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Share YourShelves

lotsobooks 066Hi there blogging friends and readers! How is Tuesday treating you? We’ve had our second slightly cooler day here in the Southwest. I get cold so easily.  My husband likes to share that I have been known to use an electric warming blanket even on summer nights when the temperatures stay in the 90 degree range! Last night I had an extra blanket on the bed and thick fleece pj’s on to keep warm!

Part of what I am looking forward to as a participating blogger in BlogHer’s NaBloPoMo this month is to share some of the things I love, and finding others’ who are also blogging this month who share some of the same interests. I absolutely love coming across a blogger who writes about topics I want to study in more depth, folks with homesteads, people who prefer to DIY home, body and any other imaginable products that are better quality and chemical-free when made by an individual as opposed to a large corporation. Natural, simple and sustainable living, creating natural remedies, reading, cooking and writing are things that bring me joy- along with my family of course! I am excited to get to share some of these topics with you!

I have been brainstorming a series I would like to be a part of my blog. As mentioned in the previous posts, I plan on sharing several odd, unique, short or long, call, chat or secret super spy odd jobs soon. Today will be the first post of the series I call- “Share YourShelves.” I will begin by sharing the books I am currently reading or, in the case of the many cookbooks, getting new recipe ideas that are uncomplicated, primarily vegetarian or vegan and may (fingers crossed) be something that my littlest, most extremely picky eater and my oldest slightly less picky eater will eat!

I began checking out piles of books from the public library as soon as I learned how to read as a child. Every week or two my mother would bring me to one of the biggest libraries in our hometown, and I would excitedly collect the next number in a series of readers, books on horses so I could prepare for the huge horse ranch and many horses I would have as an adult (still working on that goal!) and any other book that had a catchy cover. I disagree strongly with the phrase, “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover.” As a frequent library patron and manager of a used bookstore many years ago, I found some of my favorite books based on their covers! This leads to my show and tell-type post today. I believe you can tell a lot by a person by what books, if any, are on their bookshelves at home. My collection of books now is quite different than it was when I was a young adult without any children. I was a different version of myself then, and the books I bought with a huge discount from the bookstore showed my varied interests and the process of trying to figure out who I wanted to be one day.

I am still a weekly ( or more often) library visitor. I am on a first name basis with the librarian at our rural town’s small public library, whom I recommend books to and talk chickens with. I love libraries. When I was a high school student quite a long time ago, the rare times I ditched class it was to go read in the school library, and talk with the librarian, who was an incredibly intelligent and kind woman. Ditching class for the library- I was a nerd then, and still am!

The photos below are what I am reading and cooking recipes from this week. The first stack of books are cookbooks or in the case of “Culinary Imagination”, a history of food and eating through literature, art and popular culture. I have a cutting-edge chef’s memoir to read, but he isn’t Anthony Bourdain, who is my most favorite chef and food celebrity. I’ve read all of his books and occasionally even watch TV if one of his series is on. I am not a friend of the TV. I would much rather live without one, but when you work from home or have severe health problems, a kids cartoon on TV is sometimes a way to get enough quiet time to work done, though I always feel guilty for doing it!

My family and I have cut most meat from our diets. My youngest does not like meat, and truth be told I’m happy to return to my vegetarian days (for 10 years 15 years ago). We have a tight budget, due to my health problems and disability, as well as my husband’s status and life of pain as a disabled Army veteran. I am much happier spending our money on whole foods, produce, whole wheat, brown rice, a wide variety of beans, lentils, cooking from scratch when I am not in too much pain, and I love making sweet baked treats that are mostly healthy. Beth from the website budgetbytes.com was one of my inspirations five years ago to finally learn to cook instead of subsisting on fast food and frozen dinners. I never learned how to cook, so finding her site with recipes that are simple, affordable and nutritious began my journey to become passionate about cooking for my family!

If you are sensitive and offended by profanity you’ll want to skip this paragraph. Thug Kitchen is a website I stumbled on right before their cookbook was published. I find their cursing and thug-like slang hilarious. Their focus on healthy, delicious and unique vegetarian meals is fantastic. I plan on making at least 20 recipes from this f-ing awesome cookbook!

There are many other cookbooks I need to write down the recipes from for future breakfast or dinner. Thug Kitchen and Budget Bytes are my current favorites! Perhaps a top 10 favorite cookbook list should be on a post this week!

I love to read non-fiction. I strongly believe that each person can educate themselves about any topic to the point of being an expert, though one without an official certificate or degree with all of the resources available in print (my preferred method always!). e-books, and so many outstanding websites and blogs. I am interesting in tons of things- it seems there is always something I want to learn all I can about- for example, now I am fascinated with studying cricket farming and cricket flour as a viable, healthier alternative to feedlot and factory farmed meat. I like reading about what it’s like to work in funeral homes since that was a career I though of for some time. “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” by Caitlin Doughty writes about her work at a funeral home, which she takes on as a way to confront her fear of death. I’ve not finished it yet, but so far it is an honest, well-written memoir of working in a funeral home with no prior experience! Mary Roach, a fantastic author, wrote “Stiffed” about dead bodies, a similar topic, written with wry, honest and surprisingly amusing insight. I love all of the crazy adventures Mary Roach has gone through to research each of her unique books.

I’m looking forward to reading “The Moneyless Manifesto.” The author lived without any cash for three years, bartering for all of his basic needs. His book illuminates how tangled up we get in believing that money can buy happiness along with all of the other things in life we want and mistakenly believe will provide us more happiness. In Buddhism this is known as samsara- the cycle of suffering that occurs when we think that having the new best car, house, partner, whatever it is will bring us the often elusive happiness we’re all seeking, when in fact once we acquire the thing we wanted it quickly loses its appeal, and we suffer because now we want the more expensive, better looking version of what we just bought. It’s easy to fall into the money trap. I have thought about creating a bartering system in my rural town for some time. I recently learned of an organization called  http://timebanks.org. With their help, any individual or group can set up a Time Bank in their town. Time Bank is a bartering system where neighbors, strangers and friends pay it forward to another by offering a service they have knowledge in, such as doing work on cars. When this person needs help a  couple months later, say with finding a pet sitter while they go out of town, the people who have set up the Time Bank can direct him to a neighbor that can watch his pets. You keep helping, paying it forward, receiving help, without any cash or the boundaries of class, wealth or poverty. What a different, better world it would be if we could get most if not all needs met without cash?! I will review this book when I finish it, and I’m excited to share more about Time Banks as I learn more!

Last, but not least-if you find yourself wondering if “organic” really means anything now that BigFood corporations like Coca Cola are buying Honest Teas, and this being just one of many buyouts of independent, organic companies being bought for billions by major corporations that are more often known for the high fructose corn syrup, food coloring, pesticides and GMOs in their products. Can the cans of beans in your pantry marked organic, but from Bolivia, a country known for its history of cocaine exporting, not organic farming be legitimate? What matters most – buying organic when the very definition of this has changed as more BigFood companies and lobbyists are going after the growing organic food demand or buying local and knowing exactly where the food on your dinner plate came from? I cannot recommend “Organic: A Journalist’s Quest To Discover The Truth Behind Food Labeling” by Peter Laufer, Phd. The only other book I have read that has shed so much light on the hidden factors determining where our food comes from and what is in it that ought not to be is the incredibly well researched book, “The Meat Racket: The Secret Takeover of America’s Food Business” by Christopher Leonard. Both of these books made me angry, worried and most of all motivated to do all I can to feed my family the best food possible on a strict budget, avoiding inhumanely raised factory farm animals, veggies will traces of Round Up and GMOs that cause terrifying damage to animals, and thus humans, something banned in the wiser European countries (or politicians there who are not as well paid by lobbyists for GMOs!)

If you have made it through this post I want to sincerely thank you! I did not plan to write so much, but when given the opportunity to share books with someone and have time to review them, explaining what I found important, amusing, or fascinating I can write for a very, very long time!  I would love it if you would in turn Share YourShelves with me! What are you reading now? What books are on your bookshelves?

Each week in November I will focus on a different type of shelves, and what is on them that day to share! I hope one or more of these books sound like something you’ll want to read. Reading is one of the happiest activities in my life. Thank you for letting me share this love (and long-windedness!)



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