Cute as a Bagel

They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Cuteness, on the other hand, has universal standards. According to several scientific studies, these include big eyes, round faces and other infantile features.

Cuteness also seems to have universal appeal. An Atlanta psychology professor found that “men and women showed nearly identical responses to cute stimuli,” although they rate it differently for social reasons.

Some say cuteness is a survival adaptation that triggers nurturing from adults. But that can’t be true, since people also love to eat cute things.


Still, the effects of cuteness on our brains’ pleasure centers are evident. They give laughing babiessleepy rodents—even Hello Kitty—power over us. And unleashing this power is a great way to infuse bagels with extra charm.

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Spring is such a disorienting season. Yesterday, at this time, I was stretched out on the grass in the sunshine, thankful for the breeze that kept the heat from getting too intense. Today, I’m fighting with the wind to keep my hood up and wishing for a heavier coat.

I’m also discombobulated realizing how close I am to the end of another semester. I’m amazed—but how can I be so shocked when I’ve been so desperately aware of the crawling countdown to summer?

Still, I love spring—so bring it on. To celebrate the discombobulation of this lovely season, I’m throwing my blogging pendulum to the other side of the food spectrum from last week. If any of you were unsettled by last Friday’s  bean bread, you can relax. Today, it’s only oatmeal.


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We never decorated Easter eggs at my house. It seems a shame, because as you can see from my last post, colorful and intricate designs are right up my alley.

But we only ate scrambled eggs when I was little. In fact, some of my family members are still dubious of eggs in any other form. This breakfast pizza, for example, was deemed too frightening for human consumption.


Hard-boiled eggs are even more objectionable, according to my sisters. So you can see why we didn’t cook a batch every spring. They might offer a fun canvas for painting, but the insides would be wasted.

I, however, learned to love hard-boiled eggs after a trip to Germany. My host family also introduced me another unfamiliar substance often viewed with suspicion: quark.

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Simply Smashing

Jack-o-lanterns taught me to be cynical.


They also taught me to be creative—or maybe that was my dad.

He has a talent for carving goofy faces (especially eyeballs). Plus, he was always man enough to take care of the smelly goop.

Pumpkin Goop

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Floppy Discs

Record Flowerpot

Older folks love to make cracks about how people my age don’t know what records are.

They pretend to be self-deprecating, making fun of their own age. But really, I think they’re enjoying an exclusive moment of nostalgia. Maybe they’re even a little smug about belonging to the special club of people who remember the good old days.

Well, it happens that I have heard of records. In fact, I grew up listening to them. So I can be nostalgic too.

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The Golden Squash

Spaghetti Squash

Why don’t kids like vegetables?

They are so cool. They come in bright colors and  amazing shapes.

Okay, some of them are a big frightening, but if you think kids are scared of gross-looking food, you haven’t eaten with any second-grade boys lately (this is much more impressive than, say, mashed potatoes with ketchup and chocolate milk).

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It’s Alive!

I have a long history with congealing liquids.

Milk in jar

I made friends with Jell-O about the time I started speaking in complete sentences.

My family ate it almost every night, because I always wanted to help in the kitchen, and Jell-O was within my abilities.

No knives, no flames. I’d just sit on the counter, happily stirring away.

Making Jell-O

It affected me pretty deeply.

You can tell because, years later, I get a thrill out of something that requires basically the same skills: making yogurt.

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