Friday, May 30, 2014

What I'm Reading: May 2014

While I'm not a big reader of novels and fictional writing, I love to read non-fiction books and cookbooks, and I get most of them from my library.

The great thing about my library is that it is part of the Allegheny County Library System (which includes Pittsburgh) and that I can request any book I want and will get an email when the book arrives at my local library.  Rarely is there a book I'm looking for that they don't have.  Reading books from the library saves me a lot of time and money, and it helps save the environment.  If I read a book that I want to own, I'll look for a used copy on Amazon.  If I want to copy just a few recipes, I'll make copies of them at the library when I return the book and I keep them in a notebook.

I haven't yet embraced e-readers - I just like have a book in my hands, turning the pages, and visually seeing how far through the book I have gone.

On to the books.  This assortment pretty much sums up my interests right now.  I am soaking up all I can about natural living and nutrition and reducing exposure to toxins and chemicals.  But I still can't resist a good dessert cookbook!

Clean Gut by Alejandro Junger, MD - There has been a great emphasis these days on gut health and how it relates to numerous diseases, mood, mental focus, digestion and inflammation.  Dr. Junger describes his own health journey and how eating the right foods and avoiding others was instrumental in making himself and his patients healthy again.  Once you get past his existential experiences, the book was pretty good.  Not surprisingly, he advocates an elimination diet - a 21-day restart - and then adding certain foods back into the diet and assessing their effect on your digestion, energy level, and other things.  His recommendations are not far from the Paleo Diet.

If you are interested in reading more about the Paleo way of eating, I recommend wholeheartedly The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf which goes into detail, but in an entertaining way, about the biological processes in our bodies which are affected by certain foods we eat.  (This book changed my life!) Another great read on the subject is Your Personal Paleo Code by Chris Kesser. (His approach is more lenient about foods you can add back to your diet.  I follow this less strict approach to eating Paleo-style.)  Chris has a great website here.

Home Safe Home by Debra Lynn Dadd - I leafed through this book, but really couldn't get into reading it.  It had ALOT of detailed information about every line of products you can imagine and the chemicals that all these products expose us to.  It would be a good reference book, but not one you would sit down and read cover to cover.  It was written in 2005, so it's possible that there are many new natural products available that aren't listed in the book.  It definitely gives you something to think about though.

Wintersweet by Tammy Donroe Inman - This is a gorgeous book that I definitely would like to own someday.  The photographs are beautiful and the recipes make you want to drop what you are doing to bake them.  This book showcases fall and winter desserts that warm the home and your heart.  Recipes like cast-iron apple cake with maple brown butter and the chocolate pavlova with pomegranate had me hooked!  Although the book is less than a year old, there are used copies on Amazon at half the price of new, and that includes shipping!

Are you reading any good books?  Do you like reading an actual book or a kindle/nook better?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Happy Mother's Day Rain Barrel

Flowers?  Spa Day?  Jewelry?  Nope... I asked for a rain barrel for Mother's Day!  I'm not sure why I get so excited about collecting rainwater but I do!  I found this rain barrel on Craig's list and Mark drove to Lawrenceville (a neighborhood in Pittsburgh) to pick it up the day before Mother's Day.  The person selling them converts plastic barrels previously used to transport food by placing a spigot near the bottom and drilling holes in the top.  We figured from the smell inside and the "Greece" imprint on the side that this barrel was used to hold olives.  I think that's pretty cool!  The barrel holds 55 gallons.

I have grand ideas of painting this one with colorful designs, but we'll see.  I'll keep you posted as we get it all hooked up and collecting fresh rainwater!

Here are some of the benefits of collecting rainwater:

Rainwater is not chlorinated, so it's better for watering plants.
Rainwater is soft and I've heard great for washing your hair (or rinsing gardening dirt off your feet)
Collecting rainwater reduces run-off, especially if you have a larger system.
It's a free source of water!
It conserves water, a limited natural resource.
It avoids the chemical and mechanical processes that your water must go through to be potable.  (Washing the car and watering plants does not require potable water.)

Think about getting a rain barrel for yourself...  it's strangely satisfying to collect rain for the garden!


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