For Sale

 Today our home is officially for sale. We've spent the last few weeks finishing up miscellaneous projects to get the house ready including putting up drywall, painting, replacing old chewed up baseboards, and cleaning the hell out of the place. We're going by owner but are willing to invest in a realtor if nothing happens. We decided to list with this service that will list our space on Realtor.com as well as on realtor only MLS listings. If by some wonderful, offhand chance anybody is interested, please feel free to email me (amynonymous@gmail.com). Wish us luck!



Book Review: Real Food, What to Eat and Why

image via Nina Planck
I recently finished the book, Real Food: What to Eat and Why, a book where the author, Nina Planck espouses the virtues of real food, but before I get to that, a little background. As you know, my household has experimented with vegetarianism and veganism and although there truly were no problems with this diet, we found ourselves reaching for more processed foods to satisfy our cravings; margarine instead of butter, processed soy protein instead of meat, processed rice/almond/soy milk for drinking, coffee, and ice cream. I know that not all vegetarians/vegans eat the processed replacements and I commend them, but we always found ourselves reaching for those items.

Now, I truly know the horrors of meat processing and the arguments about milk, I do, I've made those arguments. And, I also know the USDA biased food recommendations through my nursing education. Real Food, examines the truths behind factory farming, conventional produce and dairy, and the myths and truths about fats. The book cites multiple scholarly sources for reliable information, which often defies the norms we've been told to follow. The type of foods that Planck recommends can best be described as Sustainable, Local, Organic, and Wholesome or SLOW. Grass fed beef, pastured pork and poultry, raw milk dairy, whole grains, eggs from pastured chickens, and organic, local, in-season produce are all examples of SLOW foods. She also recommends saturated fats (although animal fats also contain a large amount of unsaturated fats) including butter, chicken fat or schmaltz, and even lard, as well as good quality cold pressed olive oil in place of processed polyunsaturated corn, soybean, palm and safflower oils. Planck's biggest discovery in the book as that most of the diet related illnesses including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes (also termed metabolic syndrome) is not caused by dietary cholesterol, carbohydrates, and animal sources, but is instead caused by over processed, chemically altered trans fats, white sugar and bread, and industrially produced, lower nutrient, meat, dairy and produce.

Although I've recently proclaimed our plan for a veganish lifestyle. We quickly found ourselves returning to organic dairy (although I never seem to be able to find organic cheese) and then decided that if we were going to eat any meat, that it would be good quality meat. So we found a local farm that raises and sells grass fed beef, and pastured pork and chicken and joined their meat CSA (community supported agriculture). We purchased a three month share that is spread out over six months. Every other month, we get a mixed share of beef, pork, chicken and eggs. We're splitting this share with my aunt as none of us eats meat for every meal, and we know we could freeze it and spread out over past 6 months. Next up, a vegetable CSA. There's no way I can make it to the farmers market with weekend clinicals...

Next I'm gonna pick up some Michael Pollan books at the library including The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto and Food Rules: An Eater's Manual.

Read any good books lately?


Fabric Gift Wrap

Although for Christmas this year, we went all out with kraft paper wrapping and homemade tissue paper flowers, I recently found, and love the beauty, simplicity, functionality and all around eco friendlyness of furoshiki. According to furoshiki.com,

"Furoshiki is a type of traditional Japanese wrapping cloth that was frequently used to transport clothes, gifts, or other goods. Although possibly dating back as far as the Nara period, the name, meaning "bath spread", derives from the Edo period practice of using them to bundle clothes while at the sento (public baths). Before becoming associated with public baths, furoshiki was known as hiradzutsumi, or flat folded bundle. Eventually, the furoshiki's usage extended to serve as a means for merchants to transport their wares or to protect and decorate a gift."
Images via Chewing the Cud

Persimmon & Pine via Poppytalk
Image via Gyroglyph
 I love this how to which shows you how to wrap anything from wine bottles to books. Although I love the beautiful designer fabrics, I'm thinking I'd like to buy some cotton fabric and make my own furoshiki.


1st Day of Spring

Happy Spring! Yesterday marked the spring equinox where day and night are each approximately 12 hours long. Yesterday was riddled with thunderstorms in my neck of the woods, but during a  brief reprieve we managed to take Olive for a little walk around the block to see new buds on the trees. For me, school is a bit slower for the next few weeks with no weekend 6 am hospital clinicals, but lots of studying. Even though I'll be busy during the week, free weekends means visits from family and a trip home. I better enjoy it  now because my summer schedule is crazy. (OB rotation, Yay!) I hope everyone gets a chance to spend some time outdoors today, and maybe, if it's warm enough, open the windows and let spring in.


Everyday Style: Picnic Baskets

It's finally starting to feel like spring around here, which means the weather is perfect for all sorts of outdoor activities including long walks with Olive, planting a little herb garden and the possible picnic. So, after receiving an informal request (from my sister in law Kate) for a post on eco-friendly picnic baskets. I figured the beginning of spring would be the perfect time. Here are some stylish and eco-friendly picnic baskets from around the web.

Reisenthal Collapsible Market Tote
Avignon Rattan Picnic Basket - Crate & Barrel


A Rock and a Hard Place

I bet you were expecting this post to be something philosophical regarding a difficult decision. Nope, I went for the literal route about my recent experience rock climbing. Last Friday, I went my with friend Kate over to Vertical Endeavors, an indoor rock climbing facility not far from my house. Anyway, there are a few things I learned that day. A) that I really need to tone my arms before wearing tank tops. I mean they are some serious un-toned tubes of flesh. B) I'm a little afraid of heights and C) rock climbing is a great time. After about two hours of climbing, I was wiped out. But fortunately, I wasn't as sore as I thought I would be. I'll definitely go again. I think Mike would have a great time too. Here are some sweet action shots.

P.S. I always feel cool repelling down the rocks

Anyone else do any cool activities lately?



Mike and I have lived in Illinois for 8 years, so it's understandable why people get confused when we go "home" for the weekend. But for us, Michigan will always be home. As cliche as it sounds; home is where the heart is. That is why we decided to move back "home". We moved to "Chicago" a few months after I graduated high school. I had dreams of being a fashion merchandiser (what? check out this post for a quick recap). Within two months that was over and after I settled on the medical field, we settled into a wonderful life here in Illinois including buying a home, getting married (in Michigan of course), Mike getting hired, and me finally starting nursing school. Life has been wonderful here, we have a handful of amazing close friends and extended family who we see regularly and have a wonderful time with, Mike has his career, and we have a cute little home, but it still feels to me like I'm missing something. 

Now I definitely can barely hold out to the end of my nursing program to start having babies, but there's more to it than that. We're both very close to our immediate families, and I've become so close with my brothers and their wives that I really miss them every day. I want to go to my nieces' ballet recitals, school plays, baseball games, and birthday parties. I want our parents to come over and help us work on our house. I want weekly family dinners. I want midweek coffee with my sisters in law. I want our children to grow up with their grandparents. We always thought it made more sense for us to stay in Illinois, but after a long week in Michigan over the summer, we realized nothing makes more sense than for use to move home. 

Now to sell the house, Mike to finish school and get certified in MI, me to finish my nursing program and get my RN transferred to MI, live with my Aunt Bobbie in the the interim, Mike to find a job in MI, me to get a job in MI, and to find and buy a house. Our goal is Michigan by June 2012. I can't wait.


30 Days of Vegan - Wrap Up

Sorry this is a little late, I had a few days off of school and used them to clean the house and organize myself for the rest of the semester. After doing 30 days of Vegan, my verdict is that 30 days is not long enough to see a real difference in our bodies. My weight didn't decrease, nor did my overall measurements, but being less bloated after meals made me look and feel thinner and made my clothes fit better too. Also my total cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides we lower by about 10 points all around. So although it wasn't the life changing experience that I was hoping for, it still made us feel good about what we were eating. So our plan for now is to eat "vegan-ish", where we'll cook mostly vegan at home with the occasional addition of good quality cheese, but if we have dinner with family or friends we don't mind eating a little meat on those occasions as it is easier for the person cooking, helps satisfy cravings, but still keeps our meat intake to a minimum, and supplements our vitamin B12 intake. Things may change in the future. I am definitely still drawn to a "whole food" diet, including organic milk and cheese, farm fresh eggs, grass feed-pastured beef and pork and wild caught fish.

P.S. That last week of 30 days had me craving a bacon cheeseburger like nobody's business. I'm sure people would like to think that it was my body's way of telling me it needed protein, but I know it was all in my head. My iron levels were spot on following the 30 days so it's true that a varied diet with plant sources of protein and iron are enough to keep a person nourished and healthy.


Beer & Chocolate

For my big 2-6, Mike, my aunt Bobbie and I headed to the Morton Arboretum for the first ever beer and chocolate tasting. The menu consisted of local craft beer and food from local chefs and chocolatiers. It was a low key, chill evening; much better than the worst hangover ever experienced following my raucous 25th birthday celebration. Sorry for the grainy pics, I always think my iphone photos will turn out better.

Mole infused chili

Semi-sweet chocolate and Swiss cheese panini
Coffee brownie, pistachio truffle, chocolate covered candied orange peel and sea salt caramel.

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