Thursday, August 2, 2012

Moving on......

Hello everyone,

I have been writing here on Perspicacity for more than 400 posts.

Blogging has provided me so much -- the opportunity to process things, to dialogue with people from all over, to find gorgeous and amusing images in the world to share.

I have decided to make the move to Wordpress. Wordpress will afford me a lot more flexibility as a blogger, and hopefully the comment process won't be so incredibly frustrating for everyone.

I am still trying to figure out how to change my Feedburner so that you will get my updates from the Wordpress blog.

In the meantime, please visit me at!

And thank you, more than I can say, for "seeing green" when I chose to put words to the page. I means the world to me.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

They're Cool, They're Creamy, They're Green Tea Latte Pops

We are fortunate here in Tallahassee to have a wonderful local establishment that helps us get each day off to a great start! Here's a shout-out to you, Bagelheads, for the variety of locally roasted, fresh coffees you serve every morning:

For knowing that sometimes we don't have time to chat:

For giving us the perfect place when we do have time to linger:

And for your variety of delicious flavors:

Once we have gotten our java and navigated a typically hectic day, it's time to wind down! Thanks to Matcha Green Tea from Mocafe and the sample they sent me, I have found a new way to cool off as the sun goes down:

Mocafe encouraged bloggers to create recipes using their product. As I was deciding what to make, I was trying to figure out what to do with this citrus left over from our vacation week, and I found these adorable stirrers that seemed to go along with my plan:

I started with a can of Sweetened Condensed Milk, brought it just to a boil, then reduced the heat to low and stirred it almost constantly for 15 minutes until it got very thick:

In a separate container, I combined 2 cups of milk, 1 cup of heavy cream, and a tablespoon of the Matcha Green Tea Latte powder:

When my sweetened condensed milk was thick, I slowly whisked in the milk/cream/green tea mixture, keeping the very low heat going.

I then took everything off the heat and added a teaspoon of vanilla, a squirt each of fresh lemon and fresh lime juice, and a hint of fresh lemon zest and fresh lime zest. I also squeezed in a few drops of green food color to enhance the final look.

I poured the mixture into my mold (this is actually an ice tray used to make ice that will fit into water bottles):

Then it was off to the freezer. I inserted the sticks at around the 1.5 hour mark. I checked them pretty regularly, waiting for the perfect time when they were firm enough to support the sticks. I froze them overnight. To dislodge them, I ran a bit of warm water over the mold to encourage the pops to dislodge.

And then I enjoyed!!

Here's the recipe (without pictures):

1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups milk (I used skim)
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon Matcha Green Tea Latte powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
Splash of fresh lemon juice
Splash of fresh lime juice
Small pinch of fresh lemon zest
Small pinch of fresh lime zest
2-3 drops of green food coloring (if desired)
Ice Pop Mold

Bring sweetened condensed milk to a boil in a medium saucepan (stirring frequently), then reduce heat and stir constantly for 15 minutes until it is very thick.

Whisk together milk, cream, and green tea powder.

Add milk/cream/tea powder mixture to sweetened condensed milk in saucepan, whisking it in slowly until well blended.

Remove from heat.

Add vanilla, lemon/lime juices, zest, and food coloring (if desired).

Cool mixture completely (about 30 minutes).

Pour mixture into molds (about 3 oz per pop). Freeze for about 1.5 to 2 hours, checking periodically to see if the pops are firm enough to insert the sticks. Insert sticks, then freeze until firm. This will be a minimum of six hours; they can be frozen overnight.

To dislodge pops, run warm water gently over the mold.


For more information on Matcha Green Tea, visit this link.

Mocafe (creator of Matcha Green Tea) would love for you to like them on Facebook.

I also encourage you to check out Blendtec Blenders here. (One of the bloggers participating in this promotion will win one!)

Lastly, thank you to 5 Minutes For Mom for coordinating this promotion.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Sahel - Why It Matters

When I read audiobooks, sometimes a passage goes by and I find myself driving along, thinking "did I really hear what I think I heard?" That was the case in a passage of Dreams of Joy by Lisa See when the protagonists are traveling from Shanghai into the countryside, to rescue a family member from starvation during the Great Chinese Famine. As Pearl drives along, she and her companion discover a field where people are in holes. The people are alive, but they can't get out of the holes (they have been left to die). At first Pearl sees just one person, and she is starting to think of how she can rescue the person. Then she sees that the field is filled with others in the same situation. She is resigned to the fact that she can help no one as her companion Z.G. reminds her that they are on their way to rescue their own flesh and blood.

Like Pearl, when I learned from OxFam America of the desperate situation in the Sahel, and the need to put this situation back in the minds of people, I wondered what I could say or do that would make a difference to even one person in the Sahel. The difference between Pearl's situation and mine is that she existed in a work of fiction (although the famine was very real); the people of the Sahel are at the epicenter of a crisis and their situation is very, very "non fiction" and we do not have to leave them behind to die.

Photo credit: Oxfam International
First, the basic facts:
The Sahel is a region of West Africa, spanning the southern border of the Sahara Desert, where drought and rising food prices have put an estimated 18 million people at risk of hunger. This number is very likely to increase in coming weeks.
Harvests were poor last year, and drought this year threatens to exacerbate a situation that is already dire. People forage for wild food and search anthills for bits of grain.
 “The situation is difficult here. There’s a problem of rain. It’s been irregular,” said Founé Danfakha, a 60-year-old grandmother of four from Bembou, Senegal, who grows rice, maize, and groundnuts to feed her entire household. “If there’s not enough rain, there won’t be a harvest. And if there is no seed, there’ll be no harvest.”
1 million children are at risk of acute malnutrition. Parents are forced to sell essential tools and livestock in order to feed their families.What can you and I do to help any of these 18 million people? There are several things.
Donate online via this link. Oxfam America always aims to use your gift to help build lasting solutions to poverty (as opposed to short term fixes).
Spread the word about this issue. Even if you can't donate right now, you can raise awareness; that can make a difference too. This infographic presents the facts really well. These facts speak for themselves; they go beyond numbers and stats about this crisis; they speak to my heart and emotions.
Support community development When I tweeted on Friday about my plans to blog about the Sahel this weekend, @martinpenner suggested this:

I must admit, I have a lot to learn about what can be done to increase community resiliency. It is mentioned in this informative and compelling article by Nathalie Bonvin as a key strategy to impacting this problem. Gotta say, Martin, learning more is on my to-do list!
Teach your children. Those of you who know me personally know that I am a big believer in "showing" children the issues that exist in our world rather than only "telling" them. I have only been able to travel internationally to see poverty (and the most incredible people) first hand, but that week taught my teenager (and me) more than any book ever could. Show your children what you can; encourage them to care. Few of us can travel; everyone can watch a YouTube video:

Spread the word. In our age of social media connectedness, it is easy to forget that the old fashioned method (conversing) works just as well. That was the case for me yesterday when I was telling people about preparing for this blog. Face to face -- mom to mom -- friend to friend -- sometimes the most elegant way to ignite interest is to invite someone to learn along with you by saying, "I'm learning about the Sahel - have you or your child heard of it?"
There are several graphics here that can be shared via Facebook and Twitter.
Speaking of spreading the word, celebrities are investing their time and fame to help remediate the funding lag that exists. These celebrities include Kristin Davis and Djimon Hounsou.
I agree with Hounsou: "To some of us, this problem is a world away and is easy to ignore, but I implore you to pay attention.”
 Visit Djimon Hounsou's personal fundraising/awareness page here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Wordless Wednesday (Breaking Out of the Egg Edition)

A bird has built a nest in our garage (of all places):

Her baby is now with us and growing every day:

My "fledgling" isn't nearly this helpless anymore.

Today we celebrate her 16th birthday!

Happy birthday, Tenley!
"I'm youth, I'm joy, I'm a little bird that has
broken out of the egg."
- Sir James M. Barrie

Summer Daze Fun Photo Party

The Summer Daze Photo Party is the creation of Kristi from Live and Love Out Loud, Alicia from Project Alicia, and Rebecca from Bumbles and Light. The rules are pretty lax (it is summer after all!). Feel free to link up your summer images June 15 through July 20. The instructions are here.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Crazy Sweet (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

This week, Mama Kat prompt #4 instructed us to do this:

4.) Dig out your high school yearbook and share a message a friend wrote that stands out to you.

I didn't have many signatures in my Senior Year book, so I pulled out my Sophomore Year book as a backup in hopes of finding more material.

In general, besides the hair/clothing flashbacks from the early 80's that this project gave me, I determined that the two adjectives most used in reference to me were a) crazy and b) sweet. Yeah.

Before getting to the sweet/crazy combo, here's the glibbest and perhaps arguably most true:

"I really can't flatter you because you don't have anything to praise."* Lien

[Note - in keeping with school spirit, I have used the school colors for highlights - gold for sweet and purple for crazy.]

"You are a very nice and sweet girl. ......"The Bee Gee's and Senior 81 are Forever #1" Laura

"It's been nice knowing [you] this year in 4th period your one crazy girl and I knew you'll get what you want in life because you'll never stop till you do Good luck with Prince Charles." Leslie (Prince Charles??? Yikes)

"Well the year is almost over and its been really great. I'm so glad we finally go to know each other. You're a real sweet and crazy girl. Stay that way. Best of luck in everything you do. May God richly bless your life. Remember to always stay close to him and you'll do just fine. Behave yourself." Deneen

"Life wouldn't be complete without you. Stay sweet...." Marcie

You seem like a very nice and sweet girl. The best of luck in life and with that special guy. Anita

Stay sweet and pretty. Sharon

Stay sweet and never change. Paula

Take it easy over the summer and don't get in trouble (ha ha). Mary S (I know it doesn't specifically say "crazy" but "get in trouble" seems close enough!)

I know you thought I was CRAZY. Nita (She was referring to herself as crazy but we were best friends so it is close enough for blogging purposes!)

To a very sweet and pretty girl. Sharon (Same Sharon as above - I got two signatures from her!)

And this one, from my "vocational ed/business" teacher (after my sophomore year) is just mystifying:

"What a joy to have you in my class," ... "Best wishes and much success and happiness," ..... "wish you would permit me to teach you more" Mrs. Adicks This is such a mystery to me because I really liked these business classes -- can't remember what gave her the impression that I didn't want to learn more.

I know you'll probably forget me once you graduate. Eric

Well, Eric, truth is I don't think we ever talked again after high school. But call me next time you're in Tallahassee and I will try to show you a sweet and crazy time!

*This is an excerpt from a longer message. Of course Lien was kidding. That's why she followed that sentence up with this: (I hope you're not taking me serious - see I'm smiling :-))


The World Without You (A Book Review)

Maybe the Jewish people have it right when they have everyone come back together a year after the death of their loved one to unveil the headstone of the deceased. (Jewish funerals themselves are typically held as soon as possible after the death, and focus on simplicity.) The year following a death is so raw, so subject to erratic and illogical changes, so horrifically demanding. The survivors attempt to return to life "as is," while routine activities (do you put the deceased's favorite soda in the shopping cart before realizing there's no one to drink it?) threaten to nudge open the barely healed wounds of grief. Perhaps, in addition to the unveiling ceremony, the family needs to be together at a different stage of the grieving process. They are not the same people they were a year before.

When Joshua Henkin paid our Holy Comforter book club the courtesy of a phone conversation back in 2008, to discuss his book Matrimony, he told us that his next book would be a focus on a three-day period of time. We knew a family would be brought together and lives would change.

Now that The World Without You has been published, we readers are given an opportunity to get to know Marilyn and David Frankel, along with their three living offspring, as they reconvene in order to unveil their son and brother Leo's headstone, a year after he was killed while reporting in Iraq. (Leo's widow, Thisbe, and son, Calder, are along for the get-together as are the four grandsons who belong to Noelle.)

At the time I received an Advance Reader's Edition of The World Without You, I was struggling mightily to read anything on paper/e-reader. Audiobooks are rolling through my ears at a fast clip, but I had failed to complete any book club assignments and, honestly, had started and re-started Pride and Prejudice more times than I can count. I was stuck.

Three days with Marilyn, David, and crew got me un-stuck. Here is why:

I wanted to know what happened with these people. David and Marilyn open the book, having arrived at their Berkshires home early to prepare for the arrival of their children. As each child (and Clarissa's and Noelle's spouses) arrive, the dynamics shift. When Amram, Noelle, and their four boys from Israel arrive, the dynamics go into hyperdrive. I have to admit being most compelled to figure out what made Noelle tick. The sexually adventurous, anything-but-modest redhead had found herself in Israel, covered herself in the restrictive clothing (and behaviors) of the Orthodox Jew, given birth to four boys, and arrived for the unveiling, struggling to find common ground with Amram, who is searching for his own kind of meaning.

So many little (and big) things sparked an "I can relate to that" thought for me. When Thisbe, living in New York City with Leo, tucks $40 into a separate fold of her wallet, as a "Plan B" should her lunch money run out, I was instantly transported back to the $10 bills I used to tuck into my shoe when I lived in New York City, so I would have a way to get home in case I got mugged. When Thisbe and Noelle are lingering within hearing range of The Tanglewood Institute, overhearing a James Taylor concert, I can't help but think of listening to James Taylor with my friend Mary Jane at Jones Beach in the early 90's. When the discussion turns to the 2000 election, the recount, and the ripple effects on this family's lives, I see the reporters here in Tallahassee, at a downtown hotel, coming into the bar and getting their own drinks rather than getting waited on, having long ago resigned themselves to being Tallahassee residents until the recount situation resolved itself. They no longer needed to be waited on. Thisbe, an only child who marries into a large family, reflects "how happy I am, as an only child, to fade into the woodwork a bit at our large family gatherings" (my husband is the oldest of six and I feel similarly). Thisbe talks about this at the unveiling, saying that one of the things that appealed to her, marrying in, was "...the tumult of you Frankels, as if in your presence I was being swallowed by a many-tentacled beast and made into a tentacle myself."

The gorgeous turns of phrase. I love beautifully written sentences the way some art connoisseurs appreciate exquisite brushstrokes. Here are some examples:

When Marilyn is describing her relationship with Nora, Leo's girlfriend prior to Thisbe: "She liked Nora. But there was always a species of compassion in the way she liked her."

At a tense moment around the family dinner table, when Thisbe and Marilyn are tenuously staking out an attempt at détente and Thisbe needs backup: "...everyone else is quietly chewing their food, a bunch of ruminants, unmoving and silent, as if they've been ossified by Marilyn's words."

David's musing about his daughter Lily and her mother: "...the two of them, the reddest of the redheads, fueled by their impatience, which darts like a beam of light into every corner of the room."

This author made an effort to engage me. There's another reason I was pleased to read this book and even more pleased to report how much I liked it. In ways that may have seemed small to him but made a big impact on me, I have learned a lot from Josh Henkin about the state of writing and publishing today. He has not shied from interacting directly with his readers at a time when author outreach can make the difference between anemic sales and the success of a book. He told our book club about how he approaches his writing (and teaching), and he was gracious when our book club members patiently explained the difference between a garter and a garter belt (you kind of had to have been there!).

One last masterful turn of phrase to share with you. It may not be elaborate, but it sums up neatly, in six words, the conclusion that each individual who stays at the house in Lenox discovers over one holiday weekend:
"We all need taking care of." - Thisbe.

I encourage you to read this book to delve into the Frankel family's holiday weekend. Arguably, there wasn't much about it that spoke to "holiday" but everything spoke about humanity.

To learn more about author Joshua Henkin, here are some resources:


To order The World Without You:  Click this link.

To "like" Josh on his Facebook Author page: Click this link.

To tweet Josh: Click this link.

*A note of gratitude to Pantheon Books for the Advance Reader's Edition they provided me.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Wordless Wednesday (Smile of Light Edition)

This is not going to be a summer of long, complicated, expensive trips.

That doesn't mean I can't find some summer fun and relaxation in the mix.

While Tenley and the other dancers watched La Nouba at Downtown Disney recently, I chilled at a nearby restaurant and enjoyed Chilean wine and a good book.

It was a night for being in the background while the girls bonded.

This summer's moments may come in smaller increments, but I will
treasure them no matter what.

Summer Daze Fun Photo Party

The Summer Daze Photo Party is the creation of Kristi from Live and Love Out Loud, Alicia from Project Alicia, and Rebecca from Bumbles and Light. The rules are pretty lax (it is summer after all!). Feel free to link up your summer images June 15 through July 20. The instructions are here.