Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Cookus Interruptus

What I've seen so far looks cute. The kind of cooking we do and cheesy family interruptions! I'm going to link it up, as I do, so I can keep checking it out some more...

We got a great recipe book from our AP playgroup, and I've found some good sites online where you can type in whatever ingredient you've got and browse recipes; that works well for eating what's in season locally even when you don't recognize the veggie!

Booking Through Thursday 1/24

What’s your favorite book that nobody else has heard of? You know, not Little Women or Huckleberry Finn, not the latest best-seller . . . whether they’ve read them or not, everybody “knows” those books. I’m talking about the best book that, when you tell people that you love it, they go, “Huh? Never heard of it?”

Well, a few years ago around here it was I Capture the Castle but I gather it's slightly better known after the movie and being printed up in force again. Still, no one I know (besides those I've forced to read it) seems to have it on their radar. Such a sweet tale by Dodie Smith, funny and heartwrenching and ridiculous and real.

And now, I will fill the remainder of the post by writing "I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you...."

Monday, January 28, 2008

Free online issue of Mothering

I love Mothering. The forums ("Discuss" on their homepage) have taught me so much, thank goodness before my first birth! And I love reading the magazine and seeing all the nursing and being close to babies as the norm. Check out their sample online version for an awesome section on babywearing, among other content. I felt I still had a lot to learn in real life; there are always The Babywearer (see my link to the right) and local Babywearing groups to help you.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Book: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

We're hunkering down for an alleged storm that continues to deny all charges. Maybe it'll lose it's appeal tonight at last.

So I figured since we're tucked away cozily in our home for the night I'd share my thoughts on the last book I finished, Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle , her nonfiction account of the year her family ate almost exclusively food grown locally to their new home back in the Appalachian mountain south.

Now, I have to admit that I adore Kingsolver. Her Poisonwood Bible was a revelation to me. It was the first time I REALLY got cultural relativism and the deep disparities between the worlds all we humans live in. The funny thing is, I remember feeling daunted as I stared at the tome I had to read in about four days for the final week of a multi-culti lit course in college. About an hour into reading it, I was hooked, walking with it spread between my hands on my way to the bus stop. I consumed that book.

And then there's The Bean Trees, which I have read probably ten times through now, because I taught it to 10th and 9th graders. They LOVED hearing their teacher say "pecker" and explain why a "blond Paul McCartney" would be hot, during our shared reading of the first half a chapter, and that got them hooked. I love how this book is pretty much the perfect novel, and full of vigor and life to boot.

I've read other works by Kingsolver, and her Small Miracle clued me in to her political leanings (I also used to include "Household Words" in my American Lit class's study of Frost's "The Hired Man" and our whole discussion of the reality of the American Dream and individualism and all that). I rediscovered this book of essays last year and, being very pregnant, enjoyed her takes on motherhood, like the story about the lost child saved when a bear breastfeeds her, why Kingsolver doesn't watch TV, her letter to her daughter, and her take on the continuum of violence ("Life is precious, or it's not" she sums up so simply. I'd love to use that when I teach with Bowling for Columbine again someday).

So I had gotten to know Kingsolver a little bit by the time I hitched along for the story of her year in local food. And I was biased to trust her research and give her opinions and persuasions a good hearing.

So on to the actual book in question:

Kingsolver organizes her account by explaining how her family moved from Arizona back to the more fertile south, preparing to live on what they could raise or buy locally, beginning their adventure in April, which sounds lovely and spring like to me, but apparently means snow and just the beginnings of greenery for them. She explains their course through eating in season with ingenious precision: she asks us to imagine a plant that represents all food you can grow to eat, and mark the life of that one plant-- shoots, leaves, flowers, fruits, hardening fruits... and each food we eat corresponds to this. So they eat asparagus in the spring, and then lots of leafy greens, and then fruits ranging from early ones like peaches all the way to melons and squash and pumpkins. This illustrated powerfully and precisely the way we make use of various plants as food. The one thing I felt funny about while reading this book was all the times she referred to how, SURE, you can get cucumber all year from California, if you want to spend the fossil fuels and resources on shipping it here. Well, I live in California, raised in the northern valley and now in the Edenic southern bit with farms sprawling between mountains and beach. So at least I was getting that eating local foods would be even more do-able for me here in this wonderland of year-round fruit.

Kingsolver delves into gripping research on the toll of the fossil-fuel guzzling distance-food industry, the ubiquity of corn in processed foods and the power of the corn and soy industries, the utter horrors of factory farming of meat, the tragic endangered species status of heirloom strains of both plants and animals (which tend to be heartier, taste better, and be more nutritious than those bred for mass consumption and long distance travel in the factory farms of today), and the burgeoning vigor of the small organic farm movement. It is clear that she passionately identifies with farmers (the real farmers on family farms) and dissects their status (invisible? a joke?) in the USA. But she also delves into lush descriptions of her family's backyard farm, as it were, and her bustling kitchen, with the weeding, the planting, the chopping, the canning, the cooking, and the eating! This book will make you hungry, and for freshly cooked whole foods. She also takes us along on two trips, up the eastern coast with her whole family, as they seek out local foods in different locales, including eating at a local-food cruelty-free diner, and then all the way to Italy with just Barbara and hubby/co-author Hopp, where she shows us how it's all really meant to be, when it comes to big cities and the local farms fanning out around them.

Hopp and daughter Camille offer more hard data/web resources and delightful menu ideas and recipes, respectively. And the littlest Kingsolver, Lily, offers a delightful character who runs an egg business with all the strategy of a CEO.

I enjoyed this book. It made me think, it scared me, and it gave me hope. It made me act. And it made me hungry!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Just Checking In

I have no big events or thoughts occurring right now. I dunno. I am just seriously enjoying rolling around on the floor with my baby. What can I say?

But I feel like I should update my blog. So here are all the random odds and ends of the last few weeks.

Resolution Updates:

-10 lbs down!
-Not too much has been decluttered. We've marked certain things for death (okay, trash/charity) but we need a weekend when we are not all sick or attending social events all day both days to get the stuff out the door.
-We're down to the last few major babyproofing steps. We need to get rid of the last torch lamps and redo the cables and cords behind the desk, and then downstairs will be pretty much free-range space for TF. As it is she wanders around for an hour at a time, scooting on her cute lil cloth diapered behind, roaming and exploring and babbling! She loves to pull everything out of the toybins/laundry basket/pile of carriers/bag of cloth bags, so I put it all back neatly and she's entertained for a long while!
-We've been eating locally already (yay!), trying new foods and searching out the best sources. It hasn't raised our grocery bill one bit, too! Gotta seriosly think about that CSA soon...

What else?

We got new rugs so the Tiny One has a clean soft surface for her butt scootching.

Dashing Daddy loves his new job.

My subscription to Mothering Mag finally started (I thought I was getting it last year but a certain dashing husband got it for me for xmas, yay!).

And finally TF has not yet napped today! I think we're going to go try again now, oh squirming one!!

Monday, January 21, 2008

In honor of a great man...

Although I have always enjoyed his "Letter from Birmingham Jail" as an amazing piece of rhetoric (yeah, we studied it in class every year!) and a moving, dignified plea.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sophie Pulls Up

Sophie started pulling up and scooting around all over the place (not crawling, technically, tho she can go wherever as long as there are no levels, lol) while we were at the grandparents' for New Years.

Right now she's been icky sick for a day or two. Mommy got the worst of the badness on her!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

2008-- Ain't it Great?

Wow, I got waaaaay too much positive feedback for my corny humor as a teacher of 9th graders. ANYway...

The year ended in a whirlwind of cozy Christmas celebrations and travel (TF's first trip!). Hopefully everyone will share the pics they took thru email or flickr, because we were so busy enjoying seeing our girl in her first Christmas and hanging out with family, we took very few shots ourselves.

But moving on to the new year: It's time for resolutions. I am a list-maker, so I think I'll aim big here, and see how many of these we can actually take a stab at....

--Lose weight. Yeah, I've done it before, losing 40 lbs, and then I gained it back, oh, creating a life, and it's been stubbornly sticking to me no matter what I do. Breastfeeding has not been a magical quickie weight loss solution with puppies and unicorns and rainbows, not for me at least. I eat well and go for walks, I stay the same. I indulge in homemade cookies and take a break from walking to cuddle nonstop and sit on the floor with TF, and I stay the same. I have reason to believe my hormones are finally going back to "normal" post-pregnancy, so hopefully this will be a productive time to break through. I have been a stickler for all of four days and have already lost a few pounds. I hope NOW the constant nursing TF has been engaging in will egg on the weight loss! Then the resolution for NEXT year can be putting together a whole new wardrobe (of ethical clothing) which will entail figuring out what my style is.... urg....
--Get TF on my back. I got the beco for this purpose, and I've gotten TF up on my back by myself a few times already! I have to do it at home over the bed or couch, but hey, it lets me get housework done again, it's way easier on my back, and we can go for a walk and then come home. We just can't walk TO anyplace I'd want to be able to take her down and get her back up, not without DD. I'm still a bit awkward at it (ZERO spatial sense/imagery) and sometimes TF get impatient, tho she loves it once she's there. So practice, practice, practice!
--Use the slowcooker. Eat well but spend less time scurrying to cook at night. DD's new job makes it easier to cook as he gets home earlier, but still. It'd be nice to assemble ingredients ahead of time and let it brew all day and then just feast at the end of the day. I must look at the huge thread on MDC about good healthy recipes (because cream of whatever canned soup and other similar ingredients are not our favs)
--Eat locally, if not organically. I'm toying with the idea of joining a CSA. I'm worried I'm still juggling new motherhood too much and I'd end up wasting food, but maybe soon... Big focus on eating fresh foods that are in season (and hey, it's California so it's not too hard or full of deprivation), and eating whole foods, not processed foods. Sure, we do this quite a bit already, compared to a lot of kitchens in America I'm guessing, but we want to push this even more.
--Learn to knit. I'm on my way with this one, just have to get some yarn and start practicing. Hopefully I can make some wool diaper covers, to use with prefolds and potty learning. And they can be sooo cute!
--Declutter 2008 in 2008! I think the hardest part will be keeping count. I was RUTHLESS in preparing to make room for baby, but I sure didn't have a tally. But the point is, REALLY push to get rid of STUFF we just don't need. I'm thinking about boxing up knickknacks and other stuff... it just seems the babyproofing is never enough. We'll try to find the balance that works for us.
--Find cool blogs to check in with (there's a whole world out there...) like the authors' blogs I just found...
--READ READ READ! And make that new books, not re-reads of my favorites. Also, finish the nonfiction I start.
--MOST IMPORTANTLY: Just savor my time with my daughter, being the best mom I can be, and be a good wife to my sweet husband.