Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Something Unfavorite - Toys with Noise rant

Let this be a warning to all present and future parents, all current friends, neighbors and relatives and most especially to all toy designers and manufacturers: Noisy Toys Be Damned

At what point in our human evolution did we decide that somehow our babies weren't being properly stimulated unless they had a toy that was bright, plastic and NOISY? Wooden trains not good enough? Frisbee too dull and boring? Even Barbie kept her mouth shut thankfully. And what happened to a good old fashioned BALL?

Last Christmas our neighbors, who probably do qualify for some sort of "Best Neighbor in the World" award, did the unthinkable. They bought our children large extravagant gifts for Christmas. Amazing as they are, they bought one toy that at this point is haunting me in my sleep, ala "Chuckie". It's name is T. J. Bearytales. It "reads" stories to kids (because we parents have gotten to lazy to do it?) It says things like "bear-ific!" much to my annoyance. It has both a soft and LOUD volume, as if it's necessary. I know my neighbors meant well, they just likely don't realize exactly how un-bear-able these things can be.

Did you know there is actually a whole category of these toys that don't have an OFF button? Who's the sadist who thought that was a brilliant idea? I'm going to collect a whole truckload of these toys - real sounds motorcycle handlebars, Elmo guitar, and Batman monster truck included - and send them to that guy's house right after I know he's just quit smoking cold turkey.

I secretly sneak into my kids rooms at night and try to remove these toys without setting off their hideous noises. The next day I try to explain where the Shake 'n' Go Racers have gone. Is there a toy heaven? or hell?

Now I realize that as parents we take some blame. We get sucked into the cuteness of toys just as much as the little booties and tiny handprint keepsakes. "My kid would LOVE this!", we exclaim. It's just that as kids get older, or you have more than one, you start to figure out reality from stupidity. Don't get suckered by the TMX Elmo. TMX stands for Tickle me XTREME, like a small red talking, giggling puppet isn't bad enough now it has to move?. You might think it's cute until your one year old has twitchy spasms of terror after seeing it roll on the floor for real. Elmo is a monster after all.

I'm not suggesting we all dump these toys into garbage cans and take care of them bra burning style. It's just as in everything else - think before you buy. Let's vow not to inflict noisy toys on our brethren. Or more importantly, let's try to buy less there's-a-good-chance-this-will-be- recalled-for-lead-paint toys. And don't forget, the same guy who brought us these wonderfully stimulating toys is probably also behind the idea that processed cardboard food would somehow be better for us than real food.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Bag Lady follow up.

I was going through old mags the other day and found a kids lunch bag that is made from recycled drink containers. It is sold through reusablebags.com - a fab fact and shopping site on the whole bag thing.
"Since 2003 ReusableBags.com has been a major force providing facts and news on the global push to reduce plastic and paper bag consumption. Plus, simple actions you can take to help the cause."
They have any kind of bag you could want, plus water bottles like SIGG (100% recyclable, lightweight and tested to prove 0% leaching). Bags for your groceries, your produce, your beach gear. I'm lovin' it!
By the way, I don't get paid to endorse, I just like to share when I find cool stuff!

Saturday, January 19, 2008


I have not yet done my New Year's Resolutions. My excuse? Suffice it to say, I haven't dedicated the time to sit down and actively think about it and write it down. I do, however, have one resolution I made today at the grocery store. It was kind of an epiphany. Seems easy, like I should have thought of it sooner, but in the absence of my 'Official Resolutions' I'm pretty excited about this one.
Effective today, January 18, 2008, I vow to not bring home a single plastic or paper bag from a shopping trip for the rest of the year (and hopefully the rest of my life).
Let me elaborate. According to my favorite stylish eco-friendly site, Ideal Bite, "In the United States, 12 million barrels of oil and 14 million trees go to producing plastic and paper bags each year." WOW. And beyond that I find the proliferation of annoying plastic bags even worse. I mean, what do you do with them? I can't bring myself to throw them away (seems like an enormous injustice) and it took me awhile to find a place that would recycle them (Cub Foods does) although that's still a huge environmental burden. And until you bring them to the recycle bin you have to find a place to store them. Yeah, annoying.
Plus I have all of these canvas bags. There's the 3 from the birth place at the hospital, 3 from the local ECFE, one from Kemps and one from MasterCard (food expo years ago)and my favorite, the one with crabs all over it. Or you could have one like the cool Elvis one I made my sister for Christmas.
I keep them all together in my front closet with great intentions of using them. Today I remembered them and on the way out of the store with all my bags it hit me. I have to use them every day. It's almost a crime not to. They are so much stronger than paper or plastic, and they're so lonely in the closet.
And so I step up on my box and urge you all to join me! Gather up all your bags from your house and put them in the front seat of your car and use them! Stop bringing home the plastic!
Let me know how it goes and if you don't have enough bags, maybe I'll make you an Elvis one too.

Friday, January 18, 2008


25 days of my favorite things - #10

You are correct, that does say Minnesota. I love Minnesota. Not in a we're-better-than-you-are way, it's just that I grew up in Minnesota (closer to Canada than anything else) and I think everyone has certain things they love about where they grew up because that's what they knew. I do have other places I love - Chicago, Florida, San Francisco - but Minnesota is where I choose to live and love.
Probably the 2 biggest reasons I love it are Lakes and Seasons. Of course Minnesota is "The Land of 10,000 lakes". Actually 11,842 to be a little more accurate. I grew up on a lake, literally and figuratively. My Dad's house is on lakeshore for one. And then there's the fact that we spent most of our free time in it or on it - boating, fishing, ice fishing, skating, swimming, tubing, water skiing, jet skiing. I even learned how to drive a car on a lake (minus the ice ridge incident). I can't imagine living anywhere you can't drive in any direction for less than 30 miles before running into a lake. I'm funny that way. There's a reason why hockey is so huge here (St. Paul recently named Hockey Town USA by Sports Illustrated). Where else in the world do High Schools actually have hockey cheerleaders? (yes, I was one)
And the seasons. True four seasons and all their extremes. I've always said that my favorite season is the beginning of each one. Too long in any weather condition and I just plain get bored - I like the variety. And I'm not sure I could live someplace that never gets snow. At my son's ice skating lessons the other day I listened to some women speak of this same thing. One woman said she enjoys a good blizzard! The thing is, we LIKE the cold. My husband calls it the battle of the elements. Being able to prove we can somehow survive going out in blinding snow and -60 wind chill. Don't let any complaining fool you. In fact, that's part of what we like - to have it be really cold and complain about it. Tomorrow, January 19, the weather forecast for Minneapolis is a high of -5. A HIGH. Wind chills from -27 to -37 below 0. So if you know someone in Minnesota, call them up. I'm sure they'll tell you all about the cold and complain about it too. Just remember, they just might be loving it.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Books part duex - Dr. Suess

Dr. Suess. AKA Theodore Geisel. He started writing children’s books in the late 30’s and early 40’s with “To think that I saw it on Mulberry Street”, which was rejected by 27 publishers. He was clearly ahead of his time. Not only in that he wrote fun, nonsensical rhyming books for kids, in an age of Dick and Jane, but many of his books carry a deeper meaning about the environment (The Lorax), war (The Butter Battle Book), hatred and segregation (The Sneetches) and health care (You’re Only Old Once: a book for obsolete children). Here are my favorite lines from that book:

For your Pill Drill you’ll go to Room Sic Sixty-three,
where a voice will instruct you, “Repeat after me…
This small white pill is what I munch
At breakfast and right after lunch
I take the pill that’s Kelly green
Before each meal and in between.
These loganberry-colored pills
I take for early morning chills.
I take the pill with zebra stripes
To cure my early evening gripes.
These orange-tinted ones, of course,
I take to cure my charley horse.
I take three blues at
half past eight
To slow my exhalation rate.
On alternate nights at
nine p.m.
I swallow pinkies. Four of them.
The reds, which make my eyebrows strong,
I eat like popcorn all day long.
The speckled browns are what I keep
Beside my bed to help me sleep.
This long flat one is what I take
If I should die before I wake.”

If you’re ever in the mood for simple fun, try my other favorites, What Was I Scared of? (pale green pants with nobody inside ‘em!) and Fox in Socks. It’s hard to not to giggle while reading about when tweedle beetles battle with their paddles in a bottle on a noodle eating poodle.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


25 days of my favorite things - # 9

Unofficially, bread was #8, although I think I may make it the 2nd addendum to Food (glorious, food!). Today I'm celebrating the equally large and all encompassing category of BOOKS (glorious, books!).
My name is Marya, and I'm a bookaholic. Which is not an easy thing to get over as many of my friends and family are too. I avoid Barnes & Noble and other stores, I've tried the library, and I've even signed up for Booksfree.com. I used to keep them (or hoard them, depending on who you ask). At least now I can give them away. I sell them on Ebay, I give them to Goodwill and give them away as Christmas presents. But I just can't stop! I've resigned myself to my wish list on Amazon and at least try to pace myself.
I've also gotten much pickier about the types of books I read. Funny, but it hasn't seemed to diminish my selection in any way. In my teens I read a lot of Stephen King and sci fi and classics. Then I started reading more historical fiction and best sellers. Now I love good short stories. Stories from real people telling about real and wonderful events. And yoga, and inspiration, and manifesting, and wellness, and quantum physics, and on and on.
I also tend to read several books at a time. It doesn't always make me feel productive but at least there's one for my moods:
The book for light reading or fun: Timepiece and The Letter by Richard Paul Evans
The book for bedtime reading: The Bhagavad-Gita (qualifies for several categories)
The book for inspiration: Inspiration, Your Ultimate Calling by Dr. Wayne Dyer
The book for deeper learning: Ask and it is Given by Hicks-Abraham

Read any good books lately?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

10th day of the new year and I'm burnt

I'm a little off track, so unofficially this is '25 days of my favorite things, day: whatever it is'


I do love a loaf of fresh-baked, homemade bread. A short while back I found an old recipe I had clipped on how to make a sourdough bread started. I decided to give it a try (I love sourdough).
For those of you who have never done it, a sourdough starter is made by putting flour and water together and just letting it sit until it starts to ferment and make it's own yeast. There are some rules and regs around this, i.e. have to add to it the first 6 days, have to cover with a cloth, have to take from it at least once a week, then add again, etc, etc. I have made numerous other breads before, I thought, "what could be so hard about sourdough?" HA!
I started before new years (I should have a counter: BREAD, DAY 12!) My first batch was conceived on 1/5 to be brought to a gathering. Bread did not rise sufficiently and did not cook all the way through. Hello gathering, meet plan B.
I changed my strategy. Through a miracle (or mistake, depending on which way you look at it) I changed cloths and managed to create a stinky, bubbly bowl of starter. By the way, it's supposed to stink. (like beer)
Today was ATTEMPT 2. It rose nicely, well, too nicely. By the time I put the thing in the oven tonight at 9:41pm (!) it was enormous. It must have air pockets the size of Texas. Darn near went over the edge of the pan. Then for reasons unknown, the top is now a deep, dark brown. Almost burnt. Why? Oh, the tragedy. Stay tuned for pictures, and follow-up of ATTEMPT3.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Yoga Practice

In case you didn't already know, January is World Yoga Practice Month, or WoYoPracMo. (www.woyopracmo.ning.com, my name is breezeatdawn). My teacher discovered this site and she and several of her students (including myself) have signed up and committed to practicing yoga every day this month or "31 in 31".
My first couple of days started kind of slow. I didn't feel good, then my daughter got sick. Several times I practiced work-around-the-baby yoga (feet up the crib side pose, jungle gym for the baby series, etc.). Yesterday I snuck in 12 Sun Salutations after I taught class (at Gold's Gym). Today I did yoga this afternoon in the kitchen. I randomly picked a series out of an old Yoga Journal magazine, turned out to be on the hips which is one of my challenge areas. I love working on the hips, it's just that after having 3 kids my hips are, as I call them, "wonky". I've seen the x-ray, they are literally twisted. I could go into the gory details but suffice it to say that it affects my entire body. Today was no different. The outside of my left hip kept cramping up and both my sides are tight as can be. We'll see how my hips feel about me come day 31.
On the bright side, my nemesis child's pose actually felt pretty good today. Of course it would be after attempting Astavakrasana (Eight-Angle Pose). Yeah, it's as ugly as it sounds. Especially the way I did it.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

People are strange only if you act like a stranger

25 days of my favorite things - #7

People. Yes, I love people. All people, even the ones that I hate. Sometimes (most often when you are in good mood and your mind is relatively free) you can really appreciate people and just smile and enjoy the way they are – all of them. For example, I recently went to the grocery store. The day before Christmas Eve to be exact. I really tried to avoid it because I know what it’s like. I live in a suburb of 25,000 with one grocery store. What was I thinking? But I was happy and not in a hurry so I could afford to just be peaceful and enjoy the trip. It was snowing like crazy. Frankly, it was beautiful, if you don’t mind the craziness of it all.

I entered the store just watching people and smiling. There was the Rip Taylor look alike with shorter hair and a fancy fanny pack (yes, people still wear them). In the produce section there was the older lady with grey curly hair wearing a leather Pink Ladies jacket (brings me back to my days of Grease 2 obsession). There was the older tall lady wearing a luxurious coat (I only saw her going away down the aisle). And the younger couple- she was about 7-8 months pregnant – and the woman who looks like I normally do at the grocery store, with tired eyes and a frantic get-me-out-of-here-now! look towing 3 young children who are bouncing around the aisle oblivious to their mom’s fatigue. Fascinating to watch. Yet I love it all! Sometimes if you are not in a hurry and distracted by your own life you can really appreciate people, strangers and all.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Food - addendum

For Christmas Eve dinner I made the following:

Roasted Brined Pork Loin with Pomegranate Sauce
Pear Mixed Greens salad with Bacon Viniagrette
Fingerling Potatoes with Hazelnuts and Sage
Lemon Crumbed Broccoli

The recipe for the pork brine called for 3 bay leaves. While getting the leaves I discovered this one-

How appropriate at Christmas that even my food would express love. I love you too, bay leaf.