Saturday, January 28, 2012

Winter wonderful

I love winter.

I love wonderful white snow, the view across the frozen lake, tossing snowballs to my dog, walking through the quiet woods, waking up to wonderland.

This was the lakefront view at my In-Laws' cottage this morning. Still dark, quiet, just black squirrels chittering in the birdseed outside. The picture doesn't even do it justice. It's serene. It's the best part of winter, and lovely hibernation from the not-so-good parts. I've been hiding out here since Monday and wish I never had to leave. 

Tomorrow though I make my way downstate to celebrate with family the new adventure that is my year living in South Korea. At the end of the week the trip officially begins and I become a real international traveler (I'm not sure I can count Canada. Maybe the cruise to Bermuda counts?)! 

I'm so excited, eager, hopeful, naive- I'm sure, but mostly feeling quite chill...ready to take things as they come. I hope that feeling sticks as much as the snow has!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Mrs. Loznak

Web-sourced photo of my old alma mater, Perrin Palmer Elementary.

Speaking of memory lane, I stopped by Kroger for some groceries the other day. While I was inspecting the produce near the store's entry, in walked Mrs. Loznak, my fifth grade teacher.

She was a touch surprised to see me. Maybe the fact that I haven't lived in this town in ten years had something to do with it. We said hello. She was obviously wanting to get her groceries more than make small talk with a student from 17 years ago. Holy cow, does that make me feel old! Maybe "holy cow" makes me old, too. One day my kids will make fun of me for being so 90s.

We moved on to our separate grocery lists. As we went through the store, our paths crossed several times, and I just couldn't help but think of all the ways Mrs. Loznak, back in fifth grade, had so much to do with who I am and what I know now.

I compared price per ounce for different sized bags of pecans.

Thank you for math skills, Mrs. Loznak.

I analyzed sodium content for various brands of black beans.

Thank you for good judgement about nutrition, Mrs. Loznak.

I bought quinoa.

Thank you for encouraging me to try new things, Mrs. Loznak.

To all the teachers, old and new, your work was and is so worth it! Thank you for the humility to plant seeds and gracefully allow someone else the harvest.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Testing, testing, will this work? Blogger app and site are lacking with iPad compatibility and ease of use. Will the email method deliver?

Memory lane

After dropping Husband off at the airport last week -for his maiden voyage to South Korea- I decided to take the scenic way home, the back way on Airport Rd.

The drive to and through my little hometown was a true trip down memory lane.  Let the stream-of-consciousness ensue.

There are barns everywhere here.  Some are dilapidated, some are shiny new.  This is so peaceful here.

Corn fields for miles.  I bet that is one with mint. Oh, I miss that summertime aroma with the windows down in the country.

There's the road Husband's aunt and uncle live on. I remember double dates with his cousin.

Here's DeWitt Road.  Mom's reminder, "Be careful on the big curve on DeWitt Road!"

I pass tractors and country drivers.  Maybe I'm used to city traffic now.

A dairy farm.  I forget all about holding my breath. Remember how we could smell it at the high school sometimes on a windy day. When was the last time I saw a dairy farm?

Close to town now and my now Mother-in-laws reminder to newly licensed sons: "Twenty one's coming up!"

Into town, there's the house of the youth group leader.  I guess her front porch view is that factory now.

I lived down on Morton street.  It was a mile walk to the City Park Pool in the summer.  I think we paid 50 cents to get in.

Quik Stop is all boarded up now.  We would go there and put in just a couple bucks, always with cash. Remember the chocolate malts with the wooden "spoons".

I remember when that courthouse was built.  We all called it the mountain at the end of Clinton Avenue.

The car wash is gone, just an empty lot now.  I guess I'll go to the one uptown.

That tire shop used to be a chinese restaurant.  I think it was a pizza parlor before that.  At least it's not the other way around.

There's the Rite Aid where Marcy worked in the photo department.  That was when it was new, twelve years ago now.

The Baptist Church is bigger than ever, still not as big as the city block sized ones in Texas though.

Husband's grandma used to manage The West Side Deli.  Amazing how that's still the same after all this time.

I remember getting stuck in the slush in the middle of Old 27 on my way into work at Mancino's.  That was a great first job. Husband kids that he dated me for forty percent off grinders and pizza.

Things have changed plenty, yet they're still the same.  I think that's the same anywhere.

Funny that Korea, half the world away, "looks just like here". 

I think it's true that God gives us just enough change with the seasons and sufficient sameness with the repetition of a year to satisfy our need for novelty and comfort.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The food I eat

I read a few interesting articles this morning about the "Standard American Diet". One suggested reasons to change our thinking and refer to it as an industrial diet. Another was a proponent for concepts like soaking grains and choosing chemical-free foods. A third, from the Mayo Clinic, offered a more general opinion of good nutrition. There are so many schools of thought. Many of them contradict each other, even while offering very convincing evidence.

So, because everyone else is doing it already, I decided to offer you my version of healthy, too! Thanks in advance for humoring me.

First, know my frame of reference: I'm kind of a hippie, I actually find the science part of nutrition very interesting (except for when I was in college and had to do it...alas), and I'm the weirdo who enjoys grocery shopping.

This is my basic strategy. It helped me lose 15 pounds, which I've kept off for over a year. When I eat this way more often than not, it helps me feel good mentally and physically. It is intrinsically motivating. HOWEVER, I am far from perfect. Just see yesterday's post. Luckily, perfection is not the goal!

The strategy:

1. Eat whole foods.
-This does not require you to shop at Whole Foods, but you can if you want to. I have heard the prices aren't bad if you actually buy whole foods instead of the natural, yet pre-packaged stuff.

-Whole foods are things you can recognize obviously without having to think too hard because you can SEE them: fruits, vegetables, real meats, milk, nuts, herbs, spices...

-Try sticking primarily to the perimeter of the grocery store. The is not my original idea, by the way, but it really works!

2. Read every ingredient label. I rarely look at the nutrition facts. I find them to easily be just as misleading as the Food Pyramid. What am I checking for?
-A short list (within reason appropriate to the nature of the product).

-Real foods, nothing artificial (including dyes, sweeteners, petrochemicals, and other strange things that require a dictionary).

3. Ask if I really like this food and want to eat it.
-It's easy to think natural and organic foods are good choices, and sometimes they are. As I began this journey though, I remember being really excited about organic poptarts. Does anyone really need a poptart? I think my $3.99 could be much better spent.

-I am all for trying new foods. Speaking from experience here, start slowly (My husband has the best advice. What he wanted to say was, "What were you thinking?" I wasn't.) to avoid a trash can full of spoiled Peruvian vegetables next to an empty pizza box at the end of the week.

4. Cook simply.
-I don't make a lot of casseroles. They usually require cheese or a creamy soup to hold them together, two things I like to use more sparingly. I also don't use a lot of recipes. I just make chicken with rice and green beans, and that's really all it is. I play with spices and herbs. Limit your experiments to two or three spices/herbs at a time though! Think about combinations restaurants put together.

-Breakfast is usually fruit with nuts, or fruit, spinach, or salsa with eggs. Sometimes we have ham or bacon with our eggs. Occasionally we have toast, yogurt, or cheese. We save things like pancakes or French toast for the occasional weekend treat. I don't buy much cereal or English muffins because they usually just sit in the cupboard. We drink coffee with cream for Husband, milk for me, and love the taste of raw sugar.

-Lunch is almost always leftovers from last night's dinner. We pack it in single serving containers when we put it away the night before. Easy.

-Husband rarely has time for lunch, let alone a snack. I have a tendency to make cake or pie into a snack. When i'm thinking clearly, I try to make it milk, nuts, or fruit.

-Dinner is meat + vegetable + whole grain. I try to make meat and whole grains each about 1/4 of our plates, and veggies about 1/2. Often it's more like 1/3 of each. There's always a fat, too, in the form of oil, butter, avocado, cheese, or nuts.

-I do all the cooking because of Husband's work schedule. I really like cooking, so cooking from scratch is fun for me instead of a hassle. Still, if you keep meals simple, you can get dinner done in 30 minutes. Simple meals also help to make that time relaxing instead of hectic. I like to drink my wine while I cook instead of while I eat!

5. Eating out; more about how much than what.
-I used to try to order something really healthy when going out to eat, and I usually walked away disappointed. Now I order something moderately healthy, but still tasty, and regulate my portions.

-We eat out about three times a week, twice for dinner and once for lunch. I try to think ahead so I don't end up having a weekend binge. Also, eating out is a great time to try new foods that may be difficult to make at home.

-We love lattes, but now I get them with no whipped cream or sauce on top and half the flavored syrup. We get them about once per week because there's a Starbucks right by church.

What about you? I would love to know what you do about what to eat!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Retain what is good

Why do I choose things that aren't good for me when I know they make me feel bad? I guess this question is the signal of a true addiction. Why bother fooling myself?

Last night I ate four brownies. This morning I woke up and had another...and then went back to sleep. Two hours later I apparently felt like having dessert after breakfast, and had another. Had is exactly the right word, too; because at that point I didn't even enjoy it. I just consumed it.

Alas, my post is not intended to be about what I did wrong. Quite oppositely, it's about what I do right. In the spirit of blog-stalking, I'm tagging up with Small Notebook again for a keep/drop list. (I really need an iPad tutorial because in addition to not knowing how to insert pictures on here, I also don't know how to make a link. The touchscreen makes half of what you do incredibly easy and the other half more complicated.)

Keep: Dessert (from real ingredients that are still recognizable)
Drop: Super sweet and processed treats that just end up making me feel bad

Keep: Grace towards myself and others
Drop: Bullying the imperfections

Keep: Playing
Drop: Working out

Monday, January 09, 2012

Backwards upside down

**If you happened to view this post within the first few hours it was originally posted, it has been revised now.  Sometimes passions in my heart become arrogant and unmerciful when they escape into my words.  I apologize for not showing grace, and hope that editing myself will show real love that erases my initial crudeness.**

It's back to the blog for me in 2012!

I welcome you back to reading here as well. Happy new days, new opportunities, new joys. I'm glad to be here. My mind has been abuzz the last few weeks with thoughts I'd like to share here with you. I'm also glad to be blogging via my lovely new iPad, thanks to Husband this Christmas. One drawback I just realized, however, is that I don't actually know how to upload a picture -even from the Internet- on here without having memory. I will be working on this. My temporary fix is to upload pictures via my Mom's desktop.

The real thoughts on my mind tonight -and often lately- center on how drastically backwards upside down God's perspective is from our own. That is of course a lie though. We are the ones who have it backwards upside down. I have been learning -sometimes painfully- that God's ways are higher than our ways. I understand so little, and I find myself asking frequently to be humbled, begging to be set straight so I can understand the Truth.

In a sermon tonight, the pastor described the gifts the Magi brought to Jesus. Pagan men, following astrology alone, came to an infant Savior. The gifts they offered represented the magnitude of His mission: King, God, Sacrifice. The pastor suggested gifts we could offer Jesus in this new year; perhaps a few extra minutes with him each day or giving up foul language or dirty jokes.

These offerings are important because Jesus wants to transform us completely.  He wants our prayer, worship, and fellowship; yes.  He also desires our everyday thoughts, words, and actions; our communication, body language, inner mumblings; the way we spend our time, talents, income; our heart of hearts in all things.  Transformation is a work in progress, a work of transforming our everyday ordinary.

Jesus has no need to receive gifts from us. It is us who have the need to give to him.

He wants all of our lives so he can transform us backwards upside down and give us real life in Him.

Oh, the struggle and joy to remain present to the guiding and prompting and intervening of the Holy Spirit.

His ways are not like our ways.

Backwards upside down.

Rich can be poor. Poor can be rich.

Misfortune can be opportunity.

Pain can be joy. Ugly can be beautiful.
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