Friday, August 21, 2009

Worthy Cause

They all are, aren’t they? That may be a bit overreaching, but most nonprofits seem to have good intentions. Since you can’t give to every single one out there, how do you decide which one or ones to help? Sometimes you just know. A cause will hit closer to your core and after you research it (yes, please do!) you make your donation.

Many of you know that I have an awful pair of knees. More specifically, I have a fairly aggressive case of degenerative arthritis. When I was 22, my orthopedic doctor said these broken down joints belonged to an 83 year old. He expected to replace both of my knees before I turned 35. These days, they’re pushing my magic number back to 45 or 50. And praise the god of skinny punks, because I’m about to turn 33 and ain’t nobody cutting me! But enough about me!

This brings me to my worthy cause.
Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, otherwise known as Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. This form of Arthritis is horrible. The Arthritis Foundation is working to research treatment and cures for all forms of arthritis, setting up community support groups, and sponsoring advocacy programs for arthritis sufferers. They even offer green donations, direct through the website.

Let’s Move Together is a community arm of The Arthritis Foundation, hosting walks and runs in order to raise funds and community awareness. Take a look at their main page to find an event in your area. Most are hosted in the spring, so I’ll keep an eye out and remind you when the season ramps up.

Other causes that tug at my tired old heart strings:

Cupcakes for a cause : Are you kidding me? I can bake goodies AND help kids with cancer?!?! WINWIN!

Autism Speaks : As a sidebar, you can donate to Talk about Curing Autism (TACA) by purchasing these adorable Kauzbots.

Just as a reminder, Cheerful Givers is still doing their online Social Summer Fundraiser. Get over there and give the kids a couple bucks!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wish List

Amazon calls it a wish list, which makes it seem so innocent but I find my wish list growing out of control. Unlike grocery shopping, I simply loathe regular shopping. The upside of this hatred is rarely spending money on my wants or wish list items. There is a downside. I usually end up with a mile long wish list before I even think about shopping. My current list? Not just via Amazon?

Tom's shoes, I love the Dickens ones. The Poe are cute, or Zola, or oh goodness! Someone just buy me every pair of literary Tom shoes! And while you're at it, get me these in all red!

Sixty-Six, by William Haskins. I'm embarrassed to say that my favorite living poet has a book out that I have not purchased. I hang my head in shame.

The Wicked Soundtrack and probably 1072 other tunes.

My Life in France, by Julia Child.

This food processor. In chrome. Oh yes, I know what I want.

The ice cream attachment for my Kitchen Aid stand mixer.

And this house but I'd settle for this one...

See? I'm out of control. Back to work!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Zen in the Supermarket

I’m being serious! I stroll the aisles, like an afternoon at an empty shoreline, searching the market for my favorite eats and delicious veggies. Pungent cheeses, ripe tomatoes, savory whole grains, I could spend an entire day lost in shopper mode. Grocery shopping mode. So many dread it, treat it like a chore, a hassle. But the thought of an hour at Wegman’s excites me! I tune on my iPod and wander. I. Love. It. When I travel, I seek out new grocery stores, looking for local goods that I can’t buy at home. Even in New Jersey. Something is wrong with me, I know.

I’ve been in love with grocery shopping since the minute I could drive. My mother didn’t love it. A busy woman with a demanding career and four kids, how could she? There was never enough time. Instead, when I was old enough to venture out on my own, she sent me. She would jot down a few essentials, give me a fistful of cash or her credit card, and send me on my way. Freedom! For an introspective 16 year old, those liberating jaunts to the grocery store were my zen. I would take hours, to the point where my mother would ask where I really spent my time. I’m still not sure if she believed me when I told her the grocery store was my only destination. Sure, there were so many places for me to get in trouble, oh and I did, but not when I had a chance to go to the grocery store. I could pick out meals for the entire family. Freedom and POWER! Woo! What a rush! My love of grocery shopping is deep, everlasting.

Nowadays, though YIKES! Mom’s don’t have an endless supply of hours to roam the store. And really, there are so many other things that need to be taken care of in the course of the day. I can see why people think grocery shopping is such a chore. So, I thought I would share some of my methods to keep the zen in the supermarket. They may seem simple or basic, but here goes!

1. Make a list. I know, right? But, there have been times when I go to the store with a mental list and it’s just not the same. I forget the cheese or leave the pasta, and when I get home my stress level climbs because I realize I don’t have what it takes to make meals. Irritating! And I’m not just talking any kind of list. You don’t have to be as ridiculous as me (or my sister *coughlaurencough*) but I make 2 lists. First, I sit down with my favorite cookbooks the night before I shop and after Finn is in bed. Putting post-it notes on the recipes I plan to use for the week, I write down everything I’m going to need for each recipe. That list ends up on my fridge or in the front of the cookbook. Then, I make another list that separates everything into categories: produce, dairy, meats, bulk, frozen, grocery, and miscellaneous. This way, as I’m taking my leisurely stroll through the aisles, I’ll be sure to remember everything in that section and not have to double back to grab the peanut butter after I already passed by on my way to granola. I also make sure to put an * next to any items that might have coupons. Memory aids, good they are. I also keep a note pad attached to the fridge for staples that run out. So, be sure to consult that list before compiling your master list. Wow, my routine sounds so rigid now that I’ve tossed it into the blogosphere, but it really works for me!

2. Stock up. I don’t mean canned goods! Before I go, I grab my reusable bags, a bottle of water, and something to eat. I always, ALWAYS get hungry when I’m shopping. If I bring a cheese stick, granola bar, or piece of fruit, I’m less likely to buy 12 boxes of Oreos (and less likely to eat 6 of said boxes during my stroll.)

3. Fly solo and early. It’s the only thing I insist on being able to do on my own. Grocery stores are quieter in the early hours of the day, say between 7-10 am. That’s my aim. I love going on Monday mornings because everything is freshly stocked at my store on Sunday. There’s a better chance to cut down on return trips and less frustration. Besides, how can one attain a zen-like experience when fighting over the last head of edible red leaf?

4. Pack your bags. At this point, I’m sounding like a total control freak. But, if you know where stuff is, you’re going to have an easier time unpacking it. I put all the refrigerated items together, all the frozen stuff in the same bag, and all the produce is carefully tucked in so that I know my lettuce isn’t wilting and my nectarines aren’t turning to pulp under the weight of Yukon golds. Another benefit to packing your own bags? You know how heavy is too heavy, Teenster McStuffyourbags doesn’t.

5. Take a trip. Plan at least one meal that you haven’t tried yet, something foreign or exciting. Take your time when perusing the ethnic food section of the store and see what catches your eye. Try something new and allow yourself to experiment. On food. Sure, your family may turn up their noses, but give it a shot! Be bold! Be daring! Be brave! Get excited about new foods.

Enjoy your next trip to my Mecca and let me know how it goes!

Thanks for reading,


Friday, August 14, 2009


Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate!

Now I have your attention. In my last post, I mentioned the September edition of Whole Living Body + Soul. I really love that magazine, their helpful tips are actually, well, helpful. And the tone of the mag is just right for me, a nice balance between “I can really DO this,” greenie hints, and “wow, I can’t wait to be able to do THAT one day!” I’m not sure if I’m being clear, but it’s a groovy magazine and it really fits for me. So, what does that have to do with chocolate?

There was an interesting DIY suggestion in the September edition. Natural Color Booster for your hair. It’s been ages since I’ve had the time or the cash to get my hair done. One of my best friends owns an all natural Aveda Salon in Pittsburgh and after a few bad experiences, I honestly don’t trust anyone else with my hair. But, driving to Pittsburgh for a hairdo, it’s a commitment. Time, energy, money, time. These are a few of my favorite things, but they aren’t in abundance around these parts. No complaining, just trying to be more resourceful. In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m naturally dirty blond, but I dye the tresses a darker shade of brown. It’s so much less maintenance than trying to actually be blond and well, lets just say that being blond never really did me any favors. So, I gave the DIY Natural Color Booster a shot. It has a cocoa powder base. Yum. The smell alone was enough to encourage a slathering of kitchen variety mush.

Cocoa Powder, plain yogurt, apple cider vinegar, and honey. Simple. Mix it into a paste and apply it to freshly washed and towel dried hair. The instructions said to leave it on for 2 or 3 minutes, but that didn’t seem like enough for me. I went with 10. Nothing. Not one single change. Maybe because my hair is naturally lighter? My expectations weren’t high, I just thought it would ramp up the color I already had on my hair, at least give it a bit more shine and vibrancy. Nothing.

Any ideas? Pittsburgh, here I come.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cheerful Givers needs your help

Cheerful Givers are in the second week of the Social Summer Fundraiser. Please spread the word via Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, and MySpace.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

No Apologies!

Listen, this blogging thing? It’s not easy to keep up with! Easy? Easy is playing outside all day with Finn, getting up at 4:30 to pour coffee, growing veggies, baking brownies, reading, soaking up the sun, weeks at the beach, scheduling classes, securing money, and buying books. Warm days spent outside, splashes in the lake, conventions with the ocean, like old friends rushing to embrace, collecting shells, tossing one back as a thank you. Summer = Life. Summer = Happiness. Summer = Love.

But summer is almost over. In about 10 days, I’m going back to college full-time to finish a degree I’ve been picking away at for close to four years. My 3 year old will start full-time preschool, I’ll be working 25 hours, studying the rest; all these changes that I’m still so unsure of. My internal voice goes something like this:

It’s going to feel so great to finish my degree.

But I love having those special days with Finn.

You can still have great times together, you pick him up at 3:30 everyday.

But that means no impromptu weekday picnics at the lake, no Waffle Shop breakfast dates, no nap-time snuggles.

You can do all of those things over the weekend. Think about how amazing it will feel to FINISH school and how great of an example you’re setting for your son.

But, but, but…


Amidst the struggles, changes, and internal arguments, I’m concerned about our lifestyle, staying healthy while staying busy. Between classes and parking lots, I’ll be walking roughly 3 miles every day. While I’m still going to be active, I know that my time will be at a premium, but I don’t want my family to suffer by way of too much eating out or unhealthy cooking. So, I’m mentally compiling recipes, tips, and suggestions to use over the next 72 years… okay, 3… I hope.

The September issue of Whole Living Body + Soul Magazine had a list of 25 simple, healthy recipes. I plan to use the first few weeks of classes to test some of them out.

Do you have any tips, time management suggestions, good thoughts? Care to share? Please?

Thanks for reading,