Tuesday, July 19, 2011

For the Kids

It was 2003 and I was in a bookstore with my cousin Katie in Covent Garden. I watched her buy a children’s book as she told me she likes to buy books for her unborn children when she travels. I don’t know if she still does that, but I thought it was a lovely concept and adopted the idea myself. I love the purity of message in children’s books and the illustrations are always fun too.

So I came home from that London trip with this book. I’ve only read a little bit of it, but it’s adorable. I love Paddington Bear and the connection with Paddington Station.

In 2004 I jumped at the last minute opportunity to go to New Zealand with some art students and their professor who is a friend of mine. We stayed in a small sea town called Ohope and there wasn’t much to do except walk around the beach and explore the little shops along the one street they had in "town". I found this little gem:

It’s about a bird who is looking for a nest. She tries and fails at finding a home until she rips an umbrella off that poor man in the clothes that clash. It's by a New Zealand author.

In May 2005 I went to Boston with my friends Maria, Mike and Ricky. We spent a day in Cambridge where there was a darling little bookstore. I found this tiny version of a story I only knew from a song on a video my mom had when I was little. The video was several Maurice Sendak stories put to music and sung by Carole King. This story is about Pierre who doesn’t care -- about anything. His apathy eventually gets the best of him. Consider the lion on the cover a foreshadowing. I had to buy it for nostalgic reasons because my sister and I would watch this video over and over again. We could sing this whole story to you if you like.

Unfortunately I didn’t date this book on the inside like the others. But I know it's from London because the price on the back is in pounds and the author dedicates it to “Mum” and Dad. I want to say I bought it at the British Library because I picture that gift shop when I picture myself first picking up this book. It’s about a girl named Greta (later nicknamed Cinderella). Anyway. I love the illustrations and the 1920’s setting of the story.

I must have taken a break from this tradition for awhile because the next date I have is for Alex and Lulu in 2009. I bought this at the Tate Museum in London. I thought it was a sweet story about two people (well, a dog and a cat that talk and wear clothes) who are very different. They like different things, they do things differently, they like different activities...and Alex starts to get concerned about how different they are and it begins to bug him until he explodes one day and says they’re too different, how can they be best friends when they are opposites. Lulu explains that different doesn’t mean opposite and then they talk about all the things they like to do together and that’s what matters. It ends “Alex and Lulu. Chalk and cheese. Best of friends.” Can someone tell me what the expression chalk and cheese means? If it means anything at all...

Next on that trip is this edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. My mother actually bought this for me because she saw me looking at it in the gift shop at Christ Church when we visited Oxford. Lewis Carroll went to school there so they really play up the Alice in Wonderland gift items in the shop. Worked on us.

Next (same trip) is this book I bought in Durham. You’re probably familiar with all the Little Miss and Mr. books. I remember them from when I was a kid. I bought about three figuring I’d give them away. I gave Little Miss Busy to my friend Linda for her birthday last year but I still have Little Miss Dotty. I think I’ll keep her. Small things are super cute to me, but in May I walked into a children's store in Boise with my friend and saw giant versions of these books. I thought it was pretty cool.

In September 2010 my friend Emily posted on Facebook that she wanted to go to the Grand Canyon and asked who wanted to go. I was one of about 8 people who tagged along. This book is based on the poem/song “There was an old woman who swallowed fly” and then she swallowed a spider to catch the fly, a bird to catch the spider and then subsequent nonsense continues on for several verses. I bought this because it was appropriate to the landscape and I liked the way the coyote looks more and more possessed with everything he swallows.

In April 2011 I went to Houston for the first time with my dad and my sister. We went to the Johnson Space Center one morning and I spotted this cute board book in the gift shop. It’s about a little girl who just loves the moon and wants to be able to play with it. She asks her dad to please get the moon for her. So he takes a tall ladder to a very high mountain and climbs until he reaches the moon. He tells the moon that his daughter would like to play with him. The moon says he’s much too big, but he is getting smaller and he can be taken down when he’s small enough. When the father takes the moon to his daughter she dances with it but it keeps getting smaller until it disappears. But the very next night a sliver of it appears in the sky again until it gets bigger and bigger and bigger again. Cute story. For some reason I got a little teary when I read it the first time. I wanted to buy a copy for every dad I knew. But I didn't. Nice, painterly illustrations and some of the pages fold out.

My most recent acquisition is this book from my trip to San Francisco with my mom last month.  It's about Larry the dog who gets lost in San Francisco. Apparently he gets lost in a lot of cities, but he makes the most of it as he visits all the important sites. The book does a good job of giving you historical facts about the city and its landmarks.

So that’s 10 books! I don’t know where my next exciting destination is, but I hope to find a good book to commemorate it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What a Girl Wants is What a Girl Needs

Sometimes, when I feel like nothing is going my way and people don’t treat me right, I decide to treat myself right. I was feeling this way earlier in the spring, and that’s when I decided if I wanted something I was going to give it to myself. I wasn't going to hold off. I was just going to get it.

Sounds pretty self indulgent, I know. But if you know me, you know I deny myself all sorts of things. I’m disciplined. I’m disciplined with my diet, I’m disciplined with my purchases…I was going to say I’m disciplined with my time and with my exercise but that couldn’t be further from the truth. So let’s stick with diet and purchases. Well…I’m still a cautious consumer. I've needed the following for months now: new shoes, new glasses, new contacts and windshield wiper fluid. I did get some shoes. Let's stick with diet.

What I eat and what I buy go hand in hand much of the time because I like groceries -- and restaurants. I hate wasting food. Just last week I was making a smoothie, using the last of my almond milk, the last of my spinach and I was so satisfied with not wasting this food I actually said out loud, “There’s something so satisfying about using the last of my food.” What I’m saying is if I want a hamburger, but I have stuff at home to make a sandwich, I make a sandwich. If I want some ice cream (which is rare) I usually think, nah, I don’t need that. And sometimes, if I’m craving fresh vegetables – yes that happens – I’ll eat frozen ones because I already bought them and they’re in the freezer. 99.9% of the time it ends in disappointment.

So the past few months I’ve been answering my cravings when they hit. And it has been awesome. I don’t drink a lot of soda, but when I think, “I want a Dr. Pepper” I give myself one (it’s maybe twice a month). And when I drink it, it brings me so much joy I can’t even begin to explain.

Last week this little practice was most evident. I don’t crave things a lot, but last week I had all sorts of cravings. On Tuesday, all I could think of that morning was how I wanted a margherita pizza. Sette Bello was a couple blocks away and that’s all I thought about for two hours. When lunch time came, I hopped in the car, picked up a pizza, came back to my office and ate the ENTIRE thing – and I’m a little person. I’ve downed a whole pizza before, but I remember feeling sick afterwards. After I ate all 1000 calories or whatever I felt great. So satisfied – not full, but done. The difference? Before I wasn't craving it. I just ate it.

That's when I decided if my body is craving something it probably means I need it. So. That afternoon, I was craving ice cream. I didn’t want frozen yogurt, I wanted ice cream. On my way home, I took a detour through the Arctic Circle Drive-Thru. The cashier tried to tempt me into getting a large ice cream, but I just needed a small. She also tried to tempt me into ordering some onion rings or fries, but I was craving one thing and one thing only: ice cream. And that’s what I got. And it was delightful.

On Friday I was walking around downtown. I felt hungry and thought about what I wanted and BAM! My brain came up with a French Dip sandwich from Robins Nest. That thought at that time was like the best idea I’ve ever heard. Unfortunately Robins Nest closed 20 minutes before I got there. Next best thing was a bratwurst from Siegfrieds which was on the walk home. Don't worry, the next night I scored a French Dip at Normandie Cafe. Craving cured.

Aside: Ever since I started being a weekday vegetarian (about 3 months ago), I’ve been content eating salads, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, fish (I don’t count that as meat, criticize me later) etc. I don’t want meat that much. But when I do want meat, I want beef. Chicken or turkey? Boo. No, I want roast beef or steak. Interesting huh? Maybe I’ll post my thoughts about that diet in the future.

You know what, forget about that being an aside, I think it is totally related. This is what I believe. I believe if you are eating healthy, and you are eating good, whole foods, cravings are good because you crave good things. I haven’t craved candy, or chocolate (ok, soda) fried food or anything like that (that doesn't mean I never eat it though).What I'm saying is you should give your body what it wants because it’s probably telling you that's what it needs.

There. That’s all I have to say.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Yet Another List

I finished my lesson for church today early, so I thought I would revisit this much neglected blog of mine. When I don't have the energy for narrative, I make a list.

Every now and then I’ll have a good, long Google conversation with my friend Mike. I don’t know why, but talking to him reminded me of a post he put up on his blog awhile ago with a list of things that, depending on how many on the list you can answer “yes” to, will tell you how good a friend you are of his. I was able to answer more than half of them in the affirmative.

I enjoy a good narcissistic exercise every now and then so last night as I was enjoying one of my favorite Saturday night activities, I thought of my own list:

1.  You can tell me what I was referring to as one of my favorite Saturday night activities.
2.  You’ve come with me on a weekend getaway or a summer vacation.
3.  I’ve introduced you to 2+ of my family members.
4.  I’ve invited you over for dinner.
5.  I’ve asked for your input on a talk or lesson and you were responsive and helpful.
6.  You’ve come to visit me at work, whether during the work day or for Gallery Stroll.
7.  I’ve obsessed about something in front of you and you still talk to me.
8.  You’ve come to more than one of my concerts.
9.  I’ve stayed up talking to you past my bedtime.
10. I cried in front of you and didn’t feel like I needed to apologize for being stupid or silly.
11. You told me I was pretty (sometimes I’m easy)
12. You still read this blog.

Here’s the break down:

If you can claim 6+ items, we are Very Good Friends.
If you can claim 4+ items, we are Mostly Friends.
If you can claim 2+ items, we are Kinda Friends.

*Disclaimer: the validity of this exercise is inconsequential and shouldn't be taken too seriously. But if you happen to do really well, I will take a respective amount of pleasure in that.