26 February 2015

Diet Checkup, Seborrheic Dermatitis Update, and Leaky Gut

I continue to eat following the Autoimmune Protocol Diet laid out by Sarah Ballantyne, http://www.thepaleomom.com/ in her book "The Paleo Approach" http://victorybelt.com/the-paleo-approach-reverse-autoimmune-disease-heal-your-body/ (however, I continue to sprout and eat quinoa, buckwheat, and amaranth for my vegetarian diet).  My skin "seems" to be improving on this diet, and perhaps I am addressing any leaky gut issues I may have.

I have not changed my diet from month 1, except that when I added nuts back in, I also added in cashews (which I was not supposed to do ... oops ... did not pay enough attention to that printout).  Sarah has linked her reintroduction process at her website http://www.thepaleomom.com/2015/02/reintroduction-quick-start-guide-new-free-download.html.

And how is the skin?
This is my two month photo.  I believe my skin is looking better.  I notice little of the tingling or pain following yawning that characterized my facial skin life from November 2014 through some of January.  I still have a fairly active patch along my left jaw line, and experience minor flare-ups at the nasolabial folds and right jaw line. 

Treatment Regime
I lightly scrub my dermatitis with salt each night, followed by a light application of coal tar, Alva-Amco's Psoriasin http://www.alva-amco.com/products/psoriasin

I use heavy duty moisturizer around and beneath my nose as that skin tends to get very dry.  I have two tins in constant use: Badger Balm's "Sensitive Skin Moisturizer Unscented" http://www.badgerbalm.com/p-369-badger-balm-unscented.aspx or Out of Africa's "100% Pure Unrefined Shea Butter Unscented" http://www.outofafricashea.com/products/organic/tin3.html.

Following a bath and before bed, I apply a light moisturizer to my face.  I'm currently using Logona Naturcosmetik "Moisture Cream Logona Free" http://www.logocos.us/logona/shop/product/1153-moisture-cream-logona-free.  It is expensive to me at $28 per 1.7 oz tube, 2.5x what almond oil costs.  However, my first tube has lasted over 3 months.  I do not need much per application.

Autoimmune Disease and Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic Dermatitis is often listed as an inflammatory condition, but few health care providers refer to it as an autoimmune disease.  But it is often linked to an improperly functioning autoimmune system.   Therefore, what is it? 

Eh, doctor's cannot say.  They do not know what causes it, how it develops, or what stops it.  There's not a lot of medical research into Seborrheic Dermatitis.  Which is kind of interesting, considering that several sites mention it affects 3% of the population (to compare, Healthline.com reports that 1% of the population is hospitalized yearly for heart disease). 

Diet Changes and Rx
Doctors hesitate to recommend/prescribe diet changes.  1st, they do not have much basis in nutrition.  2nd, patients generally don't listen anyway and doctors feel it is a waste of their time.

And 3rd, doctors do not make much money recommending dietary changes.  It is not a pill they can prescribe or blood numbers one can monitor.

In short, I've never had much to discuss with any medical professional when disease and diet are combined in a discussion.  

How "Leaky Gut"causes problems, Autoimmune Disease, and Treatment
What is the basic understanding of leaky gut?

Background -
Your immune system responds to proteins.  Exposure to foreign/unrecognized proteins kicks off the immune response - whether this be allergies, bacterial infection, or viral invasion.  

Your immune system congregates in areas where the outside environment meets the inside - head, neck, groin ... and digestive system.

Foods kick off immune response - 
The endothelial layer (digestive lining) is damaged (assumed to be due to modern life - stress and processed food stuffs) and allows partially undigested particles of food to cross into the bloodstream when it normally would not. 

Some of those partially undigested food particles are protein, which is recognized by the immune system as "foreign."

That protein exposure causes the immune system to kick into overdrive, which begins a vicious cycle - autoimmune disease.

How the AutoImmune Protocol addresses Autoimmune Diseases -
Reverse the leaky gut by eating soothing foods that allow the endothelial layer to heal, which arrests the autoimmune response by halting its exposure to partially digested protein particles.

Once the gut has healed, previously troublesome food can be reintroduced.

My Journey Continues
Am I seeing improvement?  Yes.

Am I healed?  Not yet.

I do not consider myself in remission, so I hesitate to add foods into my diet that might prolong my diseased state.

And yet, I miss many foods: lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas (I found an awesome chickpea cookie recipe just before this diet kicked off), corn (mostly tortilla chips, a processed food), tomatoes, and peppers.  I do not miss potato chips much, good thing I love sweet potatoes.  Taro chips are also an awesome potato chip substitute!

24 February 2015

"Live Raw" by Mimi Kirk Cookbook Review

Mimi Kirk's "Live Raw"

Is there an index?
Yes, 2 pages of mostly recipe titles, not the ingredients index I prefer.  However, the recipes are well titled (straightforward) to indicate major ingredients.

Is there a Contents/Chapter section?
Yes, 4 excellent pages.

What is the “Beginner’s Intro” volume?
Comprises 27% of the book, including some preachy bits.  Yikes, I'd rather have more recipes.

But, there are 165 pages of recipes.

What is the presentation like?
There is not a great deal of empty space in this book, notetaking will be restricted. On the other hand, the space is taken up with a bunch of recipes, none of this "each recipe gets 2 or 3 pages."  Indeed, such as with the smoothie section, she may have 2 or 3 recipes per page.

The recipes are presented on one of two colored and textured pages: light green or yellow.  This is fairly easy on my eyes.

Mimi Kirk includes rather delectable photographs of at least 1/3 of the recipes ... she does not highlight each smoothie recipe with a photo, but all the entree recipes are represented.  A good mix of knowing the audience and what we want to see, in my opinion.

If your library were wiped out tomorrow, would this make your cannot live without immediate re-buy list?
Maybe, I want to compare it to her International title, and will probably buy one or the other.

Comments -
I suppose this is the first raw cookbook I can see myself buying; I do think it is a bit preachy in the beginning, but 3 out of 3 recipes has us off to a good start.

Recipes -
Mango Smoothie pg 71
Oh, this was a good smoothie; a bright olived lime green.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, even with the sweetener I did not add.  :)  I have a green themed party coming up, and I can see serving this as the "opener."

Ms. Kirk has a couple unusual additions to the smoothie recipe than what I typically see, and this makes me want to try out more of her offerings.

I will add this into regular rotation.  Yum.

Upscale Kale Salad and Dressing pg 131
Besides cutting the oil and sugar by more than half, I made this according to the book. It is a citrus delight, and we made use of home grown greens.  There's an interesting combination of dried and fresh fruit, as well as a sprinkling of nuts.

The ingredient combo was delicious and enjoyed by both family members.

Himself said, "I like it.  Put it on the re-make list."  He is very salad and dressing picky, preferring balsamic vinegar usually.  This is quite the recommendation. 

Banana Pudding pg 207
Tasty and good, I made half a recipe for dessert and find this a more acceptable "regular" dessert than the highly over-the-top desserts I've seen in other cookbooks ... not that she is deficient in this realm (Mike's Birthday BRAWnie on page 218 looks sinful), just that variety is offered.

I did cut down the sweetener by half.

Conclusion - 
Yes, it is in my Amazon cart.  I'm not ready to buy just yet, because I want to check out two other titles: "Live Raw Around the World" by Mimi Kirk and "Raw & Simple" by Judita Wignall.  Both were requested from the library, and I'm simply playing the waiting game until they arrive from far flung parts of the US.

18 February 2015

"Everyday RAW Express" by Matthew Kenney Cookbook Review

Matthew Kenney's "Everyday Raw Express Recipes in 30 Minutes or Less"

Is there an Index?
Yes.  But recipes are not listed, only components.

Is there a contents/chapters section?
Yes.  The chapter titles are clearly delineated.

What is the “Beginner’s Intro” volume?
Consists of 2% volume.  There is a 3 page (with one photo) "How to use this book and our recipes" section.  Definitely NOT a beginner's book, which I encourage.

What is the presentation like?
Most of the recipes have appealing photographs.

The recipes are consistently presented on a white background, with plenty of room for note-taking (important as my own cookbooks develop an interesting splatter and pen/pencil patina with time).

Each chapter is titled by its own colorful page.

If your library were wiped out tomorrow, would this make your cannot live without immediate re-buy list?
No.  It does not fit an everyday need, only irregular.

Comments -
I thought this one, like Wignall's "Going Raw," was approaching what I seek.  But the restauranteur within the author is glaringly obvious in many of the included recipes.  For me, this is high-falutin' raw food for rare occasions, as it is not flavorful, homey, ethnic (which is my preference).

I found Kenney's acknowledgments section describing Meredith Baird as a primary driver of "Everyday Raw Express" interesting.  I am left to wonder, should the author on the title page be Meredith Baird, rather than Matthew Kenney?

Additionally, a comment from the "Introduction," along the lines of we will help you incorporate more gourmet food in your diet is very descriptive of the contents.  These are not warm, cheery, comfort foods.  You do not find yourself dreaming of leftovers with this collection. 

This is, in fact, the book you pull out to impress guests with marvelous presentation.  A way to begin your meal with a feast for the eyes.

Recipes -

Red Beet Sangria (page 20)
Admittedly, I do not like beets.  It does not matter how recently they were pulled from the ground, or how tenderly Grandma massaged them for Thanksgiving dinner.  I do not like beets.  I know this is due to the geosmin content within, and I look forward to varieties that contain all the nutrients of our current beets but without the geosmin concentration (but I do not want them GMOed)!

As to Red Beet Sangria, I like the citrusy punch the oranges give the beet juice.  If you like beets, and the other contents of this recipe, I expect you will love this sangria.

I will finish my half recipe over the next couple days, i.e I will drink it dagnabit.  But it will likely never be remade in my household.  I do look forward to how the apple chunks change while absorbing the flavor and color of the liquid.  But that is more in the line of scientific, rather than gastronomic, inquiry.

Wild Mushroom Lasagna, Butternut Squash, Wilted Spinach (page 116)
This is the type of recipe I am seeking.  A couple components: squash, nut/seed cheez, marinated mushrooms, and marinated spinach.  There is no way I could get this recipe ready in 30 minutes or less (as per the subtitle), but it was worth the time investment.  Tasty blend of flavors.  However, this would not be a meal.  I made myself two stacks, but could only eat 1.5 of them.  It can be too much and may be best as an appetizer.  A half recipe left me with days of leftovers.

Kelp Udon, Mushroom Broth, Cabbage, Shiitakes (page 102)
As the family holds mushroom appreciation next to godliness, I figured this recipe was a shoo-in.  Instead I found it somewhat sickeningly sweet, offering little in the way of interesting flavors.  Confession, I ate half my serving and placed everything that remains in the compost.  (Shudder)

Himself - 
The SO's comment on the fare, "Do not take this the wrong way, these are good, but they are not very filling."

However, he used the last of the nut/seed cheez from the "Wild Mushroom Lasagna, Butternut Squash, Wilted Spinach" recipe on crackers and requested more.

Conclusion - 
Back to the library it goes.

09 February 2015

"Rawmazing" by Susan Powers Cookbook Review

Susan Powers' "Rawmazing"

Is there an index?
No.  And this is simply unacceptable.  You end up leafing through the entire book to find one recipe.

Is there a Contents/Chapter section?
Yes.  Two pages before the introduction sequence, with several recipe photos.

What is the “Beginner’s Intro” volume?
Consists of 5% volume.  Thirteen page of hints, tips, and how-tos at the beginning of the book.

What is the presentation like?
Photographs - There are small to full page color photographs of a large portion of the recipes.  They are all appetizing to the eyes.

However, I found the physical book visually jangling.  Recipes are on paisley or plaid like textured backgrounds, or wildly colored solids.  You never know what color the next page will be and this keeps the recipes from having any continuity.  This is not a restful book to page through.

If your library were wiped out tomorrow, would this make your cannot live without immediate re-buy list?
No.  The missing index is the biggest strike against this title.  I usually begin at the index when I pull a cookbook with the intention of cooking.  And this is why I prefer an index that includes both recipe components as well as recipe titles.

Additionally, every single breakfast recipe in this book (and each recipe I tried) is found in Susan's website.  It appears that the cookbook may, in fact, be a direct port from her website.  As such, with a website being searchable, I'd reach for that before an index-less book.

Comments -
My issues with this publication include: presentation/art direction wackiness, index absence, and editing failures.

Editing is hit or miss.  Recipe "Banana Cream Tart with Walnut Crust" (which is presented on two yellow pages) calls for a "Raw Chocolate" recipe directing you to page 91.  Page 91 offers you a recipe for "Onion Flax Crackers" (on one griege page).  I suspect you should, instead, flip to page 212 where "Raw Chocolate" is listed as part of the "Hazelnut and Mint Truffle" selection (three pages, blue gray in color).  However, you must seek this via a hunt and peck method as, listed above, no index was prepared and printed in this book.

Additionally, there are two recipes back to back "Mushroom Walnut Veggie Burgers" (page 133, plaid) and "Spaghetti and "Sausage"" (page 134, sky blue) that have the exact same ingredients and "mostly" directions for the burgers and sausage (you dehydrate the sausage for longer).  I would have written, for sausage, use the recipe for "Mushroom Walnut Veggie Burgers on page x" and dehydrate for x hours total to create a drier result.  As it is, we have a second recipe, much like the first, that takes up two pages.

Some recipes are incomplete, such as the Raw Cinnamon Bun that starts on page 18. 

And, finally, many of these recipes are stretched out over two or more pages, which means you are flipping while cooking.  This is due to the recipe introduction section (or the "how I came up with this recipe" descriptor).  These are quite "talky" and give the book a personality ... not that it really needs any assistance at this point in the game.  I suppose with this being a raw cookbook, and therefore time not necessarily being a huge factor, the page flipping may not actually cause many problems.

Recipes -

Jicama Salad, page 97

This was an -ish.  I used this recipe more as a guideline (I always hear Geoffrey Rush in my head when that word comes up).

On a bed of spinach, I placed chopped jicama, dried cranberries, and walnut cauliflower taco "meat" - topping it all off with some leftover almond sauce (no peanuts on the diet).

This was extraordinarily tasty.  Mmm.  I hesitate to include this bastardization of the recipe, but the book is due back in 3 days, and I have weekend plans.

"Pirates of the Caribbean Geoffrey Rush (5729499465)" by Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer - Flickr. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pirates_of_the_Caribbean_Geoffrey_Rush_(5729499465).jpg#mediaviewer/File:Pirates_of_the_Caribbean_Geoffrey_Rush_(5729499465).jpg

 Onion Flax Crackers, page 91
I made a 1/2 batch, but it was too much for my toaster oven, I would do a 1/4 recipe next time to cut down on the thickness of the crackers and reduce drying time (this is not a problem with the recipe, just knowledge of serving size).

We needed to use up some ground flax seed before their expiration, and I just happened across this recipe.

These took all day to dry.  There are 11 hours written into the recipe, but my thicker crackers took longer.

I like the flavor and appreciate having a restricted diet friendly cracker recipe in my repertoire.  It will not pull those basic old saltines out of Himself's grasp, but it is an option.  His flavor comment was: "kinda green" and "needs more salt".  The latter being his mantra.

Raw Cinnamon Buns, page 18

And you are going along and find the bun recipe on page 19 (paisley-like pattern), and the filling recipe on page 20 (taupe solid).  The last direction in the "Assembly" section is "4.  Slice and top with icing."  Okay, what icing?  Where is that recipe?  Ah, whoops, it is not included.

A check of the website recipe reveals the icing recipe.  I guess it was lost in the port?

I attempted the recipe, but did not have a young coconut.  I substituted dehydrated coconut meat as an alternative - a couple turns in the blender and a little moisture gave me a tasty filling.

I substituted dried cranberries for the raisins, and did not include the icing - as that portion was missing from the cookbook.

Additionally, I dehydrated the bun for twice as long as the recipe suggests as the recommended timing produced only a sticky mess.

The final flavor combination left much to be desired.  The bun had no flavor, while the filling had enough flavor I ate the leftovers with a spoon.  Almost a coconut pudding.

I even placed them in the freezer for a while to see how the texture change might affect the flavor and my opinion.  No change, I will not be finishing this recipe.

I had planned to toss this in the compost, but the dogs loved it.  So they got a rare dessert this evening.

Rhubarb Green Smoothie Recipe

"Rhubarb (2925623906)" by Anders Sandberg from Oxford, UK - RhubarbUploaded by Jacopo Werther. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rhubarb_(2925623906).jpg#mediaviewer/File:Rhubarb_(2925623906).jpg.

I purchased a bag of frozen rhubarb, deciding to try this new to me vegetable. After testing out some thawed and raw pieces (a little too fibrousy for my taste), I decided to toss it in a smoothie.

1/2 cup (70 grams) frozen/fresh rhubarb
1/2 cup (70 grams) sweet berry, like blueberry
1/2 banana/mango (50 to 60 grams)
2 cups (85 grams) greens, like kale, spinach, etc
1 cup (240 grams) milk (coconut, almond, etc)
1/2 Tbsp (6 grams) chia seeds (optional)
Scoop of protein powder (optional)
Scoop of spirulina (optional)

With rhubarb being fairly tart, I find I need to balance that with an equal volume of sweet berry.  If you are especially sensitive to tartness, increase the sweet volume.

Admittedly, this will NOT be eaten with your eyes first - the combination of blueberries and greens tends to create a brown smoothie ... (but with no cocoa). 

Sweetness note:  I have moved beyond (matured, grown up, simply overloaded my tastebuds with?) sweet smoothies, especially in the morning. If you prefer a higher sweet component, add sugar by increasing your fruit volume or by adding a sweetener of some kind (maple syrup, agave syrup, sugar, stevia, etc).

The protein powders I'm currently using.

05 February 2015

McCall's 5651 Muslin Review

McCall's 5651 is out of print, http://mccallpattern.mccall.com/m5651-products-8646.php?page_id=1012

Continuing my muslin party - View A panties and View F bra.

These are the closest panties to good fit out of the package. They are a bit cheeky (nothing compared to the pattern drawing), but fairly comfortable regardless.

This bra ranks along with Jalie as a favorite of this muslin party.

What adjustments did you make?  And why?
The usual – Bra front one size smaller than bra back.

Pattern appreciation(s)?
Comfy.  All items sew up quickly and easily.

The panties do not shift a great deal while moving, and do not bind at front thigh (ah, I've never had comfort at that joint before).

Pattern disgruntlement(s)?
The pattern is drafted with grainline going around the body, resulting in stretch of fabric going up and down the body.  As I prefer my stretch going around, I redrew the grainline perpendicular to that originally indicated.

I think I would prefer a slightly deeper bra back, it is only 1.25" as sewn. I think I will try a 2" total.

What body does this pattern fit (in my estimation)?
Perky hind ends and small busted chests.

Would you buy this pattern again?
Yes, adjustments in progress for muslin 2 ...

Panties - I will add an inch of depth to the backside (widening the bottom back) and remove that length from the crotch.

Bra - I will need to remove a one inch dart from the front armscye.  A common issue being confirmed in every muslin bra top.

Jalie 3023 Bra Muslin Review


Single layer bra with necessary armscye darts pinned.

Jalie 3023 is available from http://www.jalie.com/jalie3023-tankini-swimskirt-sewing-pattern.html.

I threw together a single layer bra of this tankini, using pieces C, D, G, and H.

What adjustments did you make?  And why?
None, this pattern was made as per pattern draft.

Pattern appreciation(s)?
It fits fairly well right out of the package, and I plan to make several more.  I need workout bras for my bra-less shirts, of which I have too many.

Pattern disgruntlement(s)?
1)  I did not enjoy how odd the folding strap puzzle went together. It does cut down on thickness, but the fiddly folding was irritating. However, I cannot imagine how to adjust the strap formation at this time.  I will ponder up until the second muslin.

2)  This is really more of a Jalie-wide disgruntlement.  I am not comfortable with 1/4" seam allowances, especially when working in knits (my sewing machines love to eat knit, 1/4" SA knits seem to be a favored dish).  I prefer the slightly larger bite of 3/8" SAs.  Having said that, I have to applaud Jalie for NOT going with 5/8" SAs (which are incredibly ridiculous).

What body does this pattern fit (in your estimation)?
The bra fits mine, so I recommend it to small busted, pear shaped upper bodies. 

Would you buy this pattern again?
Yes.  I am looking forward to working out in this bra. 

I will need to remove half an inch dart from the front armscye. This is not an uncommon adjustment for me.  This requires adjustment of pieces D (the straps) and G.  The removal is labeled below, I just have to figure out where I'm going to transfer it.


Butterick 6031 Muslin Review


Butterick 6031 is available from http://butterick.mccall.com/b6031-products-48003.php?page_id=147.

In the continuing saga to fill undergarment holes in my wardrobe, I decided to buy Butterick 6031 after seeing a photograph of the crotch lining piece.  Given its wide base, along the excellent modeling ... ahem ... hind view, I thought these would work better than other panties that appear too high cut. 

After I pulled all the pieces out, I decided to throw together a bra and compare its fit to McCall's 5651.  Keeping in mind that this is not drafted as a bra ...

What adjustments did you make?  And why?
The usual – Bra front one size smaller than back.

No further adjustments made, pattern cut out as drafted.

Pattern appreciation(s)?
I like the deeper back of this bra as compared to McCall's 5651.  As I drew it out, it is approximately 2 7/8 inches deep, compared to the 1.25 inches (from memory) of M5651.

Pattern disgruntlement(s)?
This bra front is too deep and cannot rest against my chest.  Rather it sits away from my chest.  This might be good for hot summers (and cami's), but I prefer fit to body.

I would need to take 1/2" dart out of the front armscye if made again (common adjustment for me in sleeveless styles).

The panties are fairly uncomfortable since they cut into my front hip (my most common complaint with RTW).  I believe this is due to my sway back (and resulting hip rotation) as well as a too short crotch length.

What body does this pattern fit (in your estimation)?
If you fit RTW panties easily, this may be your perfect pattern.

Would you buy this pattern again?
For the most part, this pattern is a fail for my personal desires and comfort.  I plan to place this pattern in my cull pile and send it on to a better home than my own.

Cloth Habit Rosy Ladyshorts Muslin Review

The Cloth Habit Rosy Ladyshorts are available from Cloth Habit at http://clothhabit.com/free-pattern-rosy-ladyshorts/.

Having identified some closet "holes" I set about having a muslin party of various undergarments, bras and panties.  The Rosy Ladyshorts from Cloth Habit was a quick download and taping of just a few pages.

What adjustments did you make?  And why?
As a new to me independent, I have no previously knowledge of the fit.  As such, I made this as per pattern draft.

Pattern appreciation(s)?
These did not dig into my front hip, which is a common issue I have with undergarments.

Pattern disgruntlement(s)?
These are extraordinarily cheeky (in parlance "minimal back coverage"), and fairly uncomfortable because they shift when I move.  This may indicate using a too big size, but I cannot see a size or two down changing their basic fit.

For me, the crotch length is way too long.  While the front fits well, the back ... well ... see above.  I took a quick 1" tuck out of the crotch length, but this made little difference in fit or feel.

I cannot imagine where to start with adjusting this pattern (major adjustments of this garment type, in my experience, tends to destroy rather than enhance the pattern).  As such, I do not intend to attempt such modifications.

What body does this pattern fit (in your estimation)?
This pattern is perfect for women who are incredibly deep front to back, and can never find anything that does not bind.

Would you buy this pattern again?
This is a free pattern, and I am glad I had the chance to try it.  I just do not like the way it feels on my body. 

I add in my agreement with other bloggers, sewers, and reviewers, personal fit is very personal.  Less than stellar reviews indicate that the reviewer and tester are not necessarily copacetic. 

I have no quibbles with Cloth Habit's pattern quality.  I do keep eyeing their Watson Bra - http://shop.clothhabit.com/collections/all/products/watson-bra-bikini.

03 February 2015

The RAW Food Cookbook Search Begins

Borrowed from http://baobab-supply.blogspot.com/

I appreciate some of the theories and science behind the RAW food movement (RFM).  Living foods are nutrient dense, the closer to nature your food the healthier your body, and eat seasonally for best health.  Granted, these tenants are shared by various other parties, not being restricted to RFM.

And so, since I have a small, well curated cookbook collection, and it has an empty space for RAW specific title(s), I began searching for just such a book.  This involves borrowing everything my library has on the subject, and requesting all other interesting titles via Inter Library Loan (whereupon I even have access to the Library of Congress).

Unfortunately, my search is not going well.  My typical requirement of a cookbook is one in which I start marking about half the recipes as interesting or "must tries."  I have not reached anywhere close to such with any of the raw food cookbooks I have borrowed from the library.

Additionally, with raw food cookbooks, I am hampered:

- not by dehydrator requirements or low temperature cooking instructions, but by sheer cooking time.  Dehydrate for 24+ hours?  You have got to be kidding me!

- recipe complexity, I am seeking a book that is in the middle, a baby bear book, not too involved but not too simple ... and most of the books have these two spectra covered, but not much in the middle

In fact, most RAW food cookbooks have a "how to go raw" "beginner's raw" or "dehydrator how to" section that takes up 1/4 or less of the book.  I've been cooking, baking, and experimenting in the kitchen for (eh) approaching 20 years, and I do not need any beginner information.  I need the intermediate cookbook. 

And well, I admit I began this search as winter was setting in down here.  And that may not be the best time of year to be looking at photo upon photo (and recipe upon recipe) of summery salads.  The search continues ...

On a personal note, as a cookbook reader and user, I appreciate those authors that have recipes on their blog.  It is a great way to test out their approach, and get an idea of what else they might have to offer.  So to those authors who do not have a blog, or do not put recipes on their blog, I have little exposure to them, their philosophy, or their output.  For my experience with those authors, I have to thoroughly thank my local library system.

At this time, I have these titles strewn about my kitchen:

Ani Phy's "Ani's Raw Food Essentials"

Gena Hamshaw's "Choosing Raw"

Stacy Stower's "Eat Raw Not Cooked"

Kate Wood's "EatSmart EatRaw"

Carol Alt's "Easy, Sexy Raw"

Matthew Kenney's "Everyday Raw"

Matthew Kenney's "Everyday Raw Express"

Judita Wignall's "Going Raw"

Jennifer Cornbleet's "Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People"

Susan Power's "Rawmazing"

Matt Amsden's "The Rawvolution Continues"

01 February 2015

The Hair Affair OR Surviving Humidity Island

I live near Houston, TX.

Our humidity gives us a sub-tropical climate and our low northern latitude gives us plenty of heat.  I can remember wearing shorts in winter (and yet we've seen the occasional snow flurry on Christmas).

Being that I also sport long, thin, curly hair, I have various shortcuts for dealing with those summer doldrum days, as in how to put up my hair 24/7 without destroying those thin strands.

I get most of my hair complements on the day after I wash my hair; letting it dry on the pillow overnight.  While my curl is natural, the weight of my hair (and gravity) pulls curls into waves after 24 hours or so.  So my hair offers little in the way of "grip" for any hair accessory.

I cannot handle my hair on my neck and down my back for most of the summer ... I'd say June-ish through mid-September.  All of July and August are scorchers requiring the lightest of weight and the highest of bun!

While I don't notice it as much, my hairstylist lists the damage seen at each visit.  With my length, they are few and far between (I may go several years between haircuts ... or cut it myself).  Regardless, with assistance I have found out which accessories do the greatest damage to my hair and which do the least.

French hair clips and most bands are a big no-no.

On to the best ...

Starflower Silver - http://www.etsy.com/shop/starflowersilver

I have a size medium bronze lemniscate from this shop.  I hemmed and hawed over size ... as I always do.  My experience found the medium a little small to hold up all of my hair.  It is a little big to do a half-up.

Her metal selection is unparalleled in my experience.  She works in Copper, Bronze, and Silver.  I've been drawn to her chignons several times, but have yet to take the plunge.

Some of her pieces look very "handmade" on-line.  All of the pieces I purchased looked well finished on-line and in person.  If you want the very personal touch to your piece, you can find it.  If you want a piece that looks like it came from a local store (though better designed with better metal and with much greater longevity, etc.) you can also find such in her store.

WickedlyWired - https://www.etsy.com/shop/WickedlyWired

I ordered 1 pair of copper wavy hair pins in 4 inch length by 1/2 inch width.  I cross them in a bun, and they hold for a good 24 hours.

I enjoyed them so much, I went back for a silver and brass pair 8 months later as a present to myself. 

Saraband - http://www.etsy.com/shop/sarabands?ref=seller_info

My saraband headband is a work of art.  I emailed Sara several times regarding fit and likelihood of working on my thin hair and got a "try it and pay later, IF it works."  How often do you get an offer like that?

I do have to adjust my saraband a couple of times throughout the day.  It works its way forward a bit through six + hours of vigorous movement.  Having said that, I need to point out that I am worst case scenario for this hair accessory ... thin and easily broken hair strands.  I have not noticed an unusual amount of breakage with this headband.

I love that she works in copper (of course), and she is offering different etching patterns as well as no pattern with her headbands.

Most especially, I like that I don't feel mutton dressed as lamb in her band. 

Medium will hold up a half section, IF through a bun

XL Clip, cannot hold a bun, but can clip through the center of a figure 8
ZannClip or SpyralClip or something else - http://www.zannclip.com/index_cre.php?cPath=2

These have both positive and negative aspects.  I have purchased four total and received two as freebies.

I purchased two mediums first - brown plastic and gold.  They were too small and I waited to find out what size the Extra Large was, I emailed several times and was ignored three out of four attempts (one occurred during a site and name change ...)

The only response I got was, "let me call you to explain the difference."  Um, not very helpful.

You see, the large and extra large clip had the same size specifications every time I looked.  Seemed suspicious to me.  Finally, her XL gained an 1/8" in length and the comment ... "By popular demand, we now make an Extra large clip for those of you with Uber thick locks! It's a tad longer than the large and a bit wider at the base to accommodate for thicker hair."

Notice that "a bit wider at the base?"  I jumped on that and purchased two XL, in brown and gold (see a theme yet?)

Upon arrival I was disappointed, compared with my medium clips, the base was no wider, which made the slight length difference less helpful.  The XL cannot hold up my hair in a bun since it is too short and too narrow at the spiral width.

Neither the XL nor the Medium can hold my hair in a ponytail without slipping precariously throughout the day.  I start off with a tight ponytail and end up with a hair hat halfway through.

This is a neat idea that has not attained the breadth of size that it needs, nor the breadth of color that it needs.  The color options are anemic, especially for a warm colored gal.

Additionally, reading that production moved to China from the US ensures that I will never buy another ZannClip again, which is too bad.  I think this idea taken to the next level would be awesome.

Alentejo Azul - http://www.etsy.com/shop/Alentejoazul

Olivewood Hair stick.  I've never had success with hairsticks until my purchase of this wavy-legged product from Alentejo Azul.  I decided to try this wooden option out, because one stick had a skull matching curve to it and several waves within the stick that "might" hold my hair.

Indeed, it works beautifully.

I like unique pieces that aren't made in China.  I am not a fan of cheap hair things, because they break at the worst time, don't work in my hair, and destroy my thin, easily damaged locks.  While I am sure the Chinese can build beautiful, long lasting products ... our local companies are not interested in beautiful or durable, simply cheap.  Hence the vast majority of "Made in China" goods I've seen at the local market are not worth my money.

Honorable mention to
Twining Vine Designs, Out of business - formerly http://www.etsy.com/shop/TwiningVineDesigns

Her designs are so interesting because she includes an optional "wavy" stick, which gives better grip on thin hair.  I have purchased both a medium butterfly and a medium circles bun holder ... but I really need a larger size.  As a stylist told me a long time ago, "You have pretty thin hair, but there's a LOT of it!"

The unevenness of the hand-made process is more obvious in the circles bun holder, while the butterfly must have a neat little form upon which it is wrapped.  It has a more "finished" appearance in the hand.  Both pieces work beautifully well, holding my hair up off my neck well for a vigorous six hours of moving and working.    

I also like that she worked in copper (in addition to silver), for us warm toned individuals.

You look like ...

Have you ever had a stranger say to you, "You look like _____" or "You remind me of ______"

I always look up my doppelganger, curious to see what famous face another links to me. 

While in Portland, someone said I look like Isabelle Huppert.
By nicolas genin from Paris, France (66ème Festival de Venise (Mostra)) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Several years back, I was told I look like Julia Roberts during her "Pretty Woman" time period.

Today, someone mentioned that I remind them of Amisha Patel.
By http://www.bollywoodhungama.com [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

I find it fascinating, this collection of various faces says so much more about the speakers background and experience than about me.

I do notice that we share one feature ... a prominent jaw line!  I can handle being in such august company as these talented actresses.

Asolo Athena Review

For our planned hike through Oregon, California, and Wyoming, I needed a pair of hiking boots.  I did not like my old hiking shoes (they always ground painfully into my foot) and wanted something that would warm my ankle bones.

I ordered, and returned, several pairs before clicking buy on the Asolo Athena's.  I do not particularly like the color options, but I was getting desperate.

Being that I run in minimal shoes, or barefeet, and spend most of my days in socks ... well, typical shoes have gotten very uncomfortable for my feet.

The pros, as I see it:
- While these are not minimal shoes, they are comfortable and perhaps "minimal friendly."  I do have some feedback from the sole (much better than anything else I bought).

- Additionally, they are flexible and lightweight.

- In fact, they are almost run-able.  I did some minor trail running in them, and have no complaints about the experience.

- Compared to the typical hiking boot, their sole is almost self cleaning.  I did not develop near the amount of muck accumulation as someone else along the hike did.

- And they work very well on rough and rocky terrain.  I was surprised as they do not have a luggy sole.

The only negative I see (besides the icky girly color choices):
- They were not very grippy on wet and slippery surfaces.  So I will not be dancing across any mossy plains ... too much danger of falling.

All in all, I am pleased with the purchase, and glad I finally found something that would keep me out of hard-to-break-in, typical "hiking boots."  Whew.