Monday, September 29, 2008

A REAL workout

Over the weekend, I joined a gym. Today was my first real experience working out at a gym and having a trainer follow me around to give me guidance. I think it makes ALL the difference! When I was working on the weights, she said to me, "This won't be your whole work-out. You're working new muscles here, so we'll just do a bit and get you up to the whole thing." ::bug eyes:: I already "feel it," but it's a good feeling it.

First I did 10 minutes of really fast walking on the treadmill, and then I did 10 minutes on the elliptical, and finally I did the recumbent bike for about 8 minutes.

I did LOTS of weights and machines, and I don't remember what they all were. There was a lot of working the arms, the legs, the stomach--all really good stuff. I finished it with doing a short 5 minute spurt on the elliptical again.

I'm excited about trying out some of the classes--especially the yoga classes. But I think I might branch out and try things like kickboxing too.

Today at work, one of my co-workers and I decided to become accountability partners with what we eat and how we exercise. I think we might even work out together every now and then too. We both started a keeping a little booklet as a "food diary" to help us review our eating habits and such. I think it'll be really great!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

This has been an eventful weekend! Thursday evening, Josh and I held an "Office Premier Party." We started out the evening at Chili's, and I'm very proud to say that I did NOT OVER-EAT, and I checked the nutritional guides ahead of time and ate accordingly. :-) The party was great. Beforehand, I bought some Barbie dolls from Goodwill and spray-painted them gold for the "Dundette Awards" for everyone there. Josh came up with some catchy awards such as Kevin's "Leaky Roof Landlord Award," and everyone seemed to get a kick out of it. We even made Jello with mini staplers and calculators in them. We also played Office Trivia during the commercials and snacked on soft pretzels. :-D

Friday night a bunch of us went to Notre Dame's midnight drum circle. I hadn't gone since I was a freshman, so I thought it would be fun. It's not exactly "my thing," but I did enjoy it and enjoy being with people. It was fun to see all the excitement and pretend like I knew the cheers. ;-)

Saturday I went to a baby shower for my friend Amy. I DID overindulge with all of the yummy snacks Jineane prepared, I must admit! We had cute petit fours, grapes, and bread squares with an amazing cheese dip or olive oil. Mmmm I just couldn't stop! I tried to make up for it later by going to the gym. I worked on the treadmill, elliptical, and the recumbent bike. Then a bunch of us got together at Kevin's house and just hung out and I was presented with more snacks. Ugh. But I mostly munched on yummy apples and a few cracked wheat crackers.

This morning, I've skipped church. Yes, I'll admit it. I don't advocate doing that very often, and I enjoy church. But this morning, I just felt like I needed a day to myself. I got up around 9 a.m. and I did a 50 calorie warm up on my elliptical, and then I grabbed my dumbbells and took a 20 minute walk around the neighborhood. It was such a nice and cool morning. I loved listening to the little creeks and hearing the birds chirp. However, I almost got pummeled by a big green nut of some sort. They're the size of golf balls, and they're falling out of this one type of tree. It made a big, loud "THUD/SNAP" on the ground right behind me just seconds after I'd taken a step from the very place it landed. I eyed it for a second and thought about how badly that might have hurt if it had decided to crash onto my head.

I've never fasted in my life before, whether it be for religious or health reasons. When my youth group did the whole "30 Hour Famine," I was never able to do it for health reasons. But all that stuff is cleared up, and today I'm attempting to do a water and tea fast. I'll probably keep it up for the duration of the day, and towards the end of the evening, I think I'll have a banana and crackers or something small like that so I don't go to bed on an empty stomach. Today will be filled mostly with reading to catch up on my homework and prepare for Wednesday's quiz in Crisis Intervention!

For the record, I've lost 13 pounds so far. :-D

Friday, September 26, 2008

Engagement Pictures!

You can see all of them in the same blog that I linked for the slide show. I'll just post a few of them here. :-)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Crisis Intervention

My favorite college course this semester is probably my crisis intervention class. I love it because it is so applicable to every day life. Everyone needs to be valued and feel important, and everyone goes through a crisis at some point in their life. I've taken several human services/counseling/psyc classes, and this is by far one of my favorites. Tonight's topics felt really potent.

First we discussed mental illness in relation to law enforcement and those who are incarcerated. It was really interesting to study the reactions of policemen who have crisis/mental health training compared to those who don't. There's a high percentage of mentally ill people incarcerated for misdemeanor crimes by officers with no intervention training, and the number drops dramatically (7% I believe) for arrests when an officer DOES have special training. The difference is the ability to recognize mental illness and take the alternative route of helping the offender into a rehabilitation center.

We also did a study of the mentally ill who are in prisons. It's amazing how prisons are just holding spots for people--the majority are not bent on rehabilitation whatsoever. If a person with a mental illness does not have money or resources, then they don't get the medications they need, and their disease normally just deteriorates the person, when some simple medications would really fix a lot of the issues going on.

We segwayed into the issue of homelessness by talking about how many people who are mentally ill become homeless. It's amazing to hear the stories and situations. We watched another amazing video clip about homeless people who are mentally ill. In the video was a really striking and convicting statement:

"Homeless people who are mentally ill are worse off than stray dogs. At least stray dogs are picked up and given shelter. We don't even do that for these human beings."

I was really moved and bothered by that statement. I guess I never paid much attention to the issue of mental illness and the chain reaction that can happen in our society. It's amazing what a broken system we have.

I love my class because it opens my eyes to the worlds of other people and situations outside of my own life. It gets me out of my bubble. I feel like it also really helps me prepare for talking to people on a day-to-day basis.

We had to do this exercise where we got in pairs, and for 5 minutes, we had to role play a person in a crisis calling a hotline, and the other person was the hotline crisis worker. It was SO HARD. When I was portraying the crisis worker, a solution that seemed like an "well, duh" situation became me stammering and wondering, "How do I convey this concept to a person in the midst of confusion, pain, and possibly even danger?" Or better yet, "How do I guide this conversation to help this person be able to come to a safe and wise solution on their own and in their own terms?" It was NOT EASY. You can't just go into the advice-giver, "this is cut and dry, now do it" mentality. I've really been forced to look through the eyes and minds of other people lately and get outside myself. It's been challenging, but SO GOOD for me.

I'm not intending to become a crisis worker, so I guess I'm just really hoping to leave this class a better friend, a better wife, daughter, co-worker, and overall, better human being with a greater understanding of others and how to be a safe place for people in crisis.

Man, I really love this class!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A (healthy!) chocolate fix

Well, if cayenne, ginseng, Vit C, Zinc, and all the other vitamins out there can't cure a cold, then at least there's CHOCOLATE!

I've mentioned the blog Eat, Live, Run a few times before. The author of the blog is a woman named Jenna, and I read ELR on a daily basis. I've discovered several new foods and vitamins thanks to her! A few days ago, she posted her own recipe for vegan brownies. It looked awesome and really easy, so I decided to try and make my own tonight. They turned out fantastic!

However, I can't seem to ever leave any recipe completely alone. The one thing I changed in Jenna's recipe is that I used 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour. Other than that, I followed it exactly. Here is Jenna's Vegan Brownie recipe:

Makes 12 brownies

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa (preferably organic. I like Green and Black)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cup soy milk
2 tbsp pure maple syrup

1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray an 8”8” baking dish with nonstick spray.
2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the chocolate chips and stir until combined.
3. Add the olive oil, soymilk and maple syrup and stir gently only until combined. Don’t over mix.
4. Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 45-50 minutes. Let cool before slicing into 12 squares.

For my oven, the time was too long. It was in there for about 45 minutes when I noticed the sides were beginning to pull in and the top was cracking (you can see that in the picture), so I quickly pulled it out. However, I don't think that hindered the yummy-ness factor in the least. Jenna claims that a serving of these brownies have approx. 200 calories as opposed to 400 calories in a "traditional" brownie consisting of eggs, butter, etc.

She was right that it is a bit more of a cake-like texture and not the flat and gooey brownie that you're probably used to. But I don't think this recipe sacrifices taste OR texture AT ALL. I think this recipe will become a norm for me when I make brownies.


(Click on the picture of the slice to get a bigger and fuller view of it. It looks even more enticing when you can see it in all its detail and glory! YUM!)

Hmmm.... no title here

"Kelly, do you realize we only have 10 weekends left before we're married?" --Josh

::gulp:: Cripes! Never has a statement implemented such a mixture of excitement AND fear inside of me! I'm so busy as it is right now that I feel like my head could fall off from the weight of all the thoughts, plans, to-do lists, and over-due to-due lists bogging down my mind. Towards the end of October, my friend Jineane and I are going to go shopping for "the little things" that are necessary in a wedding like an aisle runner, spaklers for leaving the reception, etc etc. There's still so much that needs to be done, like a meeting with the head of the reception hall, shopping for a flower girl dress for Emily, honeymoon things, etc etc. and if I keep thinking about it, this post will become a to-do list! ;-)

The Office season premiere is this Thursday evening!!!!! I am so excited to the point of flipping out. Josh and I are throwing a party in its honor with some of our friends. Yesterday, I worked hard at shopping for the necessary supplies, food, etc. We've got some fun and cute things planned--I hope people have fun! Ah, yes. I can't wait to dive into the Jim and Pam saga again!

Last night and this morning, I've felt really sick. I hope it's not a cold or anything long term. My eyes have felt sore and heavy, my appetite has deceased, and I feel so much fatigue that sometimes I seem lightheaded and woozy. I've taken all of my regular vitamins and supplements, a lot of which are supposed to aid with colds and the immune system. However, I think I'm going to try to find a recipe to make tonight that contains both ginger and garlic because those are also two helpful herbs, and I'll probably drink my Ginseng/Green tea tonight too. Mmmm.... any excuse for extra tea.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Recipe Review: Homemade Tortillas & Vegetarian Enchiladas!

I love Saturdays, because it's a day when I actually have the opportunity to cook! I'll normally cook on Saturday and make a large amount of the food for leftover lunches throughout the week. It's a good time saver!

This morning I started out by making homemade tortilla shells. I'm trying to get away from bleached and enriched flour, so I thought I'd use the organic whole wheat flour I bought to make my own shells! I found the recipe I used here. One weird thing about this recipe is that I cut it down to yield twenty servings. I rolled these babies as thin as I could, and I got seven medium size tortillas out of the dough. So if anyone wants to use this recipe, I would plan accordingly. The recipe I'll post here is for the original "60 servings." Here it is:


* 5 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 tablespoons shortening
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 1/2 cups boiling water


1. Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt in large bowl. Cut in shortening to resemble cornmeal. Add water slowly, mixing with your hands to make a soft dough. You may not need all the water.
2. Knead a few minutes on floured surface until smooth and elastic. Lubricate top with oil, put back in bowl and let rest, covered for 10 minutes.
3. Divide into small balls the size of golf balls and proceed to roll out into size and thickness you prefer.
4. Cook on top of stove over medium heat using a cast iron grill or heavy skillet until top is slightly bubbly then turning on opposite side for a minute or two.
5. Keep stacked and warm inside a clean dish towel.

They turned out really tasty! I think it's something I'll make on a continual basis just to have. I like them a lot better than the store-bought ones anyway.

Then I went on to make the filling for the enchiladas. I sort of just used things that I found around the house. Earlier in the morning I pressed a whole package of tofu to squeeze out of some the water. For the filling, I started by caramelizing a chopped onion in olive oil on the stove. While I did that, I steamed some broccoli. I added cubed tofu to the onions, chopped broccoli, chopped carrots, cilantro, parsley, fresh sage, and oregano. While that was in the saute pan, I worked on the sauce. (I also added a little bit of cheese afterwards when I was placing the filling into the tortilla shells.)

The recipe I used for the sauce was more so a mixture of a bunch of recipes I found that I combined together. Here are the ingredients that I used:

1 t. cayenne pepper
2 T. cumin
3 t. flour
1 t. oregano
1 t. parsley
2 cloves garlic
1 t. pepper
2 1/2 c. vegetable stock

I would actually recommend only using 1/2 t. cayenne pepper. Although I liked it the way it was, it was on the high end of hot and spicy for me. You make this just like any sauce--combine the ingredients (except the cheese) and boil it till the flour makes it thicken. Then you add the cheese into the sauce to melt. The tortillas should be filled and lines up in a casserole dish and then just pour this sauce over everything.

I let it bake for about 28 minutes, and it made the house smell REALLY good!

Even my mother liked it, despite the fact that she was wary of the tofu! ;-) I think it's something I'll make again. It was really filling and I loved the full flavor of all the spices. Between filling the shells and the sauce, I used a whole brick of cheese. Even though it was made to feed 6 people, I think that was a bit much, and I'll probably use less next time.

Because the tortilla shells weren't pre-made, this took me a LONG time. The entire morning, as a matter of fact. However, I think that if I have the shells already made, it will go a lot quicker next time.

Oh! In other news, Josh and I met with the wedding planner a few days ago, and things are coming along really well! There's still so much to be done, but things are starting to fall into place! We took our engagement pictures last week with our photographer Katie from Guided Light Photography. (The link is to her blog where you can see a slide show of our pictures!) We've seen the pictures, and absolutely love them! They're so fun and carefree--totally us! She was fantastic, and I'm so excited!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Shopping Excursion

It's not secret I've been addicted to learning about healthy living, organic foods, herbs, and creative recipes lately. Today I went on a shopping extravaganza, but this time is wasn't for clothes--it was for FOOD and VITAMINS! I spent some quality time in Harmony Market and the Vitamin Shoppe this afternoon.

Lately, I've learned a bit more about the dangers and plain old health-depletion of bleached and enriched flour. I've come to believe that whole-grain, non-bleached, organic, etc etc flour is the way to go. So I bought just that!

I also bought some organic brown rice to make up a rice melody to put in lunch containers for work.

I'm a BIG fan of Mac 'n' Cheese. It's always been one of my favorites--especially my mother's homemade version. So I thought I'd try Annie's brand of organic white cheddar pasta.

I originally wanted to buy more of the Clif Z-Bars. They're fantastic organic "energy bars" that are basically full of oats and grains and taste really good with protein and fiber in it. In neither store did I find any. So I settled on a non-organic alternative. ::shrugs:: (I must admit, it tastes really good! 12g of protein!)

On to the herbs and vitamins! (Told you I bought a lot)

I wanted to try a new multi-vitamin for women. I absolutely love the blog "Eat, Live, Run." Recently, the author of the blog, Jenna, tried a new multi-vitamin that really intrigued my interest. It's an all organic vitamin, which eases my mind. It has adequate amounts of the various vitamins, AND.... get this! It's comprised of FOOD! Yes, FOOD! You get two servings of fruit and vegetables in this multi-vitamin! Cool, or what? I'm very excited about them. They're called "Her Daily Nutrition" by Real Food Organics:

I also bought the Cayenne pepper capsules like I said I would in my previous post. I'm curious to see if I notice an effect from them. I also invested in some fennel seed capsules because fennel seeds have been known to help with your digestive system, and some believe it fights against cancer. And an interesting side note--not that I'm a mother or anything--but it's also believed that it increases and helps the production of breast milk in nursing mother's.

And finally, I also bought some St. John's Wort. Many people who know me have seen over the years that I have roller coaster emotions and I don't feel it's a secret to say that I've even ventured into the counseling services that my school offers on more than one occasion. The psychologist there diagnosed me with SAD and she wanted to refer to me to see someone more permanent and even consider taking low dosed of anti-depressant medicine. That wasn't something that I really cared to do for various reasons, especially since this is a "seasonal" issue.

Instead, I've researched some more "natural" options to help balance out mood. One of those is to exercise more. Also, exposure to sunlight really helps, which is why I've tried to spend more time out of doors. I've found outlets for my frustrations, such as journaling, or even taking on a new hobby like my study of herbs is a good outlet. Finally, there are herbs that have been known for a long time to be a more natural version of mood balancers. One of those is St. John's Wort. It is known for helping issues such as depression, anxiety, and sleeping disorders.

HOWEVER... I GREATLY caution people when considering to take St. John's Wort. I am not on any medications of any sort right now, so I feel it is a safe option for me. However, SJW is known to slow down or inhibit the effectiveness of various drugs and medicines including something as simple as birth control pills, antidepressants, medicines used to combat HIV and Cancer and other things. So for anyone considering beginning SJW supplements, I would encourage you to examine any medications or conditions you may have and be positive about any possible interactions before you start.

Josh saw this evening how many "evening supplements" I was taking, and he said to me, "Kelly, you are going to become one great big pill! That's not natural!" I laughed with him, because technically no, it's not "natural" to ingest your cayenne, fennel, and other vitamins in the forms of gel pills. I believe that the best way to absorb your vitamins and herbs in through the foods they're found in. And I am making more and more efforts to do that every day by choosing good foods, unadulterated foods, and by adding herbs and spices into my diet.

However, I realize that despite my efforts, it's still a very hard thing to get EVERYTHING you need at an optimal level in a Western diet and a busy Western schedule. In a way, all these supplements are "half natural," I would say. Because everything is a safe and natural substance that I eat every day. It's just that I've found I need to supplement what I do naturally take in with even more of it in pill form because I recognize what I get may not always be enough.

I actually feel better than I ever have before now that I've started to become more health conscious. I realize I'm still not at an optimal level of health, but I see myself getting there! And that's been REALLY encouraging!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

For the love of Herbs

I don't know what it is about herbs, but I absolutely LOVE them. I love they way they look, the way they smell, I love learning what health benefits they bring, I'd love to have a garden of fresh herbs some day, and I put them in about every single food I make. When I first discovered herbs, they were dried, chopped, an in plastic bottles in my mother's cabinet. My favorite place to put herbs is still on sandwiches. I discovered fresh herbs (novel idea, no?) and became even more elated.

Today I made a haphazard turkey wrap with herbs in them. I chopped up some fresh parsley, and cilantro from the veggie drawer in the refrigerator and sprinkled them on some turkey in a tortilla wrap. Then I went outside and broke off three leaves from my mother's white sage plant and roughly chopped it to add to the wrap. I also have a newfound love for cayenne pepper, so I couldn't help but sprinkle some of that on there too, and then I topped it off with a slice of swiss cheese and I let it sit in the George Foreman grill for the sole purpose of the cool grill marks. :-D heehee It was REALLY full flavored, and I'm not sure if the average person would like this combination, but I loooooved it.

I'm such a cilantro fan.

Not to mention, it's really good for you! It helps to detox metals in your body and acts as a "blood cleaner," and it also helps to control blood sugar and fight inflammation.

Sage is also really good for you because it also acts as an anti-inflammatory. A lot of people use sage to help with the swelling and pains of arthritis, and sage tea can be used to relieve a sore throat or an upset stomach.

Lately, I've been really fascinated by cayenne pepper, and I'm trying to learn more about it. I've read that cayenne pepper is good for your heart and blood flow, because it helps to get your blood moving, and it's also important to take cayenne pepper with your OTHER herbs, because it helps to bring out more of the benefits of those herbs, and it's also very good for your digestive system, which consequently, can also aid in weight management.

I've seen cayenne pepper capsules in health food stores. Although I firmly believe that if you can get your vitamins, herbs, and other health benefits straight from eating the food, cayenne can take a while to get used to, so I'm considering buying some while I work up my tongues heat tolerance!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Recipe Review! Moroccan Couscous

I have yet to reach the point of being very creative with my own recipes, so I normally look up an ingredient I'm interested in on the Internet and make a variation of someone else's creation. Today, I was in the mood for couscous, and I found an awesome recipe for Moroccan Couscous.

It calls for so many spices, and the cayenne pepper definitely gave it a hot flavor, but the raisins it called for offset it with a sweetness once you bit into one of them. Here's the original recipe, and I'll show point out the alterations I ended up making:

* 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
* 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
* 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
* 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
* 1 red, green, or yellow bell pepper, cut into 1" pieces
* 2 zucchinis, halved lengthwise and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
* 1/2 cup golden raisins
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* grated zest of one orange
* 1 (14.5 ounce) can low sodium garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
* 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
* 1/2 cup orange juice
* 1 1/2 cups couscous
* 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

1. Place a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Stir in the cumin, ginger, cloves, cayenne, cardamom, coriander, and allspice; gently toast until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in oil and onion, cook until softened. Stir in the bell pepper, and zucchini; cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the raisins, salt, zest, and garbanzos.
2. Pour in the chicken broth and orange juice; turn heat to high and bring to a boil. When the mixture is boiling, stir in the couscous and remove from heat; cover, and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork, and fold in chopped mint.

For the spices, I didn't have any cardamom or coriander, so I just didn't add those, but I did add a little bit of sage. I ended up using a bit more olive oil than the recipe called for because I was worried that the spices weren't wet enough and would burn in the pan. I had no peppers or zucchinis, so I simply left them out. (But I don't care for peppers anyway.) I also didn't have orange juice, so what I did is I made 2 cups of chicken broth to make up for the lacking liquid, but I did have some orange flavoring that I put into the recipe, however, I don't think I put in nearly enough. The reviews of I read of this recipe seemed to have a general feel that the orange in the original recipe was too overpowering anyway. Because I didn't have the sweetness and natural sugars of the orange juice, I left out the mint leaves, because in my experience, biting down on a bit of mint is a very bitter taste, and I knew I no longer had the sweet/bitter balance.

Although I know that especially without the peppers and orange my version wouldn't taste like the original one, it was still very very good! I didn't feel that it lacked in flavor at all! One of the things I love about couscous is it is so versatile and easy to make. Breakfast couscous is also really awesome--by just adding cinnamon, honey, and raisins, it's a very sweet meal. I took a picture, but it's a bit blurry, and the couscous looks a bit more white than it actually was. The chicken broth made it a nice brown color. One last thing I'd say about this recipe is that I, personally, would add some more raisins. Maybe 3/4th cups instead.

Mmmmm. This is the perfect thing to make extra of and put it in Tupperware containers to take to work. Loved it.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Saturday delights--all about food

My life has been a whirlwind lately. Poor Josh has had to suffer the effects of my chaotic life by bearing the weight of my irritability, crying breakdowns, and babbling outburts of confusion. But today... today, all is calm and quiet, and I can take a break.

Somebody once said to always give a book at least 50 pages. You can't judge a book by its cover, and I would argue, even its first chapter. I've adopted the 50 page philosophy, and it thus far, it really works. "In Defense of Food" has won my heart in 50 pages. It combines scientific research, history, and plain common sense to make a case for REAL food--as opposed to what he calls "fake food," being diet foods and adulterated foods. (Example: butter is a real food. oleomargarine is a fake food.) So far, his conversation has been in showing that the more diet obsessed we've become, the sicker and fatter America has gotten. He also shows how fast and easily nutritionists flip flop between what "nutrients" are best, what to stay away from, etc. and we're constantly changing and modifying food to become what we think it should be. He makes a case for staying away from adulterated food and to pair common sense with eating "real" food.

And truly, thus far, I feel as though I have give testimony to back up his claims. I've eaten the "lean cuisine" diet foods. (There's a bunch in my freezer) And not only does it not taste GOOD, but I don't feel any better for eating it. Not only that, but a secondary component of the author's conversation also rings true: Diet foods strip us of the social, cultural, and communal aspect of food. Food is not just about sustaining our body or keeping us healthy--food is just as much a social vehicle as it is a health vehicle.

I've always loved food. I've abused it and loved it in the wrong ways and for the wrong reasons in the past, and now my body and I must do some damage control! But I've now developed an increasing love for the sociology of food, the cultural and family significance of food, and creativity and expression that comes out of the culinary world, and even just the science of it. I'm not a fantastic cook, but food has truly become a passion of mine.

For breakfast I had some natural vanilla yogurt and I put some ground milled flax seed in it (I loooove flax), and I also cut up half of a nectarine and put it into the yogurt. It was delicious, and very filling. Now for a "dessert," I have some dark, fair trade, Rwandan coffee in front of me with a teaspoon of sugar in it. Mmmm.... it's been a blissful morning.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I bought the book In Defense of Food today by Michael Pollan. I'm hoping to use it as a good part of my independent study on "the sociology of food." Originally, I got a different book to read entitled, "Sociology on the menu." The book sounded interesting, but about two chapters in, it really just drooooooned on and on about things that I really didn't care about. It wasn't what I was looking for. So we'll give Pollan's book a shot. In the cultural studies section of B&N there was a huge book--bigger than a giant print Bible--simply titled "food politics." Blatant and to the point. (And probably what I *should* have bought) But it just looked SO dense and SO over my head. Hence, Mr. Pollan is the winner.

I hope this book doesn't guilt me into eating salads. Bleck! ;-)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Beautiful day

Today was one of those beautiful days that came filled with those "simple delights." This morning, I woke up almost an hour before my alarm (a new habit I seem to be in.) It was about 8 am, and the sun was rising. The air was so cool--my absolute favorite temperature. I put on my shoes and decided to go on a morning walk around my neighborhood. Just a week or so ago, the heat was blazing on my neck. But this morning, it had that slight nip on the tips of my ears that let me know the seasons are starting the change. As I spent time with God on that walk, I felt like that evenness of temperature was a little gift from God to me--just a little thing to let me know that there is peace and beauty in the world.

I went to church a few hours later, and afterwards, Josh and I ran to the grocery store to pick up "picnic type" foods. We had lunch with my parents and spent some time at the house. Around 4 o'clock, we packed up the sandwich ingredients, the angel food cake, and the apple cider into my wicker picnic basket and drove to Rocky Gap beach up in St. Joe.

Once again, the weather was absolutely perfect. There was some wind and it was the type of day where you could bring a sweatshirt, but it wasn't completely needed. The waves were coming in pretty decently and I rolled up my jeans and played in the water with Josh. Our feet kept sinking into the sand as the water came and left around our ankles. We spread out a blanket and made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and shooed off the seagulls as we ate. The apple cider was cold and had that crisp bite from the spices. Josh said to me, "As soon as the cider hit my lips, I knew that it was fall." How true it was. We played a few rounds of Uno on the blanket and then we just laid down in the sun and talked lazily about nothing in particular.

It was one of those simple days where we were able to just slow down and enjoy the world around us while we took time to enjoy each other's company. This time of year is so beautiful and full of hope for me. Already I'm thinking about more apple cider, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, curling up in sweaters, and pulling out the scarves.

What a beautiful day.

I have been blessed to be with this man for three wonderful years!