Blah Blah Blog by Jessica Harper by Jessica
decorative flourish

Archive for June, 2008

Chopstick Wine Rack

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Chopstick Wine Rack
Okay, this is one of the more imaginative recycling efforts I’ve come across. This guy (I can’t be more specific as his name is unknown, although we know he lives in Oregon) collects used chopsticks (in China), cleans and sanitizes them, and uses them to construct a wine rack. Who would even think of such a thing, let alone be savvy and patient enough to put it together so it really supports all those wine bottles?

Not me.

But a myserious Oregonian did it, and here it is. If you can’t get your kids to make you one (come on, it’s summer…what else do they have to do besides Facebook?) you can buy it at Livingreen in Culver City for a mere $300.


July 4th And The Other George W.

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Free Portrait of President George Washington Seated at a Desk in 1789. Click Here to Get Free Images at Clipart
Since it’s almost the 4th of July and we’re having an exceptional cherry season, I find myself recalling the story of how George W. (no, not him, I mean the first president) was lionized for copping to the fact that he’d chopped down a cherry tree.

We all bought this story, until it was exposed as bogus: G.W. did neither the chopping nor the copping. It seems a parson named Mason Locke Weems wrote a biography of Washington shortly after his death, and found his subject so boring, he did some imaginative detailing to juice up G.W.’s tedious story, including the cherry tree business.

In the days when I believed the story, I wondered why nobody ever questioned Washington’s motives for chopping the tree down in the first place. I mean, if my kid took out the orange tree in our backyard, I would see it as a random act of rage worthy of a visit to the therapist. (Luckily my kids are too busy on Facebook to bother chopping an onion, let alone a tree.)

I’m thinking that, had the cherry tree story circulated when Washington was running for president, the outcome of the election could have been very different. Voters might have stopped to consider, before they pulled the lever, the following question: when the red phone rings in the White House at three a.m. (or the 1789 equivalent, some Paul Revere type shows up), would you be comfortable with a president who’s capable of an act as irrational as random tree-chopping?

Food for thought. And speaking of food, click here to check out the recipe for cherry salad in The Crabby Cook section of this blog….


The Tennis Shoe Mattress

Monday, June 16th, 2008

Oliver - Tennis Mattress

Like my dog Oliver, I prefer to sleep where I can be a) cool and b) near a human.

Unlike Oliver (seen at left, napping on hardwood), I am choosy about sleep surfaces. This is why I paid a visit to a store called Livingreen in Culver City, a shop that sells eco-friendly furniture, bedding, and cleaning and building materials for the home. I made a beeline for the mattresses.

The shop carries Mary Cordaro’s collection, with a “talalay” natural latex core surrounded by cotton and wool. I plopped down on one, and it was as cozy as it gets. I closed my eyes and started to drift off, until another shopper lay down next to me, causing me to make an embarrassing shriek and leap to my feet.

Driven both by a quest for rest and an interest in getting green, I was just about ready to buy that mattress. Then the saleslady issued a caveat: the mattress, when it arrives, smells “like tennis shoes,” on account of the latex core. I hadn’t noticed the smell during my aborted nap. Relentlessly honest, the sales lady said that bed had been on the floor for a couple of years, airing out.

I don’t know about you, but this strikes me as a drawback. If I wanted to sleep with Nikes I could crash in my daughter’s room.

So, you can lie awake at night worrying about the nasty chemicals emitting from your regular mattress, or lie awake at night objecting to the smell of your all-natural tennis shoe mattress. (Or follow Oliver’s example and hit the floor.)

It’s a tough call, but if you go for the tennis shoe, prices start at about $1300 for a twin.

Check out


Swearalong With Tony

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

Apparently, if you go to the Ford Ampitheatre next Friday, the 20th, you can be part of a “Scarface Swearalong”: you get to watch Brian dePalma’s classic “Scarface,” and try to keep up with Tony Montana as he makes his way through a couple hours of Oliver Stone’s curse-heavy dialogue.
I’m told that this movie has a rabid fan base, and they’re ready to take on Pacino, word for word, swearing away the night, under the stars, maybe even bringing picnics. Probably not great for a family outing, but it’s nice to know that there’s an alternative out there for those who are seeking something a little edgier than the Pacific Park ferris wheel.


My Favorite Illustrator

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

Thanks for your comments/questions about the identity of the artist who did an illustration for the blog about YSL. That fabulous person happens to be Lindsay duPont, who is amazing (and happens to be a relative, thanks goodness, so I get the cheap rates.) She also contributed some of the squiggly stuff you see on this home page….See a link to her website on my links page…..


New Santa Monica Ferris Wheel

Monday, June 9th, 2008

I don’t know about you but I can’t wait to ride the new ferris wheel at the Santa Monica pier. The old one sold on Ebay in April for about $132,000, and its new owner is a real estate developer from Oklahoma who has an idea of incorporating it into one of his residential developments. (Way to liven up a gated community.)

The good news is, you can ride the new wheel and leave concerns about your carbon footprint at home: this model, which cost $1.5 million and is 130 feet high, and whose 160,000 LCD lights probably make it visible from Mars, is using 75% less energy than its predecessor.

So if you’re looking for a bright idea for an evening outing, go to the pier for a well-lit, green(ish), thrill-filled spin.


Disposable Plates

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

Reborn Palm Plates
Okay, so I found these Reborn disposable plates at City Bakery, and they are all-natural, completely biodegradable, made of “naturally-shed betel palm spathe (I’m too lazy to look up that last word in the dictionary) that is collected, cleaned, and heat-molded at sterilizing temperatures.” So don’t think too much about the carbon footprint you get from all that production or about how pricey they are (eight dinner plates will set you back $10) and you will feel SO virtuous when you frisbee them into the woods after a picnic, knowing they’ll just blend right in.


Cool Tracks For Kids #2

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

Okay, here are some more tracks I found in my iTunes library that are not really intended for kids but are clean and suitable:

When Toots and the Maytals sing “Never Grow Old,” I defy you not to dance with your child. Paul McCartney’s “Dance Tonight” might also inspire you, as will one of my all-time favorites, “The Littlest Bird” by the Be Good Tanyas.
If you’re a dad with a daughter, play her Paul Simon’s declaration of love, “Father and Daughter,” and keep the Kleenex handy. Or, for those moments when you are swept away with baby adoration, choose one of the great recent love anthems: Alicia Keyes’ “No One.”  If you’ve heard it too many times, try the Curtis Lynch reggae remix, which is even better than the original.
A real morning song (for those five a.m. wakeup calls) is “Sunrise” by Norah Jones. It’s hard to tell if it’s the sun or the music that gives the nursery th”at glow. Another great way to start the day is to play Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World.” My daughter’s kindergarten teacher played it every day when the kids arrived, setting a sweetly positive tone in the classroom.
On those occasions when a child needs a little encouragement after a bad day,  song with a fabulous message wrapped in a stunning production is “Pick Yourself Up” as sung by Diana Krall. It’s impossible to ignore her suggestion that you “dust yourself off and start all over again.”
So, when you’re looking for music that’s both kid and adult-friendly, check out some of these tunes, and search your own music library. You will most certainly find more gems like these.


Fom My Music Library: Cool Tracks For Kids #1

Sunday, June 1st, 2008

As a writer of children’s music, I always make a mental note when I hear an artist performing a song that was not intended for kid listeners but would suit them just fine.
There are lots of songs like this, but most of them are from another era, when lyrical content was less, uh, robust than it is now. Kid-friendly songs in the adult marketplace are harder to come by these days, but I scanned my iTunes library and came up with a substantial list of cool and current tunes I’d be happy to spin in the nursery.
“We’re Going To Be Friends” by the White Stripes is as good as it gets: simple, sweet, an ode to friendship with lyrics that could have been written by a six-year-old poet.
“Heavenly” by Harry Connick, Jr. is a swinging lullaby, performed with great retro style. It’s a love song about the man in the moon (who’s in love with the girl in the world) and it’s gorgeous. For other old-fashioned sounds check out The Puppini Sisters, who brind their inimitable charm to a new version of “Jeepers Creepers” and to a cover of “Sisters” that’s a must for multiple-girl families.
If you are looking for some inspired goofiness, try Ben Kweller’s cover of “Lollipop,”  or The Flaming Lips’ “If I Only Had A Brain.” Also, “Bathtime In Clerkenwell” is a bubbly nonsense song by The Real Tuesday Weld that’s perfect for tiny tub-lovers with a sense of humor.

I will get back to you with many more kid-friendly tunes from my library very soon…..meanwhile, start downloading.