turn into some pillows for their room. Oh well. And I had some removable sticky wall hooks above Nate’s bed that were in an awkward spot now that we had moved his bed to a new position. I started to formulate a plan around hanging the fabric from those hooks. While hunting around in the hardware drawer to see if I had any more sticky backs for the hooks ( I did as well as 2 extra hooks), I found some metal rings. Not sure why we had them, but clearly not being used.

So, here’s what you need:

  • Fabric – at least 1 yard of 45″ fabric. You could go more if you want a bigger hammock or need to stretch it across a wider space.
  • 2 metal rings, about 1.5-2 inch diameter (like a key ring only a bit bigger). You can easily find at craft stores.
  • 2 wall hooks. You can use the screw in type if you don’t mind holes in the walls, or you can use the peel and stick ones like I did.

And here’s how I did it:

  1. Optional – hem the edges of fabric. I’ll probably need to do this at some point to prevent fraying when the fabric gets washed. But have I mentioned that I’m lazy? I just wanted to get his done.
  2. Fold fabric in half the long way. If you’re using 1 yard of fabric, the folded piece will measure 45″ long by 18# high.
  3. Gather one side of the folded fabric and insert into one of the rings. Tie a knot with the fabric around the ring until snug.
  4. Repeat on the other side.
  5. Attach hooks, to wall, head board, bookcase, etc.
  6. Hang the rings on the hooks.
  7. Insert pets.

For one kid, I wanted to attach the hammock to the posts at the base of his bed. But it turned out the fabric I had was not long enough. So I improvised with a few small stretchy cords I found in our junk drawer. They are like mini bungy cords. It doesn’t look as nice, but it’s functional. My kids loved them, so that’s what counts, right?


Lego Artwork


In our house, birthdays and Christmas might as well be called Lego Days – because naturally, that is the toy of choice. Yet despite the fact that my kids don’t keep their kits nice and organized (and in the original box), they don’t like the boxes to get thrown away. And I don’t want to keep them – they just take up space.

So, I decided to cut off the front picture from each box and make a collage to hang in their room. I used a large 24×36 frame and arranged the different pieces on the paper backing, and placing the mat over to see what would get cut off. When I was happy with the arrangement, I used tape to hold each piece in place and put the frame back together.

TIP: Don’t use the artwork from the instruction manuals. I needed to fill a small gap where I didn’t have a box the right size to cover. So, I stuck in a manual that I didn’t think my kids would miss. My 6 year old spotted it immediately and threw a fit. What I failed to notice was that the instruction covers don’t show the age range and number of pieces – the box covers do. Kids are so astute!


The stress of not knowing

My five year old son has a peanut allergy. That is known. And we didn’t find out through a scary near death experience like so many families. Actually, I suspected a milk allergy. With years of acid reflux, night-time coughs/congestion, and occasional asthma like symptoms, I took him to an allergist for skin testing at age 3. I’d had him tested by blood test as a baby during a particularly bad phase where he was vomiting every single night around midnight. It came back negative, and a two week challenge where we removed all dairy showed no change. Still, there’s a family history of dairy allergy (actual immune response, not just lactose intolerance). So not out of the realm of possibility.

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No. No. No!

My neighboring town has already lit the town Christmas tree. It’s November 7th. This has really got to stop! Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas – I decorate more than the average household, switch my iTunes playlists to my favorite holiday albums (John Denver and Peter, Paul, and Mary), and generally enjoy Christmas shopping and baking. But really, there is a time and a place for Christmas and that time is December. And that’s all!

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spinning and spinning

My six year old rarely sits still. It’s typical for him to be rocking in his seat, jumping on furniture, or just fidgeting. I didn’t believe in ADHD before he came along. I always believed it was just a label that society slapped on people who didn’t conform – people who learned and behaved differently. I thought of it more as a personality type than a disorder. I’m ADD too (without the H) according to a shrink I saw 15 years ago. She put me on meds for a time, but I didn’t notice any difference. I went off them and continued on with my life.

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The trouble with Meetup

I’m trying to remember when I first joined Meetup.com. I think it was around 2009, but not certain. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Meetup.com is a website where people with mutual interests join groups. But unlike other social networks, the intent is to arrange in person gatherings, rather than just chat or interact online. I do remember one of the first Meetups I attended was the Santa Cruz WordPress Meetup. I was so intimidated by the other participants who seemed to be so knowledgeable – I felt like a dork who didn’t belong, and would duck out at the end of the meeting, hoping nobody would talk to me.

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The 3 F’s

I just got back from a two day conference in San Francisco. As a freelancer, I don’t get to go to many conferences since my company (me) won’t pay for them. A typical tech conference runs $2k plus airfare, hotel, transportation, and meals – it could easily add up to $5k. No thanks. If I had that kind of extra money, I’d rather buy new living room furniture that doesn’t have milk stains and smell like dirty socks.

This one had a low price tag though, and was close enough to home that I could skip the airfare. And it would give me a good excuse to get away from the kids for a few days (though not sure why I feel that I need an excuse – every profession should get an occasional break, even parenting).

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books that make you cry

I’d always been told that becoming a mom would change my life in unpredictable and dramatic ways. But I expected things like lack of sleep, being boring to those who do not have children, and getting fat(ter). I did not expect a new phase in my reading choices, although in hindsight each of my major life transitions has resulted in a new favorite book genre.

As a child, I was a fan of Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden mysteries … so much that I was forbidden by my 4th grade teacher to use any of them for book reports. As I neared my tween years, my reading choices gave way to coming of age novels like those by Judy Blume, Norma Fox Mazer, and Cynthia Voight.  My teen years were filled with horror books by Steven King and Dean Koontz, and simply twisted books like the Flowers in the Attic Series. No, I wasn’t really a happy teen, and this was reflected in my reading choices.

As an adult, I’ve been a fan of the suspense/thriller genre, esp. legal thrillers by John Grisham, Nancy Taylor Rosenberg, and Scott Turow. My early thirties saw a brief period where I devoured chick-lit. Probably due to my own relationship struggles and coming to terms with being thirty (remember when that seemed SO old?).

In recent years, I’ve turned to primarily non-fiction with a focus on the social sciences, popular science, and women’s studies. Favorites including books by Mary Roach (Stiff) and Malcolm Gladwell (Blink, Tipping Point). Much of this has coincided with my renewed interest in education and my specific area of study which involves better understanding humans in order to design better user interfaces for them.

These days, I find myself engrossed in some seriously sad books involving themes like loss of a child. I don’t get it. As a mom who can not fathom the thought of losing a child, why would I read books that dwell on this subject? It’s almost like when I was a teenager and would intentionally listen to music that I know would depress me (ie “Depressed” Mode).

Anyhow, the latest book to make me cry is Jodi Picoult’s, My Sister’s Keeper. As a recent convert to Picoult novels, I was aware of this one before the movie came out, and have held off seeing it until I read the book. Talk about a moral dilemma. For those of you who may not know the premise of this story, a child is diagnosed with Leukemia at age 2, and given a low prognosis for survival. Unable to find a suitable donor, the parents conceive a “designer” baby who will be a perfect genetic match, and plan to use this baby’s cord blood for their sick daughter. Due to the cord blood, the sick child goes into remission, but over the years needs additional platelets and eventually a kidney which it is assumed that the younger sibling will provide. The younger sibling, now 13, begins to question her role and the expectation that she will continue to provide for her older sister, and in turn files for medical emancipation. The story raises many powerful questions such as whether minors should have the right to refuse medical treatments and how much should one do for one child at the expense of another child.

Books like these, though depressing, help put perspective to the chaos that is sometimes my life. I am blessed with two happy, healthy children. We live in a comfortable home and are not wanting for anything. Our life is pretty good. I can’t imagine the emotional trauma that plagues families with a chronically ill child or who experience an equally devastating event. I guess it’s taken being a mom to appreciate stories like this because it reminds me of just how fortunate I am. And now that I am a mom, I can put myself in the shoes of the mom in My Sister’s Keeper and not outright dismiss her actions as wrong, whereas I think I would have before this life changing experience.

Still, some happy books might be in order. Any recommendations?

more GoDaddy previewdns woes

Another note to self…

When you turn off GoDaddy hosting’s previewdns mode, the Joomla admin panel still directs you to http://support.previewdns.com/ anytime you apply a change, click cancel, etc. Clearing the Joomla cache, the browser cache, or switching browsers has no effect.

To correct this, you need to edit the configuration.php file in your root install directory. Edit the  var $live_site = to remove the reference to previewdns.com. You may need to change the permissions on this file before editing to allow write permissions for the owner, as it is read only by default (change it back after you’ve edited for safety).

Strangely this fixed some other perplexing problems I’d been having. While still in previewdns mode, I had tried configuring forms using both Chronoforms and Jforms. The drag and drop interface appeared broken in both. After ruling out browser issues, I concluded that there was something about preview mode that caused these to not work. So I told my client that I’d have to wait until the site was live to create the contact form. But, after the site was live, these form components still failed to work. Turns out that correcting the var $live_site corrected this immediately.