Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Talkin’ bout a Revolution…a Food Revolution that is

I recently heard about a new TV show called Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution (Friday’s on ABC from 9-10pm). The series begins in Huntington, WV, which has been called the unhealthiest city in America. There Jamie launches his initiative to educate adults and children on healthy eating habits, starting with the school lunch program.

It’s definitely time for a food revolution. Today’s youth are the first generation expected to live a shorter lifespan than their parents. The obesity rates and associated risks are soaring. If that’s not a wakeup call to do something drastic about eating habits, I don’t know what is. It’s on us, the adults, to do something about it.

My husband and I reminisce about the school lunches of our youth and how unhealthy they were. Apparently nothing has changed—school lunches are still as processed, preservative-laden, pre-packaged and wasteful as ever, maybe even more so. That’s a shortsighted plan and it’s failing our youth.

For our family, we try to eat whole food as much as we can at home and when out and about (we do have occasional junk!) and I pack my children’s lunches most of the time. They eat school lunches sometimes, but we limit it.

It’s definitely not easy to make healthy food choices in this society. It’s often inconvenient and more work to cook and eat in a healthful way, but it’s also more satisfying to be feeding wholesome foods to my children, helping them to develop good eating habits and be healthy and long term.

Visit http://www.jamieoliver.com/ to sign Jamie’s petition to improve school food and for ideas on how else you can help. Indiana has over 7500 supporters so far, and almost 400,000 people nationwide have signed it. We’re ready for a revolution.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Historic Homes of Noblesville--1532 Clinton Street

Location: 1532 Clinton Street
Owners: John and Sarah Williams, since 2005

Constructed by: John Toll, circa 1881. The home was built in four distinct sections, with the second addition built in 1912 and two downstairs rooms and an oak staircase added by 1932.

Style: Two story vernacular

Cosmetic features: This home features a screened in front porch, wood floors and a beautiful oak staircase and moldings, as well as tall windows and the odd nooks and crannies that come with an old house. It’s speculated that Mr. Toll, who was a partner in a local plastering business, may have done his own plastering of this home.

What work have you done on your house and what do you like best? “We installed a soapstone stove in the front room, we have done cosmetic things like painting, installing a tin ceiling, and are restoring and refinishing the stairway. It turns out that our house was built without a load-bearing wall, so after a few years of stepping carefully on the dining room floor, we had jacks set up in the cellar to shore up the floors. The previous owner, Jan Reinhart, told us this house has a kind spirit. This house is easy to live in and feels comfortable and comforting.”

What do you like about this neighborhood? “It has a sense of place and character that we were drawn to. We love to patronize downtown businesses and restaurants, and we also like the mature trees on our brick street.”

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Paper or plastic? Neither.

I’ve been thinking about plastic bags lately. A lot. I pretty much can’t stand them and avoid them like the plague, though we do have a few hanging around to reuse as trash can liners. I’ve been thinking about the cashiers and customers that use them so judiciously and the unbelievable amount of waste they produce.
There’s no doubt that plastic bags are wasteful and overused. Just watch anyone with a cartful of groceries that doesn’t bring their own bags—they go home with 20-40 plastic bags, easily. Who wants to deal with that? Not me, so I bring my own reusable bags when shopping and it makes my life so much easier. I keep a stash of bags in my vehicle for grocery trips, as well as one in my purse so that I’m always prepared for a quick shopping trip or run to the library.

You can find reusable bags at almost any store, which is great. I have a grocery bag size Tyvek one that I got at Trader Joe’s and I love it. I also have gotten bags that fold up into neat little pouches at http://www.reusablebags.com/ (check out the produce bags, too) and have made my own bags out of t-shirts that I diverted from the Goodwill donation pile, which is super easy.

So, how to remember your bags? This is the biggest hindrance I hear from people. They leave them at home or in the car, only to realize once in the store. How about a reminder on your car and enlisting family members to help you remember? I’ve made a pact that I will only buy what I can carry in my arms if I forget. I would positively hate for that to happen, so I remember! Here’s to less plastic in our lives.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Letter to the Editor

     The following is a letter to the editor that was published 2 days ago about this article that I wrote.  I cogitated for a couple of days on it and how (or if) I should respond.  I wouldn't want to take up any of the paper's space to do so (plus the author will never read anything by me anyway!) so I thought I would put it here.  At the very least, I wanted to make a few comments.

     After twice having read the article, "Is the Hummer dead (yet)?" by Krista Bocko, I will never read another article written by her.  How do you equate driving a Hummer with "seeming narcissism?"  Do you want this kind of judgmental diatribe associated with Current in Noblesville.  This article is categorized as commentary, not intended to be used as a bully pulpit.  Or is it?  Have we moved from the purpose of a news publication to inform and bring new information?  Backed by facts, maybe the personal opinions of Ms. Bocko would deserve literary respect.  I find her use of the opportunity to speak via the Current not only narcissistic, but poorly deserving.  Thank you for the opportunity to bully back.  Thank God, this is still America for a while longer.  --Barbara Purvis

"How do you equate a Hummer with seeming narcissism?"  First, I don't know any Hummer drivers, so yes, I'm generalizing, but wonder how Hummer owners can in good conscience drive such a vehicle?  Any regard for the environment?  Any regard for how wasteful they are?  Or are they concerned solely with appearances and how they look and feel in it?  Hence, the term narcissism.  I could also have said ego-centric.  Point is, there is no need for civilians to be driving such a thing and I don't get it.

Is that judgemental then?   Well, I guess so, and to me it's a good reason.

She goes on to say I should include facts and information.  For the record, I do try to share information in my columns.  In fact, I shared the link on greasecars in my Hummer article.  And, as she notes, this is commentary.  I'm not required to inform, and I'm not a journalist.

"Backed by facts, maybe the personal opinions of Ms. Bocko would deserve literary respect."
What facts?  That Hummers get terrible MPG?   That they're annoying?  That GM required dealers to build those expensive quonset huts in order to keep their brand?  That there is no earthly need for a Hummer on these flat, paved Hamilton County roads?  This all seems like common knowledge.
And here is an analysis of 'narcissistic people' (It's called the Narcissism Epidemic--their words) and the economy.

Well hey, I'm grateful for free speech.  And PS--I really don't try to make people mad.  Really.  I'm a pretty diplomatic, peace loving person.  However, I don't think all things are equal or reasonable and I do like to express my opinion.  So there ya go.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Earth Day’s Birthday

I’ve been celebrating Earth Day for about 25—wow, 25—years now. This year, Saturday April 24th, marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day (www.earthday.net). Visit http://www.earthdayindiana.org/ for Indy’s festival info (it’s Indiana’s 20th Earth Day festival).

I remember my first awareness of Earth Day, how I celebrated it then and still do today. Back then, I volunteered to take over the trash collecting on the side of the road that my parents always did in the spring anyway. I would walk along both sides of the busy state road we lived on, garbage bag in hand, and pick up trash.

I was always amazed. One, that people would actually litter, since purposely throwing trash on the ground is such an obvious wrong and so environmentally disastrous. And two, the sheer amount of trash was staggering, collected from such a relatively small place. It really saddened me to realize that this disrespect was happening not just in my small corner of the world, but all over.

The thing with picking up trash though is that it becomes addictive. Passing by litter will be about impossible, and something you may ask yourself is: “when will it stop?” I heard someone say once: “No, when will it start?”

Every year since I started celebrating Earth Day I have committed (and re-committed) to try to make a difference, in my own small way. So this Earth Day, I will take my children on walks through our neighborhood and we will pick up trash. I encourage you to take your children, or your grand-children, and do the same. This is the way we show we care not only for the Earth, but for our children. After all, the Earth they will inherit is the Earth that we leave for them, good or bad.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Curb Shopping—a new Noblesville springtime tradition?

Curb shopping is a practice that has its origins in New England, where towns designate a week or so once or twice a year, often in the spring, and folks set out items they no longer want at the curb where they’re up for grabs for curb side shoppers to pick up and tote home.
It’s what communities did before craigslist, freecycle, or Goodwill, which are all great, but this is a tradition I’d like to see revived. I have actually wanted to organize something like this, ever since we got a flyer several years back stating that there would be a dumpster placed just down the street for people to haul their unwanted items to. That’s great for real trash, but why put completely useable items into the dumpster just because you don’t want them when those items might find a good home with other people?

That year I may or may not have climbed into the dumpster to rescue three completely serviceable (and cute!) outdoor chairs that may or may not still reside in my yard today. Ahem. And that’s when I got my idea, but by then it was really too late to organize something for that year. Since then it’s floated in and out of my consciousness , waiting.

But now. Now I have a great way to get this idea out to many people (thanks, Current!) and see what we can start right here. And why not? A little neighborhood swap, strolling along the streets in my neighborhood and coming home with some new-to-me items without spending a dime sounds like great fun to me.

I’m just a one woman show though, so if this piques your interest and you’re interested in helping to start this, contact me.

Historic Homes of Noblesville

This new feature in The Current will run every other week and will feature a previous home tour stop from the annual Noblesville Preservation Alliance Tour of Homes.  See the NPA website here.

Location: 1506 Clinton Street.
Owners: Herb and Jan Masiuk, since 1988.
Constructed by: David M. Brock, around 1887.
Style: Victorian Cottage
Cosmetic features: This vernacular, T-plan home is elaborate in ornamentation, with a variety of decorative and architectural elements including gables and gable ornaments, and a variety of exterior textures achieved through the use of wood in different shapes and layouts. The inset porch along the front gable is typical for T-plan homes and includes decorative elements as well. The windows are tall and narrow. The home’s multicolor paint scheme highlights these many elements.
What work have you done on your house? “There have been many projects: wiring, plumbing, ductwork, roof, kitchen, 3 baths, to name a few. We had all the woodwork milled to match the original in other rooms. We’ve stripped and stained all woodwork, refinished floors, scraped wallpaper off every room, repaired or replaced clapboards, painted exterior, torn off the front porch and rebuilt more appropriately. We really like to do this kind of work. It’s therapy.”
What are your favorite features? “Curb appeal? When shopping, we didn't care. We wanted a home in need of work. We weren’t put off that it was in desperate need of a paint job. While our house needed lots of work, it was the location, neighborhood, good bones and exterior trim that interested us. Inside we liked the size of the rooms, hardwoods throughout, large closets, high ceilings, and attic space for a master bedroom. The area is walkable, the brick street is charming with mature trees that are gorgeous in the fall.”
“Restoring an old house will always take longer than you think. It was sometimes inconvenient, frequently dusty, and always rewarding. I’d do it again and do one thing differently. We’d put the hot tub in first.”