Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Book Reviews: Slums, Joy and Anti-Cancer

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

I cannot rave enough about Katherine Boo's book. Boo is a Pulitzer prize winning journalist married to an Indian. She has spent years writing about poverty in the States and wanted to write about the poor in India but didn't for years because of her health (she has terrible rheumatoid arthritis among other things). One day she tripped over a dictionary in her apartment and decided while laying on her floor is she could get injured in her apartment then the slums couldn't be much worse. She spent years with translators in the slums listening to these stories and recording their lives. This story focuses around the drama of people living in Annawadi, a slum behind the airport in Mumbai. The politics and corruption come through to the nth degree in the slum and the book highlights how poverty isn't a problem that will disappear even with the right agencies involved or programs started (one sentence mentioned a World Vision worker than ran away with money that was supposed to go for a school). It reads like a fiction story but is completely non-fiction. The lives of these people astound me. And I want to move to India.

Joy the Baker Cookbook by Joy Wilson

I'm only counting this as a book I read because I literally read every word of it. I've been obsessed with Joy for awhile now and love her blog. My best fried pre-ordered this as a Christmas present for me and getting it in February made my week! She offers helpful hints for substitutions and great instructions. The pictures are gorgeous too. I'm carefully selecting my first recipe to make out of this sometime soon.

Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber

If I could make pretty much everyone I know read this book I think I would. Schreiber was diagnosed with a brain tumor while conducting his own research on brain functioning and doing CT scans. He was then diagnosed again with a reoccurance 7 years later. At that point he realized he could not keep living the way he was an survive much longer. He "changed his terrain". He brings up how Western medicine is best for curing short term problems but there is so much more that needs to change with someone faces a chronic problem, such as cancer or heart disease. It's about both treating and preventing cancer, because like he says "everyone has cancerous cells in their body but not everyone gets cancer." One of the first things he says is to go ahead and do conventional treatment but also do anything else you can for your own health. He writes a summary of all the research he did regarding cancer treatment and prevention. He gives lists of foods to eat to help prevent cancer, advises on decreasing anxiety and meditating, keeping active and decreasing your exposure to cancer-causing environmental agents. I really recommend this.

Things I love this morning

-Remembering I have homemade frozen waffles for a post-work snack

-Compliment from a stranger at the gym

-Getting to look forward to strawberry Riesling slushes for dessert tonight

-NPR on my iPad

-That I will be in Seattle 8 days from now!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Happy friday

On the schedule for this weekend: Thai steak salad for dinner, Hunger Games tomorrow and fancy brunch on Sunday. And on top of that its supposed to be 80 degrees with minimal wind. I hope your weekend is as promising as mine! Enjoy it!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Observation Tuesday:Volume 18

  • I found a store on Etsy called Hipster Haberdasher. They sold iPad covers and bow ties. I've never seen the word hipster be more applicable. I hope they listen to abstract bands I've never heard of too.
  • I got new glasses! and took a picture in an aquarium!
  • I'm both obsessed and terrified of my new ipad. It's magical and confusing all at the same time. Also I named my iPad Felixx.
  • Last week I watched The Long Way Back on Netflix. It it an adaptation of the book The Long Walk about people from a gulag in the old USSR who escape and WALK TO INDIA. Such a crazy story and now I want to read the book.
  • I love good customer service. It makes all the difference in the world. I had a living social for a new coffee shop here in Lbk, used it today. They didn't have soy milk (part of my new pseudo-vegan living attempt), so they offered me whatever I wanted AND gave me a $5 gift card. They won me over.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spring Break Widow

I'm married to a teacher. Teachers get these awesome breaks in the middle of the year. Nurses do not because people are ALWAYS SICK. Anyways, it worked out for the husband to go to Dallas with his family to watch his brohan swim in the NCAA meet (go UIW!) and I'm stuck here. I go a little stir crazy without someone around but I've managed to keep busy. With what you ask? let me tell you

1) blogging. obvi. And reading blogs! I've actually discovered a few nursing blogs which are super cool to read. Usually you hear about trendy jobs like photographers and graphic designers having blogs, but nurses are hip too!

2) reading this book! so good. review to come...
3) crafting and guilty pleasures on Netflix. don't judge me. or you can judge me, I probably deserve it.
4) Some cooking, made a few mediocre things, and some chai concentrate, which is awesome.

5) Being outside. I'm embracing the 80 degree weather. I took some pictures in the backyard yesterday and read outside at Sbux today. I sort of hope the weather gets miserable this weekend so I don't feel as bummed about working for the next three nights.

6) Checking my NCAA brackets. Lets just say I'm beating my husband so far. I'm going to celebrate that while I can.

And that's my life lately. I will welcome any more random suggestions for further ways to keep myself occupied until he gets home.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Windows, Cells and Hemingway: Book Reviews

I realize you're probably just itching to hear my latest book reviews. Itch no more, friends.

Open Windows by Philip Yancey

I borrowed this book from my father-in-law months ago and figured he had either forgotten or was harboring resentment that I still had the book but I should finish it either way. This is a collection of essays written by Yancey from 1985. The main reason I borrowed it was an essay about Dr. Paul Brand titled "In Defense of Pain" for that alone I would read this book. Dr. Brand worked (or works?) with lepers and essentially discovered their injuries were largely due to the lack of sensation they have in nerve endings all over it. He states that pain is an essential part of our lives and God was merciful to give it to us. When addressing the issues of diseases such as cancer that cause out of control pain he says God was merciful to give us ways to make medicine to control that pain. As a health professional I found his perspective really stimulating. Other essays about the Holocaust, Bible translators and TV preachers were also great, but a little outdated (which is what happens when I book is almost 30 years old). I haven't read much else by Yancey bu now I'd like to.

The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

This book has been on my "to read" list for years. Literally. I first heard about it when I did research in Vancouver in 2009 and finally checked it out at the library. (I love libraries! free books!). Skloot tells the story of the HeLa cell line and the woman and family behind them. It's a really fascinating combination of science and the humans it has affected. The story of Henrietta's family was incredibly sad. Many of people she left behind when she died at a young age of invasive cancer were devastated by her death and even more so by the misunderstandings surrounding her cells. On the other hand the story of her cells is just astounding. The rate at which they proliferate and have impacted science is incredible! The health-nerd in me was totally geeking out while reading it. I would mostly recommend it if the book sounds interesting to you, if not, don't bother.

The Paris Wife by Paula Mclain

From Amazon "Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway and her life changes forever. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald." This book is excellent. A really interesting story and the writing is great.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Life Lately

Guess what we ordered? So fancy! the IPAD3!!! I've never ever ordered a product before it came out so I'm pretty pumped about this. I'll let you know how much I love it when I get it.

Hanging out of this kid a bunch this weekend. Which, if you asked me, is awesome.

I also watched him play in a rec league game. He's generally one of the tallest ones out there so he pretty much owns every game.

Can you explain to me why this bay leaf container has holes on the top? Great value, that is just silly.

Friday, March 2, 2012

A Soup Recipe

You know what train I just cannot hop on. The fig train. I once tried a fig cocktail at a fancy restaurant in Vancouver and almost vomited in my mouth. That was $12 wasted. Ever since then figs seem totally unappealing to me. I want to want to make a fig, bacon and goat cheese pizza, but mostly I just want to eat the bacon and goat cheese and crust.

Anyways, here is a non-fig related recipe.

Chickpea, Tomato and Barley Soup (adapted from this Whole living recipe)
  • 1 cup barley
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch lengths
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1) I precooked my barley. Easy-peasy, soak for one hour, then rinse off. For the ratio use 1 cup barley to 3 cups water, bring to boil, then let simmer for about 30 minutes. I did a little less because I knew I would be cooking it a little more in the soup.

2) Next, add some olive oil to your soup pot, get it nice and hot, then throw in the celery, carrots, onion and garlic. Stir/cook until a little soft, about 5 minutes. Throw in your spices and add the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then simmer for a little while.

3) After about 15 minutes of this I went ahead and added my barley to the mix, let it cook for another 10 minutes. Next throw in the chickpeas and crushed tomatoes (btw, I used an extra big can of tomatoes, the 28 oz one, and the soup was still good). let cook until warmed through, or until you're ready to eat.

Now serve. Perfect for our oddly cool weather this weekend! Guess what, it's vegan!

P.S. I JUST REMEMBERED FIG NEWTONS. That is the part of the fig train I can jive with.

my nose is running and my feet smell

Hey you guyyysss! My face is in full-blown cold-mode right now. I've gotten up twice in the last two nights to eat a cough drop at 3 a.m. and just used 4 kleenexes blowing my nose (kleenex? klenexi?), and getting up too fast gets me super dizzy. I'm such a pathetic sick person. In fact, that's the reason I'm not up working out or getting my brakes checked like I should be. I'm still in bed, although I did get up to get myself some breakfast earlier. My mom prescribed me rest & oranges to eat today, so I'm taking full advantage of that and will probably work my way through the bag of cuties I bought yesterday. Cuties are NOT just for kids.

image source (

Hey look! Kale! sorry, I couldn't come up with a better transition with that in my mucousy state. Also, I would have used my own picture, but lets be honest, the robbers stole my camera. One time I made kale chips. I was super excited because everyone raves about them. By everyone I mean some blogs I read. Bottom line it tasted like I was eating crispy paper. Maybe I should eat someone else's kale chips before I just make my own next time. Anyway, I bought some yesterday at the store (just kale not the chips) hoping to branch out in my use of the suspect cabbage. No really, it's in the cabbage family, Wikipedia told me so. I decided to make myself a KALE SMOOTHIE.

  • some kale
  • strawberries (washing totally optional because I think dirt is okay and I'm LAZY)
  • blueberries (i used both fresh and the leftovers of a bag of frozen berries I had)
  • a banana
  • soy milk
Here is where it gets interesting. I get everything ready and get out our blender, which I've had an iffy-relationship with since the beginning, and the thing won't lock on to the base. This Waring Pro Bar Blender should, in theory, be totally functional and awesome, but its not. My husband was home, he can't get it to work either. I try to make it blend even though it's not locked on, and it basically just spins around enough to blend the bottom two kale leaves into pulp.

Finally, I give up on Waring and move on to my trusty Oster hand blender that sounds like its pulverizing the blades when you turn it on. It's frightening but generally gets the job done. It's not as blended as it would have been in a blender but honestly the kale smoothie was DELICIOUS.

I offered some to my husband and it said it smelled like grass. More for me, I guess.