modern life · technology

Election Year Fatigue

Normally I listen to NPR for the news at some point every day, but these last few months I’ve had no idea what’s going on in the world because I so loathe presidential election years I just can’t make myself turn on the radio. Why do politics always bring out the basest, vilest, most judgmental aspects of people? I get it that personal political beliefs are just that, deeply personal~ they are built on one’s value system and to have that value system on display on the big screen in a way and open to constant judgement makes people defensive and often offensive. It must be that the fight or flight mechanism is triggered and even the most rational people are reduced to their reptilian core and it’s a shame because no one learns anything. It’s such a divisive time and whenever I see well-communicated, complete thoughts on a political subject met with angry, incoherent, immature reactions it makes me so sad~ and that’s every single day of the election season. I suppose I’m in ‘flight’ mode which isn’t to say I’m not going to vote, because I always do, but I’m trying to stay focused on the beautiful things in life which are uplifting and make humanity more…human, instead of indulging in this display of schoolyard behavior. I get that some people like this stuff, that some actually get a kick out of the competition and one upping each other and debating values and feeling superior and that’s fine and dandy, but I feel like a lot of others get roped into this carnival show who really would be happier thinking about making dinner, or some mathematical problem, or their favorite quotes from their favorite books. The media is so ever-present, and social media is practically inescapable, that it’s easy to forget we each actually have choices about what we think about, how we treat others who disagree with us (whether we actually know them or just have thoughts about them), how we want our days filled and how we choose to conduct ourselves. I choose to focus on beauty and grace where I can find it. Whatever fills your life, I hope you are actively choosing it. InstagramCapture_a32f4c8d-464a-4fe0-b820-f78f67a20f73[1]

cosmetics · health · Herbs · modern life · natural beauty products

Natural Beauty vs. Toxic Beauty

I’m a sucker for a good infographic, especially one that details something I’m interested in and natural, healthy beauty is definitely on my priorities list. There are so many healthy alternatives to the toxic nastiness passed off as beauty products that it doesn’t make sense to put something poisonous, even just potentially poisonous, on our bodies and hair and nails. Make-up, masks, spa routines, and herbal enhancements have been around since ancient times so there is a wealth of history and tradition to draw upon when it comes to modern beauty routines, but we humans seem to have a tendency to want to replicate nature whenever we can to lessen costs, get a patent on it, “improve” upon it (though our bodies innately recognize what is natural and what is not), and therefore make more money. With these things on my mind, I’ve decided to start using Henna on my hair instead of the usual dye. (My brown hair has a large percentage of white or else I wouldn’t dye it at all, but I’m not ready for grey hair just yet, not when there is natural alternative anyway!) I’ll post my results soon because Henna has a bad rap which I think is truly undeserved because I’m feeling pretty positive about it so far. You’ll have to come back and tell me what you think. In the meantime, check out this infographic from Delicious Living and maybe think about what is in your cabinet that could be replaced with something that truly makes you feel beautiful and healthy. Once you discover how instinctively natural products work with your body you’ll never go back to triclosan and phthalates again. And I guarantee your hair, nails, and skin will thank you.

TransparencyPersonalCare

alternative medicine · ecology · essential oils · food · health · Herbs · homeopathy · modern life · slow food · technology

Herbal Enhancement and Enchantment

Every single day I use herbs in a multitude of ways and they are not necessarily ‘curing’ anything (although they might be!) nor are they making me super-human. What they do is enhance daily life in meaningful, beautiful ways and I’m on a mission to get others to think about herbs as enhancing their lives, instead of thinking of them in a pharmaceutical way. If people can change the way they think of herbs, they are far more likely to start using them and enjoying their benefits, which is great in itself but also it is beneficial because herbs work best as promoters of long-term balance, so not only would one get the most out of one’s herbal usage, one would also be able to retain balance and avoid imbalances (dis-ease). In other words, more herbs means less drugs, less sicknesses, less doctor visits.  Now I’m all for modern medicine~ absolutely would not turn back time to any romantic bygone era because I wouldn’t want to lose access to our modern medical wonders. I am most definitely not talking about replacing modern medicine with herbs~ if you have a medical issue, go to the doctor. Herbs can do so much more though, and if you start incorporating them in your life, it’s my firm belief you’ll have less medical issues for which you need to go to the doctor. And even though modern medicine may be full of wonders, the truth is not many people enjoy the time spent in doctors’ offices, hospitals, or going through the newest medical techniques~ miraculous or not. This attitude reminds me of the slow food movement so I like to think of it as slow health. Herbs alone won’t make a person healthy, but thinking long-term about health is a great way to start thinking about your personal tendencies and imbalances and how to counteract those things long-term. Many things might help: exercise, yoga, dietary changes, brain games, homeopathy, social changes, journaling, essential oils…the list can go on and on because we are all such different individuals. At a time of year when so many of us are reviewing our daily lives and resolving to do better, be better, I hope in the rush towards better-ness we can all pause and instead of just downloading a new app on our smart phones to track diets, or upping goals on fitbits, we can all think of slowing down this rush which is itself out of balance. Perhaps the best part of adding herbs into daily life is the connection with nature that moment provides.

Lavender

If you own one essential oil, it’s most likely lavender. Add a drop to your pillow tonight, or several drops to your bath and enjoy herbalism that way. In other words, you don’t have to drink an herbal tea or take a tincture in order to benefit from herbs, there is a world of beauty in essential oils that can be tapped through so many ways. Not that there is anything wrong with herbal infusions or tinctures, but if you are new to the world of herbs, I recommend starting with something fully pleasurable and beautiful and hopefully it will whet your appetite to investigate more in the herbal world. Health regimes do not need to be unpleasant~ enjoy creating your optimal health. It’s a beautiful thing.

ecology · modern life · slow food

Thanksgiving in December

I had to wait to write this post because November is my least favorite month of the year, and Thanksgiving has never been one of my favorite holidays either. Don’t get me wrong, I love celebrating gratitude. Gratitude, if done right, can enhance one’s life in an instant, and nothing has longer lasting results than a true change in perspective, which gratitude truly does, in the deepest way possible. I try to practice sincere thanks-giving everyday~ it’s the holiday meal that bothers me. And the pressure to cook, and to cook certain things, and the whole push/pull that is happening now with Christmas and when shopping should start and it all leaves me stressed. (Why do people get so rankled over that? Because it is something that they can adopt a sense of superiority about? ) Personally, I never go out on black Friday, nor that whole weekend because I loathe crowds and would rather pay more for my gifts than sit in traffic, but the whole discussion around it just seems laced with venom and I don’t understand why everything has to be so heated. We have real issues to deal with, (climate change, poverty, extreme ideology), so let’s not get bogged down in complaining about what others do with their Black Fridays and what time is acceptable to do it. If people really want to honor the spirit of Thanksgiving, perhaps righteous indignation should be put aside for the day.

Anyway, that was an unplanned vent, I guess I needed to get that off my chest. The real reason I don’t care much for Thanksgiving is that I don’t like any of the traditional food served on the holiday so the big event is just awkward for me and always has been. Now with three out of four of us being gluten-free, it causes even more awkwardness and even more cooking. I was at a gluten-free bakery a couple of days before Thanksgiving and this poor woman in front of me had just been diagnosed as gluten and dairy intolerant, and so was her daughter. She said that when she told her family they said something along the lines of, “No problem. Just bring whatever you want to substitute your foods.” And her response was, “But that’d mean the entire meal! I think I’ll stay home and cook hamburgers instead.” I totally felt for her. I cook a few things that kind of go with the meal though aren’t traditional, and either buy the rest or others do that cooking. My husband apparently makes a fine bird, but I wouldn’t know. All I know is it takes forever for that turkey to cook. Here’s a bird I am thankful for:

Owl at Grass Lawn Park

Someone stuck this ceramic owl in the most unlikely place at Grass Lawn Park and it has stayed there for about a month now. Either people don’t notice it or no one wants to move the little cutie. I love this special owl and look for it every time I’m in that area of the park, which is even more often now that I have a dog than when my kids were younger. And for the record, I’m very grateful for that park too, and for the fact no one has taken the owl for their own.

Another park I’m deeply thankful for is Marymoor park. They have an off-leash area which my crazy dog thinks is the best place on earth. It is indeed pretty fabulous~ the beauty of the changing landscape has stopped me in my tracks at least once a week since we started going there. Not bad for a dog park.

Cold Morning at Marymoor

This frosty weather did not last long but it got my boys talking nonstop about winter, snow, and skiing. We are back to the rainy 40s and 50s that are the norm for here, but the frost and ice we had in November were beautiful, if fleeting.

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I feel so blessed to have these outside spaces that feel like a nature sanctuary in the suburbs. These spaces are so important and I am so grateful to have such beautiful ones. My hope for everyone this holiday season is more nature, less plastic, more fresh air, less artificiality, more stillness, less madness. Happy Holiday season to all.

 

children · Education · food · health · kids · modern life

School Lunches

 

Dr.Mazes FarmThis is just a short little anecdote that happened this morning. I make my kids’ lunches everyday but my older one is in middle school now where he can also get something there if he so desires~ a mango smoothie, Doritos, or whatever he feels is missing from his lunch that day. I’m not thrilled with his options which seem to include every chip that has ever graced a grocery store shelf, but I do not tell him things are off-limits because really, he could get whatever he wanted and I’d never know. I encourage him to try things while being aware of what is actually in his food. This morning he asked, “If they want us to eat healthy, why do they provide so much junk food?” A very good question indeed. They make the kids who buy a full lunch take raw veggies from the salad bar, as if that will balance out the meal, but of course kids just throw away what they don’t want. Salad bars are great in lunch rooms, but sometimes I think they give permission to make the rest of the food nutritionally void and allow vending machines full of junk in the cafeteria. My son has a very good point, why allow that stuff at all? Why not make foods with veggies naturally in them~ soups, lasagna, enchiladas, tacos, casseroles, chilies, stir fries, etc…? Actually, I heard about a school cafeteria that has a stir fry bar which I think is better than a salad bar by far. The kids pick out meat and veggies and have them stir fried with rice or noodles while trying different sauces and flavors and most likely trying different veggies as they compare lunches with their friends. It’s eating a meal with the vegetable in it and enjoying it, not plopping some raw veggies down next to their pizza and either eating them because of a sense of duty or just pitching them. Plus everyone knows it is easier to get the nutrition out of a cooked vegetable than a raw one. It seems the school cafeterias are set up to perpetuate the notion that kids only like junk food but will possibly eat some healthy stuff if they are made to do it in small amounts, on the side. That is not giving kids enough credit. They deserve more. 

children · ecology · Education · gardening · Herbs · kids · modern life · organic · parenting · picky kids

Happy Earth Day 2015

The boys were excited to plant vegetables and herbs in the garden for Earth Day. I hope they are just as excited to eat them this summer. My older one will be for sure. If you are wondering which one is older, look for the blue stripes and boss-man brow. More and more people are asking me if they are twins, much to their chagrin. One thing about my younger son, though he be picky he is still growing like a weed. Or it might be better to say, growing like a misunderstood wild herb. Little dandy lions.boys garden 2015

health · kids · modern life · parenting

January Resolutions

It’s January and I’ve not been writing or cooking much, mostly because we got a dog and I seem to spending all my spare time walking her.

Bailey

She is a working breed (why did we get a working breed?! We are not an employment agency!) who needs a lot of activity and so we walk. A lot. The good thing about this is I’m up and outside at times I normally would not be, so I’m getting to hear more birds sing their morning songs, see the early fog lift slowly uncovering a waking world, and nod acquaintance with the other slaves to leashes out, their one free hand wrapped around a doggie bag. (Not the good kind.) My favorite part of being out in the morning though is seeing the stillness slowly come alive.

When I walk my boys to school we stay where a lot of commuters are headed to work so it seems like we are jumping into a busy day, already needing to catch up with the fast-moving current. After we say our goodbyes at school and our dog goes into hysterics that we are leaving the boys and no longer all together (bark bark whine whine) then we move onto a trail where the quiet seeps in and the early stillness of morning still resides. It’s beautiful.Redmond, WA

Later hours often find us walking around town too, but morning is my favorite time to be out with her, when the air smells heavier with sweetness and damp and as we glide through it we are part of magical time before the day really starts. I actually didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions and in fact have been kind of on an anti-resolution kick if one judges by the amount of time I’ve spent at the gym. What I’ve had to do is change my routines and I’m trying to do it gracefully instead fighting every moment of it. We got this dog for the kids and they love and adore her, but of course it’s my responsibility to give her enough exercise, take her out enough, feed her enough. After all the ‘enoughs’ I’m also trying to accept the changes to my routines with grace and appreciate the pup for all her quirks and yes, adore her too. This January has not been about calorie counting, new exercise classes, or trying new food fads. For me, it’s been about accepting the fact that for the next few years at least, I’ll be spending a lot of my time just… walking. (Unless we move to a sheep farm which actually doesn’t sound like a bad idea.) For now though, if you want to find me you might check the trails in Redmond~ I’ll be the one trying to keep up with my working dog.

Old Railroad bridge

 

modern life · privacy · technology

Technology and Privacy

November in RedmondWe all experience it. The jolt when FB pops up with an ad that happens to correspond with something you have had on your mind. Or you go to a new website and the ads are all of your favorite stores and even things you’ve looked at. It’s no surprise that we are all living out loud now, whether we mean to or not, our privacy is gone and it’s one of those things we are just choosing to ignore. Not unlike global climate change I might add, considering how slowly we as humans are reacting to the obvious, but that’s not what I’m going to talk about. Two things have happened that have really stopped me lately, and it worries me because it seems like there is nowhere to hide unless one completely disengages from technology completely, which I don’t want to do. It’s convenient. It’s where I get a ton of information and where I can communicate with friends and family all around the world. But here is the first really strange thing that gave me pause~ My phone broke so I had to go down to ATnT to file an insurance claim. The account is in my husband’s name and the guy helping me said we would have to just file it like we were him. Ok, fine. We then had to go through a series of security questions that were strangely personal and certainly not anything he ever told the phone company, such as: What is the height on your driver’s license? Have you ever had any association with the following addresses? It then gave a bunch of addresses, one being my parents’ address. Just keep in mind, this is assuming it is my husband answering these questions. How weird is that? Why would my parents’ address be part of my husband’s security questions for our cell phones? When I told him about those questions he was just as disturbed as I was, although he seemed more bothered by the fact ATnT knows his height on his driver’s license. (I don’t! I had to guess.) So that was one. This was actually months ago but I was reminded of it this morning when my son got on the Surface, which is like a Ipad, and it was what we took on our Maui trip recently. Now we don’t have TV at our house so when we were at the hotel the guys had fun catching up on what TV is like these days (another thing that continually shocks me) and they got really into a program called Property Brothers. Being out of the TV loop, we had never heard of it before nor watched it, but then today when my son got on the surface to research science experiments (which included youtube) he kept getting ads for Property Brothers. Something tells me that is not a coincidence. It makes me nervous in that can’t-quite-define kind of a way but it definitely feels not right. Big Brother comes to mind in a Big way, and I’m talking about Orwell folks, not another TV show. This is probably something we should all be thinking and talking about more often. Not doing so is only benefitting corporations, certainly not consumers. To disengage or to not disengage…that is the question.