Wheat Belly

By William Davis, MD

A book review in 140 characters or less… and then some.

Is wheat a drug? Davis says yes- a drug that makes you fat and foggy. This book is food for thought, and quite revolutionary.

That’s my review in 140 characters or less. Here’s more of my take:

I checked out Wheat Belly because I read a suggestion somewhere that giving up wheat and unfermented dairy might help me get rid of the dyshidrotic eczema I have on my hands and feet. This condition ranges from annoying to painful, with tiny itchy blisters on my fingers, toes, palms and soles. Every so often I have a flare-up, and it drives me nuts. I read Wheat Belly just because I wanted to know what I could eat if I didn’t eat wheat. I can’t imagine giving up something so central and traditional to our culture! However, I do believe that Dr. Davis has a point. He backs it up with a lot of studies. I still am not giving up wheat completely, but I have cut back drastically. I haven’t lost any weight yet, but I feel like I’m eating healthier. I haven’t had any flare-ups yet this month. Who knows what it will be next…


I decided to read Quitter:Closing the Gap between your Day Job and your Dream Job on the recommendation of other bloggers – the kind whose blogs are better than mine (I can’t remember who). I wasn’t disappointed in the read. I got to know Jon Acuff, the author, a little better. He blogs at Stuff Christians Like. His writing is smart and funny. I enjoyed the book very much, but I don’t see how to transfer the things he talked about to my life.

He talked about how he wanted to be a writer. Now he has three books published and a very successful blog. About me, though, here’s a secret: I write (and like) my blog, but I can’t imagine trying to make a living at writing. Actually, my dream job is to be a stay at home mom, maybe with a part-time job in a library. Too many things that are beyond my control would have to come together – basically, Brett would have to get a super-paying job with family insurance, and we would have to have kids. I know we can try, but there’s no guarantee that children are a gift that God will grant us.

If you want to become a writer, Quitter has some great advice to you. If you want to do any job at which you earn money, Quitter will probably help. If your idea of a dream job is a thankless job that literally does not pay, although it immensely affects the future, I don’t think that Jon Acuff’s advice in Quitter will be very useful for you.

The Little House Books

I don’t know what started Brett and me watching Little House on the Prairie, the 1970s-80s TV show about a pioneer family living just outside a little town in Minnesota. Whatever it was, we have several episodes saved on our DVR and I enjoy watching it very much. It seems like today’s “family” shows all to often are filled with innuendo and other situations and subject matter that I don’t see to be family friendly. Little House  was definitely a family friendly show.

It was loosely based upon Laura Ingalls Wilder’s acclaimed nine-book “Little House” Series for kids:

Little House in the Big Woods
Little House on the Prairie
Farmer Boy
On the Banks of Plum Creek
By the Shores of Silver Lake
The Long Winter
Little Town on the Prairie
These Happy Golden Years
The First Four Years

The books tell the (slightly fictionalized) story of Laura’s life growing up as a pioneer girl and then briefly as a pioneer wife in the 1870’s and 1880s. Farmer Boy is about Laura’s husband, Almanzo Wilder, when he was  a little boy of about nine years old in upstate New York. There are school days, a coming-of-age element, lots of family life and family relationships, weather, and my favorite part – descriptions of food and how it was made.

Pioneer life was rough, and Wilder was able to convey that without making the stories scary. Though she touched on things that were quite scary for her and her family at the time, the action is portrayed gently.

As a child, my favorite of the books was Little House in the Big Woods, perhaps because it was the first chapter book I ever read, and I had my own copy, an inexpensive paperback that I eventually wore the covers off. As an adult, I really enjoyed Farmer Boy because of Almanzo’s focus and initiative. He wants to become a farmer like his father, and he wants to learn to take care of animals, but at first, he is not allowed to because he’s so young and small. It feels so rewarding when he’s able to get his first colt and learn to care for it. I also liked Little Town on the Prairie for the budding romance between Laura and Almanzo and Laura’s philosophical turn related to Independence Day.

Watching the TV show, it is evident how loosely based on the book series it is. On TV, the Ingalls family lives in one place for much longer than they ever did in the books or in real life. Nellie Oleson was mean, but she couldn’t hold a candle to the television character. In the books, as in life, Mary never married, nor did she become a teacher. It seems that Mary may not have been quite as angry and shut away as she was on television, either. In the books and apparently in real life, Laura didn’t have a great desire to become a teacher. She became a teacher because she wanted to help pay for Mary’s college tuition at the college for the blind. Some ocurrences were changed or synthesized. For example, Laura and Manly (her nickname for Almanzo) both had experiences with mean teachers. In Laura’s case, the teacher in the book was Miss Eliza Jane Wilder, Manly’s sister, who was influenced by Nellie Oleson because they were both from New York. In Manly’s case, it was a male teacher who boarded with his family. In the television show, it was Laura’s mean teacher, a man, who was influenced by Nellie because he boarded with the Oleson family. Both the books and the TV program are enjoyable, but now when I watch the show, I wish I didn’t know what I know about the events of the book and about history, since the show is loaded with anachronisms.

I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy these classic books as an adult, but I was very pleasantly surprised. Any childhood fan will appreciate them again (and maybe more) later.

Seven Quick Takes, Volume 49

— 1 —

Last week when Dad and Brett traded cars, Brett took my umbrella out of our car and put it in the kitchen. The umbrella is still in the kitchen. Guess what the weather was like when I walked out of Mass this morning.

— 2 —

We watched the 2011 movie The Muppets last night. Although some of it was too corny for me, it was also so cute! We liked that Sheldon from Big Bang Theory (Jim Parsons) was Walter in the “Man or Muppet” sequence, and I enjoyed the Muppet Barbershop Quartet singing “Smells like Teen Spirit,” especially the part where Beaker sings “Me me me me” (where the lyric would be “My libido.” Um, yeah, it was best that Beaker to sing that line!)

— 3 —

I’ve been reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books. I’m going to review the whole series rather than clogging up the blogging with nine posts in a row about the same author. My initial impressions as an adult are that 1) I can see where my desire for old-fashioned, simple life came from and 2) If you are hot in the summer, read Farmer Boy or The Long Winter. 3) Farmer Boy will make you hungry with all its descriptions of yummy food.

— 4 —

This past week I bought lightly pasteurized, non-homogenized milk from Snowville Creamery. YUM! I like whole milk anyway, but milk you have to shake to mix in all the creamy goodness? Forget about it! True, it is more expensive than regular milk, but I decided to make sacrifices elsewhere in my grocery budget.

— 5 —

My favorite thing about summer is having a few evenings off every week to clean my house, take care of my yard, read, play on the internet, or just generally veg. I miss being a kid and having the summer off from school! Even when I was working, it wasn’t full time. I had much more time to play, read, learn how to cook, do crafts, draw, and do all the fun things I liked to do. Now as an adult, it barely feels like summer because I have to work all day.

— 6 —

During the Fortnight for Freedom, I’m going to pray for freedom of religion, not just in the United States (where we are supposedly guaranteed this freedom to begin with) but throughout the world.

— 7 —

A coworker brought in mixed-berry bread today and brought it right up to my desk just as I was finishing my oatmeal. I’m too full; I have to wait to have a piece! It gives me something to look forward to in the work day.

God bless you and give you a great weekend!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

The Complete Tightwad Gazette

Did you know…

  • you can make pizza dough in the food processor?
  • you can make cookies out of bread crumbs?
  • banks are out to make a buck, but credit unions are member-owned not for profits?
  • you can make “magic” quiche without biscuit mix?
  • you can open an envelope in the microwave… and then use it again (of course, not the postage!)?
  • you can use a plastic grocery bag as a salad spinner?

You can find these and tons more frugal tips in Amy Dacyzyn’s book, The Complete Tightwad Gazette.  Back in the ’90s, Mrs. Dacyzyn was a stay-at-home mom to six, living in Leeds, Maine. Although she’s not originally from Maine, sometimes even transplants know a thing or two about frugality. Mrs. Dacyzyn began publishing a quarterly newsletter for tightwads about all things frugal in the early part of the decade, out of her home. It was only read locally at first, but then it took off! She appeared on numerous television programs and people from all over the country were writing in to give tips or ask for advice. This book is over 900 pages of compiled newsletters, published after the newsletter ceased to be.

The tips and information range from useful, to weird, to obsolete (1990s interest rates? no thank you!). However, if you are frugal or aspire to be, I guarantee you can find a tip that will work for you in The Complete Tightwad Gazette.

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey:  The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle tells the story of Highclere Castle, the setting of the BBC series Downton Abbey, during the time-period that the show takes place. It was written by Fiona, the (current) Countess of Carnarvon, and she makes use of many primary documents to tell the story of her home and its family.

Almina Wombwell became the Countess of Carnarvon despite her questionable parentage. She was the illegitimate daughter of Alfred de Rothschild and a French mother, who at the time was married to an Englishman. Her different circumstances in a way parallel the American origin of Lady Cora, the Countess of Grantham in the television series Downton Abbey. The book, however titled, does not deal with the show at all, but tells the real story of Highclere Castle. I assume that the publisher chose this title in order to draw in readers who may pass by the book if they didn’t know its connection to their favorite television series.

I found the writing to be somewhat dry and I was often disappointed when the author mentioned a photograph and I couldn’t find it in the book. I do not know if this is a flaw of the paperback, or if it is an oversight. It took me a long time to read this book because, as I mentioned, despite the juicy details, the writing was dry. However, on into the 1920’s period of the book, I got much more interested as I was reminded that Lady Almina’s husband, Lord Carnarvon, sponsored and accompanied the famous Egyptologist Howard Carter. The discovery of the tomb of King Tutankhamun is treated a great deal, and I’ve been a sucker for Egyptology ever since I read Aliki’s Mummies Made in Egypt back in the first grade. I even wrote a paper about Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon in sixth grade, which was lost in my locker the day I was to turn it in, causing me to be exceedingly late for class and have a crying fit in the hallway (so becoming for an eleven-year-old who thinks she’s supposed to be grown up)… but that’s another story.

All in all, Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey is interesting, but I found it hard to get through.