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So, I know I’m like years behind.

But I just watched Food, Inc. for the first time. After seeing it, I am now committed to watching it at least once a year, so that I don’t forget the movie’s message.

Several years ago my friend Liz introduced me to author Michael Pollan.

Michael Pollan (who is featured in Food, Inc.) is one of the leading voices on eating wisely, ethically, and healthily. I devoured (har, har) his books “Food Rules”, “In Defense of Food”, and “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”. I have written about them here before, and I’ll probably mention them again at some point. After reading what Pollan had to say about the way we fat, unhealthy (yes, I’m generalizing) Americans eat, I committed to making changes in my diet.

And after time, the passion behind those decisions faded away. I look at the organic chicken at almost $9 to feed two people versus the regular chicken for $3 to feed two people, and my conviction starts to wane. I compare the price and longevity of organic spinach versus the regular old pesticide ridden spinach, and I grab the cheaper.

I go to the supermarket and load up on their weird tomatoes that were picked halfway around the world and shipped while they were still green rather than make an extra trip to the farmer’s market buy tomatoes. Those farmer’s market tomatoes are grown locally, pesticide free, and they taste exponentially better.

Guh.

Pollan states that we have a choice- to spend money now on better food for us, or we can spend money later on increased health care costs.

So now, I have watched Food, Inc. and my conviction in eating responsibly has been reignited.

Here in America, we have the opportunity to vote on how food is produced three times a day. It is one of the rare opportunities to voice our opinion on what matters to us every time we shop and eat. I know that I will be more conscious with every vote I make. And while your opinion on food may differ from mine, you have the opportunity to vote with every purchase you make at the grocery store.

If you haven’t seen Food, Inc. I implore you to check it out. There were scenes from industrial farms and slaughterhouses (nothing too graphic, I promise) that made me overwhelmingly sad and thoroughly disgusted. And then I realized… I’m voting for this treatment of animals and for this type of a manufactured farm system every time that I buy certain products in the grocery store.

And that doesn’t sit well with me.

At all.

So, change is a-comin’ for us.

If you watched this movie when it first came out, watch it again. It is worth your time.

Also, Pollan’s “In Defense of Food” is one of the best food books I have ever read- you should check it out.

Now, I shall step off of my soap box.

I love food. I love eating animals (I know it sounds cruel, but I do like meat). I love eating vegetables.

I want to be able to say that I love doing all of the above responsibly and consciously.

Today, I’m making a public commitment to take steps toward a more local, organic, healthy, and responsible diet.

Amen.

And amen.

XO,

Leah

Please.

Do yourself a favor.

Go borrow this book from the library.

Or buy it on the cheap from Amazon.

Or buy it brand new in a bookstore.

Or load it onto your Kindle.

And please do so immediately.

I read this highly recommended book (from a couple of trusted voracious readers in my life), and I tore through this true story in two days.

Unbroken is the true story of Louie Zamperini.

Louie (left) and his brother Pete.

Louie was an Olympic runner that joined the Air Force at the onset of World War 2. During a rescue mission, Louie’s plane went down and Louie and two other men were stranded at see for more than a month.

When the group finally reached land, the group found themselves on Japanese territory. They became Japanese POWs for the duration of the war.

This story. Oh, this story. It is the story of the power of the human spirit.

And it is the story of thousands of our grandparents and parents. To put a human story to the devastation of World War 2 completely altered my perception of the war. And it helped me gain a deeper understanding of the generation that lived through the war.

Along with The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank and Night by Elie Wiesel, Unbroken is a MUST READ (in my humble opinion) to feel connected to the stories and people of World War 2. A visit to Pearl Harbor (I was there in 1998, 2006, and again just a few short months ago) also helps to paint a vivid picture of the experience of the beginning days of America’s involvement in the war.

I’m not a history buff, and admittedly I don’t know as much about our history as I should. This book made me want to know more… to understand more.

I implore you. Make time to read this book, but be warned- you will be sucked in. You will be transported to a different world in a different time. You will be filled with gratitude for those that came before you, and for those that gave their lives for America’s freedom and continued social justice in the world.

If you are planning on doing some relaxing over this glorious holiday weekend, grab this book and lose yourself in it.

Have a fun and safe holiday weekend!

XO,

Leah

Have you read this book?

I hadn’t either until this past week.

My cousin’s bride-to-be, who is a food, wine, and literature lover (yes, she will fit right in with this family) recommended this fun and fascinating read.

Garlic and Sapphires is a memoir written by Ruth Reichl who chronicles her tenure as the Restaurant Critic for the New York Times.

It is a light and easy read that pulled me into the world of the best restaurants of NYC. The author took me on a culinary adventure through the city’s best and worst restaurants with her delectable detail of every morsel of food she consumed.

What makes this book even more interesting is the fact that Ruth was so uber recognizable in the city that she had to develop disguises and characters to go unnoticed as a critic in the restaurants. It was fascinating to see how the critic acted and was treated when she was in character.

The book is peppered with Ruth’s favorite recipes, and it is a must read for any food lover.

This summer, if you are headed to the beach, this is the perfect light-hearted read.

Happy Monday Friends!

XO,
Leah

I disappeared for a few days.

Turns out this baby o’ mine is anxious to join the world, so we had to give him or her a good talking to at the hospital.

All is ok, and now I’m on bed rest for a few short weeks.

I am so grateful that I work in a job that allows me to work from home because I think I would lose my marbles sitting around watching Maury all day.

So, today in honor of being back home and to work, I thought I would talk about a few books that I have recently finished.

I do have ulterior motives, however. I want to hear from you what the best book(s) are that you have read in the past few months. I’m going to have a little time on my hands- especially over the weekends, so I want to devour as many good books as possible.

So, I know I’m like 11 years late to the game with reading this book:

I read Angels & Demons when it first came out, and then for whatever reason I didn’t dive into the DaVinci code. If you happen to be one of the 3 people left on the planet that haven’t read DaVinci code, I would recommend it. It is a super easy and fast read that kept me easily entertained the whole way through. I wouldn’t call the novel great literature, by any means, but Dan Brown can tell a compelling story.

Next Up:

I had read a few good reviews of this book, and it piqued my curiosity. One Day tells the story of Emma and Dex (love those names) over a 20 year span of friendship. The story is told on one particular day of each year, so you get a snapshot of what the two have been up to over the last 364 days. The story started out really slow, but then… it hooked me in.

I ended up loving the story. It was unexpected, and I love the unique structure to the book. It is a great beach/summer book for any of you heading somewhere sunny and warm anytime soon.

What I’m reading now:

Love Wins by Rob Bell. Have you heard of it? Old Rob Bell has made quite the waves in the Christian community with this book. In the book, Rob questions one of the more debated and controversial aspects of Christianity- the afterlife. What is it exactly? Where do we go? Who “gets in”?

I love someone that creates meaningful controversy, so I’m anxious to finish this book up and see where it falls in line with my personal beliefs.

Finally, I’m making my way through this:

This book was an unexpected surprise from my friend Julee at my baby shower. The woman knows that food makes my heart happy, so I have been devouring (haha- get it?) this book that outlines everything to feed your baby from the time they start solid foods until they are three years old. It has been incredibly interesting, and it aligns very closely with my feelings on food that I feed Brad and myself.

So, now… I implore you… to give me some good book recommendations. No genre is off limits. I really love to read just about everything. But I prefer to read books that have been recommended.

So, I thank you in advance.

I still have a few recipes to share that I have already cooked and captured on my camera that haven’t made my way to the blog yet. So, stay tuned!

XO,
Leah

This book is the best book I have read in at least a year.

Maybe five years.

I don’t know.

It’s really stinkin’ good.

I love to read.

Love. It.

There are few things that I love to do more.

Especially when a good book of fiction pulls you in from the beginning.

And when the characters are so real you feel like you truly know them.

Freedom is the story of a modern American family. You will either find yourself or someone you know in at least one of the characters.

The story of Patty and Walter Berglund will take you on a roller coaster ride of emotions. I felt and experienced their hopes, disappointments, dissatisfaction, unrest, compromises, and triumphs with them.

As you walk through the family issues that are so relevant today (unhappy teenagers, keeping up with the Joneses, longing for more, complacency in a marriage, and joy in small wonders) with the Berglunds, you will root for them to find peace and their own freedom.

I’m not good at writing book reviews. So, if you are interested in what some smart people had to say about the story, you can click here or here.

Or, you can take my word for it, and just read this masterpiece. It will change you.

“This wasn’t the person he’d thought he was, or would have chosen to be if he’d been free to choose, but there was something comforting and liberating about being an actual definite someone, rather than a collection of contradictory potential someones.”
-Jonathan Franzen (Freedom)

Oh, I own my copy so let me know if you want to borrow it.

I’ll let ya.

Happy reading book nerds!

XO,

Leah

Oh my.

I just finished reading this book.

It is a lovely fall Saturday, and I woke up, poured a large cup of coffee (or two or three) and settled in on the patio with the goal of finishing The History of Love.

This book is so hauntingly lovely.

It is the story of Leo Gursky, a man who dreams of his lost love that he last saw in Poland before the war 60 years ago. And it is the story of Alma Singer who is trying to find the cure for her mother’s loneliness.

This book swells with characters that cause you to feel what they are feeling and hope for what they are hoping for.

And the author, Nicole Krauss, uses words like these:

“And if the man who once upon a time had been a boy who promised he’d never fall in love with another girl as long as he lived kept his promise, it wasn’t because he was stubborn or even loyal. He couldn’t help it.”

and

“Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering”

and

“For her I changed pebbles into diamonds, shoes into mirrors, I changed glass into water, I gave her wings and pulled birds from her ears and in her pockets she found the feathers, I asked a pear to become a pineapple, a pineapple to become a lightbulb, a lightbulb to become the moon, and the moon to become a coin I flipped for her love…”

I loved this book.

Loved. It.

If you are looking for a book to sink into, I recommend this one.

You will not be disappointed.

Happy Weekend,

Leah

I just want to state for the record that Ms. Oprah Winfrey and I are of one mind.

You see, she announced yesterday her book club selection.

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen.

I purchased this book about two weeks ago. I like to think that Mama O had a feeling that somewhere in Ohio her soul sister had a book that she should read.

I’m sure that’s what happened, right?

She nor I picked up this book because of the critical success of Franzen’s first book, The Corrections.

That couldn’t be it.

Nor did we choose it because of a Time Magazine story all about Mr. Franzen.

Nope.

That’s not it either.

And certainly it wasn’t because of the massive amount of coverage this book has received.

Like this story from my personal favorite news source.

No.

The Mighty Opes and I must have brainwaves that are inexplicably linked.

I have always felt that to be true.

And this proves it.

Right?

Right?

Hello?

Is anyone there?

This post is ridiculous.

The end.

Happy Weekend,

Leah

P.S. I’m cookin’ up a storm this weekend, and I’ll have lots of new recipes for ya next week.

In honor of the beach, which I am off to early Saturday morning, I give you my version of a book review.

The beach is my favorite place to read. Last time I was soaking up the rays with my feet in the sand, I started and finished this gem.

This book was weird.

But good.

And captivating.

But definitely weird.

The story is about a girl named Rose who one day discovers that she can taste the emotions of the person that prepared her food. She discovers this “gift” when her mom makes her a birthday cake, and all that Rose can taste is hollowness and loneliness and emptiness and pain.

The fact that Rose is cursed or gifted with the ability to taste emotion influences every aspect of her life as she comes of age. The story also follows Rose’s strange loner brother Joseph. His life and pursuits are a mystery throughout the book.

So, there is some mystery and intrigue tied into the story.

I liked it.

Until it got a little sci-fi. Then, I liked it a little less.

However, it is rare to come across a story that is so perfectly unique. I have never in my life read anything like this book, so major bonus points to the author Aimee Bender for developing and sharing such a unique heroine and distinctive story.

In a world where everyone is doing and re-doing the same ideas (for example, me here on this blog), Aimee Bender stretched her brain to a place of complete and utter exclusivity with her story.

And for that reason, I recommend you dive into The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.

Happy Reading Nerds!

Leah

So, Brad and I took a trip to the Outer Banks to watch our friends get married.

Here they are on their big day:

Pretty, non?

Well, on the loooooooooooooong drive there and back (with two dogs in the back- I nearly lost my sanity) we listened to The Help.

The Help

Have you read it?

Probably.

Because by the time we got around to listening/reading this, seriously everyone I know had told me how I NEEDED to read this book.

This book is special.

The characters feel like friends, and the story is engaging and fascinating and scary and lovely all at once.

This is the authors FIRST NOVEL. What an introductory literary work. I’m impressed, and Kathryn Stockett is wicked talented.

The story centers around three women living in Mississippi in 1962. Skeeter is a 22 year old, white, new college graduate. Aibileen is a wise black maid that is raising her seventeenth white child. And Minny is a sassy and fun and sometimes trouble making maid that happens to be Aibileen’s best friend.

These three women’s lives intersect as they begin to work on a dangerous project together that has the potential to expose dark and dirty secrets that may just lead to long lasting positive change. Or it could ruin lives- including their own.

That is all I will say about the story. If you are one of the 3 people left on the planet who have not read this book, do it.

Do it now.

Oh, and you might as well borrow it from a friend or purchase it for yourself because every library I went to had over 30 people on the waiting list for this one.

Yes, it is THAT good.

Happy reading nerds!

Leah

Want to know what makes me really, truly happy?

My sister’s Justin Bieber impression:

Seeing the man I love the most laugh his hardest:

These two:

Watching my sister’s reaction to certain Bachelorette weekend conversations with my brother’s future bride:

One of these guys on a Friday night:

The fact that when I did a Googe image search for a dirty martini, this is what came up first:

That “What? I didn’t know. I promise. I was just exploring” look that dogs give ya after traipsing through mud then running through every room of your house.

Ok, maybe thats not joy. But this picture is:

A lifelong commitment to one person through thick and thin, good and bad, happiness and sorrow, children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren:

Curling up with a good book- just finished this one, and it was Oh, So Good.

Cheese:

An ill-fated attempt at a self-portrait. Seriously, I am the worst at these, but I still love the picture. It makes me smile.

A great pair of heels- the putting them on and wearing them out…

and then the feeling of taking them off and sinking my feet into slippers after a night out.

I think I need these.

No really, Need.

Yes, I think so.

Spontaneous dance routines and performances:

Lifelong girlfriends.

The kind of friends that knew you when you had a bad perm and wore biker shorts.

Outside.

To School.

They were in style.

I swear.

Mine had a hot pink stripe down one side and a hot green stripe down the other.

I may or may not have worn them with some mis-matched slouch socks.

Planning an upcoming vacation:

And this song:

Seriously, I love this song. And NOW. The video. Oh man.

Now, it really brings me joy.

Life is full.

My cup runneth over.

Leah

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