Friday, February 29, 2008

The Best Medicine

Nathan and I and our friend Holly watched the two-part season finale to the television show Monk this evening, and I got a healthy dose of the best medicine - I laughed until I cried.

If you haven't seen these recent episodes, don't miss out! In a particularly hilarious scene, Natalie comes downstairs in her home with a cordless drill, and Randy, who has let himself in, asks what the drill is for. To disguise the fact that she's harboring Monk - currently, alas, a fugitive - and planning to use the drill to get his handcuffs off, Natalie lies and claims that her blender is broken and she was planning to use her drill to mix a smoothie. Randy says something to the effect of, "Don't let me stop you," and Natalie proceeds to throw into her blender:

a banana
granola (or something like that - maybe wheat germ?)
instant coffee granules or coffee grounds
peanut butter
ice cubes
maple syrup

She plunges her drill bit into the mixture for a few minutes and then pours herself a glass, with ice cubes and chunks of fruit and nuts falling into the glass with big splashes. She boldly takes a sip, all in the name of keeping Randy unaware that Monk is currently in her home, and then wipes her mouth and says, "Mm, mm. Yeah, that's just what I needed." Randy looks at the top of the glass and asks, "Is that oil in there?" and Natalie replies, "That is oil. It's from the grounds, so it's organic. It just really lubricates your organs, so... it's good."

I laughed so hard I cried. I made Nathan rewind it and let me watch the scene three more times. And I'm still laughing an hour later.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

General Malaise

I had been hoping to blog more regularly this month than I've actually been able to do. Last month, I actually thought I was "getting better" - my headaches were less frequent than usual, and since a nasty cold had hampered my usual exercise regime and I wasn't running a couple of miles a day, I felt more energy than usual. But over the past couples of weeks I've had daily headaches, my knees feel like someone has kicked them and bent the joints backward, and I'm exhausted. Oh, and when people touch me it feels like they are leaving lasting bruises. Awesome. No amount of exercise makes me feel more energized, or warms me up lastingly from my usual 95-96 body temperature, or builds endurance. My brain feels like it's in a thick mist, and sometimes I can barely figure out how to drive to the familiar places I've been to dozens of times.

I think this most recent bout of feeling crummy started with what I like to call being "liturgical allergical." I played a concert at a Catholic church two weeks ago, and the minute I walked in and smelled the lingering incense, I felt a familiar feeling of nausea and a dreadful headache begin to seep from the back of my head forward to behind my eyes. And those locations have been playing ping-pong with this headache ever since!

I'm too stubborn to give in and take Excedrin or Advil right now. Once and for all, I would like to find out what's wrong with me - and no, Dr. Maier, I don't think that "depression" is the right answer or "acupuncture" is the right treatment.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Hewitt and Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson, a fabulous classicist and historian, joined Hugh Hewitt on his radio talk show recently. If you missed the show, you can read the transcript - it's insightful and informative.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Giving Up Gluten

The day after I made Valentine's Day cinnamon buns for my dear husb (and sampled one of them), I stopped eating gluten. I decided to go a month without eating gluten to see if it makes a difference in my health.

So, on a perfect day, my diet now excludes:

Refined sugar
Dairy products (except yogurt, which I can and do eat)

And if we take FavoriteBoy's definition of a "perfect day," his diet would consist of:


No problem, right?

Actually, it's not that bad so far, as long as I'm at home for every meal of the day. Eating out, or being invited to someone's home - that gets a bit more tricky, because I want to stick to my eating rules, but I also think that being polite and gracious is vastly more important than whether or not I have a headache, so it's my policy to eat what I'm served. But as long as I'm home, as I usually am, I can just eat lots of veggies and legumes, and I'm a happy camper. Wouldn't you be happy if you got to eat these golden, oven-roasted brussels sprouts for lunch?

Yesterday I made a big pot of vegetable soup, and it turned out absolutely divine. I put in tomatoes, red potatoes, carrots, celery, zucchini, yellow squash, onion, and green beans. I was especially proud of myself because each vegetable was cooked to perfection, and none of them were too mushy or too crunchy. With some in the refrigerator and even more in the freezer, I have an easy go-to meal that is delicious and nutritious. I also made a batch of chili. I made up the recipe as I went along, and I was pretty pleased with how that turned out as well.

There are lots of things that I can eat without ingesting sugar or gluten! I love to eat roasted broccoli and cauliflower, roasted curry chickpeas, and Southwestern egg rolls. (I've modified the Southwestern dish, and I just serve the chicken mixture spread on top of a warmed corn tortilla instead of wrapped in a wheat one.)

Isn't it nice to know that the world is full of good foods that are also good for you?

Now if only I could get FavoriteBoy to believe it...!

Lacking Inspiration

SarahMarie: Hey, you need to say something funny soon so I can post it on my blog. I haven't posted in a while.

FavoriteBoy: I'll try.

*stay tuned...*

Monday, February 18, 2008

Arpeggios and Art Songs

After a church choir rehearsal:

SarahMarie: So-and-so has sort of a weird-sounding singing voice. But it's possible that I have a weird-sounding voice and I just don't know it. Do I have a weird-sounding voice?

FavoriteBoy: Nope! If you had a weird voice or a bad voice I would have told you, and I would be making you practice arpeggios and art songs every day so you wouldn't be an embarassment to the family name.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Early Morning Conversation

SarahMarie: Hey, I dreamed my Aunt Sharan was singing an Irish jig and step dancing all over the house.

FavoriteBoy: That's disgusting.

SarahMarie: Well, it's weird, but I wouldn't say it's disgusting. Hey, you're asleep, aren't you?

FavoriteBoy: Mmmhmm.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine Buns in the Oven

I made FavoriteBoy a special Valentine's breakfast - cinnamon buns! This was my first attempt at making them. I used this recipe with a few adaptations. I actually made the buns last night and let them do their second rise overnight. They got beautifully puffy that way, and all I had to do this morning was preheat the oven, make the glaze, bake them, and spread the icing.

I tried one, and while I objectively think they turned out well, I still can't understand why anyone would want to consume that much sticky, sugary sweetness for breakfast. Not everyone shares this point of view; FavoriteBoy ate four of them in rapid succession and deemed me "the best wife anyone's ever had!"

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Love and Marriage

Tomorrow is a day of excitement, a day of promise, a day of new beginnings.

I'm talking about the beginning of Spring Training for the Red Sox, of course!

Oh, and tomorrow is also Valentine's Day. In honor of that event, - a blog that I find very entertaining - is giving away a $175 getaway package to one lucky blogger who blogs about marriage or Valentine's Day. (Here's hoping that lucky blogger is me!)

As I read their post and began thinking about love and marriage, I remembered the post I wrote shortly after FavoriteBoy and I got married, entitled Mrs. FavoriteBoy. I went back and read that post, curious to remember my thoughts and feelings as a newlywed and to compare my experience of marriage then with my experience now.

If I'm honest, I probably don't have quite as many stars in my eyes about cleaning up FavoriteBoy's dirty dishes or dirty laundry anymore. But wait - I said I didn't have quite as many, and if you happened to read that starry-eyed newlywed post, you may remember that I had quite a few stars in my eyes. So I still have plenty left, and I still love to cook for my husband and clean up after my husband and see my husband smile and hear my husband laugh. I also like to call my husband "my husband" - did you notice?

FavoriteBoy still loves to make little improvements around the apartment for me, hug me five dozen times a day, eat the food I prepare for him, and make me laugh with his antics.

Things have settled into an "old married folks" routine around here, and just as we knew we would, we love it. From the first days of our marriage we both remarked on how perfectly natural it seemed to be married - it was just the picture of normalcy. And it still is - but "normalcy" sounds boring, and being married to FavoriteBoy is the opposite of boring. Instead, what happened when we got married was that "normal" got 100% more enjoyable!

I requested FavoriteBoy's input on our marriage, asking, "Are you happier now than you were when we first got married?" His reply:

"Of course. I couldn't live without you, and I wouldn't want to try." Then, as a natural continuation of his train of thought - how bad life without me around might be - he asked with pleading eyes, "Could you make me a deep-dish chocolate chip cookie in that little cast iron skillet?"

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Business of Being Born

Red Envelope Entertainment, a division of Netflix, is releasing a DVD on February 26 that you just might want to watch if you're an expectant mother - and by that I mean not only if you're currently expecting, but if you ever expect to expect!

Check it out: The Business of Being Born.

It's a documentary that takes a close look at America's maternity health care system and compares the average pitocin/epidural/C-section hospital birth with natural, home-based birth experiences.

If you have Netflix, you can rent the DVD as soon as it becomes available - or reserve it now. It will also be available to Netflix customers for online viewing.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Dear Face

Dear Face,

I am 24 years old, not 14. So what's with these pimples that suddenly arose over the past few days?

It's time for you to start acting your age - I mean it.

Sincerely yours,
The rest of Sarah Marie

Friday, February 8, 2008

Roasted Curry Chickpeas

In the past year I've become obsessed with roasting vegetables. Growing up my family ate mostly steamed, boiled, or raw veggies, so I didn't discover the fabulous flavors of roasted vegetables until more recently. Nowadays I roast broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, squash, brussels sprouts, potatoes... yum!

Yesterday I stumbled across a recipe for curry roasted chickpeas. I had the ingredients on hand and it seemed like a healthy and tasty thing to have for lunch (along with some grapes and baby carrots), so I made the chickpeas right away. They were delicious!

I modified the recipe slightly - I didn't heat the ingredients in a skillet first; I just tossed everything together in a bowl and then spread the chickpeas out on a foil-lined baking sheet. I used a little more curry powder than called for, and I roasted the chickpeas for more like 40 minutes rather than 30. In the end they were crunchy and spicy on the outside, and a bit soft on the inside.

The blog where I found the recipe, Words to Eat By, seems to have a wealth of tasty recipes, many of them quite healthy. I'm looking forward to trying many more recipes.

By the way, if you want to try roasted potatoes the way I like them, just dice a potato (or more if you're cooking for a family), toss the cubes in a bowl with some olive oil, dijon mustard, cumin, paprika, and a dash of cayenne pepper (all to taste), and stir to coat the potato pieces. Roast the potatoes on a baking sheet at about 400 degrees until the potatoes are brown and crispy. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Dear Huck, Love Sarah

Dear Governor Huckabee,

I have been torn in many directions over the past few months. At many times I thought there was not a strong candidate in the race, and I didn't know who I could vote for. I've read blogs, website, and articles, and I've listened to debates, commentators, and talk show hosts... but the more I read and heard, the more uncertain I felt.

I went to the polls at the public library this evening, and as I was handed my ballot I still didn't know who I would vote for. I looked down at three significant names on the ballot, and all three stared up at me until my vision blurred with tears of frustration. A lot of smart people I respect have been publishing interesting thoughts on the virtues of Mitt Romney or John McCain as presidential candidates, and I've read those words and taken them into consideration. I've tried to think about the economic and fiscal issues, the immigration issues, the education issues, the Iraq issues, and many others.

As my pencil hovered over McCain's name on the ballot, I thought about the many things on his voting record that I couldn't agree with. I moved to Romney's name, and thought about the way he's called truly bad ideas 'good ideas' in my state of Massachusetts, how he's disregarded human rights and dignity when it comes to matters of torture, and how I find myself unsure of where he really stands on many of the issues that matter to me the most. I moved my pencil to the bubble beside your name, Mike Huckabee, and filled the circle in completely.

Immediately I felt a sense of relief, a feeling of peace with my decision. Maybe I'm the only person in Massachusetts who voted for you. Maybe I'm the only person in my family who voted for you. Maybe everyone reading this is laughing at me for voting for you, the guy some think of only as a backwoods Christian guitar player with limited experience in foreign policy, business, or economics.

To be honest, I don't understand all the issues being so hotly debated as this election process unfolds. And the more I read, hear, and try to understand, the more I realize how little I truly understand. But you know what? In this crazy world today, presidential candidates sometimes seem to know less about right and wrong than six-year-olds. On the most fundamental issues of morality, it's clear to children that "hurting people is bad," "killing babies is bad," and "lying is bad." Yet somehow grown adults positing themselves as presidential candidates can't give a straight answer, or a right answer, on many of these subjects. Governor Huckabee, you know the difference between right and wrong, and that is the most essential thing. I know that, should you miraculously be elected president, you will surround yourself with advisors who can help you make the biggest and most complicated decisions. And I know that given the opportunity, you will make those decisions from a moral perspective that truly values life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Very sincerely yours,
Sarah Marie

Huckabee on the Arts

In my opinion, every word of this is worth reading:

"I believe that every child should have the opportunity for a quality education that teaches the fundamental skills needed to compete in a global economy. As I traveled the country and the world over the last decade bringing jobs to Arkansas, the business leaders I met weren't worried about creating jobs, they were worried about finding skilled and professional workers to fill those jobs.

In addition, I want to provide our children what I call the "Weapons of Mass Instruction" - art and music - the secret, effective weapons that will help us to be competitive and creative. It is crucial that children flex both the left and right sides of the brain. We all know the cliché of thinking outside the box: I want our children to be so creative that they think outside the cardboard factory. Art and music are as important as math and science because the dreamers and visionaries among us take the rough straw of an idea and spin it into the gold of new businesses and jobs. It is as important to identify and encourage children with artistic talent as it is those with athletic ability. Our future economy depends on a creative generation.

Music has always been an important part of my life. I still play bass guitar in my band, Capitol Offense.

As Governor of Arkansas, I undertook several initiatives to encourage arts in education. I passed landmark legislation to provide music and art instruction by certified teachers for all Arkansas children in grades one through six, forty minutes a week. As Chairman of the Education and Arts Commission of the States, I created a two-year initiative called "The Arts - A Lifetime of Learning," which promotes the benefits of arts education to all fifty states.

Students with strong art and music programs have higher academic achievement overall, are far more likely to read for pleasure and participate in community service, and are less likely to engage in delinquent behavior. These programs have a powerful effect in leveling the academic playing field for students from lower socio-economic backgrounds. The study of music improves math scores, spatial reasoning and abstract thinking.

The success of our schools has to be judged by the results we obtain, not the revenues we spend. A focus on true quality rather than mere quantity requires us to set high standards for our students and teachers, measure their performance diligently, and hold educators and administrators accountable for the results in an atmosphere of transparency and efficiency.

As Governor of Arkansas, I created intensive reading and math programs that went back to basics. I started with elementary students and, as those children thrived, I expanded the program to middle and then high schools. Our test scores rose dramatically. I then created one of the most demanding high school curricula in the country, and the number of students taking advanced placement classes grew by leaps and bounds.

I opposed the teachers' union and got the Fair Dismissal Law passed, which allowed us to terminate poorly performing teachers. To attract top talent, I raised teachers' salaries from among the lowest in the nation to among the most competitive. I created systems to make our schools accountable to both parents and taxpayers by insisting on transparency in how money is spent, efficiency in putting money into classroom programs rather than administrative costs, and clear responsibility of all employees for the tasks assigned to them.

As Governor, I fought hard for more charter schools, with their strong parental involvement and their unique ability to serve as laboratories for education reform, and for the rights of parents to home school their children. I am a strong supporter of public school choice. I am proud that my three children attended public schools from K through twelve, as did my wife and I.

In addition to my gubernatorial experience, I have significant national experience in education policy. I was Chairman of the National Governors Association from 2005-2006 and also Chairman of the Education Committee of the States from 2004-2006, working with governors, legislators, and education chiefs from all fifty states to advance education policy and conduct research on effective trends in education.

We need to test teachers as well as students, replace teachers who aren't competent, and impose reasonable waiting periods for teachers to gain tenure. We should provide bonuses and forgive student loans for high-performing teachers to work in low-performing schools. Just as there are executives in the corporate world who specialize in turning around failing companies, we need teachers who are "turn-around specialists" for failing schools.

Typical employment procedures provide a disincentive for teachers and often discourage potentially good teachers from entering what I consider to be a noble profession. Educators and teachers should be involved in the design of compensation initiatives that encourage training and promote performance based on merit, so that our children can have the best education in the world.

As President, my education agenda will include working towards a clear distinction between the federal role in assisting and empowering states and in usurping the right of states to carry out the education programs for their students. While there is value in the "No Child Left Behind" law's effort to set high national standards, states must be allowed to develop their own benchmarks.

As President, I will use my broad and deep expertise in education policy to lift up our children and America's economic future."

(Taken from

Mrs. President?

Voting for Hillary in the primaries today? Show your allegiance. Wear this!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Football and Food

What is it about "The Big Game" that always necessitates the consumption of massive amounts of calories - usually in the form of pizza, chips and dips, etc.? You know, Nathan and I watched the State of the Union address last week, and it never occurred to me that I was obligated to prepare a feast for the occasion. Or what about the Democratic debate? No food accompanied that event. But a big football game - for this, the recipe websites, the food blogs, and the food shows on television will all devote their time and best food efforts for several weeks.

The truth, I believe, is that football is so boring that people have to compensate with junk food. The pizza, the corn chips and queso dip, the chicken wings, the beer - all these things are much more exciting than a bunch of guys standing around, a bunch of guys running, some guy grabbing a ball, a bunch of guys falling all over each other. (Repeat sequence for several hours, periodically interrupted by commercials notably more interesting than the game itself.)

Really, there's a lot of boring stuff on TV every day. Not just football games - basketball games! Soap operas! Medical dramas! All these things should have the boredom flushed out of them with food, glorious food.

Really, the only things on television that are palatable without food and drink to wash them down are probably The Office, Monk, NCIS, and Bones.

For everything else, I prescribe one of two options:

1) Numb yourself with 1,200 calories of junk food


2) Turn off the television

Football Does Not Interest Me

FavoriteBoy: Have you ever watched the Super Bowl before?

SarahMarie: Yeah, I think so. Dad used to have us all watch it because he went to U. of Michigan and sometimes that team was playing or something...

FavoriteBoy: That's COLLEGE FOOTBALL, you ignoramus! The ROSE Bowl, not the Super Bowl!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Oh, Candidates

Thomas Sowell writes in soundbytes, but I found this one humorous as well as true:

"Republicans, as usual, seem to have more people who would make good presidents than people who would make good presidential candidates. Unfortunately for them, we have elections instead of coronations."

(Taken from Primary elections and secondary candidates.)