Thursday, August 30, 2012

whats in a name

Benjamin Jordan

I love that name.

For so many reasons.

I actually love the process of naming. I love to find out how and why you chose the name you did for your child. pet. whatever. Its something that is deeply personal and beautiful and a gift. a celebration of that life, of those that went before, of the relationship of the parents.

Here's part of our process.

First. We just loved the name "Benjamin". It is strong. It is neither common nor uncommon (although so far the list of names for 2012 is calling it common...doh!). Easily shortened to one syllable. Or 2. whatever he chooses.

Secondly. Fine. it is a combination of our names. A piece of each of us and yet unique unto himself. I love that. Love it. Love it. Love it. Its so cheesy. Its so us.

Also, it is a Biblical reference. A favored son. A good and righteous soul.

And finally, DH was especially fond of the Star Wars reference. Old Ben Kenobi.
I. am. not. joking.

While it pains me that this is a common name these days, it has so much personal meaning. Because of its commonality it would never be a first name choice. That is my issue.

Jordan is a family name. My grandmother's maiden name. My great-grandfather's last name. And it has very very positive associations.

My grandma, my dad's mom, was a significant figure in my life growing up. We spent at least a few weeks every summer at her home in northwest Indiana. Daily we would go to the beach and hang out at the dunes. She took us to cultural events. She had creative art projects for us like painted sand designs. It was probably the only time in my life that I remember having structure, quiet time, reading time, I knew what to expect. We would also go there for holidays. And it was always pleasant. always joyful. You almost couldn't tell that someone important was missing. Her son. My dad.

Gramma always told me that I could never use her name when I had my own children. With a name like Gladys Margaret, I can't blame her. She even threatened ex-communication. although I know she would never be able to follow through. So I chose to honor her with her maiden name. She never saw that one coming. Take that, Gramma!

And her father, my great grampa Jordan. He passed when I was about 14. So I am lucky to say that I have strong memories of him as well. He was a goofball who would always make people laugh. Even when he was old and sick. In my early childhood I remember visiting his home on the south side of Chicago. He always had lemon drops. Would play goofy games like "stealing your nose" and we would pick up his favorite delicacy for him, frog legs. When his wife (my great gramma) passed and he eventually went to live in a nursing home, we would still visit him often and he would be at all of the family holidays. He was everyone's favorite person to sit by and talk to. He was one of those souls that made you feel like you were the only person in the room. What a rare character.

And our last name. His father's name. Will always be his. It is a good name. From good people. I too am proud to have that last name.

And so it is that my son. my heart. is Benjamin Jordan.

What is your story?

Monday, August 20, 2012

On and in food

I love food.

OK, there I said it. I do.

While I envy those friends of mine who do not have a relationship with food, I certainly cannot say the same. many many reasons I can easily blame on my family of origin. I enjoy thinking about what I could make, experiment with tastes and textures. I am by no means a gourmet chef, not even close. I experiment far too much and write down what works far too little. I should say that I am at an 80% success rate.

I used to consider myself pretty non-picky. As a kid I would "eat every bean and pea on my plate" and appreciate my food because there were plenty of "starving kids in Africa" who would love to take my leftovers. (guilt was pervasive!). And would eat everything from hamburger helper to spray cheese to steak to popcorn to veggies. Whatever. its food. I think my entire junior year of high school I ate ice cream for breakfast every day. (and my weight eventually showed that).

Somewhere along the way I guess I have become picky. Not even so much in taste. I have become hyper aware of what my food is and where it comes from. I have learned about the conditions and lack of ethical responsibility in mass meat production. It makes me want to vomit thinking about. And so became a self-proclaimed vegetarian because I had no idea how or where to find ethically farmed/raised meat. I'm really not against eating animals- its the circle of life- animals eat animals- its the quality of life those animals receive. I don't think animals were created for us to abuse. We are stewards. (I could have an entire blog post related to this).

Well, I live closer to the country now. There are farms I can go and visit and see the living conditions of said future meal. And a pig gets to live like a *gasp* pig! Like roll around in mud and eat slop and roam free. This eases my guilty conscience, especially since I really felt it to be important to up my iron and protein once I became pregnant. And it continues. I will eat meat as long as it is "Jenna-approved". otherwise veggies and bread will do just fine. (shout out to Farmer Nick and Lesters Bison Farm and Freedom Acres)

I also married a chemical engineer. And one who now works in the industry of food additives. Therefore, we are also hyper-aware of what ingredients are in all of our pre-packaged food. Pretty much if you can't pronounce it, its probably pretty bad for you. He also gardens. Of course without pesticides.

*So far I sound like I should be about 120 pounds, right. Oh, you can still eat consciously, but a large volume of food. Thats me.*

So this book "7", combined with my already ingrained guilt, animal-loving, married to a chemical engineer self has started to bring my sensitivity to a new heightened level.. Limited my processed foods. Why can't I make stuff like bread, you know like they did in the old days. from scratch. instead of processed store bought. I am really trying not to take this to a scary extreme, (as extremists usually turn me off to whatever their message is) but I am certainly starting to push some limits

(a recent loaf of 100% homemade whole wheat bread)

What limits?
Ok, follow, if you can, my train of thought.

"Ok, so I want to know where my food comes from, right? What about my own kitchen...I can make my own  granola. soup. buns. pizza dough. sauce. pie crust. lemonade. bread? hmmm... (Hatmaker made her own and it was gross according to her...I can make it yummy- of course I can)...bread isn't so bad. I like it...what goes into bread, really? butter. water. yeast. honey. flour. hmmm...can I buy flour local or make my own flour? (research ensues). (I already have some awesome small farm honey) (oh and eggs) how much is a grain grinder?...where do I buy grain?..."

I wish I were kidding.

See the italics above for what I have already made. from scratch. (besides cookies, etc)

Oh man. I now have a long list of things that I want to make myself.  Because I can. At least try to.
- pasta (pasta-maker is now on my Christmas list)
- baby food
- hamburger buns
- cheese (God help me, I bought a cheese-making kit)
- tortillas
- jelly/jam
- vegetable infused things like baked goods

and while its not on the immediate list, I do want to someday try to make beer or wine at home

I think maybe I'm just bored. Or need a project to focus my energy on. I'll probably eventually back off because again, I get bored quickly and easily.

This back to basics food- seems so "Sally Homemaker"- contrary to my nature. But it feels more pushing against the "ease" of everything society tries to make seem normal.

I'm attempting the hamburger buns for a girls weekend this weekend. If they turn out poor, I can always pick up some Wildflour bakery goods at the farmers marker. When I pick up my "Jenna-approved" beef for the burgers.

God, I am a hippy, aren't I.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


So its no secret that I am slightly "hippy"-ish. However pinning me as an extreme lefty would also be highly inaccurate. As my friend Alana defines hippy, I'm a bit of a "free spirit". My DH may also surprise you in this. Lots of people see him as super conservative- not entirely so. (However some of my political beliefs might surprise you!- but we're not going there today...)

Where I am going is a little followup to my "seven" post. I do still plan on some sort of official short term hiatus on areas of excess<I've not yet planned that out. This book has made me rethink about some things considerably.

One of these areas where I am deeply affected is "waste"

In our home, we already recycle (we are constantly emptying our inside recyling bins into our outdoor one). We have a "compost" pile outside in the tree-line. We throw food scraps out there, though don't officially turn it or use worms or anything. its just better than the trash. Just got a flex fuel car last year. And we use cloth diapers.

And yet I look around and with fresher eyes, am seeing other ways where we (I) waste or can reduce.

First example that comes to mind is cereal. Who doesn't love cereal? I strangely eat it without milk, always have. But this affords me the luxury to put it in little baggies and have it as a snack or eat it on the way to work. But have you seen the big boxes they come in? Why? whats the point besides marketing? I look at the 5 boxes sitting in my pantry and feel pangs of guilt over the waste. They will get recycled, but are so unnecessary. I balanced my guilt with a stop at Woodmans today (aka largest grocery store on the planet) and found some slightly more organic cereal that comes in a resealable bag. No box. I stocked up on those. I'm also making my own granola...but more discussion on this in another more food simplifying post.

Additionally on this trip I brought the reusable grocery bags. We've had these for a while, but honestly I'd gotten super lax about using them, as evidenced by the horrendous stockpile of plastic bags that took up the entire bottom shelf of my pantry. Since reading "Seven" I've made it a point to always have these or to not use a bag at all when doing a small quick  purchase (which is often accompanied by strange looks as I leave the store- so I wave around my receipt)

I have looked into a few other things the reduce waste. Using cloth wipes for baby (I'm shocked by how much more "waste" is cleaned up by one cloth wipe versus 3-4 disposable). Trying to reduce how much unused food we throw away. Drying laundry and diapers outside.

And really, you have to wonder if me doing this makes any difference in the grand scheme of things. I may have less in my garbage can going to the land fill, but my neighbors may be able to make up the difference in a day. Maybe it makes no difference at all.

But what I do know, in the words of Jen Hatmaker, is that I can only answer to the earth, to the God who created this earth and to myself, for what I have done. At the end of the day am I proud of myself. I don't think the earth was made to be wasted. But to be preserved, enjoyed, appreciated. And each decision I am making I do feel a little more proud. Even if its a pain in the butt. But who said that anything was supposed to be easy...except the media, marketing, big business. That is not who I want to answer to.