Category Archives: Books

Living Simply with Children

I cannot praise this book enough! I’ve renewed it from the library twice and have read through it quite a few times. Marie gives solid advice for keeping things simple at home and protecting children from the advertising world. She advocates parents look inside themselves to consider what their values are and how they can live those values. She suggest family meetings and a family mission statement. Most importantly, she tells parents that children learn best by example.

A few statements to ponder:

  • “Marketing aimed at kids has skyrocketed. Corporations now spend more than $2 billion annually on advertising directly targeting children, a more than twentyfold increase in the last decade.” And this book was written in 2003!
  • “Corporations now use psychologists and psychiatrists to perform research on children’s developmental process to better perfect their kid-targeted marketing.” Marie also writes that advertisers aim to surpass parental authority by portraying adults as annoying, nagging and lacking in intelligence.
  • “What many…have convieniently forgotten is that the environmental motto begins with “Reduce” and ends with “Recycle.” Our first obligation to the environment is clearly to consume less, not to recycle more.” She also points out that consuming less allows us to be able to contribute to those in need around the world.

There are many ways to simplify family life such as eating dinner together, reducing commitments and extracurricular activities, and creating family rituals.

What are some ways you have consiously simplified your life?

I am currently on a decluttering mission. I believe that simplifying my space is a starting line for simplifying my life.



Filed under Baby, Books, Happiness

The Art of (Not) Sleeping

It’s 5:30 in the morning and I’ve been awake for some time now. In my favorite pregnancy book Gurmukh writes that sleepless nights in the third trimester prepare us for the baby’s arrival and it’s best to just accept broken sleep rather than resisting it. She also writes that the hours between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. are a spiritual time. Many yogis believe these hours are ideal for meditation and awakening consciousness. After quite some time of resistance this morning I decided to spend a few moments in meditation using the mantra Sat Nam (click here to learn all about the meaning behind it), and then I started rereading an old favorite. I’ll share more on that later this week.


The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. 
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across 
the doorsill
Where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.


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Filed under Baby, Books

Eskimos & Their Babies

I absolutely love traveling. One of the best things about jumping into a foreign place is learning from a different culture and noticing how other people around the globe carry on about their daily lives. Among my favorite places: the laissez faire attitude and siestas of Spain, the emphasis on simplicity and quality in France (and fabulous French islands), and family friendly atmospheres found all around Latin America. On our recent trip to Mexico I watched with a smile as moms drank wine in open air lounges and strolled down the main street pushing their babies in little buggies.

As I was perusing baby name books at the library I stumbled across this title:

I found it utterly fascinating and couldn’t put it down for two days. Mei-Ling starts in Argentina where she writes that parents care more about letting their little ones enjoy time with family and friends than sticking to a rigid bedtime. Bring on the Malbec and dulce de leche! In France toddlers help grow veggies and participate in picking out fresh produce at the market so that they’re accustomed to greens at an early age. Kenyan mom skip the stroller since they’re expensive, plus they believe babies are happier strapped to mom’s back. Many people around the world think it’s a little mean to leave the baby alone in a room to sleep instead of surrounded by family. And as for the eskimos? They keep their babies warm with skin-to-skin contact on mommy’s back before covering up with furs.

Which cultures do you admire? What lessons have you learned from traveling?


Filed under Baby, Books, Travel & Leisure

Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful

As promised, I want to share the best pregnancy book ever…

Gurmukh is an Los Angeles-based yoga teacher with a positive, uplifting attitude. I desperately needed her take on pregnancy after skimming through What to Expect When You’re Expecting, which practically left me in tears. It gives the expecting mother every horrible what-if situation to ponder and worry about. No thanks. But back to this fabulous book. Gurmukh offers meditations and mantras for all stages of pregnancy. She talks about creating a sacred space, eating habits, letting go of past hurts and really preparing to become a mother. I can honestly say that I laughed and cried while reading this book (not on the same day). So if you’re planning on a baby you must order it now. And by all means, it makes the perfect gift for any lady expecting.

What are your favorite pregnancy books?


Filed under Baby, Books

My Crush on Colleen

I’ll start by saying I adore Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. She’s talented, smart, articulate and cheerful. She gives truthful information in a logical, heart-felt way that we can all understand. My literary crush began with The Vegan Table. I bought it for the seasonal recipes and superb organization. Planning a dinner party for ten in the fall? Flip to page 181 for delicious mushroom pecan burgers that can be put together ahead of time. A spring dinner for two? Try the pad Thai on page 26 (I highly recommend both of these recipes).

I also found  personal antidotes…like how happy she was with her decision to have a vegan wedding reception, and plenty of interesting food facts. Did you know that saffron has been used as a dye, medicine and aphrodisiac?

Next was The Joy of Vegan Baking. Some recipes are healthy and some aren’t, but each one has tasted great. I love that I can bring vegan cookies to a party and everyone loves them. Thanks Colleen!

But what really sparked the idea for a post was her podcasts. I’m fairly new to the podcast world, but lately I’ve been spending a lot of time in the car. I do love talk radio but since I don’t pick the topics it can get boring. Plus there’s commercials. Click here to start at the beginning…she’s been publishing Vegetarian Food for Thought since 2006.

I’ve listened to quite a few back-to-back in the last two days. Some of it’s sad, some of it’s inspiring and some of it’s helpful. But most importantly, they’re all truthful (check back for more on truth and yoga this Saturday).

Last Saturday I briefly mentioned that I don’t eat eggs anymore, and I was amazed at the comments and support. Colleen has three great podcasts on the issue (there may be more, but I haven’t listened to all of her podcasts yet). You can find them on iTunes or click on these links:

What’s wrong with eating eggs since the chickens aren’t killed to get her eggs?

Aren’t free-range eggs better than eggs from battery-cage hens?

A Visit to Two “Free-Range” Egg Facilities

Who do you admire? What’s your favorite veggie cookbook? Do you listen to podcasts? If so, which ones?


Filed under Books, Dining in

Chemical Food

A while back I read this book:

Back in January I posted a few of her tips that I took to heart. Click here to read ’em. How have I done with Christina’s suggestions? Well I’m definitely trying new food with my CSA membership. I eat tons of local greens and make slime juice a few times a week. I’ve mostly stuck with my self-imposed soda ban and I’ve kept free from tv during meal times. I have however, been bringing my laptop to the table while dining. I guess the no tv rule needs to be extended to all tech gadgets.

Blended greens & fruit over ice

Last month Alicia Silverstone picked I’m Mad as Hell for her book club. I posted a comment and she picked it for her post. Click here to read (I’m Angela).

Since I wrote about McDonald’s on the Kind Life I thought I’d elaborate a little  bit here. I’ll preface with this statement: I love french fries and I’ll never give them up (sigh of relief). However like many of us saw in Supersize Me, a fast food french fry is not composed of oil, salt and potato. There’s loads of other crap in there like chemical beef flavoring. (That’s because until the 1990’s McDonald’s was frying them in actual beef fat. They took a lot of heat about saturated fat content so they recreated the flavor with fake stuff. Who knows what’s actually in it since they can legally patent their unique “flavor”.)

“Real” french fries from Rouge in Philadelphia

And to go with those fries? Christina quotes Michael Pollen (writer of The Omnivore’s Dilemma) on what’s in chicken nuggets from McDonald’s:

  • 38 ingredients
  • 13 ingredient are derived from corn
  • the corn comes from a petroleum refinery or chemical plant
  • leavening agents and synthetic antioxidants to keep the nuggets from turning rancid
  • suspected carcinogens like dimethylpolysiloxane added to the oil to keep it from foaming
  • Preservatives derived from petroleum (that’s right…we are basically feeding our kids lighter fluid in the form of a nugget)

So if you are going to eat chicken nuggets, or feed them to children, please consider buying organic chicken and making them yourself. One of my best friends is a busy mother of three (ages 2-6) and she gave me a recipe a few years back that I used to make for M’s kids. Click here for a similar one that’s simple, fast and easy. (I know…a chicken recipe on a veg blog. But if it keeps anyone out of the drive-through than I’m all for it.)

We all know that nuggets and fries are bad for us, but what about the so-called healthy choices?

  • A carrot walnut muffin at Panera has 500 calories, 37 grams of sugar and only 4 grams of fiber
  • McDonald’s oatmeal has the same amount of sugar as a Snickers bar
  • The red sauce on Domino’s pizza comes from Hunt’s and has MSG in it

The moral of the story is that we can’t trust these places to give us anything remotely healthy or safe to eat. Using actual fruits, vegetables or even meat would cost too much so they have to make a cheaper chemical alternative in order to keep prices down and customers happy. Quite frankly I’m disgusted. I stopped eating fast food last year, but haven’t excluded mid-range places like Panera. This just reinforces the fact that it’s much healthier, cheaper and satisfying to eat at home. I’d rather save my money for a delicious dinner at a regular restaurant than spend a few bucks here and there on chemical food crap.

Homemade breakfast quinoa is waaaay better than McDonald’s oatmeal

Have you read the book? What’s your take on fast food? Do you have any favorite homemade versions of favorite fast food items?


Filed under Books, Dining in, Eating out

Joie de Vivre

I adore all things French: wine, croissants, face cream (which most often is naturally organic and sans parabens), the laissez-faire attitude, strong coffee and sexy accents.

Champagne and veggies

Last night M and I returned from four days in the French West Indies: St. Martin and St. Barth…together make one of my favorite places in the world and one of the few that get a repeat visit every year. I just love the combination of warm sandy beaches and cigarette smoke French culture. Oui Oui.

In order to get into the spirit of all things French I reread an old favorite: Entre Nous: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl (I just saw that it has some pretty unfavorable reviews on Amazon, but I find it very entertaining.) Debra is a California girl who lived in France for ten years with her hubby. Her cheeky guide is full of quotes, anecdotal stories, French vocab and suggested entertainment. Among my fave tips for finding your own inner French girl:

  • Focus on quality versus quantity~whether it’s friendships, shopping for clothes, cooking a meal or buying toys for children, excess is not best.
  • Live in the moment and don’t bother to multi-task~how very un-American and probably impossible in some workplaces, but entirely possible at home. It kind of goes along with quality not quantity.
  • Simplify and enjoy life~turn off the tv and find pleasure in a good book or bubble bath. While your at it, ditch the to-do list on your day off.

I took a page from Debra’s book on this trip: no laptop, email, phone or facebook. I brought only a backpack and a small beach bag filled with clothes. I used this yoga mat, which isn’t great for flowing through vinyasas but works well enough for a few warrior poses and a nice long legs up the wall. In my opinion it was a little too hot for any more than that this weekend. I skipped blow drying and hung out in flip-flops the whole time (shiny and silver of course).

The kitty who napped on our balcony…I called her Jean

Fresh veggies

Playing French was fun, and although I’m happy with my American citizenship status I hope to hold onto some of that carpe diem.

Here are a few other fun accounts of French life:

A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke: A British bloke is hired by a French company to open a tea house in Paris. A realistic novel that makes me laugh. Check out the sequel as well.

French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano: How to enjoy food and stay thin. And yes she eats plenty of meat and cheese, but anyone could use the helpful hints for mindful eating 101. She also has a sequel. I own and reread both occasionally.

The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz: The tale of an American chef that moves to Paris. This is where I got my favorite vinaigrette recipe that I make all the time (vinegar, oil, garlic, Dijon mustard).

Next up for me (it’s on hold at the library as I type): Bringing Up Bebe

What are your favorite things French?

I love classic style and an emphasis on pleasure


Filed under Books, Happiness, Travel & Leisure