Monthly Archives: February 2011

Da do Rahm Rahm Rahm, da do Rahm Rahm…

(thanks to my friend Les for the earworm…)

Mother Nature Network has a pretty good article on Chicago’s new mayor and how green we can expect him to be at our helm…check it out! (Answer: probably pretty green.)

(Hmm…too bad the high speed rail plan will have to bypass Ohio…think maybe Canada would let us cross over and go across them till we can pop back down in upstate New York?)


Yay! Toxic Bubble Bath!

On the one hand, Daily Momtra occasionally tosses out what seem to be slightly sensationalist headlines that make you look.

On the other hand, once you check it out to see if it’s as sensationalist as it looks , the content is fairly jaw-dropping, and suddenly compared to the actual article the headline doesn’t seem so sensational at all.

Check this out:

Doctors Say It’s OK To Bathe Your Kid In Toxins

Sort of sensational, right? Can’t be true? But read the article:

“…But besides the list of ingredients that I can’t pronounce on the back of these brand name bubble baths all enticing to kids with the Dora and the Sponge Bob and the cute Mr. Bubble bubble man, there it was … a WARNING: Caution: Use only as directed. Excessive use or prolonged exposure to bubble bath may cause irritation to skin an urinary tract. Discontinue use if rash, redness, or itching occurs, consult your physician if irritation persists.”

To which Jenn the mom of a couple of little kids who love baths can only utter a big “WTF????”

We don’t use this stuff.  We don’t use any of this stuff. But they market this stuff to kids. And then tell you on the package that prolonged skin exposure may mess up their skin. And urinary tract. (I think only the mothers of little girls can understand the terror that strikes when the words “warning” and “urinary tract” are uttered in the same paragraph.)

If you’re a mom, and you’re reading this (heck, if you’re a human being who ever takes bubble baths yourself–God knows what they put in the adult marketed bubble baths!), go read your bottle of bubble bath. See if the word “Caution” pops up on there anywhere.

And Daily Momtra, please keep the “sensationalist” headlines coming.

McDonald’s Oatmeal, meet Mark Bittman

Thanks to EnviroMom for linking to the ever-lovely Mark Bittman’s column on McDonald’s oatmeal:

How To Make Oatmeal…Wrong

I love this guy. From the article:

“The aspect one cannot argue is nutrition: Incredibly, the McDonald’s product contains more sugar than a Snickers bar and only 10 fewer calories than a McDonald’s cheeseburger or Egg McMuffin. (Even without the brown sugar it has more calories than a McDonald’s hamburger.)

The bottom-line question is, “Why?” Why would McDonald’s, which appears every now and then to try to persuade us that it is adding “healthier” foods to its menu, take a venerable ingredient like oatmeal and turn it into expensive junk food? Why create a hideous concoction of 21 ingredients, many of them chemical and/or unnecessary? Why not try, for once, to keep it honest?”

Good questions.

(Take EnviroMom’s advice and make your own “instant” oatmeal packets.  If you work where you have access to a bowl, a spoon, and a microwave, and I guess half a cup of water, you can have a much healthier breakfast for pennies.)

Oh. My. God.


Chocolate Mint Slow Cooker Fondue Recipe

And no trans fats, either…

She also has a recipe for thin mint cookies that are actually cookies…but honestly, the fondue thing sounds beyond amazing…bear in mind too, one could substitute Grand Marnier or Frangelico or some other liqueur for the schnapps, or orange extract for the mint…


My new weight loss plan…crochet? (check out my new hoodie scarf, with instructions!!)

Yeah, it’s true. It’s the middle of winter, and an insanely stressful one at that.  I have been stress-eating, too often, too much, and not on good foods. My belly poodgeth. My thighs doth stretch the fabric of my jeans. My back-fat appeareth over my bra strap.

So I’ve pulled out one of my old stop-snacking tricks: a crochet hook and a few balls of yarn.  The thing is, along with stress-eating I also do a good bit of stress-sitting-like-a-vegetable-in-front-of-the-tv, and when I do that, I am especially prone to snacking mindlessly. So when I start crocheting in front of the tv, I am able to produce something useful, keep my hands busy, and have a reason to not want anything messy around my project. And even when I feel that urge to snack, this is where my innate procrastinator sense kicks in–I go, “Okay, I’ll finish this row and then I’ll go get some popcorn…okay, maybe this row. Or in a little while,” and usually the urge passes before I’ve gotten off my rear to do anything.

Now of course healthy self-discipline and a little more exercise (“I will treat my body well! Instead of snacking, I shall do 20 minutes of Zumba and then another half hour on the Wii Fit!”) would be preferable to using one’s innate laziness to justify sitting there some more…but hell, whatever works, right? Once spring comes, I usually gain a little more get up and go, but I’m one of those winter folks who gets the exact opposite of cabinfever–I would happily hibernate quietly in a little room under a quilt till the pussywillows come out and I can start my garden.

Anyway, check out my latest project! I had been wanting a hoodie-scarf (I’m told it’s called a “scoodie”–I think that’s just, um, weird.) for some time, and finally discovered how easy they are to make. (They keep heads and necks warm without messing up your hair; I’m all about that!)

First I crocheted just an ordinary scarf–about a foot wide and 6 feet long. I used two skeins of Lion Brand Homespun, with an N hook (this crochets up faster but also leaves a lot of holes–but my wrists always start hurting if I crochet with small hooks), in a fairly simple stitch pattern whose name I don’t know, but honestly what kind of stitch you use is irrelevant. Any crochet or knit pattern for a basic rectangular scarf will work. I did a fringe on the ends, but it wasn’t really necessary.

I folded it in half at the 3-foot point, and then single-crocheted the two halves together for about ten inches down one side, forming the hood.  I turned it right-side out so the crochet-seam didn’t show, and bingo, I was done.

I really like it! And I think I want to make more…but out of warmer yarn, because this really isn’t warm enough for a Chicago winter.

Obviously, if what you want is just a scoodie, this could be easily just sewn out of fabric or fleece–check out some good instructions here. This could also be a good use for repurposed wool felt sweaters…but that won’t help with the snacking urge, unless you sew by hand or have the tv in your sewing room.

What should I make next?

McDonald’s Oatmeal?

I just saw my first commercial for McDonalds fruit and maple oatmeal. I’ll be honest, it looked delicious.

But I was curious about the ingredients, and if it’s really as healthy as it looks like…

So. It looks like there are only four ingredients at first, or maybe six: oatmeal, apples, cranberry-raisin blend, and light cream. Then when you look closer, and count all the little intermediate ingredients, there are actually 21 total.

Most look fairly innocuous. Caramel color, which is now linked to cancer (as are so many things), is in there.  Sodium phosphate, in a google search popped up mostly as a colon cleanser (yay, that’s what I want from my oatmeal!). Other stuff, like sodium steriol lactate, citric acid, and the ever-popular carageenan, are also in there but seem to be fairly innocuous.

Bottom line for me: I normally don’t go anywhere near Mickey-D, but in a pinch I could probably buy this without too much concern.

Anyone try it yet?

“I’m bringing you dinner.”

Blessed are they who, in times of family stress and hardship, have lovely friends who bring over meals for the family.  In the past year, for various reasons, we have been on the receiving gift of this wonderful neighborly ministry three times–twice at the time of deaths in the family, and once by a particularly thoughtful friend who knew I was taking graduate exams and absolutely stressing out.  Each time has been a huge huge gift…

Today I ran across (I think Food in Jars linked to it) a particularly beautiful post on “Sympathy Meals,” a sort of guide for those who want to but aren’t sure exactly what or how. Definitely a really good source–check it out.

Does anyone have any favorite meals they like to bring friends? One of my favorite things to do is soup (chicken noodle or pasta fazool) with a loaf of fresh bread.  What else do you guys do?

The History of MSG

Okay, yeah, I know, this is one that’s probably kept you up nights:

If MSG is so bad for you, why doesn’t everyone in Asia have a headache?

This is a fascinating article–I honestly hadn’t known really any of this. The article doesn’t conclusively answer the question, but actually finding out what monosodium glutamate really is, and that at least the “glutamate” portion of it is in all kinds of ingredients (like parmesan), is something I’d never known. Finding out that glutamate is the source of the very trendy “umami” taste is something that would not have occurred to me in a thousand years…

Worth a read!

My favorite wintertime moisturizer…

…costs pennies and is made out of stuff on my kitchen counter.

I’ve talked about this before, but it’s worth saying again: quite seriously, all I do is put neutral oil–in my case, grapeseed–into a little pump bottle with a few drops of essential oils. (Lavender and orange, at the moment.) I keep it right by the bathroom sink. Every time I wash my hands, or every time my kids wash their hands, we dry off lightly and then put a teeny squeege of the oil on while our hands are a little damp, and rub it in.

It’s not greasy at all–it just soaks right in.  And leaves skin wonderfully soft.

Same thing works out of the shower, by the way–again, before you’ve had time to get totally dry, just smooth a couple of squirts of this stuff onto your hands and smooth it all over. Do the face last, with whatever’s left on your hands after doing legs and stuff, and it gets just a teeny bit of the oil without getting greasy. Takes about 4 seconds total.

I swear I have fewer wrinkles on my face than I did 2 years ago.  Seriously.

Give this a try–it’s so much less expensive and has so many fewer weird chemicals in it than anything you’d buy at the store–and I swear, it really does work better!

What’s a PLU label?

Huge thanks to Doreen at Mom Goes Green for deciphering the PLU labels on produce–I’m very grateful!

Pop over to her site and check it out–

Do you know what your PLU produce labels mean?