Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Autism and Other Things I'm Pissed About...

I recently, in less than a two-week time span, had the opportunity to have an autistic boy in childcare at church and then later have a discussion with a mom of an autistic son (the two mentioned are not related). This was my first up-close-and-personal experience with autism on either side of the coin- a child and a parent. Call it a God thing, but the two experiences stirred me a bit.

It got me to thinking about what you ladies know to be a passion of mine- FEEDING OUR KIDS. But then it went deeper than that- FEEDING OURSELVES. I got to thinking about all the crap in food now. The dyes, the additives, the preservatives, the artificial sweeteners, the artificial flavors, even the literal mold, saw dust, carcinogens and animal bone morrow in our food. Did I just get your attention? I thought so. I wonder if all of this has anything to do with fetal development? Surely you would think so....

Or I wonder if a child, already hereditarily predisposed to autism can't handle all of these chemicals in their systems, much like immunizations but these come from our own food!

Now I have no idea if immunizations cause autism. I don't know because I've really never taken the time to look into it. I do, however, trust the many, many moms with autistic kids that DO think that maybe the immunizations didn't cause their child's autism, but most definitely contributed to it. See, I don't need to hear this. Why? Because immunizations piss me off. I mean really, really piss me off. But the pharmaceutical companies have for more money than I do and a far greater political base than I. It's a money game, but one our kids are paying for.

If you look at different diets the autistic kids are put on, the parents are told to cut this and eliminate that. But the question should be WHY? Why gluten? Why milk? Why dyes? Why all the other numerous items? If they shouldn't eat it, why should we? Why should "typical" kids? I need to know this. And if you have one autistic child, since research shows that you have a much higher percentage of having another autistic child, should the mother avoid eating all of these things while pregnant? If so, this is a disturbing thought.

This is where I have to say it ladies. It's time to be "label whores." That term USED TO BE used to describe women who loved Gucci and Prada and Dolce and Gabbana. But no longer. Fortunately, the label has taken on some substance. It refers to being so scrutinizing while grocery shopping in reading every label before something goes into your cart. If you don't know what it is, put it back. I know this sounds extreme, but that's what we've come to.

Allow me to tell you two stories. The first is about me. I had this rice brand that I loved. Bought it for years. I felt pretty good about myself that this rice blend (whole grain mind you) had only five ingredients in it: whole grain rice, garlic, dried tomato, sea salt and %*&#@. I don't even know what it was. But I figured it couldn't be too bad, right? It was in the "Natural" section. It only had five ingredients. But one day, I popped into my study while making dinner to look this ingredient up. ONE OF THE TWENTY OTHER NAMES FOR MSG. Awesome. I was furious, but it was no one's fault but my own. I should've looked it up a long time ago. Way before I fed it to my family. Way before I fed it to my infants!

I had a mom telling me about how much her kids love Danimals (that nasty yogurt). She went on and on as if she really hit the jackpot with a healthy dairy. I didn't at the time have the heart to tell her about the dye in it. Why didn't she just buy Stoneyfield Farms? Yeah, it's a little more expensive, but 100% real. READ THE LABELS. All the dyes, etc. in foods? No wonder dyslexia, ADD and ADHD are on the rise. And no one out there but God himself could convince me that there is not a link in the two. And childhood obesity? It's all connected.

Recently, while watching the news which I rarely do before bed, there was a very, very interesting segment on. I still think about it quite often. Now open your mind a bit because this is going to sound like a stretch. There is a group of war veterans in our country that are convinced that the childhood obesity epidemic in our country is an act of TERRORISM. That terrorist strategists are counting on the fact in the near future, America will NOT HAVE A STRONG ARMED FORCES because we will have a nation of fat, lethargic, diabetes-ridden, out-of-shape men. WOW. I just layed there. My husband blew this notion off. I, however, did not.

I also, as of yesterday, decided I would no longer have my house sprayed for bugs. The smell was atrocious. "This can't be good," I thought. So, bring it on bugs. I'd rather have you than cancer. Per this decision and posting it on Facebook, I had several friends reply back that they not only have already nixed the bug spray, but they use all organic lawn care products and green/natural chemical-free cleaning products. Good for them I thought! I dig me some visionary friends! And per their insistence and cases they made, I will be doing the same.

That being said, there is a whole daunting world out there of chemical-laden foods and environmental products we are subjected to. There is no way any one of us can ever learn all there is to learn about the long-term effects this is going to have on us in our old age and our children. So, hooray for blogs and Facebook, etc. where we can all start to share information. Who knows, maybe if we all work together, we can make a difference. 'Cause the way I look at it, if a bunch of mad mommas can't do it, no one can.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

SKINCARE 2- Make-up is an accessory not a necessity...

I have this book that has changed my life. It is called, "The Truth About Beauty" by Kat James. I know I've mentioned it in a previous post before. I can not tell you passionately enough about why every woman in this country needs this book. Please make it your Summer read. I beg of you. Especially if you have daughters. Mine are going to read it and they are going to report back to me so that I know they've read it. It is that important to me that my girls know what real beauty is and where it comes from. And no, I'm not talking about "pretty is and pretty does" and "pretty on the inside too" and all that jazz. I am actually talking about the outside- hair, skin, nails, skin disorders, diet, water, chemicals, etc.

Kat discusses in her book a lot of what I talked about in my first skincare post but she just calls it "shedding." Shedding those mainstream beauty ideals that are crammed down our throats since the time were able to purchase our first Teen magazine. She lays out all the money that is spent not on the products themselves but on advertising and big-name celeb spokespeople. The products are crap. But we keep buying it. Please read this book. Please.

Since we are on the topic of daughters, I also wanted to challenge you moms to do something else. Instead of introducing make-up at an early age, why not start introducing proper skincare at an early age? I was fortunate enough to have a mother who instead of letting me wear make-up early, she bought me my first little tub of eye cream. She also had me drink water with lemon and cucumber and explained the benefits of this for my skin (and digestive system and liver....). Now this is a good time to admit that not only did I do a short stint of modeling, I was also a make-up artist for Bobbi Brown. I LOVE MAKE-UP. I love playing with it, owning it, buying it, putting it on my friends, doing their make-up for their weddings, etc. But for me, make-up is for fun. For going out at night. Make-up should be viewed as an accessory not a necessity. And that is the very mantra I will teach my girls. Once my husband told me that one of the reasons he fell in love with me in high school is because while all the other girls wouldn't have stepped foot out of the house without make-up on, I couldn't have cared less. But when it was time to get dressed-up, he said he was always in awe of how I looked. This meant a lot to me and shows me that smart guys, you know the "keepers," typically don't like girls with all that high maintenance fuss. I also had a guy in high school tell me I needed to start wearing more make-up to school specifically eye-liner. What the hell? This guy is now on his second marriage, has beer-bloat face, beer gut to match and is just a slob. His current wife (who I expect will not be his last) is a bleach blond, fake-tanning, Tammy Faye make-up wearing little thing. Someone my husband or any quality guy I know would EVER talk to or at least take in public. I think the difference in the two guys (the beer bloat guy and my husband) illustrates the two "camps" of wearing make-up. And this needs to be explained to our girls as well. Why do they feel like they need it? Are they trying to cover themselves up? Are they hiding from something? Are they trying to impress people? What is your daughter's root of interest in wearing make-up? If the answer is because "boys like it" or "all my friends are wearing this much" or "I'm just not pretty" we've got troubles! Teach them that "day" make-up should be nothing more than enhancing. Tinted moisturizer to even skin tone, concealer only for acne spots, cream blush on the apples of your cheeks, mascara and a tinted lip gloss (all with SPF in it if you can swing it). That's it. Now night for ME? Whole different ball game. But again, I see it as an accessory just like my clutch and heels! And P.S....I'm convinced I started the whole "smoky eye" craze!!! WINK.

Don't let mainstream media determine your daughter's idea of beauty or how to achieve it. It's just like talking to your kids about sex. If you don't do it, someone else will. And don't you want to control that information? Such important information? Start shedding your own beauty ideals and rituals and start feeding your hair, skin and nails from the inside out. Teach your girls to do the same. I so look forward to the days when I can have a blast with my two daughters doing the whole make-up gig. What fun! But they will never, ever be taught they can't leave the house without it or that they "need" it. And in the meantime, I'll just pray like crazy that they meet a guy like their Daddy and not "beer bloat" guy....

SKINCARE- On my soapbox again...

For those people who've known for me for a long time know that I did a short stint of modeling when I was a teenager. I had the opportunity to travel to New York a couple of times and I learned things about make-up and skin-care that most teenage girls only dream of or at least hope Seventeen magazine will provide for them. The funny thing is, the two main things I learned are not mainstream and my friends would never and have never done.

One, don't wash your hair every day. To me this is common sense. For some of my friends, they think I'm "fowl" that I don't wash my hair everyday or every other day for that matter. So let me see...what's grosser- my oily scalp or your dried-out, straw-like, over processed, burnt hair? I'm gonna go with burnt out. And which do you think holds-up better when you do need to style it (i.e. blow dry and then roll or straighten with a flat iron)? Mine? Or your burnt out hair? And which do you think makes it through a Summer of chlorine? Mine or yours? And what kills me is any hairdresser in the business worth their salt will tell you the same thing. Do you think putting spray leave-in conditioner or store-bought conditioners full of alcohol and parabens are healthier for your hair and scalp than your own natural oils? Seriously. Don't underestimate Mother Nature and give more credence to synthetic, cheap projects that are made in a lab. Your a major cosmetic company's wet dream. You're a sucker.

The other thing I learned while modeling is you don't wear make-up every day. This ages you and never lets your skin breathe. How does it age you, you ask? If you tug on your face every single day of your life putting your foundation on (rubbing down instead of upwards) and you "pat" concealer around your eyes (even with your index finger) every day and then you also powder-up the delicate tissue on your eyelids every single day and then put titanium dioxide on your eyelashes every single day, what exactly do you think happens over time? All of this can age your skin faster than the sun. But ironically, my friends who wear make-up every day also tend to be my sun-worshipping friends as well so they don't stand a chance. I don't have the heart to tell them that the sun damage they have already accrued from their many, many days in the sun tanning have caught-up with them already in their '30's. What the hell are they gonna look like in their '50's????? The damage is way past microdermabrasion too.

I'm getting to my main point to bare with me. See, I'm far more into skincare than I am my weight. Why? Because my weight isn't permanent, but my face is it. It's all I've got. I also have a lot of Irish blood in me and it shows. I also grew-up in West Texas with a pool and on a lake. I was a lifeguard and a water sports fanatic. Though I did use sunscreen way more than my friends (thanks Mom) the aftermath is rearing it's ugly head here in my '30's. Especially on my chest and my hands. Plus, the ladies I know who are hell-bent on staying a size 6 shouldn't really care about their size so much when their skin looks like they smoke a pack a day and the sun spots look like continents across their foreheads. Who cares about your True Religion jeans when professional t.v. make-up couldn't give you good skin? PRIORITIES PEOPLE.

All that being said, I wanted to share with you my new beauty find. My closest friends know I'm a beauty product junkie, but only for stuff that actually works and see results from. I rarely endorse products unless I've used them myself for awhile and I'm addicted. So here I go. Write this down. ROC DAILY RESURFACING DISKS. They are little pads that come in a gold-ish plastic tub. They are pretty potent and since I have sensitive skin, I can't use them every day. Heck, I can't even use them every other day. Point is, they are the first product I have used where I can actually see a major difference on my decollete area (the massive amount of sun spots and damage). I get naked and use them on my chest right before I step into the shower (while I'm waiting for the water to heat-up). I also have started using them on my hands only to see a major texture difference. Everyone should go get these suckers. Now if your pregnant, or plan on becoming pregnant, I might hold off. One, they are too potent for sensitive pregnancy skin and two, I'm pretty certain there might be Vitamin A and retinol in them. Two things not recommended for pregnant women. Go out and get yourselves some of these, ladies. Trust me.

But I also wanted to encourage you all to start really evaluating your beauty routine. All the chemicals, all the parabens, all the additives that you put on your skin every day. YUCK. You don't need to wash your hair every day. You don't need to wear make-up every day. What you should be doing is concentrating on your supplements, your diet (raw, fresh foods) and changing the products you use. I'd first like to challenge everyone to throw away your body lotions and go the nearest healthfood store and by some jojoba oil. This is the closest substance to your own body's natural sebum (oil). It is amazing. Put it on after a shower and your set. That, and drink lots and lots of water and take a good oil supplement like flaxseed! Nourish your skin from the inside out. Again, going against everything that you've ever been taught through the media (devil). If women started actually doing that, who's going to keep Loreal, etc. in business????

Monday, March 22, 2010

Jamie Oliver's Chopped Green Salad Recipe

This salad has endless possibilities as far as add-ins. Especially with Spring and Summer right around the corner. This will be winner with some Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Grigio and grilled halibut or any fish really.

One thing I wanted to mention that just really, really caught my attention is how Jamie served it on his show on the big ol' wood chopping board! It as awesome! Such a cool presentation. I'm off to Sur La Table tomorrow to get me the biggest chopping board ever and I plan on serving it the same way at my next dinner party! It would be awesome with some big pieces of homemade french bread croutons or toasts with goat cheese served on the cutting board as well!

Enjoy the recipe!

Jamie Oliver's Everyday Green Chopped Salad

The Chopped Salad Family Chopped salads are incredibly simple to make—you have to give them a go. If nothing else, they can offer you some chopping practice, so why not make something tasty while you're practicing your knife skills? Anyone can make these salads—just make sure you use a good sharp chef's knife and your biggest chopping board—and watch your fingers. What I want to show you here is that the sky's the limit when it comes to the different ingredients you can add to a chopped salad. –you can use whatever's available. The only rule I would give you is to always include a couple of handfuls of crunchy lettuce to give your salad a really good texture. Try out different things, and don't feel obliged to use the same old stuff all the time. Bell peppers, tomatoes, herb sprigs, different types of cheese…you can get any or all of these into a chopped salad.

"Everyday green chopped salad"
Serves 4

4 scallions
½ a cucumber
A handful of fresh basil leaves
2 small, just ripe avocados
1 butterhead lettuce
Large handful sprouted cress or alfafa
Optional 2 ounces Cheddar cheese
Extra virgin oil
Red wine vinegar
English Mustard
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Get yourself a big chopping board and large sharp knife. It's best to start by chopping the harder, crunchier veggies first, so trim and chop your scallions and slice your cucumber. Slice your basil. Bring it all into the center of the board and continue chopping and mixing together. Halve your avocados around the big pit. Carefully remove the pit and peel the skin off. Add the avocado flesh, lettuce leaves, and cress or alfafa to the board. Crumble over the cheese, if using and continue chopping. When everything is well chopped, you'll have a big mound of salad on the board. Make a well in the middle and drizzle in 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar. Add a teaspoon of English mustard and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Mix up so everything gets well coated and serve on the board or in a bowl.

Soapbox 3- Eating Together as a Family

So I recently had the opportunity to speak at a moms' group in The Woodlands (Texas). Among the many, many, many points I made while there, I got up on my soapbox about not only the importance of sitting down at the dinner table together as a family in general, but how this is the perfect time to teach (and model) table manners for your children. The main point I made was that it drives me crazy to see parents reprimanding their children out in public restaurants when I know damn well they aren't being taught table manners at home. How on earth can you scold your children out and about when they aren't even taught in your own home? And you must be consistent. Children don't have the cognitive ability to discern that they don't have to use their manners at home or the lake house but they do have to while in public or at a friend's house. It has to be consistent if you're going to be successful in "training them up" the proper way. The way you will be proud of.

While speaking, I surprised even myself at my very kind of 1950's view of the woman's responsibility to provide dinner for her family each night. I didn't say to cook it per say, but to provide it. And if that means you have your husband pick something up on his way home, then you can set the table for a nice, leisure sit-down dinner as a family. There are no excuses in my book. None. Trust me. Some of these women tried to give me some and I didn't hear one I agreed with. I know our lives are busy these days, but it is OUR responsibility to slow it down when necessary to facilitate the moments that actually matter in our family culture.

Seasonal Recipe- March/April

My friend, Darla, who is fantastic in the kitchen, whipped-up this recipe for her daughter's 2nd birthday. I am not one to fancy carrot cake but this one was fantastic. And it was even more fantastic the next day straight out of the fridge. The cream cheese icing was the best I have ever tasted. Seriously. And it didn't hurt that she just covered the top and sides of the cake once iced with chopped walnuts. To die for. The colder the better. She also omitted the pineapples and raisins and added one cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips! Sound weird? I thought so too but OMG. Do it. Trust me.


This recipe will be perfect for Spring and specifically Easter! What a great family tradition to start! Enjoy! If you make it, let me know your thoughts!

My blog is neglected.

So, as you can see, it's been awhile since I've posted an article. Why? Because like most of you, anything I actually enjoy doing for myself is the last thing I get around to doing. And the reality is I've been over-scheduled and busy as hell, really. But two things inspired me to get back on my blog. One, the busier my family is (or I am) the worse I feed them. Sure, I know my "worse" isn't probably that bad, but for me and my goals when feeding my kids, I wasn't pulling my weight in meal planning. Luckily, when I realized this, I'm back on the bandwagon and have started to evaluate my life, my to-do lists, my priorities and "cutting the fat" if you will when it comes to commitments I'll say yes to. I encourage you all to do the same. I recently had a revelation and I praise God for one, giving me the smarts to listen to Him and two, giving me the wisdom to then do something about it. And that was this: I will never look back at my life and regret dropping the ball when it comes to volunteering at my church or at my kids' schools, but I will look back and regret volunteering my baby's infancy away. And that was that. Quality time with my children and my husband is center-stage again. As is meal-planning!

The other thing that inspired me to get back on my blog is something that I am so incredibly excited about I can barely see straight. That is Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution on ABC. They had the pilot last night. I cried. I mean I seriously cried. The premise of the show is worthy of you making sure you see it, follow it religiously or a the very least set a standing recording time for it on Tivo or whatever. The premier is Friday night. I by no means expect you to stay home on a **hot** Friday night to watch it but definitely record it or you can always watch it on ABC.com (link below). In one episode, Jamie challenged me personally to stick to what I know- raw ingredients (fresh meats and produce) are the best and only way to go. He shows you how to whip-up a healthy meal for your family and talks about the importance of sitting down together. He also inspired me to consider, as my children get older, to include them in the preparing and cooking of the meals and have a ball in the kitchen with my family! What memories! And he just rapes the way Americans feed children in public schools. I mean he is passionately disgusted with the dehydrated meats and additives and nutritional guidelines set-up for our children by you guessed it- OUR OWN GOVERNMENT. I was literally rooting for him as he challenged the "powers that be" on certain food labels. At one point in the show he held-up a piece of dehydrated chicken and said to a group of lunch ladies, "You don't have a problem eating this? Serving this? Well I don't have a problem with you eating it. I have a problem with children eating it." It was awesome. I'm hooked. OK. So I plugged it. Now you watch it!

Go to the website and watch the pilot from last night! PLEASE!