The Hardest Post… As goes the publishing world, so goes the blog.

After six years, I’m done. The publishing world has changed, we all know it. So has the world of blogging.

Once upon a time, as recently as 2-3 years ago, a blog was crucial for outreach, for getting to know readers and other authors. Blogging meant putting oneself out there. No more.

Readers find books and authors via other algorithms. Via Amazon and Goodreads and who knows where. There is far less interest in the individual thoughts of individual authors like me.

I’ve loved this blog. It is precious to me. I’ve loved interacting with my readers and my friends. I will miss writing posts and reading your comments. But it’s time to make a change. And change is good. I’ll have more time to write regular old books.

Regular old books… Therein lies the reason I began this blog– to get my books read. Well, you’re reading them. And I thank you.

This blog will become a website. I’ll keep my blog posts archived. You can read them anytime! I plan to include a number of features and I’ll post updates whenever I release a new book.

So ends an era. It’s been fun. You all keep in touch because I would be lost without you. Love, Julia

What am I reading now?

Considering the state of the world, and the fact that we’re planning a kayaking trip through the Gulf of California, I decided to reread Laurence Gonzales’ book, Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why.

Deep Survival

Brought back a whole lotta bittersweet memories of our insane canoe trip in The Boundary Waters. Made me realize all over again why that trip went the way it went, why it bordered on disaster. One must deal with reality, not what one wishes was reality. (This is a good philosophy whether you’re on a wilderness trip or living your everyday life.) I can never forget Mr. Bob yelling at his GPS, assuming it was broken because the readings didn’t match what he wanted them to match. He was determined to make the coordinates match the incorrect coordinates stuck in his brain. He ignored reality, the evidence staring him in the face (and the words coming out of my mouth). We were going the wrong way. He was guiding us the wrong way. He was lost. Fortunately I was not. Doesn’t mean I won the battle. I lost the battle, but in the end I won the war.

I picked up two new, well, used books mentioned in Deep Survival

Adrift: Seventy-Six Days Lost At Sea, by Steven Callahan

AdriftAnd Untamed Seas: One Woman’s True Story of Shipwreck and Survival, by Deborah Scaling Kiley

Untamed

You know me, addicted to nonfic! Julia

P.S. Untamed Seas gets a 5-star rec from me! It’s a fast read and the book arrived before Adrift.

 

Busting Nutrition Misinformation – Yes, you may have s’more!

A beloved s'more.

A delicious s’more.

The s’more has a long and glorious history.

It was first mentioned in Girl Scout literature back in 1925. That’s almost 100 years ago, folks!

A s’more, the simplest of confections, is made of a fire-roasted marshmallow and a layer of chocolate sandwiched between two graham crackers. There you have it. Our family has been making and eating s’mores for as long as I’ve been alive.

Remember when you were a kid? There is nothing quite as exciting as searching a campsite for the perfect stick, cleaning said stick, sticking a marshmallow on the end of said stick, sticking the stick holding the marshmallow into a campfire, roasting the marshmallow until it is nice and toasty and then smooshing the hot marshmallow between two graham crackers upon which awaits a thin section of milk chocolate.

If you did it just right the chocolate melted and wow, you had the perfect gooey dessert. I want s’more, please! (The truth is, s’mores are so sweet I’ve never actually met anyone who could eat more than two.)

It’s a multi-generational thing. After a summer barbecue, my parents love to make s’mores as the grand finale. My kids love s’mores, but only on camping trips.

Outside of the right setting, s’mores hold less appeal.

You see, that’s the thing. It’s not as if we’re all eating s’mores every single day or for every single meal. S’mores are usually reserved for camping trips, campfires, summer camp and cookouts/barbecues.

I spent two summers as a counselor at a summer camp for diabetic kids and even those kids got to eat s’mores. We just made sure we had the insulin to cover the sugar rush. Nobody ever passed out. Nobody complained. On the contrary, the kids were in s’more heaven.

I’m asking a serious question here. Why mess with a good thing?

To honor National Roasted Marshmallow Day, the Forest Service suggested we replace the chocolate with fruit or peanut butter. See here:

The USDA Blog.

Huh?

(Look, if it’s the sugar they’re worried about, get rid of the marshmallows, which are made pretty much entirely of sugar.)

Uh… no. To eliminate the chocolate from a s’more makes the confection not a s’more. And besides… ewwwwww. (Generally speaking I hate marshmallows. A s’more is the only time I’ll eat one.)

There is a prevailing myth about sugar. Any Amount of Sugar = Bad Things.

And yes, indeed, too much sweet stuff does equal bad things. But I’m not advocating too much sweet stuff.

Table sugar contains linked fructose and glucose. Honey contains un-linked fructose and glucose. Corn syrup contains maltose, but high fructose corn syrup is high in, surprise, fructose. Fruit is a bag of watery fructose with fiber and micro nutrients.

Look, I’m not a huge fan of sweets, aside from chocolate. I don’t think loads of sugar and processed carbs are good for us. Period. However, although I know many many many people will disagree, I don’t see all that much difference in the way our bodies metabolize all of the sugars mentioned above. I, personally, avoid products containing high fructose corn syrup because I believe concentrated fructose can be problematic. I don’t think sugar (including fruit) is dangerous, provided you are not diabetic, and it is eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

I definitely don’t see a need to change s’mores. A s’more is perfect as is. (And this is coming from a woman who detests marshmallows under all other circumstances.)

A Much Needed Day at the Beach…

that never quite happened.

After the earthquake cleanup, the continuous aftershocks, the sleepless nights, Jake and I craved an inspiring spirit-reviving energizing day at the beach.

We did. We truly did. We needed it.

So we packed up and headed off. But it was one of those everything goes wrong days.

(Well, the traffic was lighter than usual and that was nice.)

When we arrived and hiked in from the car things felt  off. The weather was weird, neither cloudy nor foggy nor sunny. The sea and the sky were sort of colorless. They looked much the same.

The air wasn’t hot but it wasn’t cold. It wasn’t crisp. It didn’t contain that damp, fecund, invigorating, briny ocean smell. It was sort of… rotten. Smelled like rotting flesh. Not fish, flesh.

I looked down at my feet. I usually wear hiking boots but I’d decided to wear flip flops this time around. I’d planned on wading in the ocean. Of all the days. From one end of the beach to the other, the sand was blanketed with these:

Blue Jellies, actually Velella velella.

Blue Jellies, actually Velella velella.

They aren’t deadly poisonous but they do have stingers and I didn’t want to get stung and I certainly didn’t want Jake stung. To make matters worse, a couple of guys were fishing with bait that was so putrid it attracted every yellow jacket in the county. For the first time in my experience, between the dying Velella velella and the putrid bait (mostly the bait), the beach swarmed with yellow jackets. And I’d left my epipen at home.

It sucked. Just sucked. Jake and I hung out up high for a little while then headed home. I think I’ll wait a few weeks before I return. Maybe a storm surge will come in and cleanse the sand. And get rid of the people.

Jake says, "This sucks."

Jake says, “This sucks.”

Busting Nutrition Myths – Sports Drinks or Plain Old Water?

glass of waterI choose a glass of plain old water any day.

One does not need 12 12-ounce glasses of water per day. But one does need water. Water is essential for every single function in our bodies.

I’m guessing I drink 1-2 liters of water a day, more on a hot day or if I’m working or playing outdoors. Tea and coffee– mild diuretics– aren’t really all that diuretic. They actually aren’t bad for fluid replacement provided one doesn’t rely solely upon coffee or tea.

iced tea

(I’m a big fan of iced tea, especially sun tea. Sometimes I add a little molasses or raw sugar to my jar of sun tea, sometimes not. Nothing beats a tall glass of iced tea on a sweltering summer’s day.)

I’m not saying sports drinks don’t have their place, and of course the choice is yours. What I am saying is that sports drinks contain plenty of sugar (and artificial coloring). One can buy sugar-free sports drinks but I’m not a fan of artificial sweeteners.

Gatorade, for example, contains sugar, sodium and potassium and it can help to provide quick energy and restore some electrolytes lost during strenuous exercise. But most of us aren’t playing professional football or basketball or soccer or running a marathon. Plain old water is fine to replace the fluid lost during regular exercise- a hike, a bike ride, a five mile run…

I’ve come to enjoy the taste of fresh coconut water as well. Coconut water is really interesting. It contains a unique mix of water and easily absorbed sugar and electrolytes. It’s used to treat infant diarrhea in Third World countries– to replace the electrolytes lost, especially potassium. It can even be filtered and given IV because coconut water straight from the coconut is sterile.

Fresh coconut water

Fresh coconut water

I drink coconut water out of a coconut a couple times a week. A good coconut provides enough liquid to share with 1-2 people. If you try a fresh coconut definitely open it outdoors because the process is messy. I set the coconut on the ground, sit on a step, and whack away at the top with a butcher knife. Try to cut a square as above. I never hold onto the coconut. If I did I’d lose every single finger. And keep your feet out of the way. Oh, and when you’re buying a fresh coconut make sure the outside is creamy white in color. Shake it. You should hear plenty of water inside.

Fresh coconut water is sort of an acquired taste. My husband gagged the first time he tasted it. Now he loves it. You can buy cans of coconut water but they don’t taste the same. I’ve searched for a brand that tastes as fresh as the water right out of the coconut. Ero Grove Coconut Water comes pretty darn close.

Ero Grove Coconut Water

Ero Grove Coconut Water

If you try coconut water, let me know what you think. It’s a healthy alternative to sports drinks, although just plain water is adequate for most of our hydration needs.