Thursday, September 13, 2018

More Thoughts on Straws

When I made a straw roll-up for my purse, my dear friend Rachel asked me to make her one, too.  And another one for utensils (the red one pictured below).  I had so much fun putting together fun scraps for her! 

And I love that I was inspired to ditch disposable straws by a PTO dad, and then my blog post inspired Rachel.  I think little actions can have wide ripples and little actions are worth doing!

I do not always remember to whip out my straws.  We don't go out to eat very often, so I'm not in the habit the way I am taking reusable bags into any store I'm shopping at.

Sometimes restaurant servers will lay down a handful of straws on the table and then that's easy to push them aside and pull out my reusable straws.  Sometimes the server will bring the waters with the straws already in them, with the paper left on top.  So that's a bummer, because those straws are destined for the trash already, whether we drink through them or not. 

Recently at a restaurant, there was a sign on the table that drinks are served without straws unless you request one.  Now that's a successful approach!  It prompts people to thought and choice.

Monday, September 10, 2018

An Ode to Homegrown Green Beans

Ah, green beans, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.

1.  Easy to grow.  I grow Blue Lake beans, bush variety, and after you soak the seeds and plant them according to the spacing directions on the package, that's it!  No staking, no pruning, no other support needed.  They just grow.

2.  And they grow fast and furious! The seedlings come up quickly, the plants produce and produce and produce as long as I keep picking.  I thank my plants as I pluck off their beans and tell them they can keep making more (if the neighbors are outside, I do this silently; I'm not totally crazy).

3. Their flavor - unlike the flavorless strings at the store or even from some farmers enamored with uniform shape and color - homegrown green beans are buttery, hefty, "beany beans" as my mom calls them.  

4. Green beans are so versatile!  Steam them and then put a little sheen of brown butter on them for a sidedish that goes with anything.  Put a hot bacon dressing on them for main-dish beans. Pickle them (they don't go mushy, like canned cucumber pickles tend to). Treat them with curry flavors.  Treat them with Italian flavors and Parmesan. Blanch them and freeze them for later. 

5.  Because of their versatility and abundance, I got to experience the joy of giving my own garden produce away! That was a rush to this small city gardener.  I actually pickled enough, froze enough, and ate enough to joyfully give away several bags of green beans.

I planted a packet of Blue Lake beans and thanks to the increased sun in our yard this summer, plus the abundant heat and rain, they did amazingly well. In fact, our garden is rather jungle-like with tomato vines sprawling on top of the beans and herbs.  Herbs also do pretty well for me, but if I don't have the bandwidth to start them from seed, they are more pricey.  How did your garden grow this summer?

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Now I Jog

I have always hated, loathed, and despised running.  When we had to run a mile in gym class, I thought I was dying.  I would be near the end of the pack, and I walked every chance I got.  My gym teacher yelled her theory that my long legs were made for running, but no, I am a lumbering-gait kind of tall person, that's all.  Some of my friends ran cross-country. Some of my friends run marathons.  Who runs for fun? It's painful to run!  Why invite pain?

 I confess I kept this mindset until June of this year (sorry, runner-friends! so sorry).
I have three reasons why I started jogging in June (I like to call it bouncing, based on this very inspiring article).

First of all, I am middle-aged (I'd have to do some math to tell you exactly), which means my metabolism has slowed down.  And it was showing.  Hoo boy, I was getting pudgy.  I basically like my clothes, and I didn't want to get new clothes. Jogging has trimmed off some fluff and my clothes fit better now.

Secondly, since having babies, I also have bouts of clinical depression that I manage with self-care (partly chocolate, duh) and antidepressants. I get a little mental-health high from running.  I don't know if it's the same "runner's high" that real runners talk about, but it works to reset my brain, wipe out anxious thoughts, and bring me happily back to my reality.  I'm a much nicer person after a run.

Thirdly, jogging is so efficient, and I do love efficiency.  I can have my heart pounding and the sweat dripping within minutes - much faster than walking or biking, my other reliable forms of exercise. I don't really know how far I'm jogging, but I usually am gone from home about 30 minutes. Then I stretch a little, shower, and drink some extra water, all pleased with myself.

Some jogging bonuses: it's easy to do anywhere with no equipment. I love the wide-open space and big trees in the cemetery where I jog. I get to connect with more friends over jogging.  Sometimes my sister or Genevieve jogs with me, and once I took Phoebe in the jogging stroller.

While I jog, I admire the names on the tombstones going by and find my place, humbly, in the whole gamut of humanity.  I sometimes say the name of a pressing problem over and over again to the sky and that seems to take care of that problem. I sometimes throw little one-sentence prayers at God.  I give myself kind and hopeful messages: my clothes fit nicely now! I love how my strong legs look as they pound down the path! I am doing this for my mood! For my children! For my sweetheart!

At this point, I aim to jog twice a week and do a Pilates DVD at home twice a week.  All free and relatively quick. I've noticed that I have fewer aches and pains, that I can bend down and stand up more easily (no joke as you enter middle age!). I sleep better on the days that I jog.  I may have more energy, but since I've also taken up a second cup of coffee in the afternoon, it's hard to tell.

I've tweaked my diet just a little bit, too.  I really try to be in tune with my hunger because sometimes I get confused by stress, boredom, or thirst. I only eat to being "not hungry" instead of "full." I'm often surprised by how small a portion I actually need, so I try not to mindlessly dish out a portion I would have eaten in my freewheeling thirties, in my nursing days, back before my metabolism shifted. I do not eat anything at all after supper, nothing until breakfast. I haven't cut out desserts, but I have reduced  portions and frequency.

I tell you all this to inspire you.  That you can be trim, healthy, and happy without a lot of money and time.  This is, after all, a blog about thrift.  I bought one pair of running shorts and I need to buy a new pair of sneakers soon. I haven't paid gym or class fees, or set up a home gym; if that's your thing, I'm glad it works for you.

Are you a jogger (or a bouncer, haha)?  Discuss. I'd also take recommendations for Pilates youtube videos that are less than 20 minutes.