About Me

Hello and welcome to my new blog, Hello Hoobubby! Hoobubby comes from the name of the character in a children's picture book I have played with on and off for some time. My name is Alexandra and I am a therapist and writer here in Portland, Oregon. I'm not exactly sure quite yet what this blog will be all about- books? writing? love? decorating? art? travels? yodeling bats in traveling Chinese circuses? food? Definitely food! Have a wonderful day and by the way, you look very scrumptious today so watch yourself! (You can also find me at my private practice blog at http://leapbrightly.blogspot.com and at my business site at http://www.alexandrasaperstein.com )

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Benefits of Eating Donuts Daily

I'm so happy for donuts. It seems like they are on the cusp of finally achieving the fancy, gourmet status they have long well earned. First, cupcakes had their heyday, then whoopie pies seem to have deservedly earned a fluttering of good press and even Starbucks is now carrying them, but donuts have long been relegated as an "inferior" treat- delicious, but not classy. Scrumptious, but not a real or "serious" dessert, like a slice of cake or pie, or tiramisu or even a scoop of ice-cream. (Just writing that makes me recoil in fury!) It is only recently that fine, more upscale restaurants are adding donuts to their dessert menu. The restaurant industry should be deeply embarassed for not hopping to it sooner. Foodies who have snobbishly shunned donuts aside will have to plead their case someday before the pearly gates of DOOM.

So much has been said of how "bad" donuts are for you. But one donut daily?  And part of a well balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, and exercise? Imagine a world where everyone ate one every day. I can't seem to find anything online about the advantages of eating donuts daily.  So, here is my list. Please feel free to add your reasons below if I've left any out.

The Benefits of Eating Donuts Every Single Day for the Rest of Your Life

image from http://www,blog.rosemontapthomes.com

1. Donuts make people happy. Very happy. Instantly. I dare you to bite into your favorite donut and be miserable at the same time. You can't! You are suspended in a little bubble of donut blissitude.

2.  This time tomorrow you may be dead. Remember the quote by Erma Bombeck? ...."Eat dessert. Think of all the women on the Titanic who waved away dessert." If your number comes floating down on your cheek tomorrow and the Grim Reaper taps you on the shoulder, you don't want your last thought to be "Shoot! I should have eaten that maple bar" or "If only I had gobbled up that apple blueberry fritter." The Grim Reaper isn't very likely to let you make one last stop at your favorite donut stop. Research has shown that among the regrets seniors have on their death beds is not only wishing they had worked less at the office but also a wish that they had gobbled up more donuts throughout their lives with more reckless abandon and unabashed glee.

3. Research suggests that people who eat donuts are actually kinder to others. Scientists hypothesize that some type of magical alchemy occurs in the donut frying process that once processed through in your belly leads to a measurable change in behavior. People who eat at least five donuts weekly open more doors for others, donate more to philanthropic causes, and have far lower rates of depression and anxiety.  Those who consume between six and seven donuts per week demonstrate even happier results. This group is also found to grow thicker, healthier hair, have less pimples, and smoother, more pleasantly curved elbows. Daily donut nibblers also tend to skip more, have prettier teeth, rosier cheeks, and smell better than donut shunners.

4. The couple that eat donuts together stays together. Literally. Couples who make it a daily ritual to eat donuts together for breakfast cut their divorce rate by nearly eighty eight percent. They report extraordinarily high rates of happiness and connection in their marriage. Donuts seem to create a protective shield of sorts around the relationship that make the daily struggles and challenges thrust upon it more impenetrable and resilient. Scientists are seeking to pinpoint if these couples are just happier because they are eating donuts every day or if there is something in the donut ingredients themselves that repel misery from infiltrating the cells and spirits of donut guzzlers.

Image from http://www.sluniverse.com
5. And the most important reason is that they are just so very tasty. And so bright and colorful and decorated in frosting and toppings. Why deny yourself?  Up your exercise if you have to. Cut out alcohol, or bread, or fruit even, but not donuts. Never donuts. Not ever ever ever. Ever. ever



Sunday, January 30, 2011

Genius Abounds...

Photo Credit: Jessie Oleson/ Cakespy

Albert Einstein was kind of a genius. So was Thomas Edison. But I am handing out my "2011 Best Genius Award" to a woman who goes by the name of "Audrey M." She has apparently invented.... a whoopie pie cupcake!  Doesn't she definitely deserve some type of award? Well, I think so. I thought that Cupcake Jones deserved the award for best cupcake with their ganache stuffed cupcakes-( ganache inside and frosting on the outside)- but a whoopie pie cupcake, I really can't begin to imagine how excrutiatingly tasty this must be.  And how did I find out about this in the first place? Important book research. As I was writing this morning, it became very clear to me that I needed whoopie pies in my novel. Somehow, someway, they needed to be included. That led me to google, which led me to an wonderful website called Cakespy. It is the brainchild of Jessie Oleson who it turns out is a real life cakespy. She even has her own detective agency called the Dessert Detective Agency, which according to her website, is "dedicated to seeking sweetness (literally) in everyday life. We do this by writing about bakeries, conducting baking experiments, and picking the brains of bakers and food artists, and finding awesome products for lovers of baked goods." (She even has a store in Seattle...which is just a beautiful train ride away from Portland. I may have to go up there soon and do some "book research." If you have to eat different whoopie pies for book research, shouldn't those calories/points not count on Weight Watchers? That seems only fair to me. (By the way, if you ever happen to be in Portland, the very best, the ultimate in whoopie pies can be found at Back to Eden Bakery on NE Alberta.

Anyway, in sadder news, no cake was had yesterday.
There should be a big huge "X" marked across this cake! 

I did lose, but barely. Just a teeny miniscule bit, not enough to warrant cake. It was terribly sad. Laini wailed after her weigh-in. This is a photo of her I took right after....( I know, her hair went from pink to pitch black!)

It was so sad. So sad. She had a very difficult time accepting the scale's findings. She dropped to her knees, her hands to her heart, and kept shouting, "Why? Why?? Whhhhhyyyy?" The Weight Watchers leader was so kind as she delicately led Laini away -on her kneetops -from the meeting she was disrupting. (Was it tasteless of me to take that photo of her in such a time of torment?) Well, we could have still had cake, if we'd wanted to. Afterall, you do get 49 extra points per week to spend as you wish but we weren't exactly inspired, so instead we went across the street and got egg white veggie omelettes- good, but certainly not cake.

In other news, this is where I sit in the living room to write these days, laptop or notebook on my lap:
The print above is by wonderful local artist, Lisa Kaser, who happens to have a website too. at http://www.lisakaser.com I'm going to interview her soon for a post.)

Like many writers, my mind frequently drifts away to other things, other places. Especially to here, one of my favorite places of all I wish terribly to visit someday...

If this doesn't look like one of the most dreamy places to live on all the Earth, then I don't know what would be. This little slice of blue heaven can be found at Moominworld, which is located on a little island off of the southwest coast of Finland. It is the recreated world based on one of my favorite children's book series of all time about a species of wonderful creatures called "Moomins" and their many various friends like Little My,  the Snork Maiden, Snufkin, and the Hattifatteners. Written by Finnish author, Tove Jansson, in the 1940s and 1950s, for some reason I don't really understand, they have never been well known in the States even while across Europe, Israel, and Japan, they are very well known and popular. Whether you have children or don't, you really should consider checking them out. There are seven books in the middle grade series, two picture books, and five volumes of the comic strips translated into English. Jansson did all of the accompanying illustrations herself. Here are some samples from the books:

Here below is Little My, tiny as a thimble but very, very mightly nonetheless....

And my favorite character, Moominmamma:

So sweet and heartfelt. Whether they are finding magic tophats that turn into  clouds they can float on or eating Moominmama's pastries or making plays in the middle of the lake, Jansson created this sweet, very moving world that is utterly its own. Do check them out for yourself. You won't be sorry. Then you,  too, will want to go to Finland and visit Moominworld for yourself, plus there is an entire museum dedicated to the books filled with her original art and entire miniatures of all the characters and Moominvalley where they reside. Heres a peek.....
sorry its so blurry!

Ok, thank you for reading- have a wonderful day! or night!

Photo Credit: Whoopie Pie - http://www.cakespy.com

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Magical Monday Post One: TRUCE

Every Monday, I'm going to try and post something on weight related issues, maybe with some journal questions attached at each post's end. A few years ago, I lost over sixty pounds and I remember all too well the struggles. Of course, the worst part is the dumb and mean judgments of others, as if our beauty, worth, and value could ever be measured in inches anyway. It cannot. Still, the judgments stung. Between Weight Watchers and some of my own created steps, I did manage to reach a healthy weight again but its an ongoing challenge to be managed because I have a bottomless sweet tooth and a bottomless salt tooth. And then, behind my front set of teeth that are displayed to the world, I have another set of 32 teeth, hidden behind the trapdoor which is my tongue. This second set must have a regular feed of cupcakes and buttered movie popcorn or it will destroy everything in its wake. Anyway, hopefully sharing some of what has helped me can help others too if managing weight stuff for those whom it is also a challenge.

Magical Monday #1: CREATING A TRUCE
(Please note that if you like this "Truce" image, there are prints of it for sale right here!)
Have you ever been a victim of what I like to call "Magical Monday Syndrome?" or "Magical First Day of Next Month I Will Begin My Weight Loss Program?" or "Magical After I Get Back From Vacation Syndrome I Will....(fill in the blank)?" What all of these have in common is the belief that there is some day out there, just beyond the moment we are in, where it is okay to eat a gigantic bowl of gelato because “Monday I am starting a diet and it is going to go perfectly and somehow all will snap into place. The weight will be "ready" to march off my buttocks just like obedient soldiers, all while grabbing bushels of cellulite with them on their march out!"How many times did I shoo away my long term health goals for some short term dessert booty all the while convincing myself that it was "okay" because Magical Monday was coming?

...(Sidebar: Not that we shouldn't indulge or that a bowl full of gelato doesn't have its place in life! You are reading the words of someone who plans to use 20- nearly half- of her Weight Watchers flex points allowance every Saturday each time she reaches WW goal of the week. For more on that!, read this!)(Swiping cake evidence from that post to prove that I definitely don't believe in deprivation as a habit!)

So often we can be misguided into thinking that if we can just be a little bit harsher with ourselves, we'll somehow "snap into line" like good little children. We tell ourselves we are "misbehaving" when we indulge in something that isn't in our best interest. Do you ever catch yourself saying things like "I'm being so bad right now!” as you wolf down a pack of fries or half a dozen slices of cheesecake? And then underneath it you feel a mountain of sludgy guilt slowly creep your way before long? As the binge-induced bliss subsides, it is replaced by an avalanche of verbal assaults meant to punish us for our "bad behavior."

My experience is that when I treat myself like a little child, this has a tendency to promote even more acting out. When I was a child, I use to hide a small candy canteen under my bed. If you'd reached your hand underneath the mattress, a secret wonderland of "forbidden" snacks awaited you- Twinkies, Cheetos, Whatchamacalits, Nerds, Dots, Bit-o-Honey's, Nacho Cheese Doritos, Ding Dongs. I was raising an entire Hostess family all on my own. Now, if my parents had known about it, I would have been "in trouble." And, sadly, a rich opportunity would have been lost. In that same vein, when we judge and condemn our own health habits, or narrowly define our food patterns as "good" or "bad," we miss out on unveiling the deeper reasons why we are choosing food for comfort instead of something more soul and body sustaining. More importantly, it becomes a cutting way in which we withhold love and compassion from ourselves.

If you are anything like I was when I started my own first successful weight loss process, you might feel fear or even anger at this suggestion of calling a truce with your body. Or you might feel disappointed, or cheated, or that you can't "trust" yourself enough to have a truce. "I need to be tougher on myself," you might be thinking. "Not less tough." How is it that we get to a place in our lives where we have one set of standards for others and another for ourselves? Why is it okay- or necessary- for one to be mean to oneself in order to lose weight? How often does that work out well?

Personally, I really like the idea of inviting ourselves to take a "temporary respite" from our habitual ways, and seeing what might happen. How much more energy might we have when it is not being siphoned off to whip ourselves into dietary submission? or guilted into a depressing state of mind?

We can create our healthiest bodies yet and be kind to ourselves in the process. Its not an “either/or” deal. Most importantly, we have the right to be whatever size we are. Period. Losing weight to have more energy and feel healthier in various ways is one thing. Feeling we have to lose weight because it is "not okay" or "not acceptable" to be the weight we are is a different story.

(Art Credit: Artist Cori Dantini- "TRUCE" print can be purchased on her Etsy site, along with many other wonderful prints of hers. She also has a great blog here. She is one of my very favorite Northwest artists.)


1) A truce means a truce across the board on multiple levels. It means that when you catch yourself saying anything demeaning about your body or personhood, you are going to notice it, catch yourself, and aim to replace your inner self talk with something more respectful. Therapist/author, Terry Real, often talks with couples about having the functional adult within ourselves "grab the greasy wheel" out of the hands of our reactive, inner child. There will be more on that subject later, but for now, the idea might help as you create healthier, kinder, and more respectful ways of supporting your health habits. When you find yourself saying something harsh towards yourself, consider a mantra such as "I am enough and worthy exactly as I am," or "My value is not dependent on the size of my pants or the number on a scale."Take a few moments to consider what your mantra might be. Feel free to share it here. You can use the one above or create your own. Then write it in BIG letters in your notebook AND on a separate sheet of paper in large letters and place it somewhere you will definitely read it every morning. (i.e....on your dresser top, beside the toilet paper roll in your bathroom taped to the wall, in your calendar...Where will it be easy for you to see it every day?) Keep in mind it might sound phony because what has become okay and natural is to put yourself down around your size and/or food choices.

2) How can you support yourself best through the process? (Example: Is there a best time of day to usually commit your time to this process? Waking up earlier or getting away during a lunch break?

3) What are the pros of calling a truce with yourself? For one, it might allow you to experience gratitude more fully towards your body for all it does to support you through each day. Can you consider three ways right now your body takes care of you each and every moment in ways you never or rarely pause to say thank you for?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Evil Biscuit Fairies

There are two people inside me duking it out.

One likes big houses...

The other prefers teeny, tiny houses not much bigger than a pinky...

One me looks below at this basket and says, "Mmmm, lets make a salad!"
The other me says, "Can I have some donuts to go with that salad?"
One me loves the idea of getting up early before sunrise and having run four miles by the time the first rays hit the early morning pavement.
The other me says "Yes, running and all that is very nice, very very nice, sweating and feeling like you are dying is so fun, but you know what is even better than all that silly huffing and puffing which really doesn't burn all that many calories anyway when you really stop to think about it? Being cozy, in bed...
This part of me adds..."Oh, and if you listen to me, I'll even throw in these..."
I can see a scenario where I might be lured to commit tiny, harmless misdemeanors in exchange for a tray of warm, doughy biscuits delivered to my bedside each morning. Evil biscuit fairies, keep your distance please.

It makes me think of the Brian Andreas print that says "I think my life would be easier, she said, if I could just get my selves to agree on something." The thing is anytime you choose one thing, you do have to forego something else. Every path or choice we make creates whole other pathways of unlived lives that trail out behind us, and if we turn around and look behind us, we see they are like a path that just trails off into nothingness because it wasn't invested in, nurtured, like little seedlings that withered for lack of water and sunlight. Too often in my own life, the adopted voices of fear and "practicality" had called the shots. (I'm not a violent person normally unless someone tries to swipe a cupcake from my palm, but if I could take two words into a back alley somewhere and punch them, they would be these words:


I'm increasingly convinced that those two little words have done more damage to people's long-term fulfillment and happiness than almost any other words.)

But some of these trails and seedlngs long for us to retrieve them, dust them off, cradle them in our arms,and revive them. Sort of like inner CPR for all the dreams, plans, and ideas that we either didn't or couldn't create time and structure for.

One of my favorite authors, Robert A Johnson, put it this way:

"When we find ourselves in a midlife depression, suddenly hate our spouse, our jobs, our lives – we can be sure that the unlived life is seeking our attention. When we feel restless, bored, or empty despite an outer life filled with riches, the unlived life is asking for us to engage. To not do this work will leave us depleted and despondent, with a nagging sense of ennui or failure. As you may have already discovered, doing or acquiring more does not quell your unease or dissatisfaction. Neither will “meditating on the light” or attempting to rise above the sufferings of earthly existence. Only awareness of your shadow qualities can help you to find an appropriate place for your unredeemed darkness and thereby create a more satisfying experience. To not do this work is to remain trapped in the loneliness, anxiety, and dualistic limits of the ego instead of awakening to your higher calling."

We water one area of our lives and spirits while another part slinks off to the corners, perhaps feeling neglected, abandoned. There is only so much time but I think more and more that those moments where I feel least alive are because I've forgotten or undervalued the projects most important to me. Last week, I sat with my best friend and said aloud my 2011 goals and intentions for the year, and they can be summoned up into one little five letter word.


Allow myself to always write and rewrite the best and worst book chapters of my life.

Allow for new love and possibilities to emerge.

Allow for thoughts and habits that don't serve my deepest goals, values, and needs to have a quick and painless death.

Allow for new possibilities, challenges, and adventures.

I want to be evermore increasingly conscious this year of my focus because what we focus on, in either direction, grows- grows fangs, or grows vines, grows legs and cute little elbows with feet that waltz and tap and tango, or spindly, prickly thorns with hunchbacked frames and hobbled paws. We may have many different selves crammed inside us, each with their own yellow lined notepad and its own agendas, and each part deserves a voice, but this year is about only allowing certain of those selves to actually have a vote, time at the podium, or a seat on the board who actually makes decisions. What often looks like indecisiveness for me really is just an inner tug of war between various inner selves, each with their own preferences- cupcakes vs. celery sticks, running vs. lounging, but its always up to me which part makes the final decision. This year, fear is being asked to step aside, find something new to occupy its time, like learn to braid or yodel or squaredance. Basically, it is no longer getting a paycheck in dreams deferred and safer roads taken. It needs to apply for unemployment. Wish it luck...or actually, don't!

Photo Credits I was able to locate or remember: Donut Wedding Cake by Nick Sherman/ Made by Portland's VooDoo Donuts
Bed Photo from www.decorpad.com

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Ideas just love smelly feet, didn't you know?

I have never believed really in heaven and hell but I have often believed in a very real hemisphere where nonsense is hatched, a place where everything is upside down and inside out, a place that smells of popcorn, french toast, and butterscotch souffles, and where there is a chariot that goes out every night into the peppermint air of midnight, and the chaffeur of this chariot carries a large copper ladle with him the size of a lamppost and he dispenses ideas as if they were dallops of whipped cream on hot steamy cocoa, and if he happens back over your part of town and you haven't done anything with them, he snatches them back when no one is looking with a long, pointy fondue stick and gives them to someone else who will make more time for them. Thats why you sometimes read the synopsis on the back of a book or see a movie and say, "I had that same idea once!" You are absolutely right! You did!

Where do ideas come from though? I wondered about that the night before last when I woke up totally alert just after four a.m. with a new idea for an old children's story I had worked on last year. I opened up my laptop and it felt like the words had carefully lined themselves up like little school children waiting to board the bus, and there was just a flow and I felt completely excited and inspired! Well, that lasted for all of twenty or so minutes until my idea yawned and proceeded to pull a pillow, afghan, and park bench out of its pocket and lay it out right then and there splat on the middle of my story, mid paragraph! Actually it had the nerve to take a nap mid-sentence, which I happen to think is a very rude thing to do! Don't you agree? I poked and prodded but the idea wouldn't budge. It was fast asleep and I didn't know how to wake it up!

And this is exactly where I used to get stuck in my creative process, not having faith that the idea would ever wake up again, that it was some type of derelict bum who might just sleep forever on its little park bench right there on the pages of my unfinished stories. Scoot! So I went back to sleep yesterday and when I awoke I knew I needed to pull my idea apart like taffy, invite it to tea on a plush velvet couch, treat it like the royalty it is instead of a passing peddler. I think our ideas linger because they really do want us to toss and turn them over, flip them up in the air like pancakes, jab at them, ask them lots of personal, touchy questions. That might be why they follow us onto airplanes, whisper in our ears on the way to work, and even scurry at our heels into the bathroom before we have time to shut the door behind us. They don't mind messy hair or dirty feet or eyeing a round tushy in the shower! In fact, I often have wonderful ideas in the shower and step out feeling quite inspired! ( :

Other times I think our ideas grow despondent, pack up their wares, and trail off down the road hoping someone else will pay them more love and attention. They end up sitting atop cliffs, their legs dangling there off the edges of the world wondering why no one wants them anymore! I have never had a shortage of ideas I realize as I write this post. What I use to lack was a shortage of faith in my ability to fully raise a story up from birth. Each time it feels like I have pulled out all my teeth one by one by the time I reach my last dot of the final sentence. But maybe raising an idea isn't all that different from raising a child or a friendship. Maybe with a bit of patience, devotion, and a huge dallop of trust we can raise full grown ideas that won't need to be plucked away by that grand old fondue stick in the sky....

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Welcome to the Magic & Marvelous Birdroom, The Most Wonderful Invention In All of Portland!...

You are feasting your eyes on the most delightful space in all of Portland, the Magic Birdroom carefuly composed by one Patti Taylor with birdie treasures she has collected over years of traveling and art market collecting. Tucked away high up in the northwest hills of Forest Park, it sits beyond a steep, meandering pathway carefully shrouded behind evergreen trees,rambunctious rodents, dinosaurs,and darting squirrels, rabbits, and other various creatures and critters making their way to and from the city. Its not so unusual to see a little bluejay carefully balancing a sack of Trader Joes groceries on his back or some other little furry one scurrying home with a little pink bakery box of Saint Cupcake cupcakes tied around its wrist. All things are possible as you make your way to the Magic & Marvelous Birdroom.
Very unfortunately, no camera can do this space justice, but especially not my iphone so keep that in mind as you look around. Its not a large space but its a mighty space nonetheless with every little inch wonderfully put to use to showcase all sorts of bird finds on all sorts of surfaces- tiles, pillows, vases, canvas, fountain, lamps, rugs...there is even a little alarm clock that makes chirping sounds. In fact, while I was there taking photos, the alarm went off and the cat made its way over to the clock, stood right on top of it, and kept pawing at it in hopes of drawing a little bird out of there!...no such luck, poor kitty...
There is so much to see, and every time I return, I always discover things I hadn't noticed before....
I'd like to take a sabbatical from work and move into the birdroom for a long, relaxing summer...
Is this the best or what???

This dresser is so beautiful, and you can't see all the little bird knobs which make it even better...oh, and be sure not to miss the bird lights strung around the mirror!
Now look at all this beautiful art her daughter, Laini, painted just for this room! (Laini, btw, is her inventor daughter who is obscessed with making genetically modified breakfast noodles that people will one day be able to add to their breakfast cereal...breakfast cereal noodles...do you think it will catch on or no? She is obscessed with this project and almost never sleeps!)
Laini also handmade every bird on the string that hangs over the bed.
Doesn't this make you want to create your own magic and marvelous birdroom???

(Did you notice his sweet little red shoes?)

We've reached the end of our visit. Noone wants to say goodbye to you...see?...