Friday, April 3, 2009

A Thing (or two) of Beauty

This week, I added a few new sites to my Blogs I Recommend list. The first is Soulemama, which I was exposed to thanks to Andrea at Remains of the Day. (I hope she doesn’t mind my plugging her site by proxy.)

Before you click, please be aware that Soulemama will make you feel somehow lacking on at least ten fronts within the first five minutes of perusing her site. She’s amazingly artistic and creative and her blog is filled with endless pages of beautiful things. Now normally, I don’t read blogs like that, because, hello…inadequacy…but this woman seems different. First off, one of her children is named Calvin, so she’s obviously ahead of the curve. Secondly, despite (or because of) all the beautiful, perfect things featured on her pages (she knits and makes handmade Christmas gifts you‘d actually want to receive and sews, people, and what’s more, has the patience to teach her preschoolers to do the same), a lovely peace permeates her writing and photography (which is stellar in its own right). Entering her blog is like walking into a home that’s been invitingly and tastefully decorated in a way that makes you feel envious but also welcomed. You know the type: there‘s usually something like a cobbler baking, and there’s always fresh towels waiting in the guest bathroom (ie, not my house).

It’s like seeing the offerings of the Pottery Barn catalogue in their natural habitat, with four kids underfoot to boot.

But she is human. She locks herself in the bathroom to eat Ben and Jerry’s ice cream at 9 am like the rest of us. So that’s a relief.

The second site I feel deserves recognition is more about function than form. You’re gonna love it: Crockpot365. That’s right, some lovely soul named Stephanie decided to use her crockpot every single day for a year and document her experience (and her recipes). Don’t you just love the internet?

Since I use my crockpot like a maniac during ski and (now) soccer and football season, and since I need some new recipes that the kids would prefer over fasting, I naturally love this site, but then again, I’m an extremist by nature.

No one knows this better than my long-suffering husband.

Sometime in the mid to late 90s, I read a PETA brochure or two, and declared I’d never let a bite of meat pass my lips again. I haven’t. (Nor have I cooked it for dinner.)

When I became pregnant for the first time (and the second and the third), I became staunchly convinced that breastfeeding, attachment parenting, co-sleeping, and cloth diapering were the only way to go. Only the diapers didn’t stick. (Sorry, Kate!)

More recently, I determined we’d buy as much organic food as possible. Even more recently, I vowed off plastic, because I’m telling you, it‘s evil. (It is.)

When I started talking about environmentalism and how we were going to go on a ‘carbon footprint diet’, I thought Charlie might cry. Because he knows I’ll do it, and that I’ll drag him and the kids along for the ride.

For a while, I had a thing about living ‘off the grid’ (you know, away from such hassles as city water and electricity). That time, Charlie was intrigued because he’s always wanted to live on lots of property, but became understandably concerned when my browser history suddenly consisted almost entirely of beet farming and do-it-yourself solar panel installation.

Sometime last year, I decided I wanted the kids to attend an alternative-education co-op school, where the main subjects included natural fiber weaving and mathematics by interpretive dance. (Sadly, I’m not kidding. Those were actual course listings.) Charlie roused the energy to protest that one (hence the kids still in public school studying such antiquated subjects as multiplication and grammar). It’s one of the very few battles I’ve lost, and the defeat still smarts.

I don’t understand dabblers. Window shoppers. Weekend enthusiasts. I try to, but I quickly lose my patience. You’re either all in--ready to liquidate all your assets and tithe them to a cult leader with a name like Rayne--or you’re not. Which is it?

In short, I love taking things to an unnatural and unhealthy level of obsession, from TV shows (heh) to exercise. When I wanted to lose weight after Toby was born, I ended up dropping 40 pounds in two months. Now I can’t go two days without the endorphin high of running. When I decided the kids had to go to Disneyworld in order to have a well-rounded childhood (I jest), I spent over a year learning enough about central Florida to stage an invasion. When people continually encouraged me to write a book, I launched into it at the expense of absolutely everything else for six months.

It’s a sickness.

But because misery loves company, Crockpot365 practically makes me weep for joy. And since I’ve stuck like a bug to a windshield concerning the whole vegetarian thing, I’m thrilled to see 65 entries on veggie recipes alone. And almost all of them are organic.

Right now, I can guarantee you that Charlie is reading this thinking, “Oh dear God, I’m going to be eating out of the crockpot for the next 365 days.”

The poor man. Truly.

Because we're having Honey Lentil Stew tonight. And tomorrow, Baked Spinach and Cheese.

He’s going to love it.
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