Imhotep Beauty Wraps

Grab Yourself Some Death

Wrap yourself in the same cursed death shrouds worn by unlucky evil for time immemorial!

We now have in stock the death shrouds of the infamous Egyptian priest who had his tongue cut out and was embalmed alive to accompany his king to the netherworld. You got it: Imhotep! He came back, and he just keeps coming back! Now you can too…! Amaze your friends and make a fashion statement! Come back from the dead in the worst way possible! The biggest Hollywood celebrities do it ALL the time!

Be The First On Your Block

—Or at least the first at Little League Practice!

—Or the first in your book club!

—Or the first in your office!

Just Be The First. That’s what really matters! Contact us and we’ll reward you with unendurable suffering that you can force on everyone around you! So if you actually do manage to contact us, well, you may have it coming. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Side effects may include becoming a walking dead mummy, mumbling wordless imprecations, falling into preserving bogs, smelling odd, being chased by torch bearing villagers, never truly finding eternal rest, smelling odd, stiffness in the joints, lack of internal organs, tendency to go up in flames, smelling odd, and clumsy shuffling.



The Ups and Downs of Juggling Several Things At Once, and the Key to Success

I remember, years ago, the first time I heard the word ‘multitasking’. I thought something along these lines: “Wow, those corporate types will think up anything!” If memory serves me (and it doesn’t), I was carrying a baby in a sling while folding laundry, listening for the washer to end so I could switch wet clothes to the dryer, letting the dog out, soaking dishes, letting dough rise, letting the dog in, and avoiding the phone. Multitasking sounded like a new corporate thang, shiny, vague, but obviously evolved for efficiency in a serious boardroom environment. It took me an hour to realize that all that these suits were actually doing was being a Mom.
Multitasking is nothing more than doing several tasks at once to improve output and results. People have been doing it for as long as there have been people…especially little people: the wee one who calls you from one room while another clings to your shirt and another sulks in a loud cloud of silence because he wants your help but he’s too hurt to ask for it.
Now, this practice has its place. It can be very handy to get a bunch of things done within a two hour window so that your afternoon is freed up. However, I have discovered the downside to this and so I consider carefully before implementing Multitask Attainment Zone. It is this: I am sometimes so tired from running around like a chicken with its head cut off that I can’t possibly enjoy those free hours that come later. My back hurts, my arms ache, my head is tired of thinking about so many things at once, and all I want is a nap that I don’t want. So now I implement Multitask Aggregate Assessment Incentive with caution.
It is entirely useful and possible to have eight things going at once. Some of those might be things that can run themselves for a while, like a computer security scan and a clothes dryer. Others need closer attention, like serving a customer face-to-face or knowing what you just agreed to over the phone. Some can be interrupted, like a chapter in a book; some things can never be interrupted, like certain chapters in certain other books. There is probably a formula for how many things the average person can juggle at a time without making mistakes. I would expect that the number of mistakes would rise in proportion to the number of items being multitasked, but that never takes into account the amount of sleep a person had the night before, or the distraction of someone’s smothering perfume. Needless to say, it would become more difficult to juggle more things under greater stress loads. I suppose that means that when you think you are multitasking, say, six assignments, tasks, or chores, you are more likely also juggling the stress and pressure associated with the items as well as the juggling itself. Then there’s all the other stuff going on around you and inside your own head. It becomes ugly quickly. At least it does in that sometimes frenetic place just above my shoulders.
So when I have a to-do list, which is often, I sometimes plan part of my day to actively juggle several tasks at once. I don’t usually plan on multitasking throughout the entire day. I am a low key person. I only get up early in the mornings because I am cursed with Morning Person Personality. Don’t judge my day by how quickly it seems to get underway. That would be like judging the design of the Titanic by the way that champagne bottle broke against its hull.
I multitask, knowing that at any moment my efforts might get derailed by more important things. No matter how important my plans are, there is usually something more important than that. It might be the sudden need of a child or a friend. It might be a bizarre utility letter in the morning mail that requires an immediate follow up phone call while I still care about the travesty of their New Policy Implementation. At any rate, I multitask with an open mind: it may be interrupted, and it may not work even if everything goes smoothly. Then I make sure to schedule, as much as possible, a single-task series of activities. Because single tasking has its perks, as well.
It can be stimulating to take on several tasks at once, set them in motion, supervise their progress, and feel the satisfaction when they all end pretty well after all that effort. I have a love/hate relationship with to-do lists: I make them, then I hate when something stays on the list all week, into next week, demanding my attention. Sometimes I give up and cross it off. Sometimes I make a new list and the (de)pressing issue goes to the top of the list for me to deal with when I am at the height of my curse of Morning Person Personality. It is really cool to cross off several items at once because I multitasked. So cool! Less to do! More book to read!
But as far as I am concerned this does nothing compared to the deep joy of a single task, fallen into, made blind because of, and deafened thereby. Sometimes, during single tasking, time stops and quite possibly ceases to exist. My mind is quiet; my body stilled; my spirit alive with concentration upon the experience I am given. These are precious times in life: a mother sits in no hurry with a child in her lap, reading with utmost relish to the child whose face lights up with imagination and the satisfaction of feeling loved. An artist spends a few pure, solid hours in sketching or writing or stitching. A book lover has fallen so deeply into a story that they can hear the fictional characters and not their own real world. This is what we cannot do when we multitask: we cannot be thoroughly lost in the immense concentration upon one thing that is only possible when we focus upon only one thing. Ask any Buddhist.
So I tend to save the afternoon, if possible, for the single task activities that take as much, if not more, effort than multitasking. This is because when I multitask, I am trying to use my morning energy as efficiently as possible to get as many things done as early in the day as I can because honestly, we never can know exactly what will happen in the next hour. A desperate phone call, smoke pouring from the dish washer, or a bout of sickness can derail a day. On the other hand, I hope that we can also set aside our plans when we see a sun dappled maple tree or notice the elderly neighbor struggling with their garbage can. These could be considered distractions, especially to the goal acquisitive mind frame, a.k.a. The Multitask Blunt Goal Trauma Committee. These moments might be saving graces, which we cannot afford to pass by in our ignorance. They may be reminders of beauty and impulse and serendipity and kindness in the moment. A single moment can carry the weight of a dozen goals achieved if we are in the right place at the right time and we recognize it for what it’s worth. A single moment can carry thousands of consequences that ripple through hours and years and individuals and communities.
Businesses (and homes) need clocks and spread sheets and goals. They have their place. They help maintain civilization, make money, save lives, and reduce chaos. Multitasking is not, by itself, a good thing in any situation. It is only a tool. It is used in situations that are entirely appropriate to save time and effort. It is also used in situations where it is inhumane and contributes only to the suffering in the world. Use multitasking (and single tasking) wisely.
Awareness is the key. To multitask a person needs to keep track of what tasks they are actually doing. To single task a person needs to recognize what is most important at the moment they are given, plunge in, and use their full focus. Each of us needs to develop a sense of when each skill is best applied, and how, as well as what the results might be. There is no guilt in awareness, but there is understanding. There is no fluster in awareness, only calmness in the moment. There is no pressure in awareness, only the sense of growth. With an awakening of awareness, any action we take carries better health within it in general. So when we multitask we can use it for best effectiveness rather than always for efficiency. When we single task, we can do it freely and enjoy what we are doing.
As a stay at home mom, I am grateful for the ability to be flexible, because family life is organic, fluid, and can turn instantaneously messy. I enjoy living in the moment I have, and I enjoy finding new ways to grow. I enjoy living in such a way that I am not a detriment to those around me, and I enjoy thinking about these things. I am a mom, and I don’t just multitask, I momercize. I recommend it for everyone, though they may want to change the name of it to Magnate Task Efficiency Correlation Paradigm Accrual. And no, I can’t make a pithy acronym to save my life.

Back Again

I don’t know what keeps happening. Perhaps I am repeatedly suffering from alien abduction and will one day realize the missing threads of time in my blog are evidence of extraterrestrial mind tampering. Perhaps I am simply juggling children, life, school, and now work, and so my blog suffers. These lapses in my blogging are, in fact, more probably a sign of a woman neglecting those things that matter ‘only to herself’ in favor of the many demands of others around her. This has to be done, sometimes. And sometimes I can turn my attention to such things as matter only to me, but which matter rather a great deal.

And so I am returned, mind less tampered with than initially suspected, and with a deeper sense of what I want- for myself- in this life. Clothing that fits, a good cup of herbal tea, playing my music out loud, a big fat biography about a favorite author…a place to write some of my thoughts. I have most of those. That’s pretty good.

Recipe: Simple Granola

Since this is something of a mommy blog, it’s time for another recipe. I chose this one because I have used it so much. It also works for me because while I love the ritual stirring and philosophical shaping of foods, details like long ingredient lists, or, say, timing the thing in the oven, often elude my attention span. Or perhaps my attention span eludes kitchen detail.

Simple Granola

3C oats (any type)
3/4 C honey (or less)
1/4 C brown sugar
1/4 C vegetable oil (any type- I believe in flexibility in my recipes)
dash salt
dash nutmeg
dash cinnamon

Mix everything in a big bowl in whatever order you want. Spread it over a pan with at least some sides to it. Bake at 300 degrees for 40 minutes, but every ten minutes go stir it around. Otherwise, the mix on the sides will bake much crunchier than the stuff in the middle, if you really must know right now. Also, having the timer ding every ten minutes reminds me that I am cooking something. After four stirs I take it out and let it cool.

alternative methods:
I have substituted vanilla for the dashes of spices. I used x amount of vanilla, that being equal to the way in which I always overuse vanilla because I can never get enough of it. So, roughly, some capfuls from the bottle. I have also switched out some honey for brown sugar (this recipe can really blow through the honey!), but the more I did that the more the mix stuck to the pans. I regularly triple the recipe nowadays, spread it over three pans, and when it’s cooled, I store it in a plastic cereal box. I also refrigerate it. This stuff has no preservatives, so if you think it’s going to last longer than a few days (HA!) then you might want to do the same. And of course, you can add dried fruit or nuts to it. I haven’t got around to that yet. And if you need better detail to your instructions, well heck, just make it up so it suits you. This stuff will not blow up if you get it-somehow- wrong. It will probably even still be edible. And if, by some outlying chance that you do something really awful to it, don’t fret; don’t place your value as a human being on the altar of your cooking. Just use chocolate milk instead of regular when you pour it in a bowl in the morning. You might even try the liquid sensuality of dark chocolate almond milk.
And that’s it. A recipe that does not take a lot of time, money, or focus, and which lasts a good length of time (4-5 days) for a family of four. Even my picky eater likes it…sometimes.

UPDATE: I have stirred this every twenty minutes instead of every ten minutes and it has cooked very well. Recipes that accommodate my disinterest in what I am cooking always have a strong appeal for me.

Classified Ad: Gratitude


Married White Female shouts out to her kids how great they are. Wants them to know how proud she is of them and how much she enjoys each day with them. I am honored to have them in my life.The individual good they each bring into the family amazes me. Am looking for a bit more help with the dishes, but the back scratches do make up for that. Willing to negotiate music tastes. Please, no knock- knock jokes. Earning your allowance outside of the family is always an asset. Love of books is guaranteed. Gratitude is unending. Blessings upon all.

Summer Reading Programs

Summer Reading

It’s almost July and many kids around the nation are halfway through their summer reading lists. These might be assignments from school or they might be summer reading programs with the local libraries. The school assignments will have to wait for some other post, if I haven’t already dealt with that issue. I want to talk about library summer reading programs.

When I was a kid I don’t think these things existed. I know we had the R.I.F. trailer that came around to our countryside. And I did learn to check out books from school. It wasn’t until I was a little older and living in a small town with sidewalks and a local library that I really started reading extensively. The library was a few blocks from home, along an old, tree lined, residential road. It was a fine walk to get to the library, and it was a fine old library to get to. I wandered the aisles, picking things at random, or went straight for my favorite sections like science fiction or examining the fresh unknowns of the new book- display. I had no trouble reading during the summer, because it was far easier in the summer to read what I wanted without feeling guilt over neglecting the assigned stuff of the school year. Also, I had a lot of allergies. So, that was where I was coming from.

Now I know that kids lose a certain amount of reading or math skills over summer vacation. I can see the practical application of library programs. It also gives kids a place to go during their free time, if they have free time anymore. Libraries might also experience a loss of patronage during the summer because they are not needed so badly for book reports and other school work. Whatever the cause, reading programs have their place. Just not so much in our lives as a family.

When my kids were pretty little, we earnestly signed up for the local reading programs for summer time. We got our instructions, a printed sheet for recording titles, and bookmarks, pencils, and stickers. Then we went home and proceeded to make reading an assignment. I heard some demented motherly voice issue forth from my mouth that said insane things like this: “Have you done your reading today?” or “How many chapters have you read this week?” or “We have to go back to the library to check out more books, your goal is 25 books, etc…” and my most especial favorite: “We’re doing the reading program for the library, for school, and for Barnes & Noble, because the same books count for each list and we’ll be saving some effort while working hard to strip the fun out of reading.”

You must understand, I didn’t say it that clearly, and yet it became clear that this was what I meant. This was what I was doing to my kids. This is what we were doing to ourselves.

Then when the end of the reading program came, here was our pay-off:

Library program: you won tickets that represented chances to win some object or other, from puzzles and books to music devices. So, after reading with an idea of some goal at the end, that goal was nothing more than to win a chance at winning something else. Worse still than this mild but apparent gambling, or the years when neither child ever won anything, was the year one child won something yet the other did not. Oy! We’ll just refer to that incident as the learning lesson of that summer.

School program: you won the chance to attend a special assembly that seemed to promote the products of some company or other that might be associated with childhood reading and/or education. Either that or they got an ice cream cone, which my older child couldn’t digest. I can’t remember exactly.

The B&N program: You got a chance to choose a book. This was a pretty cool idea, until we got to the store and discovered the books available for this opportunity were thin, ordinary, school approved, and a bit lame. They were on one little spinning tree that the girls spun around and around for a very long time, hoping the classics or the adventures or the imagination might yet spin magically into sight. Meanwhile, I had to resist the budgetary nightmare of wandering a retail book store in a penniless condition. Perhaps we unwittingly disappointed the intentions of the store managers in their even offering a reading program to begin with. Why offer a program if you’re going to glare at us when we redeem our book list and then leave? Hey, I’m a reader; I need things spelled out, ha ha.

So for us, the downside of summer reading programs was that our efforts made reading into a chore. It turned summer vacation into a list of assignments, teaching our family to jump through more hoops, and finally, it threatened to turn my kids off reading. We did ultimately learn to do this instead, the upside of reading programs: ignore reading programs and do it our way. By the time my oldest was in the higher levels of elementary school we had ditched the summer programs. Let the programs work for those they work for; they did not work for us- we worked for them. With less than ordinary pay offs. I never did get the librarians to understand this; they thought my children were in some terrible danger.

As a side note, I recently noticed that I had the same reaction to the Goodreads reading challenge. I did it a couple years in a row, setting a goal for the number of books I would read that year, and then doing it. But I stopped because it just felt like I was tracking something that really didn’t need to be tracked. Just because we have computers to cook up ten times the statistics we lived with back when people had to use slide rulers, does this really mean we have to? I do confess that I couldn’t help but notice a detail, thanks to Goodreads and their tracking: when I stopped measuring my book count for myself, my reading actually increased considerably. Not that I’m being statistical. Perhaps just droll.

Without these looming little reading programs, we read when and what we wanted, with no counting of pages or titles, and no tracking deadlines. We read out loud because we enjoyed the language of the story, not to push one more chapter into the day. We read to be transported, not to be book mules. We read during the summer because it is a delightful thing to do, not because we wanted to win a chance to win some material thing which we might very well not win at all. Sure, those incentives can help people discover reading. Many of us in this life have done something as an assignment only to discover that we loved it. But how many times have such programs taught a person to dislike the thing that was the supposed end goal? IS there ultimately any end goal when it comes to reading? How many people even react the way we have to such public-minded efforts? I know we did when it came to reading programs.

I’d love to hear from others and their experiences. Do summer programs work for your kids? I don’t just mean the stuff they won; I mean the achievement of a love of reading? Were there other after effects that pleased or dismayed you? Did you do these summer programs when you were a kid? How did they work for you?

God bless libraries. Without the one in our small town I wonder how I would have made it through those years. There were alleyways of bookshelves to prowl. There were music records (including my first audio books, played on an LP!). In this enclosed microvillage under one roof I could look at and even borrow framed artworks. There was a corner for a bookstore, where I flipped through books available for keeps for the donation of a nickel that I could clutch all the harder because they were mine, all mine, both covers and all that magic in between. I would just as easily spend a quarter on a pile of old books as I did on a bag of candy. And back then, a quarter got you a lot.

It’s the day before July today. One kid is off to camp and the other is working on an art project. I just finished a book for my own pleasure. The rain hits hard outside, the air conditioning hums, and pretty much no matter which way I turn my head I can see books. I made ‘camp kid’ pick up all the books she’s been dipping into lately. A pile of books by the chair is just fine unless you won’t even be sitting in that chair for a week. Besides, she always comes home from camp a slightly different person; who knows what she’ll be interested in reading next week? I can say this much: it won’t be an assignment.

Baked Cauliflower

Since mentioning some foods in the last post, I’m going to get some of those recipes on the blog. This one is simple, and according to Weight Watchers, has zero points.

Baked Cauliflower:

1 head of cauliflower, cut into smaller florets

2-4 cloves of sliced garlic (I used minced)

1 Tb olive oil

2 Tb water

1 tsp seasoning (salt, or whatever)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees (F). either place all ingredients in a large bag and shake to coat, or stir in bowl with a spoon. Place on baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes. You can add a little more water half way through if you feel it is drying out. Cook until it is tender.

See how simple it is? You can add all sorts of great stuff. I once chopped up kielbasi into little bits over the top. It was delicious. Of course, that changes the fat content. But on the other hand, I had less meat over all for that entire meal, and yet it looked satisfying and tasted like we had eaten more. You can replace the salt as well. It’s all good!