Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Reading retreat bliss

Our journey to Little Rock was a success.  We drove first to Mountain View, AR for a bluegrass festival at the beautiful Ozark Folk Center.   I enjoyed listening to the music and I was able to read while listening, which was important as I was desperately trying to finish Lucy Dillon's A hundred pieces of me for our reading retreat.

From Mountain View we headed South to the Little Rock area, staying in a gorgeous and new Best Western, picked because it had an indoor pool area.  Groovy Girl loves to swim and we love the hot tub.  I had one lovely night sleeping there and a relaxing morning before my friend V. picked me up for the first leg on the reading retreat.  We relaxed at her house for just a few minutes, waiting for A. to pick us up.

Our next stop was their local Whole Foods, a spectacular-looking store, basically a prettified Wal-Mart for natural food shoppers.  It doesn't give me the same healthy feeling to be in there like Whole Foods used to, it is different but it did have many of the picnic-type items we were looking for so we picked and chose carefully.  Oh, to eat like this all the time!  We had rice crackers, good hard cheese, a seedy hearty bread, a mix of olives, two delicious bars of chocolate, pears, apples, a box of salad greens, and two bottles of wine.  Except it was a Sunday and we could buy everything BUT the wine. Drats!

A. luckily had a friend living nearby that had a bottle of wine, the funny part was that the wine had been a gift from A. so she borrowed her own bottle of wine back.  We could live with one bottle of borrowed back wine and we headed to the hills of Greers Ferry.   I sat in the back and pulled out my book again to continue reading.  I wanted to finish before we made it to the cabin and they wanted me to finish so we could talk about the book.  It seemed to be the crowd favorite.

Our cabin was lovely with way more space than we needed. The best part was the large back porch that looked out on the lake.  It was a perfect spot to talk, enjoy the weather, and share a meal, family-style.

We had a great time. It was rejuvenating for me.  We talked about our books, friendship, the world (and all the world's problems). We talked about ourselves, our husbands, and our children.  Everyone has joys and trials, let me tell ya'.  We did a little bit of yoga.  We sat outside and inside.  We stayed up later than usual.  We laughed.  We drank just the one bottle of wine.  We shared chocolate with fruit.  We had 24 hours of solitude with each other; three strong women.

And the morning was filled with sunshine and hanging in our jammies.  And then A. got the phone call.  The one where her husband told her that their borrowed cat had been hit by a car.  It was a sad note to end on yet it illustrated how life just keeps happening around us.  The cat was a hard loss for her family-hopefully they've found joy in their shared memories of their friendly feline mate.

I hope we will get to do this again in a year or two.  The theme of A hundred pieces of me by Lucy Dillon is about what's real and important to you and the memories of our reading retreat are high on my list.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Vacation waste

I love vacations! It's tough being a super green person while you travel though.  There is a lot of waste in the journey and it's painful.  One quick stay at a hotel can yield a ton of waste. I tried to research about hotel waste and all I could find was statistics in the U.K.

Driving, off course, uses gasoline to get to your destination.  And while you can bring healthy snacks along the way you can't eat a main meal.  Well, I can because I'm a snacker, I can eat a lot of little meals and be just fine but others in my family have to eat a bigger real meal. My husband begins to snarl if he doesn't eat a real meal along the road and his preferred sandwich shop is Subway.  We are anti-most-any-fast-food places but there are a few we are willing to stop at through any trip.  Meals here are made for throwing into the trash. Gross.  None of the containers are bio-degradable or recyclable (and if they were, they don't provide a place to recycle it at the restuarant!)  This could change-and wouldn't that be great.  So road trips create waste as you dine along your journey.

Hotels now provide breakfast which is a newer and good feature so you aren't pushed out into your new location searching for a breakfast place every morning.  My husband would never do that anyway-we pack cereal in that case.  We've been to one amazing hotel in Minneapolis that used real plates, cups, and silverware for their breakfast and we loved it!  Most places have styrofoam or paper plates, all meant to be tossed away, and the trash can, after a breakfast with many sleepy people, is overflowing! It's kinda gross to us.  You've all been there and many don't even give it a second thought.  We think about it and try to figure ways around it.  One trip we actually packed our own plastic picnic plates for everyone to use.  Our teens were a tiny bit mortified but they used them amidst the stares of other diners.  We were only trying to impress ourselves and to not add to the huge overfilled garbage can.

Our last trip we forgot the plates until we had our first hotel breakfast and my husband and I both looked at each other and groaned.  To be fair it was our first trip in our newer Prius and packing was an issue.  Plates were not high on the list.  Next time though I will bring them no matter what especially if it is more than a one day trip.  A small thing we did to appease ourselves was to save our little plastic juice glasses and used them all three days we were there.

On the other hand when my two friends and I traipsed off to Greer's Ferry for our reading retreat we made minimal impact on the environment.  Our compost waste was bigger than the small trash bag we barely filled.  That kind of travel lifted me up and made me realize how much this way of life is just part of me.  I use cloth napkins everyday.  I don't use any excess paper products at home and it makes it very difficult to be that way out in the greater world. I bring my own travel mug to the coffee/tea shoppe.

Our trip was great though and it was wonderful to visit with friends for a few days.  The reading retreat, our meal at The Root in LR, Mary Poppins at The Rep, the fantastic bluegrass in Mountain View and The Old Mill in Little Rock were just a few highlights.

How do you deal with this on the road?  Any tricks you can pass on...

Friday, March 13, 2015

God I love green things...

Green is in right now. Green eating, green energy, green juicing, green washing (not good), and lime green is literally everywhere.

Last night I was creating goodness in my kitchen and it was all green. I sautéed Brussels sprouts with coconut oil and I had a tubular pasta tossed with homemade pesto from last year's garden. I love it when dinner prep comes together and kids are happy with the meal. They oohed and aaah'ed. It was great. 

Now those limes you see on my cutting board....those were for my Dark and Stormy, which I had while I was throwing together dinner.  My own March Madness!

March is a perfect month for getting into the green! Shamrock shakes are green but think of real + good for you foods that you can bring to the table this month.

Happy Spring!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Celebrating Eleanor Roosevelt on International Women's Day

It's wonderful to have a day to celebrate women and won't it be great when we can celebrate accomplishments like equal pay.  It seems crazy to me that this is still an issue.  Why don't women get paid more when we DO more?  It's not enough that we hold down full-time jobs and do them amazingly and then go home and throw together a healthy dinner that appeals to all members of the the family.  My family.  It's not easy.  We have to worry about sick kids, paying bills,  staying safe, and making people happy.

It's a lot to accomplish.

Eleanor Roosevelt, one of my female heroes, is someone who accomplished a lot and was always a beacon for women's issues.  She was born in NYC, the niece of Theodore Roosevelt, who lost both of her parent's at a young age.  She was sent to England for schooling and it seemed to cure her shyness. She married her distant cousin Franklin and they had six children.  She was a busy housewife but she made time during WWI to work for the Red Cross.

Franklin contracted polio in 1921 and Eleanor stepped up and assisted him with his political career. She changed the role of First Lady as she fully involved herself in press conferences, spoke out for human rights, women's issues, and children's causes.  She had her own newspaper column and worked with The League of Women Voter's.   All through Franklin's presidency she worked for change.  Upon her husband's death she said she was done but went on to work for the United Nations. She helped to craft the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which she considered to be her greatest achievement.  She died of cancer in 1962-the year I was born.

We've had amazing advocates like Eleanor so what's the hold-up on women's issues? My answer is too many men making laws/rules.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Reading Retreat 2015

In about a week's time I will be enjoying warmer weather in a Southern city with two friends.  Our plan is to have a reading retreat-24 hours of reading bliss where we will talk books, have a glass of wine, maybe knit a little as we talk, revel in each other's company. I can't wait and I hope this week school flies by! I'm excited to be in the presence of fareaway friends.

Months ago we each picked a book to share:

A Place at the table by Susan Rebecca White (2013): 
Alice Stone is famous for the homemade southern cuisine she serves at Café Andres and her groundbreaking cookbook, but her past is a mystery to all who know her. Upon Alice’s retirement, Bobby Banks, a young gay man ostracized by his family in Georgia, sets out to revive the aging café with his new brand of southern cooking while he struggles with heartbreak like he’s never known. Seeking respite from the breakup of her marriage, wealthy divorcée Amelia Brighton finds solace in the company and food at Café Andres, until a family secret comes to light in the pages of Alice’s cookbook and threatens to upend her life. (amazon)

Dramarama by E. Lockhart (2007):  
Two theater-mad, self-invented fabulositon Ohio teenagers.
One boy, one girl.
One gay, one straight.
One black, one white.
It's a season of hormones,
gold lame,
hissy fits,
jazz hands. (amazon)

A hundred pieces of me by Lucy Dillon (2014): 
Reeling from her recent divorce, Gina Bellamy suddenly finds herself figuring out how to live on her own. Determined to make a fresh start—with her beloved rescue greyhound by her side—Gina knows drastic measures are in order.  First up: throwing away all her possessions except for the one hundred things that mean the most to her. But what items are worth saving? Letters from the only man she’s ever loved? A keepsake of the father she never knew? Or a blue glass vase that perfectly captures the light?  As she lets go of the past, Gina begins to come to terms with what has happened in her life and discovers that seizing the day is sometimes the only thing to do. And when one decides to do just that...magic happens. (amazon)

All three sound excellent!  I finished A place at the table, am 1/2 way through Dramarama, and will read A hundred pieces of me this week.  I'll let ya'll know how magnificent the retreat is?