Prevent the Post-Party Sugar Crash!

My eight-year-old has attended many birthday parties at a bowling alley or similar venue where guests are served pizza (with white-flour crust), chips, soda pop, frosted cake, ice cream, more soda pop, and sometimes candy too.  That’s a lot of simple carbohydrates!  It’s the kind of meal that may be enjoyable while you’re eating it but tends to make you “crash” an hour or two later.  It’s even worse without the pizza and ice cream, which at least have some protein–frosted cake and soda pop on an empty stomach is a recipe for hyperactivity followed by meltdown.

I often attend these parties, too, because these “fun center” places are out in the suburbs, far from home.  Often I end up eating some of the food, if there’s extra.

We’ve always made a point of eating a solid, healthy meal not too long before the party, so that we don’t put the junk into a completely empty stomach and don’t overeat junk because we’re hungry.  I also try to plan for a healthy meal not too long after the party so that we eat again before getting hungry.  It’s the moment when the simple carbs are burned up and you suddenly have no calories to power your body that feels so awful.  After a party is no time to run a bunch of errands on the way home, unless you bring sandwiches or stop at a healthy restaurant–you will end up snapping at each other as you drag around some store, in our experience.  I’ve also learned that drinking too much coffee before or after the party will make the sugar crash worse or at least make me more irritable about it.

After the last such party we attended, I drove Nicholas straight home–40 minutes in the car, which was extremely hot at first, along an under-construction highway, in sunlight that seemed very bright after two hours in a bowling alley, with Nicholas clamoring, “Look what I drew on my dry-erase board NOW!” every few minutes (the board was a party favor), and then stop-and-go traffic through our neighborhood because of the detour around the tunnel renovation–so when I was finally getting out of the car and Nicholas was saying, “Can I watch TV?  I only watched one half-hour today, so can I watch another half-hour now?” and I said, “Well–” and he screeched, “YOU’RE INTERRUPTING!!!”, it was hard to resist clobbering him.  As I stomped toward the house, vowing for the hundredth time never to eat supermarket-bakery frosting again, I suddenly remembered a tip I had read a long time ago but never tried: Read more…

Buying Bulk Food in Reused Containers

Many of the foods my family eats most are purchased from the bulk section of the East End Food Co-op, our local health-food supermarket in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. You do not have to buy a membership to shop at this co-op, but members get a discount in exchange for a one-time payment, which is a pretty sweet deal. (If you don’t live here, search for a similar store in your area.)

“Bulk” here does not mean buying an enormous package. In this wonderful section of the store, you get to scoop your own food into your own container, buying exactly the amount you want. First you weigh your empty container and write its weight on the co-op label that you stick on your container. You also write the Price Look Up number, which tells the cash register the price per pound for that food. At checkout, the cashier subtracts the weight of the container from the total weight, and you pay for the food only.

I love this system! Instead of paying for a bunch of packaging that we’d throw away or recycle, we use the same containers over and over again. Most of these containers are better than disposable packaging at keeping the food fresh, and they’re at least as easy to open and close. The co-op sells a few types of containers in the bulk section, but we use mostly containers that we saved from packaged foods. Here are some randomly selected examples, neatly photographed by my eight-year-old Nicholas.
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Read more…

6 Unnecessary Types of Cell Phone Call

Three years after I explained how I survive everyday life without a cell phone, I’m still doing fine without one.  I recently took a three-day vacation by myself, and as I often do when traveling alone, I borrowed my partner Daniel’s cell phone for the trip.  However, I found that none of the times I used it was essential, and having it along was as much of an inconvenience as it was a convenience!

I’m not a Luddite who doesn’t believe in modern communication.  Not only did I use email extensively when planning this trip before I left home, but I brought my iPad with me and used it frequently, using wifi in two restaurants as well as my friends’ home, not just to communicate by email about my travel plans and to check maps but also to do unrelated emailing, maintain this site, do some Websurfing just for fun, play some music, use some other apps….  I love being able to carry my computer in my bookbag when I choose to do so (typically, I leave it at home unless I’m traveling overnight) and to do all this fun and useful stuff.  But I also appreciate that the iPad doesn’t shriek at random (to me) moments when someone contacts me, and that using email doesn’t involve shouting in a public place or trying to understand buzzy sounds that resemble a friend’s voice.  It is cell phones, specifically, and the way they are getting used in our culture, that bother me so much.

I made six cell phone calls during the three days.  Every one of them was a type of call I’ve often heard other people making on cell phones in public places.  Every one of them was unnecessary, or could be made from a land line, in the era when we all understood how to live without cell phones.

Call #1: “What do you want from the store?”

Read more…

Cucumber Salad

My family has been loving this salad since we invented it a couple of months ago by adding ingredients to a recipe from The Frugal Gourmet for a “Jewish cucumber salad”.  It’s sort of pickle-like yet without dill.  It’s sort of coleslaw-like yet with a very different texture.  It goes well with sandwiches or burgers.  It’s a great potluck/picnic dish as it won’t spoil easily and tastes fine at room temperature.

To make 4 servings, you will need:

  • 1 cucumber
  • 1-2 carrots OR 1 tomato  (Obviously, which one you choose will make a difference in the flavor of the salad.  Both are good!)
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. granulated garlic or garlic powder, or 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. white vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. yellow mustard
  • minced fresh chives, to taste (optional)

Combine all ingredients except the vegetables, either by whisking them together in the serving bowl or by placing them in a glass jar, putting on the lid, and shaking it.

Dice the vegetables. Toss them in the dressing until thoroughly coated.

Let stand at least 30 minutes before eating.

I made a big batch of this salad last night to contribute to the buffet dinner at our son’s school carnival tonight.  Cucumber Salad works for me!  Visit the Hearth & Soul Hop for more healthy recipes!

Why I Don’t Drop Acid

From the time I first learned what LSD is until just a few days ago, I had thought of it as one of the many interesting experiences Earth has to offer and put it in the category, “Things that aren’t a high priority for me to try but that I might get around to, someday, in the right circumstances, if I get bored.”  Over the years I’ve had several friends who tell me acid trips are really fun, and I’ve even hung out with people while they’re tripping, yet the idea of trying LSD myself never budged out of the “maybe someday” category.  It’s illegal, and it can be dangerous, but what really gave me pause was the idea of hallucinating, which I didn’t think I would enjoy.  I’ve experienced hallucinations from migraines, fevers, and other medical conditions, and they were scary, not entertaining.

What I recently realized is that my way-too-many experiences with the visual aura that precedes some migraines have built up expectations about that type of visual experience that would likely suck all the fun out of an acid trip for me, if they did not actually trigger a headache.  Oddly enough, this realization came out of a conversation that was aimed at explaining to me why LSD is not scary because “You’re not hallucinating things that are actually not there at all; it’s just this really cool shifting of what you see.”  This was followed by a lot of description of the experience and showing me a video clip of something that looks similar.  I was able to watch the video without flinching and to agree that it was beautifully kaleidoscopic and psychedelic and interesting.  But I also recognized that squirming movement.  I’ve seen something very much like that before, and I’ve found it fascinating, compelling, so absorbing that I will watch it and play with it (experimenting with looking at different surfaces to see what they do) and not take my medication and not tell anyone what’s happening because it’s so interesting, so powerful, so promising that I will keep watching it until I walk off the fucking cliff. Read more…

How to Wash Your Hair with Vinegar

I wrote a guest post for The Greenbacks Gal on the natural, money-saving method of washing my hair that I have been using for the past nine years! This is an updated version of my vinegar hairwashing article from a few years ago, with some new tips…and a photo of me. I decided it makes sense that people considering whether to wash their hair the way I do would want to know how my hair looks.

Washing my hair with vinegar makes it possible for me to wash less often, have silky texture and nice waves and less frizz without (usually) applying anything extra to my hair, spend less money on hair care, and avoid applying weird chemicals to my skin or rinsing them into the water supply.

To read all about it–or if you are a longtime reader who has been frustrated that there are no pictures of me anywhere on this site and you really want to know what I look like–click on over to The Greenbacks Gal!

P.S. I wrote this entire post using my friends’ wifi while on their porch waiting to find out when they are coming home. Technology may not be allowing me to reach them instantly, but it’s still pretty amazing, giving me the ability to speak to the entire world using a two-pound device I was carrying in my bookbag and some convenient invisible waves! And if I get too hungry to keep waiting, this device converts into a combination atlas and phone book that will show me exactly where to find the nearest restaurant! This is awesome. Except there are some mosquitoes here–is there an app for that yet?