Bowling, bouillon, and bold living

julia-child-memoir-life-in-franceWe recently attended my husband’s 20th high school reunion. Since I didn’t know these people in the ’90s, the biggest surprise for me was the fact that the reunion was held in a bowling alley. The second biggest surprise? How few of my husband’s former classmates were fired up about their jobs.

“So, what do you do for a living?”

“Oh, well, you know, I just, kind of…” A brief phrase of description, a shrug.

Maybe everyone was trying to be humble, but I guess I expected more enthusiasm. I wished more people would really let fly with what they were excited about–a job, a hobby, their monogrammed bowling ball… There is something so compelling about people who love what they do.

That’s why I loved reading My Life in France. Of course I’m familiar with Julia Child–albeit primarily through my dad’s hilarious comedy bit about her nipping at the cooking sherry–but reading My Life in France gave me wonderful insight into how Child found her life’s passion in her late 30s and lived from there on out with great gusto.

Even the most devoted foodies probably don’t spend days devoted to the nuances of scrambled eggs or pinpointing a precise flavor in a sauce, but Child’s enthusiasm for cooking is contagious. She managed to make descriptions of ingredients and endless rounds of testing recipes fascinating, funny, and compelling. I couldn’t help but feel happy each time I picked the book up to read a little bit, whether because of the clear love and respect Child and her husband had for each other, the tales of kitchen mishaps, or the sheer joy Child took in her life.

After reading My Life in France I did not attempt a single new recipe–my copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking sits forlorn on my pantry shelf to this day)–but I did feel inspired to live life with more gusto, and boldly go after the work I love even if (and perhaps especially if) it seems ridiculous to everyone else.

After all, it’s not every day that you stand around at a bowling alley having to explain your life thus far. But every day you get to write that story, so you might as well live it for all it’s worth.

 

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Two odes to food: a novel and a cookbook/memoir

Ruth-Reichl-My-Kitchen-YearThere is something so wonderful about reading a book written by an author who is deeply passionate about her subject. And when the author is Ruth Reichl and she’s writing a cookbook/memoir like My Kitchen Year? It’s perfect.

Reichl is my favorite foodie memoirist (Garlic and Sapphires, Tender at the Bone, Comfort Me With Apples) because of her grace and humor, as well as her strong voice and keen sense of structure. In My Kitchen Year, Reichl covers the year following the unexpected closing of Gourmet, the iconic food magazine of which she was the editor. From shock to depression to re-evaluating her life, Reichl works through her emotions and problems in the kitchen. Drawing on her background and the freshest local ingredients, she weaves in personal memoir with excellent recipes that are unique and intriguing without being overly precious or fussy.

What I love about Reichl’s recipes is her unusual ability to drop a note where someone (ahem) might be tempted to cut a corner. Instead of just throwing out ingredients and instructions, Reichl explains why not to make a substitution if you really shouldn’t. Having been at this whole cooking-three-meals-a-day-for-a-large-family gig for years now, I have learned a lot about what can and can’t be done, but I appreciate not having to guess and check. This is how we learn and improve as cooks!

Unlike her other memoirs, My Kitchen Year is more of a cookbook. I marked so many recipes to try, and have set myself a goal to try one of them per week as seasonal ingredients allow. The few I’ve tried so far have been excellent.

REICHL_DeliciousHaving read My Kitchen Year, I was interested to see the Reichl also wrote a novel based on her experience. While there were some parts that could have been edited better, for a first novel I thought Delicious was pretty fun.

What made the book so enjoyable for me was again the clear sense of how much Reichl enjoys food! You can’t help but want to taste everything she describes. The book also conveys Reichl’s love for New York, especially NYC food culture. I considered making a list of things to search out when next I visit (I say that like I go to New York frequently, but in fact I have not been since 2001, sadly).

Delicious is a mystery of sorts, and has an interesting epistolary component, but really it’s an ode to food culture, and worth reading for that reason!

I enjoyed both books so well that I have already gifted them once! So if you have any foodies on your list, I think My Kitchen Year or Delicious (or both as a set!) would be a great choice.

 
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Ordering the rhythms of our tables, calendars, and hearts

a-spirited-mind-1We live in a time in which we are fortunate to have lots of options. You can eat strawberries in November and wear sweaters in July. From where we live to how we eat, even to how we observe or ignore the weather, we pretty much get to chart our own course.

Because we have this freedom, it’s even more important that we pay attention to the underlying framework that drives our choices. I’ve recently been reading and thinking about this in light of seasons and rhythms.

I’m not against the convenience of modern life. I’m writing this post in my air conditioned office while it’s 94 degrees outside. I’ll be putting a can of tomatoes in tonight’s dinner, and I buy everything from books to pajamas to eyeliner on Amazon. But I do see a difference between using modern conveniences as tools and being blindly co-opted by our consumer culture.

As I read I began articulating some impressions of unease I’ve had about how (or if) my life reflects my beliefs on a number of fronts. I’ve made some steps to change our rhythms with things like moving to a term schedule for school (generally six weeks on, one week off), and we’ve always done a Jesse Tree for Advent. Still, in reading thinkers like James K. A. Smith and others, I’ve found myself examining our life looking for the liturgy embedded therein–we all live a liturgy, Smith says, it’s just a matter of what we base it on.

circle of seasonsIn a roundabout fashion this brought me to Kimberlee Conway Ireton’s excellent book The Circle of Seasons. Ireton didn’t grow up in a high church tradition, so her study of the church year as an adult gives her a valuable outsider perspective. Ireton avoids the temptation to create or uphold empty ritual, and digs into the value and symbolism of various church traditions.

For example, in looking at Advent as a season of waiting and preparation for Christ’s birth followed by a twelve day feast of Christmas, Ireton ties in ways Christians can move beyond the commercial Christmas to enjoy a season of peace and then extend joy and love when everyone else is tapped out and suffering a post-holiday slump. What if we had a Christmas party the week after Christmas? What if we invited people over for a Christmas dinner on December 28? How would that impact our family’s ability to enjoy Christmas and be a blessing to others?

Likewise, Lent offers a chance to think about the true purpose of fasting–not self-denial or being absorbed in yourself, but creating space for God to work in and through us.

I appreciated how Ireton thoughtfully examined ways that the church calendar can break us out of our tendency to passively trudge through life, and make us more mindful of our days.

irrational seasonI’ve already mentioned The Irrational Season, but it bears repeating here because in the book Madeleine L’Engle writes her reflections on the year in a way that is informed by and immersed in the church year.

L’Engle did a masterful job of showing how being aware of the church calendar can direct our thoughts and contemplation. Thinking about Jesus’ coming birth during Advent leads to being watchful for His return. Considering the events of our lives in light of Epiphany, Easter, or the Trinity helps us to understand them in a truer light, and orient our own experiences in light of a bigger story.

Reading The Irrational Season won’t be so much a practical primer on how to celebrate the church year as an inspiration for how being aware of seasons and traditions can be a rich avenue for study and contemplation. I’m thinking about this a lot as I structure our school terms for next year.

feastOne of the e-books in a bundle I bought recently turned out to be an interesting resource on the Christian year. Feast! is full of practical tips and recipes for aligning your family culture with church culture.

The first two sections–on Advent and Christmas–were particularly helpful. I liked the ideas for ways to build up to Christmas and make that our focus, but without seeming Scroogey or anti-Christmas. A lot of the tips were ideas that would help to keep December less frantic by spreading out all the things we love about the season into a longer and more relaxed celebration. I’ve always felt that Christmas was this weird abrupt stop after a couple of weeks trying to cram too much in. I really like the idea of a more restful Advent and then a great fun long Christmas with plenty of time to listen to music, make gingerbread houses, and read Christmas books rather than putting everything away. The authors suggest adding to your Jesse Tree until Epiphany, which I remember my mom trying to do for us some years. The Stewarts suggest adding the names of God or attributes of Jesus for those extra twelve ornaments. I have this on my list to try.

I will say that after the Easter ideas the book wasn’t as applicable for me. The authors are Catholic and so they have special saints days they celebrate at different times, which isn’t something we do. But there was enough good food for thought in the other sections to make Feast a worthwhile read for me.

life giving home

Sally and Sarah Clarkson’s book The Life-giving Home is arranged around the year too, although I didn’t take as many notes on practical things to do in January versus May or anything like that.  Those ideas are there, but I found the book to be more helpful to me in giving me a stronger vision for the way that my home and life can better express the truth and beauty I believe in, versus specific decorating or menu ideas.

I love the point the Clarkson’s make about how our homes and family cultures are ways to engage with the broader culture and a means to tell the story of what is most important to us. This is true no matter what we believe, and certainly worth serious thought. Are our lives–from our time to our traditions to our decorating aesthetic–telling the story we want them to? Are they restorative and life-giving for our families and friends and neighbors?

jameskasmith-youarewhatyoulove

If you want to dig more deeply into how our lives tell a story of what we love and reveal our vision of the good life, you should certainly check out James K. A. Smith’s latest work, You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit. This book is powerfully insightful and profoundly challenging.

Smith talks about the way that our worship must incorporate not just our minds, but also our hearts. If we fail to capture and reorder our hearts, our head knowledge will not be enough. “You are what you love,” Smith writes, “because you live toward what you want.”  When we have misdirected loves it’s not because we have bad ideas, but because “our desires have been captivated by rival visions of flourishing. And that happens through practices not propaganda.”

So if we are formed by liturgies whether we admit it or not, we ought to devote careful consideration to what those liturgies are. As a parent and teacher, this gives me a lot to think about. Of course we want to give our children truth and sound ideas, but are we going beyond that to capture their hearts with truth and beauty? Does our worship and our family culture give them a vision for what it means to flourish, or are we giving them second-rate music and sappy stories and then wondering why their palates incline them to cartoons and the mall?

This has so many implications for how we structure our time, our family culture, our schools, our work…while the book may seem the odd one out in this post, it really forms the basis for why and how we follow (or don’t) seasons, rhythms, and traditions–Christian or otherwise.

There is so much in You Are What You Love that I can’t begin to touch on all of it, but I highly recommend it if you’re interested in habits, virtue, the good life, spiritual life…well, really I’d recommend it for anyone.

I haven’t finished thinking all of this through yet, so can’t give you my conclusions, but I’d be interested to know if you’ve considered these things and, if so, how you shape your family’s calendar or traditions as a result?

 
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An e-book bundle for people who don’t buy e-book bundles

Maybe you’re like me.  I never buy e-book bundles because:

  • Lots of e-books are free anyway.
  • Lots of e-books (even the not-free ones) are poorly written, poorly edited, and full of bad information.
  • You can often find the same information online for free.

And yet, this week I bought an e-book bundle.  I can’t believe I just typed that.  There was really only one thing that made me pull the trigger.

PlantTherapyOffer

  • One of the free (well, almost, you have to pay $6.50 shipping) bonuses is three bottles of essential oils: lavender, lemon, and peppermint.

That’s it.  I clicked Buy Now on The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle.  It was $29.97, and if you purchase by September 12 you also get access to a free live webinar with an aromatherapist about how to use essential oils safely and effectively.  I think that’s worth it.  Here’s my thought process:

  • I use Young Living essential oils, and the ones included in the bundle are not YL, they are Plant Therapy brand.  I may not use these oils exactly as I use my YL oils, because I did a lot of research into YL and trust them, but there are a lot of uses for oils that don’t require ingestion or undiluted use, especially for lavender and peppermint.  These three oils would set you back a lot more than $36.47 if you bought them elsewhere, making the bundle worth it for the oils alone.
  • In addition to the oils, there is also a bonus $16 credit, plus two Meyers soaps, plus free shipping to ePantry.  So even if I’m considering those as replacements for drug store brands, that saves me another $10.
  • The people at Ultimate Bundles screened and curated the included e-books, so I’m assuming a higher level of quality than your standard free-on-Amazon fare.


The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle also includes:

  • A month-long membership to Paleofit and Paleo Meal Plan.  I’m not all in for paleo, but I do prefer to eat lower carb, real food meals, so paleo often fits recipe-wise, even if I don’t believe it as a philosophy.
  • Two free months of Once a Month Meals membership–choose menus based on your eating preferences and family size, and get a personalized plan to shop for, prepare, make ahead, or cook as you go, all of your meals for the month.
  • The Foundational Five course–a heal your diastasis program I have looked at before and will NEED after baby arrives.
  • Other good workout resources I can access any time after I get through post-partum recovery and ramp back up.
  • An e-book on handling PCOS, which is a major problem that comes roaring back every time I wean a baby.
  • Several e-books on healthy/real food easy freezer/crockpot type meals.  I’m a working, homeschooling mom expecting her fifth baby.  I’m sure I don’t need to explain why meal streamlining is a big thing for me right now!
  • money back guarantee on the whole bundle.  For 30 days, no questions asked.

There are also about 85 other e-books I might look at later although they don’t immediately appeal, and other free bonuses that I might or might not redeem depending on if I feel like paying for shipping is worth it (updated to add: I did wind up redeeming several of the other bonuses because the shipping charge still made the items cheaper than what I would normally pay).  You should check out the full list of courses and e-books and bonuses included–topics include: allergy friendly, essential oils, fitness and weight loss, healthy kids, homesteading, natural home, natural remedies, paleo, and real food–because different things would probably appeal to you.

So, you never buy e-book bundles.  I get it; neither do I.  But The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle might make you reconsider.  At least this once.

 

Disclosure: If you do decide to purchase the bundle, I’d love it if you click through my link.  I signed up as an affiliate after I made the purchase because I think this is an actual good deal, and I so appreciate it when y’all help support A Spirited Mind!  Thank you!

Here’s What You Don’t Want To Do

2I would not advise attempting to review a cookbook during your first trimester. I checked out Well Fed 2: More Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat just as I fell pregnant, and thought it looked great.  Then, at around 5 weeks, morning (noon, night, overnight) sickness hit.  I tried several of the recipes I had marked, but couldn’t eat them.  My family enjoyed them though!  Then I wasn’t even able to handle the smells of cooking and the book sat on the shelf.

It had been slated for a review post for so long, however, that I really meant to get to it last week.  I’m in the second trimester now, and thought surely I could handle it.  However, even the thought of opening a cookbook with pictures of fragrant meals made me ill (surely soon this phase will pass!), so I avoided blogging last week.  I know, I know.

So, today, I bite the bullet!  But not with an open book.  Instead, I’ll refer you to my un-pregnant review of the first Well Fed cookbook, and say that the recipes in the second book are different enough that you’ll get a lot out of it even if you already have the first book, and that there is so much variety you will certainly find plenty to try out, especially if your family likes to eat international meals. I will say that in my experience, I usually have to double the recipe and often double the spices as well, but we like our food extra-flavorful (usually!).

In short, I’d recommend both Well Fed cookbooks, but mostly if you are not pregnant or at least are out of the woods with sickness!

 

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4 Books, 3 Observations, 2 Asides and a Bagel in a Pear Tree

It’s Friday, so how about a round-up?  We’ll start with books because we always start with books around here!

Four Books

throneI’ve written extensively before about Bernard Cornwell’s fabulous Saxon saga (Reader’s Digest version: funny, awesome battle scenes, great historical detail) and all that applies to his latest installment, The Empty Throne.  Does Cornwell have a formula?  Yes.  But is it a great formula?  It is.  If you like British history in general or non-romancey historical fiction in particular, you’ll like Cornwell’s offerings.  I wouldn’t say this book moved the ball very far down the series field, but it was worth it nonetheless.

fairestIf you’ve read Meyer’s other books (Cinder, Cress, Scarlet) you’re going to read Fairest no matter what I say, so I won’t bother to dissuade you.  But it’s a disappointment.  We already knew Levana was the evil stepmother character, but I was hoping this prequel would give me some reason to like her.  Nope, she’s just evil.  I guess that’s part of the fairytale trope, but since we also don’t learn anything new about the overall storyline from this book, it seemed like a waste.  I also didn’t think that the Snow White frame came through very strongly, and the story was darker and less like something I’d let a kid read.  Fortunately it’s short and you can tear through it quickly.

Good-Cheap-EatsGood Cheap Eats: Everyday Dinners and Fantastic Feasts for 0 or Less is a solid cookbook from Jessica Fisher, combining fresh, real food ingredients with tips for saving money on your grocery budget.  If you’ve done any delving into those topics not much of this will be new (although I did get some good tips!) but the recipes are good for getting ideas and branching out, which I needed.  I did find that I had to double most of them to fit my family, and since we tend to be a protein + vegetables family rather than a carbohydrates + meat-as-condiment family not all of the ideas were a good fit.  But I tried several things and got great results every time, so I’d recommend this cookbook as a versatile and helpful resource.

tiredI wanted to look into adrenal fatigue after reading about it on Crystal’s blog, so I picked up Tired of Being Tired since the library had it.  I have some of the symptoms listed, and felt like lots of the advice was good (cut sugar, reduce caffeine, sleep more, don’t over-exercise) but some of it was flat out weird.  When the rationale for using some sort of magnet therapy is that Cleopatra wore a magnet on her forehead to reduce signs of aging, you’ve lost me.  I mean, even if Cleopatra did wear a magnet on her head, I think the asp got her before we could really draw anti-aging conclusions, right?  If you can take the good and leave the weird, this book might be a good choice.  Otherwise, go forth and do the good you know you ought to do anyway.

Three Observations

1) It’s always good to have a book on your phone.  I got stuck in Costco waiting for a pizza for 35 minutes (payback for trying to save time making dinner, I guess) and scrambled until finally found a library download about Queen Victoria.  I wish I had had something preloaded!

2) Jelly beans aren’t breakfast.  I try to get breakfast together in time to send my husband out the door with something to eat.  The other day my Biblestudy/exercise/shower routine got delayed and he had to leave hungry.  “It turned out ok, though,” he reported.  “Someone brought in jelly beans.”  #notbreakfast #nicetry

3) Small tweaks matter.  We dropped cello lessons and now all three kids take piano, back-to-back lessons, all at one time and in one location.  You wouldn’t think this would make a huge difference in my life but it has.  Driving to one less thing and having an entire hour to read a book while the kids are having lessons feels amazing.  Don’t underestimate the power of a small change.

Two Asides

1) Manners matter.  I’m not talking about which fork to use when, but basic courtesy like speaking politely, not making comments about someone’s personal appearance, and responding to communication in a timely manner.  Is it the internet that’s squashing basic courtesy?  Because it feels like unkindness and disrespect when you’re on the receiving end of bad manners, as I have been several times this week.

2) Jillian still works.  I went back to the 30 Day Shred and Level 3 still brings it.  I can barely walk up the stairs.  But in a good way.

A Bagel in a Pear Tree

The weather turned nicer here, so we’ve been out taking walks.  One of our neighbors hung a bagel in the pear tree in their front yard.  We assume it’s to attract birds, but so far it just looks odd and kind of soggy.  The kids wanted to know if we could hang assorted food items in our trees, but I said no.  Probably a missed educational moment of some sort, but oh well.

How was your week?

 

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100 Days of Real Food

100daysWhen it comes to eating healthy, real food, I know the good I ought to do but often just don’t do it.  At times I’ve been deeply into nutrition–making yogurt and kefir, sprouting everything, buying local, etc–and at times I’ve let things go.  The nice thing about having gone through phases of intense healthy eating is that I know how to do this stuff, and a gentle reminder is all I need to make changes.

I recently faced up to the fact that I had let too many things slide with our diet.  It’s too easy to tell the kids to make a peanut butter sandwich every day for lunch, to pull out the white flour for everything, to fall into habits of having treats too often.  Although we don’t eat the Standard American Diet, I don’t feel my best when we get too loose with nutrition, and I don’t think the kids do either.

I picked up 100 Days of Real Food: How We Did It, What We Learned, and 100 Easy, Wholesome Recipes Your Family Will Love with changing our diet in mind, and found it to be a good catalyst.  If you really do eat the SAD, or if you don’t know anything about nutrition at all, this book would be a good start.  If you know a lot of things and just need a kick in the pants, the recipes will make the book worth it.  I disagreed with the author on some points, but I think as long as you understand that you have to draw your own lines in the sand on things like grains, dairy, organics, and things like that, you can still find the book useful.

As I mentioned above, the recipes are what make the book really helpful.  I got a lot of good ideas for non-PBJ lunches, as well as interesting and different things to do with the meat and vegetable routine we have.  I wasn’t tempted by all of them, but did find 13 solid recipes and ideas to try.

If you know you need to tweak your eating habits, or if you’re already knowledgeable about nutrition but need some fresh inspiration, 100 Days of Real Food could be worth perusing.

What are your favorite sources of healthy food inspiration?

 

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You Can’t Go Wrong With Roly Poly

So I read another book about Britain.  Shocked, aren’t you?  The Ploughman’s Lunch and the Miser’s Feast: Authentic Pub Food, Restaurant Fare, and Home Cooking from Small Towns, Big Cities, and Country Villages Across the British Isles is an interesting combination of information and recipes, from which I learned several things.  For example, I have always thought of deep frying random foods as a State Fair thing, but apparently it’s a British thing too!  Deep fried candy bars, deep fried pizza…these are not things that I feel attracted to eating, and yet I find them strangely compelling to read about.  I also thought the history of how curry developed was fascinating.

Hannah read that part too, and then made the book’s Chicken Korma recipe for us.  She did a nice job with it, although ultimately we decided that it’s not as good as the fairly similar recipe we make by using chicken in Orangette’s Chana Masala (instead of chickpeas).  In any case, Hannah was surprised at how interesting the cookbook was to read, and so she read it all and then began reading our other cookbooks and marking the recipes she wants to try.  When this girl gets into something, she gets INTO it.  I love that about her.

Anyway, we also tried two other recipes from the book: Bacon Roly Poly and Scotch Oatmeal Soup.  The roly poly was fun to make and quite tasty.  I think the British method of making pie crust warm rather than the American way of using cold ingredients is far easier and the results are still good.  I have noted this for the future.  And the idea of using oatmeal as a savory was new to me but worked well.  In soup, the oatmeal functioned kind of like barley and made a hearty and satisfying dinner.  Plus the implied Scottishness of the recipe ensured that my husband approved.  I will definitely make it again.

If you are inclined to Anglophilia or a fan of reading cookbooks, I’d definitely recommend The Ploughman’s Lunch and the Miser’s Feast.

 

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Trim Healthy Mama

Trim Healthy Mama was recommended to me after I reviewed Choose to Lose, and indeed the approaches are similar in that both advocate carb cycling–having some meals be protein and fat and other meals be protein and carbs.

I’ve read a lot of books on nutrition and diet, and I think the idea of carb cycling is sound, but it’s REALLY tough to implement.  I don’t mean that in a “it’s hard to follow a diet” way.  I tend to be more of an abstainer than a moderator, so I find it stressful to try to remember when I ate which nutrient.  It’s a lot easier for me to just have a couple of hard and fast rules and stick with them.  That said, if you’re a moderator, this approach could be great for you.

Although I found the book needlessly long and complicated, I did get some good ideas that refreshed my meal planning.  We tend to eat a fairly low carb, natural food diet anyway, but with a busy schedule and sleep deprivation I had gotten into a habit of too much sugar and sloppy eating.  Reading this book was good impetus to stop going nuts with all that.  I find I’m referring to it nearly every day for some recipe or another–I found a few that are really fabulous like a low carb pizza crust, low carb cake, and a low carb roll that works for sandwiches.  That said, I also tried other recipes that were complete duds.  Or else maybe the authors just used overly superlative language so I was expecting too much.  I didn’t buy many of the expensive ingredients recommended, but I do have flax seed powder and protein powder and Truvia on hand already, so it wasn’t much of a stretch for me to make a lot of the recipes.

The book also contains sections on exercise (they follow the weights/body weight calisthenics/no hours of cardio on end approach), hormones (kind of hard to follow, and I’d be super cautious dinking around with hormones if I were you), skin care, and sex (summary: have more of it), among other related and semi-related topics.  It’s a long book, and meanders through many topics, so it lends itself to skimming and cherry picking.

One caveat is that the authors tend to present their approach as an issue of Biblical living.  I think we are called to be good stewards of our bodies, and the authors do mention that other people might have different interpretations of what the Bible says about food, but I think you should take the book for what it is–a nutrition and lifestyle plan–and not read too much into it about spiritual issues.  I’ve noted this tendency in other books lately (like the study guide for 7, for example), especially the idea that Christians shouldn’t eat pork.  What about Acts 10?  So as with most books, I think it’s a good idea to take the good and skim the weird or inapplicable.

If you’re really into nutrition or like to read about diet research, Trim Healthy Mama might interest you.  It might be worth checking out of the library first, if that’s an option, because it’s pretty expensive if you only wind up using a couple of the recipes or ideas.

Have you tried a carb cycling diet?  If so, did it work for you?

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  That just means that if you go to Amazon through the link and buy something, I get a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Thanks for supporting A Spirited Mind!

 

 

Twitterature: Some Super Quick Reviews

Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Twitterature round-up seems like a good opportunity to tell y’all about a bunch of books I read that lend themselves to short reviews.  I can’t promise 140 characters (Hello, my name is Catherine, and I’m addicted to verbosity…) and I’m way too sleep-deprived to come up with witty hashtags, but I’ll try to keep things interesting.

Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn is a funny and light motherhood memoir.  It was amusing as a free Kindle download to read in snippets while nursing the baby in the middle of the night.  I don’t know that I’d pay full price for it, and I don’t read the author’s blog so I can’t promise that it’s new content if you do.

 

 

The Missing Ink: The Lost Art of Handwriting is a funny and rambling book about…handwriting.  If you’re really into penmanship you’d like it.  I really enjoyed the author’s style, but at times I felt like making this a book-length treatise was stretching it.  That said, I learned interesting facts about writing and was frequently amused.

 

 

Thank goodness people brought us meals after Eliza was born because my dinner making routine is way off the rails. In an effort to get it back on track, I read Operation Dinner: How to Plan, Shop & Prep for Easy Family Meals.  The book offers advice for meal planning, prepping food in advance, and organizing your menus on a monthly basis.  Although I’ve read (and even accomplished, in former, calmer times) these tips before, this book is well organized and served as a good reminder of the value of organizing a functional but flexible meal plan, prepping things like meat in advance, and cooking similar types of meals together for freezing.  I appreciated the recipe ideas too.  If you’ve never done meal planning or freezer cooking or anything like that, this book would be a tremendously helpful resource.

I thought One Person/Multiple Careers: The Original Guide to the Slash Career would be full of helpful tips about work-life balance or doing two things at once, but really it’s more of a book about how to do something different once you’re done doing the first thing.  It’s more about how to launch a second career, rather than how to do things simultaneously.  In that sense, it wasn’t very helpful to me, but might be to someone else in a different situation.

 

12 Minutes to Change Your Day advises readers to think about your day in different increments, and devote small chunks of time to important projects.  That’s good advice I suppose, but I didn’t find the book very ground-breaking or life-changing overall.  If you want to spend a few bucks to learn about time management, I think you’d be better off with one of Laura Vanderkam’s books, but if you’re really into the time management genre and are determined to read everything out there, you could add this book to your list.

For more Twitterature, check out Modern Mrs. Darcy’s post!

 

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