Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy Birthday to My Mom

Today is my mom's birthday, and for the first time in a while I'm here to celebrate it with her. It's a sad truth that we never appreciate everything our parents did for us until we grow up, and even then, I'm sure there are things my mom did that I won't truly appreciate until I have kids of my own.

But I wanted to take a moment to thank my mom for all the sacrifices she made for me, for everything she has given me, for the values she has instilled in me. I'm also thankful for her good skin genes she passed on to me though less thankful for the wide birthing hips!

My mom is one of the kindest, most caring, and strong people I know. She flew around the world from India to the US to get married, and brought up her children miles away from the rest of her family. She always opened the house to friends and family, and she knows how to throw a good party. She traveled with both my sister and me to India every other year so that we could learn where we came from, and know all our family. (Yes, that means multiple 20+ hour flights with toddlers.)It was from my mom that I developed my love of travel.

I know it hasn't always been easy. I know that these past few years have been especially difficult ones. And I know we have our differences at times. But I'm so thankful and lucky to have you as my mother, and I love you so very, very much.

Happy Birthday.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas Detox

I hope everyone has had a wonderful holiday. Mine has been extremely busy, but also very enjoyable. Many of my friends and family gave me gifts in the spirit of my non-consumerist small footprint adventure: My mom gave me a Trader Joe's gift certificate and a wind chime made of found objects. My sister gave me some fair trade soaps, my aunt and uncle gave me a spa gift certificate, one of my friends made a donation to the volunteer organization I work with, another friend made me a scrapbook. Another friend gave me a used book. So all in all, I think I did pretty well!

A couple days after Christmas I flew to my mom's house to celebrate the rest of the holiday. I decided that I didn't want to pay the money for a taxi or long-term parking, so I figured I'd park on the street by a friend's house, and walk the couple miles to the airport. I was traveling fairly light, and I figured after all the holiday gorging I'd done, the exercise would do me good. Besides, just because nobody walks in LA, doesn't mean I can't!

Except there is a reason nobody walks in LA, and that is that you are in danger of the sidewalk suddenly disappearing. So then I was forced to walk on the side of the road with cars whizzing past me, and I started pondering whether the money I saved would be worth it if I got hit, when an airport shuttle van pulled up by me. "Going to the airport?" he asked.

"Yes!" I said hopefully.

"Well then get in! You've got another mile to go."

The shuttle driver clearly thought I was nuts. I tried to explain a little about needing exercise, but I don't think he thought pulling a suitcase for two miles on a sidewalk-less road was the best way to get your exercise, and I guess I have to agree with him. He pulled up to the curb to let me off, I handed him five dollars, and he thanked me and told me next time to try jogging if I want exercise.

The rest of my trip has been much less eventful, but very lovely. I've spent time with friends and family. I got to see ScienceMama and her little Bean, and I've eaten and drank to excess. Tomorrow is New Year's Eve, but more importantly it's my mom's birthday, and the whole family will be together in the first time in forever to celebrate with her.

I'm still debating about whether or not I'll be making New Year's resolutions this year, and I'm also still vacillating between challenges for January, but I guess I better make up my mind soon! I fly home on the 1st, and will be back to regular life on the 2nd.

Happy New Year everyone. May 2008 be a banner year for you all!

Monday, December 24, 2007

'Twas the Afternoon Before Christmas

Merry Christmas Eve!

I'm at my uncle's place, enjoying the warmth (75 degrees here in sunny Southern California.) I sat outside, enjoyed the sun, read a book, played Wii with my cousin and ate lots and lots of cookies.

The eating the cookies almost made up for the staying up until 4:00 am baking cookies on Saturday night. Almost.

Anyway, I hope all of you, wherever you are, are enjoying your holiday. I wish you all the joy in the world.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Still Over 3,000 Things To Do

My sister's plane lands in a little over twelve hours. Am I any where near done?
Um, that would be a resounding no.
Am I going to sleep tonight?
Jury's still out on that one.

Friday, December 21, 2007

I Have 3,542 Things To Do Before Christmas

Ack! Ack! Ack! Are there really only four days left?

I hope you all have been better planners than I have been, because four days to Christmas, and I still haven't finished started making my damn presents.

This is not my fault. Okay it is. But in my defense, I have been doing OTHER things. Like making cookies for my boss's birthday. And making brownies for the company potluck. (Which, by the way, were AWESOME. At the last minute, I decided that adding ginger and cinnamon would make my boring brownie recipe infinitely more special. And you know what? I was RIGHT!)Also, I've been eating brownies and cookies. And watching the first season of "Heroes" all in one weekend. And now I would really LIKE to be busy making presents, but is it my FAULT that I've been totally and completely sucked into "The Omnivore's Dilemma," and can't stop reading it?!

In other news, remember my used book dilemma? Well, I finally decided to buy the used book, and then it arrived from Powells and apparently they sent me a new book for the used price! I don't really know how or why that happened, but I guess my cousin is just getting a new book. Ah well. I tried.

I also think that after four months of not buying anything new for myself, I'm going to have to cave and buy something. I've been putting it off, and putting it off, because I REALLY didn't want to, but I'm freezing cold (I know, I know, I live in LA, tell it to my feetcicles.) So I think I'm going to buy a cherry pit heating pad. I'm justifying it because at least the cherry pits are being put to use, where they might be thrown away? And also because if I didn't buy one, I might be compelled to turn on the heat which so far I've avoided doing.

In any case, I want to wish you all a wonderful holiday break. I'll be posting off and on for the next week, and please continue to comment on the January challenge here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


There are over 10 days left in my DeSloFooMo challenge, but I'm already looking to January! I've come up with a few options for my January challenge, but I'm having a hard time picking which challenge to try out, so I thought I'd put it to you and get your input.

Here are the choices:

JaLoFoMo- The Local Food Challenge
Since starting DeSloFooMo, I've become much more interested in the food I eat and where it comes from. Currently, if any of my food is local, it's totally accidental. I'd like to try and incorporate some local foods into my diet, and that's what this challenge would be about.

Pros: This is a challenge I'm pretty excited to try as food has been on my mind a lot recently. I'd also like to supplement my challenge by doing some reading about the local food movement. Also, there's a farmers' market that's about a twenty minute walk from my apartment that I have never been to, and I'd like to get into a routine of going every weekend.

Cons: Another month of food? While I think people have enjoyed DeSloFooMo, this isn't a food blog, and two months in a row of food challenges might be a bit much.

JaWaCoMo- The Water Conservation Challenge
The Mayor of Los Angeles is probably going to institute mandatory water conservation regulations soon as we're in a pretty bad drought here in Los Angeles. This challenge would be about conserving my water- hand-washing dishes, taking short showers, etc.

Pros: This challenge would definitely be timely.

Cons: I try to be pretty water-conscious already. I do use a dishwasher, but I only run it about once a week. (I eat breakfast and lunch at work, and those dishes get washed by hand.) And I already take short showers. I know that there are things I could be doing regarding my toilet, but because it's just me in my apartment, my personal toilet doesn't get used a ton. I'm at work a lot, and I can't really "let it mellow" at work.

JaDiCuMo- The Diva Cup Challenge
The first time I heard about the Diva Cup, my reaction was, "Ew, gross." But the more I keep reading about it, from various people, the more intrigued I've become. And I'm always up for trying something once, so, what the hell? Why not give it a go?

Pros: This to me is the wackiest, most out-there challenge of the three. And who doesn't love a wacky, out-there challenge?

Cons: Most of the month, it won't even be relevant.

All right, those are the options. Let me know what you think in the comments. Any additions, questions, or other options are welcomed as well.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

People of the Corn

I just started reading Michael Pollan's book, "The Omnivore's Dilemma," and so far it's been a fascinating and somewhat frightening read. It's an interesting time for me to be reading this book- halfway through my DeSloFooMo challenge. One of the things I like about this current challenge is that it has made me take a closer look at the food I'm putting in my body and how it gets from wherever it is grown or raised to me.

Before DeSloFooMo, I really didn't give much thought to the food I ate. I know it seems crazy, but I never considered who made the Trader Joe's prepared lasagna I like. I never considered where it was made or when. I didn't think about where the lettuce for my prepared salad was grown, or whether the dressing was made with high fructose corn syrup. I bought organic at times, and didn't when I was feeling cheap. Food sustains me, but it didn't sustain my interest. I just ... didn't care.

Since starting the challenge, I've become more keenly interested in the food I eat. I've bought mostly organic when it was an option. I've examined ingredient labels. And since I'm the one preparing my lasagna, I know when it was made and where. I felt like I was becoming much more food conscious and savvy.

But as I read this book, I realize, I still have so much to learn.

One of the most interesting parts of "The Omnivore's Dilemma" has to do with its in depth coverage of the corn industry. I knew that corn was in a lot of foods and drinks, and yet, I never really realized the extent until I started reading this book. Pollan writes that while Mexican descendants of the Mayans may claim to be "the corn people," the truth is that Americans have more of a claim to that title:

But carbon 13 doesn't lie, and researchers who have compared the isotopes in the flesh or hair of North Americans to those in the same tissues of Mexicans report that it is now we in the North who are the true people of corn. "When you look at the isotope ratios," Todd Dawson, a Berkeley biologist who's done this sort of research, told me, "we North Americans look like corn chips with legs." Compared to us, Mexicans today consume a far more varied carbon diet: the animals they eat still eat grass (until recently, Mexicans regarded feeding corn to livestock as a sacrilege); much of their protein comes from legumes; and they still sweeten their beverages with cane sugar.
So that's us: processed corn, walking (Dilemma 23).

I knew from traveling to other parts of the world that most other countries weren't as addicted to high fructose corn syrup, but I didn't give much thought to what we feed our livestock. As it turns out, corn is in our sodas, our burgers, and probably in our fries as well.

Was I a really a 'corn chip with legs?' I started to pull jars out of cabinets to get a closer look at what I was eating. The cereal I ate today didn't have high fructose corn syrup, but it does contain corn bran and corn starch. The milk I drank probably came from a corn-fed cow. The yogurt I had was imported from Greece, so the cows there probably weren't fed corn, but I really don't know much about Greek farming. The honey I had with the yogurt is corn-free, as was the peanut butter and jelly I ate. (Both were organic, from Trader Joes. Smucker's would have contained high fructose corn syrup.) But the bread for my PB&J sandwich? Contained corn flour.

Obviously corn isn't a bad guy. I love corn, corn bread, and corn tortillas. But the idea that we're unconsciously eating so much corn is scary. And the more I read and learn, the more I realize that the way we grow our food is fundamentally problematic.

And yet, it seems unlikely to be changed.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Arduous Can Bake, But She Cannot Ice

On, Friday, I made some chocolate gingerbread men to take with me to my friend's holiday cookie decorating party.

Of course, I didn't have a gingerbread man cookie cutter, nor could I buy one, so I had to cut them out using a paper template.

All things considered, I think they turned out pretty well.

I took them to the party, where I scored massive bonus points for making CHOCOLATE gingerbread men, and also for making them without the use of a cookie cutter.

And then I tried to decorate them. And let's just say, I'm not giving Martha a run for her money any time soon.

This was my first attempt.

It wouldn't be so bad ... you know, if I were FIVE.

This is punk man. I made him when I got tired of trying to use the icing.

Uh oh. I guess this gingerbread man suffered some red eye when I took his picture.

A Family of Freaks.

Luckily for me, freakish gingerbread men taste just as good as the non-freakish variety. Unlucky for the poor gingerbread men. They're all gone now.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

If You Whine About It On The Internet, It Will Come

My friend Honda had two basting brushes in her kitchen, so she gave me one yesterday, "So you can brush cut things!"

So now, I am the proud owner of a basting brush! I like it so much, I'm not even going to kick Honda's ass for making fun of my "brush cutting." (Well, that and Honda's freakishly strong, so I couldn't kick her ass even if I wanted to.)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Happy Friday!

My desk is a mess, and my Christmas to-do list feels a mile long, but I wanted to wish everyone a happy and low-stress weekend (as low stress as weekends this time of year can be.)

I've lately taken to listening to holiday music at work, and it's amazing how it's been putting me in the holiday spirit, and making me less cranky about my epic to-do list.

This weekend, DeSloFooMo-holiday baking edition! I can't really remember the last time I baked cookies. And I definitely cannot remember the last time I baked cookies that weren't pre-made in a tube. Probably hasn't happened since high school. But I got to say, this cooking thing? I will admit, it's become a little addictive for me. I definitely don't hate it so much as I used to. So I'm excited to try my hand at baking. And if it all goes terribly wrong, well, you know you'll be the first to know.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Four Months In

It has been about 4 months since I embarked on my year of non-consumerism. I say "about," because I am not 100% sure when exactly it was I decided to become a non-consumer. I'm pretty sure the last new, durable, non-gift, non-Egypt thing I bought was a dress that I bought on August 1st. And I made my decision sometime between August 1st and the 17th, but I wasn't 100% committed to my decision at first, so I kind of made it in my head, and didn't really talk about it or write about it.

But basically, it's been four months.

In general ... it feels fine. I don't feel deprived at all. The few things I've really wanted, I've found used. And as for the rest, my philosophy is, if it's too much trouble to find it used, then I really didn't need it. And, truth be told, I've never been a HUGE shopper anyway.

Occasionally, it's a hassle. The other day, I was helping a friend do some Christmas shopping at Crate and Barrel, and there was a basting brush there for under a dollar. I'd kind of like a basting brush, seeing as I don't have one, and it was SO CHEAP. But I didn't get it. And that was probably fine, since I have yet to baste something in my life.

Sometimes, it's an adventure. Like when I made some cool scrapbooks using stuff I had on hand at home. Or when I find clothes in my closet that I haven't worn in a year.

But mostly? Mostly I don't think about it much. It doesn't occur to me to buy things, because I've removed it as an option. And in that way, it's a relief. Because it used to be that I'd see something, and maybe want it, and much hand-wringing, and can I afford it, and do I really need it, would follow. And now?

Now there's no hand-wringing. There's no justifying, no rationalizing. No wait-three-days-and-if-I'm-still-thinking-about-it-maybe-I-can-get-it-as-long-as-my-bank-account-looks-okay.

I don't need to convince myself that this "thing" will change my life, because I know it won't. I don't need to tell myself that it's a necessity because I know it isn't.

So, yeah, I'd have to say, that four months into my year of non-consumerism, my overriding feeling is of peace.

Eight months to go.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Easy Green #3

Chances are, if you're reading this blog, you spend a lot of time on the internet. And if you want to see what J Crew's winter collection looks like, you don't need a catalog to see it, because it's all available online. So why not reduce the catalogs you receive, save a few trees, and lessen the clutter in your house?

I had previously tried to get off of various catalogs, by emailing the companies directly, but locating the proper email address was oftentimes difficult, so I ended up only emailing a few companies and leaving it at that, until I found Catalog Choice. Catalog Choice makes it really easy to get out of all those annoying, often unsolicited, catalogs that come in the mail.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

DeSloFooMo- Shoot Me Now

Today I am eating a heavenly butternut squash soup for lunch. I am sincerely glad it is so good, because making it almost killed me.

It all started when the magnificent ScienceMama sent me a few recipes to try including her recipe for butternut squash soup. I LOVE butternut squash soup. In fact, it might be my current favorite soup. So I skimmed through the recipe, and it seemed that ScienceMama had adequately judged my level of culinary skill (or lack there of.) Most of the recipe seemed doable. The only thing that confused me was this one phrase: "Brush cut side of squash with oil."

"Brush cut? How do you brush cut something?" I wondered. I came to the conclusion that brush cutting must be some sort of more advanced culinary skill that I had yet to learn, perhaps involving a cooking utensil I didn't own- half basting brush, half knife? Because I don't ALWAYS like to telegraph my cooking retardedness, I decided to Google "brush cut," and see what I got.

Of course, all I got was that a brush cut was a type of hair cut. Which, somehow, I doubted that I was supposed to give the squash some sort of hair cut, so that was out. I googled "brush cut cooking," and came up with many results involving brush cutting things, but nowhere was brush cutting defined!

Finally, I gave up and turned to Awesomest Co-worker. "Okay, this is probably a really stupid question, but I'm looking at a recipe that's telling me to 'brush cut' something. What does that mean?"

Awesomest Co-worker looked at me dumbfounded. "Brush cut? I have no idea."

I began to feel relieved. "Oh good. So this isn't some sort of culinary term that EVERYONE knows except me."

"What's the context," Awesomest Co-Worker asked.

"Brush cut side of squash with oil," I began.

And that's when Awesomest Co-Worker started to laugh. "It's not brush cut, it's brush THE CUT side of squash. Like, brush the side of the squash that has been cut as opposed to the non-cut side."

"Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh. See, THAT I know how to do."

That being settled, I reviewed the rest of the recipe. It looked easy, though time-consuming, with a lot of down time while things roasted or simmered. So I figured, while I was making that, I might as well make tomato sauce as well. I had been meaning to try my hand at making my own tomato sauce- mostly to use up all my tomatoes before they went moldy. (I'm trying really hard this time NOT to end up with moldy vegetables. So far, I've been successful.)

The tomato sauce recipe looked easy too. Why not just make one night a giant cooking night? So, I decided to make BOTH the butternut squash soup and the tomato sauce.


I got home at 7:10 pm, having had to stop at two grocery stores on my way, because neither Trader Joe's nor Vons carried ALL the ingredients I needed. I immediately got to work on the squash.

For a while it was all sunshine and daisies. I successfully roasted the squash.

I observed that tomatoes look naked and sad when peeled, and that de-seeding them is intensely boring.

But as the minutes started to tick by, I got more and more tired. My back ached from stooping over to chop things. My feet hurt from standing. I was STARVING because I still hadn't found time to eat dinner. My hands were freezing from handling cold vegetables, and the rest of me was burning up from the heat of the stove and oven. I was slowly getting crankier and crankier.

By 10:00pm I was entering the home stretch. The butternut squash soup was almost done. All I had to do was throw it in the blender, and season it. The tomato sauce just had to be pureed in the food processor and then reduced. No more chopping! Hooray!!

And then my blender did this:

Butternut squash soup splattered all over my fridge, the counter, the blender, and my hair. I quickly unplugged the blender before it could vomit up anymore soup and stared at the mess. By this time I was tired enough, hungry enough, and achy enough that I could have cried. But luckily, the first thought that came into my head was, "Well at least it will make for a good fodder for my blog."

I managed to salvage most of the butternut squash soup, and then started re-blending it a cup at a time, while holding on tight to the blender to prevent it from leaking. I quickly tasted the soup (amazing!) and I wanted to stop right there, but I still had the freaking tomato sauce to finish and also my kitchen looked like 20 toddlers had had a food fight in it.

I quickly put the tomato sauce through the food processor, and set it on the stove to reduce while I cleaned the kitchen. I cleaned up most of the dishes, and then decided, "Screw it. I'll do the rest tomorrow," and went to watch TV and eat the remainder of the rum cake from Sunday night.

Meanwhile, my sauce continued to reduce. I took a quick shower. I got dressed for bed. I brushed my teeth.

The sauce was still not done.

At last, at 12:30 at night, a mere FIVE AND A HALF HOURS AFTER I STARTED COOKING, my tomato sauce was done. Luckily, it too, had turned out to be delicious.

As I crawled into bed last night, I decided, "That's it. I'm eating sandwiches and omelets for the rest of DeSloFooMo."

Today, I feel a little better about the whole thing. But I have learned my lesson:

Never cook two time intensive recipes, neither of which you've ever tried before, in one night. Particularly a work-night.

I still haven't figured out exactly what went wrong with my blender, though I'm assuming that in my exhaustion, I didn't lock it down properly. I will say that it will probably be a little while before I work up the nerve to use my blender again.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Weekend Fun

Annie was in town over the weekend, so this weekend was jam-packed with fun with her and my other friends. Sunday night, eleven of us crowded into my little one-bedroom apartment, for a delicious dinner of hot buttered rum, persimmon salad, roast chicken, lasagna, and rum cake. I was in charge of the lasagna, and after the turkey burger debacle, I was a little worried, but the lasagna turned out just fine. My friends outdid themselves with the chicken and the rum cake, and everything was so good that I didn't stop eating until I thought I was going to die of fullness.

To me, this is what the holidays are about. Having my friends over, and enjoying a meal, playing some games, and drinking too much hot buttered rum.

Friday, December 7, 2007

DeSloFooMo- The Meltdown

So, while I am perfectly capable of making delicious vegetarian lasagna, or sloppy joes, or omelets, I am apparently a total disaster when it comes to making turkey burgers on a GEORGE FOREMAN GRILL.

Yesterday, I was kind of getting tired of the monotony of my diet, which mostly stems from my extremely limited cooking repertoire, because as mentioned previously, I am not much of a cook. Really. I think before this week, I cooked maybe 10 times this year. Total. But I figured, what the hell, everything's been turning out so well, and how can I mess up turkey burgers, really?

But I couldn't find my instructions to the George Foreman, so I called my mom and asked her how long I needed to cook the turkey burgers for.

"I don't know, about five minutes on either side. So 10 minutes total, okay? Be sure to cook them REALLY thoroughly," she warned because she totally doesn't trust that I won't give myself food poisoning. And I agreed with alacrity because I have a horror of uncooked meat that stems from this really scary movie that we watched in sixth grade science about a crazy dude named Fester who tries to get kids to eat foods that have been "in the danger zone!" (Annie, ScienceMama, tell me you remember this film.)

So I pulled out the George Foreman, and right here is where I admit that I also do not really like my George Foreman grill. And I know, I know, that saying that means that when I go home there will be millions of Foreman enthusiasts at my door lining up to beat me with Foreman sized sticks, but I've tried, people. I just don't like it. I don't like that you can't see the meat while it grills, and I don't like that it's so small and that it's hard to clean, and I don't like the weird little fat tray under the grill.

But it had been a long time since I last tried my Foreman, and I figured, well it's THERE, and everyone says that it makes cooking so easy, and I've been successfully managing to cook all week, so maybe I'm not the cooking idiot I once was. So I put my turkey burgers on the Foreman, and checked the clock. And then five minutes in, I opened up the grill, and this was my first indicator that maybe my mom was wrong about how long it takes to cook turkey on a Foreman grill, because the burgers looked about done, and also, why would I need to flip them since there's that double grill? But, my mom said ten minutes, and she's MY MOM. I trusted her. So I flipped them over, and closed the Foreman again.

But now I was kind of suspicious, so I ran to my computer to check and see if I could find instructions online, but I couldn't find them anywhere, and then I remembered exactly where the instructions were, so I quickly pulled them out and saw that according to the instructions turkey burgers are supposed to cook for FIVE TO SEVEN minutes.

But it was too late, it had already been ten minutes, so I hastily unplugged the Foreman and put the burgers on a plate. And I was starving, so I just poured a ton of ketchup and mustard on my burger to mask the slightly burnt taste, and took a big bite and my bite was COLD and I freaked out and had a mini panic attack and I could swear in my head that Fester's evil eyes were gleaming at me.

And then I realized that the cold was not from the burger, but from the bun, which ... okay, I had run out of hamburger buns, so I had pulled an English muffin from the freezer to use. Only it turns out that you should not put English muffins in the freezer because they turn into hockey pucks, and were impossible to separate, so when I finally managed to separate them, 3/4 of the muffin was on one side and 1/4was on the other, but the whole thing had been such a fiasco, and I was hungry, so I just threw it in the toaster like that, and well, the 3/4 of a muffin? It was still a little cold.

In the end I didn't die of food poisoning which is the most important thing anyway. And I learnt some very important things in the process, such as, "Don't put
English muffins in the freezer," and "In addition to being hard to clean, Foreman grills are also freakishly fast in cooking meat."

So there you are. I guess it would have been too much to have expected a week to go by without some sort of Arduous cooking fiasco.

The City She Loves Me

I am never more in love with my city than after spending an evening in one of its amazing music venues. Spaceland, it had been too long, but I swear, I'll be back soon.
Outside it's raining. I should be asleep, but I'm too wound up, so instead, I'm enjoying the peaceful Los Angeles night.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Consumption Gone Wild!

Okay, I know I have neither been pregnant, nor gone through labor. I know from my pregnant and formerly pregnant friends, that pregnancy is rough and uncomfortable and that labor is no picnic either. So I know that I shouldn't judge, but I have to ask, is this really necessary?

I don't know, maybe I will change my mind when I get pregnant, but personally, I don't really feel like a "push present" of diamond jewelry is necessary just because ... I gave birth like women have been doing for thousands and thousands of years. Not to knock the miracle of birth, as it is a miracle that I would like to be a part of one day. But I think maybe giving birth to my child, and having my loving and supportive spouse by my side would be enough. And if he REALLY wanted to give me a present? Maybe instead of buying me jewelry, he'd hire a cleaning service.

The other thing that weirds me out about this article is that all these women seemed to have basically hinted to their husbands that this is what they wanted until their husbands bought them the "push present." It's not like it was even coming out of the husband's head as a nice, unexpected, romantic thing to do for his wife. If you really, really want jewelry (and I have to admit, that I am not immune to the allure of jewelry) why not buy it yourself? Especially if you're having to hint to your husband about it anyway. I mean gifts are nice and lovely, but to me, what makes gifts special is the surprise element of them. (I would think this would be especially true when you share a bank account with someone. It's not like the gift is free, really. It's coming out of your budget.)

But again, I haven't gone through pregnancy, or labor, so I don't want to be unnecessarily harsh. To me, this feels like excessive consumerism, but I'd be interested to know what those of you who have kids think about this.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Irony Thy Name is Paper Company

So a week ago or so, I ordered some recycled paper, and today it arrived in a cardboard box stuffed with STYROFOAM balls.

It's .. paper. It's not even fragile. Why would anyone package RECYCLED paper with STYROFOAM?

Why "Freeze Yer Buns" Isn't So Arduous

It was a sunny 85 degrees in Los Angeles yesterday. Ha ha! We may be a city full of gridlock and plastic surgery, but on the flip side, we occasionally get 80 degree days in December.

(I think that's actually our official motto. LA: it's not that cold.)

Anyway, after a week of freezing my buns off and wondering if I was going to make it through this challenge, it was so nice to come home to an apartment that wasn't icy cold but warm, warm, warm. In fact it was a little too warm. And then I thought, hey, I committed to turning off my heat, I didn't say anything about my A/C. I can run that thing all night long.

I'm kidding! I'm kidding! I didn't turn on my A/C. I didn't even crack a window. Instead I revelled in not being cold, made myself dinner, talked on the phone to a few friends, and went to bed in just a tee-shirt.

It was heaven.

Oh yeah, so far DeSloFooMo is going really well! I actually find myself *excited* to cook. Of course it's only been five days, so who knows if the novelty will wear off. But for now, I'm enjoying this challenge very much.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

One is Silver and the Other's Gold

So, I'm having a Christmas gift problem. I've basically figured out my gifts, except that my 11 year-old cousin has a book on his Christmas list. As the resident book lover in the family, I usually tend to buy the books off his list. And I'd love to do that this year ... except, I'm having "issues" with myself. See, while I CAN buy gifts for people, it seems so silly to me to NOT buy a used book when used books are such an easy thing to get. And yet, I feel guilty. It's Christmas! Does a used book say, "I'm cheap?"

And then I remembered an incident with my grandfather when I was about my cousin's age. I was at their home in India, and it was early morning and I was reading. Several books were piled around me on either side. I had been given a bunch of used books by some family friend and I was excited to pour through them all.

My grandfather picked up one of the books that was particularly old- it was a small, yellowed paperback, and the binding had come undone; the front cover was hanging on by a thread. "This book needs repairing," he declared. "Let me take it to be fixed, and I'll bring it back when I come home from work."

I had never heard of BOOKS being repaired. And I was loathe to part with my book. I half suspected my grandfather would throw it out, or forget about it, or that it would need to be "repaired" for weeks, and I wouldn't get the book back. But my grandfather was not really someone who I could argue with, so I gave it to him.

And sure enough, that night he came home with my newly-repaired book. The binding was fixed. The cover was newly laminated. The book looked perfect! My joy and amazement at seeing my old book repaired was far greater than it would have been, had my grandfather just gone out and bought me a new copy.

I think most people would probably just toss an old paperback, rather than get it fixed. That moment with my grandfather was a "teaching moment." He probably didn't intend it to be- for him, repairing paperbacks was probably the norm, and not so unusual. To me, though, that was a small reminder that sometimes fixing something used is better than buying something new.

So maybe I will get my cousin the used book. Possibly he won't notice. Most of the used books I've bought have been in excellent condition. But if he does notice, maybe I'll explain to him why I bought a used book. And one day, many years from now, he might think of that used book and remember that sometimes buying something used is better than buying something new.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Easy Green #2

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, from time to time I'm going to post easy things to do to "green up" your life. While they may not seem like very big things, I am a believer (or at least I try to be) that every little change can make a difference.

One easy change I made a few months ago- bringing my own dishes and utensils to work. I like to eat my cereal at work while I check my morning email. Because my office has a stock of plastic dishes and utensils in the kitchen, I would use a plastic bowl and a plastic spoon each morning and then throw them away. Looking back, I can't believe it took me so long just to bring in my own bowl and spoon.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Holy %$@&

I just got my electric bill for the past two months, and it's LESS THAN HALF the cost of my last bill. Of course this bill is for September 14th through November 15th, which means that the last period was in the height of the summer. So most of the decrease is probably from not running the A/C. But still.

DeSloFooMo- 1st Shopping Excursion

Part of the reason that I started eating almost entirely pre-packaged meals was because I suffer from moldy potato syndrome. It goes like this. You go shopping, and you decide that you are going to be Healthy and so you buy all these vegetables- potatoes, tomatoes, cauliflower, spinach. And then you throw in a frozen pizza because one cannot be healthy all the time. And then two weeks later, you want something to eat, you open your fridge, and you find a bunch of bad vegetables and nothing else. (You ate the frozen pizza 12 days ago.)

Gradually, I decided that buying fresh vegetables was a waste. I never seemed to finish them before they went bad. I would buy a cauliflower intending to cook it, but then I would always pass up the cauliflower in favor of some mac and cheese. Because it was easier. So I reasoned, if that's the way it is, that's the way it is. I could delude myself into buying fresh vegetables and then never eat them, or I could just buy ready made salads and chicken wraps from Trader Joe's and at least then I'd be getting some veggies in me.

But with this challenge, I am endeavoring to find a third way. I don't want to buy a lot of things and have them go to waste. And yet, I also don't want to have to eat the same thing every day. This is the problem of living alone, and another reason I don't cook. Four to six servings is not much for a family, but for an individual, it's four to six meals!

I knew I needed to plan. I sat down with a few cookbooks, and came up with a few meals to eat this week whose ingredients somewhat overlapped. Then I quickly listed everything I needed for these planned meals- omelets, turkey burgers, turkey sloppy joes, lasagna, and spaghetti. And after THAT, I went shopping.

I always walk to the grocery store, and I also always shop in my bags. This prevents me from mindlessly throwing things into my cart that I don't really need. Yesterday, only two things not on my list went into my cart- ketchup and mustard that I realized I didn't have and would definitely need for turkey burgers. Aside from that, it was all on my list. I mostly bought organic when I could, though I couldn't quite stop stressing about the prices.

Finally, I was done. I chatted with the nice lady at the check-out counter (Trader Joe's has the NICEST employees), and kept glancing fearfully at the register as my items rang up. Finally, my final total. $64.57.

Not bad considering all the staples I had to buy.

And then I went home, and made myself an omelet.

It was delicious.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

What Have I Decided to Do?!

Okay, I think this month's challenge might be a little harder than I anticipated.

Just so you can see what I'm working with, here are the current contents of my fridge. That's face lotion in the corner, and I think the lemonade is probably old.

And this is my fridge door. Probably half the condiments and the soda need to be tossed.

Okay, and while I know my freezer looks incriminating, I'm not a lush. I swear! I just happen to throw a lot of get togethers at my house.

And my pantry. Don't ask me how long I've had that random tin of water chestnuts on the top shelf. Or why I purchased a random tin of water chestnuts in the first place.

Clearly I have my work cut out for me. Sigh.