Thursday, November 21, 2013

On Books

Andrew and I read together last night an old email from his wonderful scholarly father that was a wonderful compilation of quotes from church history about books and study.  Enjoy!

Hugh Nibley, Approaching Zion 296

We are commanded in D&C 109:14-16 . . . to build a house of study.  There people were to "seek . . . out of the best books words of wisdom" (D&C 88:118).  A list of the best books had not yet been supplied.  We must find these ourselves by diligently searching.  If the scriptures bind the worlds together, the writings of man bind together the generations and the dispensations.

Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine 235

Read good books. Learn to sing and to recite, and to converse upon subjects that will be of interest to your associates, and at your social gatherings, instead of wasting the time in senseless practices that lead only to mischief and sometimes to serious evil and wrongdoing; instead of doing this, seek out of the best books knowledge and understanding. Read history. Read philosophy, if you wish. Read anything that is good, that will elevate the mind and will add to your stock of knowledge, that those who associate with you may feel an interest in your pursuit of knowledge and of wisdom.
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson 304

With the abundance of books available, it is the mark of a truly educated man to know what not to read. "Of making many books there is no end" (Ecclesiastes 12:12). In your reading you would do well to follow the counsel of John Wesley's mother:  Avoid "whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, takes off your relish for spiritual things, [and] increases the authority of the body over the mind."

The fact that a book or publication is popular does not necessarily make it of value. The fact that an author wrote one good work does not necessarily mean that all his books are worthy of your reading. Do not make your mind a dumping ground for other people's garbage. It is harder to purge the mind of rotten reading than to purge the body of rotten food, and it is more damaging to the soul.
Brigham Young, JD 9:174, January 26, 1862

Novel reading--is it profitable? I would rather that persons read novels than read nothing. There are women in our community, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, and sixty years of age, who would rather read a trifling, lying novel than read history, the Book of Mormon, or any other useful print. . . . I would advise you to read books that are worth reading; read reliable history, and search wisdom out of the best books you can procure. How I would be delighted if our young men would do this, instead of continually studying nonsense.
As a side note, there were also two interesting and relevant food news stories on NPR this morning, one bad one good:

I can't find the original NPR story, but this is about the same study

Nut consumption reduces risk of death

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Garlic Magic

I just ate a whole clove of garlic.  Raw, and crushed.  Normally I just eat it with a spoon and then take a few big swigs of water.  Today I tried putting a thick layer of butter on a piece of toast, crushing the garlic onto it, and folding it in half.  I think I'll stick to the spoon method from now on, because it just took too long to get it down.  (Don't get me wrong --- I LOVE garlic.  Cooked.)

I found the following infographic in this Huffington Post article.  (You'll probably have to visit the page to be able to see it up close and read all the benefits of garlic.)  Become a garlic believer!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Autumn Greens with Cider Vinaigrette

This is a great option for your salad on Thanksgiving.

1 shallot, minced
1 T apple cider (or wassail!)
2 T apple cider vinegar
1/4 c walnut oil ( or peanut with a little sesame oil)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
5 c mixed greens

Options for salad toppings include toasted nuts, orange zest, pomegranate seeds. 


In a small bowl, whisk together cider, and vinegar. Whisk in walnut oil, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss with the greens and divide among four plates. It says serve immediately, but i think its delicious after sitting a while, too.

Garnish with twisted orange slices.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Menstrual Cup: the solution

My menstrual cycle: officially revolutionized.

Can I share with you one of the greatest discoveries of my life?  This is a TMI post, but don't be embarrassed and stop reading even if you are a guy, because you might want to change your wife's life with this.

I'm into natural living for two reasons.  One, because it's the big fad right now.

Just kidding.  One, because I care about my health.  I want to consume foods and other products that do not introduce any toxins to my body.  (Beyond that, products and foods that nourish my body are highly preferred).  Two, because I care about the earth.  I really care about the earth.  And I realized a couple years ago that my way of living --- the standard American way of living --- was hurtful to the earth.

I have a long way to go in averting hypocrisy on both counts, but I've come a long way.  More on that some other time.

Today lets talk about my reasons for questioning my lifelong use of menstrual pads and tampons.

Even the ones made from "organic cotton."  

Even the ones with "biodegradable applicators."  

Even the "chlorine-free" ones.  

The catalyst to my research was the realization of how much WASTE I was creating every month.  (This book estimates that the average woman throws away up to 300 pounds of feminine hygiene products in a lifetime --- and that doesn't take into consideration the destructive production processes for these products).  But I soon realized there was so much more.

It came down to this: menstrual pads are slightly more destructive to the environment than tampons because of their plastic components.  (See this study done by the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm); tampons are more destructive to the body because they simply make more contact with some of the most absorbent tissues in the body, exposing them to dioxins --- yes, even since bleaching processes have been changed to reduce dioxin content.  (See page 22: "Dioxins are known to cause cancer in animals, and probably cause cancer in people.  People exposed to high levels of dioxins may be at risk for a damaged immune system, increased risk of pelvic inflammatory disease, and reduced fertility."  Here's what the EPA has to say about dioxins.)  Both products are also likely to contain BPA or BPS, as most paper products do, as well as phthalates and DEHP.

All this in one of the most sensitive and absorbent areas of the body!  Not to mention that these plastic/paper products restrict air flow, promoting yeast infections and bacterial growth in the vaginal area.  Tampons also absorb not just blood, but all moisture in the vagina, including healthy fluids that are necessary to protect the vaginal walls and maintain the correct pH level and beneficial bacteria populations.

In this article by Dr. Mercola, a few other tampon/pad risks are mentioned:
  • Conventional tampons contain pesticides: A whopping $2 billion is spent annually on pesticides to spray cotton crops.
  • Conventional tampons probably contain genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). According the USDA, 94 percent of all U.S. cotton is genetically engineered.  
  • Tampons and pads with odor neutralizers and artificial fragrances are virtually a chemical soup, laced with artificial colors, polyester, adhesives, polyethylene (PET), polypropylene and propylene glycol (PEG), contaminants linked to hormone disruption, cancer, birth defects, dryness and infertility.
Finally, tampons have been known to cause Toxic Shock Syndrome on occasion, due to build-up of bacteria growth.  TSS is a life-threatening condition, and while it is rare for women to incur it from tampon-use, it is a noted risk.

So What On Earth Am I Supposed to USE?!

Rags, right?  You want me to use rags like the pioneer ladies.

Sure, use rags.

It may alter your gait for one week of the month, and increase your laundry pile a bit, and use a bit more water for cleaning, but rags are a great option.  Lots of people use homemade menstrual pads and love it.

But I use a menstrual cup.

I ordered one, 2.5 years ago, and before I got the chance to try it, I was pregnant.  I gave it away --- since you need a bigger size after vaginal birth --- and a few months ago I finally ordered a new one.  Best buy of the year, maybe the decade!

Yes, it just fits right inside.  It catches the blood.  Then you remove it, dump, rinse, and replace.

Mine is a Diva Cup, although there are lots of brands out there.  Here is a forum for people to compare and discuss brands and trouble-shooting that might be useful to you.  (See?  I'm not the only one.)  Keep in mind that you will need a larger size if you have given birth vaginally.

You fold and insert, and give it a full turn so it opens up and suctions to the vaginal wall. Source.
These are the reasons I LOVE my menstrual cup:
  • No waste.  This thing will last for years, and I will not need to throw away a pad or tampon (or its packaging) ever again. 
  • This also means I'll be saving a lot of $$ on hygiene products.  It's a one-time purchase of $30 or so.
  • No paper or plastic.  Made of medical-grade silicone (non-latex).  Goodbye dioxins, phthalates, BPA, etc. etc. etc. etc.
  • You only have to change it every 8-12 hours, depending on how heavy your cycle is.
  • NO LEAKING.  Mine only leaked once the first cycle I used it, and that was because I left it in (overnight) longer than 12 hours, and it overflowed.  So it leaked just a tiny bit onto the panty liner I was wearing as an extra precaution.
  • It is completely comfortable: I don't even know it's there.
  • I went camping during a cycle, and didn't have to pack a whole bag of STUFF.  I just used my cup.  Thankfully we were car-camping this trip and there was a sink I could use for rinsing, but I think it would be just fine backpacking too.  You could use a water bottle for rinsing --- away from the camp so as not to attract bears.
  • Rinsing the cup is easy.  If you are in a public place and don't have access to a sink in your stall, you can put it back in as is and rinse when you get home.  Since you don't have to dump it more than every 8-12 hours, probably you won't need to rinse it while you are away from home much.
  • A lot of people say that it takes some getting used to, some trial and error.  Mine worked perfectly the first time.
  • It has been enlightening to know visually how much I actually bleed during a period.  As someone who charts, this data is somehow interesting to me.
  • While reusable cloth pads are great, this allows for freedom of movement (and swimming, etc.) the way a tampon does. 
  • It comes with a cute little bag for storage.  I put it in my purse when I know my period will be starting that day.  (I always know because I chart my temperatures).

A menstrual cup might not be for everyone... maybe.  

But for now, it is the only thing for me.  I know I won't be going back.

Friday, November 8, 2013

LDS Perpetual Christmas Advent Calendar

LDS Holistic Living made a beautiful advent calendar that you can print off and use how you will through out December.  We'll definitely be taking advantage of it!
Yep, Christmas Music has definitely started at our house.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Suppa' Time

Between 5:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. chaos erupts in the cute little ranch-style house with the white picket fence. Fiery explosions come in blasts from a tired one year-old, crashes come from a penned-up toddler who loves to romp through walls and furniture, and an almost-teenage angst comes from a kid who wants to play but needs to work a bit, even after a long day of school. 

The water in the pot bubbles to a boil, the vegetables begin to steam, and the oven temperature climbs. The heat is on at the Marshall's in those pre-dinner hours.

Dad comes home and the chaos melts into symphonic celebration. Loud joy. 

Then dinner, which is a clamor. For food, yes, but more for attention. This comes in the form of boisterous baby babbling, talking through stuffed cheeks, standing up on chairs, loud voices bouncing off the narrow dining room walls, and behavior fit for an oafish lump of vikings. 

I'm out of ideas. 

I love dinner.  I work hard to make dinner and to prepare for it.  We even breathe and stretch for a while before dinner starts to help everyone mellow out.  

What do you do so that meal prep time and dinner time are peaceful, happy times?  How do you teach and reinforce manners without making them the only topic of conversation at dinner?  How do you teach your children to be polite when other people are talking?