Friday, May 30, 2008

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto

I just finished reading the above mentioned book. Excellent, enlightening, and interesting. The short answer is, as author Michael Pollan says, Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Pretty sound advice that has kept the human race alive for a few million years.

One distinction of note he makes is between actual food and food-like substances. Food-like substances are those foods you generally find in the center of the grocery store, while actual food is more likely to be found in the periphery (i.e. produce, milk, cheese, meats). He delves into the "religion" of nutritionism, the belief that food is only a collection of nutrients/vitamins/carbs/fats/proteins. He supports the idea that food is more than a sum of its parts.

I like his guidelines for selecting food, so I'm going to list them here, as much for my own reference as for anyone else's benefit (parentheticals are my additions/clarifications:

Avoid food products containing ingredients that are A) unfamiliar, B) unpronouncabeable, C) more than five in number, or that include D) high-fructose corn syrup.

Avoid food products that make health claims

Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle.

Get out of the supermarket whenever possible.

Eat mostly plants, especially leaves.

You are what what you eat eats too. (Yep, that's typed correctly. Read it again if necessary! In other words, if the cow you ate was fed junk calories, you're eating junk calories.)

If you have the space, buy a freezer. (Especially if you eat meat--find a good grass fed source and stock up.)

Eat like an omnivore. (Eat a variety of foods. You are more likely to cover your nutritional needs this way.

Eat well-grown food from healthy soils. (For example, a carrot grown today is generally less nutritious than one grown 50 years ago because the fertilizers and pesticides do not provide the same level of nutrition in the soil.)

Eat wild foods when you can.

Be the kind of person who takes supplements. (He says that until you are middle aged, most people shouldn't need supplements, but as we age it is helpful.)

Eat more like the French, or the Italians, or the Japanese, or the Indians, or the Greeks. (Nearly all traditional diets are healthy because they are less refined--refined sugars & flours are two of the main culprits of our Western diet.)

Regard nontraditional foods with skepticism.

Don't look for the magic bullet in the traditional diet. (So the new "superfood" isn't likely to be that super. Better to eat a healthful variety.)

Pay more, eat less. (Buy better grown food. Good food, i.e. fruits/veggies/etc, is more expensive than crap food, but it's better for you.)

Eat meals. (Put more energy/time into meal preparation and eat fewer snacks.)

Do all your eating at a table. No, a desk is not a table.

Don't get your fuel from the same place your car does.

Try not to eat alone.

Consult your gut. (Don't judge your fullness by how much is left on your plate or in the bag. Pay attention to your own level of fullness. It may take some effort to figure this out, as we don't generally pay attention in our culture to internal cues.)

Eat slowly. (Meaning deliberately.)

Cook and, if you can, plant a garden.

So there you have it. :o) Pretty sound ideas, methinks.

bert & ernie

as a kid, I always identified with Ernie. As I was watching old Sesame Street clips last night with the kids, I had to wonder if any kids out there identified with Bert.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


This has to be the greatest ABC song ever. David and I both loved this one as a kid.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

i'm sure i'm the only one who loves these...

actually, I know I'm not. I just don't know if any of y'all appreciate them as much as I do. :o)

Friday, May 23, 2008

today's pictures from the past

When Spud was little, he had this cute hand-wiggling dance move that he couldn't help but doing every time music came on. We took all the kids' silk play scarves and made this skirt. He was such a cute little chunkster groovin' to the music.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

finished reading

Over the past few days I finished reading Jacob have I Loved and Look Me in the Eye. Reports:

Jacob have I Loved is a coming of age novel, a sort of modern Jacob & Esau (hence the title) story. It's well written, but since I think the target audience is adolescents, I didn't really connect with the story too much. It did make me think about parenting issues, though, and the importance of making sure each of your children feel loved and valued for who they are.

Look Me in the Eye is about the author's experiences growing up with undiagnosed Asperger's Syndrome. He didn't find out about it until he was in his late 30s or so, I believe. Socially he struggled, and had to deal with so many negative assessments of his personality and behavior throughout his growing up years. He did have real genius for electronics and computers, though, and had a number of adventures developing cool stuff like rocket-shooting guitars and smoking guitars as well as the lighting effects for KISS on tour. I heard about this book on NPR quite a while ago and requested it at the library. My main motivation was to get a better understanding of Asperger's, as David's friend and computer programmer has Asperger's, too. Reading the book was really insightful into what it must be like to live in his mind. It was well written and the stories were enjoyable, but near the end I was just done looking at the world through his eyes. People with Asperger's have a hard time seeing others' points of view and are typically self-centered as a result, and I was tired of the "Me me me" focus of the book. Though, of course, I guess that's the point of most biopic writing. I did finish it, though, and would recommend it to anyone interested or curious. I'm looking forward to reading some of the writings of his younger brother, Augusten Burroughs, starting with Running with Scissors . Their parents had quite a variety of problems, so if nothing else you come away with renewed gratitude for your own, less traumatic childhoods. (Assuming you had such a childhood. I was fortunate enough to.)


So for the past few months we've been using our wheat grinder to grind wheat for our bread, and that, along with reading this book has made me want to try and reduce refined flours and sugars and such. I'm not really up to a complete overhaul, being a sugar fiend, but I would like to take baby steps to a healthier, less refined (does that make it more boorish?) diet. To that end, I thought I'd try making cookies with whole wheat flour. I found this recipe for whole wheat oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. It makes a crispy cookie, but they are quite good and got thumbs up from the kids, David & I. Yes, it still has refined sugars, but at least the flour is whole wheat. Like I said, baby steps.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

like i needed...

another way to spend time online. I finally signed up for Facebook over the weekend, and even though I have to be judicious in my time spent there, I'm glad to have found it. I've already found a few long lost friends. What could be neater than that. I didn't think I'd care for it all that much, but I like the idea of millions of people's lives intersecting at different points in time to create a huge web of interconnectedness. Kinda cool what technology can do.

Monday, May 19, 2008

today's task

Well, besides washing laundry, baking bread (with the help of my breadmaker, of course), hanging the laundry out to dry, getting angry at Rudy for stealing the warm bread off the counter (luckily I caught him in time before he had a chance to totally ruin it), the task of today is going through thousands (we're talking 9000+) of backup photos that were created back in the computer fiasco and deleting duplicates. It's kind of fun, actually, to revisit the past 7 years of photos quickly. It's nice to be reminded of the cuteness of years past.

Friday, May 16, 2008

not much to say...

we spent a nice morning at the park. i'll post pictures when I'm feeling less lazy.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

personal missions, or HERO RATS

So part of the Thomas Jefferson Education philosophy is that everyone has a mission in life. I'm trying to define/encapsulate my own mission, but in searching around for resources, I found this woman's blog entry about "passion equals mission". It's a great read, but even if you aren't interested, you have to check out this FRONTLINE special on Hero Rats. You may have heard of them before--I have. They detect landmines and are also being trained to detect tuberculosis. Amazing. I think next Christmas I'll be sponsoring some Hero Rats in honor of some loved ones.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

oh the cleverness!

I swear, when I am rich, I will wear clever tees every day! As a mammalogist (yes, I feel I can claim the title even if I'm not currently "practicing"), I especially love the Platypus one. It has a very Wonder Twins feel to it.

Monday, May 12, 2008

ask & ye shall receive...

Heck, I didn't even ask. I only wished!

I really can't say thank you enough to thoughtful friends and family. Would you believe that I now am the delighted owner of three More Cowbell shirts? A dear friend with mad screen printing skills made me one, another dear friend ordered one, and my sweet sister-in-law Jenn had one sent to me. Lest any of you think this is a bad thing, let me familiarize you with my wardrobe: I tend to have about 8-10 tee shirts that are all alike except in various colors, so having 3 awesome shirts is just up my alley. That means that I can proudly proclaim "More Cowbell" more than once a week even if I choose not to do any laundry! So thank you thank you friends!

Here's me rockin' out with my cowbell! Oh, and David sanded and stained my very own cowbell stick for me yesterday. It wasn't dry when I wanted to take pictures, though, so I had to use a regular ol' stick.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


I had gotten a bit behind, so finishing required some big chunks of reading over the past two weeks, but I finished! yippee!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

kindness (or a double whammy book & movie review)

I recently finished reading Freckles by Gene Stratton Porter. The funny thing is, I've had this copy of the book since I was quite young, I'd say since age ten or so. But the cover of the book always turned me off, plus it has a lot of "brogue" in the dialogue, which can be hard to understand. I think I made it through the first chapter at some point in my youth. But other books by this author are on the "classics list" for the Thomas Jefferson Education Five Pillars reading, and since I didn't have those at hand, but did have Freckles, I picked it up a few weeks back and started reading it. It took me longer than it normally would have because I've been reading other books (including Haven Kimmel's The Solace of Leaving Early which I also recommend), but sometimes I enjoy a slow read because it gives the characters more time to become real to me and gives the ideas and themes of the book more time to permeate my soul. This book certainly merits some pondering. The story is of a young man called Freckles who was abandoned at birth and raised in the loveless environment of an orphanage. Due to an accident as a baby, he only has one good arm. After he leaves the orphanage, he finds a group of people who see beyond his humble background and his maimed body and give him the opportunities for growth and excellence that he'd never had before. He positively blossoms because of their love. It is a truly wonderful story.

Last night we had a "Girls Night In" (plus David) and watched Lars and the Real Girl. It is also a story of a damaged soul who hasn't felt much love in his life. I was struck by a similar theme as in Freckles. Namely, that our treatment of those who might be viewed as damaged or inferior really reflects only on ourselves. How we treat such people is an unobstructed view into the goodness of our own hearts. In the Lars story, his brother Gus says, "They'll laugh at him," and the doctor/psychologist says, "They'll laugh at you, too." I think it comes down to which side we want to be on. Fear of man makes us want to be the ones laughing, but love makes that irrelevant because we know what we should do. I know I've been in situations where I laughed and I shouldn't have, and I remember the feeling of complete smallness that accompanied the laughter. You instantly feel worse for having participated, and even scared because you know that it wouldn't take too much for the tables to be turned and everyone would be laughing at you.

So, I highly recommend both the book and the movie. And the kindness.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

my annual guilty pleasure

it comes out right around my birthday. and every year (almost, i think i missed one a couple years back), at least for the past 6, i buy it. I bought my first one in 1996 when it was Mel Gibson on the cover. I used to have a major celebrity crush on him in high school. And yeah, he was old even then. But those blue eyes! ::swoon::

I don't buy People any other time of the year, but I do enjoy looking at the "beautiful people."

so what are your guilty pleasures?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

happy birthday!

to me!

Thanks for all of the birthday wishes today! Here's a picture from Sunday's little party. After sweets on Saturday & Sunday and leftover cake on Monday, I didn't feel the need for more cake today. David & I dropped the kids off with his sister & folks down in Springville and went to see Iron Man. It was a fun flick. You might not have known this about me, but I am a complete and total sucker for a good superhero/comic book movie. X-men, Fantastic Four, Superman, Batman, Dick Tracy, Spiderman, The Shadow, etcetera--I love 'em all! Maybe that's my inner 13 year old boy. Actually, it's probably more like my inner 4 year old boy--they're the real superhero fans, right?

Anyways, then we went to The Gap so I could spend some of a gift card I've had for a few months. I hit the clearance rack and bought a cute new bag, a shirt, and a funny blue fisherman's hat (it was $2.97!) that I'm really gonna try and pull off. All that for only $25, so I still have another $25 for next time. I could have blown it all on one shirt or skirt, but I just can't pay that much for one piece of clothing, even if it's on a gift card. Stay tuned for pictures of my rockin' new stuff.

Monday, May 05, 2008


So, being a photographer has done odd things to my perception of my self. I've never been one who enjoyed seeing myself in photos. I would get really excited when I saw a photo that I looked good in, especially as they seemed to be so rare. My wedding day was one of my best photo days ever. I like nearly all of my wedding pictures. Since motherhood, though, and the ensuing frequent days/weeks on end where I apply little to no makeup, I've found that I struggle to enjoy my own appearance. Now that I'm hours away from turning 30, I can't help but ponder how I will continue to feel about myself and my appearance. I think I'm okay looking, but 99% of the time, when I see photos of myself, I just go, "Crap. I thought I looked better." The hormones of motherhood have not been the most friendly to my skin, and I feel it's nature's cruel joke that I had less than half a dozen zits all through adolescence, but in my late 20s they all seem to have caught up with me (though it is better than it used to be). I'm also feeling a real need to find a new hairstyle. This picture captures a rare sight--me with my hair down. I keep reading on "hairstyle" websites that if you have an oval face you can pull off any 'do. I thought my face was rather oval, but the way my long hair seems to stretch it out makes me think that perhaps it isn't the right 'do for me. I think my features look best when my hair is away from my face, which is why I wear it up almost all of the time. Well, that and the fact that blowdrying my hair is right up there with, oh I dunno, something dreadfully tedious.

Anyways, I took a whole bunch of random pictures of myself on Sunday, then proceeded to play around in photoshop. So this is me, slightly enhanced & without color.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

this was bizarre and funny

We hadn't seen this SNL before but downloaded it last night. We were doubled over by the end of this skit. Enjoy!

Sorry for the wiggly/grainy video, though. It's the only one that was on youtube.

i knew it wasn't a swear word

I still remember with fondness visiting a dam with some friends/coworkers when I worked one summer at Jacob Lake--even if it was completely lacking in originality, it's very fun to put "dam" in front of everything. "Let's go on the dam tour." "C'mon, I wanna see the dam view." "Take my dam picture."

I never claimed not to be easily amused.

Friday, May 02, 2008

emotional roller coaster

So, it turns out the "job" is only a part-time sort of thing, so he's still looking. I guess when he talked to the guy yesterday it seemed like it would be more than it is. He has some more people lined up to talk to next week, so hopefully something more substantial will come of those talks.


Thursday, May 01, 2008

well, that was quick

David found a job! I don't know a lot of the specifics, but he's excited about it! :o) So yay!

Here's a photo I took a couple years ago and just discovered today (it was buried in a couple hundred pregnancy/belly shots). The flower was grown by my friend Artemis (not her real name).