Posted in Room and Board

Totally Non-Judgmental Happy Foodie

Last week I added a new category to my blog.  Rants.  I questioned whether to add it, as it draws attention to the fact that my pendulum sometimes swings farther than I would like it to.  My goal here is to seek all things peaceful, balanced, whole and precious.  Then again, my blog is titled WholeyJeans. (Someday I will blog about the misspelling, but I digress).  While ranting may not be considered peaceful or precious, it is a part of me on my road to balance, and as such, a part of the whole me.  And so the category was created.

The comment by insearchofitall, in which she concluded, “My sister has become a food fanatic and we can no longer share a meal. So sad. I’ll take the Buddhist path. All things in moderation. Pass the French rolls please” really got me thinking.  My pendulum began to swing back, and I felt the need to post a response to my own blog.

I am fascinated by diets of all sorts.  Food documentaries captivate me.  Nutrition arguments entice me.  Everyone has the answer, and in my quest for balance, I want to hear it and judge for myself.  Please note that I use the word ‘diet’ in both senses of the word; weight-loss system and way of eating.

Here are are some of my findings:

  • waterEvery diet says that water is good.  It doesn’t matter if you’re detoxing, fasting, gorging on protein, or cutting fat.  Water is good.  Drink it.  It is the stuff of life.  It is the fountain of youth.  It is also the easiest way to fit in a few extra steps daily.  Drinking water = trips to the bathroom.  Nice, right?
  • The other thing that every diet tells you to eat is vegetables.  There are different levels of vegetables depending on sugars, fiber, and nutrient density.  Everyone agrees green leafy veggies are a go.  Add a rainbow of vegetables to that, and you’re going to find a pot of gold at the end.
  • Most diet programs include fruit.  Some encourage it more than others.  Again, there is that sugar/fiber/nutrient thing.  Fruits, like vegetables, are plants, but tend to contain more sugars.  Sugar is a four-letter word.  Okay, it’s five, but you know what I mean.  This is why some opinions begin to part at this juncture.  However, everyone seems to agree berries are the most virtuous of fruits.
  • Let me back up the sugar truck a few meters.  We have a sugar for everyone!  There are slow sugars, fast sugars, artificial sugars, processed sugars, refined sugars, and natural sugars.  There are sugar crashes, sugar rushes, sugar addictions, sugar cravings, and sugar daddies.  Did I say sugar is a four-letter word?  It is also an eleven-letter word.  Unavoidable.  Carbohydrates are sugar, and they are found in vegetables and fruit.  Oh!  So sugar is good?  See what I mean?  How is the average nosher supposed to decipher all this stuff?

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  • The problem with vegetables is that everyone wants to doctor them up with butter, margarine, oils, cheeses, dressings and gravies.  If you can eat your vegetables naked, you will reap their full benefit and flavor.  I mean go ahead and wear clothes if you want, but don’t put anything on your vegetables.
  • Legumes are good, right?  Opinions are mixed.  Legumes are a plant, so vegans love their protein content.  How could you possibly feel guilty eating a bowl of lentil soup?  Well, legumes are full of carbohydrates, and low-carb eaters aren’t a fan.  Please note that cocoa beans are not legumes.  I know.  Bummer.
  • Is dairy the dreaded animal secretion, or a vital food for healthy bones?  It depends on who you’re listening to.  There are different beliefs on this, and many options for those who decide against dairy.
  • But if you can stand the heat, head into the kitchen to talk about meat.  People are passionate about their animal protein.  Arguments range from protecting the planet to regaining your health, restoring the food chain, and compassion for life.  Both sides of any discussion have points for each of these values, and will fight, seemingly to the death, to defend them.

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All of the diet plans I have ever read say that you have finally found the last diet you will ever need.  Search ‘last diet’ and Google will find no less than 233,000,000 results for you.  Using this as a guide, you should have no problem eating healthy until the day you die.  And in the end, you will die, and I guess whatever diet you are eating that day will be your last.

Look, I’m just an average girl trying to eat reasonably well.  I try to know what is behind what I put in my body, and make my choices from there.  Of course I want to do better.  I want to do a lot of things better.  Cheers to that, eh?  Recently our temperatures have dipped, with the windchill bringing dangerously cold weather.  I am craving refined carbs like there is no tomorrow, and since I guess there might not be, I go ahead and indulge a bit without guilt.

Unless you are a food priest of this or that nutritional following, you do not have all the answers.  I like to live my life like that; not having all the answers.  When you live without all the answers, you are always questioning, always learning.  I don’t want to find the last diet I will ever need.  I want to taste new things and try new combinations, dining with family, drinking with friends.  I want to live, love and laugh with all my other *totally non-judgmental happy foodie friends.

Bon Appetit!

*Thanks for the title idea, Mary!

Posted in Great Outdoors

In Lawns as in Life

Maybe I ought to take a minute to explain my situation.  I realize that my declaration of seeking peace, balance, wholeness, etc., sounds like I eat local, attend a power-yoga class, and wear sustainable clothing.  I am sorry if I have misled anyone.  I live in a meager home supported by a meager salary.  I like to grow vegetables because they are so good for me and taste better than anything I have EVER bought anywhere, but also to supplement my grocery bill.  My garden this year is disappointing.  Last spring I lacked the funds to buy new seed and replenish spent soil.  So I’m not heading out to Whole Foods in my hybrid each week.  Please understand, this quest is all about doing what I can with what I have.  I am simply your average Joe . . . er . . . Jean.

Just over four years ago I moved into my current residence.  I bought it as a small, four-bedroom rambler, which is now a two-bedroom rambler due to the addition of an office/craft room and a dining room.  There is a nice fenced-in back for Barney and Sabbath.  In the front is a yard with a pretty brick planter.  For the first time ever, I am the proud owner of my very own lawn!

There was a lawn at my marriage home, but aside from my occasional watering and mowing, it belonged to my husband.  It was also the envy of the neighborhood.  So, I thought, how hard can it be?  I know all the terms:  fertilizer, de-thatch, water, aerate, over-seed, pre-emergent weed killer.  Oh yeah.  I’ve got this covered. That first summer, I had nice green grass.  I followed the lawn-care calendar.  The following spring, the bottom third of the lawn was yellow and crispy.  I watered.  I watered some more.  But it was dead!

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Watering the Weeds

Since then, I’ve worked out that I had probably over-fertilized the first fall.  The dead grass left the ground unprotected.  The slight slope began to erode and now has lumpy divots.  Where grass failed to take root, weeds had no problem whatsoever.  The best advice I can get from friends and family is to hire a lawn service.  My checkbook says no.

Let me just say this.  I really don’t even agree with having a lawn at all.  Pouring clean water on grass when a large part of our global population has none to drink or bath in is terribly irresponsible.  Sprinkling chemicals that wash into waterways is criminal.  Polluting the air with the petrol-run mower and disturbing the silence of a Sunday afternoon ought to be considered the height of social rejection.

Yet here I am lamenting over my front yard for the sole purpose of fitting in.  What is wrong with this picture?  I have succumbed to the pressure of society in suburbia.  I rate my curb appeal against other plots, and find myself at the bottom of the competition.  I do not run the risk of having Bob up the street stopping by to ask, “You trying to make us look bad with that lawn?”  (I have heard envious neighbor dudes say that to one another.)

Here is my crossroad — I’m not just talking grass here anymore — for lawns and for life.

  • I can continue to water, keep things green and see what comes up, hoping for more grass than weeds.
  • I can dig the whole thing under and start new.
  • I can just spread some new dirt of the top, level it out, then sprinkle grass seed on top and water it well.
  • Or maybe I could rethink the whole thing and begin to plant native plants and ground cover that need less water, minimize the need for fertilizer, and require less mowing.

Why is it the option that excites me is the one that ignites such self-doubt?  Of course, I’m speaking about the last option.  There is so much to learn and a whole new way to think about my front yard.  It’s the area that is right out there for the whole world to see. I run the risk of Neighbor Bob walking down asking, “Sooo . . what have you got going on over here?”  Reading between the lines I would know he was thinking, “There goes the neighborhood.  Damn hippies.”

Seeking peace, balance, wholeness and all things precious in lawns as in life.  Wishing I didn’t worry so much about what everyone else thinks. Doing what I can with what I have.  Working on my own corner of the world because it’s already as much as I can handle. Trying to do the right thing.