Saturday, April 24, 2010

Curry Lentil Soup

I have never been a big fan of curry unless coconut milk was involved.  Lo and behold, my friend Becca posted Coconut Lentil Soup
OH MY GOODNESS!  It was FABULOUS!  I was even sad when my stomach got full because I wasn't done enjoying the taste...  but don't worry... there are leftovers in the fridge. 
My advice?  TRY IT!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Sifting Through the Artificial Ingredients

I have been preservative free for a whole month now.  I check the labels to everything I eat if it's not straight up fruits and veggies.  It's been a challenge, especially since my work demo's a lot of food and most of the time I can't have it.  Like those root beer floats the other day... sounded so good!  It also limits my snack food.  I have to make most things in advance.  Applesauce, pizzas, brownies, fudge, ect.  Let me just take a minute to say that homemade applesauce with some frozen raspberries blended in is AMAZING!
Xan and I started this diet for me to finally figure out which preservatives was making me feel sick and nauseated all the time.  The first two weeks I cut out EVERYTHING that didn't grow naturally from the ground.  That included enriched flours and pastas that contain synthetic vitamins.  We didn't think I had a problem with them but we are being very thorough with this experiment.  Then I introduced synthetics back into my diet for these past two weeks.

The results?  I've felt FANTASTIC!  I have not been nauseated since a couple of days after I started.  I've unintentionally lost 5 pounds.  My cooking skills are rapidly improving.  My intuition of what my body needs to eat is more sensitive and accurate.  Most importantly:  I'm actually getting excited to eat meals again.  Food used to be a chore.  All these psychological barriers were in place telling me that eating will make me feel nauseated because that is what past experience had taught me.  NOT ANYMORE!  Eating is now pleasurable when one is EXCITED to eat because there are so many DELICIOUS options out there!  Steamed artichokes with homemade garlic mayonnaise... new favorite!

Now comes the tricky part of sifting through the artificial ingredients to find which, if any, were making me feel sick.While I realize the healthier choice is to just stay away from them forever, that doesn't achieve the goal of the experiment.  There are a couple of ways I could do this process.  I could choose one or two artificial ingredients at a time for 2 weeks and then choose another 1 or 2 more.  OR I could pick one food item that is LOADED with preservatives, eat that in moderation and if I don't feel sick, clear that whole list and move onto a different food.
Any suggestions of which method I should pick and/or what I should start with?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Awkward to Confident

Making friends can sometimes be a challenge.  I was really good at it in college.  It was a lot easier to make friends in college.  I was single... they were single... I saw them on a regular basis all through out the week whether it was in our apartment complex or in class... and we all lived close to campus, each other, and the movie theater that it was easier to create nights out.
I haven't found it as easy making friends outside of the college realm.  True, it's been easy to make friends at work (especially since I see them many times through out the week), but there is a different set-up to making friends out in the "real world" where people have different schedules, children and husbands need to be taken into consideration, and not everyone lives just a couple doors down.  This means that I see people maybe once a week at church, and less if they are not of the same faith.  And I don't always get to talk to them when I do seem them.  I get so busy sometimes between my two jobs (I picked up a second job babysitting a little boy in the branch on my days off from my first job... He is such a funny kid!), housework, trying to learn how to cook complete meals, spending time with my husband, and fitting in some much needed alone time, I find it very easy to miss oppurtunites to make oppurtunities to get together with people.
Everyone here in Ithaca is really nice.  The branch is fantastic.  But many times when I talk to some of these women that I really want to be friends with, I feel like I'm in middle school again trying to talk to a boy I have a crush on and just come out awkward.  You remember that feeling?  That's the type of feeling I get.  I think my ADHD and Dyslexia have a large influence as well.  I already say things wrong or get focused on a different aspect of the conversation that everyone else has taken and feel like I completely break the flow of conversation.
I was looking back to how good it was my last couple years of college, especially the summer before Xan and I got married.  I had made some awesome friends.  I hope we've all had that group of friends that everything just fit.  If you have, then you know the euphoric feeling it can create.  Why did I feel so at ease with all of them?  Answer:  BECAUSE I DIDN'T CARE WHAT THEY THOUGHT OF ME.  I mean, I had just gotten engaged, I was graduating in a few months, and then Xan and I were going to get married and move out of the country.  It made me not care what the guys thought of me because I was no longer trying to impress them for dates and if I didn't get along with any of the gals, Oh well because I'm leaving soon anyway.  I felt CONFIDENT and that people liked me for me.
Ah!  The solution to my problem.  If I stopped paying so much attention to whether people like me or not then I'll stop acting like an awkward 14-year-old, or feeling like I do, and start acting like me.  That raises the question, "How do you stop thinking about what other people think of you."  The answer?
That is the best way to make friends.  Whether it is sincerely giving them a compliment, focusing on them in a conversation and then remembering the things they mentioned (I'm really bad at that last part), going over to their apartment to hold their baby while they get some of their own alone time, or any other act of service, I conclude that service is the best way to forget yourself and find yourself in the process.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Breastfeeding in Public Part 2

Thank you for all of your comments from the first post. I've LOVED this debate. I just wanted to clarify a few points that I think were getting a bit skewed in all of the comments. To catch anyone up who didn't read the previous post, we are debating the appropriateness of open breastfeeding which is by my definition breastfeeding publicly uncovered exposing the breast for all to see.

I am pro breastfeeding. I have no problem seeing a woman's breast or seeing a woman breastfeed. Rather, I wish women were less closed off from each other. I remember going to the lady's locker room at the pools in Iceland where I would have to strip down to my birthday suit, walk to the showers, wash myself in an open shower room with a bunch of other nude women of all ages and small children, then put my swim suit on to go outside to the pools. I have to admit, coming from a very closed nudity background, it was a bit uncomfortable at first. But then, I came to almost enjoy it. It was liberating to see what other women actually looked like without clothes. Girls who looked super skinny and perfect in their clothes would undress and I'd look at them and say, "Wow, they don't look as good naked as they did in those jeans. I guess its not just me." Or I would see women who have had children and have stretch marks and saggy boobs and say, "Oh, so those are the changes I can expect when I have my own children." I felt like it really relieved many of my insecurities.

My issues with open breastfeeding have nothing to do with my own discomforts as it does with other's discomforts. Particularly with men who WERE NOT raised around breastfeeding AT ALL, but also with men who's discomfort does NOT come from sexifying the breast during breastfeeding.

Here's an example to illustrate the latter man. We'll call the example man Billy Bob. Billy Bob is sitting in the library studying when he looks up and notices a woman with something written across her shirt. He stares at the writing for a bit contemplating the words. After a moment or two, he notices this woman staring back at him only she's got a disgusted look on her face and only then does he realize that he's been staring straight at her boobs for the past 5-10 seconds. A few days later, Billy Bob is out doing some shopping for his grandma's birthday and sees his wife's friend who had just had a baby a few feet away. He starts to approach to congratulate her when he notices that she is breastfeeding. Realizing that there is no way to look at the baby without looking at the breast, and not wanting his wife's friend to think he is trying to stare at her breast, he quickly ducks into the nearest store hoping that this woman didn't see him.

My point from that example is that avoiding open breastfeeding is NOT ALWAYS about sexifying the breast, which seems to be the main drive for pro-open breast feeders to feel the need to expose everyone to breastfeeding. Rather, women themselves have set up so many boundaries to avoid sexual harassment and to avoid being seen as an object that many men have decided to simply stay FAR AWAY from the line of any type of situation where they might be accused of sexually harassing or objectifying a woman.

Maybe it is because of my own background and my own father's extreme discomfort around breastfeeding, but overall, I feel that there are so many religious, personal, cultural, and other reasons people may have against open breastfeeding that I feel there should be more respect given by open breast feeders to those around them. That is why I feel that those who wish to practice open breastfeeding should stick to their homes, friends, and family where they can ask and be more sensitive to those who may be against it. If one does feel like they want to take bolder steps, breastfeed in a park or other OPEN places where those who don't want to be around it can avoid it if they wish. Whipping a breast out in the middle of a crowded grocery store can be very much like cornering a rat in a cage. It shows NO respect for the feelings of those around them. Using a blanket to cover the mother is a way to show respect. Even if the baby pulls it down and exposes the breast, I think people will feel more respected.

In the mean time, if you would like to open breast feed, you are more than welcome to use my house. Both Xan and I have no problem with it in our home. :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Breastfeeding in Public

I got into a friendly debate at work the other day about breastfeeding in public. I was chatting with one of my co-workers and expressed my dislike for women who openly breastfeed in the middle of the aisles in Wegmans, or other extremely public areas. My definition of open breastfeeding, by the way, is using no blanket to cover yourself, but simply pulling the shirt down, exposing the breast and latching the baby on. I was surprised at how adamantly he was upset with my views, calling me a ninny for the natural way of life. It was an extremely entertaining debate to be had. :)

It got me thinking, though, and now I'm curious to see what all of you think about what is appropriate breastfeeding behavior and what is beyond. Keep in mind that this is regarding breastfeeding behaviors in mainland United States. We are grading upon American culture.

I'll start with my opinion. I am all about breastfeeding babies. I have no problem being at someone else's house and having the mom strip waist up to breastfeed her baby. Granted, I feel more respected and a bit more comfortable with some warning like, "Do you mind?" Or, "I'm about to take my shirt off and breastfeed." Otherwise, I get caught off gaurd and feel a bit awkward, but still, in no way offended. I would have no problem if someone openly breastfed at my house. Again, with the same forewarnings, especially since they are the guest. :)

Then there is the middle area where it gets really gray so I'm not going to get into it.

But my line is in extremely public places where people, especially men (I hear quite a few complaints from the men about it), are not prepared to encounter a breast flying out of a shirt, such as grocery stores. Think about it. Someone is cruising down the pasta aisle thinking about all the delicious creations they're going to cook at home and all of a sudden, a woman whips her breast out and starts breastfeeding just a couple feet ahead of them. Whether or not the unprepared potential viewers are comfortable with breastfeeding or not, it creates a hugely awkward situation in which it is hard to know how to interact. "Do I advert my eyes and not look? Or is that going to make them think that I'm offended? Do I look to show my acceptance? How do I get out of this situation as quickly as possible... except that I need that can of tomatoes they are standing right next to... ummmm... I'll come back later." In these public situations, is it really asking a lot to have the mom simply cover herself with a blanket or use one of the many benches located around Wegmans (I would put the benches in the gray area, personally). They even have those peek-a-book breast feeding blankets to make the mom's life easier. Please note that while it does make me feel uncomfortable to be startled, I am not offended by it, but I can't feel that the action is justified when I can easily see that more people are made uncomfortable by that situation than those who are okay with it. And that's here in Ithaca, hippy and natural living land.

While I wish we did live in a society where all moms could openly breast feed without anyone blinking an eye, we don't. Why not? America has completely sexified the breast. It is engrained into our American minds from our infancy that breasts=sex. It reminds me of a Friend's episode I saw a couple weeks ago. Rachael had just had her baby and was figuring out how to breastfeed while Joey was in the room. Just watch how uncomfortable Joey becomes and how hard he tries not to think of her breast as anything but a breastfeeding breast, and I think you'll be able to see the point I am trying to make. Until a breast is just a breast, I don't agree with open breastfeeding in public.

What are your thoughts?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Books, Books, and MORE Books!

Xan and I have a good collection of books. We have these two bookcases by the front door. The right side holds my Asian collection and our instructional foreign language books. The left side holds fiction with the bottom shelf holding cook books.

We have this bookcase by the coat closet. We got "how to" books and gardening/pets on the top shelf, movie cases with children's books on the next shelf. Travel books come in third. Scrapbooks on 4rth. Ending in Xan's physics books on the bottom shelf.

Here is a collection of books Xan is using to finish his thesis from Iceland.

Here's where those books in the living room go, along with Xan's other academic books.

Don't forget about the two cubbies of books on either side of the chair.

We have religious books filling up guest spaces here in the extra bedroom.

And a box full of all of our foreign language Book of Mormons that I would LOVE to have out, as well as a few other miscellaneous items.

And let's not forget about the 4 or so boxes of more books we have stored in our attic that will be staying up there. Yes, folks. Even with keeping those boxes in the attic, looks like we'll be buying yet another bookcase to fit somewhere in the apartment. Which means, another organizational project of trying to find a rhyme and a reason for which books go where and in what order. I never finished from last time. I got them all organized except for the two by the door... only half way organized. (the Asian collection really has no rhyme or reason. They're just piled together, often times mixing with the foreign language books.)

Any suggestions of how to organize a large selection of books?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

I enjoy my job but...

I enjoy my work. I currently work 32 hours at Wegmans, a family-owned New England based grocery store, in the international department stocking shelves. The work really agrees with my ADHD hyperfocus. I get to stock shelves. I'm active all day. My arms are strong. Not super buff... I'd probably loose arm wrestles... but much stronger than they've ever been before. I have a lot of friends there. I like all the people that I work with and get along with them.

Where does the but come in?


Don't get me wrong. I get a HUGE sense of acheivement answering their questions of where items are located. Seems trite and insignificant, but it feels good to be able to answer questions like, "Excuse me, do you know where I could find the rose water?" with "Why, yes, I do! We have two kinds. Would you like the French brand or Indian? Let me show you where to find them." What can I say... I am a sucker for customer service.

What annoys me are the lectures. I get blamed and lectured on the sodium content, organic foods, national food shortages, price inflations, ect. I promise you that I did not personally flood the pumpkin patches in the midwest this past fall to ruin all the pumpkin crops that caused the pumpkin pie shortage mix to ruin your holidays. And no, we are not hoarding a stash of Libby's canned pumpkin pie mix in the back room.

I was once lectured by a 50 or so year-old-man in the cereal aisle on the importance of vitamins in one's diet. He went through his own life story about how he never had any energy... yadda yadda yadda... until he went to a natural doctor and started taking vitamins and fish oils, ect. Now his life is full of energy and he feels better than he did when he was 20! This lecture lasted over 20 minutes. All I could do was nod and neutrally accept his comments hoping he would finish and let me go back to work. I learned very quickly to not give my own input to these so-called lectures beyond straight facts. My opinions only seem to only aggravate the customers. I guess my opinions on nutrition are not concurrent with the latest trends.

All in all, I'd have to conclude that despite these unwelcome lectures, I feel so lucky to have a job that I enjoy going to 4 days out of the week. In a world with too many boring desk jobs, high work dissatisfaction, and the current unemployment rates, I can overlook the fact that I am working a job that doesn't require a high school diploma despite my BA degree. But, let's all cross our fingers that Cornell gets out of their hiring "pause" and I'm able to find a job more fitting to my skills and pays a bit more than minimum wage-ish. :)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Long List

Does anyone else watching General Conference feel a huge wave of sympathy for the unlucky member of the presidency who is assigned to read through the LONG list of complicated and foreign names of those being called to the Quorum's of the 70s or other positions?

I wonder if they practice the list several times and/or call those proposed people up and ask, "How do you say your name again? Is (insert name here) right? Oh, and please don't be offended if I say it wrong."

Friday, April 2, 2010

Sunday afternoon in Sapsucker Woods

I finally remembered to call about our internet problems and they're fixed! That means I can now upload all the photos I've been wanting to blog about but couldn't get into the posts. :)

Xan and I live on the border of Sapsucker Woods. Two Sundays ago, we went out for a nice walk to enjoy the sunshine.

This photo Xan took at school. Apparently, every year the engineer students build a dragon.

I'd write more but I have to run to work. More photos to come!