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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

25 randoms: because I want to be like my seester

I think it was a thing about 6 years ago to post 25 random things about yourself.  I am about 6 years late, but hey, better late than never?  So, without further ado,  here are 25 things you wish you never knew about me.  Pardon my font change.

1.  I am proud of my shortness, and my sister and I are exactly the same height.
2.  One of my favorite honors I have ever received is the "Best Actress" award from high school acting class.
3.  I used to be fascinated with and study cancer (reading the encyclopedia) in elementary school in the hallway when I was done with assignments before the other students, and the teacher would also let me file papers (which was an absolute delight).
4.   I have been cured (nearly entirely - I do often partake of an ounce 72% dark chocolate) of a sweet tooth, of which I used to be a raving maniac.
5.  I knew before I was four years old that I would grow up one day and be a teacher.
6.  I think the best smells in the world are ripe peaches, patchouli, baby neck, homemade bread while it's baking, and sauna wood.
7.  I am very pleased with my awesome, superior Finnish heritage. 
8.  I love winning.  I love beating males more than females, but I near instantly lose respect for any male I beat at anything, unless he is significantly better at me in another area.  (Don't worry, I won't ever directly tell you that I think you're a wuss, unless you are my brother.)  Anybody want to have a push up contest?
9.  Chickens are by far my favorite pet.  I will never get another dog again, but I cannot picture my life without chickens.
10.  A pet mouse met its end by my neglectful hand due to its foul odor as a youth.
11.  Yellow is my favorite (wall) paint color, Elizabeth I is my favorite monarch, if I could paint my stairs entirely in mosaic mirrored shimmering glitter, I would do it for every step in every house I ever owned.
12.  I pack (at minimum) my own water supply, tea, eggs, and butter with me when I go on vacation due to food snobbery issues.
13.  I cry about once a year.  (No, not at the same time per year, that's just my turnaround time.)

14.  I avoid facing the back of my head to a window (especially in living rooms) for the logical, sensible, and reasonable fear of getting shot in the back of the head.
15.  If I wake up to an alarm clock, I am standing up and walking within five seconds of it going off (usually less).
16.  When I am extremely tired and fall asleep somewhere else besides my bed and have to get up to go to bed, I nearly always crawl on the floor to get there (and this makes me very sad - so much so that I usually whimper pathetically while doing so, not to be dramatic, but because this for some reason in my altered state is truly sad to me.  Sometimes I even make fake crying sounds.).
17.  If I have an idea in my head to do something, it is almost completely impossible for anyone to convince me out of it.
18.  In 5th grade I got a perm.  It was too curly and I hated it.  I hid in the back of the Aerostar minivan and cried brokenheartedly, intensely, and bitterly the whole way home.  I wore a tight ponytail for about five months after that.
19.  In 7th grade, I "went out" with a boy in order to break up with him because everyone said he had a reputation of "never being dumped before".  Our long and meaningful relationship lasted about an hour.
20.  I worked as a lifeguard (and later as the assistant manager) of a pool and one day while we were rained out, we decided to entertain ourselves by having all of the lifeguards (males and females) go into the women's showers, sit in blow up boats, flood the floor and have a party.  You can imagine our surprise when the supervisor of the complex walked in on us.  Um, oops.
21.  (Which reminds me...)   As a high school swimmer, you get kind of used to being naked in front of your friends.  At the end of the season when we were going to finally shave, in an attempt to be entertaining and dramatic, I took my multiple suits off, and was swinging them around in a circle while singing loudly in the showers to my friends when my mom and then 5 year old sister walked in to the locker room.  (OH!  HI!  I was just, uh, just... uh... singing and dancing around... uhhhhhhhh... because.... uhhhhhh...  Hey!  Is that a spider?  And why are you here?)

22.  It is my dream to one day learn how to play the piano.
23.  I secretly wish I could throw garbage out of the window of my car, but hate seeing litter and want to key the cars of people who actually do it.
24.  My favorite teacher was a marine.  He threw tennis balls and chalkboard erasers at people in class when they weren't paying attention.
25.  I love being underwater.

Monday, July 20, 2015

You should get some chickens. F'rizzo.

As you likely know by now, I am the proud owner of a dozen chickens (4 big girls, 8 spring chicks) on my mini urban farm (it's not really a farm, but I pretend it is.  Sounds way better than "backyard".).  I am here today to tell you why I think you, yes, you, should get some chickens, too.  I am no chicken pro - I'm only about 2 months into my chicken "farming" (should I call it egg farming?  I'm not eating these chickens - they're egg girls.), but I have gathered some interesting reasons nonetheless.  

Let us begin at the beginning.  

Reason 1: Chickens are WAAAY easier to take care of than dogs/cats.  

Chickens live outside.  You fill up a giant food dispenser and let them have at it.  You fill their giant water thingy (technical word for it) and they're good to go for a few days.  If you want to let them roam wild for a bit, they're good to go with that.  (I do.  Gotta love that free-ranging.)  If you won't be home for a while, they are good with hanging in their coop and their run.  It's kind of brainless.  No sweeping up fur, no potty training, no sniffing crotches.
Moment of silence - one of the girls in this picture is no longer with us.

Reason 2:  You never have to waste an iota of food again.  

If you have some baby spinach that got all soggy wilty, chickens will gobble it up like a pit bull on a steak.  Strawberries with just a hint of ick?  The hens are on it.  Leftover spaghetti that you can't bear to eat 3 days in a row?  They're like mad Italians!  Carrot peels, your toddler's leftovers, the whole 9 - they'll pretty much eat it all.  I know some of you don't have a compost bin/pile, and you're just being total wasters - THIS is your easy way out.  It's easy being green with chickens.  (*I don't feed my chickens citrus or weird stuff that I wouldn't eat - i.e., Jet Puffed Marshmallows, Zebra Cakes, Miracle Whip, Doritos, etc. - and I don't feed them chicken.  Let's not promote cannibalism.  Other than that, I think it's fairly open season on whatever.)  And speaking of compost...chicken poop is one of the best fertilizers out there, just saying.  Comes free with each chicken.

Reason 3:  Chickens are entertaining.  

They just are.  Have you ever seen a chicken run?  Seriously.  You won't see how this could be until you get them, but they are better than TV.  They're also weirdly relaxing to watch.  You go out there thinking you're going to check for eggs, and you're caught up watching "Days of Our Lives: Chicken Edition" for like 30 minutes straight.  It's like you got sucked into a youtube black hole of videos and you can't stop clicking the next weird recommendation (I'm not the only one who has done that, right?  Wait, what?  A bear fighting a lion?  What does this even have to do with the guy who can multiply 7 digit numbers in his head?  I am not sure, but I just have to watch one more...Hold on, is that an adorable Chinese boy playing Beethoven on the piano? That one first.)  Not all of my chickens have names (4 are named "Betty"), but some do, and it is not necessary for them to be named in order for them to entertain the masses.  

Reason 4:  You get AWESOME EGGS!  

I do have food snobbery issues (black tea, butter, flour, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, chocolate, bread...I could keep going but I'll stop), and this could be a pro or a con.  Owning chickens has increased my food snobbery exponentially in the realm of eggs.  Let me put it to you like this - if I can't see the chickens running around and the yolk is not nearly orange and vibrant, I am not going to eat that egg.  It's like it's not even an egg.  The difference is so outrageous that it is like eating McDonald's all your life and then someone serving you a delicious, grass-fed, Big Green-Egged burger cooked over lump charcoal with a box of hickory.  It's like two entirely different categories of food.  It's iceberg salad with orange cheddar cheese on it, drowned in Hidden Valley Ranch (please tell me you do not eat that) compared to that amazing house salad at Zingerman's with fresh sprouts, arugula, homemade croutons, and homemade dressing (I'm drooling thinking about their salad.  Is that weird?  If you have had it, you know it's not.)  

Reason 5:  It gives you a reason to connect with being outside and the cycle of life.  

Yeah, you do have to go out there and shovel up the coop floor from time to time, but the shrinking back of doing such things speaks to the increasing wimpiness of our pansy society.  I think it would be good for everyone if they had to take a break from their wired world to put on their poop boots, tromp on out to the coop, get the shovel, and go to town on making a lovely compost pile.  If you raise those babies from the time they are little fuzzballs who fit inside your one hand, you watch a miracle of (relatively) fast growth in front of your very eyes.  You watch the curiosity of little creatures, and it is endearing.  I can call my girls and they answer me with funny clucks and coos.  Yes, I will still eat them when the time comes, don't get me wrong, but they are wonderful and connect you to appreciating where your food comes from.  They're not a plastic-wrapped foreign object from the grocery store refrigerated section.  They mean something and you are thankful for what they give.  (So stop being a pansy, city boy.)  

Reason 6: You can get a fake chicken tattoo to celebrate them.  

Yeah, pretty much self-explanatory.  

So what are you waiting for?  Don't even tell me your town/city won't let you have them.  In that case, I say, start a revolt.  It's really the most reasonable thing to do considering...  

Peace, love, and chicken power!  
Ms. Daisy

Monday, July 13, 2015

Beet Kvass: Your Healthy Liquid Dirt Drink

Do you like beets?  I don't.  I hate them.  They taste exactly like dirt.  I cannot even begin to comprehend how anyone could like them, unless, of course, you are that kid that used to eat dirt on the playground, then I totally get it.  When people call it "earthy", I have to laugh, because it is the equivalent of calling someone "big boned".  We all know what that means. 

But I digress. 

Even though beets are disgusting and taste like you are diving mouth-first into your backyard garden, we all must admit that they are healthy.  What could make beets even more healthy?  Why, fermenting them in salt (I love you, probiotics!) and making them drinkable.  

Yum.  (Try to contain your excitement.)

This is exactly what beet kvass is - a fermented beet drink.  I first found out about beet kvass from my awesome book, Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon.  This book taught me about kombucha (I love that), kefir (also yums), and about the importance of incorporating fermented foods into your daily diet (sauerkraut, sourdough bread, yogurt, etc.).  Bringing in such acquired tastes to your daily diet is healthy for your guts, your immune system, and much more. 

Did you know beet kvass is a good blood tonic?  Beets can reduce blood pressure, are used even to increase endurance in sports (take that, steroids!), and have even been said to help with ED (not like you have a problem with that).  Beets are high in folate - that B vitamin they load you up with when you get knocked up.  (Was that too vulgar?  Sorry.  When you are "with child".)  They've got the power to detox your liver and contain betalain, an anti-inflammatory compound.  The sugars in beets won't raise your blood sugar, and researchers are not exactly sure why (I think it's because your mouth just told your body you're eating dirt, personally.), but they think it has something to do with the betalain and the natural nitrites (don't get confused and start eating sodium nitrates and nitrites in your lunchmeat now, what's up, pancreatic cancer).  

Even knowing all the wonders of beets, I still cannot stand the taste of them.  


I walked into my favorite health food store in the entire world on Saturday and what was going on?  There was a lovely girl there proclaiming the accolades of fermentation - and she had samples.  She had local, organic, fermented products.  I couldn't NOT try it.  Every ounce of my healthy brain was screaming out for me to try it, even if it was worse than swimming a set of broken 300s.  I started out with the sauerkraut (which I hate) - and this one had crazy stuff in it - turmeric (wow, okay, yeah, you just convinced me, gonna have to try it), carrots, cabbage.  I tasted it.  I didn't throw up, so that was good.  It was pretty salty and tangy, but only a tiny bit revolting. 

Since I am a glutton for punishment and think that you should always seek ways to subdue your body (no, not like a flagellant, just to increase self-discipline in general), I tried the other sauerkraut, too.  Mmm.  Salt.  Psyche, that was sarcastic, it tasted like eating an entire teaspoon of salt (and not the good Celtic Sea salt, the horrid iodized and anti-caking kind).  She also offered tempeh, so I tried it.  It was actually good.  Well, I am not sure if it was good.  I thought of it as good, but then again, I had just put two different kinds of sauerkraut in my mouth, so take it for what it is.

And the end of the table, lined up in tiny plastic sample cups was a deep purpley-red beverage.  The product stood behind it.  It said, "Heart Beet" beet kvass.  A very small, half-invisible Sally Fallon instantly appeared and stood on my shoulder.  She whispered into my ear, "Yummy, yummy, beet kvass!  It's so good for you!  Fermentation!!"  I told the fermentation girl with the perfect complexion that I hated beets, but I have always wondered what beet kvass tasted like ever since Sally Fallon told me I should drink it in her book (I didn't tell her about the shoulder).  I knew it was time to pull up the big girl panties and take a shot of this disgusting concoction.  So I did.  I didn't even die.  It was bad, but not as bad as I thought it would be.  

As we waxed and waned over Sandor Katz, Michael Pollan, and other pro-fermenters, lacto-fermentation, kombucha and kefir, I imagined myself drinking beet kvass on a daily basis.  I thought that would give me good street cred.  Or something.  At least to myself in my own head.  So I bought the beet kvass and the crazy sauerkraut and plan on spreading the health to the fam.  (They're so excited.)  

I came across an interesting sounding recipe if you are intrigued - it's over here.  They combine it with ginger (anti-inflammatory! anti-cancer!) and some orange (probably so you don't gag as much).  

Whaddya think?  Would you try it?  

Peace, love, and just beet it, 
Ms. Daisy

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

How to be totally annoying: Pool version 1.0

Perhaps you've been wondering about what exactly is behind that curtain that is called competitive swimming.  Maybe you've imagined yourself joining the crazy masses of those who find it exciting and fun to stare at the same tiles over and over and over again, who look for any sign of new scenery (a piece of chewed up gum perchance, a ponytail holder, or if it's a really exciting day, a lost pair of goggles) at the bottom of the pool.  I am here today to introduce you to pool etiquette and common swimmer thought (we can't talk while exercising, what else do you think we would be doing?), so that if you ever do go completely nuts and want to hop in, you won't be the scourge of waterworld.  

Let's have a look-see and pull back the curtain.  Let's begin with how to show everyone else that you are just pretending to be a real swimmer in a few simple steps...

Step 1: Wear a bikini (if female)/loose flowing swim trunks (if male).  This, right here, is the biggest way to advertise that you are a pretend swimmer.  If you show up with goggles and cap (thus, pretending that you are going to really swim a workout) and wear one of these taboo items, expect everyone to smile at you like you are riding a tricycle in the middle of the Tour de France.  This is like wearing soccer shoes on the golf course.  This is like wearing a dress to play basketball (especially if you are male).  But worse.  Don't be too surprised if people expect you to dog paddle the entire time you're in the water.  

Step 2: Swim sidestroke/elementary backstroke/freestyle when an IM set is called.  Okay, there are some exceptions.  If you are tapering, have a knee/shoulder injury, or if your workout does not include IM (let's say you're doing a different level workout), you are wholeheartedly excused and should swim freestyle.  If, however, you are pretending to do an IM workout and switch out breastroke for free (and race the breastrokers while doing it), you are a big fat idiot.  This leads to step 3...

Step 3: Do a different workout than the people around you, then when you get to the wall ahead of them (because they swam all stroke and you didn't), look around like you are freakin' Michael Phelps and you just won your 8th Olympic gold medal.  Do not be surprised if at some time people wonder if you are secretly a leg amputee who got really real-looking legs based on your behavior.  

Step 4: Do not wait 5 seconds to go behind the person in front of you.  Instead, wait 3.5 seconds, swim up their butt, and then yell an unhesitating "YES!" when they ask if you'd like to go first.  Add to the horror by swimming free if it is an IM set.  Then triple it when you get to the wall first and glance sideways at everyone in the utmost disdain and disgust.  This is also the best way to make friends in the pool.  

Step 5:  Make a really wide stroke so that you hit everyone's hands while swimming.  The only thing better than slicing your hand into a bloody stump with a lane marker is to get suckerpunched by a wild wide stroker.  

Step 6:  Do only part of the workout because you have no endurance, then when you decide to pick it up again, race all the people who are totally out of breath from doing exactly what is called.  Resume your Michael Phelps rejoicing upon touching them out at the wall.  (People who are actually doing races and tapering are expected to do only part of the workout - this is just for the people who want to do it for their own personal glory and status.)  

Step 7:  Get out of the pool at the hardest part of the workout to "go to the bathroom" (or take a nap, or walk around in the family locker rooms to see if everyone is following the rules, or to go sit in the sauna for a few minutes).  Get back in the pool as everyone is finishing the last lap of that set with your chipper-fresh-as-a-daisy self, eager to hit up that next set and "win" it.

Step 8:  Turn around before the wall.  Yeah, I mean, it was a 100, but who wants to do a 100 when you can do an 87?  Pull while doing it.  

Step 9:  Do an open turn for the express purpose to see how far you are ahead of the people in the lanes next to you.  (Yes, we all look to see where we are in the pecking order and race like nobody's business, but for crying out loud, do it while you're in the middle of the pool like everyone else, not at the wall.)  By this, I mean, fully stop at the wall, lift yourself up a bit to see all the swimmers, then launch off wildly after them.  It's really cute.  

Step 10: Whilst warming up or as a long set is going on, jump in and push off of the wall in front of the person who is already swimming, especially if you are slower than they are, so that when they flip turn, they have to cut their pace and do dolphin dives and sculling to give you an appropriate distance so they can actually resume swimming.  If they push off the wall and splash you wildly when you stop, it was probably just an accident.

Well, that's mostly it.  With these few helpful tips, you too can be the biggest dufis in the chlorine.  

Who's ready for a pool party?  (And yes, duh, of course I bring a cap and goggles to a pool party.  Are we going to go swimming or wet standing?  You said come over and "go swimming", so yeah, that's on you.)  

Peace, love, and don't forget to pull on the lane markers,  
Ms. Daisy