Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Our Favorite Snack.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus is our absolute favorite snack. We eat it with just about anything: raw veggies, pita bread, chips, you name it! Since we love it so much, I thought some of you might like the very simple recipe:

1 Roasted Red Pepper (directions for roasting your own are below, or you can use the jar stuff. Personally, I prefer the fresh roasted one, but up to you.)
1 can of chick peas/garbanzo beans
1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup Tahini (ground sesame seeds)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp garlic salt (to taste)

For Hummus:
Drain the chick peas and pour them into a food processor. (This could probably work in a blender, but I haven't tried it.) Add the tahini, lemon juice, and garlic salt. Puree the mixture until it's smooth. Scrape down the sides of the processor or blender, then add the red pepper. Puree again until it is well-blended. This will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Serve at room temperature.

To Roast your own red pepper:
Spray a 8x8 square pan or round pie pan with non-stick spray. Place the whole red pepper in the pan, broil on high. When the top side of the pepper is blackened and bubbly, turn it. You should evenly blacken every side. This process takes about 30 minutes. When the pepper is blackened, take it out and put it in an air tight container (Tupperware or a bowl tightly covered with foil or press 'n seal). Let it sit for about 30 minutes, until it is cooled and softened. Peel all the skin off, core, and seed the pepper, reserving the juices. Add the pieces of red pepper to the hummus and puree.

Yum! Even Alex loves it!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Schulz Family

Back in July I had the chance to photograph our good friends and fave bloggers, The Schulz Family. They were so gracious to participate in one of my little portrait practice sessions this summer. They are a very photogenic bunch, don't you think?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Baby #2

This is our Baby #2's first of many, many photos.
We are grateful for new, healthy beginnings!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Interesting Thoughts on Health Reform...

This is a great article published this week in the Wall Street Journal. It's written by John Mackey, the co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods. I think this guy has some great common sense ideas about health care reform in America.

Wouldn't it be great if we ALL had the Whole Foods employee benefits?!


The Whole Foods Alternative to Obamacare

“The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out
of other people’s money.”

—Margaret Thatcher

With a projected $1.8 trillion deficit for 2009, several trillions more in deficits projected over the next decade, and with both Medicare and Social Security entitlement spending about to ratchet up several notches over the next 15 years as Baby Boomers become eligible for both, we are rapidly running out of other people’s money. These deficits are simply not sustainable. They are either going to result in unprecedented new taxes and inflation, or they will bankrupt us.

While we clearly need health-care reform, the last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the opposite direction—toward less government control and more individual empowerment. Here are eight reforms that would greatly lower the cost of health care for everyone:

• Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs). The combination of high-deductible health insurance and HSAs is one solution that could solve many of our health-care problems. For example, Whole Foods Market pays 100% of the premiums for all our team members who work 30 hours or more per week (about 89% of all team members) for our high-deductible health-insurance plan. We also provide up to $1,800 per year in additional health-care dollars through deposits into employees’ Personal Wellness Accounts to spend as they choose on their own health and wellness.

Money not spent in one year rolls over to the next and grows over time. Our team members therefore spend their own health-care dollars until the annual deductible is covered (about $2,500) and the insurance plan kicks in. This creates incentives to spend the first $2,500 more carefully. Our plan’s costs are much lower than typical health insurance, while providing a very high degree of worker satisfaction.

• Equalize the tax laws so that that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits. Now employer health insurance benefits are fully tax deductible, but individual health insurance is not. This is unfair.

• Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines. We should all have the legal right to purchase health insurance from any insurance company in any state and we should be able use that insurance wherever we live. Health insurance should be portable.

• Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover. These mandates have increased the cost of health insurance by billions of dollars. What is insured and what is not insured should be determined by individual customer preferences and not through special-interest lobbying.

• Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. These costs are passed back to us through much higher prices for health care.

• Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost. How many people know the total cost of their last doctor’s visit and how that total breaks down? What other goods or services do we buy without knowing how much they will cost us?

• Enact Medicare reform. We need to face up to the actuarial fact that Medicare is heading towards bankruptcy and enact reforms that create greater patient empowerment, choice and responsibility.

• Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren’t covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Many promoters of health-care reform believe that people have an intrinsic ethical right to health care—to equal access to doctors, medicines and hospitals. While all of us empathize with those who are sick, how can we say that all people have more of an intrinsic right to health care than they have to food or shelter?

Health care is a service that we all need, but just like food and shelter it is best provided through voluntary and mutually beneficial market exchanges. A careful reading of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution will not reveal any intrinsic right to health care, food or shelter. That’s because there isn’t any. This “right” has never existed in America

Even in countries like Canada and the U.K., there is no intrinsic right to health care. Rather, citizens in these countries are told by government bureaucrats what health-care treatments they are eligible to receive and when they can receive them. All countries with socialized medicine ration health care by forcing their citizens to wait in lines to receive scarce treatments.

Although Canada has a population smaller than California, 830,000 Canadians are currently waiting to be admitted to a hospital or to get treatment, according to a report last month in Investor’s Business Daily. In England, the waiting list is 1.8 million.

At Whole Foods we allow our team members to vote on what benefits they most want the company to fund. Our Canadian and British employees express their benefit preferences very clearly—they want supplemental health-care dollars that they can control and spend themselves without permission from their governments. Why would they want such additional health-care benefit dollars if they already have an “intrinsic right to health care”? The answer is clear—no such right truly exists in either Canada or the U.K.—or in any other country.

Rather than increase government spending and control, we need to address the root causes of poor health. This begins with the realization that every American adult is responsible for his or her own health.

Unfortunately many of our health-care problems are self-inflicted: two-thirds of Americans are now overweight and one-third are obese. Most of the diseases that kill us and account for about 70% of all health-care spending—heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and obesity—are mostly preventable through proper diet, exercise, not smoking, minimal alcohol consumption and other healthy lifestyle choices.

Recent scientific and medical evidence shows that a diet consisting of foods that are plant-based, nutrient dense and low-fat will help prevent and often reverse most degenerative diseases that kill us and are expensive to treat. We should be able to live largely disease-free lives until we are well into our 90s and even past 100 years of age.

Health-care reform is very important. Whatever reforms are enacted it is essential that they be financially responsible, and that we have the freedom to choose doctors and the health-care services that best suit our own unique set of lifestyle choices. We are all responsible for our own lives and our own health. We should take that responsibility very seriously and use our freedom to make wise lifestyle choices that will protect our health. Doing so will enrich our lives and will help create a vibrant and sustainable American society.

—Mr. Mackey is co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market Inc.
Bye Bye, Cloth Diapers.

(This could be a bit gross for you non-mom readers who are not accustomed to discussing poop. Be forewarned!)

I've blogged several times about my love for cloth diapers and their wonderful money-saving potential. But, a couple of weeks ago, I had to say goodbye to the cloth. Now I am remembering how I touted the benefits and claimed that I might not "ever" use disposables - oh, if only I had known that pregnancy #2 was just around the corner!

Yep, pregnancy #2 has been filled with nausea, fatigue, and overall yuckiness. I decided that dumping baby poop in the toilet was just one thing I could do without. So I sucked it up and went to Target to plunk down a chunk of change for the disposables. And I have been in diaper heaven ever since.

Overall, I loved the cloth when Alex was younger. I will probably use them on Baby #2 for the first year too. But when baby poop becomes like big people poop, frankly, it's yucky. Real yucky. I know that all the cloth diaper blogs I read suggested that you will just dump the poop in the toilet and then put the diaper in the dirty bin. But you know what? My kid's poop never just plunked into the toilet. Ever. It usually involved shaking the diaper (which usually resulted in a poop-splatted toilet), or worse, dipping it in the toilet. Oh, and did I mention that my kid poops 3-5 times a day? (Yes...he's all boy.) Now, I was willing to handle this for a few months with a good attitude. But then when pregnancy came along, and I could smell the neighbors' chopped onions from 2 floors down - with the windows and doors closed! - I knew it was time to make a change concerning the diapers. My super sonic nose and my stomach simply refused to handle the cloth diaper situation. So we made a change. Now we are all happier and my toilet is clean.

So, this post is to give major kudos to all you real-deal cloth diapering moms. I tried. And I may try again. But honestly, I'll never measure up to all you gals who are willing do the really dirty work. Kudos to you Greenies and Money-Saving Mommies!