24 December 2012

Merry Christmas from The Kofoeds!

Christmas Eve is here!  We're feeling richly blessed - most of all - by all the people in our lives whom we love so much...our family, and so many Brooklyn friends that will forever feel like family.  We hope to catch up with as many of you as we can over the holidays.  We'll be in Arizona for a few days eating tamales, playing with nieces and nephews, going on cook-outs in the desert, playing lots of games (& ping pong), marveling at the huge grocery stores and parking lots, visiting with siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, and eating lots of great Mexican food. :)  Oh, and Les Miserables!!!!  :) :)  We are way too excited.
And, our hearts are full to the brim this year with amazement for what this last year has been like for us.  I mean, how is it that I've been blogging now nearly every day for over a year?  This is nuts (I seriously had never even thought about being a blogger before and knew nothing about it.  I really never even had time to read blogs.  ha!  So it's just crazy that this has been my life now for quite some time.)  BUT, we have been so surprised, delighted and really quite blown away by this whole thing that I can't stop.  And I'm just SO grateful that somehow (by some miracle!) this blog has extended our connections to all of you.  I'm so glad that we can have discussions here about things that matter so much and can help us be better/happier/brighter in our lives and relationships.  It is my dream that as you see yourself rising to new heights, that you, too, may pass on any bit of wisdom or richness that you have received in your lives.  We are all in this together.  And together, we can (& are) changing the world.

We love you all.  We're deeply grateful for the kindness, wisdom, and love you have shared with us.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you.  We'll see you back here in the New Year.

Mara & Danny

P.S.  Just after Christmas, we'll start up the medications for IVF.  We won't know the results of it for awhile as this will not be the traditional process (it will involve freezing the embryos in between some treatments.)  And, who knows if we'll have any bumps or delays along the way (very likely, as is the case with these things :)  But, we'll keep you posted here and there.  This journey of infertility has been one of the greatest blessings of my entire life.  Not a stitch of anything I write on this blog would be here without it.  So it's a journey and a process I hold sacred.  No matter what happens, we will embrace it and all will be well.  That, I know.  :)    

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21 December 2012

Gift Guide 2012

I almost didn't do a gift guide.  I had been collecting items for one, but to tell you the truth, after seeing all the gift guides on-line, I got gift guided out.  haha.  I figured the world didn't need another.  But, now at the last minute, I decided to still go for it...because gifts ARE a wonderful thing.  And even though this is late for Christmas shopping, perhaps you might consider these with some Christmas money you might get...or for your upcoming birthday...or for anyone special that you would like to share a gift with throughout this upcoming year.

In the spirit of gift giving...a few suggestions:
I adore these clocks by Twemco.  I totally want one in my kitchen.  (purchase here.  $173) via Linsey Laidlaw.

This simple glassware is just perfection, in my book.  Eggs and bacon would never look so good.  The small plates are $7.50.

I love this fresh version of the classic silhouette, by artist Carter Kustera.  Such a fun way to display the members of your household.  Starting at $110. (via Little Green Notebook).  You can also get some very affordable ones made here on Etsy.

Indoor plants would be such a great gift and they're fairly inexpensive.  (I heard someone say that she doesn't have a green thumb, but at least her plants last longer than a vase of flowers and so she felt it was ok to replenish them a few times a year, if needed.  I like her thinking. :)  (photo via A Well Traveled Woman)

Love the idea of an unexpected jumbo barrette pulling my hair to the side.   These would be the perfect sparkle for a party.

 Brass stencils in your own words.  Could be cute way to spell out a name, too.  via Mary Matson.

For a handmade gift, you could make one of these for your family.  (see here for materials; made by one of my favorite designers ever, Abby of Hi + Low)

My friend raves about the organic cotton sheets at Target.  I checked them out when I was at her place and um...they are really, really, really soft/satiny/heavenly.  $43.99 for a Queen size.  I'm partial to white sheets. :)

These Ktaadn tea towels would be an upgrade to my white flour sack towels (see more on their website.  I love them all.  $26.)  (photo and towels via The Daily Muse)

A ping pong table that doubles as a conference table or a big dining table.  Perfect for a home or office.  (My Dad is a major ping ponger :)  via Swiss Miss.

I'm actually not a cat person, but I love these Maneki Neko cats found at the Gotokuji Temple in Japan (or in Chinatowns everywhere).  Danny and I had our wedding luncheon at a Chinese diner in Boston (the place where we had our first Boston date!) and so I love having these little cats around.

I am the biggest sucker for anything that smells good.  One of my favorite perfumes over the years has been Hanae Mori.  When I was single, my friend told me about Hanae Mori and said guys always noticed it and asked about it.  She added that she always had dates during that time.  Well, I bought the stuff two seconds after that.  Sure enough, on the first day I wore it...before I even got to my desk at work, a guy stopped me on the street to ask what I was wearing!!!  Haha.  I had to call my friend immediately to report the funny news.  AND, how could I not include my husband's cologne.  I kind of wish I could wear it myself so I could smell it all day cause it drives me nuts.

I adore Mary & Matt, the chocolatiers and crazy good design makers in Brooklyn.  They're awesome in person and online.  Their chocolate packaging is always a work of art (how fun would it be to get this Air Mail Bar in your mailbox?)  More designs here at their shop, Chocolate Editions.

It's never too early to shop for mail order frames from Warby Parker.  I love that you can choose 5 to receive in the mail to try on before deciding on a pair.  I'm liking these:  1 / 2 / 3

(Many more gift ideas after the jump...)

20 December 2012

The Christmas Story

The story of Christmas, as told by the children of St. Paul's Church in Auckland, New Zealand.  Cutie, cute, cute.  :)

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My Latest Anti-Aging Beauty Trick...(I'm Obsessed)

coconut oil, anti-aging 

Is it too soon to talk about coconut oil again?  ;)

Well, it also happens to be one of the best things I've ever done for my face

Ages ago, I heard about using coconut oil on your face.  I tried it.  Wasn't too impressed and it may have even led to extra blemishes (of course back then, I was eating dairy so no product on earth was ever going to make a difference.)  Anyway, for quite some time I really wasn't itching to use coconut oil again.  But recently I figured out a routine that works wonders.  I'm obsessed with this and it has made my skin so visibly different.  Sometimes I can't believe that this is my skin.  Deeper wrinkles that I had on my forehead have literally reduced...a ton.  Also, due to being dairy free, huge pores I used to have are barely noticeable to me.  Certainly I do not have airbrushed perfect skin.  But it has been blemish free (!!) for the first time in my life and it looks much younger and healthier to me than it did even five years ago.  Do I dare say it even looks dewy a lot of the time and I can flat out skip foundation if I want.

Here's my nightime and daytime coconut oil routine (yes, insert jokes here ;) ...

This routine is soap free, 100% natural, inexpensive, and NOTICEABLY anti-aging.


1.  Protect Your Face With Coconut Oil During Your Shower.  Before I get in the shower, I cover my skin in a very generous amount of coconut oil and massage it into my face - including my eye area.  I consider it a protectant layer for the shower so that the hot water doesn't dry out my skin.  Somehow the steam, hydration and the coconut oil makes for a very nice combination.  I rub the oil in quite well.  (I use Spectrum brand unrefined, organic coconut oil.  Unrefined means it's richer in nutrients.)

2.  Rinse.  At the end of the shower, the last thing I do is rinse my face with the warm/hot water.  What remains will be the perfect amount of oil and will not be too greasy for your day, including if you're wearing make-up.  (I also fit in using my Clarisonic a few times a week, with a very mild all natural soap.)

3.  Pat dry.  Then I apply my apple cider vinegar and my regular moisturizer for the day.


1.  "Wash" Face With Coconut Oil.  No Soap.  The minute I even think that it might be time for me to prepare for bed (usually at a wee hour), I will add a generous amount of coconut oil to my face and rub it in really well, make-up and all.  I massage the oil in for about 30 seconds or so - as if I am "washing" my face to loosen up any make-up, etc.  I hold off on removing mascara just yet.

2.  Dilly Dally.  While the coconut oil is soaking in, I take my vitamins, drink some water, brush my teeth, floss, take out my contacts, etc. etc.   You know, there's always plenty to do.  The whole time, that generous layer of coconut oil is just softening my skin, like an old fashioned cold cream (just not laden with chemicals.) 
3.  Remove Mascara.  When I'm done with everything else, I then use the coconut oil to remove my mascara.  I use a dry cloth to gently wipe the mascara off my eyes.  It works really, really well.

4.  Rinse.  The very last thing I do is then rinse off the coconut oil with very warm water.  The idea is that you take off any oily excess and make-up residue.  What remains will be exactly the right amount.  I then pat dry and still follow up with my regular moisturizer

**COCONUT OIL JARS FOR STORAGE**  Remember these guys?  I have a separate little jar in my medicine cabinet for my face only.  These jars are working so well.

Do you have an anti-aging trick that works wonders?  Would love to hear!!

Disclaimer:  If you are not happy with your skin, based on my lifetime experience with this, you very, very likely have a food sensitivity.  This coconut oil trick will likely not do anything for you until you get the allergy part worked out.  Dairy and sugar are known to be the worst culprits when it comes to skin acne and aging.  I have never in my life had a dermatologist tell me this.  Not a single face product or medicine or wonder product worked on my skin for 30+ years until I went dairy free (and I've cut down on refined sugar).  I can't not share this with people as the majority of doctors in this country will not recommend this.   I am still shocked at what has happened to my skin.  Before going dairy free, I felt like I was aging like c-r-a-z-y.  And now it's almost as if that has reversed.  If you have acne or skin problems, I cannot recommend enough to go dairy free for 8 weeks and see if it makes a difference.  It has to be 100%, though.  Even a small amount of dairy will change my skin.  

(Images: Remodelista / Remodelista  / the fancy ) 

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19 December 2012

Our Brooklyn Christmas

This year, Christmas snuck upon us.  So did Halloween.  And so did Thanksgiving.  I guess a hurricane can mess up the schedule of things.  And so, even though we don't have one Christmas decoration in our home this year and didn't plan a big party like I've done over the last 10+ years, we have been savoring the small bits of Christmas that we have had so far.  And it's been wonderful...

The Nutcracker.  We got to see The Nutcracker in Brooklyn at BAM by the American Ballet Theatre.  We loved it!  We got "partial view" tickets near the front for a very cheap price.  I totally recommend those seats!  You won't miss much at all.  And you'll get a close-up view of the cutest little mouse that won the audience over.

Satsumas!  This is a Christmas tradition we love.  We can't get enough of them.  We've been replenishing bowls of these for a couple of weeks.

Salsa Party.  In lieu of a larger party, we invited a few friends on our block and around the corner for a salsa tasting.  Danny made his amazing salsas (from this book, of course!), our friends made some really good salsas, too, and we served Mexican hot chocolate.  If I had been getting fancy, I would have served tamales, too.  But keeping it simple was just fine by me.

Our friends brought us these awesome hand-made mugs and a box of Mayordomo Chocolate, Bebida Tradicional Oaxaquena (legit Mexican drinking chocolate.)

 How cute is my friend's bow?  I totally need to try that. :)

Always love the after party with Danny.  (Yes, it did include some guitar playing :)

Winter white, anyone?  I'm such a sucker for wearing white in the winter. 

Tapas Party.  We went to our second Tapas Party and it was just as amazing as ever.  For two years in a row, our friends have hosted this dressy party and it's the best we've ever been to.  We're talking 44 people around ONE table on the parlor floor of a brownstone.  That is one amazing feat, let me tell you. 

 Gorgeous invitations designed by Linsey Laidlaw

Each person brings tapas and we have the best selection (so many of our friends are foodies!)  Danny and I brought these Korean Pork Tacos with Cucumber Salad.  They were so good!!  
Everyone loved them.  (Thanks for the pin, Kelly McCaleb

One genius part of the night...each person has their own placemat.  And between courses, each side of the table takes turns sliding down 5 seats so you get to talk to so many different people throughout the night.  (See here for some more details from last year's party.)

This year we're just so thankful for our friends and for each other.  And we can't wait to see some of our family soon. 

Much love to all of you,

Danny & Mara

P.S.  I am starting to collect Christmas tradition ideas.  This part of my life has been a little delayed since it seems more traditions kick in when you have children.  I would LOVE to hear of some of your traditions!  This is one tradition I think is so sweet.

18 December 2012

Chilled & Gray

New York felt just like this today.  And I think hearts across the country have felt chilled and gray, too.  Today I went to my favorite vegetable market and the sweet owners were talking in Korean.  Every few words, I heard them say "shooting" in English.  I think it's safe to say that everyone in every language is talking about it.  Everyone is feeling it.

As I've thought about this tragedy, my thoughts keep returning to one of the most inspiring stories of human love and compassion I have ever heard in my whole life.  In 2006, a milk man went into an Amish school and shot 10 Amish children.  5 of them died.  But instead of hate, the Amish were filled with love, forgiveness, compassion, and peace not only amongst themselves, but for the killer and his family.  They forgave him.  They raised money for his widow.  They attended his funeral.  They held no hate or anger in their hearts.

This story touched me greatly in the days following my first husband's departure.  I was in New York trying to hold down my life here with a mortgage to pay while my husband left the country and left his job and proceeded with divorce documents.  Yes, there were days of compassion and love that consumed me more than ever before.  But there were details of the divorce that certainly made me fight the inclination to have hatred and disgust for another human being.  I had to work to fully cleanse myself of that pain.

And so, the Amish...  I thought of them all the time.  Their tragedy and example put my trial in perspective.  And it let me see the human potential to forgive.  I took a bubble bath once, trying to find some peace, and listened to this amazing sermon about that Amish community.  I just wept and wept and wept.  I knew that if another human being could forgive as cleanly and as fully as they did, then I could, too.  I could forgive deeper than I had.  I could hold no malice.  I could have compassion even though I felt wronged.  I didn't have to wait 5 or 10 years to be free of that crippling anger.  I could move on in peace, out of honor for those around me and the future husband and children that I had hoped to have someday.

Today when we listened to some of the news about Connecticut, we heard the story of the Parker Family, who lost a daughter during the shooting and came forward with a tribute.  The father expressed no animosity and said he was not mad and offered sympathy for the family of the shooter.
"We want everybody to know that our hearts and our prayers go out to them.  This includes the family of the shooter.  I can't imagine how hard this experience must be for you and I want you to know that our family and our love and our support goes out to you as well."  "Let it [be] something that inspires us to be better, to be more compassionate and humble people.  Let us please keep the sentiments of love that we feel for our families, and the compassion that we feel for others– even complete strangers– and keep them with us at all times, not just in times of sorrow and tragedy.  And may we do this so that we can better all of our communities, and all of our cities and all our states, so we can make everyone, everywhere in this country feel safe."  He said, "I don't know how to get through it. The best thing I can do is to help other people."

Robbie Parker's words remind me of the Amish.  They remind me of the human potential.  They remind me that we can do hard things in our lives.  I thank God for people like them...they give us hope in humanity, they let us know what we all might be capable of, too. 

Do you think it's possible to forgive someone who did something so horrible?  Is it inconceivable to you or does it seem to early to even consider?  

(image via Adoreann)

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14 December 2012

A Few Weekend Ramblings & My First Bottle of Vodka

Today I should be out running (mostly walking :) in the park but I'm working on turning my blog into a book using Blurb.  So excited to see how it turns out.  I often get letters from people saying the blog is changing their lives (best thing in the world to hear) but I sometimes turn to Danny and say, "what did I write again?"  :)  :)  haha.  So I'll be glad to have a record of it and reminder of what I've been pouring my heart into this last year.  I really can't believe that by some miracle I'm able to get anything out that might resonate with you.  I'm so grateful that somehow it's happening. 

So, I normally don't wear red lipstick with my running clothes.  But I was just testing out what I think I'll wear to a fancy party this weekend...

 This is a vintage dress I got from D.I. last year on the Alt Summit thrift store tour with one of my favorite bloggers, Liz Stanley.  (In case you didn't know, Utah has the best selection of vintage clothing I have ever seen!)  The base of the dress has some sparkly beadwork on it that you can't see (unfortunately the speckles are from the dust on my mirror.  eeks  :)  But the dress has been in a bag for about a year because let me tell you...it smelled very, very vintage.  BUT, I did some research on-line and discovered that the costume designer of Mad Men says if you spray clothing with vodka, the smell will go away.  So I got myself a bottle and gave it a try.  At first I tried a mixture of water and vodka.  That helped but didn't seem to solve the problem.  So I tried straight up vodka, and at this point this dress is ready to party.  Surprisingly, the vodka smell disappears completely after it dries.

But, I needed a belt!  A Christmas belt!

So I picked up some of this vintagey looking ribbon from the Brooklyn Flea for $8...yay!

Here are a few more pics from our visit to Brooklyn Flea.  It was SO fun to visit this time of year.  And let me tell you, the food vendors downstairs are amazing.  That beef brisket and the Asian tacos and the pupusas were driving us nuts.  We didn't have time to grab a bite (our car was running out of it's meter), but I kind of want to go back there just for the food...
 If you want to pick up some vintage frames, this is your place.

 I loved some of these pillows, woven in Turkey, and filled with buckwheat.
 My Grandmother taught school and raised her kids on the Navajo Indian Reservation.  Her arms and hands were covered in native jewelry.  I have a couple of her rings and oh man, I love this stuff.
These rugs caught my eye.  Though before I ever purchase one, I think I might ask Jenny Komenda if I can tag along with her the next time she goes to the Brooklyn Flea.  :)  :)  Um, wouldn't hurt to have a second opinion, right?  :)  [btw, her design ideas these days in that brownstone of her's are blowing my mind.  Stairs carpeted with small Ikea rugs?  Brilliant.]

 Danny did have time to scarf down one of these artisan doughnuts.  Passion fruit.  He said it was...well...one of the best doughnuts he'd ever had.

 I'm a fan of Mclure's Pickles.  Love these things.  Even their pickle potato chips :)  [Danny won't have a thing to do with them. :)  ]
 I'm always a sucker for these letterpress letters...I guess it's because of all the amazing graphic designers I know and love that got started here in Brooklyn.  :)
 Brooklyn Flea has a great selection of vintage Christmas decor!  Love it! 
And here's Danny later that day on the train.  Dang.  Sometimes when I see him he just stops me in my tracks cause he's so handsome to me. 

I hope you all have an amazing weekend!  And, just in case anyone wants to go to a wonderful Christmas service in Brooklyn this weekend with lots of Christmas music, consider yourself invited...


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