Monday, September 13, 2010

Going Organic

I love the idea of eating healthy and staying fit (though I hate to exercise in general. Something about sweating profusely grosses me out) and I thought I had accomplished this. My family eats tons of vegetables and lean protein, whole wheat and low sodium, all the things that make eating a benefit and not a burden. Then I watched Food, Inc., a documentary on the source of American food. I watched chicken living in their own feces, cows ankle deep in muck and manure, pigs slaughtered by the dozens in what looked like a machine you would use to press old, junky cars together to form those tight little boxes of scrap. I was disgusted. The worst for me was watching a mother explain how she fed her 2 year old child a burger from a fast food chain and it ended up killing him 12 days later because it was contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. The little boy bled internally and his kidneys failed. He was put on dialysis and then died. My son is only a year younger than that boy had been and I have fed him fast food before. The E. coli comes from feeding cows corn instead of grass. Why we feed cows corn is questionable since I assume grass is cheaper... and considering the health benefits to the animal and our diets, why anyone would stray from this logic is beyond me.

You really have to watch the movie. There are a lot of things that would horrify you. I showed Sam (my husband) this movie after I had watched it and he (who loves his bacon burgers from Wendy's) hasn't eaten fast food since. But now we have decided that the best way to eat is organic. It simply means pure from the source. No chemicals, hormones, antibiotics. Nothing homogenized. No chicken or beef pumped with steroids to enlarge and quicken the growing process so it gets to the consumer faster.

[Image from the documentary Food, Inc.]

Food is fast becoming an epidemic rather than a remedy. All of our health problems (obesity, heart disease, thyroidism, diebates, cancer, etc.) can be, but not only, linked to the foods we eat. Ever wonder why so many people these days have diabetes? Eating Twinkies and guzzling soda, piling on Hamburger Helper and fast food. All that fat, grease, carbohydrates and chemicals. No wonder! If we all made an effort to eat organic, then maybe the companies that produce most of the food we eat in America will go back to the way food was meant to be, pure and natural, without our health taking the bullet and without costing us an arm and a leg so that it won't. Maybe America's most prominent health problems would be cured so that my generation and the future generations to come don't have to suffer from such diseases. Lets look at the cost to stay healthy: A conventional whole chicken at the grocery store costs roughly 90 cents per pound. I bought a whole organic chicken for almost twice that amount. To have less in my food I had to pay more for it. Does that seem right to you? Food has become an express science. Everything made quick and cheap with so many additives that its near impossible to find any real ingredient in the product. It's so hard to find anything conventional without some type of altered food byproduct in it. Soy and corn being the most popular. Next time you buy something from the store, read the ingredients label, and I bet you find something in it with one or both of those ingredients listed.

We pay out of our noses to eat organic. In turn we have also been eating less as a result. Am I withering away? No. I am losing the weight I set out to, just by changing a few things in my diet, like eating 100% whole grain stone ground breads without sugar instead of breads that don't say 100% whole wheat on them. I shaved off at least 500-700 calories a week just eating a different bread. Who knew? Something so simple... and I lost 5 lbs. I buy vegetables in organic whenever possible, though they do cost a fortune at time. Frozen is the best way to go, because then you wont waste anything. But in all honesty it is impossible to get everything in organic living where we do and not having farmers markets or growing co-ops around. I have to travel 45 minutes out of my way just to get to a Fresh Market for organic foods there. But the cost of gas is a strain on the wallet as well. Some stores carry some things organic and they aren't too unreasonable. But the selections are limited and you hardly see coupons for those items. I get milk and yogurt with coupons from the distributors like or and that helps a great deal. Try buying organic cereals without a coupon. Though what I pay for a box of multi-grain Cheerios I can pay for a box of organic cereal. So it's all a matter of looking in the right places.

When buying organic I try to consult the dirty dozen or the clean 15 lists. It's a list of organic and non organic fruits and vegetables you should and shouldn't buy. Obviously the dirty dozen list has the ones to buy organic. The clean 15 list has the ones you don't have to buy organic. Here's the list.

[Dirty Dozen: The fruits and vegetables on “The Dirty Dozen” list, when conventionally grown, tested positive for at least 47 different chemicals, with some testing positive for as many as 67. For produce on the “dirty” list, you should definitely go organic — unless you relish the idea of consuming a chemical cocktail.]
  • celery
  • peaches
  • strawberries
  • apples
  • domestic blueberries
  • nectarines
  • sweet bell peppers
  • spinach, kale and collard greens
  • cherries
  • potatoes
  • imported grapes
  • lettuce
[Clean Fifteen: All the produce on “The Clean 15” bore little to no traces of pesticides, and is safe to consume in non-organic form.]
  • onions
  • avocados
  • sweet corn
  • pineapples
  • mango
  • sweet peas
  • asparagus
  • kiwi fruit
  • cabbage
  • eggplant
  • cantaloupe
  • watermelon
  • grapefruit
  • sweet potatoes
  • sweet onions
*[Information acquired from]

[Below: Photo of a Whole Foods grocery store]
I find the list helps tremendously when buying food on a budget. Of course, it still ends up costing a lot of money but we stopped buying pointless things we don't need in order to nourish our bodies, like quitting smoking and drinking. We drink wine now. No beer. No liquor (except the celebratory Patron shot every once in a while). I don't buy meaningless crap for the house that ends up never being used like the dozens of scented candles laying around or the endless surplus of hair care products that I don't use (amazingly, I don't need to either). I say to hell with it all because in the end, all these things wont save my life or make it longer. So we spend the extra money to feed ourselves and our child the absolute best we can. The best way to save money on organic foods is to buy locally from farmers markets, co-ops, and local farmers themselves. If only they existed here!

I just hope that soon restaurants will start using organic food. I still like to eat out once in a while!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Japan or bust!

Sam finally got his upcoming orders, after an issue with documentation, and we found out that we will be stationed for 3 years in Fussa, Japan just 28 miles from Tokyo! I never did a happy dance like the one I did when I heard this news!

First let me explain that though Italy was my first choice, Japan (especially the location of this particular base) comes in at a very exciting second. I am Italian by blood and I mean that my father and uncle are full-blooded Italian citizens so naturally my heart calls to Italy. But I love all things Japanese and I love the city. I love sushi and geisha's and bento boxes and kimonos and Sakura trees and chopsticks and saki and shopping. Even though Japan is made up of so much more than just those things, I am so very excited and lucky that Hayden will be able to remember Japan and enjoy the lifestyle for a little while. He will be 2 1/2 - 5 1/2 years old while we live in Japan.

So my agenda is as fallows in preparation for Japan:

  1. Learn Japanese! Seems simple enough, right? (haha)

  2. Get a copy of my birth certificate and get a passport. I have never lived anywhere but the U.S. so I've never owned a passport before. How cool will it be to put Japan as one of my first destinations on it?

  3. Do a lot of research on customs and whatnot so I don't perform any social faux pas. (I'll learn mostly from experience just living there and all, but it doesn't hurt to brush up beforehand.

I will continue this list when it becomes more apparent what needs to be done. Right now I'm trying to focus on packing up the remainder of my stuff and organizing it the best that I can so that when I cram all this junk into storage, I can pull out things as I need them while I'm living with my parents. Now that we know where we're going once Sam graduates from Korea, we can actually trim down the amount of items we have. Some kitchen stuff is staying, we might sell the washer and dryer since we probably won't need it (hopefully on base housing provides those) I'm tossing a bunch of old clothes that I have been saving as my "skinny" clothes but in all honesty I don't think I'll ever be a size 6 again and I don't think plaid mini-skirts are very mom-esq. I used to be a "freak" or whatever you called the kids who wore black clothes and black lipstick all the time. I liked to consider myself a "goth" but really, I just liked mini skirts and big boots. But ::shrug:: those days are somewhat behind me now. (I still wear below-the-knee skirts, every single day, and I love it). But American goth is nothing like the Harajuku Fashion in Tokyo.

I'm not very good at making friends off the bat. I've always acquired my friends through other people, namely my husband, because when we got together (back in the Devonian Age it seems like) his friends were more wholesome than mine. I had a tendency for attracting some unsavory characters in my life. My 3 besties, Christa, Liz, and Tanya, were introduced to me through other people. I managed to keep them close to me with my winning personality (naturally) but if you asked me 16 years ago to walk up and introduce myself all willy nilly out of the blue, I would have never made friends. The ones I did make that way... they turned out to be really awful and nasty people. So, in my defense, if we are friends, it's probably because you knew Sam first and Sam has a better judge of character than myself. Now to the point, the reason I started this ramble, is that since I will be in Japan all by lonesome, I will be forced to actually make friends myself, and it terrifies me. I was joking with Sam that maybe, before we go out at night, I'll take a shot or two of saki and just wander around Tokyo meeting people while I'm tipsy. I make friends easy when I'm drunk. Haha. This could work!

One thing I really need to gird my loins for is the very real possibility of Sam being deployed while we are stationed in Tokyo. And since he hasn't been deployed yet, the possibility is more a probability at this point. We could live there for a month and them be all like, "Hey, you. DESERT!" and then I will be where? Oh, 14 hours ahead of the U.S. and 7000ish miles (from Miami to Tokyo) away from everyone I know and love. All alone. Gunna need A LOT of Saki.

I have been doing tons of research since we found out. I tell Sam all the time about the things I've read about Japan and the culture and lifestyle. He always laughs. I guess to him, Korea is the first big adventure with Japan in second. One thing I learned about PCSing to Yokota AFB is the possibility of getting a larger place if we have a pet. I need to look into it, but I think a puppy is in our future! I'm just so excited that I could crawl out my skin and wear it like a mink shawl!

Please feel free to ask any questions or give us any moving advice (or even better, moving-out-of-the-country advice). We appreciate any life experiences that anyone will share with us!

Friday, July 23, 2010

A lot had happened in 2 weeks...

First let me start with my trip from Atlanta to WPB, since that is where I originally left off. I know it's been a little while since my last post, but traveling has been keeping me occupied, along with unpacking and cleaning and now I finally have a moment to just sit down and type type type.

On June 30th I took a flight from Atlanta, GA. to West Palm Beach, FL. to visit my parents. They were so excited to see Hayden and I. We had a good time talking about all the things we missed from not being together. Which, honestly, it was mostly about Hayden. I suppose that happens
when you have the first grandchild on one side of the family. (Hayden is the 3rd grandchild on my husbands side, but the 1st grandchild on my side). I had a great time visiting everyone that I could. I only had a week, not the 2 weeks I had originally thought I was staying for. I saw some old friends and went to the movies which was so awesome! It's been forever... ahh, the little joys in life. I saw my sister, she was so happy we came to visit. I miss her terribly.

[My dad and Hayden playing together]

[Hayden and his best buddy, Ajaye, who is the son of my best buddy, Tanya.]

I got some strange illness while I was there. Something called Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease. Your hands and feet get these blisters on them like you been opening jars for a year with bare hands and walking on hot stones while doing it. My mouth got like a hundred cold sores and my tongue was on fire at the littlest temperature change. I didn't know what it was at first... freaked me out. My little nephew, Connor, got it later on in NY. He had it worse I think. Poor kiddo. But he fared well. Eventually it goes away but now I'm left with blister marks on my hands and my skin is kind of peeling, like an old blister bubble. It's so freaky, but it doesn't hurt or anything. So I'm glad for that. And doubly so that Hayden didn't get it all. Whew!

[Hayden's 4th of July outfit]

On July 9th, my sister-in-law, her 2 kids, my son and I packed up her van (to the brim it seemed like) and took a 10 hour trip back to Atlanta. We hung out for a few days, relaxing from the driving, enjoying the summer with swimming, and just taking a vacay. When we went swimming, Hayden's Granny was teaching him how to hold his breath under water. I was reluctant but she was the experienced parent among us and apparently taught swimming lessons for years, I was just learning, but I was holding my breath the whole time! Maybe for him, maybe for me, but I wasn't breathing. The first time he went under he did great! He held his breath and came up smiling. The second and third time though he sucked up some water and was weary of Granny for the rest of the swim. I ended up burning him, too! He had a sun burn, but it didn't seem to bother him. I, of course, was distraught.

We all took a little trip to this gold mining sight that has been decommissioned and turned into a tour. You can purchase dishes with sand and sift for actual gold in these trough-like areas. It was really neat. The kids each got a pan and they sifted their little hearts out. They got a couple pieces of leaf gold and put them in vials as souvenirs. Then the kids and 1 got a gemstone bucket and sifted through those with sifting pans (square pans with mesh on the bottom) and got some really neat looking uncut gems. Then we went on a tour of the old mines that used to have so much gold, it was bursting at the seams (literally) and now has very little gold that is not worth mining commercially.

Sam arrived on Wednesday night and we loaded the rented 15-person van up. We all got on the road and began the 16 hours to Hammondsport, NY. The ride wasn't so bad. Crampy and sleepy but not too bad. We got to our hotel in Bath and unpacked. Our hotel stank of cigars since it was a smoking room (all the other rooms were booked). But we fared well. We spent most of our time at Sam's Grandparent's house, anyways.

The big family reunion was held at the fire hall. There were a lot of us there. A lot of kids too. A lot of people from my husband's family that I had never met before. We hung out, took lots of pictures, I got to know everyone a little bit. We spent that evening at Sam's Grandparents house. I love their house. The town they live in is so quaint. For a small town there sure is a lot going on. The weekend we were there they had this antique boat show and the boats were gorgeous. There was also an art festival but we didn't see that really. People were walking everywhere, it was nice to see that in a town. I'm from a big city and though people walk around in big cities, it always seems like they're walking with a sense of urgency. Like they need to get wherever it is they neet to get to before something happens. But in Hammonsdsport, everyone seems to walk around because it's just so beautiful. Mountains and lakes and a nice breeze. Old churches and colonial houses. It's amazing.

We went up to the glen hidden in the mountain, off of the mountain side that you can see from the front porch. It was only a couple minutes of a walk and it was so beautiful. The kid's loved it there. They swam in a pool at the base of a small waterfall. Everyone who lived around there proclaimed the water to be warm. The water was too cold for me personally. But I'm from Florida and what we Floridians think of as cold is apparently anything but. I like my waters warm at about 85-90 degrees. The lake and the waterfalls were at least 70 degrees. Buuuurrrr. I must have eaten ice-cream everyday since I'd been there. They have 2 ice-cream shops. One is totally old fashioned. It's more of a parlor. It doubled as a cafe, too. I like being there but they didn't have a big selection of flavors. The other place looks like your everyday ice-cream store but they had way more choices. I liked the blueberry cheesecake flavor! Hayden had been learning to walk this whole trip. He was only taking maybe 5-6 steps when we first arrived in Atlanta, but by the end of the trip he was traipsing around corners so quickly, what happened next was bound to happen some time. He smacked a door so hard his little forehead grew a welt the size of a kumquat on it. It turned black and blue immediately. He was fine though. After the initial rap to noggin, where tears ensued, he barely noticed it.

I enjoyed being there with everyone, but by this time, I was ready to head back home. I missed being in my house with my things, my walk-in shower, and total quiet when the baby napped. I loved visiting everyone and hope to do it again real soon. I don't know if it will happen that way, since Sam will be away for a year and then we might be over-seas but possibly maybe everyone can come visit us? We could be in Italy or Japan or even Hawaii. Bet no one will bat an eye at the prospect of visiting Hawaii some time?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Birthdays, Haircuts & Aquariums

We celebrated Hayden's First Birthday last week. It was simple but special. He loved the mini cake I made him (which was really just a cupcake with icing all around it) and gobbled it up! He of course made a mess, but we knew that would happen. And besides, it's only cake!

He got a lot of presents from everyone. A wagon, a jogging stroller, a trip to the Georgia Aquarium, his first haircut, a Smart Trike tricycle, a savings bond, some toy cars, a sock friend, 2 cakes, and some other items we have not yet received from family members (but we know we are getting because they told us about it). All in all it was a very lovely first birthday. Next year though, we party!

I have been spending the last few days in Atlanta with Sam's dad, visiting the Georgia Aquarium, and getting Hayden's first haircut! We have been having a blast. I like this place. It's busy near the city but I am city girl at heart. I love all the eclectic shopping and easy access to all things awesome! Especially the exhibits and events that happen when your near a big city. I haven't had the chance to enjoy Atlanta too much, we are on a budget this month and what with me going down to West Palm Beach for a visit with my family, I need to be careful where I spend my money. Sam couldn't stay past Monday, unfortunately. He couldn't get the time off of work. And we have a HUGE family reunion to attend in just a few weeks, where he did get time off. I will miss the hubs for the next 2 weeks, but I will enjoy being with my family for that time! I can't wait.

Here's Hayden getting his first haircut. He did so great!:





And here's the Aquarium pictures:

Mommy, daddy and Hayden!

Hayden and his Dan Dan!

Stuff we will (one day) get for our home!

I've been thinking a lot about the place we might live in when we move to our new base location. Depending on where, we will either be renting or staying in a house on base. Since I have a 3 person family, a larger house sounds nice! I thought about all the stuff we will bring and all the stuff that will inevitably be sold off or given away. I realized that, though some things we could live without, other things that we need we don't even have! I am making a list of the stuff I would like to aquire, if anything for future reminders, so that I can begin working on this new goal ASAP!

1. Coffee table and matching end tables for living room.
2. A dining table (I have one in mind, it has a wine rack underneath!).
3. A dog. I think I want to try a breeding business... have to figure out which dog I want to breed though. But the first will be strictly for companion purposes.
4. A professional set of pots and pans, preferably Calphalon but a decent set would still be better than the hand-me-down, beaten-up, crusty, rusty, mismatched set (if you can even call it a set) that I already have.
5. A professional knife block set. Wüsthof comes to mind!
6. A chest of drawers for storage purposes, maybe even a hutch? I'm too domestic for my own good.
7. His and Hers computers.
8. Via toy boxes for Hayden's room. They are too adorable, I want them all!
9. Display cases for our abundance of odds and ends.
10. A Cedarworks bunk bed for Hayden's room. This is the créme de la créme of all the things I want to get. Just look at it... you would so want this if you were a kid!

I'm sure there is so much more to add to this list. But I am a realist. And realistically, unless by some miracle we win the lotto that we never play, or inherit some money from our relatives who aren't rich, then these things will only come to us with time and diligent savings. We don't expect to have everything we want in the first few years of being married and having a baby, but we can hope! And the goal is to get these things one day, even if it has to be one pot or knife at a time!