Simple, Spiritual, Outdated Living in a Vintage New England Home on the Southern Coast of Maine

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Field Trip: Common Ground Country Fair, Unity, Maine 2016


The last time I went to the Maine Common Ground fair was about 20 years ago!


We were on the road at 6:30 a.m. for the close to two hour ride.


An old-timey gas station in a cute little town (I think Albion).


Lots of environmental activism at the fair. Please enlarge this to read about Poland Spring and Nestle. There's some stuff going on about which few people outside of Maine are aware.


Live letterpress postcard printing demonstration.


Good crusty bread (that I can't eat, bummer.)


This artisan makes peace signs from the wood and metal of wine barrels.


It wasn't just pretty in this booth--it smelled heavenly.


More scents.


Some pro-hemp anti-Hillary dude.


Beautiful day!



I tried to explain to him/her that the paint probably contains lead but he/she kept on licking it.


Anyone could milk the goat. I passed.


A really big fork at the Ravioli truck.


Just one section of fair food. There were many.


Organic lamb kabobs! Yay! $12 for each kabob, boooo.

Me.


Native American doll making interactive demonstration.


Maine maple syrup, mmmm.


Adorable bonsai trees.


Herbal Revolution.


I wanted to bring home so many of the creative and beautiful things I saw today like the big rock planter in front.



Sunflowers! 


Carrot educational display.


And squash.


This is hot Indian pudding sweetened with maple syrup and topped with whipped cream. My vintage Maine cookbooks are packed with recipes for it. I'll have to try one this winter and post it here. It's also naturally gluten-free since it's made with cornmeal.


This was my favorite part of the fair where we got the perfect souvenir:
 

A tintype portrait of me and Wayne!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

My Own Cherokee Purple Tomato & Red Onion Marinara Sauce Recipe

 Yesterday's yield from the garden: Cherokee Purple & Beefsteak

This has been our first and a most extraordinary year for our organic backyard and deck tomatoes despite being in a drought. Wayne watered and tended to them every single morning so that certainly helped! Besides enjoying sliced tomatoes as is, maybe with cheese or in an omelette, tomato and mayo sandwiches, sliced tomatoes drizzled with vinegar or chopped up with our garden cukes, I've been mastering homemade marinara sauce. Contained within that sauce is a secret and scandalous ingredient I will reveal in my recipe!


Cherokee Purple Heirloom Tomato & Red Onion Marinara Recipe

16 cups of chopped Cherokee Purple (or beefsteak which I've used in the past, or a mix of both which is doubly delicious!) tomatoes
2 cups chopped red onion
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp or to taste pink salt

The secret ingredient? The skins! Leave on the skins! Most everyone and recipe will tell you to remove the skins. That's crazy talk! Once they are cooked they break down and you won't even know they are there! More importantly, your body will appreciate it. From WebMD:

Tomato peels contribute a high concentration of the carotenoids found in tomatoes. The amount of carotenoids absorbed by human intestinal cells was much greater with tomato paste enriched with tomato peels compared to tomato paste without peels, according to a study from Marseille, France. The tomato skin also holds most of the flavonols (another family of phytochemicals that includes quercetin and kaempferol) as well. So to maximize the health propertiesof tomatoes, don't peel them if you can help it!

Optional: 1 tbsp basil, 1 tbsp oregano, garlic to taste. I've used this marinara as a base for soups and chili, not just a spaghetti sauce, so sometimes I leave out the added traditional Italian additions.

Place the chopped tomatoes in a large sauce pot on the stove top. I used a 6 quart pot. Turn the heat up to medium and bring to a slow boil.


While waiting for the tomatoes to start bubbling, sautee the onions on medium in the 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add them to the tomatoes, stir, and bring back to a slow boil. Once it starts to bubble reduce the heat to medium low, or hot enough to simmer for two hours uncovered. Stir frequently, and for me that means every five minutes. This is good exercise! It'll keep you from sitting too long.


It should look like a really awesome tomato onion stew. In fact you could even stop here, add some peppers, chicken or meat, cooked beans, cumin, paprika and hot pepper and you've got chili!


This is what the sauce looks like after simmering and stirring for two hours. Next, with a soup ladle, transfer the sauce into a blender and fill it about halfway. Cover securely, then press the pulse button for only one second! Then wait a few seconds, pulse again for one second. Repeat for a total of four one second pulses. The goal is to blend and chop the sauce but not turn it into a puree.


Next, transfer the sauce into Mason jar. I place mine in the sink in case of splatter.


Let the sauce cool before refrigerating. My recipe produces about ten cups of delicious, wholesome and healthy marinara sauce with 110 calories per cup.

Shown with the remaining non-heirloom tomatoes from the first pic.

The half-gallon Mason jars are great because you can place them in the fridge and pour out the sauce as needed all week. This time around I let it cool and then placed the sauce in two freezer-safe BPA free containers so that Wayne and I will enjoy our summer bounty sometime this late fall or early winter!

My New York Times "Editor's Pick" comment about "blackout" drinking


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Popping and locking my way into a funk! Don't let age, race or decade define your groove.



The above dancers are so badass!! They're also like 12. Ok, probably 16. Definitely not almost fifty.



None of these Soul Train dancers are white and 48, and it's not the 1970s, but why should that stop anyone (me) from trying? (Looking foolish aside.)


See! This man is allegedly sixty years old! Look!

In late 1970s and early 80s NYC, Roosevelt Island (where I grew up) and very pre-gentrified Astoria Queens (right over the bridge) specifically, street dancing and boom boxes were IT. I wasn't an IT girl and it was mostly the boys who got into it. Even though I was a tomboy, I was also a chain smoking brooding wallflower who liked to sit on the sidelines and make snarky remarks. Any kind of coordinated aerobic exercise was out. I even smoked on the walk to Central Park from school during gym class!

But that was then.

My last cigarette was in 1999. It's been a few years-ish since 1979. I'm a bit older. I gave up brooding long ago since it's rather boring.

As I approach fifty I've been learning to continually challenge long-held beliefs about myself and life. I decided to learn how to pop and lock within the privacy of my own home. Who would know or care? I practice what I preach in my diet book: I stay active without going to a gym. Dancing is a great way to stay fit while having fun!

I watched some YouTube tutorials and then dropped Herbie Hancock Head Hunters on the turntable.


It's probably the funkiest 1970s album ever. I practiced some of the moves I learned and what fun it was! Until it wasn't.  

The next morning I was very sore on my left side. Good! It meant I used muscles that were being neglected all these years! After a few days it subsided until it didn't when it returned.

That's what a stiff middle aged woman gets for trying to get all Soul-Trainy with her moves, I figured. Middle-aged women are supposed to, what? The current pop-culture narrative does NOT include retro street dancing. Then I figured I only had seven more years until I could qualify for the 55+ socials (bingo etc) here in town. Maybe I could get a fake ID and start early.

After a week of the pain not subsiding and the depressing "middle-aged women shouldn't" rhetoric in my head not slowing down I made an appointment with my doctor.

Should I tell him the truth, I wondered? Or just say that I was doing some exercises? He's very easy to talk to and seems to listen so I came clean.

His response? "Cool!"

He poked me and had me lay down and moved my left leg around. 

"You don't have arthritis and it's not your hip. It's your oblique muscle. It's a common injury among athletes." 

ATHLETES! Not old ladies!

"You can get back to it once it's had a chance to heal."

My point in sharing this here is that I realized that even though I snark on ageism and assert that I won't buy into it, I had and probably still do in ways about which I'm not yet aware. I assumed that my injury was absolutely related to my age and pretty much berated myself for it. 

Poking fun at a klutzy white woman trying to dance like Re-Run is fine, because that's some funny stuff right there, but internalized ageism isn't fine of funny to me.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Fit Over Sixty Guest Post: Wayne's Weight Loss & Health Gains

Feeling great over sixty!

Averyl asked me if I was willing to share what my daily diet used to look like and how it is today along with my "before" pic on her blog. I admit that I'm shy when it comes to talking about myself like this but she pointed out that it can help inspire others. (Averyl's note: I also told him to get over himself!)

A few years and twenty-five pounds ago I was in what my doctor called a "pre-diabetic condition" and was suffering from severe hypertension. He consequently prescribed medications for both problems but I knew I had to do more to help myself. As you can see from my unflattering "before" pic I had a huge gut. (Averyl's note: How is that even the same guy?!)

Before I worked as a boatyard manager where I built and designed yachts and sailboats I spent almost twenty years in the food service industry. I considered myself to be well acquainted with healthy and wholesome food preparation.  Even armed with that knowledge I often chose to eat foods that were compromised by modern technology or provided calories without consideration for their nutritional value because they were convenient.

I have been taking some time to reflect on how Averyl and her book (yes I read it) helped me become aware of my eating habits and my relationship to food. It was always my "excuse" that eating right would consume too much time for me to give it serious thought. Whereas my old habits included eating what I construed to be "healthy" foods, they were often heavily laden with sugar or fats. I learned to pay attention to labels. I used to think that I wasn't having any sweets during the day which I used to justify having ice cream every night right before bed. I found out that I was actually eating sugar throughout the day. Some of the healthy-sounding processed foods I ate like like raisin bran and yogurt contained a lot of added sugars.

Averyl said it would be helpful to share some specifics about what I eat now vs then:

Instead of a sugary cereal or toast loaded with butter and jam for breakfast I now have a large bowl of cooked oatmeal, raisins, puffed wheat and flax seed every single day. It's very satisfying. 

For lunch I often make peanut butter and banana on whole grain bread sandwiches that I take to work along with cashews or almonds for a snack. I now only buy unsalted and unsweetend nuts, nut butters and bread. Before that I used to eat salty deli meats and greasy take out.

Unless we're eating out which is about once a week Averyl makes our dinners mostly from scratch. I used to add a LOT of butter and fat to my food. She uses those in her recipes but much less of it. She likes to cook with potatoes, gluten-free corn pasta or other carbs, vegetables and either cheeses or small amount of chicken. We eat lots of casseroles. We both used to eat a lot of red meat but now we have it maybe a few times a month.

I usually don't eat anything after dinner and I haven't had ice cream before bed for over a year now. Sometimes Averyl will make a pie or cake and we'll both have a piece for dessert. I make a point to eat more slowly. I feel like I'm able to enjoy my food more. 

I cut alcohol out of my diet.

My body was very out of shape. Other than playing golf I wasn't very active. Now I'm outdoors a lot in the summer doing yard work and gardening. I still play golf. In the winter I do the shoveling instead of hiring someone else. I still work in the marine and boating industry only now in a retail sales capacity where I frequently stock shelves.

As of my last annual examination in October of 2015 my doctor informed me that I no longer needed to be on any medications!


Wayne's t-shirt c/o his buddy Fred Steeves, co-owner of Double S Speed Shop.

It's not about recipes and quick fixes but rather a more comprehensive yet relatively simple and common sense approach to my everyday eating habits and exercise. It's daily diligence that is giving me lasting results.  

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Mid-life Beauty on a Budget: Facial Skincare



By reader request! Taking care of our skin as we age can be tricky when we live in an ageist society that profits from self-hate. It can feel like we have to drop hundreds of dollars on products, maybe even Botox and other fillers (not for me!) to not look like ourselves. I am totally OK with "looking my age." I just want to look and be healthy and hydrated! I have found some excellent products with "dime store" pricing (comparatively speaking) that do that for me at age 48.

First thing I do, and this is very very important: I STAY OUT OF EXTENDED DIRECT SUNLIGHT!! I plan my outdoor activities so that I am either outside in the early morning, later afternoon or in a shaded area. I would rather do this than wear sunscreen, because shade is the best organic, non-chemical, inexpensive SPF out there. I know that even indirect sunlight ages our skin but I dislike the idea of slathering sunscreen on myself every single day. It's not perfect, but it's what I've been doing.

Through my late 20s and into my mid 40s I was using Clinique's "Mild" soap on my face. It worked great! Until it didn't. My skin began to feel noticeably dry after I had used it. On a whim I decided to try a vintage, never opened bar of SweetHeart soap I had picked up somewhere along my picking adventures.


That was about three years ago and I have not used anything else on my face since then! It is the most wonderful, gentle, subtly scented soap ever! The bars I have are from the late 60s and there is nothing "bad" or rancid about them. Once I realized how magical it was I went on ebay and found a seller who said in their auction description that they were selling bars from an entire case. I messaged them, made an offer on the remaining case and now have a healthy supply for many years to come. You can usually find vintage SweetHeart soap still in the original packaging on ebay. One bar lasts me many months so it's economical.

An environmental and humane selling point for using vintage soap (I have other vintage brands in my stash to try) is that unlike the majority of soaps today it usually did not contain palm oil or its derivatives. PLEASE click here to read about palm production and its devastating effect on orangutans and the rain forest. 

A second Clinique product I used for years up until last week is their Skin Type 2 "Clarifying Lotion." I'm not sure why they call it a lotion since it's liquid with the alcohol being the main ingredient! (I admit that I hadn't checked the ingredients list in ages). It was really drying out my skin and costs $24 a bottle. In place of it I have begun to use inexpensive, effective yet gentler Witch Hazel. You can buy it at your grocery for about $2. It's working for me so far. As for as the ugly bottle in which it came I'm going to pour some into an antique bottle I picked up at a rummage sale this weekend (in the top pic) for display. Pretty packaging is how some of the pricier brands convince you to buy their product. Repurposed old bottles filled with what works will always win me over!

I've been using and loving fragrance-free Olay Regenerist Serum for almost ten years and presently have the top rated review on Amazon. I wish it was all natural without synthetic or questionable ingredients, but it really does wonders for my skin! The biggest thing it does it soften and firms. It's not enough of a moisturizer, however.

Night cream isn't just for bedtime which is why I use Neutrogena Light Night Cream day and night every day after I wash my face. I've been using it for about fifteen years. 

I've recently started to rub a few drops of 100% Argan oil on my face and love it. It hasn't caused me to break out. The bottle I bought is a "sample" size by Josie Maran at Sephora.

I've been using Olay Total Effects Eye Brightening Cream under my eyes for about a year. It's OK, nothing amazing, but gentle and lightweight without any noticeable fragrance. I'm still trying to find something without the added color because I don't need it.

Finally, your diet plays a big role in your skin's health and appearance. I learned that when I started to eat retro. I had a terrible complexion until I cut out all the junk and yo-yo dieting in 2010.

None of the above mentions are sponsored.

I'd love to hear from you, ladies! What do YOU use that works? What doesn't?

Friday, September 2, 2016

Doctors no longer address obesity. Women are more accepting of their bodies. Yay?

During my annual physical I noticed that my Doctor's office no longer opens a dialog or instructional posters/handouts about obesity, overweight, underweight, or weight at all. Patients are asked to stand on a scale where there is a poster offering tips along the lines of "Health At Every Size."



I think these current news stories, when shown together, show a bigger theme at play:



Doctors now ask permission to discuss weight, if they bring it up at all.




 "...social issues may take priority over discussing obesity, and social stigma may make providers hesitant to label patients, especially children, as obese."

"URMC Study Shows Obesity Diagnosis is Often Overlooked"



"In 1991, no state posted an obesity rate higher than 20%. In 2015, all states topped 20%, and half were at or above 30%."
 

"Modest Progress or New War on Obesity?"





It's now three years ago that I published my book American Women Didn't Get Fat in the 1950s. Seems like little has changed since then. What will it take for there to be a cultural shift so that "body acceptance" coincides with an increase in compassionate, candid conversations with medical professionals about healthy body weight?