Wherein We Ask, Who Is My Neighbor?

A man in Jacksonville, Florida, got on his motorcycle one beautiful spring Sunday morning, and headed toward I-95. He was totally looking forward to a visit at St. Augustine National Park….

Read the rest of this joint writing effort with my mother, Susan Price, on her blog here.

Be sure to let me know what you think!


5 Reasons to "No ‘Poo" Your ‘Do

Besides the fact that you get to say “No ‘Poo Your ‘Do” with a straight face, I’ve been considering whether there might be advantages to giving up shampoo.  Now that I’m a month into my “farewell to shampoo,” I have some insight for those of you who might consider trying this.  And also for those of you who would never consider trying this.  Maybe even for the occasional person who doesn’t care either way.  So read on…

5. If you get some of this “shampoo” in your eyes, it will still sting, but they won’t get as red as they would with regular shampoo, and they will recover sooner. This reason may sound rather lame to some of you coordinated people out there, but to someone who always used to come out of the shower looking like the morning after overindulging in alcoholic beverages, this is a big deal. 

4.  Build upper arm strength!  You may not think so, but holding your arms above your head long enough to thoroughly massage baking soda solution into your hair will require more muscle tone than you already have (unless you’re a body builder or something).  Now you can be buff and have gorgeous hair at the same time!

3.  Apple cider vinegar is apparently great for eczema.  If you have sensitive skin, you might be surprised by how much it clears up when you use this shampoo (or lack thereof) routine.  I was.

2.  You get a head massage every time you wash your hair. True, you have to give yourself the massage, but hey…it kinda beats lazily relying on suds for their cleansing power. Also, it is said to stimulate blood flow to your brain cells. I can use all the help I can get!

1.  You could have a volcano in your shower — every day! That’s right! You get to use the very same ingredients used to make an elementary school volcano model to clean your hair. Not that you would make a volcano…but it’s nice to know you could.

All of this and soft, shiny, chemical-free tresses?  It’s all true.

Intrigued?  You should be.  If you are completely convinced that you must rush out and try “No ‘Poo” this very day, be sure to read my original post explaining how to do it here.  Then revel in your coolness.  Go forth and enjoy your head massage!

I get a little carried away…and my husband rescues me.

I’ve loved food pretty much as long as I’ve been alive.

My mom likes to tell stories about how I started eating table food so young (to supplement my diet of breast milk) — I wanted broccoli before I was supposed to have it (and she gave it to me… I loved it then and still do).  My first word was a food word (“bread” in Portuguese), not Mama or Binky.  I was messing in the kitchen as soon as I was old enough to stand on a chair to reach the counter.

What can I say?  One of my favorite TV shows is Chopped.  I read more nonfiction books about food than pretty much any other subject.  And the list of food blogs I follow grows and grows.

So it’s no surprise that the list of recipes I want to try keeps getting longer and longer.  And with teaching as my main job, I don’t have a lot of free time, which means my only day to experiment is Saturday.  Sometimes, when I’ve been really busy, my desire gets pent up until it bursts — I spend my entire day planning and executing projects of cookery.

Like today.

I started off with roasting some beets for next week’s lunches.  Meanwhile, I also baked an acorn squash that had been moldering in my fruit bowl for over a month.

I the made my first foray into homemade ice cream.  I got an amazing deal on an ice cream maker early in December, but with the cascade of junk food that bombarded the Christmas holidays, I had not done anything with it yet.  I made my ice cream base, and put it in the fridge to cool.  Then, I realized you are supposed to freeze the ice cream bucket before you make the ice cream.  Whoops.  Oh well, ice cream, to be continued.

At the same time, I cleaned and started to roast brussels sprouts from my Farmer’s Market trip to make this recipe from Peas and Thank You.  Chocolate creme anglaise and brussels sprouts might seem like an odd combination, but the smooth, sweet velvet of the ice cream base, and the crispy outside, soft creamy inside of the salt-and-pepper-and-oil sprouts were a perfect compliment.  I went right from licking out the pot from the chocolate back to “taste-testing” the brussels sprouts (I taste-tested about half the pan!).

Then to make the vinaigrette/glaze for the brussels sprouts.  By this time my feet were aching and I was getting slightly cranky.  Also, the romance of the kitchen was wearing off a little.  I may or may not have snapped at my husband, who was only trying to make dinner.

Then I had a minor meltdown over a perceived slight (not to mention the fact that dishes were piling up, and I still had one kitchen project to go).

My husband, who is sweet, did not get mad.  No — he washed the dishes.  Then he washed the dishes again.  And folded the towels.  And washed the dishes again.  And told me it would be ok.

I worked my way through my last project, healthy rice krispy treats (made with brown rice syrup and brown rice krispies and almond butter — see the recipe here), a long awaited birthday present promised to my father (who celebrated 60 years on January 7 — yes, I’m just getting to his birthday present — I told you teaching keeps me busy).

As I coated the cereal with sticky, gooey yum and coated the sticky, goey yum with warm chocolate and almond butter mixture, I breathed deep.  Yes, I got a little carried away.

But my day was sweet…bitter…salty…tangy.  And it ended in peace.

*This post is dedicated to the patience and practicality of my husband, without whom it surely would not have materialized as I would be a melted puddle of boohooing on the kitchen floor, and my father would have to wait another week for his birthday present.*

Roasted Veggies? Yes, Please!

At long last, the first of the promised recipes!  This has been one of my favorite ways to eat veggies this winter.  The difference roasting makes in the flavor is amazing.  Broccoli that has been roasted is like candy — I bet you can’t eat just one.  And the other veggies are beautiful, too.  This week, I roasted my purple cauliflower, but you can also use this recipe for broccoli, carrots, eggplant, etc.

You need to make this today!  You won’t be sorry…

Roasted Vegetables

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2.  Cut the roasted vegetables into similarly sized pieces.

3.  Lay the vegetables in a single layer on a baking sheet.

4.  Spray them with olive oil spray.

5.  Sprinkle them with the seasoning of your choice (tasty ones are salt, pepper, garlic powder, season-all, rosemary, thyme, etc.)

6.  Roast them in the oven until they are slightly brown and crispy around the edges.  This will be between 10-20 minutes, depending on the size of your pieces and the type of vegetables.  If you are not sure if the veggies are done, taste one — if it is incredibly delicious and you want to eat just one more, they’re done.

*Note — watch them carefully after the 10-min. mark because they will burn quickly.

7.  They taste best when they just come out of the oven, but they are also good cold or reheated.  Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Enjoy your veggies!

Week 2: No Coupons

The experiment continues!  Saturday was very busy, so I am a bit late this week.  I am also very ashamed to confess that I backslid a bit this week.  I actually used 3 coupons at Publix this week.  However, we also did quite well at the Farmer’s Market.

We got:
1 half gallon raw goat’s milk
1 head hydroponically grown organic purple cauliflower
1 bunch hydroponically grown organic bok choy
4 hydroponically grown organic kirby cucumbers
2 heads organic broccoli
1 bunch organic green onions
2 lb. organic carrots
2 baking potatoes
2 locally grown navel oranges
1 avocado
3 limes
1 gardenia bush

…and a partridge in a pear tree!  Just kidding about that one, but we spent right around $25.

At Publix, as I confessed, I couldn’t quite stay away from the coupons this week.  Back in my Weight Watchers days, I became shamefully addicted to the WW novelty ice creams.  They were BOGO this week with a $1 off coupon, which made them about $1.50/box.  Too good to pass up.  Yes, I know they are terrible, and no, I did not read the ingredients list, nor do I care to.  We all have our vices.  This is mine.

I also got a banana, some apple cider vinegar, some dijon mustard, and several boxes of tissues (a necessary casualty of my violent sneezing cold last week).

Ah well.  Coupon recovery is not as easy as it seems.  But I’m looking forward to using those yummy veggies this week.  Stay tuned — more to come!

A Farewell to Shampoo

My name is Sarah, and I have not used shampoo for three weeks.

Ok, I know it sounds gross.  You may already be thinking, “Who knew Sarah was some kind of crazy hippy chick??!?”

Before you click off and go read the blog of someone with impeccable hygiene, wait a sec.  I am not being gross (at least not purposely), and I’m definitely not a hippy chick (my husband would have a cow).

I simply have opted out of the world of shampoo craziness.  My love-hate relationship with shampoo proceeded as follows.

1.  I used whatever cheap shampoo my mom bought for me and didn’t care how my hair looked because I just wasn’t like that (ages 8-12).
2.  I spent large sums on various types of shampoo, switching every couple of months because they seemed to stop working after a certain point (ages 13-26).
3.  I stocked up about a dozen bottles of various types of shampoo — whatever was on sale with coupons that I could buy for around a dollar a bottle.  I used them all with varying success (ages 26-28)
4.  Finally, I got fed up with all the craziness — the expense, the lack of effectiveness, and worst of all, the super-scary ingredient lists, and started researching natural shampoo alternatives.

I came across something known as (no joking), the “no ‘poo” method, involving the use of baking sode for cleaning the hair and apple cider vinegar for rinsing/conditioning the hair.  Some of the more extreme proponents use this is a springboard to go totally “no ‘poo,” using only water to clean their hair.  I’m not going there.

After working through some logistics, I decided to give this baking soda/apple cider vinegar hair cleansing method a shot.  And surprisingly, I kinda liked it.  My hair has been much more balanced without the build-up that certain shampoos make so much worse (I’m looking at you, Pantene), and I feel much better about what I’m using to clean my hair.  Not only that, my sensitive skin that is prone to eczema has cleared up about 90%.

So, in case you’re crazy like me and want to give it a try, here’s the routine.

You’ll need:
1 box baking soda
1 bottle apple cider vinegar
Some essential oils (I use lavendar)
1 cup measuring cup
2 bottles, one with a spray top (plastic is ok — I bought some aluminum bottles)

First, put a tablespoon of baking soda in the measuring cup.  I usually eyeball this, but if you are uncomfortable doing this, feel free to measure.

Second, put 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar in the bottle without the spray top.

Third, in the shower, fill the measuring cup to the top with water.  Swirl the baking soda around with your finger until it dissolves.

Pour a small amount on your scalp.  I like to start at the top, then do the sides, then the back.  You will want to concentrate on your most oily spots.  The baking soda/water combo will not sudse, but it will feel a little slippery or slimy.  Massage it into your scalp very thoroughly.  You can leave it in your hair for a couple of minutes, then rinse.  Your hair will feel very clean.

Then fill the vinegar bottle with approximately twice as much water as vinegar.  Swirl it around to mix.  Rinse your hair with the mixture, concentrating on the ends.  Your hair will feel smooth at this point.

Leave the vinegar in for a couple of minutes, then rinse it out.

After you dry your hair with a towel, you can put several drops of essential oil in the spray bottle.  Dilute the oil with water until the level of scent is comfortable for you.  Use the spray top to spritz your hair.  This helps cover up the smell of the apple cider vinegar, which will linger until your hair dries, but not after.

So there you go.  You, too, can be a crazy hippy chick.  Just don’t tell my husband….

Inhabiting a Habit (…or "An INFP is Converted")

I’ve been thinking about habits a lot lately.  Thinking being the key word, I guess.  You see, over Christmas break, I read this book: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

You have to read this book!

It was a truly eye-opening exposition on how habits are formed, why starting one good habit can lead to other good habits, and how to get rid of bad habits.

If you ‘ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you probably remember my original post about routines, in which I ranted about how difficult it is to enjoy routines as an INFP because they can be, well…boring.

This guy made the point that habits are not controlled by the same part of your brain as thinking and memory — they are located in the more primitive part of your brain.  So doing something like putting your coffee cup instead of the cream in the refrigerator is just a result of your brain being on “auto-pilot” without input from your higher-level thinking.

In other words, if you are bored by a routine it’s your own fault.  Rethinking routines lets me see them as an opportunity to let my body and lower brain automatically do what needs to while my higher-level thinking processes pay attention to something much more interesting.  Win-win, right?

I just have to stick with the habits long enough to let them become automatic…ah, there’s the rub.

I am starting simple with two things.  1: Making the bed every morning.  2.  Putting my things away when I come home from somewhere.

Sounds simple, no?  We shall see.  I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten to the end of the week and found piles and stacks all over the kitchen table (because it is right by the door and the first convenient place to dump things when I walk in).  And it’s been a long time since I’ve been a regular bed-maker.

But I am looking forward to the day when I won’t even notice that I am doing these bland chores because my mind will be off cavorting somewhere pleasant… like admiring a sunrise…

…while my lower-brain limbic system slaves away unnoticed.
 Poor thing…