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July 2012 (97 posts)
Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but morning auto-pilot means it can also get pretty boring (eggs, cereal, repeat). If you're feeling ho-hum about your current rotation, consider one of these swaps instead.
If you always eat: Bagels with cream cheese
Swap it for: Ozery Bakery's Morning Rounds. Think of this saucer-sized, chewy bread as the love child of a bagel and an English muffin. Studded with plump cranberries and chewy bits of orange, they're the perfect canvas for a thick schmear of Karoun's Labne cheese, a thick, spreadable yogurt that's lighter than cream cheese and subtly tangy.
If you always eat: Cheese and toast
Swap it for: Carrie's Black Pepper Bacon Biscuits (at left). Handmade by Callie's Charleston Biscuits, with caramelized bacon, cream cheese, and green onions, these addictive little biscuits are shipped pre-baked and frozen. Simply pop one (or three) in the oven to warm, and breakfast is served.
The upside of this kind of mania is that it goes both ways. This weekend I had finally sailed to port at the end of a supermarket voyage, both kids in the cart – at least I think so, somewhere there under all the berry cartons and bunny crackers– my list clutched in my fist like a besmirched treasure map, all my energy devoted to willing the kids to stop wailing for cookies and freedom...and there it was, the final gauntlet. The Clerk. She held the future of our day in her hands. Would she glare at my mewling young, shout out my way-more-than-I’d-thought-total, even, expect me to bag my own groceries while also convincing my baby of the wisdom of silence?
No. No she did not. This woman, she gave my daughter a sticker. Then she carefully, methodically, jigsaw-puzzled my purchases into my disgusting, over-re-used bags, with an artistry I have never before seen. She worked quickly, but you could see the concentration on her face. In a few moments, she had, with the precision of an eyebrow threader, filled one bag with the frozen goods, one with the boxes, one with the perishables. Fruit was nestled safely in a protective fence engineered of cereal boxes. Each bag was easy to lift, not too heavy. Unpacking the groceries at home would be a breeze, for in organizing my bags she had also organized my kitchen.
"You’ve changed my life!” I said. She nodded, sagely. She knew.
The thing was, she’d dealt with my groceries, with her job, for which she is likely not paid enough and certainly not much celebrated in the public imagination, the way I’d hope to deal with every task, no matter how large or small: with care and attention, with thought and organization, without expectation of glory or acknowledgement; doing a small task the best way possible simply because it is possible to do it well. I thought of her later that day as I loaded the dishwasher and took an extra 30 seconds to actually line up the dishes properly; again as I sat down to respond to an email in a thoughtful, sane way, yes, even spelling out every single word.
I'm not suggesting that everyone has to love their job every second. But since, every second, we have jobs to do, why not do them as well as possible, with the ninja-like mindfulness of, you know, a store clerk?
Finding A Love for Laundry
The Art of Living in the Present
Transform Your Life by Altering Your Thoughts
Each week, we'll be letting you know about new releases the editors of O and Oprah.com couldn't stop reading. This week, we're in love with another wildly original memoir:
By Leanne Shapton
Growing up in Canada, Leanne Shapton was one of a handful of teenagers hand-picked to become world-class swimmers. She made 5 a.m. practices, traveled to distant meets and developed an obsession with time due to stop watches that gave her "the ability to make still lifes out of tenths of seconds." And then came the moment at age 14, when it occurs to her "gently, in a quiet flash: I'm not going to go to the Olympics. I will not be going. Not me." Rather that quit the team, she continues to train, and the thoughtful, exquisitely written book that results is ostensibly about her lifelong relationship to the sport, complete with photos of her various bathing suits and meditations on the difference between swimming (i.e., competitive swimming) and bathing (i.e., swimming for fun). The story underneath all this, however, concerns a troubling question: What do we do with ourselves when we're good (or even very good) at something we love, but not great? Shapton finds her way, meeting her husband and using her "feel" for water as a painter. She even includes some haunting, cobalt blue illustrations of pools she frequents as an adult, as well as a color guide to different swimming smells, such as "coach: fresh laundry, Windbreaker nylon, Mennen Speed Stick, Magic Marker, and bologna." These extra visual elements dazzle, but the specifics of this world and her insightful take on her own far-from-ordinary life are what makes any reader wonder if Shapton's gold medal might have already been won—in writing.
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From the brittle orchid on my desk to the wilted blooms in my last backyard, I've never met a plant I couldn't kill. (True story: I once watered a little potted shrub for nearly two weeks before realizing it was fake.) But on a recent grocery trip, I looked into my cart to admire my bounty of summer herbs and saw...a lot of plastic. It seemed each sprig of mint and leaf of basil was wrapped in its own little slip of bad-for-the-planet packaging.
That grocery store moment was a gentle reminder that growing your own herbs can save both money and the eco-impact of shipping and shelving all that basil, mint, and chives. The hydroponic herb planters from Potting Shed Creations seem particularly forgiving. Made from recycled wine bottles, the planters come pre-filled and are slim enough to soak up sun on a windowsill. When the organic herbs are ready for harvesting (usually in four to six weeks), you can simply rinse the bottle and replant. Three weeks in, my tiny garden is still going strong -- and smelling delicious. ($35, pottingshedcreations.com)
A: Though I'm all for sticking with a classic style when it suits you, if I'm remembering right (an increasingly rare event), 1983 was not a great year for hairstyles. How to break the news to your sister? Least useful phrase in response to any troubling issue, beauty related as well as psychological: "You need help." So not that. Among friends and family, my suggestions are more likely to be accepted when I attribute them to an expert. You might, then, give your sister this advice from master hairstylist Ric Pipino. Thick hair looks better when the volume is at the back and in the length of the hair, rather than at the crown or around the face. A cut with soft layers in the front and longer layers toward the back works well. A nourishing shampoo and conditioner help smooth the hair shaft (as does Wella Flowing Form Smoothing Balm, $14; wella.com for salons).
Keep in mind: Since superclean, thick hair tends to be hard to control, shampooing every two or three days rather than daily will help keep any style manageable.
The Fourth of July is all about Big Fun, right? There's the food: meaty, creamy, over-the-top feasts chosen without any regard in the least to swimsuit season. There's the wardrobe: the extravagance of red-white-and-blueness. And of course, the fireworks: huge, pointless, amazing, impossible, glittering bits of fire in the sky. Sure, they're noisy and dangerous. But somehow a sky full of glitter induces the most world-weary spectator to "Ooh" and "Ahh." Somehow the right combination of fireworks and crowd and music always manages to inspire a moment of patriotic weepiness, even if only in the most abstract of ways.
And yet, it must be said: Sometimes it rains or some child gets a marble in their ear and has to be taken to the er—and fireworks are missed all together. And sometimes it's still blazing hot at 9pm. And sometimes you want a dose of Big Fun that's just a little, well, smaller. Quieter. Specialer. So just in case, here's a back-up. Michael Brodner's "Fourth" provides a moody, contemplative fireworks display for your own private sparkly-swelling-of-sweetness. Now visible from the comfort of your own, preferably air-conditioned, viewing station.
A few more links to help you enjoy your holiday weekend—and we'll see you back here Monday, July 9:
Christina Ferrare's Fourth of July Menu
Unexpectedly Delicious Summer Food Combos
Are you reading Wild with us this summer? Oprah and author Cheryl Strayed are answering YOUR questions about this unforgettable memoir.
Do you have a question for Oprah or Cheryl about Wild? Ask away here!