Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bone Marrow Donation Registry

I said I would post more often, but maybe I meant *after* the wedding.

Just a quick post here---inspired by Melvin. He recently registered to enter the bone marrow donor registry, after we saw something on television about how the registry needs more people of color and of mixed ethnicity. (I registered too, after I saw him doing it, but apparently my marrow is in much less demand). In the process, we learned that bone marrow donation is relatively pain-free and is almost always out-patient. The website is really informative:

They are in greatest need of donors who are
  • Black or African American
  • American Indian or Alaska Native
  • Asian, including South Asian
  • Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Multiple race
Consider registering with us and/or helping spread the word!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

June '09

It has been a long time since I've posted...been soooo busy. Highlights include:

Melvin and I made our wedding invitations. While I didn't make the paper myself, everything else is from scratch. I'll post pix soon. Mel was at least 50% of the invitation making process, and I was really impressed with all of his effort. I mean, I know he's great, but I didn't know he was great and crafty:) Mel drew the birds and crafted the language, I did the printing with an old-fashioned Japanese screen printing machine, and we assembled them in our living room. Some friends came over to help when it got extra messy and overwhelming--thank goodness! One more thing down-but so much to go.

Mel and I renewed our membership to our CSA. Tonight, in fact, we are going to a picnic at One Straw Farm. We will get a tour, hear live music, and eat food of our own creation. I'm making a salad with beets, snap peas (from the farm) and potato (not from the farm). The root veggies are boiling (separately) now. I'll blanch the peas, peel and cool and chop everything, and then toss it in a vinaigrette (maybe white vinegar, EVOO, fresh lemon juice and zest, salt/pepper/garlic?) and sprinkle parmesan. Other picnic items look to be devilled eggs, carrot sticks, some dried fruit. Fun!

this is all for now, but i'll try to post a little more regularly:)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

fighting war with art:)

it's been too long since i last posted! i guess i've been pretty focused on the "night of the arts" we are putting on this wednesday at new song. we are exploring the theme of war vs. peace and violence vs. non-violence through the arts. i promise it is a really special event that has taken a lot of time and attention recently. for now, this is my change.

please join us if you are in the area. it's free, it's short, and it will be totally inspirational. my kids are freaking brilliant!! (okay, i'm biased, but really. they're fabulous.)

more info!!

please join us:)

Monday, May 4, 2009

small step --> big change

one of the easiest ways we've found to save money and the environment is to hang all of our clothes to dry them, rather than run the dryer. our clothes last way longer, we diminish our carbon footprint, we lowered our utility bill considerably. i swear by this.

if you have a clothesline, or maybe a balcony, you can hang dry large blankets and sheets too.

other small changes
-i shower at the gym as often as possible. it lowers my utility bill, and my showers there are super quick so maybe it's pro-environment too
-where we live, you can opt to get your energy from wind turbines through the energy company you already use. same price or slightly less, way better for the environment. worth looking in to.
-shop at the goodwill. i can't say enough about this. just take my recital dresses---each one cost me $12 or $15, looked like new, and would have cost me at least $100 each at macy's. i have at least 10 gowns like this--crazy savings!! plus, i loan them to all my girlfriends when they have recitals; they just pay for the cleaning. awesome.

do you have other tips? leave in comments!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

if you don't sugar your legs, you need to.

i'm a girl with a hippie heart who doesn't want hairy legs. (i'm also a feminist who always wears a bra). but even if you're not a hippie, sugaring is for you. 'cause it's basically free, all natural, easy, and lasts as long as waxing. you want your hair to be about 1/4 inch long for this to work. seriously folks, this has changed my life. here's the recipe:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Half a lemon for the juice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • A little bit of Molasses if you have any like a drizzle (i didn't and it worked fine)
  • Cornstarch (to powder with for tautness making it more effective)
  • Something to spread the mixture with like a tongue depressor, popsicle stick, or spatula. (i like a spatula)
  • Cotton fabric (any old thing you can find), cut into large strips (maybe 2 x 8 inches) and a few small strips (1 x 3) The more strips you have, the more efficient you will be. They are reusable.
mix the sugar, lemon juice, and honey in a saucepan. heat it up slowly, stirring occasionally. it will bubble and turn a pretty amber color. after about 20 minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool completely. this stuff is no joke and will burn you, and sugaring isn't done hot like waxing is.

later on that day (or put it in the fridge and use another day), microwave it for about 30 seconds. this is to soften it up, not heat it. if it gets hot, let it cool off again.

sprinkle some cornstarch (or talc powder) on your legs if you have it. spread the mixture on your legs very thinly with the spatula, place the fabric and smooth it out, and pull quickly in the direction opposite the hair growth. (i do it on both sides of the fabric, but of course this is messier. after i yank, i place the fabric in a bowl of warm water so it will be easier to clean later)

if you have a sensitive area, or if you are tough enough to do your bikini line or underarms, just do smaller areas at a time. it only hurts for a sec, and the smaller the patch the easier. when you are all done and the fabric has soaked, rinse each one well in warm water. i have re-used mine at least 10 times so far. voila! go sugar!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

innovative gift wrap and more:)

i am often asked how i stretch my dollars. i suppose folks have noticed that i don't make much but i seem to get by. i secretly kind of enjoy pinching pennies, and it's a bonus that it's almost always better for the planet.
i NEVER purchase gift wrap. sometimes i put gifts in take-out boxes from restaurants. shredded newspaper makes a nice tissue paper. here i've used potato chip bags (turned inside out and washed) as gift bags.

as everybody knows, i make most presents that i give. you don't have to be craftsy to do this. my mom's friend sally makes CDs for her friends, mel gives photographs as presents (he's a great photog:)), and lots of people give baked goods or homemade candy as gifts. but if you're a craftster like me, you probably already have tricks up your sleeves. Susan is a knitter, Claudia crochets, Honor is quilting, even Zoe has discovered her craftsy side! Tracy gave me homemade pesto sauce once-it was yummy.

To nurture the craftsy side of you, check out There you can learn to make absolutely anything. and if you want to sell or buy handmade goodies, check out You'll be immediately hooked:)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

teaching change?

I always mean to post more often. Oops.

So in a few weeks, my Saturdays are going to be freed up as the TWIGS season comes to a close. Money is already tight, so I will probably pick up some private students on other days to stay afloat. As for my Saturdays....

I have been itching to volunteer lately, and I heard a teacher saying she needed to see her students engage in the'm having that teacher choose 2 or 3 students to work with me, and I am going to volunteer with them once a week. (I'm hoping that I may inspire a few other teachers/people to do the same.)

We will be limited by their youth--kids aren't welcomed to volunteer just any old place (the kids are 11 and 12). But I have a few ideas, and I'll keep y'all posted.

In other news, we are putting on a production of Einstein on the Beach with the kids at New Song. It's a post-modernist opera by living composer Philip Glass, and this production, to my knowledge, is the first all-kids production and the first all-black cast. April 24th at 4pm. Fun! More soon...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Catering our own wedding?

Melvin and I have many excellent cooks in our families, and we both love cooking. Then....there are these places where you can buy lots of food in bulk and cook for your whole month, to save money or something. But I was thinking, that instead of cooking for a family of four for the whole month, we could cook for a family of 120 for one night. Er, something. So we might cater our own wedding, or at least, I'm looking into it. If we do this, add it to the list of strange things about our wedding:
-it's in my brother chuck's backyard
-my brother marc is our photographer
-my sister jacki is making our cake and (with my sister midge) throwing me a shower. plus jacki's hosting 3 of the guests at her house. she's really way too kind. i'm feeling guilty. moving on...
-my mom and her friend sally are doing all of the flowers
-my mom made the ringbearer's pillow
-i'm making our invitations, and with melvin and a few very kind friends, all of the favors and centerpieces.

there's more to this, but i'll stop here! obviously, it's a family affair.

Monday, March 2, 2009

change gets *slightly* easier in baltimore

if you live in baltimore, you know how hard it has been to recycle!! we have confusing "zones," and weird pick-up dates that are hard to follow, and that are way too far apart for those of us who are making an effort. plus, where we live, you have to carry everything clear around the block to get it picked up. such a pain, 'cause recycling is heavy, right? okay, but the good news. our recycling switched to "single-stream," a while back, meaning you don't have to separate it. better news---you can now recycle all the plastic they wouldn't accept just a few months ago. anything with a number on it, including your yogurt cups and stuff, are accepted:
the official recycling rules for b-more
(notice that you don't have to have the expensive and out of stock yellow bins!!)
and in case you still find yourself with plastic bags, even though you try to use cloth bags whenever you think of it, plastic bags can be recycled at many grocery stores.

am i the only one who finds these changes totally life-altering? um, probably.

Friday, February 13, 2009

oprah says jump; we say "how high?"

i do a lot of things that oprah "tells me to." i've read at least 30 books 'cause she told me to. i don't take it as far as the crazy "living oprah" lady ( ) --oprah recommended some gardening tools, so crazy lady buys the tools that she cannot afford even though she doesn't have a garden.

but recently on her show, oprah (and suze ormand, but i don't like her so i'm pretending she wasn't there) was giving advice for tough economic times. she put forth 3 rules for saving some money

1) don't spend any money for a day
2) don't use a credit card for a week
3) don't eat out for a month

1 & 2 are easy; obviously 3 is the biggie. mel and i are tough though, so we've already made it through half of february. for mel, this means cooking meat at home so he's not tempted to buy chicken for lunch on campus. for me, it means brewing more coffee at home so i'm not tempted to buy a $2 cup at work. it's not that hard at all, we're saving some money, and we know what's going into our bodies. i think this counts as being a part of the change we want to see in the world, right? or something?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

a calm week...

There isn't much to report here. Let me just share with you a bit of positive news: Vonneice is going to France!!! Our contract is in, or money is paid, and we are now applying for a passport. hooray!!!

In the absence of any actual news, I'll share a silly list of25 random alexis-facts I recently compiled for facebook (i'm still trying to get melvin to make one!!):

1. I stopped saying the pledge of allegiance in first grade. I thought it was creepy when the whole school said it in unison with their hand on their hearts in an assembly once; it reminded me of 1940s footage of Germany that my dad watched on PBS. I never said it again; I was sent to several principal's offices for this over the years.
2. I became a vegetarian when I was 8 years old, inspired by my Vanessa. My dad came to the veggie side a couple of years later, and then later my mom. It was hard for her to give up lamb.
3. A good friend of mine killed himself when we were 16, and I think about him every day. For a long time I blamed myself, because he told me he was going to do it.
4. I hope to adopt one day.
5. I'm not very good, but I love surfing.
6. I lived in France for a short time in high school, and learned a ton about the way the world sees Americans. It was totally life altering.
7. I have always been very concerned about the issues that concern me now. As a young child, I was very worried about racism, poverty, religious freedom, veteran's rights, and the environment. My parents were very political, so I just was. I assumed everybody was.
8. People who live in a very small number of cities, Seattle, NYC, San Francisco...have NO IDEA what most of the country is like. I had NO IDEA. I see a confederate flag every day.
9. I was accidentally the UN of dating. Maybe it's being from Seattle, maybe it's being a musician. I have dated people from really varied backgrounds. My fiance, an American, has also dated people from really varied backgrounds.
10. I am concerned that Muslims, Arabic people, and really anybody who can be mistaken as Arabic, are facing the civil rights crisis of our generation, and I don't know what I can do about it.
11. I love the muppets. I also love the Boondocks. LOVE.
12. I was a voracious reader as a kid. I can't explain it, but I liked huge works. Tolstoy, Brontes, Forster. I'm talking 3rd grade. I didn't have many friends. Come to think of it, 3rd grade was really difficult for me, socially.
13. I don't ski, because I find it very frightening. My brother is basically a ski instructor.
14. I work in an environment that I imagine my brother would find very frightening.
15. I was a stand-in and an extra on a TV show for a year. The money was crap, but I got to hang out with Tim Daly a lot. (he's really nice).
16. My fiance and I are both worriers. We have intense conversations about serious issues. He is the smartest person I've ever known. Also, we sing and dance in the kitchen. We are terribly goofy. Whatever you think is terribly goofy, we are goofier than that.
17. I'm a public school teacher. I have favorite kids. I try to avoid them, and I always give extra hugs to the ones I find the most annoying. One first grader just totally fills me with joy. I avoid her.
18. I never use recipes. Er, except when baking.
19. I've been to the playboy mansion.
20. I am fiercely loyal and very slow to forgive. I know most people would see this as a character flaw, but it feels very innate to me, like a part of survival. People who hurt you are likely to do it again.
21. I buy almost all of my groceries from 2 places: (1) a grocery store in the hood where everything is dirt cheap and nothing is local, organic, or fair trade, and (2) a food co-op where all of the food is local, organic, and fair trade, and surprisingly, fairly affordable.
22. I love thrift stores and am a rock star steal-finder.
23. I was a hat person way before I met Melvin.
24. I know how to stretch a dollar better than anyone I know.
25. For the life of me, I can't whistle.

Monday, January 19, 2009

day of service REMIX!

melvin and i were so ready. we had on long johns under our toughest clothing, and we packed latex gloves in case our volunteer work involved picking up gross stuff. it was snowing outside pretty heavily, but we were undaunted.

except that we got lost, or not lost, but we never found our destination. we called several times, but nobody answered. perhaps the project was canceled due to weather. it was super disappointing and we were all revved up to do SOMEthing.

so maybe this is weird, but we bought a bunch of hot sweet coffees at dunkin' donuts (they are called dunkaccinos) and handed them out to people who looked like they could use a pick me up out in the cold. one guy got a little cash too.

PRO: the people who accepted the coffee seemed really grateful
CON: many were skeptical of our intentions
PRO: coffee was warm and baltimore was cold
CON: at least one dude seemed offended
PRO: the coffee was tasty. we had some too.
CON: several people thought we were looking for drugs. in case anybody is curious, the snow is absolutely no deterrent to dealers.
PRO: in general people were kind, seemed pleasantly surprised, and thanked us profusely.

all in all, not a bad day.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

day of service

as most folks know, MLK Jr's birthday has become a day of national service for much of america. in the past, i've always had to work on that day. this year, i'm off AND a website has been created to match people with all kinds of service in their area. this website is brilliant. i encourage you to check it out, even if you have to work on monday, just to see how organized and easy it is to volunteer these days.

melvin and i (and i think our friend ben, too) are doing a neighborhood clean up with a great local organization that introduces young dealers and gang members to people who used to be in their shoes and have turned their lives around. hopefully it will be a little warmer? :(

Sunday, January 4, 2009

i need a muslim friend or two.

melvin and i have been talking for a long time about how we can actively be supporting muslim americans in this age of such discrimination against them. i've asked a few friends who have muslim relatives, but they don't consider themselves muslim so i hit a dead end. i'd like to support muslim american business owners, but so far i only learned that i should buy zabiha meat. i don't know what that is, but it seems moot since i'm a vegetarian.

i have stopped myself from approaching total strangers, 'cause i'm not sure how you start that conversation. "um, hi. are you a muslim? do you experience discrimination? is there something i can do to help?"

i posted on craigslist many times, but my posts were deleted immediately. craigslist has a lot of lurking bigots (i'm not making this up. they post a lot on the rants and raves pages).

i feel like this may be the civil rights issue of today. i feel like i should be doing something. any suggestions?