Thursday, May 31, 2012

Vitamix Blender- Worth It?

Some of you who read about my endeavors to cook healthy and get more nutritious food into my ultra picky toddler recommended that I make veggie smoothies.  I read all of the comments and thank you so much for your helpful suggestions.  I really don't know why it hadn't occurred to me before to blend up some veggie smoothies since I buy my son the pre-made ones from the store already.   And I drink protein smoothies myself (just protein powder (usually Lean Body for Her) and skim milk or water).  A couple people swore by their Vitamix Blender, but cautioned that they are an investment.

I went to the Vitamix website last weekend and was surprised to learn that they are over $300.  Are you sure they're worth it? I realized that our regular blender broke a few months ago, so we don't have any type of blender right now, but we do have a food processor.  I would be willing to spend the money if the machine was something that would last for years and we would get a lot of use out of- like our KitchenAid mixer.  But, if there's another brand that works just as well, for less, I'd be interested in hearing about it.  I'm pretty confident that James will eat the veggie smoothies if I start making them for him and that will make me a very happy mama!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Frugal Find - Brass Side Table

I've been keeping an eye out for a small side table that looks great, but doesn't break the bank.  This metal accordion side table from Urban Outfitters would fit that bill perfectly.  It's only $64 and comes in black too.  The item is sold online only and shipping is $5. The table is 14 inches in diameter and 25.25 inches tall.  I bet a round mirror would look pretty inside.

I thought I've seen a similar table before for even less- closer to $50, but haven't been able to locate them lately for that price.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Maybe I am too eager to believe it, and...

..I expect to be smote down for saying it, but I think the two month old, mediocre, Case-Shiller number that came out today is consistent with the idea that the housing market will really come back big this year (I said so in the paper and on the radio today, so I might as well say it here).

Inventories in many hard hit markets are now low by historical standards.  Time on market has fallen.  HARP II can accelerate amortization (which is its most important feature).  Prices are really cheap, both when the user cost they produce is compared with rent, and when compared with incomes (by World standards).

Summer Sangria

Did you get to enjoy a long Memorial Day weekend?  We took a quick road trip to Austin and visited some friends and their adorable little 14-month old daughter.  And if that wasn't enough, we went to a baby shower wherein the parents-to-be are expecting a baby girl in August.  Playing with that little sweetie and shopping for baby things almost gave me baby fever:)

But, since I'm not with child, nor planning to be anytime soon, let's turn our attention to an adult beverage I'd like to see in my future! Perhaps next weekend?

I saw those gorgeous photos on Pinterest, and found the recipe at, (photos and recipe courtesy of Jamie Heimbuch).   I was surprised to see her list of ingredients called for one serrano pepper (I guess for a little kick).  I'm anxious to try it.   Sangria just says casual summer afternoon/evening to me. Wine and fruit- what could be better?!  Do you have a favorite Sangria recipe to share? 

Friday, May 25, 2012

State growth and the composition of spending

Paul Krugman rightly calls out Arthur Laffer's junk economics on the impact of state and local taxes on economic growth (I have no idea about why anyone listens to Laffer about anything, but that is for another day).  At the same time, however, a good, liberal friend of mine told  me yesterday that for the first time in his life, he will vote against a tax increase in California--the temporary tax increase proposed by Jerry Brown that will be on the ballot on November 6.

My friend has no issue with government spending per se; his problem is that he gets to observe the doings in Sacramento quite closely, and as he puts it, "it is even worse than you think up there."

California's state and local governments spend a lot of money.  We ranked 4th in 2010 among the 50 states in per capita state and local spending.     Yet if one looks at education spending, we are only average.  Even worse (from the standpoint of my parochial pride, anyway), we trail Texas in education spending per capita.

My understanding is that once upon a time, California had among the most efficient and accountable governments in the country.  The public schools were a particular source of pride.  But the vast amounts of money are not being well managed now--such mismanagement is harmful whether it occurs in the public or private sector.  How well government money is spent may be just as important as how much money is spent.

Happy Friday

I haven't been doing the monthly James posts since he turned 2, but wanted to keep sharing my favorite little guy occasionally.  Here's two pictures that melt my heart.  The first picture is my phone screen saver:)

At the Children's Festival about a month ago. 

Last weekend with his younger cousin. 

 I hope y'all have a wonderful Memorial weekend!  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Luscious Lashes

I'm definitely not a wear-makeup-absolutely-every-time-I-leave-the-house-girl.  But I am a mascara-always-girl.  Usually, on the weekends, if I don't feel like putting on make up, I at least put on mascara.  I feel like it helps me look more awake, and less like I'm 12 years old.

Every time I purchase my mascara from the department store, the salesperson inevitably asks, "Would you like to try the lash primer too?"  No, thanks, just the mascara:)  But after watching my beauty guru tout the benefits of applying lash primer to your lashes before mascara, I decided to give it a try.

My favorite mascara is Estee Lauder "More Than Mascara" in Rich Black.  I think I first tried it in high school when I borrowed it from my very pretty friend Brandy.  I've liked it ever since, even though I've tried other brands over the years.  I like it because the wand has bristles that are very close together with a pointy end.

After purchasing the lash primer, I have to admit- I love it!  I think it actually does make a difference in how full and thick my lashes look.

So now, my makeup routine includes curling my lashes (with a Revlon lash curler), putting on the primer, waiting a minute or two, then applying mascara.  (I know some people curl their lashes after applying the primer/mascara, but I always curl mine first.) 

The primer goes on kind of white, but dries clear.

I have found a drug store mascara I like too, and keep this less expensive version in my purse for touch- ups.  It's Maybelline Full 'N Soft.

Do you use a lash primer?  Am I the last one on board with this? What's your favorite mascara?  I like pretty dramatic lashes so I apply several coats, stopping just short of the Tammy Faye look:)

And I also like to airbrush, even though I admit to going a little heavy on this one!  I used PicMonkey (thanks Cassie!) to erase not only the guy in the background, but also my squint lines.  I whitened my teeth and smoothed my skin.  Oh, how I wish my skin was so flawless! 

Hope y'all are having a great week!  Only a couple more days till the long weekend! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hannah Green:What is the purpose of protesting? - The Daily Northwestern - Northwestern University

She writes:

As we took the Red Line back from the protest, I continued to have mixed feelings about it. I thought that the rally especially had been too disorganized and too angry. I thought that Salek was making fun of me when he said that a protest wasn’t the same thing as an academic forum (He later told me that he wasn’t). A rally isn’t meant to convince people of anything, he said, but to get people who were already convinced energized. He said that there wasn’t enough time during the rally for all those with important issues to completely clarify their positions subtlety. There had been forums and discussions earlier in the week for that.

I then became nostalgic for a time that I had never lived in. I thought of protests from the ’60s and ’70s that I’d heard about. Protesters were convincing because they made their cases by showing their humanity rather than their anger. But this is a different kind of protest, Salek said. There was a wider variety of problems on the table. Part of the point was to just make people aware of the diversity of the issues and stake, and, yes, to give people a place to (peacefully) channel their anger. That’s how a movement can gain its momentum.

Omit needless words...

My dear friend Steve Malpezzi on John Quigley

He writes:

I first encountered Professor Quigley through his research; later, we connected through our mutual friend the late Steve Mayo. I was honored to count John as a friend, but he was also a professional and scholarly inspiration to me, and to many, many others. Professor Quigley was an active researcher and teacher for over four decades; a long career by some standards, but he left those of us who knew him, and his work, wishing we could have had a fifth, if not a sixth.

In the history of the allied fields of urban economics, real estate economics and finance, after the original generation of William Alonso, Richard Muth, Edwin Mills and John Kain, John Quigley shaped our field like no one else. The breadth of his contributions, in urban, housing, public finance, finance, and many other fields, is breathtaking.

I’m not alone in that judgment, and those of us that hold it can easily show that it’s not simply sentiment for a passed friend. Many colleagues share my high opinion of John Quigley, and have said so, unbidden, for years, long before his illness. Several years ago, for fun, I asked six PhD students to write down the name of the person who, according to their study, all-in, made the greatest contributions to our field. (I told them they couldn’t name anyone from Wisconsin, but of course that was to save face :-).

Five wrote “Quigley.” Well, it wasn’t all six, but I’m not going to stretch the truth for the sake of the story!
Read the whole thing.

Dreamy Dream Bars

If you've been following this blog for some time, you know I try to keep a pretty healthy diet and have been making efforts at cooking more.  That having been said, I still have a HUGE sweet tooth, specifically, a love of chocolate, and baking is one of my favorite forms of cooking.  I like to bake something every other week or so, or when the mood strikes, typically on the weekend.  I'll bring leftovers to my office so that my hubby and I don't end up eating a whole pie or tray of something like these delicious dream bars.  I couldn't keep my fork out of this tray!

Adapted from Martha Stewart


  • For The Crust

    • 3 cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 20 crackers)

    • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

  • For The Topping

    • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

    • 1/2 cup peanut butter chips

    • 1/2 cup butterscotch chips

    • 2 cups sweetened flaked coconut

    • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center of oven. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and line with parchment paper; set aside.

  2. To make the crust: In a medium bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs, and melted butter. Pour mixture into prepared pan and press into bottom of pan using your fingertips.

  3. To make the topping: In another medium bowl, mix together chips and coconut; sprinkle evenly over crust.

  4. Pour condensed milk evenly over coconut and chips, covering the entire surface. Transfer to oven and bake, rotating pan halfway through baking, making sure the milk does not get too brown or bubble over in the pan, 26 to 32 minutes.

  5. Transfer baking pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into 20 squares. Serve immediately, or wrap each bar tightly with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Day in My Life (Saturday)

I must have an inner-voyeur lurking inside me because I absolutely get a thrill from peeking into other people's lives.  And I especially like seeing how their day-to-day lives operate.  I think I've mentioned before that I'm interested in the details, like do you drink coffee when you wake up, are you a night owl or early bird, do you typically eat in or out?  Getting these tidbits of information helps me feel like I know you more intimately.

If you're like me, then this post is for you.  This past Saturday, I made a point to take pictures throughout the day, in an effort to chronicle a typical day in my life- a typical Saturday, that is.  Of course, no Saturday is exactly alike, sometimes there's a birthday party to attend or something, but this gives you a general idea.

7:00 a.m. Wake up.  Drink coffee.  It's kinda ridiculous how much I look forward to this each day.

7:15 a.m. Sit at the breakfast table and eat oatmeal while I start making our grocery list.  I like to browse through some cookbooks for inspiration for a "new" meal to prepare each week, but today I can't seem to narrow it down.  It's about this time that I have so much excitement for the weekend and day ahead that my mind starts racing with everything I want/have to do.  I have to remind myself to just slow down.  

7:30 a.m. James wakes up.  Bedhead and all:) 

8:00 a.m.  Daddy goes to workout.  (We agreed the night before that we'd take turns working out this morning so that we could both do it.  Some Saturdays, we'll go to the park together, walking the 3-mile track while pushing James in the running stroller.)  I hang out with James in the living room while he plays.  I start flipping through a couple magazines and watch Giada.  

8:30 a.m. James and I make chocolate chip pancakes.  This is his first time and he really liked them.

9:00 a.m. Start making black bean chili (it takes about 2 1/2 hours to cook).  I like to have something homemade on hand to eat throughout the weekend and had been wanting to try this recipe from Cook's Illustrated.

9:30 a.m. Dad gets home, he plays football in the backyard with James.

9:30 a.m. I head to the park for a run.  I'm not too far into my "run" when I realize I didn't eat enough this morning to fuel me the whole way- and I ate too long ago. I looked for a protein bar to eat on the way, but we didn't have any.  I end up briskly walking 2 of the 3 miles.  I pretty much think about what I'm going to eat when I'm done the whole time.  

10:30 a.m.  I'm so hungry after my walk, that I'm almost not hungry.  I planned to take some pictures of my bedroom for my blog this afternoon while the light is good, and I need flowers, so I stop at a flower shop on the way home and pick up peonies.  

10:45 a.m. I've never had peonies in my own home and am completely smitten with how pretty they are.  I feel like I've really indulged and want to share, so I take a quick picture and upload it to my blog for y'all to see, hoping it brightens your day too,

11:00 a.m.  I eat tuna for lunch and an apple with peanut butter.  I head upstairs to take pictures of my bedroom and sitting room for the blog.  First, I have to tidy up both spaces, then I spend over an hour taking about 60 photos, 90% of which will never make it to the blog.  

11:30 a.m.  Chili is ready!

12:30 p.m. Put James down for a nap.  I finally take a shower.   Feels so good to get clean! 

1:00 p.m.  I download my photos onto my computer and clean the kitchen.  (I left it a mess when I went to the park).

2:00 p.m.  James wakes up, but he actually never slept that well.  We're all kinda tired but have errands to run, so we head to Starbucks, then Target.

3:30 p.m.  James is too tired and fussy to continue the errands, so I take him home while my husband does the grocery shopping.  I get to rock my baby in my arms for about 30 minutes while he sleeps hard.  I soak up the sound of his breath and his sweet smell.  I'm wishing someone was here to photograph this precious moment.

5:00 - 6:00 p.m.  We put away the groceries, make dinner for James, and I lay down on the couch for a catnap.  It's not long before James climbs aboard to get "cozy" with me:) We relax in the living room, not doing much of anything.  I need to do laundry, but figure it can wait till tomorrow.

6:30 p.m.  Get freshened up for dinner, putting on some makeup and a new sundress. 

7:00 p.m.  We drop off James with my sis-n-law and go out to dinner.  This is a very rare occasion- we almost never do dates.  

7:30 p.m.  We go to a neighborhood restaurant, Shade, and have a nice dinner, starting with a  glass of wine and a cheese plate. 

10:00 p.m.  Go to bed after picking up James.  Sweet dreams!


So tell me, does my Saturday resemble yours?  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Our Master Bedroom (In Progress & Plans)

Don't they say that your bedroom should be your sanctuary, a place where you can go to relax and rejuvenate at the end of the day?  I think our bedroom is on it's way-although it's still got a way to go.  Today, I'm showing you how the room looks to date, and discussing some of my future plans.  

We made a lot of progress when we swapped out our dark leather bed for a fabric upholstered bed with nailhead trim from  I framed pages of a botanical art book to create the art on the far right wall.

I showed you a glimpse into this room before, but couldn't really get a good shot without a wide-angle lens.  I was lucky enough to get one for Mother's Day, so I hope to show you more wide shots of our home in the future.  For example, here's the view to the sitting room.  I'm thinking a large, leaning mirror would be pretty against that blank wall.

Our soothing bedding from Restoration Hardware is still a happy part of the room.  I'd like to layer the bedding a little more in the future.  

Home Goods has helped furnish the space with the mirror above the bed and the mercury glass lamps. 

I like to incorporate books in the decor of every room in our house.  

I made a special purchase - peonies - and couldn't believe how much they bloomed on day two.  Just gorgeous. 

Also on my wish list for this room is the Colette bench from Crate & Barrel for the foot of the bed and new bedside tables.  I'm considering these, but still looking:

Pottery Barn $399.00 (24" wide x 18" deep x 28" high) $216.00 (28.5 inches high x 39.5 inches wide x 17.75 inches deep)

West Elm $399 (32 inch diameter x 30 inches high)

Pottery Barn $299 (26" diameter, 24.5" high) 

To give you an idea of the look I'm ultimately going for, you might recall some of my favorite bedrooms:

Love This Life

Ashley Goforth

After looking at the photo above, I got to thinking that maybe I should try moving the round, glass table in our living room to the bedroom and see how that looks.  Don't those tables look similar? 

Always a work in progress!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

james loves michaeljackson

Pretty shortly after James was born, I started singing and dancing with him to one of my favorite songs, Rock With You, by Michael Jackson.  Then he discovered the song on my iPod and wanted to listen to it all.the.time.  If you come over to our house sometime, you'll hear repeated requests for "michealjackson" like it's all one word.  And then when you play michaeljackson (for the 50th time), he'll immediately say, "wannahearagain." 

The first video doesn't really have audio, it just shows James listening to michaeljackson on the iPod while trying to figure out how to eat (a Moon Pop) at the same time.  Tricky.

That was several months ago, now I've caught him singing the words along with the song.  Around :42 seconds you can hear him sing his favorite part- "Feel the beat, and we can ride the boogie! Share that beat of loooooove!"

But he also likes typical nursery rhymes like, "The Wheels on the Bus" and has even started playing it on the guitar!  :) I like how he announces, "I'm gonna sing!" 

Have a great day!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Yongheng Deng, Gary Painter, and Christian Redfearn on the Life of John Quigley

Yongheng, Gary and Chris write a lovely tribute for AREUEA:

Monday, May 14, the community of AREUEA was deeply saddened to learn that John Quigley passed away on Saturday, May 12, 2012.

Since our early years at Berkeley, John has been a wonderful mentor and friend to us. John has been a member of 84 PhD committees since 1990, chairing 26 of them (including the three of us). He was a distinguished academic, a mentor for his students throughout their entire career. He excelled in each of the areas we value: research, teaching, and service. He published 22 articles in just the past three years alone, and his work has earned more than 10,000 citations. His service to the profession is unparalleled.

Within AREUEA, John served in many capacities including President and most recently as the chair of the International Selection Committee. He served as the chair of the Department of Economics at UC Berkeley, the editor of Regional Science and Urban Economics, and as a role model to many. Beyond these which can be counted, John's mix of conviction, energy, and laughter made him a singular character in our worlds. We will remain ever grateful for his guidance and advice, but beyond all of it, we also just liked him. He was good company--on a panel just as he was on the train from Shanghai to Beijing. John made life fun. He not only helped us join a profession, but helped us become part of a community. Simply put, we would not be the academics that we are today, if it not for him. We feel so fortunate that we have had him as a teacher, mentor, friend and collaborator.

We will always cherish the memory of John in our heart as a great scholar, a wonderful human being, a man of great intelligence, kindness, dedication, generosity, and profound integrity. We will forever miss him and miss him dearly.

Yongheng Deng (NUS), Gary Painter (USC), and Chris Redfearn (USC)

AREUEA Officers and Board Members

$920 million for 12 mph

I have taken the new Expo line now three times from USC to downtown LA.  According to Google Maps, the distance is 2.5 miles.  The trip has, on average, taken 13 minutes.  This works out to 11.5 mile per hour.

Metro spent $920 million on a line that does not get signal priority at traffic lights--in other words, it expended huge capital costs on a large bus that is stuck on one route. 

Blue in the Breakfast Room

I've gone on and on lately about how I'm smitten with lime green right now, and it's true, but something about this brilliant blue color struck a chord with me and made it's way onto my breakfast table.  It's a fun pop of color in that area.

When I was at Home Goods over the weekend doing the happy dance over my new mirror, I also found this blue jar that's a twin to my green one.  For $9.99, I couldn't resist. And it goes so nicely with the reversible blue and white Z Gallerie runner.  

I get asked a lot where we got our table and benches, and they are from Pottery Barn, the Benchwright collection.  Sometimes I like to put our upholstered dining room chairs with the table because they are more comfortable on your back.  But then, we don't really have a good place for the benches, so they normally stick with the table. 

Seems I'm not the only one who likes the Z Gallerie runner.  

Do you recognize this cool chic's dining room