Monday, July 30, 2012

You Win Target

I dare you to find someone that can walk into Target to buy laundry detergent and only buys laundry detergent and does not end up leaving 3 bag fulls later. You can't can you? Target has been my love since an early age and this weekend was no exception.  Final score, Target 1, Me 0. Will power was left outside and I perused the isles.  I had one thing to buy and left with a big bag full of goodies.  Including...

The bracelet was on sale and I have been looking for this color nail polish for a while.  I hardly ever, ever paint my fingernails but I have decided to start again and I have absolutely no bracelets.  (Toenails are always painted and how could I not own a single bracelet?!?)  I bought a bunch of really cute articles of clothing as for some reason my summer wardrobe seems to have diminished to a nub.  Now my wardrobe is infused with color, fashion, and comfort.

Dear Target, I need to take a break as I am on a budget.  Please stop offering my really cute things for a really good deal.  I take that back, keep it coming!

Of course it does not help when my sister sends me THIS article this morning talking about Target and Neiman Marcus joining up for a fashion celebration.  When is my next pay day?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Think About It Thursday

"As recently as ten (plus) years ago farmers in India still grew countless indigenous oil crops, including sesame, linseed, and mustards; in 1998 all the small mills that processed these oils were ordered closed, the same year a ban on imported soy oil was lifted. A million villages lost their mills, ten million farmers lost their living, and GM (genetically modified) soy found a vast new market.

"According to Indian crop ecologist Vandana Shiva, humans have eaten some 80,000 plant species in our history.  After recent precipitous changes, three-quarters of all human food now comes from just eight species, with the field quickly narrowing down to genetically modified corn, soy, and canola.  If woodpeckers and pandas enjoy celebrity status on the endangered-species list (dubious though such fame may be), food crops are the forgotten commoners.  We're losing them as fast as we're losing rain forests.  As enormous factor in this loss has been the new idea of plant varieties as patenable properties, rather than God's gift to humanity or whatever arrangement was previously left to be, for all of prior history.  God lost that one in 1970, with the Plant Variety Protection Act. Anything owned by humans, of course, can be taken away from others; the removal of crop contral from farmers to agribusiness has been power and swift.  Six companies--Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont, Mitsui, Aventis, and Dow--now have control of 98 percent of the world's seed sales.  These companies invest heavily in research whose purpose is to increase food production capacity only in ways that can be controlled strictly.  Terminator technology is only one (extreme) example.  The most common genetic modifications now contained in most U.S. corn, soy, cotton, and canola do one of two things: (1) put a bacterial gene into the plant that kills caterpillars, or (2) alter the crop's physiology so it withstands the herbicide Roundup, so chemicals can be sprayed over the crop. (the crop stays alive, the weeds die.) If you guessed Monsanto controls sales of both the resistant seed and the Roundup, give yourself a star.  If you think you'd never eat such stuff, you're probably wrong. GM plants are virtually everywhere in the U.S. food chain, but don't have to be labeled, and aren't.  Industry lobbyist intend to keep it that way."

- Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Book Review: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

Animal, Vegetable, MiracleAnimal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After reading some gushy and some harsh reviews of this book I have to say I really enjoyed reading it. From the tagline I thought this book would play out to be a month-by-month guide of trials and errors in the realm of gardening and farming and could was meant to be used as a resource for adventures in urban farming/gardening. While this book did offer a few tidbits about farming, it was more of an informative book about why the slow food movement is better for you and throws at you facts after facts about how our agriculture has turned into the big monster know as agribusiness.

I read in an early review that Barbara portrayed her family as never fighting and having a perfect life after picking up and moving to an Appalachian Farm. While Barbara did not depict arguments or hard times with her family, I hardly felt that this criticism was valid. On the contrary, Barbara gave examples of her children's playmates rebuffs at family experiences as well as a funny story of a failed attempt to make pumpkin soup in a pumpkin shell that "melted" while serving her guests. Her stories were woven in through her vast knowledge of GMO's, and the ever-powerful California produce that seems to be feeding the entire US at a discounted rate. He stories of local farmers being outbid by the mass producing California farmers as well as American's appetites for "perfectly-shaped produce" and what happens to "second produce" ranging from being tossed out to rot to being donated to families that would otherwise not be able to afford fresh produce.

The book is speckled with recipes her daughter helped to create as well as an inordinate amount of information and turkey breeding (or lack there of) and turkey sex. But hey, in her defense, apparently there are not many books on the subject and I think she really wanted to share her information. As for me, I will never look at turkey the same again.

Overall, it was a good book that I could not wait to come home and read. Barbara's information was on par with the movie "Food Inc" and is becoming more and more relevant as the days go on. I am not going to go out and get my own turkeys anytime soon, but I will continue to support my local farmer's markets, buy seasonal fruits and veggies, and grow as much of my own food as I can.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Think About It Thursday

"By the end of the night these pretty young girls will be bald headed. And in a few weeks their hair will be on the head of doctors, lawyers, and even strippers swinging off of poles. These people have no idea where their hair's going or how much it's worth. The money made at this temple (Chennai Temple in India) is second only to the Vatican. The hair collected here is auctioned off to exporters who distribute it around the planet. But it's chief destination is the weave capital of the world, Los Angeles." 
- Chris Rock, move "Good Hair"

Monday, July 16, 2012

Book Review: Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz

Drowning Ruth  Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Why did I give this book a 3? Well I did not love it which denotes a 4-5 star rating. The author was articulate and had a plot line so clearing a 1 or 2 would be too little. It was just a book I had to read for a book club.

That being sad, I really wish we had chosen another book. Granted, when I got the book from the library and say it was part of Oprah's Book Club I should have know that this book would be drawn out, vague, depressing, and did not finish up in a tiny bow. The author does the time old classic of having character's refuse to communicate with each other while giving us an insight into each person. It is one of those books where you sit back and say, "Really? A million opportunities to say one sentence and they just refuse. Well I wouldn't hang out with that person." I found that I did not sympathize with the characters and really just wanted to finish the book to tell my book club that I read it.

It you like Oprah Book Club type books than this is the one for you. If you like depth of character in which you can relate and/or sympathize with the characters, then move on and chose another book.

View all my reviews

Friday, July 13, 2012

Book Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Finally a book review! I realize it has been forever since I have written one, but here is a quick one from my book club book.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Beautifully written. This inspiring story reads like a novel. Rebecca Skloot takes you along with her on her journey of research and her relationship building to find the story behind the HeLa cells that started the bell curve of disease and cancer research. Henrietta Lacks was a young black women living in tubulent racially divided times. A mother, wife, sister, cousin; she brought joy wherever she went. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer and died shortly afterwards her cells were taken from her during treatment without her knowledge and were handed off to researcher after researcher she died but her cells continued to.ive.

Henrietta's cells can be directly linked to finding a polio vaccine and our knowledge into the creation and growth of cancer cells, to mention a few of hundreds of discoveries. This books feels like a novel, so much so that you forget you are learning vast knowledge on cell anatomy and cancer research and modern day medical science. You ride along with Henrietta and feel the ups and downs of her story as well as the family she left behind and the author's journey to discover the truth. This book will challenge in your beliefs about the ethics of medicine and human decency. A quick read and a great book club book.

View all my reviews

Monday, July 9, 2012

Cooking with Donna & strawberry jam!

I am back on the bandwagon!  I made not only one but two Donna Hay recipes this weekend. Congratulations all around!

I must say that this was a great weekend filled with BBQ, biking, cooking, and even making strawberry jam.  Yummy!  I don't know what it is but I just love making jam and pickled veggies and all things to do with canning.

To start off with I bought a new Donna Hay book called, "New Fast Food".
While this is not in my top 5 Donna Hay books, I still love it! I made dinner for my sister and I which consisted of Chicken with Quince Paste wrapped in prosciutto baked over leeks in white wine (used chicken stock as I did not have white wine on hand).  The chicken was studded with fennel seeds and next time I am cutting a slit in the center and putting a bay leaf.  Recipe was really quick to make and I loved the mellow flavors.  Something about a tender chicken breast wrapped in crispy prosciutto makes me heart warm.

On Sunday we had a jamming party.  Appetizers were of course present and I chose to make one of the recipes out of "Instant Entertaining" which was ground chicken cooked with minced peppers, lemon grass, mint, and ginger. Finish off with a Thai sauce mixture and serve in endive leave or in my case Napa cabbage leaves as endives are not in season.  So healthy, fast, and delicious.  Next time though I am adding more peppers to kick on the heat.  I had left over chicken mixture so Monday for lunch I made spring rolls with the left overs and some herbs and sriracha.  Am I making you hungry yet?  My sister made the Pea Pesto Crostini with veggies and then a few other dishes.  It was delicious and we had tons of fun making the jam, chatting, and munching.  Of course we biked down to the beach later to enjoy the sun and heat.

Strawberries are at the peak of their season and the flavors are to die for right now so my sister picked up tons of baskets from the farmer's market and we tried some new recipes from this blog she follows on urban canning called Food In Jars. We made a bunch of batches with different recipes and flavors.  Vanilla Bean Strawberry Jam, Strawberry Thyme Jam with Wildflower Honey, and Strawberry Thyme Jame with Orange Blossom Honey.  We created some cute labels for the jam and are ready to go into business!  Okay, we are not really going into business, but I had a lot of fun, loved the flavors, and am planning on many more canning events in my future.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Checking in

Goal updates...

1. Buying a state park pass and going on fun hikes - I have gone on hikes, but no pass yet
2. Visiting/catching up with long lost friends - Check!  I may even go visit one far far away if things fall into place...
3. Signing up for another running event - Or biking event?  I really want to Bike The Bay.  Only 25 miles and it is the only time bikes are allowed on the Coronado Bridge.  What do you think?  Oh yea, and I got a sweet new ride which makes biking even easier!
4. Making more Donna Hay meals - check!  And making more this Sunday!
5. Going to an art gallery, concert, or museum - Check!  Concerts in the Park started and you know my sister and I were there.  Only problem was that we brought our own food and no cash so when Bacon Mania was there serving up some nice dishes I missed out.  I was super bummed, but next week I am there!

6. Picnic in the park - Check!  See #5
7. Putting a ceiling fan in my bedroom - I have called 3 times and have not heard back...grrr...
8. Reading the books that people have given me to read (I have about 20) - I just got two more books to add to the pile.  This might have been too lofty of a goal...
9. Finishing books I have started and not quite finished - doing well so far
10. Reading my book club book before book club! (Last one I did not finish) - Did you see my last "Think About It Thursday" quote?  That was from my bookclub book.  :)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Think About It Thursday

"Nearly seven years after Moore originally filed suit, the Supreme Court of California ruled against him in what became the definitive statement on the issue: When tissues are removed from your body, with or without your consent, any claim you might have had to owning them vanishes.  When you leave tissue in a doctor's office or lab, you abandon them as waste, and anyone can take your garbage and sell it.  Since Moore had abandoned his cells, they were no longer a product of his body, the ruling said.  They had been "transformed: into an invention and were now the product of Golde's "human ingenuity" and "inventive effort.""

"Scientists were triumphant, even smug.  The dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine told a reporter that as long as researchers disclosed their financial interests, patients shouldn't object to the use of their tissues. "If you did," he said, "I guess you could sit there with your ruptured appendix and negotiate.""

Exert from "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot