Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sadly, this is getting to be routine

There were any number of things I wanted to talk about today. Like the enormous zucchini I have waiting to be picked. Or the fact that I actually did a bit of raspberry picking yesterday. (Remind me never to take my dog along again when I go berry picking. I feel like I learned that lesson last year, but it apparently didn't stick.) Or small things I've been doing lately to reduce our water usage. But no, it was not to be.
I broke my nose playing softball last night. I'm the catcher (usually) and while I did manage to catch this foul ball, it happened to be with my face instead of my glove. Will I ever forget the image of a ball coming straight at my face? Not sure. At least I didn't pass out, and I didn't have a concussion. (Shane played the "fiance card", as he calls it, and made me stay up watching a movie when we came home from the hospital, just to be sure.) Anyway, if you want to know what I look like, I resemble this a little too much for my own comfort:
I'm taking a couple of days off work to let the swelling go down. As I left the softball field I joked, "Hey, it's just an excuse to stay home all day and read!"
If you'll excuse me, the Vicodin has kicked in and my head is swimming. Movie time.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Crunch time

It might seem early to you, but in the past week or so I've noticed a certain nip in the air when I wake up for work. A hint that fall is rapidly approaching. We can generally expect the leaves around here to start changing in the last week or two of August, but the set-up for the change in seasons has already begun. Autumn is not only my favorite season (the colors! and that feel in the air, the almost-cold) but it's also the time of my rapidly approaching wedding.
Our friends' wedding this past weekend was a reminder of all the things we still have to do. Pick out music, coordinate with the caterer, set up hair/makeup/tuxes, etc. ad nauseum.
So how does my wedding fit into my goals of reducing waste, eating locally, and being affordable? Well, big parts of it don't. For one thing, I couldn't find any local caterers that source much of their food locally. The best we can really do for that is to pick seasonally appropriate food. I love our caterers, who offer things like seasonal fruits and vegetables. It's helpful to know that they're interested in that, too. (And buying seasonally really, REALLY helps with keeping costs down here.) I couldn't find locally sourced flowers, either, until after I'd contacted one of the florists. Now I'd just feel bad about cancelling that order.
I did find invitations that were both affordable and made from recycled paper. Of course, probably the greenest and most affordable invite would be an E-Vite, but somehow I didn't think my mom would go for that idea. (She hasn't wanted to contradict me in any ideas I've brought up, so she ends up pausing for a while and finally saying, "Well, you could do that. Or...." Amusing to me.) Another "green" idea is to do plantable invitations, which biodegrade and have seeds in them. It's a more permanent invitation because the flowers will remind people of your wedding. However, knowing what I know about invasive plants, and knowing that I'd be sending invites all over the country (and a few to the UK), I wasn't sure it was such a good or green idea.
Both our cake and our wedding favors are being made by friends. When you have friends as talented as ours (one's a pastry chef, the other got a degree in general culinary arts), use them! It's far more affordable and I'd much rather have our money go to friends. Plus, this way I know we're getting exactly what we want.
For some things, I get to console myself that at least we're renting items rather than buying them outright. When would we use them again? Linens will be provided by the catering company. Sound equipment will be provided by our reception location, and who needs a DJ when you have iPods and friends? (One of our friends has kindly agreed to MC the reception.)
We tried to go with mostly local companies. The only things, actually, that haven't been from smaller, local businesses are my dress and our rings. (I couldn't find a dress I liked at the one local dress shop, and rings were hideously expensive locally!) For everything else, we found out that local really is better. Since Fairbanks has unique challenges, locals have much more knowledge of what's needed.
As for budget, I tried to get some hard numbers out of my parents but that wasn't happening. So my outline for the budget was simple: don't put Mom and Dad in the poorhouse. It helps to stop looking at wedding magazines, which are just there to make you buy more stuff, and make it seem like you have to have all these things or, OMG, your wedding and therefore your life together won't be perfect!!!! The only wedding magazine I would recommend is "Real Simple", because it was just an overview of things that you should get (like, you know, someplace to hold the ceremony) and some ideas of things you could try. There were zero products in there for sale. As for everything else, I ask myself two simple questions. Will this make our wedding day better or more memorable in some way? Will this make our marriage stronger? If the answer to those is no, then it's not necessary and I won't get it. For instance, buying monogrammed silver cake servers isn't going to make our wedding any more special. I don't need to shell out $50 for something that I don't actually need. (And our friends who just got married have graciously offered to lend us theirs, which her mom bought for them. Ours will be the third wedding they've been in.)
One thing that we haven't gotten: a limo. Our ceremony and reception are at the same site, so we didn't think it would be worth it to get a limo. (And I'm not even sure if a limo could get out there. Maybe the Suburban limo, but who wants that monstrosity?) Plus, this gives our friends a chance to decorate our truck in time-honored tradition. I always think it's fun to see tin cans tied to the back, bows on the bumper, and "Just Married" scrawled on the windows.
Shane has set up one thing to make our wedding uniquely Alaskan. At my brother's wedding last summer he joked, "I want to have a pre-wedding moose hunt." Well, the time of year we (really, I...a reminder to myself that I need to compromise more) chose to get married is right at the beginning of moose hunting season. They're putting very strict limits on the hunt this year, but Shane and the guys will go the weekend before our wedding. If they get something, great. If not, not. It's more the fun of it, and the idea of a pre-wedding moose hunt. I'm thinking this should become family tradition.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Organic vs. Local

There are so many studies, commentaries, etc., on the virtues of local and organic foods. Organic foods don't have all the pesticides which are so bad for you (also, this), and eating more locally not only reduces the amount of petroleum used to get your food to the table it also increases the amount of nutrients in those foods because they haven't been lost over time. Of course, eating locally organic foods are the epitome of what foodies (myself included) look for. But what if you have to choose between the two? I've never yet found any consensus about which is better. I've read several doctors/nutritionists say that if you get nothing else organic, buying organic milk for children is one of the best choices you can make. And there's always the list of the dirtiest and cleanest produce, to help you choose which ones are worth buying organic and which might not be on a tight budget.
But what if you have to choose between organic or local? I don't think there's been a comprehensive study yet about which is better to choose. So which is more important, eating based on food miles or based on what chemicals you want to keep out of your body? For me, it depends on the food. This is a choice that Alaskans have to make less than most, since so few different foods are grown here. Sometimes when it is available in the grocery store, there's no organic option. (Finding organic celery is a nightmare during the winter!) Milk is the one thing that I've been struggling with. Not having kids, I'm not necessarily sticking to organic milk. I'll pick up either organic or local, depending on how I feel and where I am when I remember that I need milk. Price wise, they're virtually the same and they taste about the same. I am annoyed with the organic milk, though, for having a stupid plastic nozzle on the side. Since when is the regular waxed paper opening too difficult or not good enough? Unnecessary plastic. Grumble grumble.
Organic labeling can be costly for smaller farmers to get. They have to jump through hoops to get the certification, so it's not worth it to a lot of smaller operations. They might follow organic principles but without being able to label their foods as organic. It's always worth checking. And a lot of farmer's markets have rules about organic growing, so it's worth checking out the website of your local one. Or just ask the farmer's themselves. Around here, they're almost always selling the same produce at the same time. (I tend to buy one type of produce from a stall, then move to another for a different type of produce, just to spread my money around a bit.) Last summer I bought a head of broccoli and there was a sign there saying, "Be sure to wash your produce!" When I asked why, the farmer said that she fertilizes her field with cow manure, "and some people forget that they still need to wash it." I double-checked to make sure she didn't use pesticides and she seemed offended by the very idea. My kind of farmer.
Isn't it nice, being able to talk to the people who grow your food?

Deadheading and trimming

When I spoke about plants before, I forgot to mention the importance of deadheading and trimming said plants. These are two similar ideas, and both involve lopping of parts of the plant. Grab some scissors!
Deadheading is the process of removing the dead and dying leaves, flowers, and fruits of your plant. This is especially important for food producing plants,or plants in containers, since these dying parts of the plant still require nutrients that could instead be going to the food product. I'm terrible about remembering to do this. In fact, today was the first time this summer that I've remembered to deadhead my squashes! (Probably part of the reason their yield has been so miserable thus far: one zucchini.) My squashes are in containers, which means that they don't have deep soil to work with. The nutrients in the soil in those buckets are it, and I've been having to supplement with plant food. Even that hasn't been enough to up the yield, yet.
When deadheading, it's ok to be ruthless. Flowers that were still all right, but not at their prime, were clipped off without mercy. (Squash blossoms have very short lives, anyway. Also, I should grab some of those and make any of the myriad dishes that can be made with squash blossoms.) Any leaves that looked the least bit wilted or yellowed were treated the same. This will ensure that more of the limited nutrients are going to producing squash rather than just leaves and flowers that won't do me any good. I still feel like I could have--and probably should have--cut them back farther, but I'll see how they go now.
Trimming is also important. Plants are very optimistic by nature, often producing more than they can sustain. My tomatoes are a fantastic example. (Wish I had a picture here!) If the pots were set on the ground, they'd be several feet taller than I am. I had to rig very un-fancy string and tape to hold the tops up, since they outgrew their cages. In the wild, tomatoes grow along the ground so that their fruits are more accessible to bugs. And last year my one tomato fell over, but that didn't seem to harm it so I left it and it still gave me some nice big tomatoes. But these plants at work! Even watering them several times a week, and feeding them, they were starting to look wilted and I couldn't prop them up fast enough. So I got out the scissors the other day and cut back any branches that didn't have tomatoes or opened flowers. By the next day, they were back to looking supremely healthy, and I'm sure there will be more nutrients for the tomatoes now. Their fruit is tiny, but incredibly sweet. And I don't even like raw tomatoes!
My regular houseplants, like my violets, get the same treatment. If there are dead leaves or flowers on the plants, the rest of the plant is less healthy for having them there. You're doing the plant no favors by allowing it to drop dead leaves and flowers on its own.
I hope this information about plants is helpful. I can't say enough how important house plants are for health and happiness!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Not easy, but fun

We've been incredibly busy lately, working 4 10s last week so that we could take off Friday morning for our friends' wedding in Palmer. Thankfully, we found friends to carpool with so the economic and environmental toll of that trip were somewhat mitigated. (And it was more fun!) More on the wedding, and wedding stuff in general, later.
Shane's gone for more field work this week. He was frustrated by the fact that he had to drive back up from Palmer only to turn around and drive to Homer today, but he would have missed out on all that paid time if he'd stayed in Palmer. (And it'll be overtime, which is compensated at his regular rate of pay plus vacation time--we need the vacation time for our honeymoon!) But I'm trying to think of this as a week to get things done around here. The local raspberries--tiny and so sweet!--are ripening and I need to pick them while I can! I'll end up freezing most of them, because wild berries don't keep as well as cultivated ones. For tips on how to freeze just about any fruit or vegetable, I recommend this site. And in addition to making yummy things with them all winter (like smoothies, pies, coffee cakes, sauces, etc.) Shane re-discovered recently how good it is to use frozen fruit as ice cubes in drinks. It works well in almost any fruity drink as well as in drinks with clear liquors. (Gin and vodka are the two he's tried recently--I'm not a huge fan of the taste of alcohol so I don't drink much, but I had a sip and agreed it wasn't bad. High praise from me for a drink with alcohol.) Frozen nectarines worked really well, but even frozen rhubarb was pretty good.
My next concern is that we're starting to run out of freezer space! We have lots of meat and fish (just not enough to see us through all of next winter) and not so many fruits and vegetables. I'm working on those, though, and wondering where we're going to find the space for it all?
I suppose I should mention that I'm no longer cutting carbs out of my diet. Short-lived, right? My reasons for wanting to are still valid, but I realized that not only would I rather cut off my own arm than continue not eating bread, if I did keep going I'd whine a lot and irritate the crap out of Shane. Not sustainable (for me) and not worth it for either of us. I think I ate a whole loaf of (locally made, delicious!) bread by myself at the rehearsal dinner on Friday. :) (Don't worry, it was a small loaf!) So I need to make more bread tonight. I'm thinking honey-oat bread. Yum!
And since I'm not dieting, I've re-committed myself to more exercise. I've been taking the dog running, which she LOVES. (Maybe if I take her running enough she'll be too tired to misbehave while Shane's gone?) We went for a long run last night, which was wonderful after the long (5 hour) car ride. (I was stuck in the middle, both ways, the whole time.) But Pepper's old problem of bleeding paws came back. This happens sometimes, notably after the first snowfall of the year (it's better now that I have booties for her) or any time we go on an especially long ramble. She doesn't seem to mind, but it's sad to me. Tonight I have softball, so her paws will get a nice rest. I'll see if rubbing some lotion on her pads helps, too.
On the way to softball tonight I'll take out the recycling (it's been sooo long--no curbside pickup around here) and stop at one of the sports stores to get a resistance band. I told Shane, "Hey, then I could read while I work out!" He said, "Wow, you're trying to Americanize working out." To which I responded, "Silly, Americans don't read!" (Believe me, I'm trying to read enough to make up for everyone else's lack of reading!)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Are you going to eat that?

So, I have a confession to make. I hate leafy green vegetables. Which is probably a big part of the reason I'm having a hard time forcing myself to eat all kinds of veggies lately. They're so good for me, and I know this, and I will talk them up all day long (in part to convince myself of their goodness), but I'm not a huge fan of the taste. In fact, while eating my lunch salad yesterday I almost gagged! Apparently I've been eating too many of them straight and my taste buds decided they were done.
So I'm generally the kind of person who sneaks them into my own food. When we make pizza, I pile on the spinach with all of my other vegetable toppings, because they do a great job of covering up the spinach taste. The last time we made pizza, it was BBQ chicken and I told Shane, "I can't even taste the spinach!" He asked what was the point of it then and I answered, "To eat more spinach, silly."
I'm always trying to find more ways to add leafy greens into my diet without actually having to consume them straight. So I was very happy yesterday when egg wraps were brought to my attention. I'd totally forgotten about them, but they're so good (and good for you) and you can add just about anything. A great way of sneaking more leafy greens into your diet.
The one I made used garlic, green onions (when I brought them home from the farmer's market Shane asked, "Where did you get those? They're f---ing huge!"), and radish greens. I cooked all of this together until the radish greens were just a bit wilted, then added raw scrambled eggs until they were done cooking. Roll up in a whole-wheat tortilla, add some cheese (I used parmesan, but I think cheddar would have been yummy too) and ta-da! Really fast, really tasty and nutritious meal. Which is good when you have to rush off to stuff in the evening. :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

New toys and ripened berries

Shane bought a bike this weekend. And I don't mean a pedal bike. We are now in possession of a motorcycle. Part of me just thinks !!! when it pops into my head. (So expensive...dangerous...is Shane going to be careful?...so much fun....) But I think it was our first date when Shane first mentioned that he really, really wanted a motorcycle, and how could I say no now when he brought it up? For the past three weeks it's been about all he's talked about. "It gets about 40 miles to the gallon better gas mileage than the truck. See? It'll save on gas!" Actually, that part is true. 50-60 miles per gallon compared to...14? And it really is fun, I have to admit. Shane's using his snow machine helmet, and the guy we bought it from gave us his old helmet so that's what I've been using. (Don't worry! We are being safe, if not practical.) It's too big, so we'll have to sell it and get a smaller one. But with a winter hat on underneath, it's working fine for now. I was worried how my mom would react, but she seemed fine with it. Shane's mom (who rides a motorcycle herself) was the one full of admonishments to be careful.
I took the dog out for a long walk on Saturday evening and had a pleasant surprise--the first of the wild raspberries are ripening! They grow along our usual walking path to the University (Pepper gets to run free in the fields when we go there, and loves it!) so I picked a few of them. This week is going to be nutty, since we're both working 4 10-hour days, but I'll make time to get out there and pick some of these sweet little berries. Yum! I need to make sure I get enough to freeze, since there's not much better than raspberries in winter. And I think I know which friends I'll call to come berry picking with me....
This diet, btw, is killing me. I'll find myself staring off into space and when I shake myself out of it, I'll realize that I was thinking of a warm piece of buttered toast. Shane keeps laughing at me and shaking his head. When I had trouble falling asleep last night and he asked if there was anything he could do, I mumbled, "Make me toast!" He said no. (Not that we have any bread in the house right now, anyway.) On the flip side, I'm sick of salad. At first, I was so excited to say, "I'm going outside to pick a salad!" (I actually had to buy lettuce at HGMarket over the weekend because my poor little plants can't keep up!) But I've gone from eating zero salads per month to sometimes eating 2 salads per day. So I'm fighting off being sick of it by mixing in lots of things. Carrots, onions, radishes, dandelion greens (which are bitter, but can hardly be tasted when mixed with lots of other things), cucumbers, radish greens (yep, you can eat the greens), fruit, cheese, tomatoes... I'm going to have to get creative, here, about what to do with greens because I'm thinking I want to start cutting back to only one salad per day. One thing I found to do with radish greens is saute them in either butter or olive oil with a bunch of garlic. Sounds like a yummy side dish to me! I'll let you know how it tastes.
And of course, I'm eating tons of summer fruit. We had some nectarines that started getting moldy after the first day, so I cut all the good parts off and froze them for smoothies over the winter. Yum! Added to the raspberries I'll pick, wild blueberries and cranberries from the farmer's market and my future mother-in-law, winter smoothies will pack tons of good things.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Unsustainable camping

Well, I promised myself that I'd relate my failures as well as my triumphs and now it's time to confess. The camping trip we took for the 4th of July weekend was basically a sustainable disaster! Very fun, but... I don't think driving down there was terrible (although that's when having a more fuel efficient car would really help--we went over 460 miles just one way!) because we drive so rarely. It just really hurt our wallets.
I've gone camping with Shane's family for the 4th every year since he and I have been dating. I LOVE his relatives, they're so much fun! But the way they camp involves lots of disposable utensils and paper plates, roughly 1000 coolers full of food (which need to be carried out there and back, this time in a boat--the weight means more gas is used), a grill, a full-sized air mattress and a little generator to pump it up, etc. Lots of tarps, which can be necessary (it was raining so hard all Friday night when we got there!) but aren't the sturdiest things. But since I'm not the one arranging the camping, and don't usually contribute food (I think Sally would be offended if I brought food for us) I don't feel that I have a right to criticize.
However, there are things that I can do to mitigate my impact on the earth while we're camping. Next year I will bring my own utensils and plate, for one thing. That way I don't need to use the disposable items. (Which I tried to re-use, but they're hard to keep track of with that many people around.) I can also look into buying something tarp-like that is a bit sturdier and less plastic-y. I did make sure to pack as light as possible.
Other things that can be done (not necessarily on trips with Shane's family, but just in general):
1. Cook over a campfire! You don't need a grill. Half the fun of camping is cooking with an open fire. Some of the best salmon I've ever had was cooked with just a bit of lemon pepper and a few lemon slices, wrapped in foil and stuffed in a fire until it was done. Yum.
2. Make sure to only bring as much food as is really needed. In general, people bring a lot of food to go camping and this weighs a lot. Whatever motor vehicle gets you out there needs to use more gas to do so. Sally packs like she'll be feeding an army for the next year, which means lots of choices, but I've noticed that people tend to stick with the same foods when camping. We don't need an entire Costco-sized block of cheese because it will never get used.
3. Use compact stuff. Shane and I laughed about the air mattresses because our tent was bursting at the seams. We both ended up saying that we preferred the little air mattresses which inflate by themselves, but that wasn't an option on this trip since we don't have any and the parents hadn't brought theirs. It was either use the air mattress or sleep on the rough ground. Ouch!
4. Clean up after yourself. We used a bag for toilet paper, but there was toilet paper and, even more disgustingly, tampons all over the woods. Ewww!
5. Leave electronic devices at home. I turned my cell phone off for the weekend and left it in the tent, which served the double purpose of keeping me away from it and keeping it safe. Spencer destroyed his new phone with a fall in the lake and then absentmindedly putting the battery back in while it was still wet. I've also seen I don't know how many kids camping with their parents, sitting by the fire playing video games on a handheld device. Seriously? What's the point of camping?

Shane and I would love to go camping more often, but right now the only camping gear we really have is a tent. We still need sleeping bags (trying to find good ones--like 0 degree bags) and pads, some camping utensils and plates/cups, but I feel like that's all we really need now. It doesn't take much to go camping and have a great time.
If you have any advice about other ways to make camping greener, I'd love to hear them!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Enriched foods

We always think of enriched foods as being good for us. How could adding vitamins not be good, right? Except that there's been a lot of people (mostly doctors and scientists) lately who are questioning what, exactly, goes on in the enriching process.
First of all, there's the fact that most enriched foods, like white flour, need to be enriched because they are so lacking in nutrients that they are nutritionally non-existent. What's ridiculous about this is that they're lacking nutritional value because they've been processed and refined down to the point that all of the good stuff has been taken out of them. During WWII the U.S. government required flour mills to start enriching flour because of the lack of nutritional value. (White flour comes from the endosperm of the wheat grain, which means that the hull and the germ or seed have been taken out. The seed is where most of the nutrients are actually contained, hence the reason "whole wheat" is good for you. It has all the parts, including the good ones.) How ridiculous and inefficient is it when taking out all the good parts, and then adding some of them back in to a lesser degree is actually worthwhile and profitable? Do we really want to reward such inconsistencies in the system? Because I don't think it's worthwhile or profitable for the consumers, just the companies. (See my references here and here. I'm sorry, I didn't have time to poke around and find better sources.)
The other part of this equation is with bioavailability, or how much of something your body can actually use. For example, it's silly to have more than 100% of your daily need for vitamin C because it's water soluble and will just flush right out of your system. So the supplements that tout their 1000% of vitamin C just make very expensive pee. Similarly, most of the enriched nutrients in foods aren't there in a way that can be actually used. That synthetic vitamin D that's added to milk? It's usually D2, which hasn't been shown to have any health benefits and might actually have some downsides. What we produce when in the sun is really D3. (I looked, but had a hard time finding scholarly articles that dealt with anything other than D3, which should say something about how useless D2 is. However, I did find this article saying that synthetic D3 in organic milk is useless when the cows are exposed to sunlight. You might not be able to get to it except on a University computer, though, since it's through a website the library subscribes to.) There is a synthetic version of this, but it's not used in most enriched products or supplements. (And I tend to side with those who are skeptical about these things, because they're the ones NOT trying to sell something.) Still think Wonderbread is a good choice? Or fortified sugary kids' cereals? I know a lot of people think, "Well, at least they're getting some vitamins with all that sugar." They're not.
The other truly horrifying example that I can come up with right now is iron. If you care to watch this video, you'll see iron filings pulled out of cereal. (He covered the label, but it's easy enough to figure out that he used Total.) Umm, I'm neither a scientist nor a doctor, but even I know that eating iron filings isn't good for my body. It makes you wonder, what else is in these foods? And why on earth would this be legal? Michael Pollan famously made the point that finding real foods is getting more and more difficult each year due to the prevalence of tasty "food-like products". When you start actually looking into these foods, what he said makes more and more sense. Here's another video that doesn't talk about enrichment, but which makes it very, very clear that a lot of the stuff we buy from supermarkets (including foods that need to be enriched) are not actually food.
It isn't just adult and children's food, though, that gets this kind of treatment. Melamine (a substance that mimics protein and has been used to "fortify" foods, despite the fact that it's toxic) has been found in baby food all over the world, including the U.S. (The FDA has said that "trace amounts are safe"--but once again, it seems like allowing even trace amounts of toxins in baby food is a bad idea. Seriously. Toxics in baby food, and the FDA says they're safe, even though they've killed several children that we know of. Is it any wonder I plan to breastfeed my kids when I have them?
Almost as bad, melamine has also been found in a number of pet foods. A lot of veterinarians are now urging pet owners not to feed their pets any dry dog food, and I've read several books/articles saying to avoid even wet dog food if possible. I've still been giving our animals pet foods, but I'm more liberal now with giving out people-food treats like fat off our meat and fish leftovers. The 2007 incident involving melamine in pet food killed over 4100 dogs. The next time it happens (there's always a next time, with companies trying to maximize profit) I don't want either of our pets to be in those statistics. And who's to say that long-term exposure to a toxin won't have other harmful effects that we don't realize is from toxicity? Like cancer? My last dog died of cancer, wasting away for months before we put her down. I don't ever want to see an animal go through that again.

Eating peaches: a messy love affair

I feel a little silly admitting this (partly because I've never gone on a diet before) but I have put myself on a low-carb diet. You have to understand, I'm the type of person who a) hates diets and b) LOVES carbohydrates. My mom used to call me a pastatarian and complained that she couldn't feed me if there wasn't some kind of bread product involved. So this is not something I've taken on lightly, easily, or without involving Shane as my outside police. (It helps that he really doesn't eat much bread. All those pictures of lovely bread that I've made? Yep, I'm really the only one who ate those unless sandwiches were made. That's a LOT of bread.) And yes, I'm already fantasizing about the bread products I couldn't have. I fell asleep last night thinking about French toast....
Anyway, this is also not a "meat diet" as some people think of Atkins-like diets. (I'm not doing Atkins, just cutting out...basically everything I really love to eat.) I'm not really going to be eating more meat products, just replacing all of my yummy bread with slightly less yummy vegetables. (Did I mention that I really love bread? Are you getting that idea?) Lots of salad (which is, after all, why I planted the lettuce--to make myself eat more salad), lots of fruits, a little bit of meat and dairy. We've been hearing for a long time now that plant-based diets are the way to go, and until now I've been able to tell myself that bread comes from wheat, which is a plant, so it counts! But I don't really think that's what's meant by "plant-based".
This will be easy enough in the summertime, when fruits are both abundant and, you know, good. The past couple of weeks, I've bought enough raspberries, strawberries, and nectarines that I thought I'd be sick from all the fruit. (Haven't been yet, though.) But I'm gorging myself on this abundance with the knowledge that in just a few short weeks, the produce will go back to what it usually is around here: hard enough to be classified as lethal weapons. (I swear, if you started a food fight in winter here, with fruit, people would be dying left and right.) It has to be shipped from so far away that for most of the year, fruit goes from "hard as a rock and not ripe" to "you missed your 10-second window and it's moldy and gross now". So we tend to eat lots of dried fruit in the winter. And apples, since they keep a bit better than most fruits. Yes, it does get very boring, taste-wise. Can you see why I need to gorge myself on fruits when they're more than just tasteless little deathballs?
Why did I cut out carbs? Well, for one thing they pack a lot of energy. There's a reason marathoners "carbo-load" before races. But if you don't use that energy right away, it gets stored as fat. And with my desk job, I don't exactly use all that energy. At least in the summer. I know I use a bit more during the winter (it takes a lot of energy for the body to keep itself warm, even with longjohns to help) but still not as much as I'd like to believe.
I know this will make me a healthier person. I'm not exactly happy about it, but I will be if I actually manage to lose a bit of weight. I also have motivation in the form of jeans that are just this side of tight. When I wear them, it reminds me why I'm giving up some of my favorite foods. Although, to be fair I'm replacing a lot of that with things like peaches and nectarines, which are also in my top foods. And they're so good right now! The flesh falls off the pit, and the juice dribbles down my chin, all over my arms.... Shane laughs at me because I'm such a messy eater, and always have been. But when it comes to peaches, I don't even care. So good!
The other part of this is that Shane and I have made a pact to exercise more. We sort of slacked off the last few weeks, being so busy. My other outside motivation to exercise is that our dog turned eight. She's becoming a little old lady! I have been noticing over the past year that she gets tired more easily than she used to, and her paws sometimes seem to ache when we go for long walks, etc. But she acts like such a puppy when we walk, bouncing and barking and wagging her tail. I want her to stay healthy, so I will be taking her for at least a short walk every day. (If I write it here, I have to do it!)
To start my day off right today, I made a smoothie last night. Apparently, I need to be more patient when it comes to smoothie-making. The frozen fruit and juice weren't blending fast enough for me and it ended up like this:
Shane: What was that noise?
Me: Nothing
Shane: *Walking into the kitchen* Um, how did you get it on the ceiling?
Me: Ummm...
Shane: You broke your spoon. And didn't you yell at me when I tried that with the plastic spoon?
Me: Maybe....
Shane: *Sigh* We'll have to paint the wall, won't we? And the ceiling.

So, it turns out, berry juice stains white walls! Who knew? And I'm down one of my nice bamboo spoons. On to day two....

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


I won't get into our July 4th camping weekend just yet. I'm still trying to clean up and don't have time! But here are some lovely things that I came home to. :)

I'm looking forward to having all of these squashes ripen!!