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Joe Jackson sang it:

Everything gives you cancer
There's no cure, there's no answer
Everything gives you cancer

And, when I heard that most cosmetics contain carcinogens, I started to believe it.

I've been researching this topic. I don't wear a lot of make-up, but I do wear it.  Ella gets all my old make-up to play with too. 


You would not believe the stuff they put in cosmetics! I went to cosmeticdatabase.com and looked up all of my daily cosmetics....I was shocked, disgusted and in the I'm-throwing-it-all-away zone.

So, you can look up all of your cosmetics in the database and it tells you if the products contains ingredients that have been shown to lead to:
-Developmental/reproductive toxicity
-Miscellanous contamination (sounds nice, huh?)

They rank products this way:
A ranking of 0-2 means the product is a low hazard
A ranking of 3-6 means the product is a moderate hazard
A ranking of 7-10 means the product is a high hazard

Here's how my make-up bag ranked (and, by the way, I used to be so good at buying "natural," animal-friendly cosmetics, but when our budget became so strict, I stopped.  No excuses now....read on):

St. Ives Moisurizer - 7
Maybelline Mascara - 6
Maybelline Foundation (mineral powder) - 4
CoverGirl Blush - 8
CoverGirl Concealer - 5
Almay Eyeshadow - 7
Revlon Eyeshadow - 5

Total: 42   My make-up bag has an average rating of 6 - meaning that everyday, I'm exposing my skin to products that are on the high-end of being a 'Moderate Hazard'.
So, last night, I talked to Ella about it.  I thank my lucky stars that she understands how important this stuff is (case in point: She boycotted all fast food (going on a year now) when she found out that they put ammonia in their burgers.)

We were getting ready for bed last night and talking about how we're going to throw all of these products out and replace them with natural products from companies who don't test on animals and WHO CARE MORE ABOUT PEOPLE THAN PROFITS.
She picked up her eye-shadow kit from Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boutique at Walt Disney World and her eyes started to fill up with tears. I know it's not easy.  I told her she could keep it and use it on her dolls, just not her beautiful face.

Can you tell how upset I am about this? I don't get how companies can continually put products on the shelf that are killing us.


Here's what:
-Call your local Senator/House Rep and tell him/her that you support the current bill going through Congress to elimate toxins in cosmetics.

-Shop here for your make-up:
Rejuva  (I just restocked my make-up bag here)
Coastal Classic

(there's more on the database (link above) - just click on "makeup" and it will show you healthy products.)

-Don't believe all you hear...I used to love the Body Shop products - too bad they're made by Loreal and have just as many toxins as the rest....

Hey Food Revolutionaries!! This week we're making Baked Cod Wrapped in bacon with Rosemary.  Mmm....simple, delicious and not as bad for you as you migh think (just don't eat the bacon).

So, gather your ingredients....you KNOW the Boss is participating....fish is a favorite.
The ingredients are so simple:
-olive oil
-sea salt & pepper
-1 lemon
-2 cod fillets (7 oz ea) (I used cod loins (frozen) and made three)
-4 sprigs fresh rosemary (am I the luckiest girl or what? My hubby grows beautiful herbs!)
-bacon (Jamie calls for 8 slices! I used 1 per piece of fish)

First, preheat your oven to 475 degrees.  Pick the leaves from 2 of your rosemary sprigs and finely chop them on a chopping board.
Drizzle the chopped rosemary with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  The smell of rosemary is phenomenal!  Did I mention how much I love my husband for providing me with fresh herbs??

Season the cod by rolling each piece on the cutting board until evenly coated in the oil and rosemary.

Wrap each piece with a piece of bacon (or 4 if you're Jamie!) and lay a piece of rosemary on top. I put some tin foil in a pan and drizzled that with olive oil, but Jamie says to just put the oil in the pan.  Next, drizzle the fish with a little olive oil and bake for 10-12 minutes (bacon will be brown and the fish will be flaky). 

Serve with a lemon wedge!  WONDERFUL!!  I also served with faux mashed potatoes (cauliflower boiled and pureed with a little olive oil, salt and rosemary).....and....
....a fresh salad..... and ....
Ella's creation for dessert - a parfait with yogurt, toasted coconut and fresh fruit. 

Kinda fancy for a Wednesday night! Thanks Jamie!




Something fishy is going on.

Something very fishy.

You see, when Stout and Mojo are in the same room as each other, there is tension. Mojo tries to buddy up to Stout, but Stout gives him a smack (or two) on the nose.

That's how I should have figured it out.  You see, Stout is not de-clawed and has a nice set of nails.  However, whenever he swats Mojo, he always keeps his claws in.


Then, I was writing a post for this very blog one morning and looked in our front room.  The sun was pouring in our East-facing window, and I saw this touching scene:
Both up on the window seat (well, Mojo was halfway), both gazing out the window, both actually appearing to be enjoying each other's company????

Well, Mojo always enjoys Stout's company, but how can this be?

I tried to sneak up on them, but was caught:
Mojo looked at me as if to say, "Don't come any closer - you'll ruin our cover!" 

And, sure enough, as soon as Stout saw me, he acted all annoyed with Mojo.

That cat must have me wrapped around his little paw.  We have completely bent the rules for that guy since Mojo has come into the house.  He's semi-allowed on the counter now (so he can get away from the obnoxious puppy), he gets total control of our bed and furniture (deemed no-dog zones) and he gets our sympathy  ("Poor little kitty, is that dog bothering you again??").

Yep. We've been had....by the wonder cat.
So, I turned 38 in June.  I have two years before the big 4-0.  As I get older, life moves faster and faster.  In an effort to "suck all the marrow out of life," (thank you Walden) I am making a list.  I intend to have a similar list for each remaining decade of my life. 

Here are the 40 things I want to do before I'm 40 (in no particular order):

1. Make a (successful) souffle
2. Go to a movie by myself
3. Get a professional manicure
4. Go on a conscious-shopping diet (gifts, clothes, etc.) for six months (forever?)
5. Eat Vegan for 1 month
6. Buy only organic 'dirty dozen' fruits and veggies (those absorbing the most pesticides - celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, sweet bell peppers, spinach, kale/collard greens, cherries, potatoes and grapes).
7. Stop using plastic water bottles
8. Learn how to make Naan
9. Only use canned goods in rare circumstances (to cut down on BPA toxins)
10. Cook with only grass-fed beef
11. Cook with only free-range chicken
12. Chaperone one of Ella's field trips for school
13. Make homemade dog treats for Mojo
14. Make treats for Ella's class celebrations
15. Spend a day in my pajamas
16. Start a list of must-see places to travel with Ella
17. Plant something that actually grows
18. Girls Night Out with Ella at the Melting Pot
19. Build a snow fort
20. Take Ella to a State Fair
21. See the Broadway production of the Lion King
22. Climb Mt. Baldhead
23. Clean and organize the basement
24. "Spring" house clean my house
25. Have a garage sale
26. Take Greg on a Bourbon and BBQ tour of Kentucky
27. Make snow angels with Ella
28. Read the Alchemist again, and again, and again...
29. Get involved with the local mission
30. Visit Marquette
31. Take Ella to Michigan's Adventure
32. Publish an E-Book
33. Decorate a cake with fondant
34. Paint Mojo's portrait
35. Try Fricano's Pizza
36. Drink a REAL Martini (not my usual Lemon Drop)
37. Regular donations to the local humane society
38. Paint the kitchen and dining room
39. Do Girls on the Run with Ella
40. Take Ella to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival

Last year, at the suggestion of my dad, Ella and I entered a photography contest.  To our surprise, we each won.  She won the kid's category and I won an honorable mention and a calendar spot.

So, today we're heading up north to do it again.  This year, the theme is "Treasures of the Jordan" (it's for the Jordan River Watershed).  All entries must be marked with where your pictures were taken.
Last year I entered with little hope of winning.  I did it to participate with Ella, and it was fun.  This year, I don't have much more confidence, but it will be fun to see what happens.

I love having a map with places to explore. It does make it mysterious.  What will we find?

This year, I have a new camera too. Ella can use my 'point and shoot' camera and I can take some time to set up my shots. 

I'm not a big contest - enterer (yeah-not a word, I know).  By nature, I'm not competitive. I never really loved team sports and really only ever did well at individual activities.  I'm ok kicking the heck out of myself, but not someone else.  Even last year, when my photo had a ribbon on it at the award ceremony, I looked around and couldn't believe the competition. 

It was pure luck that one of my photos was chosen - yes, it was a good photo, but there were so many good photos.  There must have been something in my picture that spoke to the judge - maybe it reminded him of his mom baking cupcakes as a kid or something....I don't know.  I do know that there were a lot of talented photographers with pictures entered, and they deserved it just as much as I did.

I also felt bad, because my dad had been the reigning champ in the contest...until we came along. Oops.  Sorry, Dad!  He was gracious about it, but I could see him rolling his eyes (jokingly) through the email he wrote informing us we had winning photos.  I know he was happy for us, but disappointed all the same.

I'm just not that into winning.  Sure, the check was great, but it also meant I had to be the center of attention for about 30 seconds. Eek!

But, I'm jumping ahead.  This year, I'm just going to take pictures and enjoy it.  Whatever happens, happens. 
When I first went to my dad's quiet house in northern Michigan, I thought, "How can I capture this feeling at my own house?" One of my favorite things to do at my dad's is just sit on the front porch and listen to the sounds of the woods.

I came home from that trip and told Greg about it.  He suggested making our sorely neglected front porch into a place to hang out.  I agreed, thinking it wouldn't have quite the same effect.

He painted the trim and we cleaned it up.  We added a couple of wicker chairs and a genuine antique front-porch swing that my dad had given me a few birthdays before. I ran to Tuesday Morning and picked up some cheap cushions. Voila! It looked inviting and peaceful....
It has become a major hangout for us. Ella and I eat popsycles on hot summer days there...Greg and I wait for trick-or-treaters on Halloween there...It's nice just to sit there and read after dinner.  We're not in the woods, and the sounds are different than at my dad's.  At home, we hear birds....and cars, and air conditioners, and kids... but that's ok, because it's home...our home.

I'm grateful for this small space in our home.  It helps me escape a little, without really leaving the people I love.

OK, now these people really know how to create paradise in their backyard--
I know it's a little difficult to see, but we found this house on a busy road near my inlaws' house.  Not only is there a desert island with a BAR, but there are fountains, umbrellas and even a PONTOON boat....  There are no (real) palm trees or exotic animals, no crystal blue waves with dolphins playing in the water, no tropical weather...but it's paradise just the same.
OK, you food revolutionaries (and I know of at LEAST 3 of you) - this week is going to be F-U-N!!!  I'm not an expert on curry, but I will say that this is one of the best (if not the best) curries I've tasted.

This is my 4th week of teaching the world (ok - you!!) to cook wholesome, real, simple, and affordable food, according to Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution book.

This week I made Chicken Korma, which is a curry. Now, not all of Jamie Oliver's recipes are healthy. They aren't unhealthy, but they aren't really low-calorie or low-fat recipes.  The revoution is more about cooking real food and getting away from processed foods and 'synthetic' ingredients.  A curry, by it's nature, isn't really low-fat - have you read the label on a coconut milk can?  Anyway, this recipe, although a little high in fat was DELICIOUS.

I am ok at Thai curries, but have never been good at Indian curries.  Thanks to Jamie, that has changed.  Check it out:
First, get your ingredients together - just a note, I served this over Jamie's cilantro-lime rice and that recipe follows the curry recipe.
This serves 4-6
-1 3/4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or shrimp, etc.)
-2 medium onions
-thumb-sized piece of ginger (long story here, but SOMEONE stole my fresh ginger!!! It was MIA, so I had to use powdered - 1 tsp.)
-small bunch of fresh cilantro
-15 oz can of garbanzo beans
-vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
-a pat of butter (as I cut my 'pat', I realized this was the first time I've used butter in 2 weeks! It used to be a daily occurance! Yay for healthy eating!)
-1/2 mild curry paste
-14 oz coconut milk
-a small handful of sliced almonds
-2 heaping tablespoons of unsweetened, shredded coconut.  OK, if you find it, please tell me. I only found sweetened.
-sea salt & freshly ground pepper
-natural yogurt (for dolloping on at serving)
-1 lemon (I skipped, since I made the citrus rice).
The boss is showing major affection for those almonds! Maybe he loves ingredients in general...if only the boss could talk. Nevermind...that would be dangerous!
FIRST: Prepare your ingredients.  Cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces (I prefer thin strips, so that's what I did).  Peel, halve and finely slice the onions. Peel and finely chop the ginger (Wahh!!!! I wanted fresh ginger.  I will find you, thief!). Pick the cilantro leaves and finely chop the stalks.  Drain the garbanzo beans.
SECOND: Make the curry.  In a large pan on high heat (or med-high if you're using olive oil), add a couple of 'lugs' of oil and then the onions, ginger, cilantro stalks and butter.  Keep stirring so it doesn't burn! Keep cooking for 10 minutes, until golden brown.  OK, if you stop here, I won't be mad. This recipe is worth making for the smell of these items sizzling on your stove. It was beautiful!

Add the curry paste, coconut mlk, half of the almonds, garbanzo beans, coconut and chicken breasts.  Add 1/2 of a can (coconut milk can works fine) of water and give it a stir.  Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down, cover and simmer for 30 minutes (with the lid on).   Add the cilantro leaves just before the 30 minutes is up.  OK, you can quit here too - this is a beautiful color and the smell is phenomenal.  But, if you don't want to quit, read on to make Jamie's rice!

Cilantro and Lime Rice
You will need:
-1 1/4 c. basmati rice (I used 1/2 jasmine and 1/2 brown rice)
-large bunch of cilantro
2 limes
extra virgin oliveoil
sea salt & freshly ground pepper

I'm gonna give you Jamie's recipe, but have I introduced you to MFA (my favorite applieance)???

I LOVE my rice cooker and only use that to make my rice. However....if you don't have one (I'm so very sorry), here's how Jamie does it.

Put a large pan of salted water on high heat and bring to a boil.  After you rinse your rice, add it to the boiling water and wait for it to 'dance around'. Once it does, boil for 5 minutes. Drain rice in a colander.  Pour 1 inch of water into the pan and return it to the heat.  Bring it to a boil.  Cover the colander with aluminum foil and place it over the water.  Steam the rice for 8-10 minutes.  Remove from heat. 

Pick the cilantro leaves off the stalks and finely chop.  Zest your limes and cut them in half.
Mix the zest and cilantro into the rice and then squeeze the lime halves over it.  Drizzle over a lug of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Stir well and serve!
Serve the curry over the rice and sprinkle with almonds and cilantro (add a dollup of yogurt if desired!)
It was such an aromatic, tasty and unusual dinner for us and we loved it!
Curry an 8 year old loves? Awesome!
And by the way...I am SO learning how to make naan (Indian bread) from scratch!  Stay tuned...
This is when Ella was seven. It was Friday.
This is when Ella turned eight.
She turned 8, she got a cell phone.

When she turns 16, she gets the keys to the car.

When she turns 24, she'll be done with college (unless she's like Greg and me and it goes on and on and on....).

Who knew numbers divisible by eight were so overwhelming?

When your kids have birthdays, you get so busy in planning their special day that you forget...this is a celebration of another passing.  So, when the friends leave and the family packs up and the presents have all been opened, you sit down, sigh and say, "Wow. My baby is another year older."

There's definitely a sadness to it, but there's also so much pride and joy. I think the sadness is just recognizing the last year and some wasted moments.  For me, I think....

-I should have played Barbies with her more.
-I should have shut up and listened more.
-I should have let her make more decisions for herself.

All things I can do better this year, but you just don't get time back.

Then, after you process all of this stuff, you think....(well, I thought)...that was one heck of a party.

It started in the morning with a detective party for 10 of her friends.  We made T-shirts for 2 teams who had to solve various word puzzles and riddles to find clues.  The crime? Ella's most beloved stuffed animal, Cuddles, was kidnapped.  This took over a month to plan and develop, but it was totally worth it.  The kids were challenged, but it wasn't too difficult.
Cuddles was in the treehouse! Ella's team won, but only by seconds...
For the family party, Ella wanted a cake with a million animals on it. Ok, so it took me 5 hours to make around 30 animals, so a million was out. But it was fun.

This was my Elephant.
These are my pigs.
And what would a cake be without cocker spaniels?
And here's the whole gang....penguins, seals, 1 polar bear, pigs, 1 elephant, chicks, sheep, turtles, dogs and cats...
What a whirlwind weekend. 

So, she's eight now...she gets older every day.  But, the bottom line is, every day is appreciated.  I guess the goal is to not have any wasted moments to think back on next year.

Thank heaven for little girls.

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    My name is Kristen Porter ~ I am a corporate attorney by day, and a writer/artist/renaissance-woman wanna-be by night. 

    This is my blog...my summary of life and attempt to capture small moments forever while appreciating their impermanence.  Those small moments are what make life so wonderful!

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