Monday, February 25, 2013

whoo, I watched the Oscars

They weren't that great. Well, the show itself was, because host whatshisname was pretty amusing most of the time. And I loved the James Bond tribute. And though I haven't seen Silver Linings Playbook, I thought Jennifer Lawrence was so incredibly sweet when she won and she probably did deserve the award, but some of the winners I didn't think were right. But I also haven't actually seen all the films nominated, so yeah. I could definitely have done without Michelle Obama's appearance, though. It was totally wrong for her to be the one reading who won Best Picture. I mean, seriously. Just, no. Go away. PLEASE.

Beyond that, the weekend wasn't too exciting. Other than flinging myself off my snowmobile on Saturday afternoon because I hit a huge patch of ice at the top of a hill and went sliding sideways so fast that it probably would have rolled over if I hadn't bailed. The ice didn't feel very good, let me tell you that much. But five minutes later, I was fine (after I cleaned all the snow out of my helmet!! It's a miracle my glasses didn't break again...), and I don't even have a bruise, nor does it hurt. Weird. The rest of me hurts, but that's normal aches and pains from a night of riding. The trails kind of sucked, but hey, the end of the season is near. Though now there's more snow in the forecast. Eesh.

Spring could come, one of these days. Now that the snowmobile trails are almost all ice, they're treacherous and not much fun, so I'm not against all the snow melting. And since it is almost March, I want to see some green.

In other news, I hope this week is better than the last two. I am (finally) getting new glasses this week, which is exciting. Thinking about getting some hipster frames. ^_~ I'm also getting contacts, because I just can't stand wearing my glasses snowmobiling anymore. Plus if I get hipster frames, they'll be too big for my helmet...haha.

Geez, I wish I had a camera.

Friday, February 22, 2013

five things friday no. 2

  1. Try this new coffee creamer; it's real milk and cream and it tastes so good.
  2. I found this Stevie Nicks cd for 3 bucks last weekend. So happy.
  3. I would like some oil pastels because they would be perfect for my March decorations.
  4. It's National Margarita Day and if I had any of the supplies, I'd be making this one from Smitten Kitchen with blood orange juice. Alas, I don't have anything for a margarita.
  5. I'd give almost anything to be exploring the British Isles. Just look at this castle in Scotland.

Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception

Well, that was intense.
First of all, despite yesterday's post where I longed to curl up and read War and Peace, I honestly can't stop reading Artemis Fowl.
I guess it's the fact that I managed to grab the first six books from the library at one time and when I begin a series I like, it's nearly impossible for me to put them down.
So yeah.


The adventures of Artemis and his fairy friends are becoming more dangerous and definitely more life-threatening. The Opal Deception is no exception. Opal Koboi, the pixie behind the goblin rebellion in The Arctic Incident, is back, though no body knows how at first because she's supposed to be in a coma under heavy guard at the hospital. Supposed to be. But when it appears that Captain Holly Short has shot and killed her own commander and then taken off for the surface, the LEP (Lower Elements Police -- forgot to cover that) clearly could have looked elsewhere than Holly.

In fact, Opal has killed Commander Julius Root and was after Artemis Fowl and his bodyguard Butler, as well. Holly had only a short time before they were vaporised by a bio-bomb. Of course, they are saved, but Artemis and Butler don't have any memories of the fairies. They were, after all, mind-wiped at the end of the last book. Look how that turned out. Not well.

Holly brings them up to speed, Mulch Diggums joins the crew, Artemis and Butler get their memories back, and the chase is on. Unfortunately, Holly and Artemis are captured before Artemis even has his memories back. They are nearly killed by trolls, which certainly doesn't help anybody.

With the LEP completely hoodwinked into not even considering Opal's deception (see what I did there?), this book is jam-packed with crazy happenings. I don't want to go any further into the storyline because there's a few spoilers already. But it all happens so quickly at the beginning of the book anyway.


If the books get progressively better like this, I can't imagine what the final book in the series will be like. Unfortunately, I do know a few major spoilers for the end, but I can pretend I don't. And I will give this book 4 stars. Not 5, but 4. I was sufficiently shocked and sad and happy by turns with all the events in this book. I was incredibly sad that Commander Root was murdered, to the point that when Maggie called me last night (to talk about Doctor Who mostly, what else?), what I said to her by way of hello was "Is Commander Root really dead????" Yeah.

If you ever tried to get into the Artemis Fowl series and couldn't get past the first couple of books, please, keep going. They get better. I promise. And you just might find yourself attached to more than a few characters.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

bookish thoughts

Keeping up with more than one blog is not easy. I sort of wish I had kept to one and just made multiple sections, etc. Perhaps that will happen in the future, though it's not likely. I have to organize and categorize things. It's the librarian in me.

Seriously, all the books in my house are (loosely) catalogued in Dewey Decimal. I spent about a month last autumn doing that, much to my husband's dismay. Half the books are his, though, so he shouldn't complain. And now it's super easy for me to find a book! (Doesn't mean we have enough bookshelves, of course....) I did have my own system beforehand, but Dewey makes everything simpler. It's too bad Dewey can't really be used with kitchen cabinets.

I'm almost halfway through the Artemis Fowl series, which is excellent. I have the third book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, but I kind of want to finish Artemis Fowl first. But this snow is making me want to curl up with a big ol' classic tome. Like War and Peace or something Russian. The problem with that is the books already mentioned are library books. Oy vey.

I haven't read a classic in a couple of months, and it's starting to wear on me. Classics are my comfort novels, kind of like PG Tips with a jigger of whiskey is my comfort drink, and any version of Alice in Wonderland is my comfort film. (Or old black and white films. LOVE.)

Do you have a comfort novel?

Anyway. It's tempting to put down Artemis Fowl and pick up War and Peace. It really is. But I did make a promise to my youngest sister that I would finish Eoin Colfer's series. I don't really know what the point of this post is. Just a reader's ramblings, I suppose.

Also, do you like my new background?

colour my world/a Lenten musing

The first three photos were taken in summer of 2011 (I think) at my family's home in Illinois. Currently,  I miss colour. The world is white and brown, which is beautiful of course, since we all know I adore snow. But February is nearing its end now; I find myself longing to see green buds on the trees and hear birds singing in those trees. We have another snowstorm coming; exciting as always. But as I page through my Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalog and pick what I will grow this year, I wish I could open the windows and feel a warm breeze. Spring breezes have a certain scent to them. I don't mean the ones that smell of manure and farms! I mean the other ones, those that smell warm.

Lent is also upon us. We sang the hymn in that last picture both on Ash Wednesday and last Sunday. When Lent comes so early, it's a bit of a shock; we think of Easter as being in the springtime. And it will be -- it comes on the last day of March. Easter, that is. So perhaps Lent being so early isn't a bad thing. As winter holds on and spring struggles to break through, we can be reminded of our Lord and Savior's struggle with Satan and death and how He won, just like spring overcomes winter each and every year.

Yes, I love winter. I kind of hate summer. Autumn is awesome. But spring is a good time to be contemplative, and that's something I look forward to as the weather warms up.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code.

After all the complaining I did about Eoin Colfer's writing in the first two Artemis Fowl books, I was pleasantly surprised when I realized the third book wasn't nearly as choppy and badly-written. I guess he grew into the story a bit more? Or something?

Anyway, The Eternity Code was excellent. Fairy technology stolen by a tech magnate (at least that's what I consider Spiro), Butler killed and brought back to life, and apparently even the great Artemis Fowl II's plans can go awry sometimes.

What I found interesting about this book is that it actually didn't seem like Artemis was only in it for himself this time. He had his own motivations for showing the fairy technology to Spiro, but after that he was kind of helpless for a (very) short period of time. And though the entire fairy population was in danger, Holly Short and Mulch Diggums genuinely wanted to help Artemis, not only save themselves.

I like Holly. She's feisty, a good soldier, and clearly has a soft spot for Artemis. She also isn't afraid to disobey orders when they aren't going to help. Not that that's something to always condone, but within the frame of the story, it works.


I'm currently reading The Artemis Fowl Files, which has two short stories about Holly and Mulch, the Gnommish alphabet, interviews with various characters and the author, and various other info about the People. I won't review it in a separate post, but I will say that it's a good addition to the series!

tea tuesday: Teavana Earl Grey Creme$slge$

When I first tasted tea as a child, I had a cup of some french vanilla tea. It was delicious. But then I had a cup of Earl Grey. It was even better.

Since that moment, nigh on 18 years ago, Earl Grey has been my favorite tea. My tea tastes have broadened considerably since then, of course. I can't recall a tea I didn't like.

But anyway. Earl Grey. What a stately name. There are many versions of Earl Grey out there. Nearly every tea company produces one. I guess that shows how popular it is. One of the best that I've ever tried is the Earl Grey Creme from Teavana. First of all, Teavana only sells loose leaf tea. That automatically makes their tea better than some other companies. Yes, I'm a tea snob, though you wouldn't know it from looking at my tea cabinet -- most of the tea in there is in teabags.

Earl Grey Creme is a black tea flavoured with bergamot orange. Bergamot is an acquired taste, I think. I know that my Grandma, who of all people ought to love Earl Grey, says she does not because of the bergamot. Ah well, more for me!

Here is the description from the Teavana website:

High tea is further elevated with tart bergamot orange tastefully tempered by creamy Madagascar vanilla then blended with the classic pomp of an Earl Grey black tea. A majestically smooth confection that is now available any time the senses desire. Sprinkled with sunny yellow marigold petals, this full leaf wonder is divinely delicious with a silky sweet finish. 

The tea that I have doesn't have the yellow marigold petals, so this must be a recent addition. The photo above doesn't really show those, either. One reviewer on the page said that it doesn't taste quite the same, so I guess we shall have to see.

But if you're looking for a stately and delicious cup of tea, try Earl Grey. It's delectable with a splash of cream and two lumps of sugar. And don't forget the scones! 

Monday, February 18, 2013

the "green" lifestyle

One of the things I've become enamoured with lately is the "green" lifestyle. The idea of living off the grid and being self-sustainable is fascinating and it's kind of a huge dream of mine. And when I say a huge dream, I mean it, because I also want to live in a giant old Victorian farmhouse out in the country, and I also want to travel the world, which would make self-sustainable living a bit hard.... I should mention that I have a lot of huge dreams, but they don't all coincide very nicely. No pretty jigsaw puzzle in my brain. That's what happens when you have an interest in almost anything and a severe case of wanderlust.

But as far as the "green" lifestyle goes, some of that is so easily attainable. Here are a few things I've already done to live more simply and in consequence, more green.

  • Make my own home cleaners using vinegar, water, baking soda, and lemons. (Essential oils to join in soon.)
  • Start experimenting with home beauty products. (I used half a lemon to rub raw honey all over my face, rinsed it clean with warm water, and applied a tiny amount of coconut oil as a moisturizer -- my face glowed. And felt so soft. I gotta do that again. Good thing lemons are cheap, haha.)
  • Stop buying processed foods and start making most things from scratch. This is excellent because there is less package waste, and we're not putting so many toxic ingredients into our bodies.
  • Start buying fair-trade and organic whole coffee beans. (Not only is this more sustainable, but for some reason this coffee tastes so much better.)
  • Make my own laundry detergent. (Granted, mine has Oxi-Clean in it, which might not be the best stuff, but the mix that I made has lasted almost nine months. Less money spent, less waste overall, and no fillers in the soap.)

This blog has a lot of focus on living a simple lifestyle, which of course doesn't mean easier. And to be honest, green living isn't necessarily easier, either. But it can be less expensive in the long run, because it truly does end up being healthier.
I'm no crazy environmental hippie, but I do know that God created the earth first, for us. Though we and it are no longer perfect and will most certainly not last forever, I want to help take care of the earth and take care of my own body because we are stewards. We need to take care of this fantastic planet that He has given to us, we need to have compassion on the peoples who inhabit it, and maybe in the process, the Holy Spirit will plant the seeds of faith.
Yes, that's a long stretch, but we are all connected, because we are all creations by God in His image. We are His children, though so many people on earth don't believe that.

Friday, February 15, 2013

the wonders of coconut oil

Coconut oil on my skin.
Coconut oil in my coffee.
Popcorn made with coconut oil.
Coconut oil in my hair.
Oil-pulling with coconut oil.
Coconut oil in my smoothie.


Okay, maybe that last one is a bit much. But seriously, coconut oil is the new miracle food/drug/beauty product. Maybe not new, but it's new to me. When I purchased a big jar of the stuff from Wilderness Family Naturals after much debating and research, I intended mostly to use it for oil pulling (more on that in a moment) and putting in my hair. I do use it in my hair as a conditioner, leave-in or wash out, and it kind of works as a gel, too. And then my hair smells like summer should. Which is awesome.

Oil-pulling is an ancient health practice that just requires some pure oil and your mouth. Coconut oil is the best for this; never use vegetable oil or canola oil or any of those. I think sesame oil is okay, too. The downside of coconut oil is that you have to melt it first, since it is solid at room temperature, at least in the wintertime. But all you have to do is slowly swish the oil around in your mouth for 15-20 minutes, preferably before you even drink anything in the morning. This process draws out, or "pulls" toxins from your body via your mouth. The mouth is probably one of the more toxic parts of your body, which makes sense if you think about it. And never swallow the oil, because of course it is laden with toxins that you don't want in your stomach! There's not much more to the process itself; there's a fair bit of research out there to read on the benefits of it if you'd like. I had been meaning to try oil pulling for a month now, but I finally did it today. And I didn't last more than 30 seconds. My gag reflex is super annoying. But my mouth felt better even in those 30 seconds. My back teeth had been hurting, which is why I finally got up the courage to try this, and now they really don't hurt. Granted, that'll probably change as soon as I eat something hard, but I am going to attempt to be faithful with this oil pulling and see if I can train myself to be better about it.

As for other ways of using coconut oil, it does work really well on the skin. I put it on my legs after I shave, and they feel amazing. I even have smoothed a tiny amount onto my lips. Use it like you would a lotion, but you need very little because it's obviously oily. And, because it's solid, just rub a small amount in your palms until liquid and then use it. Coconut oil can also be used to make deodorant, body butter, sugar scrubs, lip balms, etc. I'll post recipes as I try them.

And this awesome oil can be used in the kitchen, too! I used it in my Stir-Crazy to pop popcorn last night and I could hardly taste the coconut and the popcorn wasn't super oily and heavy like when I use vegetable oil (which I won't be buying anymore!). It was delicious. I also occasionally put a scoop of oil in my cup of coffee or in my smoothie.

I never used to like coconut. The taste bothered me a lot. But I was determined to get over that so I could use this wonderful oil, and I think perhaps I have! If you have questions about the different kinds of coconut oil, don't hesitate to ask! I purchased extra-virgin, because that's probably the best for beauty products.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

my first love was a novel

Though of course I can't remember which one.
Perhaps I could say it was Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery, because that's the first book I recall reading that I would consider a novel.
I was nine years old, and Mom had been trying to get me to read the Anne books. Just the first one, she coaxed. I refused, because it seemed to me in my headstrong brain that any book my mother recommended wasn't something I would enjoy. Eventually, I ran out of books to read, so I secretly started reading Anne of Green Gables. So secretly in fact, that I was hiding the book in the kitchen cabinet by the phone. Not even kidding. I also don't know why, fifteen years later, I can remember this with such clarity. Actually, maybe I do. It was my entry into the world of classic novels and absolutely beautiful worlds. Plus, Anne Shirley is definitely the first character I came across that made me want to be a redhead.

I never did finish the Anne series; I reread the first three a few times, though. I've read other books by L.M. Montgomery, too. Such an idyllic world, there on Prince Edward Island. I have a feeling it's also Anne Shirley's fault that I'm in love with the Victorian and Edwardian eras. (And the Betsy-Tacy series.)

So, my first love was a novel. (Incidentally, age nine was also when I had my first real crush on a boy...which lasted until we were fifteen.) Since then, there have been many other novels I fell in love with. On this Valentine's Day, let me share with you a list of novels that I love and are, incidentally, kind of about love. And not just the romantic kind. Friendship love is just as important!

  • Persuasion, Jane Austen (and her other novels, but this one is the sweetest, I think.)
  • Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
  • Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte (this is one of my favorite novels of all time.)
  • Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh (NOT a woman. this book is a great story about intense friendship and love and how they can entangle themselves in ways that aren't good.)
  • Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
  • To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee (more about friendship and acceptance.)
  • Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell (just a powerful tome all around.)
  • A Girl of the Limberlost, Gene Stratton-Porter (more about familial love, and heart-wrenching, too.)
  • I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith (I liken this a bit to Brideshead Revisited in theme.)

There you have a short list. I will add one honorable mention, because it's one of my favorite novels ever and should have "classic" status: The Scottish Chiefs, by Jane Porter. Published in 1809, this is a highly Romanticized version of the Scottish fight for freedom with William Wallace and Robert Bruce (who I might be related to!), but oh, so excellent. I made it an honorable mention because the love story between Wallace and his wife is so incredible, Biblical, and pure.

So, what are you favorite novels (classic or modern) about love? And why?

it's just a Hallmark holiday...

Can I just state blatantly that I have never liked Valentine's Day?
I actually kind of hate it.
There, I said it.

Hate is a strong word, but I have some very personal reasons for not enjoying the day whenever it comes around.
Reasons, of course, that don't truly matter anymore, but eh.

The point is, it's a created holiday (okay, they all are) that is named for a saint who was brutally murdered...and now it's all about love?
And the problem I see is that it's not about real love.
It's about commercialized buy-your-sweetie-and-everyone-else-under-the-sun-something-shiny-sweet-and-flowery.
Oh and don't forget the cards.

Seriously, though.
Gestures of love don't have to be restricted to just a few marked days in the calendar year.
Unfortunately, that's the impression the world gets when Christmas ends.
Valentine's Day is coming and you better get ready now because no day before then is remotely important!!!!!!!!!!

Not that you can't make the day special with your loved ones.
Go ahead.
Have a fancy dinner by candlelight and maybe get her some flowers.
Chocolate is okay, too.
But remember that love is for all the time.
It's unconditional and self-sacrificing.
It's not a money-making scheme. (But then, neither is Christmas and we see what happened there...)

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Happy Valentine's Day

Tea is good for your heart, so drink a cup of tea.
Whether alone or together, drink a cup of tea.
Tea is good for your soul, so drink a cup of tea.
Whether happy or sad, drink a cup of tea.

Happy Valentine's Day

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident

Mmkay, so I read this entire book yesterday.
It was just one of those days.

In Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, we see the same cast of characters returning, though not for all the same reasons. This time it isn't Artemis attacking the fairies. Well, not attacking, exactly, but at any rate it isn't his fault. Captain Holly Short, with a score to settle, thinks the thirteen year old criminal mastermind is behind the goblin uprising (clearly someone is doing weapons trading), and Commander Root believes her. They kidnap Artemis and his bodyguard, Butler, and bring them belowground, where it is quickly discovered that the kid had nothing to do with the goblins. But he could probably help.

The result is that Root and Holly end up assisting Artemis to rescue his father, who is apparently alive (though not quite well) and being held captive in Murmansk, Russia. Fairies hate the cold, and they don't handle radiation well at all. So this is a big thing.

Naturally, both problems become entangled when the goblins stage a revolution in Haven, the fairy capital city, and attempt to assassinate Root and Holly in northern Russia. Yeah. It isn't pretty. And by the end of the story, everything is resolved (as usual). But this time Artemis and the fairies part on good terms After all, they did help save Artemis Fowl the First. It seems that perhaps Artemis isn't destined to be an enemy to the magic folk for all time....


Again, short and slightly convoluted summary. Colfer's writing wasn't really any better in this book, either. And I think the editors for the edition I read were not doing their job. SO MANY SPELLING MISTAKES AND MISSING LETTERS. Erm. Yeah. It was really incredibly annoying. But it's cool to see the relationship between Artemis and Holly going somewhere. I don't mean romantically; I think they could genuinely have a friendship in the near future. They've seen the best and worst of each other already.

Artemis Fowl

My youngest sister (she's almost 13) has been bugging me to read the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer for oh, at least two years now. I think. Being free of college at last (which was almost two years ago...), I have the freedom to read for leisure. But I kept forgetting about dear little Artemis. Sure, I read the first book about four or five years ago while I was working at the library. But that's as far as I got. So I have now taken it upon myself to read the entire series before winter is over. Not a huge problem, since the books aren't that long.

I reread the first book, to reacquaint myself with the characters. Artemis is likeable in a sad way; you feel sorry for him at the beginning -- a missing father (presumed dead) and a very sick mother because of that. Artemis' bodyguard, Butler, doesn't have too much of a personality in this book, but he's quite impressive. The fairies we meet in the first book are rather hilarious. I love Captain Holly Short for her spunk and willingness to disobey orders when they are dumb. Which, let's face it, many of the orders coming from Commander Julius Root are dumb. Root is absolutely hilarious, and I'm sure Colfer meant him to be. Always about to blow his top, it's a wonder that he's in charge at LEP at all! And there's Foaly, the paranoid centaur who controls all the techie stuff. Oh, and we can't forget Mulch Diggums, kleptomaniac extraordinaire. I'm not kidding. He's quite the convict.


As far as the story goes, it's a decent one. Fairies have hidden underground from humans, which they call Mud Men, for many centuries now. They go aboveground for few things, one being to renew their magic. This is how Holly gets captured by Artemis, who has an uncanny knowledge of the fairies. Commander Root stages an attack on Fowl Manor, they discover that Artemis has a copy of the Book, the fairies' holy writ, as it were, and things don't go so hot after that.

That's a simple summary.

The problem I had with this book is that Eoin Colfer is good with weaving a plot but he's kind of a terrible writer. So much of his grammar was bad. Plus, he doesn't use POV and omniscient narrator very well. There were more than a few pages where I couldn't figure out who was saying and/or thinking what.

I gave the book 3 stars because though it's badly written, it's amusing and a clever story.

I write; it's just what I do.

In the last five or so years (pretty much since my family got fast internet, yay!), I have been blogging. Not regularly, perhaps, but I've made my share of posts. Private journaling has always been a hobby of mine, though I have let it slack off in the last few years. I guess now that I'm not a teenager with frivolous things like boys, shoes, and makeup to write about, there's nothing important left! I kid...completely and utterly kid. But the point is, I'm a writer.

My blogging has evolved from being more of an online diary to being something I purposefully share with the world. Does anyone remember Xanga? Or LiveJournal? I had an account on both of those while my family still had dial-up! I love some of the things I wrote on my LiveJournal. Xanga was definitely more on the frivolous side. And then there was MySpace, which wasn't exactly a journal. And Facebook notes were a thing for awhile, too. And I finally joined Blogger. Again, the point is, I'm a writer.

To illustrate this fact (the "I'm a writer" one), I'm going to tell you a story. A few years ago, June 2010, I went camping up north with my husband (boyfriend at the time!) and some of his long time friends. I knew exactly two of them, but by the end of the trip I knew I fit in well. At any rate, it was fun. But the whole being a writer started to get to me the morning after we arrived. I had completely forgotten my journal! When I go out into God's glorious creation, I should have my journal with me. So I improvised, pulling out my little cell phone and using the "Notes" function to write. I don't know how many separate notes I filled when Nate finally asked if I wanted to buy a notebook at the general store. He bought me one, which of course got soaked because it rained almost the entire week...that's a different story, though. But I got to write, and I was happy.

I need to get my thoughts out. And I like to share with people the things I know and the things I am learning, in hopes that others will share with me what they know and are learning. It's a two-way street. And writing is my witness to a lost and broken world. Being a Christian permeates every aspect of my life, and because writing is one of my skills, I use that to share the Gospel. Once shared, it is the work of the Holy Spirit, not me. It's all God's work, not mine. He just uses me in His work.

I write; it's just what I do.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Omnivore's Dilemma

The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

I like books.
I like food.
So it stands to reason that I would like a book about food.

The thing is, I don't read much nonfiction.
I just have a hard time with it.
At least I used to.
But The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan, was one of the most fascinating nonfiction books I have ever read.
Not even kidding.


Journalist Michael Pollan sets out to capture the essence of the food industry in modern America. The book is divided into three sections, Industrial: Corn, Pastoral: Grass, and Personal: The Forest. In these three sections, Pollan travels the United States, examining how food comes to the table. It is an incredible journey, and one I admire greatly.

The first section documents the food industry, mainly corn. It amazes me how much corn is in the processed foods we consume. And not even just the processed, boxed foods on the supermarket shelves; even most of the meat we consume has been eating corn (among other disgusting things...) for most of its short and horrible feedlot life. Pollan concludes this section with a McDonald's meal that he discovers is almost 100% genetically modified processed corn. GROSS.

The second section documents the organic food industry, which basically comes down to food that is mass-produced, but without pesticides and antibiotics, etc. The question that he asks himself is this: Is this really what the organic movement was all about? The answer isn't exactly clear-cut, but I agree with him when he says that it shouldn't really be this way, but that it's better than the food in the first section of the book. But in this same section, Pollan visits Polyface Farm, run by Joel Salatin who is a champion of the "beyond organic" movement. His farm was incredible. I can't even begin to do it justice, so you'll just have to read the book. At any rate, I now wish to only consume grass-fed meats and eggs from pastured hens.

The third section, and probably the most fascinating, documents the food foraging that still goes on today. Pollan learns how to shoot a gun, gets himself a license, and goes with a friend to hunt wild pig in Northern California. He talks about the ethics and how he felt about the whole process. He also goes mushroom hunting, which sounds like a huge lesson in patience. And he explores the whole idea of gathering the food you eat, which culminates in a mouthwatering meal.


This is a book that I couldn't really review in detail without giving away some of the surprises within Pollan's story. But his journey and experiences are inspiring in more ways than one. If you read this book (and I encourage you to do so), I guarantee you'll change your mind about the way you eat. At the very least, you might think a little bit more before stopping at McDonald's or buying that prepackaged TV dinner. And please, for the love of everything truly delicious, stop drinking so much soda!!

sunshine, please come back soon.

I'm at the point now where I have to continually remind myself that I love snow and winter. The problem isn't the cold and the fluffy white stuff, though. It's the fact that the sunshine has disappeared and won't show its warm face. I love bright and cold winter days, when the sun is shining down from the clear blue sky onto a brilliant blanket of snow. But these gloomy not-quite-cold-enough days just drag me down.

To keep my spirits up, I'm writing my spring cleaning list (to be begun as soon as the windows can be opened), looking up places to go snowshoeing, planning my garden, and drinking floral teas. Specifically, Berryblossom White by Tazo Tea. SO GOOD. I have my amazing friend Becca to thank for introducing me to this tea, way back when we were still in college. Okay, that wasn't way back, but I graduated almost two years ago, so....

And I just remembered that I have homemade dandelion wine to try! I'm's probably terrible. But I hope it tastes decent. And that it tastes like summer, even though I'm not a huge fan of the summer temperatures.

Of course, Valentine's Day is just around the corner, too. I've never been a huge advocate of the Hallmark holiday, but hopefully Nate and I can do something fun. At the very least, I'm going to cook us a fun dinner. I found a recipe for red wine pasta which looks and sounds delicious. I also plan on making some heart-shaped doughnuts for breakfast. Though those might have to wait until the weekend when Nate doesn't have to get up at 3:30 am.

How are you keeping back the weather blues? And what are your Valentine's Day plans?

tea tuesday: PG Tips

PG Tips  Tea Bags - 40 count

Hello, my name is Beth and I'm addicted to tea. (The irony is that I'm drinking coffee as I write this.) Other than books, I probably spent most of my little money during college on tea. I still have some of that tea, but we won't talk about that. I have a shelf in my beverage cabinet overflowing with tea. I drink at least one cup of tea per day, oftentimes two or three. I don't have an overarching preference; it's more my mood, how my body feels, and the time of day.

One of my favorite black teas comes from England. Surprised? I didn't think so. Anyway. I was first introduced to PG Tips about eight years ago when I first met the Tea Ladies. These lovely ladies serve only PG Tips at their soirees and tea parties held mainly in the parlor at the David Davis Mansion in Bloomington, IL. The mansion is one of my favorite places on this earth. I have walked the halls in various period costumes, played Christmas carols on the parlor piano, given a couple of small tours, worked in the garden, and last but not least, taken tea in the parlor. I have also served tea in the parlor, as a maid for some of the parties. I could go on about that place, which I miss so much it physically hurts, but this post is for tea, not the mansion.

PG Tips is a black tea. On the side of the box is written this description: "A popular British blend of the finest Assam, Ceylon and Kenyan teas which produces a rich and refreshing flavour. The definitive traditional English tea." Funny how we think of tea as coming from England, but it is obviously not grown there. Anyway. This tea does indeed have a "rich and refreshing flavour" that I love very much. It is perfect plain, or with milk and sugar, or honey and lemon, or whatever combination you would like. But please don't put milk and lemon together -- that would curdle the milk and then your tea would be nasty!

One of my favorite ways to drink PG Tips is as a hot toddy in the evenings. I make a mug of tea, add a jigger of whiskey, and either a teaspoon of sugar or honey. It is quite delicious and excellent on cold and dreary winter nights. (Click on the picture at the top of this post to purchase some tea!)

Monday, February 11, 2013

welcome to "a blissful simplicitea"

Greetings, and welcome to my lifestyle blog! As you can see in the header, this blog is for recipes (probably lots of recipes -- I have an obsession with cooking and baking), natural health and wellness, various crafts and DIY projects I take on, thoughts on marriage and life in general, and tea. Yes, always tea.

I am hoping for this blog to give others inspiration while also giving me inspiration and building my confidence, because the largest goal is to eventually build a business. Granted, this is a very large goal, and probably quite far away, possibly unattainable. But I hope that anyone who follows me will enjoy the journey, and perhaps learn a few things along the way.

You'll have to bear with me during the early stages of this blog. I do not have a working camera -- just my iPod and cell phone. My iPod photos turn out rather grainy for reasons I don't know, and my cell phone is unfortunately not good with transferring photos. I am saving for a DSLR, but in the meantime I hope to purchase a simple point-and-shoot. I also do have a Polaroid that I will experiment with, but that's a separate topic for later posts. ^_^

Posting will be somewhat sporadic in these early days, especially as I am still fiddling with the blog layout and stuff. So, here's to the beginning of a new adventure! I can't wait to see how it all plays out.

Friday, February 8, 2013

five things friday no. 1

  1.  the snow is so beautiful and I don't want it to go away.
  2.  the new layout of iTunes makes no sense to me.
  3. as much as I love winter, I cannot wait to start my garden.
  4. my favorite alcoholic drink currently is Newcastle Brown Ale.
  5. sometimes I don't like our furnace; it makes too much noise. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

we all know how indecisive I am... of course, as the snow falls thick and fast outside, I have been designing a new blog.
Another new one.
But I realized that this blog started out as a personal blog and I really want to keep it that way.
As I began slowly changing elements of this blog, I suddenly began to wonder where I would make my truly personal posts, my thoughts about life and stuff.
But shhh.
This new one isn't ready yet!
It might not be ready for awhile, because I want to start this one off on the right foot.
And I can't settle on a good name.

So this blog, an incandescent wanderlust, will stay around.
No worries there.
But I want a more organized lifestyle blog where I post recipes, DIY ideas, natural beauty, homemaking, and things about marriage.

Hopefully, a few of you are looking forward to this. :)

Monday, February 4, 2013

around the internet no. 2

Two posts in one day! Yeah that's rare. But I have a few links I wish to share with you.

Real Food and Clean Eating

Eat Wild: The #1 Site for Grass-fed Food & Facts 

5 Fats That Don't Make You Fat


Make Your Own Potting Soil

Frugal and Healthy Beauty

Homemade Lotion Bars and Lip Balm

That's all I have for today! I hope you have a lovely Monday.

monday morning vignettes and inspirations no. 2

It's snowing again. Big, white, beautiful flakes. This past weekend my mom and youngest sister came for a visit. We didn't do much other than hang out and talk, though we did go bowling on Saturday afternoon. We all did really well; Mom especially with a game of 163!! All three of my games broke 100, of which I was very proud. Yesterday, Nate and I went bowling again, during the Super Bowl. Neither of us did as well, but we were tired from bowling the day before. Moral of the story: Bowling two days in a row is not usually a good idea.

My whole house is clean, another fact of which I am proud. Many organizational things still need to happen, but the biggest part of the job is done. One of the next things that I hope to accomplish is painting our bedroom. We're thinking of a shade of green; not too pale, but not too bright. More earthy than anything. Of course, then the curtains that are in there will have to go, since they are also green. Ugly green, I might add.

As it is February, when I finished cleaning on Friday, I cut out a myriad of construction paper hearts to tape on the cabinets and windows. I will never stop loving construction paper. So versatile. I will need to make a trip to Hobby Lobby in the near future though, because I discovered I have no glitter! This is a crisis, obviously.

The month of love is upon us. Though of course we should love each other all throughout the year, there is a concentration in February. I do believe Valentine's Day is to blame, though the beginnings of that saint's day were less than glamorous. I've never been a huge advocate of Valentine's Day, partly because the various boyfriends I had over the years were never good about remembering the holiday, and partly because it's so overblown. But you know what? I like hearts and bows and shiny things. And I love creating a beautiful day for the one I love most in all the world, my dear husband.

So here's to being inspired by love, crafted hearts, the cozy snow falling outside, and mugs of hot cocoa with heart-shaped marshmallows floating on top.

(All photos taken with my iPod and edited with the app Snapseed.)

Friday, February 1, 2013

friday foodie favorites

Oh yes, it's Friday. I should be cleaning the house because my mom and youngest sister are coming for the weekend, but I've been cleaning all week (a weird obsession in this new year). And it was time to stop and eat lunch. My breakfast was sadly lacking this morning (coffee and a small piece of mango cake), so I figured I needed a fair amount of calories in my lunch. So I made a salad. I luuuurrrrvvvve salad. This salad, among a few different kinds of greens/herbs (baby spinach, arugula, chives, parsley), contained two of my new food obsessions: avocado and hemp seeds. I've had a bit of an obsession with avocado for a little over a year now, though I only just recently figured out how to cut them without mashing them... I usually mash half an avocado and spread it on toasted bread as a base for a sandwich. Hard-cooked egg goes really well with avocado. The other obsession is relatively new. I had been searching for hemp seeds for a while and finally found them at Costco. They taste a bit nutty and are super good for you. I sprinkle them on toast, put them in my smoothies, and sprinkle them on salads. So yummy. My other obsession lately is San Pellegrino. For those of you who have never had it, it's sparkling mineral water from Italy. Never thought I'd like sparkling mineral water, but there you have it. And because it's fizzy, I can trick myself into thinking I'm drinking a soda. (Club soda is good for this, too, because it's really only one step above sparkling water and still has zero calories.)