Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Buh Buy Blurb Column

I started posting here at Blurb Column on Earth Day (April 10) 2010. 

I am stopping on the Vernal Equinox, or the First Day of Spring (March 20) 2013. 

The last three years have been great! I have created lots of fun content and enjoyed putting my thoughts and life out there. In the last three years I have created nearly 400 posts. This is sort of crazy to me, but it is really awesome and fun, too. 

From here on out though the content will be posted only on my brand spankin' shiny new wordpress site!

Yup! That's right! After almost 400 posts and 3 years of content I have moved everything over to a new site hosted by wordpress. I love the new home page design!

Blogger was a great, free, easy, point and click way to get me into blogging, but I have been frustrated with it more and more over the last year or so. I felt constricted by what I couldn't do and I wanted to give my audience a better experience. I hope I have solved both issues by making this change!

I have updated my facebook page, twitter feed and even created a Casa Beebe gmail account! 

I certainly hope you will continue to read and enjoy all the fun stuff Chris and I do by visiting our Casa Beebe blog. 

Thanks for being here and following along, now jump on over to Casa Beebe!  I have a new post coming up this afternoon about how we celebrated my last day of school! 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Calorie Labels? Distance Labels? Time Labels?

We have all seen labels like this, or the nutrition label on the back of most packaged foods, that tells us how many calories the food product we are contemplating consuming contains. (Nice alliteration, eh?)

But do we really even know what this means? 

I mean, we *think* we know what this means, or we have an idea maybe. 

Lower calorie is better. Right? 

Let's break this down a little bit. 

Okay, that's not the real definition.


1. Either of two units of heat energy
2. The energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water through 1*C (now usually defined as 4.1868 joules). 

Well that's just more than less than unhelpful. (haha...thanks Captain Jack!)

So let's just try to understand it. Our bodies need energy to function. Calories, found in food, provide energy. If we don't consume enough energy (calories) for our daily functions, then we may get sick, or be unable to complete acts of daily living. If we consume too much energy (calories) then our bodies are biologically adapted to store the excess energy consumed as fat. If we consume the appropriate amount of energy (calories) then our bodies have enough energy to function and complete daily living tasks, but is not provided with excess energy to store, meaning we maintain a healthy body mass. 

Whew. Ok, calorie = energy. I think I got it. 


A basic understanding then of a calorie as a unit of energy leads to the question how much energy do I need to consume? There are lots of great sources to find this information, including free sources on the Internet, a trainer at a gym, or your doctor. But a very simple guideline is to take your current weight and multiply it by 10. (I am not any kind of doctor, trainer or dietitian, this is just my own personal experience and knowledge talking.) 

For example, a person who weighs 150 pounds would need approximately 1500 energy units (calories) per day to sustain daily activities and maintain their existing body mass. Meaning, if you want to lose weight you would need to consume less. 

Okay then we have defined a calorie and determined how many we need in a day. That is helpful. But not really. Because, as a recent study in Scientific American pointed out, "It requires a computation that many people might not find easy to make at the point of decision" (Anthony Viera, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine). Basically, people have a hard time reading a menu or nutrition label and relating that number (110 calories per serving, or 600 calories in a hamburger) to their daily caloric energy needs. 

The study noted that when subjects were given a menu with both calories counts and the distance that would be required to walk in order to "burn off" the energy consumed by that menu item, study participants ordered a meal with an average of 194 fewer calories than participants who chose from a menu containing only calorie counts. 


That is pretty significant! Imagine, if at every meal out you were able to shave nearly 200 calories off of what you consume just by being able to relate how much energy it would take to use those calories! It gives people a tangible way to translate calories to activity. 

I mean, think about it, do you know how long you have to walk (or run or elliptical or swim or whatever) to burn off your morning latte? Or your afternoon soda? Or you favorite dessert? Or that extra pat of butter? Probably not, at least not by the numbers alone. 

What do you understand better:

1 Tablespoon of butter has approximately 100 calories. 


1 Tablespoon of butter will require 1.5 miles of walking.*

*used as an example only

Personally, if I relate 1 Tablespoon of butter to a mile and a half of walking it actually means something to me, whereas the calorie count, well, doesn't really. 

In New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is trying to outlaw large sugary soda beverages. His law has hit a few snags recently, but as part of the campaign to create awareness the subways in New York had signs posted that showed New Yorkers, visually and numerically, how far they would have to walk to burn off a 20 oz sugar soda. 

I don't know about you, but that image makes an impact! I've never been to New York, but it looks like a pretty decent walk (3 miles after all) from Union Square to Brooklyn. All for one 20 oz soda. 

As the Scientific American article points out, this idea has "stirred interest" in how calorie counts can be labeled on menus or food items that will allow people to have a better understanding of how much energy they are consuming, perhaps in excess of their total needs. 

It may not be the cure to obesity in this country, but I think giving the people more information about their food, and how it impacts them *does* help them make better choices overall. I think that those of us who have spent a lot of time learning about health, healthy eating, food, calories, fats, sugars, etc., think that this information is well-known, but I don't believe that is true. I believe there is a significant portion of our population that really has no knowledge or usable understanding of calories and healthy vs. unhealthy food choices. 

Pictures like the one above or menus that express calories in terms of physical expenditure, like walking for 3 miles, may be able to make a great connection and impression upon people, which, who knows? might even lead to lesser obesity! 

What do you think? Do you know enough about calories to use just numerical data to make good choices? Or does distance and physical expenditure definitions mean more to you? 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Asking for Help

Do you ask for help when you need it?

Or do you feel like you have to be strong, and being strong means being silent and figuring it all out for yourself?

Sometimes asking for help is a critical component to success.

In many areas of life.

There are several areas in my life where I continuously ask for help. Help from my friends, from peers, from mentors, from the universe.

Recently, I was feeling pretty depressed. It was winter time, dark and cold.

I was coming to the end of a huge, multi-year personal goal. It was time to move on to the next phase and the next phase wasn't going so well as I might have hoped.

The darkness and lethargy of depression settled in around my head, my shoulders, my heart and barricaded me in its depths.

I could have wallowed in this darkness, like a hippo in a pool of warm mud. I could have stayed there, stuck in my own head, filled with images and stories of untruth.


But I didn't.

I asked for help.

I reached out to friends and family and said: I am depressed. I need help. I need accountability. I need your friendship and love and support. I need contact. I need to hear that I am not a loser who just wasted thousands of dollars and hours and hours of time. I need help.

And the help came.

In droves, from near and far.

As part of my struggle with depression, my healthy habits had taken a backseat.

I could have ignored it. Bought bigger pants. Continued to eat junk and sit on the couch.


But I didn't.

I asked for help.

And I received it. From friends, my health care providers, my family, the universe. It came to me because I asked for it.

And today.

Today I need help again. And so I ask.

I reached out to friends and strangers, acquaintances and peers, and I asked them to help me.


I am searching for a job.

In the work world, asking for help is called "networking." It is not only perfectly acceptable, but often a mandatory part of being successful.

Today I networked, I asked, I spoke my needs and desire with truth and feeling.

I asked the universe to support and guide me, to lead me in the direction I need to go. I looked for signs and acted upon what I saw.

I am not too strong to know when I need help or too proud to ask for it.

In the business world it is acceptable and a sign of strength. In our personal lives it is a sign of weakness.

I disagree. I believe that asking for help, seeking the support of our village, is a sign of great strength, because in order to ask for help we must show our vulnerability, our soft underbelly, to the world.

I think that takes great strength.

Do not fear asking for help, asking for what you need. I promise, you will be amazed at what the universe will deliver unto you if you only ask.

Spring Cleanse '13

If you have been reading for a while you know that once or twice a year I do a cleanse.

I have addressed some of the issues about cleansing HERE and HERE, in addition to several other posts about what I eat and how it's going. If you use the search feature on the right side of the screen you can search "cleanse" and see all the previous posts.

A quick rundown though, for any new readers, or anyone who is too lazy (like me) to go read the old posts. Ha!

I use the Supreme Cleanse by Gaia. (I get nothing from Amazon or Gaia if you click through that link, I just wanted to make it easy for you to find.) The Supreme Cleanse by Gaia is a two-week, 100% natural, herb based gentle detoxification system. It has changed, for the better, since I first used it several years ago. Originally it was much more complicated, but Gaia has updated it so now there is just two steps: a fiber drink in the morning and three liver cleanse pills in the evening. It also used to be a full 14 days, but now it is 12. Easy!

Homemade hummus!

Of course, part of the cleansing process is taking the pills, but the other part is cleaning up the diet, eliminating the junk, and the body then detoxifies. If you are skeptical (I totally was) about the need for the body to "detox" let me assure you that every single time I do this cleanse I experience the symptoms of detoxification. Headaches for the first couple of days, a general feeling of lethargy for the first couple days, and a few bouts of just feeling poorly. Also, if you are considering this, or any other cleanse, be aware that you will need to use the restroom more frequently.

The reason I choose the Supreme Cleanse is 1) it was recommended to me by a naturopath physician, and 2) it is gentle. Many cleanses out there are crazy restrictive (cayenne, lemon juice and maple syrup anyone??) and others are so intense that you cannot leave the house for fear of needing to go poo with significant urgency. The Supreme Cleanse isn't like that. Yes, you will have to "go" more, but not like you are sick and have to run to the bathroom.

Okay, so that's the low down, recap. What can you eat?? This is the main question.

FOOD! Real food!

Fish, veggies, fruits, grains (excluding wheat), beans, water, green tea, etc.

Stuff to avoid includes all the stuff we should try to minimize in our diets anyway: sugar, salts, fats (caveat-fat is good for you if it's the right kind, but are limited on the cleanse), dairy, alcohol, caffeine, processed foods, etc.

Of course, you can be more or less lenient with your food choices. Some people will add eggs and chicken into their diet, I have always used olive oil throughout the cleanse, although I use it more sparingly.

So I started the cleanse last week, I'm now on day 6. I have been more lenient with my food choices this time than I have been in the past, and I can totally tell. Normally, I lose about 6-8 pounds during the two weeks that I am cleansing. This time, I have lost a tiny bit of weight, but nothing significant. It is interesting that just a few different things (chicken primarily, but also nut butter) may be making such an impact.

What does this mean to me? Well, as much as I would really like to lose a few pounds, the reality of life is that right now these minor adjustments are making my life a lot easier. I feel like I am still following the intent of the cleanse, have been incorporating tons (AND TONS) of veggies and fruits and whole grains into my diet and that  is part of the point for me. I do these cleanses once or twice a year to help me steer my eating back into a healthier direction. It isn't that my eating is totally unhealthy, but I do like to have wine and I have my coffee with horrible-for-you creamer (seriously, what is up with the creamer being so filled with chemicals and junk??), and doing a cleanse helps give me the extra boost to lay off that stuff for a while.

Usually the effects of the cleanse last quite a while, too, meaning that my eating tends to continue on a "more" healthy trajectory for a period of time after I'm done cleansing.

Anyway, day 6, half way there, and I'll give you a recap at the end!

Have you ever done a cleanse? What kind? Did you have good results?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Weekend Review 3.10.13

What a weekend!

Did you remember to turn your clocks forward this morning? I did! Roxie was so sweet to wake me up at 4 AM (which suddenly became 5 AM) to remind me. What a sweetheart. < ---- this is sarcasm.
We had another busy and exhausting weekend here at Casa Beebe. It is that time of year!

First of all, Chris is on call this weekend and he got a call at almost 9 o'clock Friday night. Ugh!! His face says it all:

I rode along with him to keep him company. We didn't get back home until around midnight. Yawn.

Saturday we enjoyed a morning hot tub in the sun with our coffee and then I was JONESING big time to get my garden cleaned up, so that was the primary order of business for me yesterday. It was sunny and gorgeous and I headed out with Chris in the morning to start getting things in order.

What does one have to do to get a garden "in order" you ask? Well. I will tell you.

First of all, last fall we decided to put a layer of straw mulch down over the tops of all the beds. This started as the idea of just putting it down over the garlic (which we plant in the fall and harvest in the spring/summer so it needs to be kept from freezing over the winter) but the bale of straw we got was HUGE, so we had MORE than enough to cover all the boxes. Some of the straw had sprouted, which we were pretty worried about, but it was very superficial and the green grasses pulled out very easily.

When we started yesterday all the boxes looked like the one in the far background of this picture:

This is the garlic box with the straw still covering it, along with the green garlic and a little bit of the green straw grass.

Here is a bit better close up image of what my tomato box looks like still (we haven't got that far yet):

There was also a TON of leaves left over from the fall that needed to be cleaned up from all around the boxes, along the edge of the fence and from my beach.

While Chris was turning all the straw up into the boxes and just generally digging around in the boxes to break up the soil and get things ready for planting (which is still a couple months off for big planting) we also dumped out our homemade "black gold" compost dirt.

Lookie there! a big pile o homemade dirt! You know, we just take our kitchen scraps and some of our yard debris and put it in a big garbage can and let it do its thing. We don't turn it or add water to it, although the garbage cans have a couple holes in them to let moisture in, but it just does its own thing. I add stuff to it every week and then after a while we quit adding to one can and start adding to another. The first can just goes to work and makes dirt. It is pretty awesome. Lots of great nutrients and less waste for the landfill.

I was raking leaves and pulling weeds and raking leaves and pulling weeds. Repeat ad naseum for about 5 hours. Seriously. Oh my aching....everything!

Totally worth it though. much nicer!!

The only real break I took yesterday was to go inside and get some turkey stock started. We had deep fried a turkey last weekend so I had all the bones in the fridge. I just took my HUGE stock pot, added all the bones and a whole bunch of water and turned on the burner.

The only tricky thing about making stock with that much water is that you have to put it on high to get it boiling, but then you have to turn it down so that it is just a simmer, but if you turn it down too much it doesn't simmer and if it is too high it is closer to a boil. Since there is so much volume and it takes so long for the temperature change to be reflected, it takes a bit of monitoring and up and down adjustment on the stove to get it right. Once I got it to a simmer that I liked I just left it alone for about 4 hours or so. Then I just turned the burner off and let it cool. I ended up with A LOT of stock.

Those are yogurt containers that I reuse, and two cottage cheese containers. There are 10 large and 2 medium containers. That ought to last a while, eh?

Chris helped me in the garden in the morning, but he had boat plans for the afternoon. He got the motor officially mounted in the boat yesterday!! If you recall, we had a bit of trouble with a wrong size oil pan, got that fixed and last weekend "set" the motor down to make sure it would fit with the new oil pan and get everything lined up. It looked good! So yesterday he pulled it back out, and fastened the oil pan down completely, among a few other things and then bolted it to the boat! WhooohoO! MOTOR!

While he was doing that and the turkey stock was doing its thing I went back out to the garden for more fun times, weeding and cleaning up.

In one of the boxes I had planted several lettuces last fall. They overwintered well but were all pretty small and really close together. (I never got around to thinning them out last fall.) Since the weather has warmed a bit they have started to grow. I decided I needed to thin and space them out a bit.

There are three kinds of lettuce in the box and this picture is a good representation of how close everything was together, although this is only part of the spinach patch.

Nothing has room to grow, so I carefully dug up the larger clusters and split them apart, composting the smaller/weaker ones and replanting the heartier, larger plants. I did this with the spinach and the two other types of green leaf lettuce.

Much better! I worried a bit if I was messing too much with the roots and if they would survive, but most everything looks okay out there today! On a total side note, when those all take off, if even half of them take off, I am going to have an A$$load of lettuce and spinach.

Oh and hey...look what I found when I was digging around in the boxes earlier in the day:

I guess I didn't get all the little red potatoes last year when I dug them up. Cool! Gardens are cool.

The last bit of work for me yesterday was to put the weed barrier (cat barrier) and bamboo cover back on my sandy beach. I cleaned all the leaves and debris off of them, and then off the sand and raked it up. It is nice and pretty and clean now and will be ready for sunny summer days with my toes in the sand.

Someone decided I needed "help" with this part of my project.

She was playing with the weed barrier. It made a cool sound and ruffled in the wind or when I moved it. Oh kitty joy! She was rolling around and it was so silly.

Later she found a hidey-spot in the laurel.

Holy Moly! That was just Saturday! I also did dishes and cleaned the kitchen, did laundry, picked up the house, took care of the everyday cat chores, ran to the grocery store for a few things, put that stuff away and then because we were so damn worn out we went and had thai food for dinner. Then we came home and went to BED.

Today has been much less exhausting. We enjoyed a soak in the hot tub with our coffee again this morning, which felt amazing after all the hard work yesterday and then got busy with regular weekend stuff...more laundry, and dishes and getting ready for the week.

Chris is still working on his boat, but now he is getting the floor prepared.

I took a bunch of pictures of random stuff he wants to sell and listed it all on craigslist for him. I also played with the cats for a while. They are SO funny.

This is what happens with you take kitties + catnip + string = funny! (sorry if it is choppy, I think my phone has trouble if I move too much)

And I suppose it is fitting to end this post with what we have growing inside that will eventually be moved outside to the newly cleaned up garden.

Peas and basil.


Have a great Sunday evening everyone! Enjoy the extra hour of daylight!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Picture Friday

Sometimes I go through my pictures and realize I have taken several and forgotten to post or comment about them. So I decided I'm going to post a few pictures I've taken recently that haven't seen the light of the internet. Because we all know that if it doesn't show up on the internet then it isn't real!!


Cat Fight!

 Outside time.

 Birthday dessert: cheesecake!

 Grouchy face.

 White Russian with Pinnacle Chocolate Whipped.

 A beautiful sunset.

 Big kittens snuggling.

 Valentine's Dinner: filet mignon, prawns, baked potato and broccoli.

 Flowers from my grandma for Valentine's and Daisy being bad.

Snuggles with Roscoe.

Have a great Friday night everyone!