Saturday, July 31, 2010
Those unpronounce-able ingredients have just about disappeared from my kitchen shelves. Instead of boxes of processed snacks, I'm making my own bread, pasta, crackers, and granola from scratch, using organic flours, etc.
I still get my java jolt from cold-brewed coffee (no electric usage), and now it's only from Fair Trade brands!
I eat very little beef, chicken, and pork, enjoying the different grains and legumes as proteins. So my support of factory farmed animals is nearly cut off. An occasional take out meal is where I have no control of this.
The space in my living room where the television was located has a stack of old suitcases loaded with vintage sewing trims, notions, and supplies. I've regained the hours that I used to spend sitting in front of that electric box.
My utility usage is still very low. I did cave in during the oppressive heat a few weeks ago and bought one of those floor model air conditioners. Waking up to 82 degrees in the house each morning and feeling ill wasn't a good thing. But the a/c does the trick and I only run it when absolutely necessary, and for only a few hours. The electric bill that arrived yesterday shows only a slight increase, so it doesn't use much more than the two electric fans I was using. Very livable! A double relief!
I haven't had paper towels in the house for months, using cleaning cloths instead. And I use cloth dinner napkins instead of paper, even carrying one with my lunch for work.
Lunch is packed in glass canning jars or Pyrex containers (no plastic), and I still have my recycled sandwich wrap. I also bring "real" forks and spoons, skipping the disposable flatware.
I ran out of homemade deodorant and tried another trick that I read online, using a splash of witch hazel and a few drops of tea tree and lavender essential oils. It's easy and works for me!
As far as being self-sustaining, I've got lots of berries (blue- and straw-) in the freezer. And I still make short-storage pickles from the little cukes I get at the farmers market. Not much, but it's okay for now.
Goals not met:
Biking to work. Seriously not a good idea when it's been at or above 90 degrees and oppressively humid. Along with the traffic and lack of bike lanes around here, it gets a little scary. For now my two-wheeling will be confined to the paths (like the one I'll be on tomorrow!)
Goals going forward:
Buying organic chicken and beef. Yep. It's time to support the small farmer growing meats, the same as I support the organic veggie growers at the farmers market. I'll be buying some chicken this week.
Fermented pickles. Before the season is over and I am filled with regrets, I need to get some cucumbers soaking in brine. I'll be looking for a suitable crock/glass jar at the thrift shops this coming week.
Overall, every change I've made has become part of my routine. Because when it's a SMALL change, it's not an agonizing effort. It becomes habit. Thank you, again, Hip Mountain Mama for starting One Small Change! Best wishes to everyone who has made small changes. Keep up the great work!
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
With all the humid, hot weather we've been having, the last thing I wanted to do lately was get on my bike. But we had a slight reprieve for two days so tonight after work I took a spin on that beautiful trail near me, the one that goes through the woods. It was pleasantly cool (-ish) and somewhat crowded. More than half the walkers brought multiple dogs, including some really beautiful ones. I guess we were all looking for some outside activity :) I did a very quick 6 miles (all those mornings at the gym paid off!), and came home to a pre-mixed salad. I'm thinking about a shower and a bowl of cereal, then off to bed. Sleepy time. G'night, all! Sweet dreams!
My thrift-shopping haul last weekend included this well-used pan. It must have cooked up may meals of wonderful fried chicken, seeing it's condition. The price was $2.99 and I've never been able to find one this deep for a reasonable price.
These photos were taken after quite a scrubbing, and there is still a considerable amount of rust and grit. Before I add a coating of oil and start seasoning the pan, does anyone have suggestions (or a miracle cure) for cleaning this little treasure?
I have three other skillets that I use regularly, but they were in much better condition when I bought them, each needing a basic cleaning and re-seasoning.
(I'll add my thrift shop finds from last weekend in my next post.)
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Take a quick click over to the original post at Golubka for some fantastic colorful photos and good writing. While you're there, check out this and this!!! And consider putting in a row of spinach for fall ...
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
This is what relief looks like. A few hours of rain, lightening, thunder, and wind last evening to break the hot, humid spell we've been in. It's cooler this morning and I'm enjoying the coolness through the open patio door while it lasts. The weather reports predict a return of the heat later.
Wishing everyone a pleasant day.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
I usually eat quinoa hot with stir fried vegetables, but recently read an article on using it as a summer salad base. Then I came across another recipe for a Curried Chicken Salad which had an interesting dressing. So I took the best of both recipes and came up with what might be my new favorite for cool summer meals.
This is what I combined:
1 cup quinoa, cooked in 3 cups water
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup plain yogurt (I prefer Greek style)
1/2 Tablespoon honey
1/2 Tablespoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon ground Turmeric
1/8 tesapoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
Pinch of Cayenne
Your choice of fresh veggies (I used some chopped scallion, broccoli florets, halved grape tomatoes)
Rinse quinoa to remove any grit. Drain. Boil until tender, 10 - 15 minutes. Drain. Put back in pot, cover and let sit for 5 minutes.
Mix dressing ingredients in bowl. Add quinoa and toss thoroughly. Add fresh veggies. Chill. I would say it serves 4. Paired with an accompaniment, it would serve 6.
I was so pleased by the tastes of the dill mixed with the turmeric and coriander! How different and refreshing on a summer day! I will try the original chicken version from Slice of Feist later but for now I'm good with the grains.
Have you been experimenting in the kitchen? Tried anything new and completely different?
And for dessert (or a mid-morning refresher), I packed a container of Greek yogurt with strawberries and blueberries from the freezer. They thaw quickly and it's like a mini-smoothie!
This time I was able to do something I normally can't..... I had offered to help my oldest son on any of his job sites, as an extra hand. He does landscaping and contracting. I always envy the diversity of his work. He may be putting in a patio today and building a terraced wall next week. Well, he accepted my offer and I tagged along to *help* build a walkway and steps over a ledge that had been a dangerous transition from a backyard hill to the patio behind a house.
I don't think I can call what I did much of a help (insert hysterical laughter here). I carried tools, unloaded the truck, screwed in some keyhole screws, cleaned up the work area, and loaded the truck when it was time to go. But mostly what I did was to be amazed at how skilled he has become. I've seen photos of his completed jobs, but it's different when you watch someone work. He has it planned out in his head, and just gets to it. Every cut was accurate and every obstacle easily overcome.
As someone who was involved in many, many home renovations years ago and, being now eager to have my own little "handyman's special" once again, I have gone back to the gym to turn the jelly in my upper arms back into something that resembles muscles. Seriously, the drill got heavy after about the first half hour :(
I refuse to buy tools with pink handles!
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
I sometimes wonder who will take possession of all my family's photos when I'm gone. I'm not talking tintypes. These are a suitcase full of 1970's, 80's and 90's snapshots that has been passed on to me. Besides the family pics, there are vacation photos, town activities, and more. I don't even know many of the folks in these pictures, or where they were taken.
For those of us who carry, store, or dust our treasured “stuff” with the hopes that someday, someone else will also treasure it, please check this short essay in the NYTimes online by Ellen Lupton. It’s sweet, almost sad, and definitely right on point.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
On the turntable during all this was "The Best of The Big Bands", a two record set. Music from the 30's and 40's. Nice.
At the core of the town is the college. The surrounding houses have almost all become off-campus rentals for students. They are easy to locate by the bicycles parked outside. By local law, cyclists must follow the same rules of the road as drivers and they must be given consideration by motoring vehicles. Students are not the only bicyclists; some folks choose to cycle to work in good weather in this hilly place. And the waterfront bike path is used by some as a safe route from their home in a neighboring town to their work here.
The belief and hope of the human spirit are evident everywhere. This vehicle was parked outside a small deli on a side street. It is sporting a planter on top with a very healthy tomato plant, just like the Truck Farm in NYC. Too cool!
The grocery store in the center of town promotes local and organic products. I love shopping there and stock up on bulk products when I visit. Along with a generous variety of legumes, grains, and flours, they offer local syrup (yum!) and Dr Bronner’s liquid soaps by the pound. You can bring a container or purchase one there. I brought mine, and weighed it on their scale before filling.
The place to be on Saturday mornings is City Hall Park, where dozens of vendors offer everything from free range chickens, cleaned and vacuum packed, to fresh flowers or hand-crafted goods. There’s local syrup, fresh eggs, cheese, beautiful veggies, artisanal bread, and good-eating food. I can’t leave without a samosa from one of the busiest vendors there.
After four days of swimming, playing, working, sight-seeing, and visiting with family and dear old friends, I felt alive and renewed even though I was tired and homesick for my own bed. There’s a lot to do before I go back to work. I have some material sitting on my dining table. My bike is sitting by the door. I need to bring photos to my mother of her great-grandchildren. And there are missed phone calls to be returned. What did/will YOU do on your summer vacation? Make sure you include some fun!
Friday, July 9, 2010
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Wishing everyone a spectacular summer! Go out and make some memories!
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Inside my condo was 79 degrees. I had kept the shades closed while I was away. My container garden on the deck was pooped out, even though I had thoroughly soaked everything before I left in the dark on Saturday morning. I gave them all a thorough drink of water as soon as I returned and they're already perking up.
I'm at the library now. Officials are suggesting that anyone without a/c go to libraries or other "cooling centers". Sounds like good advise to me. I'll post photos from my trip tomorrow. (It was great!) Right now I've got a lot of catching up to do!
Friday, July 2, 2010
I'll try to keep up with blog reading over the weekend, and may or may not post. That will depend on how much energy I have after playing with my grandkiddies!