Man, am I a flake. I didn’t even realize I missed posting my preparedness item! Sorry about that. Although for all I know, I’m standing at the side of the Grand Canyon with my voice echoing and nobody around to hear. But maybe there are a bunch of lurkers who are very quietly stocking up when I tell them to.

Anyhoo, our items this week are paper plates, cups and utensils. Imagine if the water supply were interrupted. What would you use to eat off of? It’s kind of hard to keep dishes clean if there’s no water. Plus you’d be too stressed wot worry about cleaning anyway. Thus I have issued my decree for disposable dishes and silverware.

I’d suggest getting big old piles of this stuff. You can always use it for a BBQ or something if the world doesn’t end. It’s never going to go bad or need to be thrown away so you might as well buy a whole bunch of these items.

My British accent is more like Jennifer Coolidge’s in Austenland but maybe if I watch this video a few more times I’ll get the hang of it. Which accent is your favorite?

This week we’re buying chili and/or stew to get prepared. Very few foods are as easy, filling and nutritious all at once. Just pop open a can and heat. What could be easier? And if worst comes to worst, you don’t even need to heat it up.

It’s up to you whether you would prefer chili with or without beans. I like beans because, well, I like beans. They’re good for you and they fill you up. I prefer chili over stew since it sticks to your ribs better. But you can buy whatever you and your family prefers. Just stay away from condensed soups because the point here is to have food that doesn’t require a whole lot of preparation.

I would recommend around ten cans per person. Yes, that’s a lot of chili. Yes, that’s expensive. Yes, the lady at the checkout counter is going to think you are a nutball.  Do you want to be prepared or not? Just think about all the crap you buy for Easter baskets. And that’s for like a day.  Your food storage is going to matter a whole lot more than Easter candy so just do it!

Throw a bunch of cans in your shopping cart the next time you’re at the store. Get it done. That’s the name of the game.

Does any parent ever get used to their child growing up? When I think of this sullen little girl who rarely smiled (but also rarely cried) . . .

Ada Crying

 

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. . . it’s hard for me to imagine that that solemn little baby is now a spunky, laughing, opinionated big girl who is turning nine today.

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Adelaide Amelia Clementine is my one child out of six who got her father’s blue eyes. Only now they’ve changed to a greenish grey. Mister doesn’t have very dominant genes. Except where his chin dimple is concerned. All the kids have a cleft chin. Especially Ada.

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She also has a few freckles around her mouth that make it look like she always has crumbs on her face. It took me months to realize that she does not.

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Because I am totally insane I make every single food that the kids want to eat on their birthdays. This morning I was up long before the sun, making Cinnamon Roll Pancakes with Cream Cheese Glaze (sugar to the max! So, so fantastic but a lot of work. You can get the recipe here.)

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Ada wants Subway for lunch (ew, but whatever. It’s her birthday. At lease I don’t have to make it.) I will dutifully deliver said sandwich to school and make small-talk with her and her silly friends while they eat. Then I will race home to finish the cake pops I started a little while ago (made of orange cake. She wanted them covered in blue but I talked her into white chocolate instead). Unlike most states, Texas lives recklessly so parents are legally allowed to bake treats for their kids. I know, way to live on the edge! I could talk Ada into donuts probably but then I think of all the chemicals in store-bought food and I just can’t bear the thought of it. So cake pops it is. (Although the white chocolate is hardly chemical-free. Just humor me, OK?) Plus she told all the other kids that she’d be bringing cake pops so lucky me. She’s turned into a little baking snob already and won’t eat a bite of store-bought cake.

Fortunately Ada wants Mexican food for dinner so I will get a blessed rest from the kitchen at dinner-time. But then I’ve got to squeeze in making a red velvet birthday cake at some point too. Only it’s got to be purple velvet. Because why would a 9-year-old pick red when she could pick purple instead? Actually, Ada’s favorite color is red so I have no idea what’s going on. But purple velvet has been requested and that is what I shall make.

At some point I need to run to the store to pick up a few more pairs of jeans shorts. (“Mom, all I like to wear are jeans shorts and crappy t-shirts. I can’t help it.”)  At lease she doesn’t want to wear silky basketball shorts. Tender mercies, folks!

So I shall bid you adieu and get my birthday preparations on. Here’s hoping I survive!

 

Hey, it’s date night! I lucked out at the movie theatre this week and saw two really great films. They were both at the artsy fartsy theatre which means  they may not show up near where you live (although I guess it depends on where you are). But they’re so definitely worth seeing. It’s not too late to call a babysitter and scoot on over to the movies!

The Lunchbox. This is an Indian (from India, not Native American) movie about an older widower and a young woman who strike up an interesting correspondence through a lunchbox. If you’ve seen any Bollywood films you know that Indian movies can be crazy over-the-top and unrealistic. The Lunchbox is nothing like that; it’s subtle and realistic; it’s sweet and sad and lovely and ugly all at once. Best of all it gives a realistic portrayal of middle-class life in India. I just adore a movie that helps me experience another culture. The Lunchbox is beautifully acted and very thoughtful. Such a refreshing change from the typical comic-book oeuvre that is everywhere at the megaplex these days. (Also I want a tiffin lunch box like the one in the movie, but one that’s big enough to put sandwiches in. In case you were wondering.)

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Tim’s Vermeer. This is my favorite documentary I’ve seen in years. Tim, the main character, is a cool inventor of lots of technological stuff. He just loves the painter Vermeer and has a hypothesis that Vermeer must have used some kind of magnifying glass/lens system to paint his gorgeous works.  So Tim sets out to recreate Vermeer’s studio and his painting supplies to see if he himself can follow in the Great Master’s footsteps using some old-fangled technology. It’s a fascinating, engaging and thoroughly cool movie about a modern-day genius. Mister loved this movie as much as I did. If you don’t think you like documentaries, you’re a weirdo give this one a try.

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Being prepared isn’t just about food and water!

Toilet Paper is something every single person needs and nobody wants to run out of. If you don’t feel like buying toilet paper then make sure you’ve got a lot of leaves in your backyard!

Toilet paper is bulky so it can be a pain to store if you are short on space. It’s such an important item, though, so try to find a way.

I recommend 6-18 rolls per person. Think how often your family goes through a roll and you will probably want to err on the side of too many rolls. It’s also one of the few things you can store in your garage since it won’t be affected by the hot weather, so keep that in mind. And it never gets rotten so there’s no excuse not to have a bunch of T.P. on hand.

Remember not to put this off! Just throw a big package of toilet paper in your cart every time you go to the store this week. Make it simple and get it done!

I recently bought a new mascara by Tarte. It came highly recommended on Makeup Alley (if you don’t consult Makeup Alley before you buy makeup, then you are really missing out) and it was 40% off at Ulta the day I happened to be there. Imagine my surprise when I opened it up to try it on and found this:

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Yeah, it’s fake alligator-ish leather. This isn’t some kind of case to hold the mascara tube, this is the mascara tube. It’s supposed to be swanky, I guess. Really it’s slightly awkward with a seam down the sides.

Mostly, though, I’m just slightly embarrassed because all I can think when I pick it up is that it looks like a fancy tampon case.  Seriously, Tarte, what were you thinking?

P.S. The mascara is excellent, by the way.

I bought Ada an Easter dress a couple of days ago. As I have done for many, many years I cut the bow off the front of the dress.

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I really hate bows. I always have. I don’t mind a bow on a dress that naturally occurs, say on the sash of a dress. But I hate bows that are sewn on to clothing for no other reason than to just make a dress more . . . busy.  I don’t know if this simple act has somehow been passed on to my daughters, none of whom like frilly clothes. Although I don’t want to give you the wrong idea: I love layers of  ruffles. If I see something with ruffles, I must buy it. It doesn’t matter what it is. Same for polka dots. I cannot control myself. But bows? That is another story.

Things are not so bow-covered now but that wasn’t always the case. Back when India was a baby in the mid-90′s there was a movement to encase little girls in more bows and floppy collars and gobs of fabric than should have been allowed. This movement was called Daisy Kingdom. You most likely have blocked these clothes from your memory, either because you bought it for your kids or you are young enough to have been dressed in this hideous stuff yourself. Or maybe you’re in your early 30′s you only saw these monstrous dresses from afar.

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The distinguishing factor of these dresses–besides the sheer volume of fabric and superfluous use of bows–was the cutesy bunnies and bears everywhere. I have always hated cutesy crap. Somebody made us one of these as a wedding gift and we were supposed dress it in baby clothes (different outfit for each season!) and have it sitting around our house. Naturally it found its way to Goodwill within a few month of the wedding. Who gives a grown woman a stuffed animal?

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I was living in Portland during the Daisy Kingdom heyday and we actually had a humungous Daisy Kingdom store downtown. I remember going down there and being simply overwhelmed by the ruffliness of everything. On paper I theoretically liked this stuff. I love little girls in pinafores! But in reality these clothes were much too over-the-top. I don’t remember if you could actually buy these dresses or if everything was just patterns and fabric and it was all do-it-yourself. But you know Mormons and how crafty we are. There was a parade of little girls with crazy curls wearing these dresses week after week at church. And it was just to sickly sweet for my taste.

And there I was picking the bows off of everything. I had to buy expensive socks from a catalog because that were the only place I could find non-ruffly socks (oh yeah, I only hate ruffles when they’re on socks. Or pageant dresses.)  Nowadays you can buy classy kids clothes all over the place but I still find myself picking off bows trying to make my girls look as non-cheesy as possible.

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This week we’re going to stock up on cereal. Dry cereal, that is. Cheerios, Cookie Crisp, granola–whatever strikes your fancy. Cereal may not be the most filling food but it’s something that just about everybody likes. And sometimes that’s what you need most. It’s easy and the only ingredient you need is milk (and maybe a little sugar if you get one of those healthy kinds).

If you’re a mom, one of the most common complaints is that everybody will eat cereal up in no time. While that is a bummer (the stuff is not cheap, after all) at least you don’t need to worry about rotating it! And if your family is one of those who doesn’t eat cereal, well I don’t really know what to say. Obviously you’ve never eaten Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch because that stuff is goooood.

I would recommend at least a couple of boxes per person. Yes, it’s going to be expensive. But at least you know it’s going to be eaten. Just bite the bullet and remember that the prophet commanded us to have a three-month supply of food we normally eat. So I guess that means the prophet wants us to buy cereal!

And a couple of people have asked about eating this three-month supply of food. Yes, you re supposed to be eating this stuff! Rotating through your food storage is definitely the way to go. I mean, you can buy all this stuff and lock it away, never to be thought of unless things get tough. But you’ll probably end up throwing most of the food away after a while.

The idea here is to get food that your family eats so that you will eat it! And then you’ll have to restock. It’s just like regular grocery shopping except in larger quantities.

You can do this! Make it easy and just get it done!

One day last year I was killing myself on the rowing machine (I have realized that I hate HATE HATE running), watching Netflix. I clicked on a show called Addiction. It’s a really good, graphic non-fiction show about–surprise!–addicts and alcoholics. The woman on the show was talking about how low she had fallen because of her heroin addiction and how she simply couldn’t stop using even though she was ruining her life and the lives of everyone around her. When she was describing what is was like with the heroin having so much power over her and not being able to stop, I burst into tears. I sat there and sobbed because I felt exactly the same way. But my drug of choice is not illegal. It is sugar.

If you scroll through my recipe tab you will notice that pretty much every recipe I list is chock full of carbs and sugar. These things are my very favorites in life. I grew up baking, teaching myself how to bake at an early age because I simply couldn’t get enough suweets (this is what I did whenever you left the house, Mom! You told me not to use the stove or oven but I just had to). Luckily I was blessed with a decent metabolism that tidily sorted through the sugar and pop I existed on for most of my life. Once I hit 40, though, my metabolism waved goodbye. Practically overnight it came to a screeching halt. I did what I had done in the past: went to Weight Watchers, tried to be reasonable about portion sizes and switched my full-sugar Mt. Dew habit to Coke Zero (sorry, but I find Diet Coke to be utterly vile.)  Nothing happened. I couldn’t lose a pound if my life depended on it.

Then I was called to be the Relief Society President. This means I was put in charge of all the women in my church congregation. Not only am I in charge of planning activities and lessons, but I’m the one on the front lines when the women have major setbacks due to illness, depression, death or unemployment. All sorts of fun things. All this new stress and responsibility left me exhausted and depleted at the beginning. So I did what every red-blooded American would do; I turned to food. Now I wasn’t stress-eating just for my own problems, I was stress-eating for everyone’s problems! The results were not pretty. I didn’t even know you could gain weight that fast!

I cut down on calories and took up running (I had to try it before I realized I hated it so), and rowing and exercise videos. Unfortunately my weight stayed exactly the same. The scale would not budge. I cut out most white flour and ate nothing but whole grains (hey, whole wheat chocolate chip cookies are really fantastic, by the way! Super chewy!). And there were no more calories from soda since I was drinking diet. I couldn’t figure out what was going on or how to change it.

I knew exercise must be important but so far I hadn’t found the thing that rocked my world. And I knew I needed a partner to help me find some accountability. I’d been hearing about crossfit a lot so I found a place near us that had fantastic reviews on Yelp and got my friend Anna to go with me. It was hard. Really hard. But I really liked it. And hated it. If you know crossfit, you know what I mean. I’ll talk more about it another time. But the foundation of crossfit is good nutrition. That’s a really big deal. In particular, crossfit people are totally into paleo.

My crossfit coach suggested I try Paleo but once I found out that sugar and grains are forbidden I was like, “HELL NO!” Like, no way would I ever, ever eat that way in a million years. My coach just smiled, “after about a month of crossfit I bet you’ll try it.” I snort-laughed because there was not even a shred of possibility that that might happen. Obviously he didn’t know who he was talking to; I have won blue ribbons for my baked goods! That stuff is in my blood! Sugar and flour are my soul!

But this voice in my head kept nagging at me to think about it. Even doing crossfit several times a week was not helping my weight. The numbers refused to get lower. I began to face the fact that flour and sugar were like a dysfunctional relationship: they were doing me nothing but harm although I still loved them desperately. It was time for us to break up.

I read several books about eating Paleo* and here’s what turned me onto it: it’s all about getting over sugar and carb cravings. It’s about teaching your body to have a healthy relationship with food. It’s about healing your body from the damage you’ve done over your lifetime, and becoming as healthy as possible through clean eating. And most importantly to me it means eating foods that provide a healthy psychological response.

In other words, not eating because of sadness or boredom. You don’t think of food as a reward (that’s a big deal for me. I think of food as the ultimate reward). You can find all sorts of “heathy sweets” that have honey or agave. Or sugar-free chocolate. But those aren’t going to do you an favors if you’re a sugar addict. I needed to teach my body how to not crave things like that anymore. And the only way to kill a craving is to starve it to death. (Not starve as in “no calories”, starve as in “no more sweet things whether they are ‘healthful’ or not”.)

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Not eating carbs and sugar is pretty much the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Without a doubt. I face a temptation every hour of every day. Unlike heroin addicts, though, sugar is not only served everywhere, it is encouraged!  (Who’ll bring refreshments? Who wants some birthday  cake? It’s free slurpees today!) I’ve had to stop bringing people cookies because I can’t bake them and not eat them. I have to buy snacks for my kids that I wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole so I won’t be tempted (It would have to be the end of the zombie apocalypse before I would put a baked Cheeto in my mouth.) I psyche myself up and do a pep-talk before I go to any church function (Refreshments are so hard to say no to!). And I practically wear blinders when I go to the grocery store .

It’s getting easier, though. I pray a lot (seriously. “Please Heavenly Father, do not let me think about peanut butter M&Ms”. I know it sounds pathetic and cheesy but it really works). This morning I took my kids to our favorite donut shop  (I love donuts with a grand passion) and I sat and watched them eat their donuts without even having a bite. I abstained from ordering a donut for myself even when I saw them carry out a fresh, hot tray of chocolate glazed with peanuts–my favorite! I haven’t had soda or caffeinated anything since New Year’s Eve and I’ve stopped staring at the soda fountains longingly. I no longer think about how great a Big Gulp would taste right now. When it gets really hot out, though, I’m probably going to die without pop. Gotta stay strong!

The good news? The weight is coming off. Slowly. But it is coming off. And unlike Weight Watchers** or starving myself, I have plenty to eat. I’m never hungry. Thank goodness bacon and cashews are paleo or I would probably kill myself. The best thing, though, is that I feel strong and healthy. Not just physically healthy but mentally and emotionally healthy. I don’t reach for food when I’m bored. Although I have discovered that I am not a bored or sad eater. When I’m depressed I don’t want food. I’m an angry eater! When I’m frustrated and angry I want to “show everyone” by pigging out. I know, it doesn’t make any sense. But that’s what I’ve discovered about myself.

Will I stay paleo forever? I don’t think so. I really do think that whole grains need to be part of the human diet. I’ve been doing a lot of research and really feel like whole grains are important. But I need to be in a healthy state of mind before I can make that happen. I need to exist without thinking/wishing/pigging out on sugar day after day. I need to get cravings out of my system so one cookie doesn’t turn into fifteen cookies (which is what happens now, no lie). I need to be able to say, “that’s enough” and so far that’s not part of my lexicon.  But I’m hoping that I will be able to change that soon. And permanently. Until then, bring on the pea pods!

 

*If you’re interested in Paleo (which is a stupid, stupid name), I would HIGHLY recommend getting the book The Paleo Coach by Jason Seib. It’s fantastic.

**Weight Watchers has worked really well for me in the past but recently it just hasn’t done the trick. Plus it doesn’t really help with my sugar addiction. Instead I end up eating all my points by lunchtime and then I’m left with ten more hours of starvation. You’d think I would learn my lesson but I never did. Then there is the whole issue of weight being the ultimate gold standard. Weight is just a number. It doesn’t mean you’re healthy or that you look good. And who hasn’t felt great going into a meeting because you’ve tried so hard only to have all the feelings negated because of what the scale says. It’s not right!