Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dear Abbie,

So, this post actually started out as a letter Abbie, Dane's sister, and I found myself thinking that I have so many more people that I would love to share this with....

So, I don't know how much time you have for reading these days, but I have a recommendation for you. I think you may have seen me reading it on the cruise: Healthy at 100 by John Robbins. I know that Emalei thumbed through it reading chapter headings and finally concluded that "this book promotes veganism." That is not entirely true, but I can see how some one who has not read the book could get that initial impression. It addresses not only the importance of a healthy diet, but also exercise (no real news) and also focusses on the importance that social relationships play in our health in a refreshing, well thought and very well researched perspective. For me, it has been nice to read the actually studies, rather than rely solely on what the food industry might be pushing for health, or what my vague general knowledge and experience has told me.

I don't know if Dane has told you but we are making big changes in our lifestyle these days...Yep, less meat, actually less animal products overall, soy milk, and lot and lots more veggies. We still do cheese, and to be honest, this is something that I have actually be very interested in for a while but never ever thought that it would fly with Dane.

Well to say the least, mostly thanks to the research and studies that we have read in this book, I am proud to say that Dane is just as excited, if not more than I am about this whole change. The perfect example of this happened just a few nights ago when Dane called me from the grocery store, picking up a few things to make dinner. He asked me, "Do you know how to make tofu?" (or something along those lines....I don't really remember exactly, because I was immediately flooded with thoughts of eating tofu on my mission, loving it, as well as thoughts like, who is this and what have you done with my husband?) I was very excited. We made "orange chicken" with tofu substituting the chicken. To my delightful surprise we gobbled it all up. We even had invited a few of Dale's friends over for dinner that night, so here I was sitting with 4 fully grown guys listening to comments like "This is way good! The tofu actually tastes like chicken!" I was WOWed. I told the guys I was proud of them and that it takes a "real man" to admit he likes tofu.

Yeah for health!

Anyway, so back to the book. There are actually no parts in particular that at any point lobby for a strictly "vegan" lifestyle, but it does focus on the health benefits of a plant-based diet. This basically means relying mostly on plants for major sources of nutrition. It makes sense really. For example, if I am looking to get protein in my diet, let's compare beans, tofu and nuts to meat. Each have protein but that is not all. Meat is full of saturated fat, omega-6 fatty acids (not good for you, can increase your cholesterol, blood pleasure and other things). Beans, legumes and nuts also include fiber (good!), unsaturated (healthy) fats, fewer calories and are much more nutrient dense.

And that is only the beginning. The benefits of a diet high in plants and natural nutrient rich foods (like as opposed to supplementing your diet with vitamins and medication to counter the effects of processed foods) are nothing to scoff at. How about reducing the risk of diabetes, heart disease, asthma, high blood preassure, ostioperosis, and even cancer by astronomical levels.

Anyway, has anyone of you ever considered the thought that today, compared to say 100 years ago, people are not really living longer, but just dying longer? To some respects it is true. So if any of you are interested in just knowing more about what our culture is doing to our bodies, not only by the food we eat, but by our perception (or should I say obsession) with youth--I recommend this book. I am not saying that you should all stop eating meat, or change to an organic lifestyle based off of what I have said, but that there are important studies that have been made where the results are indisputable. Anyone who has seen the film Super Size Me would be able to agree.

So, I will get off of my soap box and just say READ this book!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

...another vacation?...yep

I know what a lot of you must be thinking (because I was thinking it myself), "What? ANOTHER vacation?!" I know. We really had no pressing reason in particular, but Dane and I were feeling that we needed to take another week off and visit his family in WA. Maybe being in Alaska for a week just didn't fill the need-to-go-home-and-visit-hole... :)

So, off we went, last week for another week. We spent lots of time at Mama and Papa Smith's house in Prosser, went on a few really great bike rides, spent a little time in Seattle with Emalei and Fabio and then drove back to Provo last Thursday, caravanning with Dale. (Yay for Dale moving back to Utah!!) So here are some highlights from our trip...each of which are taken from our phones' cameras because we somehow managed to forget to actually take a camera on our trip. We are somewhat helpless in that area. At least we took some pictures right?

This is a view of the Puget Sound from Alki Beach.

The city at night

Dane and I spent a morning at the Boeing Museum of Flight. Way cool.

After the museum, we were starving, so we had lunch at a nice little Thai place on Pike St.

Here I am in front of Pike's Place Market. Apparently it's a pretty famous place in Seattle, that I should be a little shy to say I had not heard of before this trip... :)

One of the famous stops in the market: the fish market. These guys get pretty wild and are known for throwing fish all over the place. If you look closely, the guy behind me on the right just caught a big, wild, alaskan salmon in some paper.

That night, Emalei and Fabio took us to see a beautiful Japanese garden. (These pics were taken by Emalei.) I couldn't help but laugh at the branch that Dane managed to tangle himself in here. :)

We walked around this pond full of HUGE carp. For some reason, they started following us around to each little spot we stopped at.

Here is a pic of the carp. Notice the duck floating for scale.

On our drive back to Prosser, we had to go by Mt. Rainier. Hopefully next year, we will have some time to go backpacking!

And last but not least we spent a lot of time just hanging out at the house. I love puzzles and Dane found this one of Mt. Rainier and pulled it out for me. I didn't have time to finish, but it was a lot of fun.

Thanks for a great time Mom and Dad Smith! We miss you already and hope to see you again soon!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Family Reunions Part 2: Alaskan Cruise with the Smiths!

So, here comes Part 2. Dane's parents graciously took us and the rest of their children on an amazing cruise up to Alaska. We started in Vancouver, B.C., stopped in Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway, and then back to Vancouver. All in all it was an amazing trip.

Dane and I flew into Seattle and got a ride across the boarder with Emalei and Fabio the next morning. Before we left, they took us on a nice walk through Discovery Park, right by their apartment, and stopped here to get a great view of The Puget Sound. It was a great morning.

First stop, Ketchikan. It was a nice little town, with this pretty little board walk going around the bay.

We did get to see some pretty sweet logger-action there as well!

Next stop, Juneau. Here we rode a tram to the top of a mountain to go for a little hike. Dane and Dale, check'n out the view.

This the view of our ship, the Norwegian Sun, from the tram.

Taking a break on our little hike for a family photo.

The next day, we spent cruising through an amazing fjord, Tracy's Arm. The view was breathtaking! This is Fabio, Dale, me and Dane. We stopped on our way to the hot-tub just to watch for a while.

Some of the beauty we passed...while spotting, mountain goats, bald eagles, whales, and seals.

This is Sawyer Glacier at the end of the Tracy's Arm Fjord. This picture does not nearly do it justice. It was huge. We watched it "calve" a few times. Which is when part of the glacier breaks off into the ocean as the glacier shifts. It sounded just like thunder.

Of course, one of the great things about the cruise was our state room, complete with towel animal surprises every night when our bed had been turned down. (If you can't tell, the eyes of the monkey were 2 Andie's mints. Funny huh?) They took really good care of us out there.

Here we are with our favorite little Ella. She was a doll for the entire trip. We already miss you, Ella!

Thanks for the amazing time, Mom and Dad. We love you so much! and are so grateful for all that you do for us!

Family Reunions Part 1: Aspen Grove with the Laytons!

So, many of you may already know that Dane and I have spent the last two weeks out of town on family vacations, with both sides! We had such a great time with both families and just wanted to say a big THANK YOU to our parents for making this possible.

SO, here is Part 1. Bridget's family went to a family came up Provo Canyon, Aspen Grove, for a week and had a blast! We even had matching, orange shirts for everyone. The week was full of activities for every age group--from new-borns to grandparents. Here is a little bit of what we were up to: (These are just a few pictures of us, but to see more of our whole family look here.)

Don't you love all the orange? :)

There was a ropes course that most of us made it up and around. This is me with my brother-in-law, David getting ready to go in all of our gear.

Almost to the top of the wall!

We spent a lot of time in the craft room doing everything from beading, to making jewelry, to painting...

...making hemp bracelets...


and even trying our hands at the potter's wheel!

This is about how far I got before I ruened my pot. :) Oh well, they couldn't fire them anyway.

The cool thing about their studio for the wheels, was that it was on a covered bridge right over the river! Way to go Dane!

This is what most of us ended up with. :)

Mostly, we just loved spending lots of time with family.

Molly, taken from my cell phone.

My neice, Taylor.

To be honest, Dane spent most of his time winning the hearts of his little nieces when we were with the family. This is Molly in his arms, sitting by my sister, Sarah.

There was almost always someone on his shoulders.

Big smile from Kate! (I think she is in love!)

Some of our other activities included: hiking, bike riding, swimming, sand volleyball, basketball, paintball, archery, a night of skits put on by the different age groups, great meals as a family, playing board games, and there was even a day spent on the big field competing with all of the other families up there that included water games, potato-sack-races, and other silly things. Aspen Grove is a great place for families and we loved every minute of it!

Thank you for an amazing week, Mom and Dad! We love you sooooooo much!
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