Sunday, March 18, 2012


If you're not reading, and using, the recipes from Smitten Kitchen - and I am sure you are, because you are cooler than me and more experienced in finding all the cool stuff on the internet - then you should be. Her baking recipes are brilliantly good, and she lists ingredients by weight!! Oh, the accuracy. Oh, the obsessive ability to calculate Weight Watchers points. And oh, oh, oh, the snickerdoodles. Start with these and you'll be a committed fan.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

More Zumba Wisdom

Oh, you laugh - and laugh away! It is a silly title. But my lovely, authentic and fun Zumba teacher said in class the other day, "If you want to lose weight in your hips, you have to vigorously move your whole body. And if you want to lose weight in your arms, you have to vigorously move your whole body. If you want to lose weight in your belly..." And everyone laughed, and kept dancing, and she added, "Your body decides what its weight loss process is going to look like, and where it comes from, so we'll just keep moving."

I've hit a plateau in the weight loss - or rather, I've lost the motivation to be disciplined enough, since early January, to lose the 6 or so last pounds that will in turn display The Number I Want on the scale. I don't need to lose these pounds, but it turns out that following Weight Watchers 5.5 days a week and doing almost whatever you want 1.5 days a week doesn't cut it. That will keep you at exactly the same weight - which, I admit, is an accomplishment of sorts! - but with the cherry blossoms arriving, real food starting to grow again (no more apple, orange, banana Every. Single. Day.), and a renewed commitment to reaching the goal, I'm back on the wagon. 7 days a week.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Rattling Around

Rattling around in my head today is an article from Scientific American about this gene, called CHRM2, whose various expressions appear to be correlated with depression, unruly childhood behavior, high intelligence and alcoholism.

Wha-a-at? Yes. Fascinating.

The theory goes that when this gene is confronted with unstable, uninvolved, volatile parenting... well... it is more likely to result in alcoholism or aggression in teenagers. And when this gene is confronted with engaged, positive, nurturing and involved parenting... it results in wildly successful and intelligent citizens.

It is truly being called the orkidebarn or maskrosbarn theory (Swedish for... orchid child or dandelion child). Dandelion children are the resilient children... they can, and usually do, thrive in any kind of environment. But the orchid children - they are delicate. They have the capacity for incredible beauty, for outshining others - but they also have the capacity to wilt beyond repair without tender, careful care. They're not to be stepped on. Mistakes weigh on them.

I suspect we'll learn more and more and more in my lifetime about various genes, and the effect nurture has on them in each person, depending on the variance in the gene we happen to be housing. But isn't it fascinating!?

(More here.)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Book Report

It is March 1 - and I even had an extra day in February! - but I failed in my goal of finishing the 1,004 page book loaned to me by a dear friend, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Alas, it was a self-set goal (not required by the loaner), which makes failure even worse!

But it's hard to compete with the two books I did start - and finish - while the giant red behemoth of a paperback languished bedside. I like it, I truly do - but it meanders, it lingers, it takes time with an old-fashioned style of narration. And it is HEAVY! Sometimes it annoys me, resting too heavily on my stomach in bed at night. It really should be on a Kindle!

So first up, I cannot recommend enough Room by Emma Donaghue. It's a "run-don't-walk" to your library/friends/bookshop/Kindle store kind of book. I literally intended to read for 20 minutes one night, to dip my toes in, to only slightly cheat on Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell... and 3 hours and 20 minutes later, at 2 AM, I was within 45 pages of the end. It is that good. It made my heart race, there were sections where I could not read fast enough and was holding my breath. If you have an ounce of trust in me, you won't even go read about Room - you'll just go read Room.

And second, I joined the bandwagon and read Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games. It's pure YA fun and the writing is not nearly as skilled as Donaghue's, and the plot is not QUITE as compelling as hers either, but I read it in an afternoon/evening, and book two in the series was loaned to me today. Yay for friends, and yay for borrowing!

So that's this month's Book Report. You?