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Showing posts with label health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label health. Show all posts

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The hastiest of pre-finals posts.

This should be another themed post about Saint Patrick's Day, but alas, I have thirty minutes before I leave town for the day to visit one of my friends. Time management has been a saving grace and a stumbling block for me this year, all rolled up into one little package of "AHHHH!" This post at Get Rich Slowly about avoiding timesuck pretty much is an accurate description of some of the trade-offs I’ve had to make—her list of after-work goals matches up almost identically with mine, and so do her distractions.

And the sad part is? I'm not even one of those crazy kids who's doing full-time work and full-time school. I still manage to fit in three yoga sessions a week and I'm adding in two hikes/jogs a week. I’m loving the energy, not loving the constant hunger while my body gets used to cardio again. But running is easy to fit into the mornings before work, and of course my WiiFit yells at me if I don’t do my yoga. All of this should be a good build up for my dance class next term, which I am unbelievably looking forward to. However, it’s going to be even more of a struggle to fit everything in considering I’m now going to have less than 12 hours in-between classes. Scheduling school around work is no joke here.

Good thing that extra glass of wine I’ll be having to help me cope might actually be a good thing.

I have never been so excited about spring break, if only so I have time to get a haircut, drink some green beers with friends, and write a blog post about shopping for workout clothes.

Image from ign.com.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Deodorant Soap That Doesn't Stink

This is embarrassing, but I am 90% sure that many of you share this problem. I'll be damned if I can't find a deodorant or antibacterial bar soap in the drugstore that doesn't already smell like rank body odor. (Clogged pores from sweating+bacteria=B.O.)

Regular drugstore bar soaps billed as deodorant/disinfectant just don't smell CLEAN to me, they all have that distinctive smell that says, "YES I TOOK A SHOWER THIS MORNING, WHY DO YOU ASK?" After trying out all different kinds of bar soaps for the last few years, many samples thanks to various family members' and my own stays in nice hotels with tiny bars of fancy-schmancy soaps, I still haven't found a bar soap that will both get rid of body odor, keep me feeling clean, and doesn't completely melt after two minutes sitting on my shower rack.

My body odor is not the problem here. Obviously, I smell like roses and baby-soft skin all of the time, because I am A LADY. I do, however, work out hard and play hard, often coming home from a plain ol' workday pretty smelly from stress-sweat. I think you get the picture. Add to that some of those random clothing items that seem to hold on to stink for dear life despite washings with extra-strength detergent, it's a miracle I am ever sweet-smelling at all.

The drugstore alternatives have been exhausted after a decade long search (remember puberty? THE STENCH OF IT!). They get rid of odor, but leave you smelling like a Manly Man who does Manly Man Things and Smells of Great Manliness all day long. I've heard good things about castile soap, but you have to take great pains to dilute it lest you burn your delicate skin with the soap's intensity. Dainty "spa"-ish soaps, the kind you also see at the drugstore and little gift shops, with the lavender buds in them--also all Lush soaps--absolutely disintegrate when exposed to water. You just can't leave those sitting in the shower, or in a soapdish, it's A MESS. I've tried the DHC for Men little round soap, which works great. It is, however, completely translucent and DISAPPEARS in the bathroom. Ridiculous. Your beauty/bath bar soaps with the skin-softening and claims of moisturizing smell lovely and feel great but I think they leave residue on your skin and have zero deodorizing power.

So, we turn once again to our friends at Etsy, where there is a preponderance of artisan soapmakers, for a solution. I started out looking for soaps with natural antibacterial properties, like the ever-present peppermint, tea tree oil, anything that was not a harsh chemical. I don't want to leave my skin all scaly and dry because of my overzealous washing. Smelling nice is a good criteria as well--despite those lavender fancy soaps, I still want to smell lovely and clean, like old-fashioned soap.

-Etsy seller LuckyLather has a sandalwood bergamot shea butter bar soap that purports to heal stretch marks (you know you have them, I sure do). I love the smell of real sandalwood, like antique Japanese carved fans in lacquer boxes, but I'm not sure if it's MY scent. Sandalwood oil is a natural antiseptic, according to LuckyLather! We are big, big fans of bergamot around here, so that is mighty tempting.

-Lobos from Alabama has an intriguing deodorant soap with sea salt and rosemary, which makes me think of yummy Christmas roasts. I am also taken in by the dachshund backdrop in those photos! To my great embarrassment, about 60% of my search results for "deodorant soap" on Etsy came up with DOG SHAMPOOS. Obviously dogs get dirty and smelly, but I AM A HUMAN PERSON.

-CrowleyManor's "Into the Woods" bar soap smells like the forest after a rain, much like the wild white sage and pine-needle tea Jeanne and I split a bag of from the San Francisco Ferry Building farmer's market last year. (It tasted like Christmas and falling snow, only hot--the holidays are on my mind today!)

-The Visions of Violet soaps by SonataSoap look like huge chunks of taffy or vanilla mousse--I'd be hard pressed not to try a bite in my half-waking state during morning showers! Yum. I love the fragrance of violets, it reminds me of young ladies with their bobbed hair and perfume atomizers getting ready to go out for a night of dancing with their young gentlemen callers in the 1920s. Little did you know, I am also an old fuddy-duddy lady stuck in the body of a twentysomething internet addict.

-Did I not just mention the lavender-bud-filled soaps? Here's another one, lavender tangerine dream handmade by Etsy seller DrBubbles! According to expert DrBubbles, this soap is so effective it will remove icky kitchen smells (garlic and ginger, anyone?) from your hands. That should take care of any gym odors, for sure!

-Another soap in danger of sleep-chewing in the shower is this chocolate cinnamon number, oh MOMMA. Have you seen those cupcake soaps that look so real you just want to take a bite out of them? This is the grown-up version, so you can smell like Mexican hot chocolate all day long, YUM.

-For a more unisex scent, Etsy seller mamabird has a bar that smells of oak leaves and acorns, perfect for fall. I think this would be a great alternative to the drugstore's strong-smelling manly man deodorant soaps, leaving behind just a faint trail of fall scents that isn't overpowering.


What do you think? Have you had any success with artisan soaps outside of the drugstore? Are there any drugstore-available (i.e. mass-market) soaps you think do the job?


Sweetheart soap ad from Found in Mom's Basement.

Monday, December 15, 2008

SCIENCE! Says: A new feature!

Here at the Periodic Elements of Style, we've decided to gift you all with an early holiday season present: a new blog feature! It's called, "SCIENCE! Says"; in which we answer your questions and hand out free advice, all based on what we know from...you guessed it...SCIENCE! Because really, if SCIENCE! didn't know what was up, where would we be?

Question: I am a proud, card-carrying carnivore. What with this recent "economic downturn," I'm hearing more and more that our dietary habits are going to have to change. Anthony Bourdain, Time Magazine, and my grandmother all say I should start eating offal, because it's cheap/delicious. What do you think? Are animal organs better than chunks of charred muscle?

SCIENCE! Says: Don't switch to eating organ meats exclusively, cheap though they may be. The reason you see offal fans come out of the woodwork in lean times is the relative low, low price butchers and mass-market meat producers ask for those less-desirable cuts of meat. Today, most Mega-Mart butchers won't even have offal out in their refrigerated display cases. In anthropological terms, as we industrialized, American culture cultivated a high premium for cuts of meat further away from the potentially bacteria- and parasite-laden internal organ system of livestock. The richer you are, the better cuts of meat you can afford, thus your grocery list becomes a symbol of your economic and nutritional health. That has perversely reversed itself in the past few years as the Yuppification of America continues, and self-branded "gourmands" turn to offal for a rush of culinary adventure.

You may not be able to afford to eat t-bone steaks and pork chops every day now, but a good dose of properly cooked liver'n'onions never killed anybody. Just remember that organs like the liver, kidneys, and various glands in animals function the same as in humans--they filter out toxins. In sick animals as in humans, toxins and nasties can accumulate in the organs and lymphatic system. You can avoid over-exposure to toxins by avoiding those organs in general. Some types of offal do contain higher amounts of nutrients like potassium, but check out how much more cholesterol a 4oz serving of beef brains has compared to regular lean ground beef! (751% of your daily value versus 29%, that's seven and a half TIMES your daily allotted amount of cholesterol!)

If you're talking about calves' brains and oxtail, I will point you to the risk of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, aka "Mad Cow," a prion disease that emerged a decade ago in Europe to the great consternation and near-ruin of the livestock industry. Avoid mystery meats if you can because of this--cheap sausage, ground meats with abnormal coloring, and products like SPAM contain the odds and ends, including ground-up bone, of animals you should really stay away from.

It may save your wallet a couple of pennies, but you could prevent serious health problems by sticking to what you know. Anthony Bourdain may have survived decades of drinking, smoking, and offal, but remember: he gets paid to eat it.


Note: If you would like to have a question answered in SCIENCE! Says, please e-mail us at periodicstyle [AT] gmail [DOT] com. We love a challenge, so bring it on!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I Want to Be A Mommy-Blogger When I Grow Up

As the daughter of a mother who was overjoyed to "give up" work to be a stay-at-home mom, I am absolutely in love with mommy-bloggers. I'm serious. I. Love. Mommy-bloggers. Not because I love kids, necessarily, but because I see the mommy-blogging movement as an incredibly empowering and powerful development in the way mothers interact with their children and the world. When my mother was a new mom in the 1980s, she was living in Lubbock, Texas, far from home and without the traditional social network of sisters, aunties, and grandmas to help with her first baby. She felt alone, isolated in her experience of leaving the office to stay at home all day with a baby who demanded more of her than any paid job ever could. When I read the blogs of new mothers today, I can hear her voice, and wish that my mom could have had that outlet and network to support her.

By the time I came along, it was a different story--I was a preemie. Preemies run in my family, you see, but I took it to the extreme (don't I always?). I weighed just under two pounds at birth after 27 weeks of gestation, all wrinkly and red, and lived in a NICU incubator for three months before I could go home. Doctors gave me a 50% chance of survival, and most preemies succumb to infections or sepsis, even in incubators. I was incredibly lucky to survive with zero infections, zero disabilities (unless you count ear infections and nearsightedness), and a general joie de vivre. It brings tears to my eyes when I think of what my parents went through, holding my teensy little hand through sterile rubber gloves and hospital gowns, seeing their baby girl with tubes and monitors all over her. My mother still can't stand to hear the songs she sang to me in the hospital, let alone look at photos of that tiny wrinkly little mess.

So, as you can see, my love for mommy-bloggers comes not only from the close relationship I enjoy with my own mother, but the fears I have about my possible future children. What if I have a low-birth-weight baby, or a preemie? How are women actually able to balance careers and motherhood, when I've been told all my life that I can do and have everything? Can I succeed at preserving Japanese language and culture, plus a proud sense of identity in my inevitably mixed-race children like my parents did? I shouldn't worry about these things now, obviously. I think of reading my favorite mommy-blogs (love the Kimchi Mamas) as advance research. The first guard, the exploratory mission, if you will.

Like discovering strong female role models in your mother, your boss, your sisters, your aunts, your grandmothers, your neighbors, your teachers, and friends, the mommy-blogging community is truly a support network for the modern age, full of strong, well-spoken, sharp-witted women. Mommy-blogging is not just entertainment for idle housewives or bored mothers complaining about their rotten kids and all that damn housework, it's active, involved mothers sharing their experiences with all of us. Like Jeanne, Kati, and I, even if you aren't a mother or even thinking about having a family someday, mommy (and daddy!)-bloggers provide proof positive that raising children doesn't sap your brain power and turn you into a gurgling baby-speaking moron.

We live in exciting times these days, and especially in post-election America, it there is an electric charge in the air--change is coming. Babies born today have the best chances of survival with the most advanced medical care. We can recognize and treat post-partum depression without stigma or forced isolation. American women retain and hold dear the right to choose given to use by the Supreme Court's decision on Roe v. Wade in 1973. It's never easy being a mother, daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, wife, granddaughter, grandmother, auntie, co-worker, fighter, leader, supporter, teacher, student, anything, but we do it all out of love and human kindness. That's what mommy-bloggers and my mother taught me, and I can only hope to pass it on to other young women.

What have you learned from the mommy-blogging movement, how do you think it will change with Gen-Yers (Jeanne informs me that WE are technically "Millenials," thank you very much) maturing into parenthood? I know my brother, a consummate Gen-Yer, is settling down and thinking about starting a family--maybe Auntie-blogging will take off soon! I can't wait.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cabbage Soup for the Soul

As I’ve probably overshared on our blog before, I am on a perpetual quest to better myself physically, mentally, and emotionally. All of the above take a toll financially, of course, but since we are now in the age of belt-tightening limitations on lifestyle (thanks, recession!), I have become all about tightening the belt in a physical sense rather than financial. Specifically, by the time I got out of grad school this August, I was fed up with the way I was—twenty pounds overweight since 2005 and half-heartedly trying to limit myself to 2,000 calories a day.

Living in New York City the better part of this year, of course, was tough. Pizza is just too delicious sometimes to make you stop and think, “Should I be eating this?” Well, let’s say pizza, tortilla chips, French fries, hot dogs, reuben sandwiches, Mister Softee vanilla soft-serve cones (the best!), the list goes on. I love them all dearly, but the age of emotional eating and self-rewarding with food is over.

So, for the last few months, I started up on the Weight Watchers program for the second (maybe third?) time, determined to change my lifestyle for the better. It hasn’t been wildly successful, I’m losing at a rate of a little less than 0.5 pounds per week, but I am buoyed by the knowledge that every choice I make adds up to a overall effort towards a better, healthier, faster, stronger, spiffier me.

As women, we’re exposed to dietary tips from all angles, on television from lifestyle gurus espousing detox diets when on the Food Network, they’re making frosted cake monuments to Americans’ obsession with food. “Women’s” magazines want you to eat this now and prevent Alzheimer’s disease later in life, drink wrinkle-fighting Amazonian berry purees for perkier boobies, the list goes on. Dieting tips from our mothers and grandmothers are, a la Betty Draper, to in the vein of eating iceberg lettuce instead of that juicy, delicious steak everyone else is having. For the modern-day health-minded woman, it’s tough to know who to trust and what advice to follow. Pay beaucoup bucks for a personal nutritionist and chef, and you’re set, but what are the rest of us supposed to do?

The below is a list of tips and tricks for losing weight through dieting that I’ve heard, tried, or formed an opinion about in the last few years. Everyone has advice on this matter, and it’s hard to know which tidbits are urban myths and which are based in nutritional, dietary, and/or biological fact. Here we go!

-Chew each bite of food 100 times.
…So you get so tired of the taste and texture of it, you just feel like not eating anymore. There is some healthy inspiration behind this tidbit, mainly that most emotional eaters, the time-crunched, the exhausted, the hordes and masses, scarf down their food without actually enjoying it. What a thought! Thoroughly masticating, rather than swallowing whole, also helps digestion along—remember, this is why we evolved to have both molars and cuspids. It’s unnecessary to chew every single bite 100 times, just make sure you chew and savor the flavors and complexity (or simplicity!) of what you’re putting in your mouth.

-Eat an apple before each meal (three apples a day).
I tried this. After about two days, you are so sick of apples you never, ever want to see them again. It’s an easy way to cram in your mandatory servings of fruits and veggies, but it’s not a sustainable dieting method. The “apple” diet, like so many others, is essentially meal replacement. Apples are great, but you can only eat so many out of hand before you start feeling a little sick, so take a dose of reality and just add ONE apple a day to your diet, not three!

-Eat a bowl of soup at the start of each meal.
Soups will fill you up and are an easy, delicious delivery vehicle for those oh-so-important fruits and veggies, but be careful—-soups like cream of broccoli are often more cream than broccoli. If you can curb your cravings for burgers and fries with a nice bowl of chunky vegetable minestrone, then all the more power to you. Soups are great if you're trying to pack your diet full of veggies, but beware of your sodium intake. Most off-the-shelf canned soups and broths are high in sodium, which can lead to water retention, and you won't see that scale budge an inch.

-Drink a glass of water before each meal/snack.
If your tummy is full of liquid, you'll certainly feel full faster, but this method requires a steel resolve. Only mind over matter will convince your brain that you're full of nutritious food instead of water. Be careful with this method as well, believe it or not, over-consumption of water can lead to hyponatremia, a dangerously low level of sodium in your bloodstream, or water intoxication--yes, like alcohol. Healthy guidelines for your daily water intake say that eight glasses or more a day (64+ liquid ounces) is good to keep your body hydrated, and those oh-so-important chemical balances in check.

-Eat off of a fork without letting your lips touch the tines.
I remember seeing Jennifer Jason Leigh do this in The Best Little Girl in the World when I was a young teen, and it scarred me for life. Thanks, JJL, for ensuring that my parents would never have to force-feed me peanut butter sandwiches in the middle of the night, because you certainly discouraged me from anorexia in any way, shape, or form. The idea behind the fork method is a kooky one. If your lips don't touch the food, you're sparing yourself the (meager) calories on the fork with every bite, and depriving yourself of the act of enjoying that food. This sort of thing is the sign of an unhealthy relationship with food and pleasure. You've been warned. Go watch a 1981 vintage anorexia movie.

-Replace one meal a day with [Special K, Ensure, PowerBar, Grape Nuts, SlimFast, etc. etc.]
You see it on all the packages in the grocery store, some woman lost six pounds in a month by eating cereal for two meals every day and obviously, it MUST be the cereal, not simple ol' meal replacement and limiting calories! It's a bit of a hoax, ladies, because A) you aren't getting the satisfaction of eating different kinds of foods, B) you'll get so sick of that meal replacement so fast it's not even funny, and C) in the long term, it can lead to vitamin deficiencies. This is a short-term boon for short-term weight loss. Once you start eating real meals regularly, you'll gain that weight back. And, don't forget, if you apply yourself, eat healthily and exercise, you should be able to lose two pounds per week--more than the Special K box says!

-Eat with chopsticks (smaller bites).
I heard this cockamamie nonsense from somebody in Weight Watchers, and I had to laugh. I've been eating with chopsticks all my life and I am certainly no skinny Minnie. You might be taking smaller bites, but if you're still ordering the chicken karaage and tonkatsu or kung pao chicken and larded-up fried rice, you're eating the same number of calories in one go as your neighbor shoveling it in with a fork and spoon. I do think eating with chopsticks allows you to savor eat bite and experience the balance of flavors and textures more than a big spoonful would. Then again, Asian cuisine has evolved to be eaten with chopsticks, while the creamy pastas and creamy chicken bakes of the West are to be eaten with forks, so maybe there is a little something more complex behind this one.

-Don't pick up the next bite of food until you have completely finished chewing, swallowing, and savoring the previous one.
Like chewing a bite 100 times, eating smaller bites, or anything, this is easier said than done. I tried it for about a week and it's true that the way we eat today, there is no pause for contemplation between bites. I really had to force myself to stop picking up the next bite through sheer will--try it, it's excruciating.

-Stall the bread basket.
All too often when you go out to eat, the bread/chips/dip/fries/something fattening is on the table before you've even gotten a glass of water. If you think about it, no one does this at home, so why do restaurants insist on ruining your appetite with fried goodies? I always thought it was embarrassing to have to send the bread basket back to the kitchen untouched, or to tell the waiter to take it away, but watch yourself the next time you dine out. You'd be surprised how many slices of bread end up in your stomach before your main meal arrives! It's a good temptation to avoid, if you're just starting out of the dieting gate--particularly hold the butter, or olive oil dip. (I remember watching my vegetarian cousins eat pats of butter once as kids at an Italian restaurant, and now I can't even look at those little gold-wrapped pats.)

-Say "no cheese" or "no dressing" on soups, pizzas, and salads.
My mother always insisted on this, and let me tell you, cheeseless pizza is an abomination. Still, if you go without the creamy, mayonnaise-y dressings, you're always better off calorie-wise. The other habit she taught me was to order salad dressing on the side, and rather than dumping the whole ramekin-full onto your greens, dip your fork delicately into the dressing before spearing your veggies. You'll get the whole flavor shebang without the whole serving of dressing ending up on your thighs. (Does that sound like your mother, too, or what?)

I'll end this rather dour list of scathing diet reviews with some interesting, delicious, and outlandish recommendations out of the media lately:
-USAToday has menus for six healthified "comfort" foods, making up a daily intake under 1,500 calories.

-ABC News says the pen is mightier than the pounds.

-Out of the UK, the Times asks, Can eating au naturale help you diet?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

More Tea Talk

Man, I don't know about you all, but we three here are super-busy lately. All three of us are now working full-time (and for Kati, sometimes overtime). I know that I was trying to enjoy the last of the summer, but now it's coming into fall... and I'm falling behind. Sorry!

Anyway, while I get to work on writing up some stuff both here and on PBR, here are some more jumping off points to discuss in the comments:

- Did anyone else notice the little pendants on our favorite Gossip Girls this week? Blair was wearing her little diamond "bw" charms from Alex Woo Jewelry during the brunch scene, and Serena, who was on her way to the jitney, was wearing the gold "Mischa" wishbone necklace from Dogeared Jewelry. I, being a fan of little pendants, want both.

- What's with the hating on Posh's new pixie? (Please, please don't let the term "Poxie" catch on.) I think it really shows off her face. (But then, I am biased.) Also adorable: Sam Ronson's new hair. Everyone's been saying the pixie's going to be the big haircut for a couple of years now, but with Posh doing it, will it really happen?

- I've more or less given up soda since I was in college (soda's expensive, water's free!), and right now I'm planning on introducing more vitamins and things like that into my daily routine. I'm always curious to find out what other people are doing, whether it's Mindy Kaling or you! So tell me: what have you given up (or won't give up), and what (if anything) is in your routine?

Anything else you want to discuss? Anything you want my opinion on? Just comment away!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Facing the Tents

Technically, I am on an airplane right now, but I thought you all should know: I'm going to Fashion Week in New York. It's crazy, right? I'm attending with Total Beauty, and I will be there for this Saturday and Sunday. So I'm not doing the whole week -- just getting my feet wet.

Since it's going to be particularly beauty-heavy, my Fashion Week content will be on Periodic Beauty Reviews, so now is the time to subscribe! I'll also be Twittering my experiences at the blog's Twitter account, @periodicstyle, so if you aren't already following, it's a good time to start!

I've never been to an event of this size and this prestige, and so I am (as you can understand) a bit of a nervous wreck. As soon as I learned I had the opportunity to go, the first person I went to to ask for advice was Sarah Conley of StyleItOnline.com. Sarah's the community manager for Coutorture, and she is one radtastic lady. I knew she would steer me straight and it's been so great to get her help and her knowledge and her encouragement.

Sarah's a two-time vet of New York Fashion Week, and this year she's putting together a mini web series called On The Plus Side: A Fuller Figured Fashion Week Experience. It's about being a plus-sized woman during Fashion Week, and how the pressure of an event like that can cripple the most confident and professional of us because of how it makes us feel about our bodies. And that's partially why I decided to just be there for two days: I'm there to see if I can really hang in there, if I can make it, if I can handle it. I know it's going to be tough for little wallflower nerdy me.

I'm so looking forward to watching Sarah's series, because these are issues that all of us need to think about and talk about no matter what size we are. As Sarah says in her mission statement, we need to be helping each other instead of hurting each other. I think we all can agree with that.

I definitely recommend that you check out On the Plus Side; I know that even when Fashion Week's done for me, I'll be checking in on Sarah and seeing the rest of it through her perspective, which is an incredible opportunity for all of us.

See you at Periodic Beauty and Twitter!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Science Fair for June 22nd-28th

What a weekend I had! I'm usually a huge homebody, so a double-header of weekend outings is CRAZY TIMES. We made the trek out to Coney Island on Saturday, and it was a strange mix of amazing and sad, not to mention dirty and probably hepatitis-ridden. Since I'm a wuss who is afraid of dying on roller coasters (have you see how rickety that Cyclone is?), I only made it onto the Wonder Wheel, which was an incredible view of the whole park but totally sick-making as the cars swung wildly back and forth. Phew. Was I glad when that ride was over! Sunday, I went out to "royal" tea at Lady Mendl's salon in the Inn at Irving Place, it was lovely and delightful despite the torrential downpour we were caught in. I am a huge sucker for those tiny tea sandwiches and chinoiserie!

Now, off to this week's Science Fair:
-I'm always searching for little, easy ways to make my diet healthier. Surely the trips to Nathan's Hot Dogs and pizza nights don't help, but I'll take any hints or encouragement I can get. If you're just starting out on a healthier lifestyle, or looking to renew your efforts, here are some nice, simple tips for healthy eating.

-Are you feeling lucky? You'll need a little more style than luck if this Urban Decay vegan cosmetics contest, but it goes without saying that our readers are OBVIOUSLY super-chic all the time. Let us know if you enter, we'd love to see your submission!

-I've just discovered a new site out of the UK, HippyShopper, that's a great resource for green, stylish products. Most of them are available in the UK, but I'm sure with a little Google effort, you could find them near you.

-Tastespotting is back, thank goodness! I wish I could be so talented at food photography as these people...wow. Warning: DO NOT LOOK AT TASTESPOTTING WHILE HUNGRY.

-From what I observed at afternoon tea yesterday, I suspect a fascinating psycho-social study could be made of how young ladies like ourselves just love to pretend like we are fancy, fancy debutantes and socialites. You can, too, with a couple of recipes for finger sandwiches like radishes with butter and mint with cucumber. Lovely! If I could re-do my life up until now, I might go into nutritional anthropology/culinary history like Deb Duchon.

-New York City is going through a huge food crisis of the fatty and delicious kind right now. It's got to be tough to make your pies flaky and cannolis light and crisp without artery-clogging grotesquerie. Truthfully, I haven't noticed any changes--fatty food is still fattening, with or without trans fats!

I'm back to beautiful, smoky California in two weeks, so off I go to eat myself silly in Manhattan! Have a great week, everyone!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hints for Health and Vigor, #4! Aka the triumphant return!

4. Be aware of the ways in which you could be exposed to toxins every day.

I never paid much attention to the kind of plastic bottle I use, if I throw away a plastic bag, or if I eat something that turns my tongue redder than a firetruck with sirens a-blazing. Until I started checking out websites like MedHeadlines, Science Daily, ProMedMail (subscription-only), Nature, and HealthMap, the only things I worried about in terms of my health were 1) anemia, 2) chronic fatigue syndrome, and 3) heavy metal poisoning. I think the first two are self-explanatory, since most girls who feel tired and weak assume they have one or the other. I used to think I had heavy metal poisoning because my fingernails had funny vertical striations--a little bit of nail buffing took care of that, problem solved.

These days, though, I'm seeing a lot of outcry over toxic substances in the products we use every day. You know that "new car" smell? It's actually potentially toxic off-gassing from the roughly 250 pounds of industrial plastics used in cars. Who doesn't get a thrill from new car smell? It's one of those times, like sitting around smelling markers, when your internal judgment monitor says, "I want to stay here and smell this forever, but I'll bet you a hundred dollars this is pretty bad for me." It's balancing precariously on the line between pleasure and pain. That new shower curtain smell (PVC off-gassing), new mattress smell, and that torturous "will this delicious smoked, grilled slice of ham give me cancer?" quandary.

What's more deceptive, though, are truly the most mundane things--water bottles. The biggest worry right now is specifically toxic BPA release from baby bottles, but big, grown-up kids like Jeanne, Kati, and I still use bottles every day. I try to buy glass bottles of tea and re-use them at the office because I hate to wash sturdier ones, but the plastic kind are absolutely everywhere! Since I lived in Japan, I've tried to pay attention to the little number inside the recycle symbol on the bottom of bottles to avoid toxic BPA. (Note: looking at my Dasani bottle right now, it has a 1.) The scary thing is, almost every college student in America is using those ubiquitous Nalgene bottles, and those are some of the worst BPA offenders! I can't tell you how many times I've filled up a Nalgene with warm water and a teabag to make iced tea--I thought I was a genius, but it turns out that I could have been exposing myself to toxic chemicals! Yikes.

Even Tupperware products have some dangerous BPA, and you're encouraged to microwave those. I like to use Pyrex and glass containers with rubbery lids instead of all-plastic tupperware, you can remove the lid for microwaving and it keeps the contents nice and sealed. Plus, a glass container makes a sad lunch at your desk feel like you're eating out of a real dish, not a half-melted piece of junk.

Since we're on the subject of food now, remember to be careful of unpasteurized cheeses, specifically soft cheeses like brie, bleu cheese, and queso fresco. Listeria monocytogenes and Mycobacterium bovis bacteria are regularly found in contaminated, unpasteurized queso fresco and burrata, particularly the delicious homemade kind. Listeria bacteria cause listeriosis, which can be fatal to fetuses in utero, causes premature labor, and severe symptoms in the immune-compromised and healthy alike. Mycobacterium bovis, on the other hand, is the causative agent behind a particularly nasty and ancient strain of drug-resistant tuberculosis, currently making a comeback in California. My own mother still won't eat soft cheeses or cheese with mold running through it--too bad for her, Point Reyes bleu is local and delicious!

For those of you interested in potentially toxic beauty products, look no further. The Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia (that's in Canada!) has an amazing Guide to Less Toxic Personal Products, from tampons (toxic shock, ladies, you can never be too careful) to acrylic nails. Interestingly enough, they list dioxin as a toxic chemical commonly found in beauty products. Just recently, Ukraine's president Viktor Yushchenko fell victim to dioxin poisoning
--deliberate espionage or not, the jury is still out. Did you see his before and after pictures? Not a great makeover, I'm sorry to say.

What are you ever so careful of? Do you use any special products we should know about?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Science Fair for May 12th-18th

- It's National Dog Bite Prevention Week in the USA! Did you know that? I discovered this delightful little tidbit while waiting in line at the post office yesterday, of all random things. The Humane Society and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are encouraging increased awareness of dog bite safety, check it out! I am a serious dog lover, but still take precautions when meeting or around possibly dangerous dogs. Here are three quick rules: (A) if you are approaching a dog to pet them, always offer your hand for them to smell slowly and non-aggressively, (B) never get between two fighting dogs, and (C) if you are bitten by a dog, make sure you go to the doctor and get a rabies shot--you never know if Fluffy-pookinster might be a little koo-koo.

- The boys at Arms Control Wonk (I am a giant but dangerous nerd) think that mysterious possibly nuclear site in Syria might have been disguised as Byzantine ruins. Maybe this will herald a new realm of nuclear archeology and architecture research...fascinating!

- Posters for the Rogan line for Target sale at Barney's (did you get all that?) are covering Manhattan. Retrogurl of Nitrolicious has photos of the carnage. LOTS of leopard print, mini-length, summer-ready pieces! There is such a sad, sad lack of Target in New York, it might just be one of the weirdest things I miss about living in the suburbs.

- I am freakin' OBSESSED with ScienceDaily. Funny, because I only ever enjoyed chemistry classes in school. Their articles this week are wonderfully multidisciplinary, including one on green tea helping with the effects of obstructive sleep apnea, the link between regular exercise for teenage girls and breast cancer later in life, and how culture affects the way girls see sexual harassment.

- The New York Times' "Well" section has an amazing, totally distracting special feature on health this week with games, information, and an interactively awesome retro diagram of the human body.

In other news, I just sat in a stylist's chair for FOUR HOURS this afternoon getting a Japanese straight-perm treatment. It was a big, big decision for me. I'll have before and after photos for you soon--it was so, so exhausting!

Have a great week, everyone!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Bugs in my blush?! Veggie-friendly cosmetics picks for Earth Day

Thank goodness, there are no actual physical bugs crawling around in any of my beauty products. But we all know that carmine, the red coloring that's used a lot in food as well as cosmetics, comes from little bugs, right? (That's them right there. Sorry.)

And while I'm not vegetarian or vegan, I'm definitely interested in learning more about make-up that doesn't require bugs as an ingredient. (I'm really interested in experimenting with dye-quality cochineal for fabric, though... but that's fabric, not my face.) Because even though I do use regular non-veg cosmetics, it's still pretty gross to stop and think about it.

So, because it's Earth Day and living a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle is every day, here are some lines that let us know what's in (and, more importantly, what's NOT in) their products.

If you're looking for a soft natural look with your cosmetics, there are several lines you can try out. Ecco Bella is sold at natural food stores like Whole Foods, Wild Oats, and some drug stores (!). They address what products aren't vegan in their FAQ, so you can know what products have carmine or beeswax and avoid purchasing them.

Did you know that Origins is veggie-friendly as well? They say that the only animal products they use are cruelty-free beeswax and honey. I'd recommend going and checking out the products in person if you're looking to avoid beeswax and honey, since the ingredients are listed on the packaging but not on the website. (Booo! List your ingredients on the website!)

So while the soft, natural, pretty "office-ready" look is all well and good, it's not the only thing you can do with veggie make-up. Some of us like a little more color and sass, and it's awesome to know that there are animal product-free choices for bright colors as well.

Both Urban Decay and Hard Candy have made shopping lists and face charts available for vegan shoppers. I'm glad to see a lot of my favorites (a lot of the eyeshadows, most of the 24/7 pencils, lots of lip products) are veg*n, so I can recommend those whole-heartedly. (I am, however, dismayed that Primer Potion isn't on the list! What's in it?? In looking at Sephora, it's beeswax.) In addition, all Urban Decay brushes are made of taklon fibers and are cruelty-free.

If you'd rather shop a little more indie than hitting up Sephora or Macy's for your cosmetics, I've heard really good things about Fyrinnae cosmetics from the various make-up forums I haunt. I haven't tried any of their products, but with over 130 colors of eyeshadow (!!) at $5.25 or under each (!!!!), it's certainly tempting! (Check out their Steampunk eyeshadow -- gorgeous!) Alas, no lip products that I can see, but the variety in loose pigments (some of which are lip-safe) makes up for it.

In Googling around, I found another company that I think would be fun to try out if you like bright primary colors: Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics specializes in airbrush and effects make-up that's completely vegan and says so right off the bat in their FAQ. While most of the products are for airbrush and professional make-up, they do offer loose pigments for eyes and body in a variety of bright bright colors.

And for bonus, they also offer vegan nail polish in a whole bunch of colors, including several reds and pinks, royal blue, dark grey, black, and "wasabi" (neat!). And if they're as quick-drying as they claim, I'm all for it.

This is just a jumping-off point for all of the cool veggie-friendly cosmetics lines out there -- I'm sure there are plenty more I haven't heard of!

Do you take ingredients like carmine and beeswax into consideration when you buy your products? Are you a vegetarian or vegan beauty addict? What lines or products do you like most, and what are you curious to try?

images from aurorasilk.com and urbandecay.com

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Great Mascara Experiment: Update #2: Pho-tos!

Well, that's a wrap: I'm declaring the first round of the Great Mascara Experiment of 2008 over!

First round, you say? Yeah, I'm likely going back for a second round. As you've probably gathered from past posts, I've been unhappy with my results. For one, I didn't get any really gross or icky growth on either of the petrie dishes. And the one that I did get some ickiness on... was the brand-new one. Say what?

Starting off, here's photos of day zero of the mascara petrie dishes, March 23rd:



Oooh, pretty, right? Riiight. On the left-hand side is the brand-new, just-opened mascara, and on the right-hand side is the mascara I used every day for seven weeks.

I gave the petrie dishes about a week and a half of sitting in my dresser before realizing that nothing had really (visibly) grown. Since bacteria loves dark and warm places, I added a heating pad and let them sit for a weekend. I turned it off and left it alone for another week. So it's been growing a while, but the agar actually dried up from all of the heating (oops?).

Here's today's (April 14th) photos:


No big change in the Seven Weeks, but the Brand New is growing a couple of bacteria colonies in light-grey/white. Ick! But why the Brand New? Did I get the lids confused when I did the initial swiping back on March 23rd? I made sure I didn't. Did something contaminate it?

My feeling is that if I really want a conclusive answer, I do have to go back and start from scratch and go for the three months, then take better care of my petrie dishes -- make sure I know the right lid is on, make sure they don't dry out, etc.

The thing is, I don't want to use Great Lash again! As I mentioned today on Beauty Addict's Great Lash post, it made my eyes sting and water up a lot more than they normally do (before Great Lash, they almost never watered up!).

Thus I have three new candidates to choose from, and I need your help picking one. My qualifications are that it has a bristle brush, and not a rubber one (so LashBlast and LashExact are out), and that it's easy for anyone to get their hands on, so preferably a drugstore-sold brand (I'll consider Sephora-sold brands, but I'm not dropping $50 on two tubes of DiorShow for science!). I've picked the following three options: Neutrogena Healthy Volume, CoverGirl Professional All-in-One, and L'Oreal Voluminous. Of course, I'm open to other options, too, so I'd like to hear which ones you're curious about.

What do you think? Which mascara should I pick? I've made a poll, which I'm leaving open until May 1st -- the day I start all over again...



images from periodicstyle.blogspot.com

Monday, April 07, 2008

Oi, ocha!

Mmm, green tea. I've been a tea drinker for years, and my tea of choice is green tea, whether it's hot or cold. My favorite is Itoen's classic "Oi Ocha", which you can often find in specialty markets (I believe I've seen it in Whole Foods), some Japanese restaurants, and (naturally) vending machines everywhere in Japan.

Plus you get all sorts of health benefits from green tea, too. So it's no wonder that beauty products are feeling the green tea love, both as an ingredient and an inspiration.

For example, green tea is high in vitamin C, so it's used in skin care serums such as Ole Henriksen's Truth Serum. I haven't tried it, but the reviews at
MegsMakeup.com are glowing. It's also used as an ingredient in a lot of powder products, such as Fresh's eyeshadows, which I do own (the Mission Fig trio). Do I notice a real difference in application or wear due to the green tea? I can't really say, honestly, but I do like their eyeshadows on their own merits with or without green tea as an ingredient.

In addition, green tea is also an ingredient in Boscia blotting linens for oily skin. Beauty Addict loved the linens in lavender, so I've definitely been curious to try them in the green tea variation. (I don't really use blotting tissues, though -- I have some, but I think they're in one of my gazillion purses and not the one I'm currently carrying.)

But here is my question: why can't we get the scent of green tea right in perfume? I had high hopes for CB I Hate Perfume's Japanese Green Tea, since I know he's someone who wants to get scent down right. But instead it's this sweet, almost floral scent that we've come to accept as "green tea". You know what I mean? Creative Scentualization also offers a green tea scent that just isn't right -- it's still too sweet and too fruity. What kind of green tea are perfumers drinking??

Maybe it's because so many of us are drinking sweetened green tea that we don't recognize the actual flavor of green tea any more. Even Starbucks alters its offerings to cater to what we believe is green tea: they add melon flavoring to their green tea lattes. Seriously! Melon! If you are a Starbucks green tea latte drinker, ask them to leave out the melon next time for a real green tea latte. If you still like it sweet, ask to add white chocolate (delicious!).

One company that gets it right: Vosges Haut Chocolat's Macha milk chocolate bar. It is awesome and delicious and a great blend of milk chocolate and green tea flavor, without that fake melon-y taste.

And let's not forget that you can bake with matcha (powdered green tea), as Cupcake Blog did with her two types of matcha frosted cupcakes. Raspberry Eggplant made Pomegranate Matcha cupcakes as well -- two of my favorite flavors combined, ooooh yes please. And these matcha shortbread cookies look delicious too.

And now I'm hungry (and thirsty!). Time for another cup of tea...

images from itoen.com and mapetiteshoe.com

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Great Mascara Experiment: Update #1

Ah yes, did you think I forgot? I didn't! You might have, but I didn't! Need a quick recap?

For seven weeks straight, I wore Maybelline Great Lash in the shade "Soft Black" every day. Even if it was 11 o'clock at night and I'd forgotten to put it on in the morning, I would put it on for about ten minutes before washing it off. The important thing was that the brush hit my lashes every day starting February 1st and ending March 22nd. (The original plan was to just do six weeks, ending March 14th. But since I didn't have enough time to put together the petrie dishes the weekend of the 14th, I did them this past weekend.)

I also had a second tube that I bought the same day, same color, same batch code (at least I didn't need to buy fifty, but I did want to be sure they were as identical as possible), and left in the package until I was ready to swab it.

This past Sunday, March 23rd, I put together my bacteria-growing kit from HomeTrainingTools.com. I followed the instructions in the kit on how to prepare the agar (boiling 1/4 cup water with half of the provided agar) and poured it into the two petrie dishes, labeling one "brand new" and one "after seven weeks". I swiped the respective mascaras into the petrie dishes and set them in my dresser where it's dark and not too cold so that the bacteria can grow.

After two days, I haven't seen any change. However, it usually takes about a week for significant bacteria growth to show up, so I'm not surprised. I mean, after all, it took seven weeks of mascara-using to get to this point, so what's one more week?

And I am taking pictures, obviously, so you can expect the result some time in April! (And by some time in April, I mean next week!)

Now that my daily mascara has been retired to the World of Science, what am I using? I'm trying out CoverGirl's Lash Blast, with its big fat rubber brush (seriously, that thing could be a weapon and I am not sure how I feel with it being something that goes that close to my eye!). I was pretty impressed with Lash Exact, so it's worth, uh, the experiment. What can I say? I watch a lot of ANTM.

And a lot of Mythbusters, of course. (My favorite part of that website? The phrase "hat-throwing robot". I don't know how or why I would use one, but I want one.)

images from www.adamsavage.com and www.covergirl.com

Monday, March 03, 2008

Letter to My Body

Hi.

So, here we are. It's early March, and I think it's a good time to check in on how things are going.

Remember, back in January, I made it a goal to work on our legs so that we'll be ready for shorts and skirts. It's getting to be spring, and I've been buying up a whole bunch of cute dresses and skirts, including the star print tunic from Jovovich-Hawk for Target, which, okay, is technically a very long shirt and will have to have something like tights or leggings underneath if we are going to be brave like that (which we should be! why not!). So we've got things to wear once it warms up and I feel more comfortable with you. I realize that it's not 100% your responsibility to be ready, so I'm working on it. We're going to the gym regularly now, and we'll probably establish it at three times a week. That's cool, right? We're hanging in there! Yay, the gym! And soon you will be seeing sunlight (and bronzing lotion!) again, I promise.

Remember when I broke up with Chuck for you? What kind of hipster girl gives up her Converse? You forced my hand there. Do you know how long it's been since I've been to a show and not worn Converse? I don't remember, either! Things are much better now, but if you prevent me from wearing cute shoes period, we're going to have problems, major ones. We've gone into the "comfortable shoes" store before and it made us sad, remember? I'm doing my part and trying to buy better quality shoes (didn't you notice how I put the adorable yet uncomfy ballet flats back on the shelf? They had LADYBUGS ON THEM!!), but it's all about the give and take here. Don't make me give up cute shoes, I beg you!

Skin, I'm actually pretty happy with you lately -- we've come a long way. Thanks. I'll keep my hands off of you as long as you behave, and I'll take you back to the spa eventually (every six weeks? yeah, no). I'm trying a new eye cream since we're running out of the one we've been okay with, and so here's hoping that things improve there (and yes, the sunglasses are on the way). I'm keeping you sunscreened up every day without fail, so yay! Let's keep up the good work.

Hair, that was really not funny when you tricked me in February. You're just lucky that we have a light-colored dog and that I have short hair. And, you know, yeah, eventually some day you will start sprouting grey hairs. It's inevitable, and I know that. I haven't decided how I'm going to handle this just yet. I don't think I'm going to dye you, and if I yank them out there'll be five more sprouting up in their place, but can we put off crossing this bridge for a while? I know things are stressful lately, and I know that every day I get a little bit older, but please, please, not yet? Also, FYI, there are some plans in the works for you. Be prepared.

Body, overall, you are pretty awesome. I've taught you to dance and I've taught you to fight in our defense, and it's really cool that you can do so. I'm really incredibly lucky to have you.

xoxo,

Jeanne

BlogHer: A Letter To My Body

image from target.com

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Science Time with Jeanne: Experimenting with Beauty

Most of the time, when you hear the words "experimenting" and "make-up" together, you usually think about trying some wild and crazy combination -- why not an electric blue and fuchsia smokey eye? But that's not the case here.

We've been seeing in our stats that people are looking for science experiments based on fashion and beauty, particularly with cosmetics. And it is just about that time of year for science fairs (besides, you know, our weekly one!). And so I got to thinking -- what kind of science experiments would be good to perform with beauty products?

You know, of course, that I had to ask the experts. When it comes to answering any sort of scientific question about cosmetics, haircare, skincare, and what's in them, The Beauty Brains are your best bet. So naturally, that's where I turned to. I submitted a question through their website, and got a great response from Right Brain.

I'm sure the Beauty Brains will have a better, more comprehensive list of fun beauty science experiments in time, but until then, here are some suggestions from Right Brain and me:

- Experiment with different products and different temperatures: what happens when you freeze lip gloss? Hair conditioner? Body lotion? Shampoo? What if you microwave them?

- How do different make-up removers work? Try this by swatching make-up on your arm and testing the different make-up remover. You can also do this with waterproof and non-waterproof mascara and see how the varying make-up removers work with the different formulas of mascara.

- You know those laundry detergent commercials where they show two shirts with identical stains and how one soap is better than the other? Try it with shampoos and body washes.

- Ever tried dyeing fabric with natural dyes, like beets, onion skins, or teas? How do different fabrics (silk, cotton, wool, polyester) take different types of dyes?

- Have some mystery fabrics lying around and you don't know what they are? Try burning them. Everyone loves a science experiment that uses fire!

As for me, I'm going to be conducting a science experiment of my own, starting tomorrow and going through February to mid-March.

I am going to test the "replace your mascara after six weeks due to bacteria growth" theory.

Every morning for the next six weeks, starting tomorrow, I am going to apply Maybelline Great Lash in "Soft Black". At the end of six weeks, I'm going to swipe the mascara into a petri dish prepared with agar. In a second petri dish, I'll be swiping a brand-new just-opened mascara. This way, I can see how much bacteria was present in the mascara when I first opened it. And so I'll be growing the bacteria from two tubes of mascara -- a brand-new one and one after six weeks.

There will be photographs. It will probably be pretty gross. But I'm actually pretty excited... except for the part where I have to wear Great Lash every day for six weeks. Still, these are the things we do for science, right?

Thank you again to the The Beauty Brains for the great suggestions and help!!

images from sephora.com and drugstore.com

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Hints for Health and Vigor, #3

3. Don't diet crazily.

I know we all want to lose weight. Some of us have been told by our doctors that maybe, our BMI is slightly high and indicates a slight risk of health problems, so we could work on shedding a few pounds. Let's say for clarity's sake that that person was me. I've worn a size 12 since about the seventh grade, gained the obligatory Freshman 15 in college, lost it during a particularly stressful and walking-heavy time in Tokyo, then gained a nice bulky Senior 20 upon my repatriation. Now, I'm lifting weights, doing cardio and Pilates, eating fresh, locally grown fruits and veggies, but I'm still thirty pounds over my ideal weight, and my BMI is 27. That shit is bananas.

So, I've tried Weight Watchers, counting the points and everything, I lost a few pounds but didn't have the stamina to continue doing it. The meetings are excruciatingly boring and full of older people who look at you accusingly, as if just because you're young and energetic means you should be able to lose weight in a flash. I tried the Apple Diet, which involves eating an apple before every meal--the idea is good, but after about two days of it you get absolutely sick of apples. My mother, a trained water aerobics instructor and personal trainer who has also hit a plateau in her post-menopausal efforts to lose the good ol' spare tire, is a fan of the Japanese brown-rice-hijiki-tororo-konnyaku diet.

On to the helpful hints and interesting stories!
Tips for a healthier Thanksgiving meal.
Atkins, South Beach, and Ornish diets are bad for heart health, try fasting regularly like the Mormons, says University of Maryland study.
It's better to be fit and fat, those few extra pounds won't kill you.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tea-Braised Chicken

In my effort to eat healthily and lose weight this year, I've started logging my daily caloric intake using the CalorieKing Nutrition and Exercise Manager. It's worked okay so far, I think the best part is the fact that the program forces me to get at least thirty minutes of exercise every day or else I DON'T GET TWO CHECKS, and failure is not an option for me. Sure, I'm not REALLY losing weight, but I'm tracking my weight and calories daily and every little bit helps. That and the weekly cardio-kickboxing PLUS mat pilates twice a week WITH strength training and elliptical machine time invested, I don't need any thinspiration crushing my weight-loss spirit these days.

ANYWAY. Chicken!
This recipe came from three very delicious, very different inspiratory meals. Braising, as you may know, involves meat cooking in liquid until it's all soft and shreddy, much like what you get from a slow cooker. I love that kind of thing, as Delicious Inspiratory Meal #1 reminded me the other day: Hawaiian pork lau lau, slow cooked in ti and and soft, fragrant taro leaves until absolutely buttery. If it weren't covered in chunks of pork fat, I'd eat it every day with Best Foods macaroni salad and Japanese rice.

Delicious Inspiratory Meal #2 was a batch of tea eggs I made a few weeks ago, saving almost all of the delectably pungent star anise cooking liquid to reuse someday soon. Every summer during my last two years of high school, I always went to the same Chinese teahouse--Lucy's--with my mother at least once a week to have lunch, drink "Oriental Beauty" tea, and do the daily newspaper crossword puzzle. The service was terrible, they always got our orders wrong, there were little pink ceramic pigs all over the place for no good reason, and it smelled overwhelmingly of sugar and flowers, but it was our girl time together and we always finished the paper AND the crossword puzzle. Victory, of course, was the best part, but Lucy's daily lunch special was pretty great. Garlicky, salty mustard greens, hot white rice, curried tofu or chicken, and TEA EGGS. I have craved them ever since Lucy's tragically closed when I was in college, oh yum.

Delicious Inspiratory Meal #3 comes from the above cookbook on cooking with tea that I picked up in Japan this summer. In it, the author uses various Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and British teas to flavor an impressive variety of dishes from salads to soups to stir-fries. Burmese fermented tea leaf salad, corn chai potage, oolong tea and almond-crusted fish and chips are all recipes on my list to try very soon, considering the bulk of loose leaf teas and tea bags I need to use up before I move apartments in late December.

Thus was born my tea-braised chicken. Take the following ingredients and place them in a deep-ish frying pan or a medium saucepan, so the liquid covers at least ninety percent of the chicken:

1 boneless skinless chicken breast, flattened or sliced in half lengthwise
liquid leftover from 1 recipe for tea eggs
1 star anise
1/2 cup white wine
1 chicken bouillon cube
1/4 tsp black pepper or Japanese sansho pepper
1 tbsp ground or fresh ginger

How-to:
1. Bring all of the ingredients to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for at least twenty minutes until the chicken is done and can be shredded with a fork.
2. Serve over salad with Asian dressing, in fried rice, in a Vietnamese-style sandwich on French bread.

Enjoy! I wish I had photos, but my sad wee single chicken breast looks rather inconsequential in a leftover plastic container. Ah, well. Leave a comment if you try it!

image from allabout.co.jp.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I told you so.

Dear Stylish Nation,

What did I say about staphylococcus aureus? Come on now, really.

Excerpted from the Reuters article:
In schools, staph infections are prone to spread in places like locker rooms through shared personal items like towels and athletic gear, officials said. State officials urged students and others in schools to wash their hands regularly and take other precautions like not sharing personal items.

Please wash your damn dirty hands.
Sincerely,
Karen

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Hints for Health and Vigor, #2

Your mom always told you this, but--

2. Always wash your hands.

Wash your hands after tying your shoelaces and, appropriately, making a #2 because YOU HAVE NO IDEA of the creepy-crawly disease-causing things in dirt and fecal matter. Here's a reminder: anthrax spores and E. coli. Oh, yeah, THOSE.

You don't even have to use anti-bacterial soaps and hand sanitizer all the time, in fact, it's probably better that you use a mix of regular fancy-smelling soap made from lamb-chewed France-milled oats and organic, gluten-free soy protein molded in recycled Starbucks containers with antibacterial products. Bacteria can develop a resistance to the common types of antibacterials to become SUUUUPER GEEERMS, as in, super-deadly. You've heard about that terrible kind of antibiotic-resistant staph that kills people in hospitals, right?

The lamb thing will be saved for a different HHV edition later on staying away from livestock. Especially in England.

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