Blimp Cat Proves that Twitter is Worth Something, After All

We have been busy here in the Magpie household, living a life that’s constantly changing and growing.  I consider time to sit around and arbitrarily explore web sites a real luxury.  Therefore I was extra pleased when my 15 minutes of “www me time” led me to Blimp Cat Studios.

Exhibits A, B, and C:

I know, right?! Believe me when I say that these three pieces are only the tiniest tip of the artistic iceberg that make up Blimp Cat’s inventory. So I did what any modern woman would do: I twittered them!

eh…twitted…them? Tweeted?

Whatever ! The point is that I am trying to expand my technology horizons and jump into these trends like twitter, and maybe one day I’ll even find out what “pinterest” is.

And then the coolest thing happened: Blimp Cat twittered back! And she –I found out there is a human behind it all and not, as one might think, a feline –submitted a MAGPIE LIST!

Sweet rapture, I love this project.

p.s. I totally bought the Harry Potter poster.

p.p.s. check out the rest of Blimp Cat Studio’s goods, of course! And follow me on Twitter @MagpieList.

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Thanksgiving 2011: Attitude of Gratitude

A few years ago, some friends and I started a “gratitude group.” Each day we try to list 10 things for which we are thankful, and email them to each other. A few years ago, I would have scoffed at this “attitude of gratitude,” but now I look forward to it, amazed at how this small action affects my life.  It doesn’t matter what time of day I write my list; if I start the day with one, I go out into the world with a lighter perspective. If I make one before I turn off the light, I sleep a little sounder.

On Thanksgiving, we expand our daily ritual, and enjoy the challenge of coming up with 100 things.  One of my favorite times of this slightly chaotic holiday is when I sneak away for some alone time with the lists that have filled my inbox.  And then I write my own.

It always unfolds the same way for me. I start out strong, hammering out 30 or 40 things…then I hesitate in the middle, struggle though the 70s, and then find my stride again at the end, forcing myself to stop at 100, now that  things I love are rolling off my finger tips into the computer.

Skeptics be damned; I highly recommend the daily practice of gratitude. Start with 5 if 10 feels like too much. (We all have 5-item days.) I imagine that appreciation for the things and people and life around will start to grow, and soon enough you’ll rattle off 100 no problem.

One Hundred Thanks: 2011

  1. 1547 lists of gratitude in my “Gratitude” file.
  2. chap stick
  3. Clementina Russo, who taught me to cook in red lipstick
  4. red lipstick
  5. Lily Clare, age 8
  6. chandeliers
  7. “hydrate or die.”
  8. Jennifer, her life
  9. Sabine and that Maia
  10. Jenny, her gratitude
  11. Ariane, her writing
  12. Catie, her photos
  13. Ali, her grace
  14. Aly, her growth
  15. Elizabeth, her perseverance
  16. Antonia, her honesty
  17. Amber, her spirit
  18. pencils
  19. David Foster WallaceW
  20. hummingbirds
  21. rainy days in LA
  22. 1989 In Singapore
  23. Kalen Egan, his patience, his kindness, his laughter, his smarts, his project “Knock & Rock.”
  24. rivers and oceans and waves and puddles and dew
  25. vinyl records
  26. live music in unexpected places
  27. The Magpie List
  28. Clover the dog
  29. Melinda Hill and Marriage Material
  30. Sam Muna, who writes me notes from the Republic of Congo
  31. Kacy, who takes care of orphans in South Africa
  32. Scrabble
  33. Terrence Malick: Bad Lands, Days of Heaven, The Thin Red Line, The New World, The Tree of Life
  34. vegetables, delivered to our door
  35. Zeb Knudson, his friendship, his laughter, his assistance in the kitchen
  36. all the books everywhere
  37. my winter memoir project
  38. the sound of Canada Geese overhead
  39. Y: the Last Man
  40. singer songwriters
  41. Star Trek, the Next Generation
  42. all the things that make me laugh on youtube
  43. new apartment: heaters, air conditioner, hot water, wood floors, less rent.
  44. pie
  45. Barack Obama
  46. Andrew my brother, Clare my sister
  47. Mark and Deb, my parents
  48. everyone who willing to support me, my past, present and future
  49. Francois Trufaut
  50. bread
  51. i am employed
  52. coffee, chocolate, wine, tea, cookies, ice cream, cake
  53. Joan DidionW
  54. our Thai money trees
  55. my budget book. if I can put together an entire piece of Ikea furniture by myself, I can make a better life for me and my family, one day at a time.
  56. vision boards and new years resolutions
  57. Dog Day Afternoon
  58. the holidays
  59. Dave EggersW
  60. Lily Clare, age 8, and all that reading
  61. France
  62. Harry Potter
  63. ordering the turkey from a restaurant. good move.
  64. baking everything else from scratch with Kalen and Zeb. good move.
  65. left-overs
  66. my life today is so extremely, wonderfully,  different from what it was 4 years ago!
  67. Papercuts and Hummingbirds, wherever it takes me.
  68. Los Angeles
  69. Petaluma
  70. Olympia
  71. Santa Cruz
  72. New York
  73. Singapore
  74. San Francisco
  75. Miss Maya, all her love, all her strength, all her beauty
  76. Bailey, all her friendship, all her laughter, all her loyalty
  77. Lydia Hylsop, her creativity, her determination, her singing
  78. fog
  79. George and Sil, I think about them every day
  80. owls
  81. five years ago I moved to LA (good move.)
  82. opera
  83. we can almost see our floor; we are almost done unpacking
  84. sober September
  85. Aly and Heather and Notion:Creative
  86. tattoos
  87. 15 minutes-es
  88. Jenn, and Gio, and baby Stella: strength, friendship, loyalty, hilarity, creativity, beauty
  89. cell phones, computers, internet, ipads, youtube, facebook, and text messaging
  90. stationary, typewriters, pens, and pencils
  91. postcards
  92. Paul Thomas Anderson: There Will be Blood, Punch Drunk Love, Boogie Nights, Magnolia
  93. my coworkers and our work-like-family existence
  94. January. It’s coming.
  95. my 7th grade drama teacher. my 4th grade math tutor. my American adviser in France. my writing teachers, my psych teachers, my softball coaches.
  96. warm summer nights
  97. bare feet
  98. long quiet autumn days
  99. a long productive year

1oo. I am alive, I am healthy, I am happy.

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A Funny Thing Happened…

I know I discussed it a little in this Magpie Minute, but it really is amazing how much TML has changed my life.  Sure, I expected– planned– on reading more, watching more films, and exploring more music, but I didn’t expect my life to feel transformed in such a full way.  I didn’t know people would send lists with such breadth in their scope, I didn’t expect that I’d feel busy for the first time in a long time absorbing all this inspiration. I am tired, but I am happy.

Another way The Magpie List has changed my life is by way of funny girl Melinda Hill.  I first saw Melinda read a story for Todd Zuniga’s Literary Death Match. (Digression: if you are anywhere near a LDM, get thee there, now!)  She was real funny and real magnetic and real great. A year later, I found myself in the same room with Melinda again, this time through mutual friends. After a few agonizing minutes, I mustered up the courage to talk to her. I managed to get her Magpie List! It was crazy. I was happy. I went on my way.

Then…Melinda contacted me! We’d had a chat about writing and reading, and dating and laughing. Melinda was starting a new comedy show. She was wondering if I’d like to come read?

Marriage Material Monday was born.

The first Monday of every month, Los Angelenos can find Melinda and I talking about dating, marriage, and everything in between. We are pretty silly and really casual, and I think the audience has a lot of fun.   I had no intention of ever becoming a stand-up comedian (or a stand-up reader, or whatever I am now), but I am having a lot of fun. It’s strange and vulnerable to be up on stage in LA, but it’s exciting and it feels like The Magpie List has more in mind for my life than just reading books.

So, if you’re in LA, and you find yourself looking for some laughs on a Monday night (who doesn’t want to laugh on a Monday?) please come on down to the Hollywood Bar n’ Grill.

If you can’t come to Marriage Material, you can watch this video from our first night.  (Spoiler alert: I am awkward.)


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Meet A Magpie: Sam Misner of Misner & Smith

(OR, A Crazy Story!)

Open Mic Night at the Brick House Café, my freshman year of high school. It was before my parents had reason to worry, before cell phones and before Starbucks. I spent my extracurricular hours at the “Brick House,” where I learned about clove cigarettes and ska music bands like Let’s Go Bowling. And, it’s where Sam Misner and Ainsley Roscroe sang “Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers (and dedicated it to Jessamyn Harris, all as some sort of inside joke with which I laughed along but didn’t understand!).

College, theater department. I’m not in the department, I’m not “in” anywhere at this sprawling UC nestled in the redwoods of Santa Cruz. And whenever I mention my hometown (as college freshman are wont to do) people, especially from the theater department, say this: “Oh, do you know Sam Misner?”

“Yeah, totally! I mean…not really. I mean, he sings. He sang Under The Bridge. With Ainsley. For Jessamyn. So YES. “

Back home, now living with my folks, I meet with the head of a high school theater department to discuss a position there. “Do you know Sam Misner?” she asks.

“Yeah, totally! I mean…he sings. Red Hot Chili Peppers.”

Los Angeles, California, The Magpie List inbox: A list arrives.


Does anyone else see how crazy and, more importantly, NEATO this is?! My inner-14-year-old kind of died.

Since 1994 and his Brick House days, Sam has found a home as a real life folk singer. You can find him currently playing as one-half of a musical duo, Misner & Smith. Megan Smith plays the upright bass; together, Sam and Megan create original songs with heart-melting harmonies. And his Magpie List is a clear representation of what inspires his craft! Please give their songs a listen below, check out their webpage, SEE THEM LIVE, be inspired. (that’s the point, yeah?)

Sell music itunes

Thank you so much, Sam. I can actually say that I totally know you, now.

To read Sam Misner’s complete list, posted August 22, click anywhere on this sentence. HERE.

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Happy Birthday, TML!

This summer has been a little hectic, and life has become full of so much enrichment — there’s books, and movies, and albums everywhere and all the time these days. That was the whole idea, and all of a sudden it’s been a whole year!

To all of you who have taken the time to submit a list, thank you! It’s no easy task to narrow down your life into ten items, but the world is better for your efforts, and lists continue to find their way to the Magpie mailbox from all over the world.   I was thrilled to receive lists this year from Europe, Australia, Pakistan, and– most surprising of all– The Republic of Congo.

It has been fun to explore the diverse selections in the lists, and ALSO fun to see the things that pop up time and time again. And so… here are the top five treasures from the past year!

1. The Wire.

The Wire aired on HBO from 2002 until 2008, and is described  by many critics as the greatest television series ever created and one of the most accomplished works of fiction in the 21st century. (I am only half-way through the second season, and I don’t disagree.)

2. Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace

This book is the 1,079 page gorgeous monstrosity that keeps on giving. Here’s what I had to say back in February in  Magpie Minute #1:

3.  Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice was the most oft listed, although both Emma and Sense and Sensibility also receive repeat credit.  This 18th century novelist continues to inspire readers and filmmakers alike — many lists included both the books and the myriad of film and television adaptations. I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I have never read any Austen, but TML has convinced me to re-prioritize my reading goals!

4. This American Life

Each week, since 1995,  This American Life features essays, memoirs, short fiction, interviews and found footage exploring the idiosyncrasies of  …well,  American life.

5. “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,”  Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
This was the most surprisingly repeated “treasure,” to me and the most –before TML — unfamiliar. After giving it a listen, though, I don’t wonder why people turn to “Iz,” a Hawaiian ukulele player known for his voice and melodies, as well as his size, for inspiration

I am excited to see what kind of treasures find their way to The Magpie List in it’s second year. Thank you all again for your contributions and support, and keep checking in; you never know what is inspiring the people around you!

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Found: A Magpie Treasure

While creating a Magpie List is designed to be a quick, painless, no-pressure procedure, sometimes someone gleefully throws away any Magpie suggestions to abandon “thinking too much,” and sends along their in-depth explanations. And honestly… we love this. Los Angeles artist Greta Svalberg has eloquently described each item on her list with such consideration that I decided her own words deserved some special Magpie attention.

Greta’s treasures provided me with an entire evening of exploring artists and music about whom I would probably otherwise never have learned. I am excited to explore further, and hope TML readers feel inspired to do the same!

And so. In her own words…

YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT, TOP 10, By Greta Svalberg

1. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace A sci-fi thriller/ self help addiction recovery book/ grammar lesson/ tennis lesson/ boston epic/ Incandenza family document/ comedic romp. It took me six months to read and I wish it lasted longer.

2. “Echidna’s Arf” & “Don’t You Ever Wash That Thing?” by Frank ZappaW on Roxy & Elsewhere I love so much of Zappa. My favorite era is Hot-Rats- Grand Wazoo- Waka/Jawaka. These compositions are so complex, the performances beyond beautiful to the sublime abyss cliff edge explosion distortion echo silence mushroom cloud. He composed these songs while confined to a wheelchair with devastating injuries, after being pushed by a deranged fan into an orchestra pit headfirst.

3. Dan Graham Rock My Religion Most of Dan Grahams work creeps me out. His video Rock My Religion is one of my favorites ever.

4. Jan Svankmajer  Darkness/Light/Darkness This film is Surrealist Czechoslovakian stop motion animation. He has many great short films, and also executed the best Alice in Wonderland rendition ever.

5. Coast to Coast AM with George Noory, 10:00 every night on 640 KFI A radio show about paranormal everything, current events, and alternative perspectives in general. They always have great environmental reporting- they were the first I heard to report the BP gulf oil spill. They also talk about physics, history, astronomy, and medicine. Some of their expert guests are silly and entertaining characters, some will blow your mind.

6. Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon This book will make you want to consume raw milk, red meat, soaked grains, and fermented vegetables. Throughout the book are anthropological nutrition anecdotes by Weston Price and others. A cookbook with philosophical substance.

7. The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein This book is bleak and filled with horrors, but discusses neoliberalism/ neoconservativism/ free market zealotry in a clear way. The history of economic horribleness in Chile, Argentina, USSR/Russia, Iraq, and New Orleans is laid out in plain language.

8. The World is A Beautiful Place by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The world is a beautiful place

to be born into

if you don’t mind happiness

not always being
so very much fun

if you don’t mind a touch of hell

now and then

just when everything is fine

because even in heaven

they don’t sing

all the time

The world is a beautiful place

to be born into

if you don’t mind some people dying

all the time

or maybe only starving

some of the time

which isn’t half bad

if it isn’t you

Oh the world is a beautiful place

to be born into

if you don’t much mind

a few dead minds

in the higher places

or a bomb or two

now and then

in your upturned faces

or such other improprieties

as our Name Brand society

is prey to

with its men of distinction

and its men of extinction

and its priests

and other patrolmen

and its various segregations

and congressional investigations

and other constipations

that our fool flesh

is heir to

Yes the world is the best place of all

for a lot of such things as

making the fun scene

and making the love scene

and making the sad scene

and singing low songs

and having inspirations

and walking around

looking at everything

and smelling flowers

and goosing statues

and even thinking

and kissing people

making babies and wearing pants

and waving hats and


and going swimming in rivers

on picnics

in the middle of the summer

and just generally
’living it up’


but then right in the middle of it

comes the smiling


9. Paul Thek The Wonderful World That Almost Was For awhile this was the only book on the artist Paul Thek and it was very out of print. It still is out of print, but there are others now… this one is still the best one.


10. Mr. Show I have seen every episode many times. Hilarious to the point of poignant happiness and joy.



See, I told you it was worth acknowledging! Find Gretchen’s Magpie List amongst the many other interesting treasures here at TML, and submit a list of your own. (Explanations appreciated but not expected!)


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Birthday Magpie

Today is Lily Clare’s 8th birthday.  Every day I search through your lists for inspiration, but my daughter is every reason that I strive to be a better person, and to live a bigger, better, fuller life.

She inspires me with her inquisitive perspective (“why do we poop, anyway?!”), her keen attention to detail (“you have sleeping bags under your eyes”) and her imagination (“let’s pretend I’m a teenager.”)

In the celebration of the most inspiring 8 years of my life, I decided to post this story, written for her.

I Love You Like Milkshakes

It began on Wednesdays, lunch on main campus in between classes long forgotten. I bought, every single Wednesday, one vanilla chocolate chip milkshake. At first, it tasted like Petaluma summers, riding in the seat on the back of my dad’s bicycle; he always wore a turquoise polo shirt, and the asphalt rushing underneath hypnotized me while the chocolate chips got stuck in the straw.  I saved them all for the end.

That was before you.

Then, after everything changed, and you were very real but still unseen, an idea growing and moving, surreal but certain all at once, my Wednesday milkshake became an ultimate moment, sometimes the only moment, when I knew that everything was going to be okay, and I loved you with everything inside me, every part of me that existed before me, and that will last into infinity after I am gone.

One milkshake, four dollars, every Wednesday, memory, calm, everlasting love.

Because on the days that weren’t Wednesday, I will tell you, in ways I can never really admit or explain, I was losing myself or afraid of losing myself, and I am not sure anyone can say which is worse. School was the routine, and I was determined to finish, through the nausea and exhaustion and expanding waistline. Drinking 7-UP in writing seminar, vomiting in tech rehearsal, loud murmurs in philosophy class because I wasn’t just fat, after all. And in between the blurry memories, I remember keeping many many secrets, even from myself.

My mother’s face froze in place when I told her. She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, so she just froze. And my father, trying so hard, bursting open a bottle of champagne, and arguing for the next two hours for an immediate marriage. For the rest of my life, in an apartment with a boy who was in so many places at once that he couldn’t remember to tie his shoes, or where he had parked the car, or sometimes even to come home at night, because he was out doing God knows what. Still, today, only God knows what.

And I can go back now and reveal that soon the two of us will drive around Los Angeles looking for the best milkshake, and we’ll find soda fountains and diner counters.  You will be the sweetest child, and the most polite in East Los Angeles, at least. My love for you will expand beyond Wednesday into every day, every moment, and exist far beyond the moment you were created, and far beyond the moment I will die. When we share a milkshake, you’ll drink from the tin, and I’ll wonder what I ever did to deserve such bliss.



(To read more musings on life and love, see Papercuts and Hummingbirds, Eve’s “other” blog.)


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Inspiration is a Bluegrass Tune in a Haight Street House

Watch and listen to The Brothers Comatose sing “Trippin On Down The Mountain!” Just try not to tap your toes…

Bass player Gio Benedetti’s list posted today; see it here!

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Magpie Chatter

Best. Mail. Ever:

So, after watching the adorable video of the college girls and their Magpie Lists, I was compelled to go and check out Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut from my library. He is one of those authors I have never really explored but always had on a  reading to-do list. So, after seeing a magpie contributer distill the meaning of the book to her personally, I thought I would give it go and…. I loved it! I’m not one for time-travel or science fiction (unless we are talking about Back to the Future, because let’s be honest, that movie is amazing), but found myself captivated. I love that about The Magpie List. Sometimes you are turned onto something completely new and other times you are reminded to explore something you keep putting off for one reason or another.  Thanks Magpie…  Sarah Goodman, Novato, CA

And…that’s pretty much what it’s all about, folks, plain and simple.

Thanks for the kind note, Sarah!

p.s. Back to the Future is, undeniably, amazing. :)


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MagpieTV: Episode 5

Take a look at Kit’s complete list!

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Another Kind of List

“The hope of the Magpie List is that you’ll find it interesting and fun, controversial and influential, a stimulating resource and starting point for your own continuing education.” –The Magpie Story, about section of The Magpie List website.

Putting The Magpie List online has been a learning experience, and it has been interesting to discover and remedy the differences between a face-to-face project and a “world wide” (web) project.  One of the differences I’ve encountered is readers’ understanding and interpretation of the premise: to collect inspiration.

I was feeling, as a busy single-parent, that I never had the time to explore the aspects of culture that I love but considered a luxury; books, music, and movies.  I want to continue my education through these facets, and I was– and still am– looking to the people around me for the curriculum.

As lists pour in, I find that readers want to define “inspiration” in their own terms, often expanding beyond the restrictions of  “Books. Music. Film.”  Blogs, magazines, food, art, people, theater, events, radio, television– there is so much to explore! I love the idea that, through this forum, a stranger could open someone else’s eyes to something they may have never otherwise discovered. That was the original idea… to offer inspiration that is both pure and easily accessible.

But there is also another kind of list.

These lists come from a different place of inspiration, one of a more personal nature.  With personal perspective, they are clearly developed around specific experiences. Focusing  on family members, forces of nature, nostalgia, memory smells, everyday or meditative routines, traveling, even specific recipes and restaurants, these lists are unique to each author.  I can’t help but wonder about the events that inspired them.

As TML community grows, I find less time to edit and organize the lists that don’t fall within the Magpie definition of “inspiration.”  But they are fantastic lists with some wonderful suggestions.   So, I want to occasionally give credit, here in the blog, to those who are proving that, indeed, everyone does has a treasure to share!

Another Kind of List:

  1. Wireless internet
  2. Electric toothbrush
  3. Chapstick
  1. Morning coffee
  2. Donuts
  3. Stanley kubrick
  4. Children
  5. Lasagna- homemade
  6. Eating out
  7. Christmas
  8. A big fire
  9. Beer with friends
  10. My sister
  • Shannon, Paramedic, Brandon MS
  1. Grace under pressure- emergency response teams and military branches
  2. Good Music – The beatles, Areosmith, Dr.Dre, Dirty Dancing Soundtrack, Norah Jones, Eve, No Doubt
  3. Sinfully good food – Korean bbq, garlic bread, hot wings, red lobsters bisquits, pasta (ok maybe just carbs in general)
  4. Chocolate – homemade fudge, cookies or candy that are so good they demand thier own line.
  5. Good books- (I perfer series) Dark Hunter by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Dresdon by Jim Butcher, Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz, anything by Jane Austin; Harry Potter and yes, Twilight.
  6. Good Movies- Dirty Dancing, Boondock Saints, Hackers, Lonesome Dove, Becoming Jane, and Blind Side.
  7. Loving family
  8. Friends
  9. Soft blankets
  10. My two children and husband who re-teach me balance every day after I seem to forget with every dream. They show me unconditional love and compassion and inspire me to do the same. Without them I am lost.
  • Stefanie Garret, Writer in Progress, Ramona CA
  1. The beach in the early morning when the only footprints are yours
  2. The wind blowing through the tall grass making it look like water
  3. The patterns in feathers which make them look like they were painted
  4. A book whose words become more true the longer you live
  5. The people in your life who never cease to amaze you with their kindness
  6. The unconditional love of a pet
  7. Friends who make you smile when you think of them
  8. Movies you can quote practically every line of
  9. Memories that remind you of just how blessed you have been
  10. The unexpected detours in your life that have led you to a better place
  1. Prague, Czech Republic
  2. Istanbul, Turkey
  3. Sarajevo, Bosnia
  4. Bern, Switzerland
  5. Reykjavik, Iceland
  6. Dublin, Ireland
  7. Paris, France
  8. Zagreb, Croatia
  9. Munich, Germany
  10. Vienna, Austria
  • Mariah G, Student, Switzerland
  1. Pyramids built in Africa and South America around the same time.
  2. Kindnesses in the midst of chaos.
  3. Thomas Kenneally, William Trevor, Barbara Kingsolver.
  4. Dancing to ”Get Rhythm” by Ry Cooder.
  5. Michael Connelly, Ruth Rendell, Ian Frazier.
  6. Grandchildren!
  7. A good animal connection, fleeting or a pet’s life.
  8. Accomplishing something I put off because I thought I wouldn’t do it well, and having it turn out pretty darn great!
  9. Fond memories that remind me I can make more.
  10. Alexander McCall Smith, Pogo, P.G. Wodehouse.
  • Ellen Reid, San Francisco CA
  1. chocolate fondant, chloe’s french cafe, santa rosa
  2. cherry ”pop tart”, della fattoria, petaluma
  3. sticky bun, downtown bakery, healdsburg
  4. almond-y chocolates, woodhouse chocolate, st helena
  5. chocolate marzipan scone, wild flour bakery, freestone
  6. ooh la la red velvet cupcake, sift, santa rosa/ cotati/ napa
  7. fruit truffles, see’s candies, everywhere
  8. mini pastries, emporio rulli, larkspur
  9. mazarin tarts, village bakery, santa rosa/ sebastopol
  10. chocolate eclairs, cavaliere’s bakery, santa rosa
  1. Roasted sweet potatoes, red potatoes, beets, and onions, buttered quinoa on the side
  2. White chicken chili with green chiles, jalapeno, pinto beans, and white beans
  3. Yellow curry sauce from Trader Joe’s with sauteed chicken, sliced carrots, and onion
  4. Andouille sausage sauteed with pre-steamed brussels sprouts and bacon
  5. Lasagna layered with mozz/parm/ricotta, spicy Italian sausage, and arugula
  6. Butterflied whole chicken rubbed with chopped garlic and rosemary, roasted on a bed of #1
  7. Couscous cooked with dried chanterelle mushrooms: add sauteed red onion, chard, pine nuts, and maybe Bacon Salt.
  8. Tacos verde: chopped tomatillos, pasilla, jalapeno, and green chiles, deli rotisserie chicken, onion, garlic, cumin, and a little cinnamon/nutmeg – in a tortilla with cheese
  • Kjersti Egerdahl, Editor, Seattle WA

Note: I love these lists!! In going back through the site, I believe that TML’s parameters need to be a bit clearer. In the meantime, if any of the above list-authors want to send me  new or edited lists, I will gladly post them in the main list page!   Thanks to everyone for becoming a part of the Magpie Community!

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Magpies In The News!

And by “news,” I mean Elle Decor Magazine.

All Honolulans have something of the magpie in them, picking and choosing from one another’s cultures things they admire or think sensible (everyone, for example, has adapted the Japanese custom of removing their shoes before entering a house, and the Polynesian tradition of tucking a flower behind their ear), but it’s the Hawaiians whose influence reigns supreme.

I realize that  I should have called this note  “Mapgies In A Metaphor!”

Anyway, I thought it was neat.

Special thanks to Aly Anderson for sending the article my way. Anyone interested in reading it in its entirety, go here.

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MagpieTV: Episode 4

An afternoon with Sayre Piotrkowski.

Drinking beer, talking soul… Episode 4 is here!

See Sayre’s complete list, posted September 2nd, 2010!

video edited by The Magpie List

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Magpie Vision: 2011

Every year, around this time, I like to make a vision board.  Not only is it  fun and crafty, but it’s a positive activity that gets me thinking about my goals for the next twelve months.  Last weekend, some girl friends came over with banana bread and glue sticks, and we made an afternoon of creatively setting intentions for 2011.

my 2011 vision board

This year, along with personal goals, I dedicated a large portion of my poster to The Magpie List.

2011 is all about The Magpie List!

I have a brilliant habit of completely overwhelming myself with the big picture (ie: Success!), so I use my vision board to break it down into tangible goals:

  • world wide readership;  multi-media publicity, and lists from every continent!
  • time management; better, please.
  • technology;  new computer, digital camera, recording device
  • magpie mixers; fund-raising cocktail parties for literary charities!
  • books; more, always. of course. (see “time management,” above.)

I am excited to see what 2011 has in store.  I love having a colorful, visual representation of how I see the Magpie List growing.  While “time management” is completely up to me, there are ways you can help me achieve the other goals.  Tell your friends, use facebook or twitter or mass texts or post cards! Submit a list, if you haven’t already.  And, if you’re so inclined, donate via paypal.   In whatever form it takes, your contribution and assistance is appreciated, and helps support the mission: to collect and share inspiration around the world!

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MagpieTV: Episode 3

Kate and Bridget are roommates at the University of Oregon.  They are fun. They are smart. They sent me video lists… and, voila:

See Bridget’s complete list, posted Jan 12!

See Kate’s complete list, posted Jan 14!

video edited by The Magpie List

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Meet a Magpie: Andrea Dorfman

“Lonely is a freedom that breathes easy and weightless, and lonely is healing if you make it.”

It feels a little awkward when I try to explain what happened to me at the end of  2007. I was stressed out and sad, tired of being tired, restless and ready for change. I didn’t want to move again, I didn’t want to try any more religions or yoga practices or gluten-free recipes. I needed something drastic, and I knew it couldn’t come from the self-help aisle, it needed to come from within myself.  The idea came to me that maybe I should try being alone. Sure, I’d always have my daughter, and I’d always have my friends, but it was time to take a step back from…men. Romance. Dating. Phone numbers. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Best. Decision. Ever.

It turned out,  I had absolutely no idea who I was! I spent the first 27 years of my life trying so hard to impress and be impressed, becoming an expert at knowing a little bit about a lot of things just to assure that I was never, ever alone, without once stopping to consider what I truly  liked, or wanted, or appreciated, or enjoyed, or hated.

I started taking myself out, with only myself to impress and amuse and keep company. I brought my writing everywhere, and I went wherever I wanted: I took myself to movies (and walked out when I was bored or unamused), I took myself to dinner, and ate as slowly as I liked.  I read books on park benches, I visited my brother in New York and danced by myself  in smoky jazz clubs.  Instead of waiting for Prince Charming, I bought myself fresh flower bouquets, and got massages at the spa. I shaved my head.

And of course, I asked people I met along the way— new friends and old—for lists.   I learned that being alone and being lonely isn’t always the same thing. I felt like I was being born all over, crawling out of a case,  shedding  an oppressive skin of societal expectations.  My friends were worried for me, people felt sorry for me.  Their concern was unnecessary; I was having a wonderful time! My year turned into almost 3. Now, at the end of 2010, I seem to be coming out of the other side of this self-defined journey a different kind of person. For the first time in my life, I am comfortable being myself.

The first time I watched Andrea Dorfman’s short film piece, “How To Be Alone,” I was speechless and inspired.  She, together with poet-songwriter Tanya Davis, was telling my story. I couldn’t believe it; someone else who encourages solitude!  My connection to their piece notwithstanding, the collaboration between Andrea and Tanya creates work that is simple and beautiful.

Using youtube to contact Ms. Dorfman, I sent a message about The Magpie List,  never really expecting to hear back, but dying to know more about this artist from Nova Scotia and what inspires her.  I feel honored to have not only received a list from one of Canada’s “most promising, versatile, and truly independent young filmmakers,” but also a nice note:

hi eve,

it’s taken me a while to get back to you but here i am…!

thanks so much for the nice words about my work. it’s lovely to know that it reaches people in far away places.

i love lists.i made a feature film about a woman who has a list of things to do before she graduates from university. i also love listing off inspiring things but, off the top of my head – today – here is my list.*

i think it’s great you email strangers. someone once told me that askers own the world. i tell my boyfriends kids that all the time.

all the best to you!


Thank you, Andrea Dorfman.  I will be open and honest when I feel inspired by people’s creations. I will send notes. I will ask questions. And whether or not I am alone, The Magpie List will grow!

*Read Andrea Dorfman’s List!

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MagpieTV: Episode 2

I thought it would be fun to ask newlyweds John Conlee and Celia Keenan-Bolger to collaborate on an impromptu list. I might have been wrong.

Read Celia’s complete list!

Read John’s complete list!

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Family (1st) Fridays

I drew a family tree for the first time the other day, for Lily. I was hoping she would appreciate how big her family is, I thought she would understand the important implications of  having so many people to love and who love her.  She was mostly uninterested. I, however, had a lot of fun drawing the tree itself, and I decided to draw one for my own family.(See above!)

I want to do some research and see how many generations I can include and expand; there is something inspiring about seeing how far my “branches” reach. In the meantime, I am hoping to collect a list from each family member. I will post one “family list” on the first Friday of each month.  That’s over two years of  Fridays!

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Magpie Discovery: Meghan Julius

This story is a little bit silly, because it’s a little bit cliché,but it goes something like this:

When I am posting lists, I want to listen to and learn about the music that’s affected your lives. Sometimes hours will go by as I explore music websites and youtube channels. I’ll listen to one artist, and that will lead to another, then I’ll follow a tangled chain of songs and sites, until I feel like a musically educated, and sometimes completely changed person.

I was doing just that when I stumbled upon Meghan Julius.  I just had to contact her — I needed a list.  I sent her my best “I’m-not-a-psycho-fan-please-submit-a-list” email. It worked.

As you can see, her list flies past my 10-item parameter, but because I am so grateful that she took any time at all to respond to my request, I let it go. I’m cool like that.

I am not ashamed one bit when I say that I enjoy some of her covers more than the originals. Here are two of my favorites!

Bright Eyes: First Day of My Life

Lady Gaga: You and I

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MagpieTV, episode 1 was a huge success, and I’m getting lots of inquiries about more interactive Magpies.

The afternoon with Zeb was easy because he lives here in L.A, but there are ways around geographical limitations, and so many ways we can all make TML dynamic. If what Zeb did looks like fun, and you want a video of your own, or a phone interview, or a photo montage of an adventure together — let me know!

  • send me an iphone video text defending an item on your list that you know people will question! (“Gwen Stefani is an inspiration because _____”)  Or contact me and we’ll make a Magpie audio like Ariella did about Anne of Green Gables (oct 15th) So easy, people, so fun.
  • read me your list with your webcam, explain things like Zeb did, or just keep it strait. don’t worry about the editing — we got that.
  • have a project you want to talk about? Contact me, and we’ll arrange a phone call!
  • got other ideas? let me know, and LET’S DO IT.

Keep spreading the word, keep sharing inspiration…and keep checking in:  Magpie Radio drops next, and I’ve got an interview with John Conlee and Celia Keenan-Bolger coming up on MagpieTV.

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