Here are a couple of easy ideas for giving your mom (or partner) a special homemade gift she will actually use.
It’s not too soon to start thinking about a Father’s Day DIY gift, and this Bay Rum aftershave is my new favorite thing to make. You can even just stop after making the Bay Rum and gift it as a great smelling cologne. Here’s the How To: https://botanicalalchemyandapothecary.com/bay-rum-aftershave-and-toner
Students have special requirements whether they are in middle school or working on their PhD. Herbs and other supplements can help with optimal brain functioning and also with the stress of schoolwork. Read more on how to help them in their studies here.
For something that lives in our gut, our intestinal bacteria are sure getting a lot of time on stage lately. It’s their time to shine I guess, now that the anti-bacterial obsession has begun to wane (thank you science) and awareness about what problems arise when we lack our good bacteria is on the rise. (Thank you once again, science.) There’s a new book about germs and bacteria and what little gems some germs actually are, and there’s never been a time riper for this information. It seems aimed at parents, in hopes of encouraging them to raise children with rich microbiomes and immune systems, but it sounds like anyone who’s ever wondered if they should wash their hands yet again, or eat that last bit of chocolate that fell on their floor, would appreciate this book. It’s called Let Them Eat Dirt and it’s by B. Brett Finlay, PhD and Marie-Claire Arrieta, PhD and although I haven’t read it yet, I heard an interview with Dr. Finlay and am putting it on my rather long can’t-wait-to-read list. On their website, there’s a link to a scientific study of probiotics and what diseases the specific brands help. Check it out! I was surprised to see my favorite brand on there, but not surprised to see it listed as helpful in multiple disease situations. This list also serves as more evidence to support switching up your brands since you can see that not all probiotics are meant for all cases.
In other news, Whole Foods is hard at work rolling out their 365 stores and I had the opportunity to visit one today which just opened in Bellevue. When my friend told me it was already open I was quite surprised because I had only just started hearing peeps and rumors about a 365 opening in Bellevue and certainly didn’t expect to see one up and going so quickly. It’s at Bellevue Square and has a more urban feel to it than the Whole Foods Markets nearby. The selection is smaller, but the brands are mostly familiar, and there seems to be an emphasis on grab-and-go foods. The salad bar was packed with the lunch crowd, there was pizza to buy by the slice, and a multitude of other packaged items to go. I’ll be curious to see how these do.
I hope everyone is enjoying their fall so far.
That two word phrase keeps popping up in my mind now that the first week of school is underway, because schools are such a great place to view a community’s cultural norms. The first thing that is blatantly apparent is the fact that walking or biking to school is not a norm in this community, or maybe this generation. I’m not sure how widespread it is but I do think this greater Seattle area in general has an overzealous relationship with cars. When I read Elizabeth Gilbert‘s book Eat, Pray, Love and she talked about how each city has one word that defines it, I thought that this area’s word would be ‘drive’. Not only for the literal drive a car meaning, although that is certainly part of it, but also the drive that means pushing people to work harder, longer hours than ever before, driving kids to start sports at an earlier age or else lose out on it as well as other extracurricular activities~ music, dance, chess, stem-activities, the list is endless. Not that being ‘driven’ as an innate trait is bad, of course it’s good to be focused and hardworking, and there’s plenty of that around here too, but mostly it seems like a rather overly driven culture here and the actual driving exemplifies the mental and emotional aspects. My older son is in middle school which does not have bus services for the kids that live within a mile or maybe a mile and a half, and they say it’s because those kids can easily walk or bike to school. OK, I absolutely agree that they can indeed walk or bike that far, my earlier posts attest to that here and here, but the thing is, no one actually lets their kid do that. Everyone drives their child to school and the traffic could rival a boy band concert at an all girls’ high school, and yet parents still prefer to put up with the frustration of sitting in traffic, and planning their mornings and afternoons around drop off and pick-up times that take a ridiculous amount of time rather than have their kid walk or bike. It just isn’t done. So, how do you turn around a cultural norm like that? Or should the school accept the fact that they could get a handle on their traffic mess, and it is a problem about which we get regular emails so it’s definitely an issue, by adding another bus or two and picking up most of the car riders? Or should they fight the cultural norm with setting up groups so kids can walk or bike together, perhaps get parent volunteers to escort the kids for the first week until they are used to it, somehow reward the students who show up on bike or by walking, or I don’t know….do something. Because the problem with just adding another bus or two is that we are branding that cultural norm into kids’ heads~ one does not walk or bike to a place that is less than a mile away. One takes a vehicle. Is that really what we want kids learning? Is that remotely healthy for any single person much less the earth as a whole? I don’t think so.
Another cultural norm on display at schools is the food. Oh dear. The cafeteria at my son’s middle school is packed with a dazzling array of junk food they can buy day in and day out~ donuts, chips as diverse as the languages spoken in the hallways, candy of all stripes, and sugar wrapped in a thousand disguises. The main offerings are mediocre at best (nutritionally, visually, taste-wise) and the salad bar offers unappetizing raw veggies which are probably as nutrient dense as the composition notebooks found in the kids’ backpacks. Again, is this how we want kids to learn to eat? What they expect from mealtimes is absolutely going to be influenced by the meals they have five days a week, even if the other mealtimes are different, they are still learning that the norm is to eat junk food. My friend from Israel was so surprised to find that here in the U.S. sandwiches routinely come with chips or fries. In her country sandwiches came with salad or a vegetable, or nothing. We don’t have to accept these norms just because they exist around us~ I often think of the Jane Austens and E.M.Forsters out there that have always written about the ridiculousness of their own cultural norms and eventually those norms did change. We can imprint our kids with healthy habits on a cultural level, or not. It just needs to be enough people’s priority I guess. It starts with recognizing the daily habits they we all partake in, sometimes mindlessly, sometimes joyfully, but all the time repetitively.
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.
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.
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.
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.