Saturday, June 29, 2013

Health Article Round-up: June 2013

Lately I've been coming across many interesting articles about health and medicine. I've decided to share a few of them each month. Enjoy.

:: Deaths from diabetes have apparently doubled in New York over the last two decades. It is motivating me to eat better -- I don't usually think of eating too many desserts as a potential cause of death, just a cause of too tight jeans. It's a good reminder.

:: But good news -- Boston Children's Hospital has made some fantastic progress in determining the cause of type 1 diabetes.

:: 60-90% of women do not meet the minimum preventive recommendations of a healthy diet and activity level for preventing cancer. The American Cancer Society guidelines are summarized here.

:: This blogger believes that we should get rid of "kid food" (i.e. colored marshmallows, fruit roll-ups, and other "fake food") and teach kids to eat real food. I think I agree. He states that one of the leading causes of death in the United States is an inappropriate diet, and we should teach our kids to eat an appropriate one from an early age.

:: Molecular targeted therapies are replacing chemotherapy as the first drug of choice in treating cancer. Could chemo eventually be a thing of the past? That would be fabulous. My dad works for Seattle Genetics, a company that produces one of these molecular targeted therapies (brentuximab vedotin) for Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Let's hope that things continue to get better for those who have cancer. 

Quote of the day

Cal: {flails arms and legs in excitement}
Scott: Wouldn't it be great if everyone got super uncoordinated when they were excited?
Lorren: {flails arms and legs}
Scott: No, that's too coordinated.
Lorren: No one has ever said that to me before.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Mama Monday: Things That Have Changed Now that I'm a Mama.

:: Sleep is a rare and valuable commodity. 
:: I set goals for each of the baby's naps.
:: I've learned that I can't control everything. Flexibility has always been a challenge for this over-scheduled list-maker, but I've learned that Cal can override at will.
:: Mascara and lipstick are the only required cosmetics. Foundation and eyeshadow appear once or twice a month.
:: When I go shopping, I buy cute clothes for Cal and yoga pants for myself.
:: I have become an expert on babies' sleep cycles and can cite any number of experts' opinions.
:: I no longer gag at the sight of baby food.
:: In fact, sometimes I eat it. (Best ones are the apple/blueberry one and the pears/cinnamon/oatmeal one.)
:: I spend large segments of my day trying to convince Cal to giggle (and making a complete fool of myself in the process)
:: Our home is filled with bizarre colorful toys and gadgets, some of them useful and some of them not.
:: I know just about every cause of low milk production.
:: I have to run the dishwasher more than once a day because our top rack is always full of bottles.
:: I never use an alarm clock.
:: I spend more money on formula than groceries
:: Most of my conversations are a mixture of high-pitched questions, Baby Sign, and imitating Cal's babble noises. 
:: I was more excited to see Cal's first tooth than I was to be asked to my prom
:: Shirts that require layers to make them modest are too much work
:: I walk around the house narrating my day
:: Getting kisses solves every problem
:: Peekaboo takes up most of the day
:: The three hours between his bedtime and my bedtime are sacred
:: Playground time is adult interaction time
:: I sleep less
:: I pray more
:: I love more. :)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Best Scripture Mastery Tool EVER.

I am a LDS seminary graduate. I never skipped seminary to get an early lunch. I learned a lot and have great memories from seminary.


I never learned the scripture masteries.

Or, to be accurate, every year I learned the first 2 or 3, and then the rest fell by the wayside.

{For those of you who are unfamiliar... LDS seminary is a four year program for high school students to study scriptures and gospel principles each day. Classes are either held before school, or if you are lucky, like I was, you can get release periods to go. Each of the four years, there is a list of 25 scriptures to memorize. I was bad at it.}

I blame it on all the time I spent playing the piano -- I memorized hundreds of pages of music a year, and I just don't think there was room for anything else in my overworked brain.

However, as part of my 25 goals for the next 25 years, I want to memorize the scripture masteries. I think I can manage 100 scriptures in the next 25 years. And, fortunately, I have found the best resource ever to memorize them. has a seminary page with a fabulous memorize program. First, you can go through the words, blocking out phrases until you can do the entire thing from memory.

Then, you can have the verse presented with only the first letter of each word, and you can still block out phrases until it's memorized (I find this step the most effective). 

The next step is to fill in the blanks with missing words. This can be tougher than it looks, especially with myriad "thees" and "therefores."

Finally, you type the scripture and then fill in the text when you are done -- the perfect way to check. 

I've also been using the "Understand and Apply" feature in my scripture study. I think it is a great review of basic gospel doctrines, and I love the cross-references provided for each scripture. I initially thought these would be quick reviews, but I have been spending days on each scripture. 

The last activity is a finding exercise. I haven't used that one yet, but it looks like it will be great once I get around to it. :) 

I love the way the Church is using technology to spread the Gospel and help us learn. I think I would have done much better at the scripture masteries if this had been around when I was in high school (it's getting sad to think about how long ago that was). Do you memorize scripture? What works for you? 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Foodie Friday: Blockheads Shavery


A month or so ago, a group of friends and I were waiting for a table for over an hour, and we started talking about fun places to get dessert. Blockheads Shavery came up. The girl who mentioned it said that there was no way to describe it, that it was unlike anything else she had ever had before, but that it was good. It didn't take anything more than that -- within a few days, Scott and I were headed to Blockheads to answer the question: what exactly is snow cream?

The location is perfect for us -- just a mile or so down Sawtelle Blvd. The surrounding few blocks are packed with delicious options, including Tsujita LA, Tatsu, Buttercup LA, Pinkberry, and Brian's Shave Ice. The only unfortunate thing is parking -- it is incredibly difficult to find. Case in point -- I once waited for 20 minutes in a red zone with the hazards on while my mom ran inside to get takeout.

The ambiance is minimal -- it's an in and out kind of place. I really liked the "owls" that are their mascot -- but recently I realized they are not owls at all, but penguins. Still, cute.

Pretty slow. Even with a short line, it tends to take a while. It's definitely worth a short wait, but try to go during off hours, both for the parking and the quicker service. In addition, they don't offer samples, although they do give good recommendations on flavor combinations.

So what is snow cream? 

According to their website, it is "fine texture of Hawaiian shave ice with the creamy goodness of ice cream." Sounds about right. Blockheads has a few different flavors per day, often including unique flavors like red bean and black sesame. I have tried the black sesame and the original, and while both were delicious, I like original best. You also have the option of choosing from a variety of toppings -- fruit, mochi, red bean, sprinkles, etc. I have tried fruit, mochi, and red bean -- all delicious. Finally, you choose a sauce (or two or three) to drizzle on top. I always opt for the sweetened condensed milk. 

I personally love the texture and the flavors that are available. Initially, Scott and I thought that it was just something novel that we would try once, but I have found myself craving the unique texture of Blockheads multiple times. For a unique dessert experience that just might convert you, Blockheads is a great choice.


Cost: $ It looks a little pricey at first glance, but you get a lot for the price. I could easily have split it 
Hours: Mon-Thu -- 12:30 pm - 10:30 pm
Fri-Sat -- 12:30 pm - 11:00 pm
Sun -- 12:30 pm - 10:00 pm
Address: 11311 Mississippi Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90025 310.445.8725
Reservations: No

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Beginner's Guide to {Herbal} Tea

I became an herbal tea aficionado for three reasons:

{1} I worked in a cafe where coffee and tea were only 50 cents and everything else was expensive.
{2} I'm a bookish person, and bookish people like tea
{3} I'm a Mormon, and Mormons don't drink "real" tea.

Okay, number 2 is kind of a joke. But I have really come to love herbal tea, and I've found it a great way to get myself to drink water and avoid sugary drinks like soda and fruit juice. People have asked me about different herbal teas, and I thought it would be fun to outline some of my favorites. 

First of all: How is herbal tea different from "regular" tea?

Herbal isn't actually tea, and that is why you will frequently see it referred to as an infusion rather than a tea. It doesn't contain any actual tea leaves. Instead, it is made by steeping fruit, plants, herbs, and/or spices in hot water.

Second of all: How do you make it?

Hot: Heat water, steep the tea bags. Usually you steep for about five minutes. I like my tea really strong, so I usually do it longer. I usually don't add sweetener to hot tea. 

Cold: Heat water and steep the tea bags. If you want to use a granulated sweetener or honey, stir it in before pouring the tea over ice or sticking it in the refrigerator. If you pour over ice, you should make your tea double strength so it isn't diluted by the melted ice. I prefer to use a liquid sweetener with iced tea because it dissolves better -- my favorite is liquid stevia. While I don't usually use sweetener with hot tea, I can't stand cold tea without sweetener. Sometimes if I am making a big pitcher I mix different kinds of tea. 

Tea latte: Can be hot or cold. Half tea, half milk. Again, I always use sweetener with cold. Sometimes I use it with hot if I am treating myself. 

Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf -- They have the best herbal tea, hands down. You can also purchase it. It's on the pricey side -- $8.75 for 20 tea bags.

:: African Sunrise
What it is: Honeybush, which is similar to rooibos (more about that in a minute). It is sweet and mild.
How I like it: Hot, cold, and tea latte. This tea tastes good no matter what.

:: Chai Rooibos
What it is: Rooibos, which is sometimes called "red tea" (but has no caffeine or tea leaves). This is a South African plant related to the honeybush. It is flavorful and a little spicy. The chai are spices added to the tea.
How I like it: Hot and in a tea latte (the best thing EVER). 
Special uses: Rooibos is antioxidant rich

Starbucks/Tazo -- They carry Tazo brand, which you can usually buy anywhere. They are a little bit lame about making tea lattes or icing herbal tea, but if you teach them how they can usually figure it out. 

:: Vanilla Rooibos
What it is: Basic rooibos with vanilla
How I like it: Hot
Special properties: Antioxidant

:: Wild Sweet Orange
What it is: Orange infusion with licorice and some other spices
How I like it: Hot

:: Passion
What it is: tropical fruit infusion
How I like it: Iced, and always with sweetener. It is very strong and a little sour. 

:: Rooibos tea latte
What it is: Concentrated, sweetened rooibos tea that can be mixed with milk for a tea latte
How I like it: Hot or cold, in a half and half ratio
Where to get it: Target, Sprouts (I've never seen it in a cafe)

Celestial -- This inexpensive brand is everywhere

:: Rooibos -- Same drill with everything. They also have a Rooibos vanilla mix, which is good as well.

:: Mandarin Orange:
What it is: Orange infusion with spices
How I like it: Hot

:: Goodnight Grape Sleepytime Kids
What it is: Grape infusion with chamomile and stevia. BEST THING EVER.
How I like it: Hot
Special properties: Makes you sleepy, is sweet and yet calorie free

:: Peach
What it is: Peach infusion
How I like it: Cold with stevia

:: Holiday Teas -- They also have these delicious Christmas themed teas. I love Sugar Plum Fairy (super sweet and spicy), Ginger Snap (lemony and gingery), and Sugar Cookie (barley, very good for before bed). All of these are best hot. I don't know if they ever get discontinued. I hope not. 

Bigelow -- Another cheapy brand, probably the one you are most familiar with if you drink herbal tea. 

:: Peppermint
What it is: Straight-up peppermint leaves
How I like it: Hot, cold, or tea latte. Surprisingly refreshing when cold.
Special properties: Soothes nausea, suppresses lactation (I chugged about a gallon of it when I stopped breastfeeding)

:: Mint Medley
What it is: Similar to peppermint. Blend of peppermint and spearmint. It's a little milder than peppermint.
How I like it: Cold with stevia or hot with honey and whole raspberries. It sounds weird but it is amazing. My husband's friend told us about it. 
Special properties: Same as peppermint

:: Chamomile
What it is: Chamomile herb
How I like it: Hot
Special properties: Good for sleep. Sometimes I dilute it with water (3 parts water to 1 part tea) and put it in Cal's bottle when he is sick (but he thinks it is gross). I've heard it is also soothing on the skin -- haven't tried that. 

:: I Love Lemon
What it is: Lemon infusion with other spices
How I like it: Hot, but I'm intrigued to try it cold some time. I like to drink this when I am sick

Other random herbs

:: Barley -- Just infusing barley makes a sweet, nutty tea that I like to drink when I am sick. I drink it hot. 

:: Roses -- I infuse rose buds usually when I am working on a project and just want to drink tea all day. I drink it hot or cold, and I actually don't mind it without sweetener even when it is cold.

I'm sure I forgot a few favorites, but here is a basic summary of the teas I like. Do you have any favorites? 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Mama Monday: What's in your diaper bag?

Isn't it funny how that diaper bag becomes more than just a bag once you enter motherhood? It becomes essential to survival. After being caught without the necessities more than once, I have, I think, mastered the fine art of packing literally everything but the kitchen sink. Here's what I pack:

For baby:

  • 3 diapers
  • Wipes
  • A laminate cloth to change his diaper on (those darn changing tables never have the table liners refilled)
  • 2 burp cloths (one is actually usually a small swaddle blanket that never fit my bruiser of a baby)
  • A onesie
  • A hat
  • Sunglasses
  • A soft toy (usually the favorite, "Jenna-bear")
  • At least a couple of toys that can be chewed on
  • A board book
  • A bottle
  • back-up formula
  • A baby food pouch
  • A spoon
  • 3 pacifiers
  • Pacifier/teether wipes
  • Hand and face wipes
  • a bib
For mama:
  • Hand sanitizer
  • The normal purse essentials: Wallet, keys, cell phone
  • A book (for when the baby falls asleep in the car and I don't want to wake him up)
  • A snack
  • Chocolate (because you never know when a grocery store or rush hour meltdown is going to drive you to desperation)
  • Water bottle (whether for myself or refilling the bottle)
  • Lotion (to cover the smell of spit-up)
  • Kleenex
  • Lady supplies
  • Chapstick
  • Lipstick
  • Coupons for formula and diapers (the only ones I ever use... but put some of those in front of me and I'll snatch them right up).
This doesn't fit in the good old diaper bag, but I also tend to bring a blanket with me everywhere

What can't you live without? 
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