Everything Else

Get Plated

By | @askdrtania | 1 day ago

getplated
So I got wind of this new company called Plated from a friend of mine that owns BlogCatalog, who subsequently knows a lot about new and innovative ideas. So thank you Tony. He got my attention when he brought up a new online food delivery service.

You know I am all about good food, but sometimes I get tripped up by the inconvenience of it all. You know, when you’re all ramped up to cook something yummy, and realize that you don’t have a key ingredient. Or – you’re just done with the same old, same old.

That’s where Plated comes in. And frankly, it’s a really cool concept, so I decided to give it a try.

plated

With Plated, users ‘shop’ their online site (www.plated.com), browsing through a selection of available meals. Once you find the meal(s) that you’d like to make, you add them to your cart, Plate by Plate. You specify a delivery date, and a box arrives with every ingredient you need (less standard pantry items like salt, pepper, or olive oil), in just the right amounts.

So, no running to the store to buy a $10 jar of saffron that you will never use again.

foolproofEach Plate comes with step-by-step instructions (and pictures!) for easy preparation. At $15 per person it’s not cheap – but when you factor in your time, countless trips to the grocery store and volumes of unused ingredients cluttering your cupboard, it’s a really nice way to cook at home with much less fuss and muss. Plus – if you sign up for a membership, they discount it to $12. Membership is $10 a month, so if you can see yourself purchasing more than 2 plates a month – it’s a worthy investment.

tiki_masalaFor my first Plate I ordered one of our favorite Indian dishes, Tiki Masala. My husband and I enjoy eating it, but had no idea how to prepare it. He was leaving for a trip, and I thought we’d cook and eat a nice dinner together before he left.

So, I signed up for a Tuesday delivery since he was leaving on Wednesday; we anxiously awaited our delivery.

And waited… And waited…

Finally it came – on Wednesday afternoon, just before hubby left. Oh well. To their credit, Plated customer service helped me figure out that the food was safe to eat, as they had placed a sensor in the well-packed box that indicated if temperatures go above the safety zone. They did say if the food was bad that they would credit or replace it, but I was a little disappointed that they didn’t fall all over themselves with apologies, especially being a first-time customer who made it clear that it messed up a date night. Fun story though – immediately after I ordered, I saw the owners of Plated on the popular TV show “Shark Tank” (did I mention how obsessed I am with that show? Oh, that Mark Cuban!) so they were quite likely overwhelmed. But still!

Back to the cooking. Sans husband, I picked through all of the ingredients and got ready to rumble. The packaging is great, and the instructions were very easy to understand. I felt like I had my very own soux-chef in a box!

tiki-masala copyThe resulting dish was quite delish – if a little SPICIER than I am used to! I kinda wish they might have given me heads up on that, and perhaps mentioned the option of, “if you prefer less heat, use ½ the amount of ______”.

All in all it was a positive experience.

Plated is perfect on a regular basis if you have a little more money than time, want to expand your culinary horizons, or just for an occasional break from the monotony of “What’s for dinner?”

Bon Appetite! XO.

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Everything Else Wellness

Lululemon’s ‘The Mat’

By | @askdrtania | 2 days ago

themat

Yoga is my exercise and my therapy, but my yoga mat was driving me to drink.

thematI’m a sweaty girl, so the minute I got even slightly warm, my Warrior II turned into a slip-and-slide event that was tough to recover from. I felt I was truly in danger of hurting myself if I slipped while in a challenging pose.

I tried a mat cover (got all crinkly) and a blanket (killed my knees). Finally, someone recommended Lululemon’s ‘The Mat’.

It has a really smooth surface instead of the dimpled texture of most mats that you see, so I was really quite skeptical. The yogi at the store promised me that her feet stayed firmly planted, even during Bikram; after that review I thought it was worth a shot. The Mat retails for a cool $68 plus tax (but comes with free shipping), so I asked the Birthday Fairy for one and she answered.

All I have to say is: I. Love. It.

The minor downsides: it has a really strong odor to it right out of the package, but I left it open for a few days and it’s just fine now. It’s also a bit heavier than other mats, but we are working out here, right?

The upsides far outweigh any minor annoyances. It comes in some great colors (as you can see from the picture), provides great cushioning, and I haven’t slipped once since using it.

Sometimes a small thing makes a big difference.

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Parenting

Population Ponderings

By | @askdrtania | 3 days ago

POP-PON

I love interesting facts and figures, don’t you? Listening to National Public Radio one day recently, I learned something pretty cool…

cool-line

usaReally?? Have you ever been to Brooklyn? It’s not that bad. In fact, it’s a pretty cool place to live, IMO.

I don’t spend a whole lot of time worrying about overpopulation, but it does cross my mind from time to time as I worry about the kind of world my girls will inherit. More people means more consumption of natural resource and more trash.

Somehow, this made me feel better.

Don’t get me wrong. Even if we homo-sapiens are taking up far less of the Earth’s real estate than I imagined, we are still doing a really good job of messing it up. But maybe, just maybe, we can turn it around before the damage is irreversible.

We’re certainly not as diligent about reducing, reusing and recycling in my house as many people are, but there are a lot of things we all can do that won’t cramp our style. I know, pollution cramps our style, too – big time, right? But much as I would like to, I am just not a composter. And reusable grocery bags? Ugh, they are NEVER where I need them!

Please don’t judge me – I’m a work in progress, as I know many others are!

Here are some environmentally-friendly practices that are easy-peasy:

  • The biggest tangible thing we try to do is to minimize plastic water bottle use. Do you know how many of those suckers we throw out each year? According to the paper our daughter wrote for school – BILLIONS. Holy Guacamole Batman. We use stainless steel bottles and refill them many times a day.
  • Recycle > Trash: Our goal is to have less than 1 bag of trash for every bag of recycling, and most weeks we do a good job of that.
  • Multi-purpose as much as you can. Those innumerable grocery bags? Yes, you can recycle them, but better yet, reuse the plastic ones as liners for small trashcans, and the paper ones to hold your paper recyclables.
  • Boycott anything in “individually wrapped serving sizes”. It’s much more Earth-friendly (and cheaper!) to buy the largest package available, and if you can find it in the bulk section, even better!
  • Put timers on lights so you don’t end up being visible from space every night. And I swear, in my next home I will have motion detector light sensors is every single room. Much as I torture my family about this, they can’t seem to turn the lights off.LITTLETOWN

In my house, we’re making a real effort to do what we can to save the lovely planet we call ‘home.’ What are some of the not-so-burdensome things you do to save our Mother Earth?

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Wellness

Ditch the Sugar

By | @askdrtania | 6 days ago

ditchthesugar

In case you ditch me before the end of this article, let me be very clear:

Ditching sugar doesn’t mean that you should use an artificial sweetener in its place. EVER!

While living in the south, I learned that it’s all about the sugar. Sugar as in sweet tea, delivered with an equally sweet, slow, southern drawl. Had I indulged, I would surely be a diabetic by now.

There’s a whole bunch of talk about how Sitting is the New Sugar – in fact, I wrote a piece about just that, and I do mean it. However, let’s not forget that sugar is indeed still evil, and it’s an evil that hides around corners and masquerades as many other, seemingly innocent names.

Let’s take a look at a few of those, because just when you thought it was safe to eat something that did not list sugar as one of the top ingredients (and I do applaud you label-readers!), these alter-egos sneak up and bite you in the pancreas:

  • Anything ending is “ose” like “sucralose”
  • Anything with the word “syrup”
  • Anything with the word “cane”
  • Anything that says sugar, even if it sounds healthier, like beet sugar
  • Anything that says juice

Don’t mistake a natural sugar for something that is healthy, either. No sugar or sugar-like substance adds nutritional value! Got that?!

And oh – the places it hides! You have to read every single label of groceries you bring into the house, and pretty much assume that any foods you eat out will contain sugar. My family and I went sugar-free for 6 months and it was WAY harder to avoid than I thought. One time I ordered a chicken Caesar salad and asked the waiter to check with the chef to see if there was sugar in either the marinade for the chicken, or salad dressing. “We make both in house, so there probably isn’t any”, he said confidently. I was feeling pretty good about it until he came back to the table, sheepishly reporting that the chef added sugar to BOTH the simple marinade AND the dressing.

W h y   –   o h   w h y   i s   t h a t   n e c e s s a r y ? ? !

sugarAfter the torture of going completely sugar-free, we’ve backed off a bit just to be able to enjoy a meal out.

Many of us indulge in foods that are obviously full of refined sugars – desserts, sodas, candy, coffees, etc. Add that to the hidden sources, and each of us will consume about 130 pounds of sugar this year! Now, ain’t that sweet?

In my perfect world, you’d use some sugar only in dessert preparation and the very rare soft or sports drink. Otherwise, get used to the true, delicious flavors of good-quality food, prepared with fresh herbs and spices. If you do this, you’ll probably find like I did, that just looking at a candy bar makes your teeth ache, and you’ll be very happy that you ditched the sugar, sugar!

Check out FitSugar for a comprehensive list of sugar impersonators.

XO!

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Parenting

3 Birthing Positions You May Want to Consider

By | @askdrtania | 8 days ago

3birthingpositions

After 9 months of waiting and hours of laboring, finally, it’s time to push your baby out.

My best advice is to listen to your body.

For example, I had every intention of having water births with our girls; but that was my mind talking. My body, though it really enjoyed laboring in the lovely, warm water, wanted OUT! So, both times, I stepped out of the tub, crouched into a half squat, and pushed my girls out in minutes. It just felt like that’s what I needed to do, and clearly, it worked for me.

So do what works for you!

Keeping in mind that gravity is a lovely assist, and that laying on your back creates an uphill trek for baby, here are some birthing positions that you may want to consider:

  1. Sitting: My birth center had a lovely rocking chair with a notch cut out, perfect for rocking the baby out.
  2. Standing/Squatting: This is what felt most natural to me, and I also felt like I had the most pushing power here.
  3. Hands and Knees: Moms who experience back labor may benefit greatly from this position during labor and delivery. An exercise ball can help to support your body while you push, and it feels great to rest like this between contractions.

cool-lineIn a healthy pregnancy, labor and delivery should not be treated like a medical condition. Rather, it’s a natural process that should be left to unfold at its own pace, in its own space. With a little creativity and an open mind, you can find a birth position that feels the most powerful and least uncomfortable to you. Practice some of these before labor starts, but don’t hold yourself to any particular position. Once the party gets started, you may have the urge to do something differently, so just go with it.

Your instincts and intuition will rarely lead you astray, both during the process of delivery and in parenting for years to come.

Best of luck!

Tags: Pregnancy

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Lifestyle

Not Your Garden Variety Therapy

By | @askdrtania | 9 days ago

GARDENVARIETY

I had visions of rosemary-skewered scallops, heirloom tomato salad and homegrown eggplant parmesan, truly I did! Alas, most nights it’s a Trader Joe’s dinner du jour.

(you will grow to understand that I heart Trader Joe’s.)

When we moved into our current, sun-drenched home from our respective moss-covered houses in the woods, I couldn’t wait to put in a garden. Actually, I couldn’t wait for Braden to put in a garden for me. So we have a deer-proofed 12×20 plot of organic love in our yard. Some years we have a bumper crop that I brag about on Facebook (I grew asparagus! And artichokes that the dogs ate before we could pick them!) – and others, well, let’s just say I grow a mean weed.

gardening-sidenoteWhether it’s a season when I have time to regularly tend my veggies or a whirlwind, “D’oh! Where did the Spring go?”, I do get to dig in the dirt at least a little bit every year.

This year is looking like the latter. I am feeling kind of schlumpy today, and the plants I hurriedly picked up this week were looking a little worse for the wear in their little pots. The kids are at the gym. The hubby is golfing. And I am trying to avoid growing my own roots on the couch.

So, I forced myself out of the door and into the garden. Before I knew it, my energy picked up, I had turned over the entire plot, and planted my loot for the coming season. I even gave myself an “attagirl” for investing in a rain barrel last year, so I didn’t even have to drag the hose over to give my babies a drink.

I was so inspired to keep my toes in the grass that I weeded a few flower beds, all the while feeling grateful for our beautiful home, my garden-building husband, and the girls who, upon their arrival home, exclaimed, “Yay! The garden is in. When can we start making pesto?!”

And there you have, the REAL garden variety therapy.heart

Trader Joe, I do love you, but I’ll be seeing a little less of you this summer.

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Parenting

The Guide for Good Enough Moms

By | @askdrtania | 10 days ago

shittymom

It was a glorious day in Portland, Maine.  shittymom_necklace

The hubs and I were on a lobster boat, enjoying a cool drink while we motored out to the traps. So there I sat, across from someone I didn’t know, whose beautiful gold script necklace read, “@ShttyMom”.

Uh, what?! How could I not ask?

It turns out that Alicia Ybarbo (that’s her real name, btw) co-wrote THE book on being a crappy mother along with her co-authors Mary Ann Zoellner, Laurie Kilmartin, and Karen Moline.

I know, I know — you thought you wrote the bookso did I!

With chapter names like, “You Are Not Paranoid, Everyone Does Hate Your Baby”, and “Your Children Want to Ruin You”, I can promise you that ‘Sh*tty Mom’ will absolve you of any guilt over not being a Stepford Mom. I read it in one sitting, lounging by the pool while my own kids were inside watching bad TV and eating potato chips.

While in Rome, right?

My favorite chapter? “How to Drop Your Sick Kid Off at Daycare Before the Teacher Figures it Out” – Don’t judge me, I know you’ve done it, too.

For the record – Alicia talks a great game, but the mom I saw baiting lobster traps with her two kids was definitely not sh*tty.

Sorry to out you, Alicia!  

shittymomAlicia and her co-writers do a great job of making you LOL because they say what many of us are thinking, even whilst we are doing decidedly un-sh*tty things with and for our kids. Perhaps saying out loud all of the outlandish things you think (and sometimes wish) gets it off of your chest so you can get to the real business of parenting. ‘Sh*ttyMom’ arms moms everywhere with the ultimate survival tool that you’ll need for the next 18 years or so – a great sense of humor.

I highly recommend it as a great read for moms, and also recommend that you pass it on to another Sh*tty Mom like I did.

I mean, really, what’s a little Sh*t amongst friends?

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Everything Else Wellness

The 3 F’s of Yoga

By | @askdrtania | 13 days ago

3_fs_of_yoga

I have something to say, so let’s just get this out of the way.

New yogi’s and yogini’s beware. Yoga – as fierce as it can make you, in mind, body, and spirit… can have a seriously sharp learning curve, too.

I’ve got three words for you – Farts, Faceplants and Falls.

If you are new to yoga, these three things are quite likely to happen to you. And if you are a veteran with a couple of the “F’s” under your belt – have sympathy for the newbies who blow it and bite it.

Yoga is all about finding peace amongst the chaos, right? At least that’s what it is for me. Well, that and the whole feeling fierce thing. Maybe that should be the 4th F?

If you are trying an arm balance like Crow or Scorpion – you will land on your face a few times in the process. My advice is to make sure you have a soft place to land. Half-moon, Pyramid and even a simple Side Angle pose have landed me on the floor, wondering how the hell I got there. Don’t be surprised when this happens to you. It’s a right of passage.

Yoga is all about building a practice that works for you. Pushing your body to its own limits, and sometimes finding out where those limits fall. Sometimes quite literally. Don’t be discouraged if and when it happens to you – just keep trucking, and the benefits of a habitual practice will find you, too.namaste

As for the farting, well, I haven’t yet checked that one off of my list yet, but I’ve been witness to quite a few, so I’m sure it’s coming. In the end, don’t let the fear of the F’s keep you from the zen of Y{oga}.

As always, Namaste my friends.

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Lifestyle

Easy Street

By | @askdrtania | 14 days ago

easystreet

We all want shortcuts in life, don’t we? Guess what? It ain’t happening!

Get rich quick. Lose 30 pounds in thirty days. Be an overnight success.

You’re not stupid, so stop acting that way.

Do you really think that you’ll lose weight if you drink diet soda, and eat low-fat, sugar-free cookies…. especially if you eat a whole box of them? And if you don’t already know this, you can’t spend more than you earn and expect to be anything but poor, quick. Fuggedabout rich.

Overnight successes are often 20 years in the making.

Success in any area of your life might be sprinkled with a little bit of good luck – say, if you win the lottery or inherit skinny genes from your grandma. But if you don’t invest in regular, responsible behaviors, you’ll end up like most lottery winners (poor and miserable) or many people that think skinny = healthy (either fat, sick or dead).

People – there is no Easy Street on the map of a successful life, but there most definitely is a School of Hard Knocks, and I suggest you enroll. If you spend your time envying your friend or colleague who seems to have it all, while you “poor-me” yourself into a miserable existence – I wish that you wouldn’t. I’ve had my share of acquaintances judge me for my life of Riley, as they see it. “Must be nice,” they say, “but I’m not as lucky as you are.”

Lucky-schmucky I say! I can tell you all the hard work, mistakes and hardships I’ve endured, but I choose not to. I’m too busy working my ass of to make my life successful and keep it meaningful.

Who’s with me?

Tags: Lifestyle

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Mirror Mirror

The Cost of Being Frugal

By | @askdrtania | 15 days ago

Activists Protest H&M Clothing Production Labor Conditions

This is tough one for me to swallow, as there are fewer things I love more than a good bargain. Tougher still, since I have two teenaged girls who love to shop at stores like Forever 21 and the like.

The cost to purchase a shirt at one of these stores is far less than what the cost to make it should be. Figure in zippers and buttons and freight from a far-off land, and you can guess who is getting the very short end of this high-fashion stick: the laborers.

I’m sorry, but there is just something morally wrong with us prancing around in new outfits all the time, when the very hands that created them can’t feed themselves or their families.

It’s true.  

There are so many causes that we could argue have a greater and more direct impact on our lives – like genetically modified food or water pollution – that deserve our attention. But the fact is, that these workers, for a slight twist of fate, could be any of us, and perhaps have been at some point in time.

April 23, 2013 marks the one year anniversary of a devastating day in fashion production; it’s when the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed. Over 140 labor workers were killed in the collapse of the building that was a major clothing producer for American and European brands. The largest of which, we recognize fondly; H&M, Walmart, Calvin Klein. According to the article above, H&M wasn’t producing clothes at the factory during the collapse, but pressure was put on them to lead tougher regulation regarding conditions at the factory.

Here’s the part that blows my mind, though: “The Bangladeshi news media reported that inspection teams had discovered cracks in the structure of Rana Plaza on Tuesday. Shops and a bank branch on the lower floors immediately closed. But the owners of the garment factories on the upper floors ordered employees to work on Wednesday, despite the safety risks.”

Is fashion worth THAT much?

We all have to choose our battles and perhaps this one is not yours. I do, however, ask that you be mindful in your choices, and if you can, just do a little better. For instance, shop at stores that you are certain pay a living-wage, or write letters to those manufactures that you know are not. Then YOU are participating in the solution instead of just sticking your head in the sand. Here is the Avaaz petition started after the building collapsed last year. It influenced H&M to sign the Bangladesh safety agreement – the same one GAP refused to sign.

Be informed, stay informed, and as always – try to make the best decision possible out of the available options. I suggest that all of you at the very least follow Avaaz.org – they are an extremely influential platform for change. In this case, many Bangladeshian workers now have them to thank for safer worker environments.

Thanks for reading.

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Can't wait to see @joerogan and @madflavor in #Baltimore this Friday night! #ChurchofWhatsHappeningNow

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