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September 2011 (131 posts)
Turns out, we are so wrong. In an Op-Ed in this Sunday’s New York Times, the food writer Mark Bittman (his How to Cook Everything is one of our go-to cookbooks) made a passionate argument against the idea. (Read the article to see how a typical McDonald’s dinner for a family of four quickly adds up, and to see Bittman’s suggestions for two simple, filling meals that cost half as much). He not only makes the case that homemade dinners can be less expensive than food-on-the-run but he also points out how the addictive power of high-fat, salty foods like burgers and fries (and potato chips) can make non-processed "real food" seem less satisfying.
It quickly becomes clear, though, that what fast food does offer is ...speed. Bittman tries to convince us that cooking at home doesn't necessarily mean a ton of extra time, but, as we already know, it does require us to reallocate our time (by driving to the supermarket instead of the drive-thru, for example) and plan ahead.
It's in the planning and the not-forgetting and the sticking-to-best-intentions where we tend to wilt. Fortunately, there are tools that can help us get into the habit:
Ideas for quick, flavorful, no-cook meals
Free menu web sites to help you figure out what to cook
Meal-plan subscription services that send you a shopping list and instructions
Today is National Pancake Day, which means breaking out the griddle, opening up the syrup and making hotcakes for dinner tonight is more than acceptable--it's practically required. If you're feeling sophisticated, try this pumpkin-y take or Donna Hay's Chinese version. But if you really want to get into the spirit of the holiday, visit Jim's Pancakes, where Jim Belosic, a dad "just trying to make some cool pancakes for my daughter," shows off such outrageous works of pancake art as a 3D airplane, a campfire and marshmallows, and the Golden Gate Bridge. The pig pictured here is featured in Belosic's book, OMG Pancakes! 75 Cool Creations Your Kids Will Love To Eat, which comes out next week.
Les Jeans de Chanel Nail Colour, $25 each
Try a sunny yellow on your toes
Find jeans that fit your butt for less than $100
Two Swedish industrial designers had the same dream, but theirs was way more radical. They conceived of a helmet like a car air bag that would be triggered by sensors to inflate during a crash. When not in use (which, if you're lucky, would be pretty much all the time), the helmet would zip into a stylish waterproof collar worn around the neck. (Check out collar styles, read more about how this works and see a crash-test video of the helmet in action by going to the designer's website.) After more than six years of planning and tweaking, Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin have found a way to turn their far-out vision into a safe, futuristic-looking helmet that will sit on—and save—other people's heads.
The international cycling community has been going crazy for this design ever since photos hit the Internet about a year ago. Earlier this month, the Hövding won one of the world's biggest design awards, and now the helmets are available for preorder in Sweden. They're currently priced at 2,998 Swedish kronor, which converts to about $436. That's more than 10 times the price of my helmet. On the other hand, it's 40 to 50 times less than the price of a new car.
An 8-step bike refresher course
Running errands on two wheels
The bike-to-work checklist
What do you think? Do you let helmet-head prevent you from riding your bike? Would you wear an inflatable helmet?
"I just love doing it the old way. Another reason why I won't put my phone number on my notes is I know people will call me, and I won't get any letters back." — Harold Hackett has sent more than 4,800 messages in bottles over the last 20 years, and the BBC made a sweet and moving video about the warm responses he's received.
Growing up, I was obsessed with a series of books called A Very Young——. Each book profiled the day of, say, a child dancer or a child horseback rider or child trapeze artist through exquisite photographs of them training or practicing or eating dinner. I was just a very young child child and looked up to these strange, wondrous people my age who somehow knew what they wanted to do. So when Hulu started a new series called A Day in the Life that tracks interesting adults living their lives over the course of 24 hours, I expected the same kind of approach, especially from the episode featuring Misty Copeland, an African-American ballet dancer. I tuned in for long romantic shots of Misty in a tutu or Misty at the barre or Misty putting on glittering eyeshadow before fluttering on stage for a performance of Swan Lake. Instead the program showed this:
What impressed me most was not that Misty had a real life—one that didn't involve leg warmers—but what she did with her life. Sure, some of her activities had to have been arranged for the cameras, but the truth is, she spent her morning talking to aspiring dancers at the Boys and Girls Club ("I wish I could have had a black woman to talk to. There aren't very many in my field, and I didn't get to meet one..."), then spent her lunch designing dance clothes for people of all sizes ("If I'm a medium, what do all the other people wear?"), then rehearsed for eight hours on her supposed "vacation" from American Ballet Theatre, and, finally, performed for a charity event.
I had to wonder, What would my day look like if it were filmed? Would it reflect the same kind generosity? Everywhere she went, she was helping others. So I made up a little test. Once a month, I'm going to flip open my datebook (or click on a random day in the calendar) and see how I spent that day, and if there was anything scheduled that required my efforts on the behalf of others. If I can pencil in "pick up lock thing for front door," I can also pencil in "drop off meal for lady next door, sick, alone, vegetarian."
How helping others can boost your happiness
One quick way to help you change your world
Every Monday, we're rounding up the things, small and big, that make us stop and think. Today, we're inspired by...
"We all know about [balancing] diet and exercise, but I think the third piece is emotional stuff, and that's the piece I had never tackled before. I did a lot of emotional housecleaning, and then everything fell into place."
— Six-time triathlon competitor Jody Orfield, who got inspired to get in shape after her 25th high school reunion
"Then you finish writing the book, and it is both the chronicle and final proof of your escape."
— Novelist Colson Whitehead, via Twitter
"Releasing us is a good gesture, and no positive step should go unnoticed."
— Josh Fattal, one of the three hikers freed last week after two years in an Iranian prison
"I'd rather be in the writers' room complaining about how overworked I am than in the Bahamas, where I'm like, What am I doing here?"
— The Office writer and cast member Mindy Kaling
"And I also know that you don't have to make dinner every night to live a lovely life. "
-— Pink of Perfection blogger Sarah McColl