Some Things Aren't Meant To Be Shared

This is from the free box that's suddenly materialized on the corner in our neighborhood - including a pregnancy test (opened, naturally) and a small spool of dental floss. Yes, both these things rank high on my list of items I'd hope to snag for free. Lucky day!

I'm Not A Doctor, But... A Word About Soy

soy-bean-tofu.jpgKeeping an eye on one's health can get pretty complicated. Are you getting too much Vitamin D or not enough? To vegan or not to vegan? Should you follow an anti-inflammatory lifestyle? Hop on the gluten-free train? One thing is clear - the less saturated fats (meat and cheese) you eat, the better. An excellent protein substitute is soy - a great filler for meals in the form of tofu and tempeh. Trust me - it's no longer the bastion of backwoods hippies and, when prepared properly, it can taste damn good. 

The plus sides of soy are many. It's known as a heart protector (by lowering bad cholesterol), it may provide some relief from menopause and may protect you from certain cancers. The downside? It's also been linked to breast cancer, due to the fact that soy mimics estrogen - which some believe adds more estrogen to a woman's system than it can handle. 

Not all is lost! Despite the initial soy fear and backlash, it seems the possibility of soy consumption being detrimental to your health is negligible. Check this out, from Dr. Weil's blog:

[Breast cancer: Here, the idea is that high levels of isoflavones, active ingredients in soy that behave like estrogen in the body, may increase the risk of breast cancer. While high levels of isolated isoflavones may do so, it appears that the total mix of weak plant estrogens in soy protects the body's estrogen receptors. This protection may reduce the effects of excess estrogen exposure from such external sources as meats and dairy products from hormone-treated cows as well as artificial chemicals and industrial pollutants that act as foreign estrogens. Japanese women whose diets contain a lot of soy foods have only one-fifth the rate of breast cancer that occurs among Western women.]

And this, from Psychology Today:

[No need to panic. The research linking animal fat to heart disease and cancer are far stronger than those connecting soy to any health problems. So, if you are considering substituting soy for meat or milk, the soybean still shines in comparison.]

As with most things in life, moderation is key - especially if you're concerned about the inconclusiveness of some studies. But there's no doubt you'll be doing yourself a favor if you reach for the soy instead of the beef next time you're making a delicious home-cooked meal.

*A quick word about soy milk: It pays to read the labels on everything when you're shopping, especially when it comes to soy milk. Some brands add a ton of extraneous crap into their products. You don't want to think you're doing something healthy by drinking soy milk, only to find you've also been also been ingesting canola oil! The Silk brand has loads of superfluous ingredients, while my fave, West Soy, keeps it clean and simple. 

DisclaimerI'm not a doctor, but certain events in my life have urged me to do extensive research on health-related issues. And by "extensive research" I mean culling the Internet for information while trying not to panic - a situation that has often coincided with meeting actual medical professionals.

However I have gained a fair amount of useful knowledge, which I'd like to share here with you. Obviously consulting your own doctor is the responsible thing to do and I can't be liable for your decisions. But you probably already know that - you are reading a wellness post on an entertainment blog after all!

[Photo Credit: link includes loads more details about the pros and cons of soy.]

I Don't Have A Lot Of Lines, But I'm Going To Draw One Here

horses.jpgSometimes you have to be careful of what's in the water - and occasionally it's your liquor you need to keep an eye on. "Fresh" from New Zealand, via Gawker:

[Under the headline "Women flock to take horse-semen shots," we learn from The Dominion Post that "apple-infused" horse jizz, or Hoihoi tatea, is "like custard" and is a hot item at a New Zealand restaurant called Green Man Pub. The horse semen, for which the restaurant pays $300 (NZ) for 20 vials, is part of a meal of Asian duck and spring rolls that the restaurant is entering into Monteith's Beer & Wild Food Challenge.]

Good thing they don't have this in Alaska - think of the teen pregnancies

[Image Credit: Now with a fun game! How many horses can you count in the picture above?]

A Star Is Born!

My Drunk Kitchen has a new song. I heart her so much - enjoy!

Could-a, Would-a, Should-a


Another assignment from my writing class. Yep, I'm totally going there! This one is based off the prompt, "A phone call you wish you'd had." Dig it:

I'd just gotten home from work and was happily ensconced on my couch with my cat, remote in hand. Fox was playing back-to-back Simpson episodes everyday, starting at 6 pm. It had become my ritual to decompress with a little laughter and kitty lovin' after my crap job.

I don't remember what episode it was - all I remember is that I was enjoying it immensely. All the sudden my intuition spoke to me, "Get up and call Nana." It was that literal. It wasn't a nudge or a notion - it was my voice, clear as a bell, albeit in my head. I looked around, confused. I reasoned with myself, "But I'm digging The Simpsons. I can call her afterwards."

"Nope. Now." I sighed, heaving myself up from my comfy nest. It wasn't that I didn't want to speak to my Nana - quite the opposite. I loved her dearly, more than words could express. I was just feeling extremely lazy in that particular moment. But the voice - the voice was loud and wouldn't let me off the hook.

I dialed her number; it was busy. I dialed again and a strange voice answered. It was an old woman on the other end, but not my Nana. My Nana had had the same line since I was old enough to remember numbers; but I'd somehow misdialed. I had a brief, but sweet chat with this faux grandma figure before hanging up and dialing a third time. Still busy.

Weird. I couldn't figure out why my intuition had insisted on propelling me off the couch for a busy signal, a fake-out and a dial tone. Then, my phone rang. It was my mom. "Jenna, honey - Nana just died." I choked on my tears, my breath. "I'll call you back."

[Image Credit]

Busted In Bozeman

[This post is a work in progress, via my writing class with the fabulous Ariel Gore. You'll probably see this story pop up again as I expand it. Exciting, I know!]


The ringing of the slot machines was driving me crazy. It's one thing to hear those bells and whistles when you're in Las Vegas; it's another thing entirely when you're in Bozeman, Montana. Trust me on this.


How did I end up here? A lifetime of being sun deprived in the Pacific Northwest left me craving blue sky. I'd saved up every nickel I'd earned within the last year in order to quit my job and move to Arizona. My treat to myself between a draining job and a new life was a long road trip before settling in Tucson. I adored American kitsch and had, in fact, based my entire jaunt around it. I'd just toured South Dakota (Mount Rushmore, Wall Drug, the Wood Carving Museum!) and was in Montana to visit some friends before continuing my drive down south.


Bozeman was where my beloved two-door Toyota Tercel decided to act up. Not knowing a thing about cars, I assumed whatever was wrong was going to be expensive. I didn't want to hit a budget deficit before arriving in Arizona, so I decided to be proactive about keeping my funds in the black. I went out and grabbed the first job I could find.



I was behind the counter at Lucky Lil's Casino, watching the clock. This was not the typical countdown to the end of a shift. Rather, due to Montana's stringent liquor laws, I was waiting for a timer to countdown its twenty minutes. The law proposes, (in an effort not to over-serve, which actually encourages the opposite) that casinos only serve drinks in twenty-minute intervals. And don't worry if you miss the timer - the players that seem married to the one-arm bandits they're mauling will be more than happy to let you know when the next round is supposed to hit the floor. One eye is on the dollars slipping away and the other is on the melting ice of their previous beverages. Between the two, the players always seem at a loss.


The seconds slipped away until the buzzer sounded. Suddenly men were clamoring for my attention as they desperately waved their arms. I first took drink requests from the men that had dollar bills clutched in their sweaty palms. It's a universal truth! I reasoned that a dollar put in my pocket would go a lot further than one stuffed in a machine.


The orders came fast and furious:


"Gin and tonic, honey!"


"Make mine a Bud."


"Jack and Coke... heavy on the Jack."


"Whiskey, rocks, beer back."


I rapidly scribbled down their desires, raced behind the bar to fulfill them and circled the room again. You could almost hear the sighs of delight. Once again backs were turned and attention shifted elsewhere; each man lost to his individual rollercoaster. Only nineteen more minutes to go before we engaged in the dance again...


The job didn't entirely consist of staring at the clock, timer or otherwise. There were also snacks to be made. A well-stocked kitchen was just a few feet away from the bar area. Little hoagie rolls were soon slathered in mustard or mayonnaise and alternated with a variety of packaged lunchmeats. Small bags of Lay's potato chips were placed on little plastic plates alongside the simple sandwiches. These treats were on the house, courtesy of the casino. There wasn't a time constraint placed on sandwiches - they were created and delivered in our down time between liquid rounds.


My coworker, a woman in her early fifties named Dot, told me the men need sustenance. "Some of 'em will sit there for hours and hours. Don't want their tummies gettin' hurt." She'd make each roll with pride and care, as if she was doing the boozy patrons a favor. Of course, in a way, she was - but I was more of the mindset that they'd be better off following their stomach's cues and moving away from the barstools to forage on their own. Still, I tried to follow Dot's example and put as much thought as I could into the task. Her most important piece of advice was, "Make the mayo ones last and don't make 'em too goopy. We don't want our boys to have soggy sandwiches."



When I wasn't slinging drinks or creating snacks, I was usually lost in thought as I contemplated our uniforms. It was the classic white shirt, black pant and vest combo. I was polyester clad and could have easily been mistaken for parking attendant. The thing that set Lil's employees apart were the dime store brooches affixed to our clip-on ties. Pam, the floor manager, proudly told me these were "the family jewels" and I'd be charged against my paycheck if I were to lose mine. Family jewels have a different connotation in my world and all I could think about everyday at work was "balls against my neck." It was a unsettling image that made the quirky job even more odd...

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