Monday, July 27, 2009

Aeyah's coconut maifun

Aeyah made up with this amazing recipe today. One thing that I have found with my kids is that if they cook it they usually will eat it. I started my kids out in the kitchen when they were very small and they have grown up with me in the kitchen. They love fresh ingredients and they can name foods that most adults have never heard of. We try to eat around the table as a family at least once a day. The kids go to the farmer and help him pick produce, we go to farmers markets. We try growing a bit (more some years, less others). We grow herbs. We make the grocery store a field trip. We try to keep with the least processed foods possible. Vegetables, fruits, rice, whole bulk grains, dried fruit, nuts.
Now at 12 and 10 my oldest can handle an entire meal on their own. And since we use recipes mostly as a jumping off place, each meal is unique and amazing.
My 7 yr old has always loved being in the kitchen when he was 1 he was making his own smoothies,(with my help) so he could get enough fruit (something he has never liked).
I am happy to be bringing back the knowledge of being very intuned with what we are eating and where our food comes from through my children. I hope it will help spark a new generation of slow eating.

Coconut Mai Fun

1 8oz box maifun (rice noodles very thin)
cooked as per box instructions. Drain rinse and set aside.

1 cup organic coconut milk
1 t salt
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
5.5 grams vegetable bouillon(ours is made by the organic gourmet and contains:
sea salt, palm fruit oil, nutritional yeast extract, corn starch, onions, celery, carrots, leeks, parsley,
lovage, paprika, turmeric, nutmeg, pepper, chicory extract
1/3 cup red miso
1 small can water chestnuts sliced

place 1/4 cup of coconut milk and bouillon in small bowl and whisk until there are no lumps and it is a smooth consistency.
Transfer to medium bowl
place 1/2 coconut milk and 1/3 cup miso into small bowl and whisk until there are no lumps and it is a smooth consistency
transfer to the bowl
add onion, garlic, salt and stir.
add noodles, and water chestnuts.
Serve warm

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday lunch

Sunday is Brian's Monday, he gets Friday and Saturday as his days off. So we usually have a special meal together on Sunday to start our week off right.
Since I made coconut curry late last night to ward off Brian's allergies (it worked) we had the leftovers for breakfast and were in the mood for something light that wouldn't heat up the kitchen.
Today was
Fresh local organic tomatoes sliced
avacado sliced
slivered raw purple cabbage
local organic cantalope melon
cottage tofu
homemade corn tortillas

Cottage Tofu
2 one pound blocks water packed firm tofu drained and mashed
1 T spicy dijon mustard
1 T yellow mustard
1 t dried basil or dried dill (but not both)
1 t chili powder
1 T garlic powder
1 T onion powder
1/2 c veganaise (vegan mayonnaise found a natural food stores in the dairy section)
mash the tofu to an even consistency add everything else and stir until well mixed.
keep this refrigerated for up to 5 days covered
can be served on the side like cottage cheese with fruit or sliced vegetable (especially tomatoes!!)
or served like a dip on crackers or like tuna salad (add a bit of chopped onion and celery) on sandwiches.

Handmade Corn Tortillas
2 cups masa flour (corn flour mixed with lime)
1 1/4 cups water
1/4 tsp salt
tortilla press: here is a nice plan for one:
or you can purchase a metal one
cast iron skillet or stainless steel skillet
combine all three ingredients in a glass bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands or a wood spoon for two minutes to form a soft dough.
Divide dough into 8-12 equal balls. cover with a damp cloth to keep dough moist
line a tortilla press with two pieces of waxed paper
place each ball between the pieces of waxed paper and press until tortilla measures 5-6 inches
carefully peel off waxed paper
preheat ungreased skillet on medium high heat
cook tortillas one at a time until slightly brown on both sides
cover cooked tortillas with a cloth napkin to keep soft and warm
serve warm
refrigerate any unused tortillas use within 1 week.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

zucchini lime coconut muffins

If you live anywhere in the south then at one time or another you have walked out your front door and realized that yet again you had been "gifted" by a friend, family member, co-worker, or your worst enemy... with a 10 pound bag of zucchini. You look up and down the street, thinking who could do this to you. And is there time to still run after them. Then you slowly walk back into your house and try to fit this crazy green squash into your already over flowing refrigerator full of your own zucchini, from your CSA or a neighbor, or your own little plot of land.
Well, we have 5 kids and when we lived in Nashville we found ourselves on the receiving end of zucchini so much that when I came home and found a bag tied to my door my kids would immediately start begging to throw it away. I am grateful that these kind people thought of us but why could they not ever leave us Thai food??
So this is where this recipe came from, I had tried zucchini bread recipes before but they just didn't taste very good, mostly they still tasted like zucchini, or they just didn't use up enough of the stuff. But this recipe uses a full 8 cups. And the flavors are amazing. So... After trying this recipe don't blame me if you find yourself begging your neighbors for their zucchini!!

zucchini lime coconut muffins
8 cups whole spelt flour
4 t baking powder
3 t baking soda
2 1/2 t salt
6 t ground flaxseed (coffee grinders work the best)
mixed with 6 T water in separate bowl
2 1/2 cups organic unbleached cane sugar (or 1 1/2 cups agave nectar and add
1/2 cup extra flour)
3 cups organic canned coconut milk (exactly 2 14oz cans)
lime zest from 3 limes
1/2 cup lime juice (or juice from 3 limes)
8 cups zucchini shredded in food processor
3/4 cup coconut oil
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
mix the flour, baking soda and powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside
preheat oven to 375
mix ground flaxseed and water in small bowl until completely blended
mix together flaxseed mix, sugar, coconut milk, lime juice and zest, zucchini, coconut oil, and shredded coconut
mix well.
Slowly add the flour mixture until thoroughly mixed, but don't beat it or over mix it, mix it until it is just all wet.
pour this batter into ungreased muffin tins 2/3 of the way full.
and bake in oven for 25-30 minutes, checking after 15.
They should be slightly brown on top and a knife should come clean from the centers
let them cool in the muffin tins for 20 minutes (if you can wait that long)
and then transfer them to a covered container. they will last 2-3 days at room temperature
and 2 weeks in the fridge. You can also freeze these.
makes about 60 muffins.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Massaman Curry

Okay, so I have had a request for some Thai-style curry from this yummy restaurant in Nashville
Royal Thai. I have not eaten it in a year or more so I will do my best to recreate it. This is a massaman curry. Those of you who live near there can make it and then go to Royal Thai and see if it comes close. Tell them I said hi and I really miss their Tofu Pa Naeng.

Massamum Curry

3 Cloves garlic smashed and diced
2 T coconut oil or sunflower oil
1 medium onion chopped
2 cup cooked chopped potatoes
1/2 cup cashews
1 cup canned pineapple drained (drink the juice!!)
1- 8 ounce can sliced water chesnuts
1-8 ounce can bamboo shoots sliced
2 small red chilis deseeded
1 stalk lemon grass outer leaves removed
dice this very small (if you can not find fresh lemon grass stalk you can also find it
dried in a jar in Asian markets and some grocery stores
If you use dried use about 3 T tied up in a bit of cheese cloth you will cook this with the
soup and then remove the cheesecloth bag before serving.
1 2 inch piece of fresh ginger peeled and diced
2 Kaffir lime leaves also found at Asian markets
you will also remove these before serving
2 tsp good salt (I recommend REAL salt or Celtic sea salt)
1 Tbsp fresh ground coriander seeds
1 Tbsp fresh ground cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp fresh ground cardamon pods
2 Tbsp tamari or vegan fish or worchestershire sauce
3 cups organic coconut milk canned (2 14 oz cans shake well before opening)
1 cup almond milk or water

Place the onion, oil and garlic in a 4 quart saucepan-cook stirring until the onions are transparent about
5 minutes
Add everything else
cook over low heat for 20 minutes until all the flavors are melded together
remember to remove the kaffir lime leaves and the dried lemonstalk
Serve over Jasmine rice
You can also add some fried tofu if you like but it taste wonderful as is!

vegan bachmel sauce over noodles

When we became vegans one of the things I thought I would miss is the bachmel sauce
You know that rich and creamy sauce that just screams DAIRY and lots of it, butter, cream, milk etc.
Well, it was one of the first things I veganized.
My favorite has mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, and fresh basil.
This is one I made up for noodles for the kids, it is quick and easy
for a very fast dinner.

Vegan Bachmel Sauce over noodles
4 Tbsps sunflower oil
2 cloves garlic crushed to break the cells and release the garlic love and diced
2 t salt
1/8 t paprika
1/8 t nutmeg
1/8 t turmeric
1/2 t chili powder
1/4 t fresh ground pepper
6 T hemp milk (you can use any milk homemade is better but water will also do)
and 1 cup hemp milk these will be added separately
4 T flour of your choice I used whole spelt
3/4 cup red star nutritional yeast vegetarian support formula (great source of B12)
2 (more) T sunflower oil

In a large pot over high heat cook the noodles following package directions
When done transfer to a colander drain rinse and set aside. Reduce heat on stove to
medium and give it a minute to cool down. Then place pot back on burner.
Place the oil and garlic in the pot and cook stirring for 3 minutes
add the salt and herbs WHISKing constantly,
add the 6 T milk or water,
While WHISKing constantly sloooooowly add the flour sprinkling it over the
liquid, keep whisking this, it will become thick very quickly
slooooowly add the 1 cup milk or water whisking the entire time.
Let this bubble but not boil for 1 minute.
Reduce heat to medium low.
add the nutritional yeast and sunflower oil.
Whisk to a thick cheezy consistancy and then add the cooked noodles.

We had this with
Smoked Marinated Wild Rice Tempeh
8 ounces wild rice tempeh
cut into strips and marinate in 4T Tamari and 2 tsp. liquid smoke
2 t garlic powder and 4 T water for at least 10 minutes at room temperature
or in the refrigerator for as long as you want up to 24 hours
Transfer the Tempeh to a well heated saute pan
with 4 T heated sunflower oil
Saute the tempeh and the marinate for
5 minutes each side.

Simple salad of
Romaine lettuce, fresh spinach, shredded carrot and green leaf lettuce
with a simple dressing of
sunflower oil
hemp oil
hemp milk
yellow mustard
and garlic powder

Kim-chee and
Garlic stuffed green olives

Monday, July 20, 2009

blessing way chocolate

I came up with this recipe when I was on my way to a potluck and wanted something sweet and special
but didn't have a lot of time.
A blessing way is a traditional Navajo ceremony which honors the pregnant woman's right of passage into motherhood. Like a baby shower is for to honor and celebrate the coming child, the blessing way is a time to honor and celebrate the mother. This ceremony usually done when the mother is close to giving birth she is showered with loving touch, good food, soothing music, and sacred gifts.

chocolate from blessing way.
Take some good quality chocolate either a bar or chocolate chips
or good quality fair trade organic cocoa mixed with coconut oil and a bit of agave nectar
place them in an oven proof glass container
add nuts and seeds of your choice
walnuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
dried hibiscus flowers
and dried or freeze dried fruit of your choice
raspberries, blueberries, pineapple. etc
place in a toaster or regular oven until the chocolate is just soft
remove from the oven and stir until well combined
place in the fridge or freezer until set
break into pieces and enjoy
here is an exact recipe for those of you who need a little direction

3/4 cup organic fair trade cocoa
2 T organic virgin coconut oil
4 T agave nectar
mix thoroughly
or 1 cup vegan organic fair trade chocolate chips
place in glass baking dish
1/2 cup walnuts crumbled
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup dried raspberries
1/4 cup dried pineapple
3 Tablespoons dried hibiscus flowers
1 t bourbon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
place in 300 degree toaster oven
for 7 minutes or until the chocolate is just starting to melt
mix thoroughly and let cool to room temperature
place in freezer or refrigerator until set
break into pieces and enjoy
keep this in the refrigerator in a covered container for up to one week.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

spinach pesto

Pesto is wonderful. Full of flavor and nutrients. Some people think the basil aspect is too strong like my friend Rayla. Others just can't afford huge amounts of basil. So this recipe is for all of you and for those of us who just love spinach. What can I say when I was a kid I thought my father might actually BE Popeye so I ate my spinach so I could be strong and amazing just like him!! An added bonus to this dish is that it is raw but most people won't think of it
that way so you can sneakily feed them healthy!!

Spinach Pesto

I huge bundle of spinach about 1/2 lb will do make
sure it is clean and dry. salad spinners work well for this
If it has a huge amount of stems you can trim these but use
some of the stem, they are good for you.
3-7 cloves of garlic, the garlic will make it spicy so adjust this for your tastes
1/4 cup olive oil--you will really taste the olive oil in this recipe, so use the best
most virgin, organic you can get your hands on.
Some REAL salt or celtic salt
nuts about 1-1.5 cups
I use walnuts mostly, they just perfectly complement the spinach and garlic
you can also use pecans, pignolias, or pistachios
Last night I used a combination of all 4 and there was not a drop left in the bowl!
Now put everything in a food processor with a cutting blade and process until bright green
and smooth and all the nuts are blended. If it is too thick you can add a little more oil a few
drops at a time. If it is too thin add a few more nuts.
This will keep in the fridge for about a week. I smooth it into a glass refrigerator dish and put a layer of parchment or wax paper over the top to keep out the air.
You can also freeze this in a container or in ice trays for individual servings just make sure to cover it with a layer of water or oil to keep the air out. It will freeze for about 3 months.
I served this at a potluck with gluten free crackers and tortilla strips.
It is amazing on pizza.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Local Food

The Local Food vs. Organic Food debate has been going on for years. Call me spoiled but I always wanted both. Our family visited a non-certified organic/ biodynamic farm this week with our homeschool group. Although I was very impressed with the knowledge and care of the farmer, some things he said just didn't sit well with me. One was the fact that he used conventionally grown cotton waste as compost. This is so wrong to me, "conventionally grown cotton uses more insecticides than any other single crop and epitomizes the worst effects of chemically dependent agriculture. Each year cotton producers around the world use nearly $2.6 billion worth of pesticides -- more than 10% of the world's pesticides and nearly 25% of the world's insecticides.

Cotton growers typically use many of the most hazardous pesticides on the market including aldicarb, phorate, methamidophos and endosulfan. Cotton pesticides are often broad spectrum organophosphates--pesticides originally developed as toxic nerve agents during World War II--and carbamate pesticides.

Pesticides used on cotton even when used according to instructions harm people, wildlife and the environment. These pesticides can poison farm workers, drift into neighboring communities, contaminate ground and surface water and kill beneficial insects and soil micro-organisms." according to PANNA the
Pesticide Action Network of North America

And then this cotton waste is being put on "organic" produce. Where is the logic there?

I do feel for this farmer, he has not always been organic but felt that it was either make the switch to organic or lose the farm. And cotton waste is what he can afford. And he feels that local cotton waste is better than having to truck in organic fertilizer from California. Where do you draw the line? And he realizes that because of these cost saving measures he will never be certified. I hope that he finds more choices out there. I would like to visit him again and discuss more things. But I just can't see investing in his CSA knowing what I do about his practices. So for me I have never minded if someone wasn't "certified" but I want them to be honest with me and sometimes that takes walking out into their field and really discussing their growing practices.

But on the other hand sometimes when I am extremely low on funds or travelling, I do purchase conventional produce, (extremely rarely) or prepackaged food that is not organic. Who knows how far these ingredients had to travel to make it into that box. And what about restaurants. Besides the two local vegan hangouts here in our city I don't know of very many inexpensive places that try to use organic or local produce. This is one of the reasons if we go out to eat, which is rare, we go to either End of the Line or Sluggo's!
And at least this farmer is TRYING to make a living using organic and biodynamic principles.

We have heard of a local farmer who is certified organic and working biodynamically. I have tasted some of his produce at potlucks around. He has a "buying club" where you pay a small yearly fee and you can order produce each week and pick it up at his farm. I am very excited. I signed up tonight, paid my fee by paypal and I am hoping to get strawberries, kale and leeks tomorrow. Then I will head to the organic farmer's market to see what else they have. Now I know some people will think, Man, that is just three things but that is what it is to eat local. There isn't a lot of variety at one time. But the taste and quality will blow you away. And very soon the strawberries will be gone. So we will enjoy all we can now, freeze some and then we will be ready for blackberries, and then blueberries. While we may not be able to get bananas local (although I am looking into planting a tree here!!! wish me luck) and with thier extremely large carbon footprint we are trying hard not to purchase them even though they are mine and O's favorite easy quick snack. Here is some more info if you want to find out a bit more.

There are so many wonderful things to look forward to. And I think it will be worth the wait. So this week we will have strawberries fresh, in smoothies, in muffins and I will freeze some for my daughters birthday in a few weeks and so we can have strawberries for a while longer.
We will have kale mixed into miso soup, vegetable soup, a pot of curry, kale steamed with garlic and onion, steamed with vegan smoke flavor and tamari, and raw kale thinly sliced with ginger and vinegar, or raw with vegan mayonaisse, garlic and tamari, and just torn up and mixed in with some spring greens for a salad.
Leeks will make a wonderful casserole, soup, and
vegan omelettes.

I have something to tell you. I have children who eat. They really eat. Our 11 year old eats more than me most days, and I am nursing an 11 month old! Which doesn't mean that they aren't each picky in their own way. But we did not deaden their taste buds with cheesy crackers and boxed mac and cheese. Well, being vegan this would just be wrong but also I wanted them to love food as much as I do. It is so odd to me, children who have access to the most incredible tasting food, beg to eat cardboard. Well, if that is what you fed them from 6 months on you can't expect them to eat kale at 3 years old. We don't buy junk. Even our "junk food" has nutritional value. That isn't to say that we only eat straw and rocks all the time. To know me is to have tasted something incredible that I have cooked or baked. We don't eat gross food. As my brother used to say "don't tell me what's in it, just let me eat it" I don't hide unwanted foods in my kids meals. I am honest with them about what it is. I have a son who has never liked fruit in it's natural state except pears, watermelon, and sometimes bananas, apples, and pineapple. But I was determined to get fruit into him. So we experimented with different ways and now he will eat ANY fruit in a smoothie (fruit usually frozen, water, fresh juice or a nut milk, almond or hemp or rice milk) and he will eat some things frozen. We have also made frozen pops with blended up fruit and a little fresh juice or water. But everyday, in some form I make sure he eats fruit. Veggies are no problem, his favorites are asparagas and brussel sprouts (can you imagine?) But there was no one ever sitting there telling him that those things were "gross" and we don't read books that tell kids to hate their vegetables. (Why does anyone think that this is a smart thing to do to our kids?? There are soooo many books out there telling kids that if they were normal then they would hate broccoli. Ummmm okay. And we wonder why kids do hate it and refuse to eat anything green) There is one book by David Shannon, Bad Case of the Stripes, and it is all about staying true to what you are and what you like to eat!! Yeah David.

I don't feed our children baby food, I do not grind up our table food in the blender, I just give our babies breast milk and when they start reaching for our food I feed them little bits. If they are younger than 8 months I chew it up a little bit to start the digestion process and I make sure it is soft enough for them to gum. When they are first starting out I try to limit the number of ingredients to look for possible allergies and we try to stay away from high allergens until near their first birthday. We don't go heavy on any one thing. Start off small. Let them play with it a bit. Get used to the different textures and tastes of things. Funny story. L our almost 11 month old, loves pears and apples, will jump out of your arms for them. The core is his favorite but any one will do. And sweet potatoes, he starts drooling while they are still cooking. Well, a few weeks ago I got itchy to take a trip so I loaded up the 5 babes and set off as the sole adult to see my dad and other family and friends, we ended up eating out more than I would have liked and I ended up picking up a few jars of organic baby food because I didn't like how much convential food the baby kept being fed by well meaning relatives. But L wouldn't eat it. He spit it out, dumped it out, played with it but wouldn't eat it. I don't know whether it was the texture or the taste but he didn't like it. So we are back home and back to eating fresh organic, and local as much as we can.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


I am starting this journey today. Documenting our life here in Florida and how we choose to live that life and how life has chosen for us to live.

Living Frugally: cheap if you want to say it, dirt cheap!
And...environmentally sound, energy saving, gas saving, recycling, reusing, eating local whenever possible, getting stuff for free, healthy living and vegan, always vegan but ( and here is the kicker ) we don't want to feel like we are deprived or like we are impoverished. So that is what this year is about, our second year in Florida, it is about expanding on our principals of living frugally while relishing in the lavish life we live.

We moved to Florida with the whole purpose to make our lives, richer, fuller, happier and truer to our life's purpose. And to live in harmony with our children, not just to let them be the by-product of their screwed up parents crazy life but to be fully engaged in their own lives. And for us to spend our days swimming in the ocean with our feet firmly planted in the sand. It was a very quick decision, made in March of 2008, me fully pregnant with our incredible unplanned 5th child. We felt extremely out of control of our life before this decision was made: finances, fertility, career, family, even the weather. A move felt right, a little wacky under the circumstances but right none the less. The kids were all for it. Our families thought we would be back in six months or less. We got on line, found lovely vegan friends, vegan restaurants and the price of living so much less than we had been used to, and the ocean....oh our dream for years, the beautiful magical ocean. So we drove down here 8.5 hours from "home" and found a house to rent before B had to be back at work. We came back home determined: within the month we had quit our job, packed our house, kissed our friends and set off.

Life started falling into place in that month. The fuzziness that usually surrounds me during winter's harsh months--October through May! let me be those last 30 days. I had a purpose and I am a lover of purpose.
I haven't really sat and thought of those days, it is a little amazing to think that I was able to do so much in so little time. I need to think back on those 30 days whenever I feel overwhelmed with what I am facing.

The next year has passed in a blur. The many jobs B found that we thought would be waiting for us turned out to be non-existent. So he started working day labor. Anything they needed-he was that man! While he was working hard we also played hard. Going to the beach every spare minute, enjoying wonderfully amazing vegan restaurants, making incredible friends: homeschool friends, vegetarian friends, friends with kids, friends with dogs, we started building this amazing community:family around us, without even realizing it. Looking back on the past year and all the friends we have made, I am amazed that we have only known these people a year or less. These are our soul-mates our community our family. We welcomed many friends into our home. Since we only had one vehicle the kids and I walked everywhere, the market, the bank, the bay, the park, friends houses. It was amazing for my pregnancy to walk that much. We had an amazing couple of months. Finding a free hands-on museum that encouraged the kids to play, an art museum with a free day once a week, blackberries quarts and quarts of them growing wild in a vacant lot, loquats on a tree outside the healthfood co-op, peppermint for tea in abundance, a vegetarian potluck twice a month (amazing food more amazing people), parks and parks and parks. We found beauty everywhere. Then May 21st came around. My mom had been sick, in and out of the hospital for several years. That was a day like many before it, when she was stable, doing better and scheduled to return home. But very early that Wednesday my brother mother had died. In an instant I went from an extremely loved only daughter to a motherless lost soul. After angrily telling my father only weeks before that no I could not return "home" to see my mom because I had to take care of myself the last weeks of my pregnancy,(yes I am in therapy) we gathered the family, said goodbye to the wonderfully understanding friends that were visiting, packed the car and set off to comfort my father, brothers, be comforted and to bury my mother. As fate would have it, I went into labor at the funeral. 3 days later our 5th child was born in the same state as his brothers and sisters. Since I broke my tailbone giving birth to him we waited 4 days to drive home. We would have liked to stay longer but B had no "vacation time", no "sick leave" or bereavement leave. Working day to day, going in to a day labour office at 4:45 am and hoping you leave at 7:30 with a ticket for a physically demanding job is a mentally challenging task. When you have a wife and 5 children at home to feed and clothe, it must be excruciating. But B did this day after day for months on end without a complaint, without whining, he is a truly amazing person. Dedicated to his position as father to homeschooled kids and husband to a wife who needs to be home to breastfeed and nurture these little creatures he worked tirelessly everyday at any job he could get for 10 months to give us the basics of life. Life could never have given me a better partner.

It has financially been a harrowing year, but also it has been an opening, and an awakening. B and I have always lived frugally. Either because we had to financially or because it was what felt right. Since we met and started living a life together 14 years ago we have tried to create as little damage as possible and we have tried, within our means, to live our version of frugality. Not just spending less, but not consuming as much, using up and wearing out. Consumption has become such a way of life in this country that it is hard sometimes to see the clear picture of living "lightly" on the earth. There are so many reasons to fight this consumption: saving money, saving energy, saving natural resources, saving landfill space, keeping our waterways clean, saving time, staying healthy.

I will probably be a little scattered as I start this. Bare with me. This is mostly just a blank slate for me to jot down my thoughts and what is working and what is not for our family and the families that come to me for help on their: budget, energy bills, green home inquiries, vegan living questions, etc.

Okay, Let's begin. Here are our categories: Food---Transportation---Home---REduce, REuse, REcycle---Bills---Vegan Living---Garden---Fair-Trade---Community---Local---Freelancing---NON-consuming and our favorite TMI (too much information- this will be your favorite!!) (these will probably adapt and change over time)

Today I had $10 in cash. Very little food in the fridge and 7 hungry people. So after visiting a local theatre adaptation of the P.D. Eastman book Go, Dog, Go with the local homeschool group ($18 for our family of 7 paid for a couple weeks ago) and kissing B goodbye on his way to work. The kids and I came home put on a pot of beans counted out our rice and after visiting the museum with friends headed to the local healthfood store for something for dinner. We had our basics: Organic brown long grain rice (just had to purchase a bit more to make a big pot) and organic red beans (quick soaked this morning and ready to cook). Our lovely friend gave us two blemished peaches she was going to donate and then We purchased everything organic: a huge bunch of local kale, a pound and a half of local yellow squash, 5 bananas (the Hummer's of the produce world but the 4 yr old was begging!! you understand don't you, thank you) which we ate as soon as they were weighed and paid for, 3 apples, a can of tomatoes, a bag of carrots on sale and a pound of organic brown rice. Total price $10.83 no tax since we have no food tax in this beautiful state, Yeah Us!!
So along with the rice and beans, I mixed half the canned tomatoes with some canned chilies (cheap woman's salsa), A who is 9 is amazing with the squash, she just cooked it lightly (still a little crunch) with some sunflower oil, salt, pepper and garlic, K who is 7 sliced and steamed the carrots, and all together it was an amazing meal. K likened it to something we had at a Mexican restaurant several years ago. And honest beans just taste so amazing when they are slow cooked in your own kitchen. The kids almost won't eat beans out of a can, even if they are organic. I usually have to blend them up into dip. And organic carrots man oh man are they sweet. A who doesn't normally eat cooked carrots will eat them if they are sweet and yummy. Organic is the only way. We ate 1 apple cut up while we were cooking so O didn't go wacky waiting for dinner.

Transportation/ Gas saving:
We have a dream right now to drive less and ride bikes more. B can't do this during the week because he works 45 minutes from home but the rest of us are going to do our best. A friend gave us a beautiful mess of bikes to work with and for $25 on craig'slist I found a tandem attachment like this for my bike (well, I don't have one yet, but I am building one out of the beautiful mess, thank you Rose!) So the three oldest have bikes and B(when he is home) and I have bikes, the 4 year old O, will be on the back of me on his tandem and so we just need something for the 11 month old. A friend has a side car trailer thing seen here:
but we don't have the desire to spend that much on that. So we are looking into options. Maybe we just need a baby bike seat, but they seem so top heavy and a bit unsafe to use WITH a tandem behind me...we will have to dwell on that. But within a month I want to be driving half as much as I am now and riding and walking the rest of the time. Thankfully we live close to downtown!!

So we are trying to figure out why our Natural Gas bill is so friggin' high!!! What is the deal. Okay, I am calming down. So we did a little experiment and we didn't turn the heat on at all from one billing cycle to the next. And our bill went down about a hundred dollars ( we simply put more covers on the bed at night and wore more clothes when it was chilly, it never got truly cold though, thankfully. ) But it was still $116!!!! That is just crazy. So since we don't have a gas stove it has to be the gas hot water heater. Since we are dirty people who rarely bathe and we do not use hot water to wash any clothes except sometimes diapers, the culprit has to be either a too big water heater or just bad schematics (too far away from where the H2O is going, set too high, not insulated, getting too much gas) I will not even pretend to know what all could be going wrong. But I know it is wrong to waste that much gas and to spend that kind of money on so little.
So this weekend we are going to see about these things, turning the H2O down even more than we have, getting a tamper to lessen the flow of gas, getting an insulated blanket to wrap around the heater, and I want to see about a timer that would only heat the water for a specific number of hours a day. Say 6 hours from 8 am to 2 pm. We could take showers and wash dishes during these hours and rely on cold water the rest of the day. Sounds good, lets see how it goes.
I want to go around the house and see if there are any lights that need compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), I don't think so but we will see. Also, I want to price getting some more insulation for the house and see what that might cost and a back sliding door. Our landlords want to replace the broken sliding door with french doors, we will look into that as well.
We hang out a lot of clothes but we could do more. I need to make or purchase a small rack to hang little things and maybe think about hanging some lines in the shop for when the weather is not compatible with drying outside.
Brian fixed the dish washer so we will start using that. I need to make or find a good biodegradable dish detergent. I make my own house cleaner out of white vinegar, water and essential oils and put it into an empty spray bottle. I wash my hair with biodegradable dish detergent (cleans really well and doesn't strip my hair since I only wash my hair 2-4 times a month) and I condition with organic coconut oil.

REduce, REuse, REcycle:
I was really wanting some outside seating/eating and last Sunday we came home to our neighbors having thrown out an outside glass-topped table, umbrella, stand, and 5 chairs. A little faded a little dirty. But perfect for us...we are so happy.
We buy most of our food in bulk, either from the health food store (they use 100% recycled biodegradable bags!) or from produce from farmers at the farmers market each week ( I bring my own bags to both places) I don't buy plastic sandwich bags I simply reuse Tupperware or reuse bulk food bags after we have used the contents. For peanut butter I take my own jar (they have a neat grinder there you can do yourself, I have the cashier weigh it before hand so they can count off the weight of the jar after I fill it).

So we still have a house in our old state that needs to be sold or rented. That is #1 on our priority list right now. We have not lived in it for 3 years and it needs some love. We moved out of it because it was very isolating for me with 4 little kids there who all wanted to see there friends several times a week and the roads were getting too dangerous to bike or walk on (speeding drivers), that added to the fact that it was very light deficient. We moved to the city and then two years later moved down here. So there it sits. Been on the market and off again. Been looked at by a hundred people or more. So we will get that right to the top. It needs to be first spot. So this weekend we will figure out the details and Monday I will call and get pricing for rental management companies and ads to advertise it ourselves. I have done this a while ago but we need new information.

Starting today we are tracking everything we spend on a budget sheet so we can see where we can cut some corners and I like the concreteness of seeing where our money goes and comes.

Wahoo...B just got home and got a $150 bonus this month. Yeah him.

Vegan Living: After years of B and the kids being the kind of vegans who eat a bit of honey now and then, B and the 2 oldest have rethunk the ethics of it, so I need to start sprouting grains and making all our bread because that is the last place in our house you would find honey, in the sprouted bread B takes to work everyday. He likes him some pb&j!! Which gets me into sprouting and making things at home. I have done it a lot but it is a thing where I have to get into a habit of doing it. So starting April 26th, Sunday I want to start sprouting and try my hand at some coconut yogurt making.....oooh we will see how that goes. At least I want to make some soy yogurt, let's see will I have to make my own soymilk to keep away from all the fillers they use in store bought soymilk. Oh how I miss the Farm, they had soy milk and ice bean and tofu.....okay, I am done. Can you make almond milk yogurt??? I will research and get back to you.

Okay, we need to start a garden. Enough said. We have been procrastinating. Well my wonderful friend J gave us some plants tomato & cukes and my wonderful other friend J gave us some lemon balm, and a nice farmer gave us some plants tomatoes & peppers & watermelon...I just need to get them in the ground. So I need to get some mushroom compost this weekend and Sunday we need to bathe ourselves in the righteousness of the soil. And get those puppies in the ground. What have I been waiting for?? Well, really I have been waiting for my husband to do it but that is like waiting on the lottery to pay your electric bill....not such a good idea.

I do not like things that are made in China and other worker oppressed countries. After hearing a terrible story (which is probably not true, I should head right now to instead of spreading gossip) about Chinese companies mixing metals to skimp on quality and creating radioactive products. Scary stuff. I do not want these things in my home and around my children. Case in point we went to the Earth Day festival and there was a vendor there, hawking his services and wares and he gave my kids a calculator with his information on it. It was a cheap, made in China piece of trash!! AND it wasn't even solar powered. My kids loved it---essentially a free video game. (sorry my kids don't get out much!!) And at the time I just didn't say no, but now as I see them handing it to the baby to make him happy (he loves anything that is not a baby toy, plastic, paper, electronics---we have to keep a close eye on him!!) it is driving me crazy. What do I do with it?? Let them keep it till it dies? Give it to the local thrift store so some other unsuspecting person can have a radioactive calculator? Throw it away so all the probable contaminates it contains can leach into our waterways? What I need to do is take the guy's name and number from the calculator, call him and let him know that I do not appreciate him buying this junk and passing it on to us and he would have my business more if I knew he was committed to sustainability instead of cheap crap for advertising. Everybody watch out I am stepping off my soapbox!!

A is studying ballet and we are looking into a financial and a merit based scholarship for next "year" for her.
I am looking to barter a yoga class or two. And we are looking into activities and classes for the kids for summer. We will have some family and some friends down for birthday celebrations. And we will probably head up for a road trip to see family and friends. But we also need some learnin'. We will have a meeting with the kiddos and come up with some good ideas. I will get back to you!!

Most thrift stores (be sure to ask) get items from local donations and sell them at their stores in the same city. Isn't that amazing??? So you can go and purchase a bag, a shirt, a necklace, a phone, etc and it will essentially be "local" okay, not technically but unless you grow the cotton, pick the cotton, weave the cotton sew the fabric, that is the best you are gonna get!!

Okay, I know after paying rent things are going to be stretched pretty thin around here. So...I am going to go through our stash of stuff to sell and see what I can get on this weekend. After making $131 on selling cloth diapers we are no longer using (mostly newborn sizes L has outgrown) I am moving on to some shoes we bought and haven't worn and we will see what else.

So how do we stop this influx of crappily made products? Well, I think the first things is to stop buying it. Visualize. You are at the store. WHY??? Do you really need more stuff?
Okay, fine--You feel you "need" something.
You don't find it at your local thrift store, so Look at it.
#1 Do you need it?? Do you have something similar at home? Could you make do without it?
#2 If you have determined you DO need it. Look where it came from? Do you know if they have fair labor practices in that country?
#3 Choose a different option. Do your research on line or at the library. Search out companies that are making products that align with your principles. Do you buy fair trade coffee but still purchase slave trade sugar? What about chocolate?

TMI (too much information):
Okay, you probably already have some ideas about me but I feel the need to tell you this....we rarely use toilet paper. Yeah, think what you will but we prefer to use old baby blankets (the soft flannel ones or old t-shirts) cut up and serged or not and kept clean in a cute basket on the back of the toilet and dirty in a bucket under the sink to be washed every three days with the dirty diapers. You will get so much cleaner and save so many trees. What are you waiting for?? Get out your pinking shears right now!!
Good night!!