Lately I’ve been noticing that I am easily distracted. I get my mind set on doing something based on what an “expert in the field” is saying only to turn around and hear another “expert” telling me I need to be doing something else. With all the modes of communication available to me it’s easy to be bogged down with excessive information. I feel like they are just throwing bits and pieces of stories at me and hoping something will stick.
This is especially true when it comes to living green. There are about a hundred thousand things everyone could be doing to build a better world but it would be impossible for every person to do each of these things. I’ve narrowed it down to what I believe are the top five things. These are the actions I personally can see myself continuing to do or working toward doing more often.
1. Buying less stuff
We live in a culture where buying and having more stuff and a bigger place to keep it all is marketed as the fastest way to find happiness. I believe this to be wrong. Work on finding happiness within yourself through relationships, hobbies and activities. Collect only things that you actually need, rather than things that are advertised to make you think you want them.
- 12 Weeks of Wellness is a good place to start your journey to healthiness and happiness.
- Try my 30-Day Self Improvement Challenge.
2. Buying products from socially responsible companies
There are certain things you will probably never stop buying and for each person these special items may be different. Be sure that you are purchasing your favorite items from socially and environmentally responsible companies. Follow the links to my guides below for more information:
- Green is the New Black – clothing
- Earth Angel – sustainable makeup and cosmetics
- Greening Your Home: Part 1 – furniture, flooring, wall treatment, building; Part 2 – decorating; and Part 3 – cleaning
- All that Glitters May Not Be Your Best Friend – wearing sustainable bling
- Cleanliness is Next to Godliness – Hair Care
- The Perfect Ten – manicures, pedicures and nails
- Sustainable Holidays
3. Using alternative forms of transportation
The most significant change an individual could make toward reducing their carbon footprint is to cut down on how much they drive. Trains, buses, bikes, carpool. Avoid spending time in a vehicle occupied only by yourself and your imaginary friend. Read more in Getting Around.
4. Eating less meat and more sustainably grown and harvested food
Recognize the importance of knowing where your food comes from and what is being used to grow or raise it. Find out more, read Buying Food: The Naked Truth about Local and Organic. Decide for yourself whether fish should be on your menu:
- Can the Ocean Keep Up with the Hunt? – A summary of the video
- Mission Blue – My review on the documentary
5. Conserving energy and water at home
When it comes to conserving energy and water, small adjustments can have a big impact. Protect the environment by conserving energy and water with these 100+ tips. Additionally, check out The Pros and Cons of Wind Power.
In an effort to add a little more color and beauty into the world, every week on Pinterest I pick one of my favorite things and create a a new board to house all the images I find. On Tuesdays I make a blog post devoted to the theme.
In an effort to add a little more color and beauty into the world, every week on Pinterest I pick one of my favorite things and create a a new board to house all the images I find. On Tuesdays I make a blog post devoted to the theme.
The icy air smells pure and fresh as it whistles around stinging ears. Numb feet walk leaving crisp, new footprints in the snow. Sounds are quieter, muffled, and the world is eerily serene. Many layers of clothing are snug as snowflakes gently fall. The branches of trees bow low under their heavy load. Everything glistens brightly under a clean, white blanket of snow. Winter is here.
Have a Terrific Tuesday!
This award-winning video was published on April 16th, 2012. It was made by the Environmental Protection Agency. Take a moment to watch it and see what is beneath the surface.
The little things we do or do not do can have the biggest impact on our environment. We produce plastic for the sake of convenience and it becomes garbage. Imagine how much of a difference we could make if we reduced this waste simply by recycling or better yet, used reusable packaging and containers.
We can all make a difference and help protect our environment!
In an effort to add a little more color and beauty into the world, every week on Pinterest I pick one of my favorite things and create a a new board to house all the images I find. On Tuesdays I make a blog post devoted to the theme.
Have a Terrific Tuesday!
These comfy slippers are for sale in my Etsy store. They make a great gift for a friend or a family member. You might even want a pair for yourself!! They will keep your feet warm, are adorable and are made to order. Just imagine wearing these slippers while you are relaxing by a fire in the cold winter months.
Listing includes one pair of slippers in any color (select from the drop down menu) made using 100% acrylic yarn, for durability and comfort. They feature floppy ears with bows a cute bunny face and a fluffy tail.
Select your size (5-10, sorry no half sizes) from the drop down menu when you order.
Let me know which accent color you prefer in the comment box. I will choose a complimenting color if none is specified. If you would like these slippers in any other color combination please let me know through conversation.
This pattern was purchased from: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TwoGirlsPatterns
It’s easy to slip into a habit of always complimenting someone based on the way they look. Your eyes overpower your brain when it comes to noticing things about other people. Make sure the people close to you know that you value them for more than their outer appearance because people are complex and the majority of what makes them special to you comes from the things you can’t see.
Here are a few ideas for complimenting someone without commenting on the way they look.
- You’re unique.
- I like your voice.
- You’re helpful.
- I think your ideas/beliefs matter.
- I’m so happy to know you.
- I like listening to what you have to say.
- You’re a kind and warm hearted person.
- It’s nice seeing such kindness.
- I like how down to earth you are.
- You have a beautiful soul.
- You inspire me to become a better person.
- Our conversations make me happy.
- It’s good to see how passionate you are about ____.
- You’re so understanding.
- You matter a lot to me.
- You’re important.
- You’re intelligent.
- Your passion is contagious.
- Your confidence is refreshing.
- You restore my faith in humanity.
- You’re very creative.
- You’re so talented at ____.
- I don’t get tired of you the way I get tired of other people.
- You have great taste in ___.
- I wish more people were like you.
What’s you favorite non-appearance based compliment?
It’s an all too true reality of life, noon comes and goes and takes with it your productivity and attention span. That’s when we reach for those liquid cures in hopes of actually getting some work done before the sun goes down. Be it your fifth cup of coffee, a fizzy sugary soda pop or the magic energy potion in the shiny metal can.
So I got to thinking, is there a way to get passed that afternoon sleepy slump without the sugar/caffeine? Well try these substitutes and see for yourself.
The Fire and Rain – 3-4 8oz glasses throughout the day
- filtered water
- 1 slice lemon
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
Sleep is the best thing you can do for you body in terms of keeping it functioning at optimum levels. But, let’s face it between work, family and friends and keeping up with hobbies, getting 7-8 hours every night is next to impossible. Staying hydrated is the next best thing and this drink will help you in this endeavor. It’s just water with a squeezed lemon slice and a pinch of cayenne pepper. The lemon adds flavor and is alkaline, which helps your body maintain a healthy pH level. The cayenne pepper helps raise energy levels naturally and provides protection for your heart by helping to maintain proper cardiovascular movement throughout the body.
The Elixir Vitae – as needed, during the day, not before bed
- hot water
- 1 1/2 – 2 tsp honey (to taste)
- 1 inch of fresh ginger root
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/4 tsp tumeric
Cut off two thin slices of ginger and place in your cup or mug. Use a garlic press to juice the remaining ginger into your mug. Add spices, fill your mug with hot water and stir.
This delicious drink is the closest thing to a non-caffeine/refined sugar pick me up. Ginger speeds up metabolism and increases circulation. It also aids in the digestive process which can help stave off the post lunch coma that contributes to the afternoon slump. Turmeric, a cousin of ginger, also helps speed things up in the body, including energy levels. And Cardamom has long been valued medicinally for its ability to increase circulation and improve energy. Honey is mother nature’s equivalent of an energy shot and is one of the best kinds of sugars for your body.
The Preemptive Measure – 1 glass in the morning
- 1 ripe banana
- 1/4 cup raw almonds or 2 tbsp almond butter
- 1 scoop of high quality whey protein powder (low sugar content)
- 2 washed kale leaves
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 1 tbsp ground flax seeds
- 1 cup milk of choice
A deficit of protein in your die is often the reason for fatigue. A morning protein shake is a really easy and delicious way to make sure that you’re starting the day off well fueled. Pair this with a piece of whole grain toast and you have everything you need to give you a solid energy foundation for the day.
My friend Jules and I just returned from a long-weekend trip to Bend, OR.
Bend is going on my list of favorite places. It reminds me so much of Boulder, CO where I grew up, I felt very homesick while visiting. It’s ecology is considered high desert so I took comfort in the dry mountain air and the familiar flora. The surrounding mountains and buttes give ample opportunity to explore the great outdoors and the fresh mountain springs provide excellent conditions for brewing beer.
|Photo Credit – Julianna Large|
Here are a few things I learned throughout our visit:
- If the wine selection is limited to “the red one” and “the white one,” it’s not gonna be very good.
- Beer can only be improved upon when brewed with pumpkin and served in a caramel sugar-rimmed glass.
- Ten 3-ounce samples of beer for $10 may sound like a good deal, but it’s still 30 ounces, no matter how you look at it.
- A hot beverage and a game of shuffleboard, even when you don’t know the rules, is the perfect way to spend your night when the wind and freezing air keep you indoors.
- Always check the map before heading out on a hike. It’s surprisingly easy to get lost on 100% of trails tested, even the one that only has one trail.
- There is no problem that can’t be fixed by a long soak in a hot pool. We all just want to be soup.
- Wishes can come true if you just ask.
- If you try to be cultured and take the round-about art tour, you should probably just pass. Get a cup of coffee, talk about life and love, read National Geographic and crochet a pair of bunny slippers instead.
- Take time to enjoy yourself. Go with the flow, balance some rocks, don’t plan every minute and hope that adventure finds you.
- And lastly, sometimes your soulmate might actually be your friend. There are thoughts you can only share with friends, there are things you can only do with friends and there are times that the only people you can count on are your friends.
|Photo Credit – Julianna Large / the rock the camera sat on|
This Thankful Thursday, I am thankful for Jules. We’re new friends, and I’m a shy person, so it was really nice to have the opportunity to get to know her better in a one-on-one setting. 40-year friendships don’t just materialize, you have to invest in them. So Jules, here’s to a long and healthy friendship!
The Yoga Sutra is a fundamental guide for living with a cultivated body, mind, and spiritual awareness, written in India between 200 B.C and 200 A.D. by physician, Pantajali. This ancient text outlines the eightfold path, called ashtanga, which literally means “eight limbs” (ashta=eight, anga=limb)
These eight steps act as guidelines toward living a meaningful and purposeful life. They serve as a prescription for moral and ethical conduct and self-discipline; they direct attention toward one’s health; and they help us to acknowledge the spiritual aspects of our nature.
|Source: Ayuh Yoga|
Eventually, I will go into more detail about what each of these limbs means. In the meantime here is the lowdown on the 8 limbs at their most basic analysis.
1. Yama – Self-restraints (how we morally interact with each other)
- Ahimsa: Nonviolence
- Satya: Truthfulness
- Asteya: Nontheft
- Brahmacharya: Nonlust
- Aparigraha: No greed
- Saucha: Cleanliness
- Santosa: Contentment
- Tapas: Sustained practice
- Svadhyaya: Self study
- Isvara pranidhana: Dedication
I used to nanny for my cousins’ baby girl. We used to have so much fun together and I know those memories will always be special to me. Sadly they just moved away. Before they left I gave Harper a first birthday gift, this floral granny square blanket.
I used Lion Brand Baby’s First yarn in Honey Bee, Cotton Ball, Twinkle Toes, Fairy Tale, Beanstalk and Sea Sprite and an N hook. The free chart and pattern are below.
Philosophy and Religion
Modern Fiction, Fantasy and Romance
History and Culture
Arts and Entertainment
I just finished re-watching my all time favorite television show, Gilmore girls. If you’ve been living under a rock, you might not know that Netflix added it to their library of television series. It took me about a month to watch all 7 series, take from that what you will. I kept a list of lessons I learned as I was watching. Enjoy as you let the wisdom wash over you because Gilmore girls is more than just a TV show, it’s a lifestyle.
- You can’t always help who you love.
- All bad girls wear red nail polish.
- Childbirth is like doing the splits on a case of dynamite.
- There’s no such thing as too much coffee
- Bagels are like glue in your intestines. Ew.
- Candy bars are chocolate covered death with a caramel surprise.
- “Oi” is one of the funniest words in the world. Oi with the poodles already.
- Wallowing is an important first step after a breakup.
- Brazzelfrat and snicklefritz are seriously underused words.
- The plural of “cul-de-sac” is “culs-de-sac.”
- Snow is magical.
- Every relationship is just a big honking leap of faith.
- Being attracted to pie doesn’t mean you should date pie.
- Ethics are highly subjective and completely overrated.
- A banana eating contest isn’t always about eating a banana.
- It’s much better to have a haunted leg than a cold.
- If you’re frustrated with someone, just push them in a lake.
- Once your heart is involved, it all comes out in moron.
- Rich people have hilarious sock drawers.
- Mondays are bad, but they come around eventually.
- Ladies don’t even look at puddles.
- All anyone wants is to find a nice person to hang out with ’til we drop dead. It’s not too much to ask!
- Smart girls are mean.
- Always make friends with the girls who have the emergency pop-tarts.
- Answer the pepperoni.
- You can’t watch “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” without massive amounts of candy.
- Cooper Boom is a phrase used to speed people up.
- Ladies don’t do anything for themselves.
- Kids always have jam on their hands, even if there isn’t any jam in the house.
- It’s good to have choices when deciding what to do with your life.
- Booze is grown-up milk and cookies.
- Almost anything can be “dirty.”
- Always carry a book.
- It’s impossible to not become your mother.
- Important decisions should be made with pro/con lists.
- Stay away from windows when drinking.
- The difference between cows and humans is hay.
- Fries are the devil’s starchy fingers.
- A “kropog” is a unit of distance not volume.
- All grown-up women own a Hello Kitty waffle iron.
- Waffle is a good modeling name if you’re from Belguim.
- College is good for the skin.
- When you’re dating someone, never dress weather appropriate.
- If you think your eye is swelling, maybe your face is shrinking.
- Mexican food makes good hangover food.
I’ve been baking a long time and have made plenty of mistakes. When I first started baking I thought 1 1/4 cup meant a single 1/4 cup rather than 1 AND 1/4 cup. Those cookies were… fine… Once I mistook the ingredients “an egg” to say “8 eggs.” I was also tripling the recipe to make enough for an event and it wasn’t until I cracked the 9th shell that I realized how insane it was the I needed 2 dozen eggs. But these blueberry muffins are fool proof. They are scrumptious and simple to make and they have blueberries in them so they’re healthy right?
Preheat oven to 385 degrees. In a large bowl mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Set aside. In another large bowl whisk together sugar, oil, cap-ful of vanilla, egg, and yogurt. Add the dry ingredients and stir to a count of ten.
Add blueberries, reserving 1/2 cup, to mixture and stir 3 times.
Add mixture to well-buttered muffin pans by 1/3 cupful. Sprinkle remaining berries on top and press down lightly. Sprinkle Turbinado (or brown) sugar over top.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean.Allow to cool completely before removal.
Serve immediately with butter.
Warm up later in the toaster oven.
- 3 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- A heavy pinch of salt
- A dash of nutmeg
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 generous cup plain, unflavored yogurt (more if you want)
- 2 cups fresh blueberries
- A capful vanilla extract
- Softened butter for greasing muffin tins
- Turbinado sugar
- Preheat oven to 385 degrees
- In a large bowl mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.
- In another large bowl whisk together sugar, oil, cap-ful of vanilla, egg, and yogurt.
- Add the dry ingredients and stir to a count of ten.
- Add blueberries, reserving 1/2 cup, to mixture and stir 3 times.
- Add mixture to well-buttered muffin pans by 1/3 cupful.
- Sprinkle remaining berries on top and press down lightly.
- Sprinkle Turbinado (or brown) sugar over top.
- Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean.
- Allow to cool completely before removal.
Swapping your closet can be exhausting, but going from summer to fall is one of the best times of the year. You get to do away with your flimsy, sticky tube tops that offer no support or protection and snuggle into cozy sweaters and things that make you feel warm and safe. And as an added bonus you never know what you’ll find from last year: a 20, your favorite lip gloss, an unopened lollipop, or a list of goals you made last fall.
- change the way I think about situations by seeing the positive instead of the negative.
- practice yoga in order to become more mindful.
- train myself to be less judgmental.
- keep a list of things I am grateful for.
- avoid fueling other people who are on the complain train by changing the subject or asking them to stop.
- accept the situation or change the situation.
- do more of what makes me happy and fulfilled and less of what makes me complain.
- take care of myself so I am better equipped to handle difficult situations.
Kindness is one of the simplest thing to give to another person, but it’s easy to get wrapped up in ourselves and forget about it. Or maybe we don’t know how to be kind:
- Express gratitude to the people around you for things they do.
- Replace judgement with understanding.
- Replace un-constructive criticism with encouragement and constructive criticism.
- Just be there for someone – listen, hug, sit with them.
- Offer to help someone practically with a household chore, when they’re moving, or when they’re carrying something heavy.
- Remember the little things: little notes, letting someone merge into your lane while driving, holding the door for someone, helping someone with directions if they seem lost, a surprise gift.
- Be kinder towards yourself.
- Organize your tasks into smaller steps that are more easily managed.
- Change your environment to be more productive.
- Create a detailed timeline with deadlines for each task to be completed by.
- Eliminate the temptation of your favorite procrastination.
- Surround yourself with inspiring people who take action.
- Inform others of your goals, they are bound to ask about your progress when they see you.
- Get advice from those who have already achieved their goals.
- Revisit your goals to be sure they are still what you want.
- Don’t make it complicated, there is no perfect time to do something.
- Just do it – strategizing, planning and hypothesizing should not become your newest form of procrastination.
In dealing with situation and other people’s actions, we have 3 options: cut them out of our life, be frustrated or accept and embrace it. The only empowering option is acceptance. Why?
- Life is too short for frustration.
- You are forced to find the good.
- It creates realistic expectations for the future.
- You likely do things that are just as frustrating.
- It strengthens your relationships.
Your comfort zone may make you feel snug and safe but the boundaries leave little room for personal growth. Over time this once protective blanket may feel more like a straight jacket trapping you with boredom and fear. Stretch your zone a little and invite a little excitement and adventure in.
- Make a fool out of yourself without fear of what others think.
- Try something new, the worst that can happen is you fail.
- Take a minute to discover some of the subtle fears that plague you every day and face them.
- Become comfortable taking risks (not to be confused with being reckless). Your comfort zone is predictable to stretch it you have to do the unexpected.
- Find comfort in the unknown.
I am obsessed with my iPhone. I have my phone with me at all times to check in on my Etsy shop, to keep up with my friends on social media platforms (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) and to research new project ideas on Pinterest. Come to think about it… this might not be healthy… I probably need help… Well I’ll worry about that later.
I am always looking for new apps to help me with the simplest of tasks. With that said, my iPhone has become my most reliable workout buddy. Here are some of my favorite apps for gym and home workouts.
- Bit Timer is a great app for strength training intervals. You can set the work time, rest time and the number of intervals you wish to repeat. Play your get pumped music in the background and the app will alert you when it’s time to start and end.
- Gymboss allows you to create a timer with intervals and rounds. It also has preset programs and a basic stop watch.
- Nike Training Club comes with various workouts and workout programs at the beginner, intermediate or advanced level. Use it for cardio, strength or a combo and set goals for toning, leaning out, getting strong or targeting certain areas. You can preset the amount of time and play your own music in the background.
- Map My Run means you no longer have to estimate how far you’ve run, this app uses GPS to actually track them. You can change your activity to bike, run, walk and even hike. You can also create pre-made routes to make sure you’re covering the proper distance to meet your goals. Plus you can post your runs to Facebook and Twitter and use the Map My Run community to keep you motivated!
- Fitness Pro is a great app for fitness junkies and newbies alike. It’s a great guide to new exercises and proper use of gym equipment. It’s not very useful at home but great for the gym.
- Map My Run also has an MVP paid option which gives you coaching so I’m listing it a second time.
- 10k Pro is a couch to 10k program that has preset goals for 30 days. You begin each day and follow the instructions for a certain amount of time. These instructions are spoken to you as you go along so there’s no need to keep an eye on the time. Fitnesity also has apps with a similar formate for situps, squats, arms, pushups, abs, pullups, cardio etc.
- Yoga Studio offers classes for all levels and in varying lengths of time. You can specify the ambient sound and leanr about 250 different poses.
- Lose It! is a food journal app to track how many calories are going in and how many are going out.
- Fooducate helps you out when shopping for food. Use the scanner to scan the barcode of a product and the app assigns a grade based on health.
Give these apps a try and let me know what you think in the comments below.
Ape, Aye-aye, Bonobo, Lemur
Aardvark, Addax, Antelope, Bison/Buffalo, Bongo, Camel, Caribou, Cattle, Dolphin, Elephant, Elk, Giraffe, Gnu, Hippopotamus, Manatee, Moose, Porpoise, Reindeer, Rhinoceros, Whale, Yak
Most Birds: Chicken, Crane, Crow, Dove, Emu, Falcon, Finch, Grouse, Gull, Heron, Hummingbird, Jay, Lark, Magpie, Nightingale, Ostrich, Parrot, Penguin, Pheasant, Quail, Woodpecker, Wren
Aardvark, Badger Bear, Bobcat, Cheetah, Fox, Hyena, Leopard, Panda, Racoon, Tiger, Walrus, Woodchuck
Boar, Hog, Pig
Caribou, Deer, Pronghorn
Donkey, Horse, Mule, Zebra
Alligator, Bird, Crocodile, Dinosaur, Emu, Snake, Squid, Turtle
Aye-aye, Baboon, Gorilla, Lemur, Monkey
Kangaroo, Koala, Opossum, Possum, Wallaby, Wombat
Badger, Ferret, Fox, Muskrat, Skunk, Squirrel, Weasel, Woodchuck
Binturong/Bearcat, Bobcat, Cat, Mouse, Rat, Serval, Squirrel
Lamb, Lambkin, Cosset
Bee, Clam, Gnat, Hornet, Sand Dollar, Sea Urchin, Termite, Wasp, Yellow Jacket
Cicada, Cockroach, Grasshopper, Louse, Mosquito
Boar, Guinea Pig, Hedgehog, Hog, Pig
Agouti, Anteater, Armallio, Bat, Bearcat/Binturong, Coyote, Dog, Dolphin, Fox, Gerbil, Guinea Pig, Hamster, Hedgehog, Hound, Mole, Mouse, Otter, Prairie Dog, Rat, Seal, Shark, Squirrel, Walrus, Wolf
Coyote, Otter, Tiger, Wolf
I am completely surprised by what I have learned today. The cosmetic industry is shockingly unregulated to the point that consumers are practically being used as test subjects. Cosmetic manufacturers can put just about anything into their products regardless of health or safety concerns. Though there isn’t always definitive evidence that a given chemical can cause adverse health affects, the fact that so few have been studied for safety is of significant concern. Plus, there’s the effect over time of all these chemicals we’re applying to our bodies to consider.
To protect your body and reduce your impact on the environment, make sure to follow these guidelines.
Labels are not to be trusted and are no indicator of safety.
Words like “natural” and “hypoallergenic” may look appealing but both have practically no meaning in the world of cosmetics. “Natural” includes products which may contain natural ingredients but there are very likely synthetic harmful ingredients. “Hypoallergenic” simply means chemicals, which are irritants have been removed.
Scrutinize ingredients list.
It’s easier than ever to check the safety of over 7,500 products using the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep online database. There’s even an app for that.
|Skin Deep App|
Check companies that have made a commitment to safe products.
The Compact for Safe Ingredients is a pledge to not use 450 unsafe ingredients. Find out who has signed the compact here. View the Story of Cosmetics video below.
“Best Option” Cosmetics Companies
The following companies have signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics and either use organic ingredients or are members of Green America’s Green Business Network™.
- Canary Cosmetics — www.canarycosmetics.com
- EccoBella Botanicals — www.eccobella.com
- Evan’s Garden/Organic Beauty Inc. — www.evansgarden.com
- Honeybee Gardens, Inc. — www.honeybeegardens.com
- Saffron Rouge, Inc. — www.saffronrouge.com
- Sevi Cosmetics — www.sevikay.com
- Suncoat Products — www.suncoatproducts.com
They say the key to being a writer is figuring out who you are, finding your voice. I’ve come to a kind of epiphany about life: you never can find yourself because you’re changing all the time. Every minute, every day, every experience is shaping your reality and your person. Finding your writing voice is the same, each piece you write allows you to grow. At least that’s what I see in my blogging experiment.
I like to think I have a unique voice, that I am funny and charming in my blog posts. I hope my readers perceive me that way. That’s why I’m so excited and nervous about participating in NaBloPoMo this month. In order to post something every day I need to write something every day. In order to write something every day, I need to have interesting things to write about. In order to have interesting things to write about I need to be interesting and I worry that I am not interesting. But this vulnerability is what makes NaBloPoMo simultaneously thrilling and crippling.
So I decided to examine my life, what have I learned in my 24 years that might be of interest and might be mistaken for life lessons?
- Accept responsibility – it has taken me 24 years to really appreciate what it means to make a mistake AND accept that I did something wrong, but I finally discovered that by taking responsibility for my actions, I learn more about how to act in the future.
- Look at things from another perspective – I have been known to be impatient, my schedule and my wants and needs often were the only things on my radar. By taking a step back and seeing the situation from another point of view I can let go of less important wants while making my needs known.
- Listen – it turns out that listening is not just waiting for the other person to stop talking so I can say what I’ve been thinking about the whole time they’ve been speaking. Listening is a learned skill in which you don’t just hear what is being said, you also comprehend and process it.
- Question everything – gullibility is possibly one of my more endearing traits but it is blind acceptance of information. Ignorance is not bliss: always check facts and research topics before believing them.
- Every moment is an opportunity – carpe diem (or YOLO if you’re a stupid person) is a great motto. Don’t let opportunities pass you by, because although life is the longest thing you’ll ever experience, it goes by fast.
- You are in control – my parents have always given me excellent guidance but at a certain point you can’t live your life based on someone else’s idea of what your life should be. Surround yourself with people who will guide and advise you but give yourself permission to make the final decision.
- Forgive and let go – Probably the hardest lesson I’ve learned: the only person I can control is myself. When someone slights me, whether it’s big or small, I forgive them and forget. Don’t let someone live rent free in your head.
- Don’t define your limits – You (like the limit of f(x) = |x|/x as x approaches 0) are limitless (the limit doesn’t exist, is calculus humor still relevant?) You can never stop growing in your career, in your spirituality, in your sexuality, in your relationships, in yourself.
- Practice make perfect – a horrible cliche, I know, but it’s true, you cannot become a master without trying something over and over again. Period.
- Be thankful – there will always be people who have more than you and there will always be people who have less than you. Focus on what you have and give thanks.
I seem to be just in time to participate in National Blog Post Month in which bloggers are challenged to post something new every day throughout the month of November. I’m excited to test my limits and try to get into the blogging spirit this month so it looks like you’ll be hearing a lot more from me.
Are you ready to start exercising regularly? Or maybe you’ve fallen off your exercise plan and need a boost getting back to the gym. Follow this 20 day sequence to help you start, or start again. Starting with day 1, only progress to the next day once you complete the previous. If you miss a day return the the day before you missed.
Things to remember
- Don’t skip your break days: they are important to protect your muscles.
- Stretch properly beforehand.
- Keep yourself hydrated.
- Push yourself but not to the point of injury. Be mindful of your body.
- Have fun!
Starting standing with feet together and arms straight by your sides. Jump up and spread your arms and legs wide as you land. Jump up again to return to center.
- In Christian traditions the three doors of a cathedral or church symbolize faith, hope and chairty.
- In Hinduism divinities are carved on door jambs to indicate the deity through which man enters the Supreme Presence.
- Janus is the Roman god of doorways and hold the key to the power of opening and closing.
- Zodiacal symbolism holds Cancer, the sign of the summer solstice, as the door of men and represents the dying power and descent of the sun. Capricorn, the sign of the winter solstice, is the door of gods, and represent the ascent and rising power of the sun.
- The door of an Egyptian temple was seen as giving access to the “Amenta, where the soul was united with the immortal spirit and where, from then on, it remained.”
- The Sumerian goddess Inanna’s passed through seven doors to arrive before the seven judges of the under world
- Masonic lodges contain three doors, which represent the qualities acquired successively through the stages crossed: discrimination, absence of desires, self-control.
I’ve been going a little yarn crazy recently. In the past month I finished two baby blankets, a full-sized blanket, a dog sweater, two hats, three ear warmers, two pairs of bunny slippers, and two yoga mat totes. I suppose the falling leaves, the cooler weather and the cinnamon scent in the air put me in a cozy, crafty mood.
This is a guide for you to make a yoga mat tote for yourself. I also sell them on Etsy if you are not familiar with crochet or don’t have the time.
I made one for myself…
…and one for my roommate, Alyssa…
We recently started going to yoga classes together so it’s only fitting that we have matching totes.
- Worsted Weight (4) Yarn
- Yarn Needle
- Double Crochet
- Slip Stitch
- Chain Stitch
- Single Crochet
Busy schedules sometimes mean waking up earlier just to get a workout in. I know it’s hard, it was hard for me to wake up early just to write about waking up early to workout. But there are some benefits to getting a workout in before you really start your day.
- Morning exercises “jump start” your metabolism and kick your body into overdrive, helping you burn more calories throughout the remainder of your day.
- Doing something good for your body in the morning energizes you for the day.
- Studies show that working out in the morning helps brain activity for four to ten hours after exercising. Harness your new super power toward good, not evil.
- Regular exercise leads to better sleep quality meaning you won’t need as much and it’ll gradually be easier to wake up earlier. You might not even need an alarm some days. It’s a cycle of good health.
- Keeping a consistent exercise schedule regulates your bodies endocrine system and circadian rhythm. This means your body will start to recognize a pattern. It won’t be confused by different wake times and will start to regulate various systems in your body.
- Working out in the morning leads to healthier diet choices throughout their day. Endorphins tend to suppress appetite.
- Exercising in the morning gives you an opportunity to plan your day, pray, or just be alone with your thoughts.
- If you “get it over with” in the morning, your fitness goals are less likely to slip through the cracks of a busy life.
Yesterday was the Autumnal Equinox. The word equinox comes from the Latin words for “equal night.” At the fall and spring equinoxes the hours of daylight are equal to the hour of darkness. This happens because the Sun crosses the celestial equator. Autumn is a time of change as leaves change color, days grow shorter and temperature begin to drop.
Why do leaves change color? The bright pigments carotene (yellow) and anthocyanin (red) you see so vividly during the fall are actually present all year. They are simple masked by chlorophyll (green). When the temperature starts dropping, a barrier forms between the twigs of trees and the leaves preventing sugars from exiting and nutrients from entering the leaves. This results in the chlorophyll breaking down, leaving behind these other pigments.
Have a terrific Tuesday!
It’s time to get to the bottom of this gluten free business. It’s clear that it’s not just going to leave stage right. I’m finally going to investigate gluten and living gluten-free.
According to the Mayo Clinic “A gluten-free diet is a diet that excludes the protein gluten. Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye).” The mayo clinic describes the purpose of a gluten-free diet as, “a treatment for celiac disease.”
Apparently Peter Gibson is the originator of the idea of gluten intolerance. He published a study in 2011 which found gluten to cause gastrointestinal distress in patients without celiac disease. This study was one of the strongest pieces of evidence to date that gluten intolerance is a condition.
Like any good scientist, Gibson was unsatisfied with these results and proceeded to conduct an even more rigorous study in 2013, where he found that subjects reportedly worsening gastrointestinal distress with each meal. Gluten wasn’t the cause, the cause was likely psychological and Gibson stated, “In contrast to our first study… we could find absolutely no specific response to gluten.”
|Source: Gluten Free Club|
It seems that going gluten-free is largely market driven and not based on any scientific evidence. Manufacturers, large and small, are jumping on the band wagon labeling products as gluten-free to appease the masses. But is it really good for us to adopt a diet sans gluten if celiac disease does not ail us?
Here’s my “professional” opinion: Of course you will feel better when you stop consuming all the pastries and cookies and crackers! It’s logic. Don’t replace these gluten-filled items with the gluten-free products that have come out. These are often even more processed and pumped with extra sugar and fat. If you HAVE to adopt a gluten-free diet, adopt a generally healthier diet as well. If you cook more at home using real ingredients, cutting out more processed foods, you will feel better! Regardless of the presence of gluten, so stop vilifying one food group… please.
Eat more vegetables and fruit. Eat more real ingredients and less processed items. Allow yourself a treat every once in a while. Donut, ice cream, whatever your vice is, everything in moderation.
|Source: Flour Advisory Bureau|
One good thing I’ve seen coming out of this fad is that gluten-free products are more easily available and less expensive for people who actually do have celiac disease. And that’s a win in my book.
- Re: gluten elimination diets
- The dangers of going gluten-free – Maclean’s
- Gluten intolerance may not exist – Forbes
- The gluten free craze: Is it healthy? -The Wall Street Journal
- This gluten-free thing is a really overblown fad! – Huffington Post
- Just google gluten free pretty much every page that’s not trying to sell you something will tell you it’s not a real thing.
Today I want to express my love and gratitude to my supportive family. They’ve helped me through every stage of my life. Even now, when I’m so far away, I know that they are thinking of me and I am always thinking of them.
|Old family photo – from left to right: Dad Charles, Me, Sister Erica, Mom Debbie|
Thank you family!
Think about the individuals in your life. Who do you turn to for support? It’s never too late or too early to communicate how much you appreciate a person.
Do you look at the treadmill and think, “Treadmill…? More like DREADmill,” and then laugh at your own cleverness? Do you fall into a mind-numbing boredom ball while using the conveyor belt of monotony? This high-intensity interval routine will challenge your body and keep you brain engaged, boosting your fitness level as the minutes fly by. Interval training is the best when it comes to cardio conditioning.
Hot Air Balloons
Mission Blue is part oceanic road trip; part biography; part action adventure story. Fisher Stevens is our guide. His lifelong love for the ocean led him to produce the Academy Award winning film, The Cove, which focused on dolphin slaughter in Japan.
This film expands on the theme of The Cove, weaving legendary oceanographer Sylvia Earle’s personal history with the bleak truth about what’s happening to our oceans. We follow Sylvia’s incredible and unique journey, from her childhood memories discovering and playing in the ocean as a young girl to her adult life as an ocean scientist and beyond.
Sylvia passionately believes that creating a global parks system for the ocean that she calls “Hope Spots” is the best way to restore the health of the ocean. As she travels to the Gulf of Mexico, the Galapagos Islands and the Coral Sea it becomes clear the challenges we face are truly daunting. As a witness to change over the past 60 years, Sylvia is leading the movement to restore the ocean to health before it’s too late.
The goals and passion for change presented in the film are as beautiful and haunting as the imagery. Mission Blue is an alert for all who are dependent on rainwater, clean air and weather cycles regulated by the ocean (yes, that includes you). As Sylvia says: “No blue; no green. No ocean; no us.”
Find out how you can help by visiting the website. Here’s a synopsis of the list on the Act Now page.
- Join the Mission Blue Movement.
- Reduce your carbon footprint.
- Inspire, educate and empower others.
- Use a sustainable seafood guide.
- Remember the 3 Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle.
Summer’s winding down which means an end to my all time favorite ingredient combination: tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and olive oil. Caprese means in the style of Capri, which is an island in west Italy in the bay of Naples.
It’s so easy to make too, just chop all the ingredients and mix together in a large bowl. I used garden tomatoes, mozzarella pearls and fresh basil from the farmer’s market.
For this meal I also added pasta and balsamic vinegar.
What’s your favorite Caprese dish? For more delicious ways to enjoy Caprese here’s a Buzzfeed list.
I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflection. For a lot of this journey since I moved to Portland everything was new. I didn’t have a usual breakfast place or a bar that never disappoints. I didn’t have a hike I knew like the back of my hand. I had but one friend. It was exciting because everything was new. Any person I met had a story I hadn’t yet heard. Every restaurant I tried was an experiment. Every place I went, even going to Target, was an adventure. But slowly all these things fell into place. Some of the people I met became regulars in the sitcom that I sometimes view my life as. I started visiting certain restaurants regularly and stopped going to some entirely. I know the routes to get to all the important places I need to visit. All of this happened naturally, I didn’t even notice I was becoming a local (can I say that yet Portland gods? Please don’t strike me down!)
|Source: Yellow Wood Design|
And now that the novelty of my new hometown has worn off I’ve started reflecting on what I’ve learned. I moved halfway across the country with my best friend to a place I knew no one and had no job prospects. Not only that, I was across the Oregon border before I even knew where I was going to be living! Was this half-made plan everything I dreamed it would be?
So, I’ve spent a lot of my free time thinking. I’d go on walks and think, I’d listen to music and think, I’d drive around and think. And after a little bit of hard thinking my brain would slip into a sort of nothingness. I realized I had been meditating without intending to. After making this realization I decided to do some research.
|Source: Karma Jello|
The goal of meditation is to focus and quiet your mind, eventually reaching a higher level of awareness and inner calm. You can meditate anywhere and at any time. No matter what’s going on around you, you can access a sense of tranquility and peace.
I’ve constructed a table outlining some various forms of mediation. I’ve found that, as a beginner, mantra meditation works best for me. Of course yoga has always been one of my favorite activities as well.
|Information from Mayo Clinic|
Here’s a list of ways I practice meditation day to day. Maybe you will be able to utilize some of these tips.
- Breathe deeply: Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. What are you feeling?
- Scan your body: Close your eyes and become aware of the sensations in your body. Can you locate the source of your discomfort?
- Repeat a mantra: Check out Deepak Chopra Soul of Healing affirmation (free on Spotify and All Music) for an A-Z list of mantras you can try.
- Exercise: Combine your exercise routine with meditation, focus on each movement. How are you changing?
- Prayer: Write your own prayers and one written by someone else. What are you thankful for?
- Read and reflect: Read sacred or texts and poems. What does it mean to you?
- Focus your love and gratitude: Treat those you interact with throughout your day with kindness. How can you help?
I’ve made the move. I now am based in Portland, Oregon and I couldn’t love it more. It does rain though, nobody lied about that. It’s probably why there are delicious restaurants beyond counting on every street. Rain makes people gloomy, food makes people happy. You’ll see my point. People generally scitter about doing there day to day activities, not spending much time outside (although today the sky is quite blue and the sun is casting a glare on my laptop screen).
|Gorgeous day hike at Horsetail Falls. Hiking here (PNW) is like hiking in a fairytale.|
The grayer days throughout the winter months give a fantastic opportunity to hone up on cooking skills. Today I bring you my top five favorite foodie blogs.
1. 100 Day of Real Food (website)
When I made the commitment to real food, this was my first source of information and inspiration. It has an unbelievable amount of resources available for anyone interested in starting a real food lifestyle.
2. Budget Bytes (website)
3. The Fit Cook (website)
4. Vegan Sparkles (website)
5. Gluten Free Goddess (website)
The winter solstice is tomorrow I wrote this article for Images, the quarterly publication produced by Boulder County Parks and Open Space. Please read because it’s pretty interesting (in my very humble opinion). I thought about copying it here but I didn’t want to lower my google ranking for duplicate content. So yeah.
Anyway Monday is Pfeffernüsse Day in many European countries. No I did not just sneeze, pfeffernüsse (also known as pepernoten in Dutch, päpanät in Plautdietsch, or peppernuts in English) are traditional German cookies. Although they are more related to Christmas (Weihnachten) these days, they were often enjoyed during winter solstice celebrations.
When I took German in high school, we would celebrate Sankt Nikolaustag on December 6th. We would put our shoes in the hallway and our teacher, Frau Singer, would fill them with sweets. Afterward we would sing Christmas carols auf Deutsch and then we would head to the home economics classroom where we would make these spicy little cookies. Fond memories.
Today I would like to share the recipe with you. It makes about 5 millions small, round, thin cookies so you might want to half the recipe.
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/2 cup healthy margarine such as smart balance or earth balance (butter works too)
- 2 eggs (vegan option: 4 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 4 tablespoons water)
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons anise extract
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Stir together the molasses, honey and margarine in a saucepan over medium heat; cook and stir until creamy. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Stir in the eggs, anise extract, white sugar, and brown sugar. Combine the flour, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, pepper, and salt in a large bowl. Add the molasses mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. Preheat oven to 325°F (165°C). Roll the dough into 3/4″-sized balls. Arrange on baking sheets, spacing at least 1 inch apart. Bake in preheated oven 10 to 15 minutes. Move to a rack to cool.
Molasses, honey and margarine in medium sauce pan.
While that cools to room temperature, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, spices baking soda and salt).
Then add the sugars, eggs and extract to the molasses pot.
Finally add the molasses mixture to the flour mixture and stir until combined. It’s very sticky so be ready for your arm workout for the day. Switch arms to build muscles evenly.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, then roll into balls and place on cookie sheet. Bake at 325°F for 10 minutes.
Creating a good workout playlist can be overwhelming and while it’s good to have a motivating mix spending time creating the playlist takes valuable time from your workout. So I’ll make it simple for you. The only workout mix you’ll ever need:
Just kidding… unless that works for you. And in that case, you can just stop reading now. If you need more variability, READ ON!
Skip the musical roulette
Instead of setting your MP3 player on shuffle, proactively build timed playlists that provide the right energy all the way through your workout. Barney Stinson says a playlist should be all build. Here is his classic “Get Psyched” playlist:
For a workout mix though I would recommend starting slow for your warm up, building up to a peak and then bringing it back down for your cool down.
Keep it fresh
Every month, find a weekend to look around on iTunes charts to see what’s new by your favorite artists and in your favorite genres so your playlist never gets stale. Workout songs are a personal choice because it comes down to whatever gets YOU moving.
If you need a place to start, here are a few of my favorite workout songs:
- “Get Down Tonight” – KC and the Sunshine Band (113 BPM)
- “Rock and a Hard Place” – The Rolling Stones (129 BPM)
- “Dancing with Myself” – Billy Idol (176 BPM)
- “Moves Like Jagger” – Maroon 5 (128 BPM)
- “Safe and Sound” – Capitol Cities (138 BPM)
- “Beat It” – Michael Jackson (139 BPM)
- “Walk This Way” – Run-DMC (106 BPM)
- “All Shook Up” – Elvis Presley (125 BPM)
- “Seven Nation Army” – The White Stripes (124 BPM)
- “Stronger” – Kanye West (104 BPM)
- “Radioactive” – Imagine Dragons (138 BPM)
Get in rhythm
Studies have shown that listening to music that syncs with your movements provides a better workout than exercising without tunes. The following is a good guide to follow based on what your workout involves:
What’s on you workout mix?
I inherited some small brown paper bags with handles at a volunteer project this summer. I thought to myself, “These would be perfect for gift bags, if only they didn’t say Xcel energy on them.” Fortunately, I am a very clever person and I have upgraded the ugly plain bags into cute gift bags for Christmas gifts.
It’s very simple to make some of these cute bags for your own use and for any occasion. Find some plain bags. Then check the scrapbooking section of your local craft store for decorations.
Gather some glue and scissors (it’s even easier if you just use stickers), and assemble. Be extra Earth-friendly and reuse your beautiful creations year after year.
Have fun with your creativity! Share a picture of your works of art on my Facebook page.
They are vegan and we all know the best thing about vegan baking is that you can eat the raw cookie dough (I guess I should add, “without worrying about getting sick,” because raw eggs have never stopped me from eating cookie dough). The other best thing about vegan baking is that you can take the cookies out early if you like soft cookies or leave them for the entire duration if you like them crunchier (for the same reason). So with all that said, here’s the recipe.
- 1 cup softened margarine (I use smart balance)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
I am a fan of pyramids (see thigh pyramid workout). If you played any sports in high school you might remember them (fondly or maybe not so fondly) as ladders. Basically, you start with a short interval (for this workout it’s 20 seconds), and work your way up (climb) to the longest interval (50 seconds) and then you step easily back down to the short interval again (20 seconds).
All the intervals here are less than a minute. This makes the time fly and boosts your motivation as you see the intervals get shorter as the end of the workout gets closer. No equipment is necessary for this workout except an open space in which to do it. Turn on some good music and you’ll get a full body cardio/toning interval workout!
The sun is slowly setting behind the Flatirons. I am watching it through a window Espresso Roma on the Hill. Small snowflakes speed to the ground as if racing; they cover the dirty black asphalt in a pure white blanket of snow. My Bhakti chai steams in a chipped blue mug in front of me as I breathe in the crisp Boulder air, filling my lungs with it’s slightly marijuana-smelling freshness. The colors of autumn, which were incredibly lovely this year, have been erased and replaced with a new beauty. It reminds me why I love Colorado so very much: the beauty is spectacular for a few fleeting moments before it disappears and is replaced by some other magnificent sight. There’s no way to capture the moment to recall later so the best thing to do is enjoy it while it’s there.
With the fresh snow I am giving myself permission to feel festive, not that I haven’t tried. My personal rule is that Christmas doesn’t exist until Thanksgiving is over so now my Christmas playlist is on repeat and my Holiday movie count is at ten. I’ve also eaten an entire package of Hershey’s candy cane kisses and Christmas cookies are building up. To makes these sugar cookies that don’t spread and keep their shape see the recipe below.
- 2 1/2 cups unsalted butter (at room temperature)
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3 tsp vanilla extract
- 5 cups flour
- 1 tsp salt
- Cream the butter and sugar together in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on low to medium speed. Mix thoroughly, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a plastic spatula and mix again. Do not over mix as this aerates the dough and causes the cookies to spread more during baking.
- Add eggs and vanilla extract to bowl, mix, scrape down the bowl with your spatula and mix again.
- In a separate bowl sift flour and salt together .
- Add all of the flour mixture to the sugar mixture bowl. Mix on low speed. Do not over mix at this stage either, the glutens in the flour develop and the dough can become tough.
- Roll the dough out between 2 large pieces of parchment paper. Place on a baking sheet and into the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour.
- Roll out the dough further if you need to, and cut out cookie shapes. Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Re-roll scraps and repeat, refrigerate again if necessary.
- Put cookie dough shapes back into the fridge for 10 minutes to 1 hour to chill again. They will then hold their shape better when baked.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (176°C).
- Bake cookies for 8-12 minutes or until the edges become golden brown. The baking time will depend on the size of your cookie.
- Let cookies cool to room temperature before decorating.
- 1 cup powder sugar (confectioners sugar)
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 drop lemon juice (can be fresh)
- Mix all the ingredients together. These amounts are approximate: use more powdered sugar and less milk for the edges so it doesn’t run everywhere, use less powdered sugar and more milk for the insides so it spreads itself. It takes a little practice. The lemon juice isn’t for flavor, it just counteracts the sweet sugary flavor.
- Once mixed you can add food coloring however you’d like.
- Refrigerate the icing for 10 minute before using (and periodically during the process).
- If using an icing bag follow the instructions for using the attachments. Line a glasses with a plastic bag or an icing bag and pour the icing in.
- Cut a small corner off the bag for the icing to come out of. Start very small at first, you can always cut more but you cannot cut less. Add the icing attachments if you have them.
- Use the thicker icing to line the edge of the cookie and make shapes, the fill with the thinner icing.
- Add sprinkles and create a masterpiece.🙂
Workout Wednesday is the day that is today. So here’s a thing to print out and do.
It’s necessary for me to go to ab classes most of the time because it’s a struggle to keep myself motivated when doing ab workouts when I’m home alone. Having someone telling you how many moves to do makes me actually believe that I “can do 3 more.” But sometimes (always) I’m lazy so I like staying home better. That’s where this workout comes in. Pick five of your favorite songs of the moment (Bitin’ the Bullet by Grouplove, Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke and Pharrell, Addicted to You by Avicii, Glory and Gore by Lorde, and Mission Bells by Matt Nathanson do it for me).
Water is vital to the survival of everything on the planet and is limited in supply. Earth may be known as the “water planet”, but even though about 70% of its surface is covered by water, less than 1% is available for human use. The Earth’s populations and demands for water use increase the water supply remains the same, but we can all do our part to protect this critical and precious resource. When it comes to conserving water, small adjustments can have a big impact. Save water and protect the environment.
Inside Water Savings
- When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run. Fill one basin with wash water and the other with rinse water.
- Dishwashers, especially Energy Star, typically use less water than washing dishes by hand.
- Look for water efficient dishwashers if you are thinking of buying a new one.
- Use only one glass or container for your beverage of choice each day to cut back on the dishes you need to wash.
- Soak pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.
- Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Instead, compost vegetable food waste.
- Wash your fruits and vegetables in a pan of water instead of running water from the tap.
- Don’t use running water to thaw food. Instead, defrost food in the refrigerator.
- Install an instant water heater near your kitchen sink so you don’t have to run the water while it heats up. BONUS: This also reduces energy costs.
- Collect the water you use while rinsing fruit and vegetables. Use it to water house plants.
- Reuse leftover water from cooked or steamed foods to start a nutritious soup.
- When doing laundry, match the water level to the size of the load.
- Have a plumber re-route your greywater to trees and plants rather than the sewer line. Check with your city and county for codes.
- If you’re looking to buy a new washing machine look for water efficient models.
Shorten your shower by a minute or two and you’ll save up to 150 gallons per month.
- When running a bath, plug the bathtub before turning on the water. Adjust the temperature as the tub fills.
- Turn off the water while you brush your teeth and save up to 4 gallons a minute. That’s up to 200 gallons a week for a family of four.
- If you’re in the market for a new toilet, consider buying a dual-flush toilet. It has two flush options: a half-flush for liquid waste and a full-flush for solid waste.
- When washing your hands, turn the water off while you lather.
- One drip every second adds up to five gallons per day! Check your faucets and showerheads for leaks.
- While you wait for hot water, collect the running water and use it to water plants.
- Install water efficient faucets and shower heads.
Outside Water Savings
- Group plants with the same watering needs together.
- Reduce the amount of lawn in your yard by planting shrubs and ground covers appropriate to your site and region.
- Plant species native to your region.
- Start a compost pile. Using compost in your garden or flower beds adds water-holding organic matter to the soil.
- Use mulch to retain moisture in the soil around plants.
- Use sprinkler that deliver water in larger droplets. Mists evaporate before hitting the ground.
- For hanging baskets, planters and pots, put ice cubes on top of the soil to water without overflow.
- Water only when necessary. More plants die from over-watering than from under-watering.
- Apply water only as fast as the soil can absorb it.
- Minimize evaporation by watering during the early morning hours when temperatures are cooler and winds are lighter.
- A running hose can discharge up to 10 gallons per minute so time your use.
- Examine soil moisture depth. If the top two to three inches of soil are dry, it’s time to water.
- Collect water from your roof by installing gutters and downspouts. Direct the runoff to plants and trees.
- Adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk or street.
- Mow your lawn to between 1.5 and 2 inches to shade soil and protect roots.
- If you walk through your grass and you leave footprints it’s time to water.
- Make sure your grass seed is suitable for your region.
- Aerate your lawn so water seeps into ground instead of running off.
- Water your summer lawns once every three days and your winter lawn once every five days.
- Use porous material for walkways and patios to prevent wasteful runoff and keep water in your yard.
- Use a broom instead of the hose to clean off the driveway, sidewalks, paths and patios.
- Let your kids play in the sprinklers over areas of your lawn that need water.
- Wash your car on the lawn to water it at the same time (use biodegradable soap and a hose head that you can turn off the water).
- If you see water leaking from public sprinklers or fire hydrants report them to the city.
I know today is Black Friday and it’s tempting to go out and get all the great deals that have been advertised. I just want to get on a soap box really fast and say how ridiculous I find it that we spend one day expressing how thankful we are for all the blessings we have in our lives and the very next day all that goes out the window. And for what? Cheap goods that no one really needs. I hope that everyone who reads this might take a step back and really evaluate what’s important. I also want to put a plug in for Small Business Saturday which is tomorrow. You may not get a toaster for $3, but chances are you already have a toaster. And by shopping small you will support your community in a very big way and you will find great gifts that are unique and meaningful. Use this map to find small businesses in your community. That’s all *takes step down off soap box*…
I do love this season. I love the music and the tingly feelings and the well-wishers. Oh… and the cookies. I LOVE cookies! The way cookie monster loves cookies. *nom nom nom* One of my favorite Christmas cookies is peanut-butter blossoms. They’re the ones with the kiss stuck on top. (Follow the link for the recipe).
So, when I saw a picture for the most adorable “Candy Cane Blossoms” on Pinterest, I was super excited. I mean, the spell Pinterest holds over me was broken: I didn’t even pin the recipe. I actually got off the couch and checked whether I had the ingredients. Keep scrolling down for the recipe.
- 48 Hershey’s Candy Cane Mint Candy Kisses
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened (vegan option: smart balance or other healthy margarine for baking)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg (vegan option: 2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed into 2 tablespoons water)
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons milk (vegan option: milk substitute of choice)
- Red or green sugar crystals, and festive sprinkles
Heat oven to 350°F. Remove wrappers from candies. Beat butter, granulated sugar, egg and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda and salt; add alternately with milk to butter mixture, beating until well blended. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in red sugar, green sugar or sprinkles. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned and cookie is set. Remove from oven; cool 2 to 3 minutes. Press a candy piece into center of each cookie. Move from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.
Happy late Thanksgiving everyone! Let me know what your favorite cookies are in the comments below.
I am a big fan of avocados these days. You might go so far to say avocado problem. Some puns just work better when you hear them. If I had a TV show you would have heard, “I’ve-o got a problem,” but I don’t have a TV show… I have a blog. I’ll give you a minute to say it to yourself a few times and then we can move on to more pressing matters…
Let me get plant nerdy on you for a moment and inform you that avocados are the FRUIT (a berry containing a single seed to be exact) of an avocado tree. The avocado is also affectionately called alligator pear because of it’s shape and wrinkled, leathery skin.
Avocados are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, which according to the American Heart Association, they reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke and decrease bad cholesterol levels in your blood. Monounsaturated fats also typically are rich in Vitamin E and help your body absorb fat soluble nutrients from food.
Additionally, avocados provide magnesium and potassium, both of which help reduce blood pressure. They contain about 10 grams of fiber (75% insoluble for digestive help, 25% soluble to give you the feeling of fullness).
To prevent a cut avocado from browning, coat the surface in lemon or lime juice. The brown color is the result of oxidation, the process which creates free-radicals, the acidity of citrus fruits slows down this process.
If you need to ripen rock-hard avocados quickly, store them in a paper bag with apples and they should be ripe in a day or two. Apples emit a hormone called ethylene which cues fruit to ripen.
- Mash up half an avocado and spread it on your bread. En route to the New World, Europeans spread avocados in place of butter.
- Blend it into a smoothie with almond milk ice cubes.
- Guacamole is healthy and delicious. Americans consume 8 million pounds of guac on Super Bowl Sunday and 14 million at Cinco de Mayo.
- Mix it with plain yogurt and spoon it over grilled chicken or fish.
- Avocado oil is good for cooking at low heats. Studies show is has antioxidant properties and can reduce signs of aging.
- Stir it into tuna, chicken, or potato salad in place of mayonnaise. Add a pinch of curry.
- Whisk it with fresh citrus juice as a salad dressing.
- Use them to treat sunburns, prevent chaffing and reduce wrinkles. Mix with honey and yogurt, then slather it on your face for a great moisturizer.
- For healthier baked goods substitute some or all of the butter in the recipe with avocado. Pop Sugar has great recipes to try.
This recipe is from Rachel Ray magazine
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup raw pistachios, chopped
3 tablespoons sugar
1 large avocado
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 cups cream
In a nonstick skillet, melt butter over medium high. Add nuts, sugar and a pinch of salt; stir until sugar browns, approximately 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Coat 5-by-9-inch loaf pan with cooking spray; line with plastic wrap, leaving 3-inch overhang. In a food processor, puree avocado flesh, condensed milk, lemon juice and pinch of saly. Whip cream to stiff peaks; fold in avocado puree and nuts. Pour into pan. Cover with plastic wrap overhang; freeze until firm, approximately 4 hours. Unmold onto platter, slice and serve immediately. Serve 8.
- You can’t miss a class because you schedule them.
- You determine the amount of time you spend yoga-ing.
- You can practice whatever pose you want, however many time you want and for whatever amount of time you want.
- You develop a deeper awareness of yourself and your mental and physical state without a teacher’s guiding voice.
- You may KNOW that yoga is not competitive but you will feel more comfortable exploring challenging poses when you are alone.
- You will become more capable of suiting your practice to meet your needs.
- Are you sensing a theme? YOU.
Create Your Yoga Space
Make a Date with Your Mat
Have a Plan
Create a Sequence
Just Do It
Much of the energy consumed in the U.S. each year is wasted through inefficient technology and transmission. This causes families and businesses to pay higher energy bills and results in increased carbon pollution. Energy efficiency is a simple and cost effective solution to combat climate change, prevent further air pollution and reduce the cost of energy for consumers.
Sometimes there is great need to consider your impact on the planet. Sometimes you can change the way you are living in order to promote cleaner air. Sometimes you set out to write a great blog post describing all the wonderful things you can do to create a better world. Sometimes your blog post is just a list. Sorry, I’m not sorry.
- Consider powering your home with renewable energy. Many companies offer partial or full renewable energy plans.
- Get off the grid by adding solar panels to your home. You may actually make money by selling energy you don’t use to the power company.
- Be sure your windows seal properly and are energy efficient.
- Check for air leaks, fix the ones you find.
- Make sure your home is completely insulated.
- Switch to low-energy fluorescent lightbulbs. They last up to 10 times as long as regular lightbulbs.
- Use motion sensing bulbs for your outdoor lights. They are both efficient and convenient.
- Save energy (and lower your electric bill) by turning off the lights when you leave a room.
- If you’re in the market for new appliances, opt for energy efficient ones to save energy and money on your bill.
- Clean the lint filter in your dryer regularly. A dirty filter uses up to 30% more energy to dry clothes.
- Better yet, instead of using the dryer, try a drying rack, especially on sunny days. You will save energy AND your clothes won’t shrink.
- Do all your laundry in one day so the dryer doesn’t have to heat up again for each load.
- Set the temperature of your refrigerator to between 30 and 42°F, or use the energy save function if available.
- Check the coils behind your refrigerator for dust. The refrigerator doesn’t have to work as hard when these are clean.
- A full freezer full uses less energy than one that is empty.
- After the rinse cycle, turn off your dishwasher and open the door a crack to let your dishes air dry.
- Only run your dishwasher when full.
- Use less energy by heating up leftovers in a microwave or toaster oven instead of the oven.
- While in use keep your oven closed – every time you open the door the oven loses 25°F of heat.
- Turn your oven and burners off toward the end of baking and cooking. It will continue cooking using existing heat without using additional energy.
- Use copper-bottomed pots and pans, which use energy more efficiently.
- Conserve energy by keeping your pots and pans covered while cooking.
- Match pots and pans to similar sized burners to prevent energy loss around edges.
- Unplug your chargers and kitchen appliances when not in use – they draw energy just by being plugged into the power outlet.
- Better yet, plug your electronics into a power strip and turn it off when not in use.
- Instead of a desktop, purchase a laptop if you are looking to buy a new computer – it will require less electricity to run.
- Come to that, don’t forget to turn off your computer when you aren’t using it to save power. Or if you prefer to leave it on use the hibernation option instead of a screensaver.
- Look for energy efficient televisions, if you are looking to buy a new one.
- Cover bare floor with area rugs for insulation and comfort.
- Raise heat gradually by a couple of degrees each time instead of jumping the heat up.
- In winter, set your heater between 68 and 70°F during the day and 65 to 68°F at night.
- When not in use close the flue to your fireplace and install glass doors to keep heat in and cold out.
- Change the filters in your heating system every month.
- Let the sun help you heat your home by leaving blinds and curtains open during the day and closed at night.
- Lower your thermostat when you are out. If you go on vacation don’t turn it below 55°F to save energy and to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting.
- Consider installing an evaporative cooler instead of air conditioning. How Stuff Works has written an article outlining the pros and cons of each.
- Keep your exterior doors and windows closed when AC is on. Keep them slightly open if you have a swamp cooler to promote air flow.
- Keep interior doors open so air flows freely throughout your home.
- Change your AC filters once a month.
- Turn your thermostat to the highest possible comfortable temperature and set it to “auto.”
- Close air vents and doors to rooms you aren’t using.
- Use ceiling fans to circulate air more efficiently. Additionally, the breeze from ceiling fans can make you feel 3-4° cooler so you can set your thermostat a little higher and still feel cool.
- Provide shade over your home with trees. Plant a new one every Arbor Day.
- Always launder with cold water or make sure you only wash a full load if you use hot water.
- Install low-flow shower head and faucets.
- Turn off your water heater if you are leaving town. Most heaters can reheat water in a few hours after you return.
- Set the temperature of your water heater to 120°F.
- When buying a new water heater, look for one that is energy efficient.
- Take shorter showers and only allow the water to run while you are wetting your hair and rinsing off.
Which of these tips are you willing to try?
I didn’t realize I had so much to say on this subject but as it turns out I am quite passionate about cooking oils and fats. So passionate that I believe this is one of the longest posts I’ve ever written. Because of this epic of a blog post, I have included jump links so you can simply click on the oil you want to know more about to easily move around this article.
Coconut oil is extracted from the brown meat of a coconut. It contains, 92% saturated fats, 6% monounsaturated fats and 1.6% polyunsaturated fats. These saturated fats were once considered unhealthy, but recent studies show they are a safe source of energy. Additionally, previous studies were conducted on refined coconut oil that contained hydrogenated oils (which are bad!). This is why you should be sure to buy virgin (processed without chemicals or high heat) coconut oil that is high in the medium-chain fatty acids, which absorbs quickly into the body.
Coconut oil also has important health benefits. It is rich in a fatty acid called Lauric Acid, which can improve cholesterol and acts against bacteria and other pathogens. Additionally, coconut oil provides a slight boost in metabolism and, compared to other fats, increases the feeling of fullness.
This oil is semi-solid at room temperature therefore it won’t go rancid for months or even years. I recommend using coconut oil for frying, due its high heat tolerance, due to saturated fat content.
**Side Note** higher saturated fats means higher smoke point, the smoke point is the point at which the nutrients in an oil or fat begin to break down).
Coconut oil can be used as a replacement for other oils in a typical recipe by a ratio of 1:1. You need less coconut oil than you’d expect when sautéing (due to low water content).
|8 Health Benefits of Butter – Dr. Axe|
When cooking with butter, it tends to burn at high heat, like for frying. This is because regular butter contains trace amounts of sugars and proteins. To avoid burning your butter, you can cook with ghee, clarified butter from which sugars and proteins have been removed, leaving only pure butterfat. I recommend using butter for baking, and cream-sauces and ghee for frying.
There’s a quick tutorial for how to make butter yourself at the bottom of my recipe for buttermilk cake. Here is a tutorial for clarifying butter.
|Olive Oil Excellence|
Extracted from the fruit of the olive tree, olive oil is loved for its heart healthy effects and is believed to be a key reason for the health benefits of the mediterranean diet. It can raise HDL (the good) cholesterol and lower the amount of oxidized LDL cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream. The fatty acids in olive oil are mostly monounsaturated (75% monounsaturated, 14% saturated, 11% polyunsaturated).
When buying olive oil, make sure to look for quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, that is cold-pressed and unfiltered. It has much more nutrients and antioxidants than the refined type. It should appear cloudy and be golden in color. The bottle should be green to slow oxidation ( a process which creates free-radicals that are damaging to cells in the body)
To keep it from going rancid, store olive oil in a cool, dry, dark place. While olive oil is inferior to coconut oil for cooking at high heat, studies show that you can still use it for cooking or sautéing at lower heats (under 320°F). Olive oil is best used to drizzle on salads or other dishes after they have been cooked.
Animal Fats – Lard, Tallow, Bacon Drippings
The fatty acid content of an animal depends on the animal’s diet: A diet primarily composed of grains results in higher proportion of polyunsaturated fats; if the animal is pasture raised or grass-fed, saturated and monounsaturated fats will be higher. That said, animal fats from naturally-raised animals are superior for cooking.
You can save the drippings from meat to use later, or you can buy ready-made lard or tallow from the store (just be sure to check the label for no hydrogenated oils).
Avocado oil has a similar composition to olive oil: it contains primarily monounsaturated fats, with few saturated and polyunsaturated as well. Therefore, I recommend using it in similar ways to olive oil.
Recent studies show that avocados are a powerhouse of nutrients and healthy fats your body craves. Keep your eyes peeled for a post all about this wonderful superfood.
|Fish Oil – Dr. Vlada Korol|
Flax oil contains lots of the plant form of Omega-3, Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA), which I discussed in my post about hemp, flax and chia seeds. Due to the high content of polyunsaturated fats, this oil is also best used as a supplement: added to salads, smoothies and other cold foods. However, unless you’re vegan, fish oil is probably a better option. Some studies show that ALA is not efficiently converted to the active forms, EPA and DHA (both of which are readily available in fish oil) in the human body. Therefore, it is absorbed slowly into the body and should be used in small quantities.
Nut Oils and Peanut Oil
There are many nut oils available and they are generally rich in polyunsaturated fats. They can be used as parts of recipes, but are a poor choice for high heat cooking or frying.
One exception is macadamia nut oil, which like olive oil contains monounsaturated for the majority. The taste may just make up for the step price if you’re willing to shell out the dough (that was a pun). Macadamia oil can be used for low- or medium-heat cooking.
Peanut oil is derived from peanuts, which aren’t technically nuts (they’re legumes). Peanut oil is popular in Asian cooking and some fast-food restaurants use it for deep-frying.
Despite this oil’s high proportion of polyunsaturated fats (41%), it is stable enough for cooking at high heats. It also adds flavor when drizzled over a stir-fry. Sesame oil is a great source of Vitamin E and other nutrients, and is beneficially for maintaining blood pressure. Sesame oil keeps very well at room temperature but storing it in the refrigerator keeps it from going rancid for even longer. Make sure you buy the unrefined variety.
The following oils are created from genetically modified plants or must be highly processed before hitting the shelves at your local grocery store. This processing increases the shelf life but involves very high heats removing most of the natural flavor. It also causes oxidation, creating free radicals that can damage the cells of our bodies. The processing also creates a huge imbalance in Omega-6 to Omega-3, making them far too rich in Omega-6 fatty acids.
Many of these oils have been wrongly labeled as “heart-healthy,” but new research has linked them to heart disease and cancer. One study looked at vegetable oils commonly found in U.S. grocery stores and found that they contain between 0.56 to 4.2% trans fats. That’s why I continually strew the importance of reading labels. Trans fats are bad!
Trans fats increase levels of LDL or “bad” cholesterol and lowers levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol. It is found in hydrogenated, or partially-hydrogenated fat products like margarines and vegetable shortenings. It is also used in packaged snack foods and by fast-food and other restaurants.
Canola oil, best used in baking and frying, is derived from rapeseeds. Fun fact: its name comes from the phrase “Canadian oil, low acid” referring to the first canola plants. These were bred in Canada to have lower levels of erucic acid, which was believed to have adverse affect on the heart, at the time.
The fatty acid breakdown of canola oil is fairly good, with a perfect Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio of 2:1. That’s before the heavy processing, the final product is completely devoid of this natural ratio. Watch this youtube video to see the whole disgusting operation.
Palm oil is derived from the fruit of oil palms. It consists mostly of saturated and monounsaturated fats, with small amounts of polyunsaturates. Which is why I would recommend using it for frying. Red Palm Oil (the unrefined variety) is best. It is rich in Vitamins E, Coenzyme Q10 and other nutrients.
Palm oil is a tricky one for me to classify because there are many beneficial qualities associated with this oil. Unfortunately, harvesting palm oil is terribly unsustainable: in areas where palm trees are farmed specifically for the production of oil Orangutans, an endangered species, are losing their native habitat. So if you are very attached to using palm oil check with the manufacturer to find out about their farming practices and whether they are sensitive to the habitat of orangutans.
Avoid these too:
- Cottonseed Oil
- Rapeseed Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
- Soybean Oil
- Corn Oil
- Sunflower Oil
- Safflower Oil
- Rice Brain Oil
- Hydrogenated Oil
- Any oil labeled refined, hydrogenated, or partially-hydrogenated
We’ve all gotten the urge to workout in awkward situations. You don’t want to wake a sleeping baby with your grunts of motivation. You’re roommate is studying for a big test and can’t stand your heavy breathing. It’s 1 o’clock in the morning and your downstairs neighbors are pounding on your floor because of your incessant jumping on their ceiling. Now you are equipped with this little beauty. It’s a total-body workout which can be done in almost perfect silence.
You can download the printable pdf here.
Start in a standing position. Lift your right leg straight out in front of your body until it is as close to parallel with the ground as you can lift it. Alternate legs.
Stand with feet hip-width distance apart. With a quick upward motion, scoop your right fist through the air to just in front of your face. Repeat on the other side.
Do a lunge then when you’re standing do a front kick.
Take a big step forward with your left foot, bend your knees and lower your body until both legs form 90-degree angles. Push off with your left foot and stand back up. Do reps, and then repeat on other leg.
Start in a standing position. Lift your right leg straight out in front of your body until it is as close to parallel with the ground as you can lift it. Alternate legs.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms by sides, Squat slowly until both knees are bent 90 degrees and raise arms straight to shoulder level in front of you. Immediately rise out of squat, returning to standing with arms by side.
Lay on your belly with hand flat on the floor on either side, forearms perpendicular to the floor. Stiffen body and literally push yourself away from the ground, hinging at the knees. When arms are straight hold and with control release your body, hover above the ground and repeat.
Grab a 5- to 15-pound dumbbell with both hands. Stand with feet hip-width distance apart and your arms straight out. Take a big step forward with your left foot and, engaging your abs twist your torso to the left as you bend your knees and lower your body until both legs form 90-degree angles. Twist back to center, push off with your left foot and stand back up. Do reps, and then repeat on other leg.
Lay flat on your back. Place your hands behind your head, and your feet flat on the floor. Pull your shoulders away from the mat. Make sure you don’t pull your head forward with your arms but rather keep your gaze upward and use your hand for neck support only. Lower yourself back to the mat.
Stand with feet hip-width distance apart. Lift up onto your toes, hold and release.
Find an elevated surface such as a step, a coffee table over a chair. Place your palms on the surface directly behind your body. Hold yourself up and gently lower yourself down using your arms. When your arms make a 90-degree angle behind you lift yourself back up to the starting position.
Standing facing the back of a chair, hold onto the top of the back rest. Lift your right leg straight behind you as far as you can, hold and return to the floor. Repeat on left side.
Set-up the top of a push-up position with your hands directly below your shoulder. A variation of this is to rest on your forearms with elbows directly beneath shoulders. Hold your body completely straight by engaging your abs. If you can’t hold the plank for the full duration, work up to it. Form is more important the length of time: don’t drop your hips or raise your butt.
Vertical Leg Crunches
Do crunches but instead of positioning your feet on the floor press them straight up as if trying to press them into the ceiling.
Lie on your side with your legs straight. Prop yourself up with your hand directly below your shoulder (or on your forearm with your elbow directly below your shoulder). Your body should form a diagonal line with your feet stacked on top of each other. If you can’t hold the plank for the full duration, work up to it. Form is more important the length of time: be sure your hips and knees stay of the floor.
Lay on your back with arms by your side and feet flat against the floor, hip-width distance apart. Lift your hips from the mat until your body forms a straight line from shoulder to knee.
Postion yourself like a table top, knees flat on floor, hip-width distance apart directly below hips, hand shoulder-width apart, directly below shoulders. Lift your right arm and left left so they form a line parallel to the floor, hold then return to table-top. Switch sides.
Lay flat on the ground, arms extended over your head legs straight. Raise your arms and body off the ground at the same time as you lift your legs straight up so that you meet in a fold balanced on your lower back.
Yesterday was my last day working for Boulder County Parks and Open Space. The seasonal position started in April and ended in October so I knew it wasn’t forever going in but it is still sad to say goodbye. I loved everything about working there; my co-workers are all wonderful, caring people and my work was interesting and varied. I learned a lot about myself this summer and a lot about what kind of work I’d like to pursue in the future. They say when one door closes another one opens and behind the second door there’s cake! (That transition was a little forced, sorry)
I made this cake for my mom’s birthday because it’s her favorite since she was a little girl. This is quite possibly the best chocolate cake recipe ever in the history of ever. Just sayin’.
Also, I lost a lot of pictures when I did an update to my phone so unfortunately the pictures of her birthday party were among those that have gone missing.😦
- 6 (1.55 ounce) Hershey’s milk chocolate bars
- 1-1/2 cups Hershey’s chocolate syrup
- 1 cup butter
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 tsps vanilla extract
We’ve made it, it’s the final week of wellness. Congratulate yourself because you just spent the last twelve weeks investing in your health. I’m so proud of you! The last order of business is to focus on your external appearance. Your self-confidence runs deep and, believe it or not, promotes your health. Go forth and project this into the world.
This week excite: update your closet to suit your personal style and make an impression
Click the week for more information for why these are important to your wellness
Check out my recipes page for ideas.
This week create: eat only food that was prepared at home
Click the week for more information for why these are important to your wellness
- 1 can pumpkin
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup applesauce
- 1/3 cup plain yogurt
- 2 eggs
- 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 4 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
The 10th week of wellness is upon us. It’s important to remember to have fun in life. If you have a hobby already great keep at it, keep practicing! If you don’t, I am giving you permission to give yourself time to relax and do something you enjoy. I will even send signed notes that you can give to your boss. That probably won’t do anything but I am willing to do that for you anyway. Just shoot me an email.
PHYSICAL & SOCIAL
- Any team sport
- Extreme sports
- Contemporary dance
- Martial arts
- Taking up an instrument
- Learning graphic design
- Watercolor painting
- Building models
- Learning a new language
- Researching a topic
- Playing simulation games
- Creating a comic book
- Writing poetry
- Completing word games and puzzles
- Becoming a chess master
- Shot glasses
- Comic books
- Sports cards and paraphernalia
- Beanie babies
- Beer bottles
- Antique lighters
- Pulp literature
- License plates
- Decks of cards
This week practice: take up a new hobby
Deep down there are things that drive you – hobbies that excite us, passions that you wish you had more time to explore, people you wish could spend more time with.
Breaking it down: Questions to ask yourself
This week reconnect: tune out external distractions and focus on what matters
This will be a quick post for Food Fun Friday. If you’re trying to cut back on your meat consumption for whatever reason (you love animals, your health or the environment) you might want to know how to substitute tofu for ground beef or turkey in a recipe. Here’s how…
Food companies have us hooked by strategically including choice ingredients in their food: sugar, salt and fat. These three ingredients offer instantaneous bliss that causes us to continue to pursue happiness by overindulging. You really can’t eat just one. Be sure to pay attention to the amount of sugar and salt you are consuming to avoid some serious health problems in the present and in the future.
This week balance: limit your overall sugar and salt intake
My first semester of college I took a microeconomics course. I learned a lot from this class but one of the biggest things I took away was the following.
“When traffic is congested, each driver is imposing a cost on all other drivers on the road –he is literally getting in their way (and they are getting in his way.) This cost can be substantial: in major metropolitan areas, each time someone drives to work, as opposed to taking public transportation or working at home, he can easily impose $15 or more in hidden costs on other drivers.” – Microeconomics by Paul Krugman and Robin Wells
In that class I also learned that “You don’t need to know this,” means, “You need to know this,” in professor speak, and that you should never enter a jungle alone (I don’t remember why, but I wrote it down in my notes).
The point is, I had never really thought about the negative economical factors involved with automobiles. The environmental impact is something I’ve always known is terrible. Automobile driving is a major cause of:
- Global Warming: Carbon dioxide emissions from autos are the largest contributor to global warming.
- Air Pollution: Automobiles produce nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter that contribute to smog and respiratory illnesses.
- Water Pollution: Automobile manufacturing, gas and oil production, road runoff of fuel, oil and antifreeze, underground gasoline storage tanks and marine oil spills all pollute our water.
- Habitat Destruction: Oil drilling, metals mining and road construction all damage wildlife habitat.
- International Conflict: Nations compete over oil reserves. The US currently imports 48% of its oil — the highest levels ever. Many analysts ties this oil dependency to the hundreds of billions we have spent on Persian Gulf wars.
It’s Food Fun Friday and what’s more fun than talking about seeds? I can’t think of anything. It started with flaxseeds, and now that hemp and chia seeds are prominent players in the health food market I think it’s time to compare and contrast the benefits of these superfoods. It’s time for a Seed Showdown.
Here’s a Venn diagram…
and now for some words…
Remember the “Ch-ch-ch-chia Pet“? Well these seeds are the same thing only you aren’t going to grow them into a cute hedgehog, you’re going to eat them. Chia, Salvia hispanica is a plant, which belongs to the mint family. It was so highly recognized by the Aztecs that it was often used as currency. It contains high levels of antioxidants, calcium, magnesium and iron. Studies show that chia has enormous potential to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease and Type 2 Diabetes. It can lower blood sugar (glucose) after a meal, reduce inflammation and blood pressure, help maintain hydration and is a natural blood thinner.
My tip: fill a liter bottle with juice, tea, flavored water or lemonade and add 3 tablespoons. Shake every 5 minutes and enjoy throughout the day.
Flax or Linum usitatissimum is in the Linaceae family. Hippocrates wrote about using flax for the relief of abdominal pains, and the French Emperor Charlemagne favored flax seed so much that he passed laws requiring its consumption. Flax contains alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), dietary fiber, and lignans.
My tip: Add 2 tablespoons to a glass of almond milk and drink within 30 minutes (or the milk will start to thicken). Flax is also well suited for baking, add 1 tablespoon to any recipe when you add flour.
Hemp, Cannabis sativa L. and other non-drug varieties of Cannabis, commonly known as hemp were not previously commonly cultivated, but are becoming more popular. Technically hemp seeds are the nut of the plant. A diet rich with hemp has been shown to lead to increased energy, improved metabolism and immunity, reduced food cravings, and it can help lower blood pressure. Hemp also contain plant sterols that have been shown to reduce cholesterol.
**Interesting plant nerd side note** Two of Boulder’s favorite pass times find there origin in the Cannabaceae family: hops and hemp. #TheMoreYouKnow #DoHashtagsWorkHere?
My tip: Add 1 tablespoon to smoothies, 1 tablespoons to oatmeal, 1 tablespoon to everything you eat, ever.
I hope that clears up some of the confusion if there was any. My conclusion: all of these seeds can be beneficial additions to your diet and can be used in so many ways so, if the budget allows, having them all on hand is a good idea. If you have to choose just one, the price for flax can’t be beat, hemp is probably the most well-rounded health option and chia is a very fun alternative to try.
We’re more than halfway through our 12 weeks of wellness; this week we’ll focus on the home and making your space safe, stress-free zone where you can find relaxation and comfort.
This week freshen: nest and take care of your space
I love going to the nail salon to get pampered, I’m sure I’m not the only one. It’s a little splurge that helps me relax and results in beautiful digits. Unfortunately, mani-pedis are not very Earth-friendly and, with the exception of the relaxed feeling that results, they aren’t very good for your body either. Just like so many other things that I love, I must add them to the bad list and replace them with an Earth-friendly option. (Yes, there is another way!)
Here’s the deal, the process from start to finish is chemical city. The pedicure sinks they soak your feet in must be disinfected using harsh, nonbiodegradable chemicals. Tools are shared between customers. It’s a green goddess’ nightmare (I just learned that green goddess is also a salad dressing, so I do not mean this nightmare to involve withered vegetables or anything like that, but hopefully the context was enough so you new that).
|Über Chic is an eco-friendly salon in Edgewater, CO|
On top of this the products used specifically for nails (at the salon or at home) go directly to your bloodstream (do not pass the liver, do not collect $200). It turns out that while your nails are hard, they are absorbent and therefore do not form good barriers (you might say they form better windows than doors).
Many nail polishes contain formaldehyde, which as you might remember from Cleanliness is Next to Godliness: Hair, is a carcinogen with many undesirable qualities. Dibutylphthalate is another common ingredients. See the phthalate hiding in that word? It’s another carcinogen and a hormone disruptor. The dibutyl form is a potential reproductive toxin and endocrine disruptor. You may also find the volatile organic carbon toluene, which is a neurotoxin.
|Piggy Paint is a harsh-chemical free nail polish marketed for children, with ingredients as natural as mud.|
It may be listed as ethyl acetate, amyl acetate or butyl acetate. It’s not as bad as the original stuff (acetone) but the fact that it’s “flammable” and the “vapor may ignite” and warns me to “keep out of eyes” and that it’s “harmful to synthetic fabrics, wood finishes, and plastics, makes me wonder, “If it’s not safe for my table how is it possibly safe for me?”
|No Miss Inc. sells healthy alternatives to beauty products at an affordable price.|
What about the Earth? Good point, observant reader, I have not begun to discuss the impact these products have on the Earth. When nail polish and remover go down the drain they seep into and contaminate groundwater. Additionally, while the bottles are technically recyclable, the vast majority of nail polish bottles end up in the landfills where they leach out.
Now what!? Don’t cancel your appointment yet, as always I have solutions for your beauty needs.
- Check your city and regional magazines for local green salons and spas.
- Call or stop by some local salons and ask them the following questions:
- Do you use and carry eco-friendly products? Check ingredients and make sure you would use understand the ingredients.
- Do you employ water-saving practices, such as reusing rinse water?
- Do you use energy-efficient equipment?
- Do you use natural cleaning products and laundry detergents? Refer to greening your home part 3: cleaning supplies for information about what to look for.
- Do you recycle?
- Do you offer other eco-friendly services? They may not always use eco-friendly practices but they may offer services to people who ask.
- Consider skipping color and opting for a simply buff and shine treatment (the unnatural color just chips away in a few days anyway).
- If you love color, only use polishes which do not contain toluene, phthalates, or formaldehyde. You can find some at:
- Make sure your remover is acetone- and acetate-free. Try No Miss Vegan Nail Polish Remover (smells like vanilla!). While more and more salons are offering earth-friendly nail polishes, the remover is harder to find so take your color off at home.
The weather is cooling down so I’m trying to get as many frozen treats in before the outside becomes just as frozen. This Food Fun Friday recipe is for ice cream that you can make at home even if you don’t have an fancy smancy ice cream maker.
Last week I talked about nourishing your body through eating more vegetables. This week (the 6th week of wellness) nourish your body through something other than food. This is important on multiple levels. We eat when we’re hungry yes, but many people also eat when they’re thirsty, tired, watching TV or just when they’re bored. Discovering another way to use your time will not only distract you from the feeling of wanting to eat, but it will enrich your life.
This week nourish: focus on something other than food that fills you up
Colorado is experiencing 1000 year flooding. The damage and destruction is unbelievable. My dad keeps saying that word, “Un—believable,” or, “Un—freaking—believable!” It reminds me of the movie, The Princess Bride, the character Vizzini keeps saying, “Inconceivable!” until finally Inigo Montoya says, “You keep saying this word, I do not think it means what you think it means.” Only in this case, with my dad, he knows what it means and it’s the best word to describe these disasters.
Last summer you may remember from my Backpacking For Dummies post that, due to wildfires and drought conditions, Colorado looked a little like this:
Well this September we have received 50% of our average annual precipitation within the last 48 hours, so now it looks a little more like this:
I know homes, businesses and people have experienced devastating loss over the past 2 days. I would like to express my sympathies to everyone who has been affected by this disaster.
So guess what this is. Just guess! okay fine I’ll tell you: this, yes this very thing that you are reading with your eyeballs, is my 100th post on Maggie’s Mind Mumbles!
Congratulations to me but mostly congratulations to you. You, who come here to my blog and read whatever nonsense gibberish I happen to feel like writing in the moment. I really appreciate it. (No, I’m not crying! Someone just poured water all over my face).
Not only is this post #100, it’s also Friday, which we all know is the best day of all the days. AND not only is it Friday, it’s Food Fun Friday (what a big day!) so it’s time to blend up some fun. Today’s recipes are berry good. Check out the 36 supercharged smoothies in the a-peel-ing infographic below!
These 36 are sub-lime aren’t they? But in case that’s not just peachy with you, here are just a few more grrrr–ape recipes.
- Banana – 2 frozen bananas, 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt, 1/2 cup milk, 2 teaspoons honey, a pinch of cinnamon.
- Strawberry Banana – Same as above, replace one banana with a cup of frozen strawberries.
- Strawberry shortcake – 2 cups frozen strawberries, 1 cup crumbled pound cake, 1 and 1/2 cup milk, sugar to taste and top with whipped cream.
- Triple Berry – 1 and 1/2 cups frozen mixed blackberries, raspberries and strawberries, 1/2 cup yogurt, 1/2 cup milk.
- Raspberry Orange – 1 cup orange juice, 1 cup frozen raspberries, 1/2 cup plain yogurt.
- Peach Mango Banana – 1 cup frozen mangos, 1 cup frozen peaches, 1/2 frozen banana, 1 cup plain yogurt.
- Honeydew Almond – 2 cups frozen honeydew melon, 1 cup almond milk
- Cantaloupe – 2 cups frozen cantaloupe, juice of 1/2 lime, 1/2 cup water, sugar to taste.
- Carrot Apple – 1 cup carrot juice, 2 cups frozen apple.
- Kiwi Strawberry – 1 cup frozen strawberries, 2 peeled kiwis, sugar to taste.
- Cherry Vanilla – 1 and 1/2 cup frozen cherries, 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt.
- Tangerine Honey – 4 frozen tangerines, juice of 2 limes, 1/4 cup honey, 1 cup ice.
- Apricot Almond – 1 and 1/2 cups apricot nectar, 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt, 2 tablespoons almond butter.
- Grape – 2 cups frozen grapes, 1 cup grape juice.
- Blueberry Pear – 1 and 1/2 cups frozen blueberries, 1 frozen pear, 1 and 1/2 cup maple yogurt.
- Banana Date Lime – 2 frozen bananas, 3/4 cup chopped frozen dates, the juice of 1 lime, 1 and 1/2 cup milk.
- Peach Ginger – 2 cups frozen peaches, 1 and 1/2 cups buttermilk, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 tablespoon fresh ginger.
- Grapefruit – 1 frozen grapefruit, 1 cup grapefruit juice, 3 tablespoons sugar, a pinch of cinnamon.
- Pomegranate Cherry – 1 cup frozen cherries, 3/4 cup pomegranate juice, 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, a pinch of salt, a pinch of cinnamon.
- Vietnamese Coffee – 1/2 cup chilled espresso or strong coffee, 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk, a pinch of cardamom, 1 and 1/2 cups ice.
- Blueberry Banana – 1 frozen banana, 1 cup frozen blueberries, 1/2 cup coconut milk, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon lime juice, 1/4 teaspoon almond extract.
- Creamy pineapple -2 cups frozen pineapple, 1/2 cup cottage cheese, 1/4 cup milk, 2 teaspoons honey, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, a pinch of nutmeg, a pinch of salt.
- Peanut Butter Apple – 1 frozen apple, 3 tablespoons peanut butter, 2 tablespoons flaxseeds, 1 and 1/2 cup milk, honey to taste.
- Apple Ginger – 1 frozen apple, 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, the juice of 2 limes, 1/4 cup honey, 1 cup water.
- Creamsicle – 3/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, 1/2 cup water, 1 cup vanilla frozen yogurt.
- Lemon Poppyseed – 2 teaspoons poppyseeds, the zest and juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 cup plain yogurt, 1/2 cup milk, sugar to taste.
- Mango Acai – 8 ounces frozen acai, 1 cup frozen mango, 1 cup orange juice.
- Mexican Coffee – 1/2 cup chilled espresso or strong coffee, 1/2 cup milk, 3 and 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon almond extract, 1 and 1/2 cups ice.
- Banana PB&J – 1 cup frozen banana, 1 cup milk, 1/4 cup peanut butter, 1/4 cup wheat germ, 2 tablespoons jelly.
- Black Raspberry Vanilla – 1 pint frozen blackberries, 1/2 cup frozen raspberries, 1 cup vanilla yogurt, 1 tablespoon honey.
- Chocolate Raspberry – 1 cup raspberries, 1 cup chocolate frozen yogurt, 3/4 cup milk.
- Pomegranate Berry – 1 cup frozen blueberries, 3/4 cup beet juice, 3/4 cup pomegranate juice, honey to taste.
- Cucumber Kale – 1 and 3/4 cup vegetable juice ice cubes, 1/2 cucumber, 3 kale leaves, the juice of 1/2 lemon.
- Pineapple Mango – 1 cup frozen pineapple, 1 cup frozen mango, 1 cup coconut water, a pinch of allspice.
- Peanut Butter Banana – 1 frozen banana, 1 cup vanilla yogurt, 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1/3 cup milk, 2 tablespoons malted milk powder, 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder, a pinch of salt.
- Oatmeal Cookie – 1 cup vanilla yogurt, 1 cup milk, 1 cup oats, 1 teaspoon flaxseed, a pinch of cinnamon, top with a cookie.
- Chocolate Banana – 1 banana, 1 cup chocolate frozen yogurt, 1/2 cup milk, a pinch of salt.
- Apple Spinach – 2 cups spinach, 1 frozen apple, 1/2 cup silken tofu, 1/4 cup milk, 1/4 cup orange juice, 1 tablespoon wheatgerm, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
- Mint Jalapeno – 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, 1 jalepeno pepper, 2 and 1/2 tablespoons honey, a pinch of salt, 2 cups plain yogurt, top with toasted cumin seeds and cilantro.
- Cucumber Honeydew Mint – 1/2 cucumber, 1/2 frozen honeydew melon, 1 cup pear juice, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1/4 cup mint leaves.
- Strawberry Maple – 2 cups frozen strawberries – 1 and 1/2 cups milk, 1/ cup maple syrup, 1/4 cup wheat germ, a pinch of cinnamon.
- Birthday Cake – 1 and 1/2 cups vanilla frozen yogurt, 1/4 cup wheat germ, 1 cup milk, juice of 1 lemon, 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, top with sprinkles.
- Carrot Mango Herb – 1 cups frozen mango, 1/2 cup carrot juice, 1/2 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup mint, tarragon or basil.
- Blueberry Banana Spinach – 1/2 cup yogurt, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, 1 cup spinach, 1 tablespoon flaxseed, 1/2 frozen banana.
- Banana Split – 1 frozen banana, 1/2 cup frozen strawberries, 1 teaspoon cocoa powder, 1 cup yogurt, 1 cup milk.
Smoothie making is a science and a tricky balancing act. The best rule of thumb is to include one frozen ingredient and one liquid ingredient in whatever combination you want. I like to freeze the fruit because I find it is hard to keep fruit from going bad in the summer when fresh is available and it’s cheaper in the winter to buy frozen. You can freeze juices, teas, coffees, etc. into cubes and use that or plain water cubes as well.
Practice makes perfect and soon you will find a routine that works well for you. Play with these recipes and concoct your own to really get into the smoothie making s-pear-it.
I love vegetables! I think they are crisp and refreshing and vegetables provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body. So add a few more to your diet throughout this, the 5th week on our journey toward wellness.
There are many ways you can introduce more veggies into your diet. I will list a few here but for a printable list you can hang on your refrigerator click here.
- Buy vegetables in season, when they are cheapest and at the peak of their flavor.
- Stock up on frozen veggies that are simply a microwave zap away from eating.
- Plan meals around vegetables, like a stir-fry, add other food to supplement.
- Try a veggie salad for a meal.
- Add shredded zucchini and carrots to meatloaf, casserole, quick bread and muffins.
- Make your vegetables more appealing by serving them with dip.
This week boost: make sure to eat at least three vegetables each day
You may have heard that a “green” beauty routine is no beauty routine at all. For extremists this is probably true, but I’m not an extremist: I like my skin to feel soft, I like my hair to shine, I like playing with makeup. If you are like me and want your eco-friendly lifestyle to continue into the bathroom (or wherever your beauty regimen takes place) then read on. If you aren’t like me you can still read on, we don’t discriminate here.
Here at Maggie’s Mind Mumbles, I frequently discuss that what we’re putting IN our bodies should be whole, unprocessed foods. For the products we put ON our bodies can affect us just as much, if not more. While it seems as if the products like lotion and makeup sit on the surface of the skin or products are washed away as with soap and shampoo, the chemicals are actually absorbed directly into the bloodstream without being detoxified in the liver.
With that said, we’ll start at the top and work our way down. Today…
Your lovely locks are the accessory you wear everyday so it’s understandable that you want your hair to look nice and you want to use products that promote beautiful hair.
Look at the ingredients list on most shampoo bottles. You may find these invading your bottle:
Not only are these, and the other chemicals I haven’t listed here, damaging your body but they are also wrecking havoc on the environment. Additionally, these shampoos are often sold in PVC bottles (I really need to write a blog about why PVC is the worst because it keeps coming up and I keep having to just ask you to take my word for it).
So to help you remember not to buy products with these ingredients I have crafted a downloadable cheat sheet that will fit in your wallet. That way you won’t have to try to remember these scary names.
Aided with your cheat sheet you can find plenty of shampoos that don’t contain offending ingredients but will still leave you with hair that is smooth, strong and shiny. Oh, and smells good too, that’s an important one. You can find healthy shampoos at health food stores, the organic section of most supermarkets and some are even finding their way into drugstores. They range in price from cheap to steep.
I currently use Alba Botanica body builder mango. I found it in the shampoo aisle at a Safeway (conventional grocery store). The bottle was paid from 100% recyclable materials and it is free of all the harmful ingredients listed above. It also smells like a Hawai’ian rainforest and costs less than $10. I condition with a rare treasure I happened across on a quick bathroom break on my way to work. I remembered I needed conditioner so I picked some up. Ology is a Walgreens brand free of bad guys and loaded with good guys. I grabbed the volumizing and softening grapefruit and eucalyptus (can you tell that my hair needs more volume?) It’s pretty great and for $6 I can’t complain.
Other great brands include:
- Hugo – try Vanilla & Sweet Orange Shampoo
- Aubrey Organics – Honeysuckle Rose Conditioner is fabulous
- Burt’s Bees – Terrific shampoos and conditioners
- John Masters Organics – Have yet to try these friend recommended shampoos and conditioners
- Tween Beauty – I know I’m totes not the target demographic but I want all my BFFs to try Orange Sherbet Shampoo and Vanilla Bean Conditioner LOL
Just a few tips – check that the package is made from recycled materials (I will never stop saying this), be sure that the label says certified organic because organic is not a regulated term in the beauty world and make sure you like the scent (that probably goes with out saying but there are some ick smelling healthy shampoos out there).
Which shampoo and conditioner can you not live without?
My job with Parks and Open Space requires a lot of hiking. And when I say a lot I mean A LOT. On average I hike 4 miles every work day. And let me tell you the main thing I have noticed on my many, lengthy hikes through the plains and foothills of Boulder County. There are approximately thousands of different kinds of insects out there in the great outdoors (for once I may have been modest).
I promise there is a recipe in this post; it’s Food Fun Friday after all. I should be giving you a recipe or at least discussing why the food you’re eating is probably killing you slowly or something. First I would like to thoroughly ruin your appetite (just be glad I didn’t include pictures) by talking about insects, the least appetizing things I can think of.
|Just a preview of what’s to come|
I am going to be highly non-scientific for a minute so entomologists cover your ears. I have classified these insects I have encountered into five categories: the gross ones, the lovely ones, the dumb ones, the mean ones and the pesky ones.
The Gross Ones
The Lovely Ones
The only bugs I will classify here are butterflies (or flutterbys as they should be called) because they are very nice to look at and they are curious but shy creatures who want to know what your business is in their neighborhood but won’t stay too close.
The Dumb Ones
Bugs that fall under this category include grasshoppers, cicadas and flies. I can’t tell you how many cicadas I have seen fly head first into the side of a hill or a tree trunk. They make a surprisingly loud crunch on impact then they take off again, apparently unscathed, on their journey. While I do enjoy the variety of colors you find, grasshoppers are especially dumb. when frightened, are critters that take flight (rather than stay and fight) and for some reason seem to think jumping right into my shins is the way toward safety. I’m sure you’ve used an outhouse at a trailhead at some point and know them to be often full of flies. Well they all panic when you come in and you hold the door open for them to escape into the wild and they just fly around frantically and never find the source of the fresh air.
The Mean Ones
This is the classification that encompasses wasps, hornets and biting flies. The ones that are just out to get you and leave a painful blemish behind. I haven’t been stung recently but I remain wary of these nasty buggers. Biting flies remain the bane of my existence; they are all just out to get me.
The Pesky Ones
These are the insects where the word bug comes from. They just bug the heck out of you. Mosquitoes for instance are extremely persistent and have that distinct buzz that really grinds my gears. I know they are just trying to survive by sucking my precious blood but seriously do they have to leave the obnoxious itchy red bump behind? I haven’t yet figure out what kind of fly it is that likes to circle my head as I hike 20 feet before flying off but when I do, they better watch out!
So, to return from my tangential story about pests; here is the promised recipe for quinoa and roasted vegetable salad for your enjoyment…
Start by cooking quinoa to package specifications. Chop up any veggies you find in your pantry. I used zucchini, summer squash, onions, carrots and potatoes. Toss all the vegetables together in a large bowl with 3 cloves of minced garlic, 1 Tbsp Herbs de Provence (buy herb mix or make your own), 2 Tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tsp salt. Then spread in a baking dish.
Bake for 30 minutes at 450°F stirring halfway through. Mix veggies in with quinoa and lemon dressing (juice and zest of one lemon, 2 Tbsp EVOO, 1 Tbsp Herbs de Provence) serve with chicken, or other protein, or by itself, whatever you want… what do I know? All I want to talk about is insects.
buzzz buzzz buzzzzzzzzz
It’s the 4th week of wellness and we’re focusing on how we can unplug from distractions such as technology.
Modern technology is wonderful in many ways. We can communicate with friends and family all around the world. We can get instant updates about world news, sports and events. There are thousands of facets to boost creativity. Job searches have never been easier. Research can be done with a click of a mouse. But with great power comes great responsibility. We have so many things we need to check and update and learn about and watch and read and on and on and on that sometimes we forget about the things happening around us, in the real world outside of cyberspace.
This week unplug: disconnect from unnecessary technology
Click the week for more information on why these are important to your wellness
This may surprise Marilyn, but diamonds are not a girl’s best friend and all that glitters is not gold, or green for that matter. Okay, I’ll stop, enough cliches for today.
Mining for minerals needed for jewelry is not an environmental practice. In fact, mining for these natural elements consumes huge amounts of energy, releases pollutants and greenhouse gases into the air, allows toxic chemicals to seep into groundwater, damages land, speeds up erosion and generates and unbelievable amount of waste. Metal mining was the number one toxic polluter in the United States in 2008 (as of 2010), responsible for more that 25 percent of all reported toxic releases.
In addition to the environmental hazards, mining is also associated with socially devastating practices. Diamonds fund violence against citizens, especially in African countries such as Angola and Sierra Leone. The United Nations defines conflict diamonds as, “diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action opposition to those governments, or in contravention of the decisions of the Security Council.”
Gold-mining is one of the dirtiest practices in the world. Gold mining conditions are dangerous for workers, it is responsible for three percent of work deaths globally. Additionally, the average gold mine uses enough water to provide the basic water needs for a population equivalent to that of a large U.S. city for a year. The open pits are required to be enormous (the largest is the Bingham Canyon mine in Utah is visible from outer space) destroying beautiful landscapes, wildlife habitat and important ecosystems.
Are you outraged? You probably should be, otherwise you must not like animals…
No Dirty Gold is a campaign that is working toward stopping dirty mining practices around the world and to prevent the sale of gold that has been mined in an unsustainable way.
But don’t fret, you can still get your bling on and all that. Here’s the part in the blog post where I inform you of where you can buy earth-conscious jewelry:
- The best option is always to buy used. Find jewelry at antique, consignment and thrift stores or your grandma’s jewelry box.
- Green Karat – synthetic gems and recycled metals.
- Brilliant Earth – recycled metals and conflict-free diamonds for engagement and wedding bands.
- Leber Jeweler – Earthwise line of conflict-free gems and reclaimed metals.
- Tiffany – conflict-free diamonds and responsible metal mining, oh and those little blue boxes are made from Forest Stewardship Council certified paper.
It’s Food Fun Friday (which, let’s face it, is every Friday) and I will share with you an alteration of a recipe that is a family favorite: Ohio Buckeye Cookies.
Inspiration for these cookies hit me on the head, literally, as I was on a walk. There is a tree called an Ohio buckeye (Aesculus glabra) which can be identified, according to my tree identification book:
“Leaves have 5 to 7 short-stemmed, lanceolate leaflets, each 4 to 6 inches long and 0.5 to 1.5 inches wide. The yellow flowers, hairy below and with stamens longer than the petals, are borne in erect panicles, 5 to 7 inches long. The capsule, about 2 inches in diameter are spiny on the surface and usually enclose two seeds, about 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter. Brown bark is fissured and scaly. Grows 50 to 90 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet in diamet; crown oblong, rounded. Also leaves and twigs have an unpleasant odor when bruised.“
Which probably means very little to most of you but, the plant nerd that I am, I couldn’t leave out any of those details.
It was this very nut that fell from it’s lofty branch and hit me squarely on the top of my head. Like Isaac Newton before me, I was struck with an idea (although I will not claim that my idea will change the course of science as we know it) and a craving for the buckeye cookies my grandma makes.
When I came home I looked up the recipe for this delectable treat. I was surprised by the amount of sugar added to many of the recipes I found and decided to work out a recipe for more of a protein bite in favor of this sugar packed morsel.
These are the ingredients I used.
- 1 jar (16 oz) natural peanut butter (I use chunky, but if you prefer smooth, use that)
- 6-8 tablespoons rice milk (any other kind of milk should work fine too)
- 6 tablespoons hemp seed, flax seed or chia seed
- 6.4 oz dark chocolate, or about two regular sized chocolate bars (85% or higher cacao is ideal, I used Chocolove)
Exercise is important to a healthy lifestyle for many reasons, regardless of your age, sex, or physical ability.
To accomplish this week’s wellness goal you’ll need to try a new form of exercise. A few ideas include: yoga, walking during your breaks at work or school, running, lifting weights, swimming, etc. The idea is to try something you maybe have been wanting to try but haven’t for whatever reason.
You can check out my Fitness Page for a few ideas if you are unsure about where to start.
This week stretch: try a new form of exercise
The other day I watched a white plastic bag lazily float through the air as I was waiting at a stop light. It has an odd sort of beauty in the grace with which it moves. The wind catches in little pockets and it inflates, then as the wind shifts it flattens and picks up speed. Bits of it get caught on fence posts, branches and car antennae causing it to cartwheel as it makes its way to whatever destination it is fated to reach. Then I snapped out of my reverie and realized what a terrible crime this bag represents.
It’s a mystery to me why people continue to choose plastic bags at the store when they accumulate at home faster than second uses can be developed for them. Not to mention their tendency to blow away, as mentioned, creating litter, or the fact that they hold relatively few items for their size. Whatever the reason, they continue to be used by the general public.
Did you know that according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), close to a trillion plastic bags are used worldwide each years? The United States alone used about one hundred billion of those, which comes out to almost one thousand plastic bags per U.S. household per year. If one household cuts out plastic bags, this could actually make a noticeable dent.
It takes twelve million barrels of oil to produce the plastic bags the U.S. alone uses each years and fewer than 3 percent are recycled. This means they wind up in landfills where they can take hundreds of years to decompose. Or they end up in rivers and oceans where they choke and poison about one hundred thousand whales, birds, and other aquatic life each year, or act as rafts carrying foreign species to new ecosystems.
|Going Green – Plastic Island in the Pacific|
I once thought paper bags were more environmentally-friendly-ish because they are biodegradable. Nope. Making ten billion paper bags (about the number of grocery bags United Statesians use in a year) requires fourteen million trees to be cut down because they require virgin fibers to hold up to heavy groceries. On top of that, pulp and paper mills are among the worst polluters of air, water and land of any manufacturing industry.
There is a hidden option, it’s like the elusive third door that no one tells you about but really has the best prizes if you just take a wild stab and guess it. Reusable cloth bags! By far the best solution to the bag crisis in the US.
The tough part is remembering to bring them with you. Practice makes perfect so keep trying. Here are some techniques you might want to try:
- Doorknob – Attach at least one, if not more than one, reusable shopping bag to the doorknob you most often leave through. You have to literally touch them in order to get out of the house.
- Car – Designate a box in your car to store a few reusable bags. Now you only have to remember to get them into the store.
- Purse – There are many options of reusable bags which are small enough to stick in your purse or pocket. There’s no excuse for not using it if you’ve been carrying it around with you.
- Make a note – Stick a note anywhere you’re likely to see it –on the mirror, on your dashboard, on your forehead– to remind yourself.
- All of the above – If you’re like me then you’ve probably accumulated dozens of reusable bags at festivals, fairs and events. I keep my bags anywhere and everywhere.
As an added incentive many places across the US either give to a discount for using your own bags or expect you to pay for the store’s plastic or paper bags you use. So if being a Earth-saving superhero isn’t enough, maybe money will convince you.
How do you remember your reusable bags when shopping?
In an effort to both save money and cut out processed food further I learned to make my own kitchen staples. In this post I will share a few recipes for items I like to make at home instead of buying the bottled-version in store (for less cost to boot).
*Here’s a tip: save your old condiment and spice containers to use as storage.
I love ketchup; it could be considered it’s own food group in my opinion (If I could live on ketchup and cinnamon I would… not necessarily mixed together). The ingredient list for Heinz actually isn’t that bad (especially if you buy the simply ketchup version, which doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup) but this homemade version is much cheaper.
|Six in the Suburbs|
- 12 ounces Tomato Paste
- 1/2 cup Dark Brown Sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon Dry Ground Mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1/2 scant teaspoon Cinnamon
- 2 pinches of Ground Clove
- 2 pinches of Allspice
- 1 pinch of Cayenne Pepper
- 2/3 cup Water
- 4 tablespoons White Wine Vinegar
Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Store in an airtight container overnight for maximum marriage of flavors.
As much as I like ketchup is about the amount that I don’t like mustard. But I’m told that other people like mustard for some reason so I decided to include it. It’s actually fun to make mustard because you can use really whatever spices you like.
My research actually didn’t turn up any store-bought mustard’s that contain “bad” ingredients (even the store-brand) but I’m told that the better the mustard the higher the expense so now you can make gourmet mustard for a fraction of the cost.
- 1/2 cup yellow mustard seeds
- 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 1/2 tsp. sugar
- Your pick of spices (to taste), optional
Soak the mustard seeds in the vinegar and water, making sure the seeds are covered by the liquid. Leave soaking for 2 days.
Add the sugar and spices (allspice and turmeric are boyfriend’s preference) to the seeds mixture. Begin with about 1 tsp. of each spice. Blend mixture until it reaches desired consistency, adding water if needed. Let it sit in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a day or two before trying it out.
Homemade Taco Seasoning
This Old El Paso Taco Seasoning isn’t actually representative of the whole market. You can buy McCormick’s if you don’t want to make your own spice mix. I’m always partial to making it myself because I can use more or less to suit my own taste. In addition to being perfect for tacos, this mix is great for flavoring burgers and chili. See how I used this mix in Rainbow Chicken Fajitas.
Homemade Barbeque Sauce
I also a huge fan of barbecue sauce. I like it like I like my men: hot and smoky (haha just kidding, sorta). My favorite brand is Stubb’s which is tangier (and less unhealthy) than most. Barbecue sauce, in general, has a lot of sugar in it so making your own can really cut down on this. You can also, as with everything else in this list, customize the flavor profile.
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups ketchup (you can use your homemade ketchup or store-bought)
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 1/2 tablespoons dry mustard
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
- 2 dashes hot pepper sauce
Combine all ingredients, stirring until sugar dissolves. Store in an airtight container. To make it smoky tasting add 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke per 1 cup sauce. For a spicier sauce add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper per 1 cup of sauce.
For me, making salsa is more about flavor than anything else (including ingredients or cost). I’ve just about had it with the stuff you can buy at the grocery store. Click through to the tutorial for my favorite salsa recipe.
Homemade Ranch Dressing
Ranch Dressing is one of those sauces that we like to put on pretty much everything. As you can see above the list ingredient in store-bought variety is pretty extensive. Here is a recipe for ranch in which you can really customize every piece of it.
You can use fresh or dried herbs. Depending on how you like your ranch (more creamy or more tangy) you can play with the quantities of mayonnaise (creamy) and yogurt (tangy) or you can use sour cream in place of yogurt. I’ve tried this recipe with buttermilk (which further enhances the tanginess), 1% milk (which is somewhat of a non-flavor), almond milk (my favorite, it rounds out the flavor in my opinion) and soymilk (sort of adds a sweetness). Finally, I have listed just a few optional ingredients you could use to further personalize your ranch; really there are probably hundreds.
|Barefeet in the Kitchen|
- 1 Clove (to 2 Cloves) Garlic
- Salt (to taste)
- 1/4 cup Italian Flat-leaf Parsley
- 2 Tablespoons Fresh Chives
- 1/2 cup(Real) Mayonnaise
- 1 cup Plain Greek Yogurt
- Milk (to desired consistency)
- Other optional ingredients (to taste): White Vinegar, Worcestershire Sauce, Fresh Dill, Cayenne Pepper, Paprika, Fresh Oregano, Tabasco etc.
Crush garlic into a paste with a fork. Finely mince parley and chives. Whisk together the mayonnaise and yogurt. Add milk to desired consistency. Next, stir in garlic, parsley and chives. Add mix in seasonings to taste. Store in an air-tight container in fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Well there you have it. Six new condiment recipes to add to your arsenal of real food eating. Happy Friday!
As we continue on our 12 week program toward physical wellness keep up your good hydration habits but add this next weeks focus to your routine. Today we’re talking about rest and why it’s important.
Here is an infographic I created with the same information found on the previous “Sleep is Awesome!” infographic. Enjoy your new-found learning about sleep and why it’s important!
This week rest: wind down early and stick to a regular sleep schedule this week.
Click the week for more information on why these are important to your wellness
An unquestionable certainty of life, much like death and taxes, is that your home will always need cleaning. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought to myself, “But I’ve just cleaned this!” And like so many other things that we use without really thinking conventional cleaners are not very good for the environment. They release volatile organic compounds and other toxic chemical’s which remain on surfaces in your home and evaporate into the air.
|Read: Part 1 (Big Purchases) and Part 2 (Decorating)|
Did you know that the air inside your home, if you use conventional cleaners, is two to five times more polluted than the air outside your home? What’s more is that these chemicals are seeping out of our homes — not that we really wanted to keep them inside — and polluting ground water and air. Additionally, these chemicals are related to 10% of the toxic exposures, through contact or ingestion, reported to US poison control centers.
If every household in America replaced one bottle of conventional cleaner with an ecofriendly product, that would prevent 11 million pounds of VOCs from entering the environment.
Pinterest is always a great source for homemade cleaners, using various combinations of lemon juice, vinegar, borax etc. for specific household chores (if you do make your own products, NEVER mix with conventional cleaners as this can have fatal results, and be sure to label any leftovers). But if you’re an all-purpose cleaner gal like I am, good news: the market for household cleaners that are both effective and earth-friendly is booming!
A few brand of cleaners to check out:
- Seventh Generation
- Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day
- Greenhome.com is a great place to look for paper products, cleaners, and detergents as well as everything from vacuums to armiores
Use cleaning products that:
- list their ingredients
- contain no chlorine, anything that starts with chlor, or ammonia (hydrogine peroxide can be used in lieu of bleach)
- are certified biodegradable and free of synthetic chemicals
- come in recyclable packaging
- for soaps and detergents – no phosphates or anything derived from petroleum
How are you planning to change your cleaning habits for a healthier body and Earth?
Right before my birthday in June my co-worker Sally asked me ever so sneakily, “If someone were to make you cookies or cupcakes what would be your favorite flavor?” I answered Snickerdoodles because I lurve cinnamon oh so very much. On my birthday, I arrived at work and this was waiting in my cubicle.
|The fish is an inside joke|
So, as her birthday approached in August I wanted to return the gesture. Equally sneakily, I asked, “If you had to choose your favorite cake, pie or cookie flavor what would you choose?” She said peach pie and snickerdoodle cookies. Being the genius that I am, I combined the two.
Fortunately, it is currently peach season and my dad had just brought a box of peaches home with him from the western slope. In order to use them before spoiling my mom busily made peach jam, peach salsa, peach cobbler etc. and I made peach snickerdoodles.
This recipe makes 3.5 dozen cookies, which is a lot but I gave away about half. You could probably half the recipe but it was too complicated for me to figure out.
Select four medium peaches
Mix well, then add half of the diced peaches
Mix 4 cups flour, 2 teaspoon cream of tarter, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoon in a large mixing bowl
Add pureed peach mixture
Mix until evenly blended
Add remaining peaches
Fold peaches into batter. Batter will be very wet. Dollop spoonfuls onto greased, parchment paper-covered cookie sheets. Sprinkle with mixture of 4 teaspoon cinnamon and 4 tablespoon sugar. Cook at 400°F for 11 minutes or until just browned on top. Cookies will be soft.
Let cool on wire racks.
Make a lovely birthday card and deliver to recipient.
|Hahaha I crack myself up!|
- 1/2 cup butter, unsalted, room temperature, cubed
- 1/2 margarine, room temperature, spoonfuls
- 1 1/2 cups plus 4 Tb sugar, divided use
- 2 eggs
- 3 3/4 cups flour, sifted
- 2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 4 fresh peaches, peeled, seeded, diced, divided use
- 2 tsp plus 4 tsp cinnamon, divided use
Preheat oven to 400. Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Using a food processor, cream together the butter, shortening, 1 1/2 cups of sugar and the eggs. Add half of the diced peaches and puree until smooth. In a large bowl combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Stir in the creamed ingredients from the food processor. Fold in the remaining diced peaches. In a smaller bowl combine the remaining 4 tablespoons of sugar and the cinnamon. Drop a rounded tablespoon of cookie batter (the batter is very moist) onto the cookie sheets about 2″ apart. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture and bake for 11 minutes.
On Workout Wednesday I usually produce or re-produce a printable workout. But this week, and for the next eleven weeks I’d like to also focus on wellness: Wellness Wednesday. Because that’s more important than fitness. So to be come simply well I believe the first step is hydration. Water is a source of life for every species on this planet. Without this miracle molecule none of this beautiful blue planet would exist as it is (there would probably be robot llamas and volcanic acid would be the life juice, in fact according to the theory of infinite universes this probably exists).
Anyway, did you know that water makes up over half of your body weight? Your body uses water in many ways. Water cushions and lubricates joints; nourishes and protects the brain, spinal cord and other tissues; helps regulate the body’s temperature; and helps remove waste through perspiration, bowel movements and urination.
Additionally, it is not completely true that water is your only source for hydration. Tea, coffee, fruit and vegetable juices, and even sports drinks and sodas can contribute to your daily water needs. However, these substances also add calories and sugars to your systems, which is an added consideration.
Tips for staying hydrated
- Keep a bottle of water with you during the day. Consider carrying a reusable water bottle and filling it from the tap rather than purchasing bottled water, which is expensive and creates plastic bottle waste.
- If plain water doesn’t interest you, try adding fruit such as lemon, lime, watermelon, orange or cucumber to your drink.
- If you’re going to be exercising, make sure you drink water before, during and after your workout.
- Start and end your day with a glass of water.
- When you’re feeling hungry, drink water. The sensation of thirst is often confused with hunger. True hunger will not be satisfied by drinking water. Drinking water may also contribute to a healthy weight loss plan, as some research suggests drinking water will help you feel full.
- Drink on a schedule if you have trouble remembering to drink water. For example, drink water when you wake up; at breakfast, lunch and dinner; and when you go to bed. Or drink a small glass of water at the top of each hour.
This week hydrate: sip smart and drink more water!
Click the week for more information on each of these topics that are important to your wellness.
Food. It is essential to life and some (ie. me) may say to happiness. But there are a few things you should be thinking about if you want to live sustainably.
Producers earn the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) “organic” label by using no chemical pesticides, growth-enhancing chemicals, or genetic modification on their crops. The USDA “organic” label is assigned to livestock farmers who avoid steroids, hormones and antibiotics; use organically grown feed and treat livestock humanely. It is also common for organic farmers to use renewable resources, conserve water and maintain or improve soil quality.
Unfortunately, organic food is often (always) more expensive than conventional food. There are, of course, reasons for this: employers may pay workers lower wages in conventional farming operations, chemicals increase crop yield, organic foods are often produced on a smaller scale etc. But if you are unable to switch completely to organic start small buy purchasing organics that are comparable in price to the conventional counterpart. I’ve said it before, but it’s important to remember, you can vote with your money and stores take notice of what you buy.
Therefore, if you buy organic food you have the potential to:
- lessen cruelty to animals
- avoid consuming health-threatening chemicals
- prevent damaging pesticides from entering the environment
- help maintain soil fertility for future generations
- shift the market toward more affordable organic products
Alternatively, organic foods are not:
- more flavorful
- higher in nutrient
- cures for the common cold
- the fountain of youth
- preferred diets of unicorns
So get off your high horse (insert Umbridge-ian *hem hem*, unicorn).
On the other hand, organic foods are not always better (side note: I always knew it was time to pay attention in school when a word was emphasized with bold, italic AND underline *hint, hint*). Threw you a curve ball there didn’t I? For the most part, as I’ve described, organic foods are better for the environment. However, if the food has to travel very far to reach it’s destination, we measure this in food miles. In some cases, conventionally grown food that was grown locally can be less detrimental to the environment than organically grown food that has traveled a great distance. Which brings us to the topic of eating locally.
Support your local community and economy by shopping at smaller, locally owned markets and farmer’s markets. It’s a little more expensive: big companies can charge less because they sell such a vast quantity, so small grocers have a hard time competing. Local harvest is a website, which helps you locate food co-ops, farmer’s markets, CSA or local farms in your area.
If you cannot afford to spend more for less, there are sections or products within the large multinational companies labeled locally grown (here in Colorado it say, “Colorado grown” or “Colorado raised”).
Food Cooperatives (Co-ops) are non-profit business owned by their members. Anyone can shop there, but by becoming a member you receive discounts on purchases and decision making abilities for the future of the business. Find your local food cooperative through Co-op Directory Service.
Farmer’s Markets are locally run, seasonal, open-air markets that showcase local growers. Farmer’s markets build community through the one-on-one interaction and education of the producer and the consumer. You can find local farmer’s markets through the USDA Marketing Service.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a subscription to fresh fruits and vegetables. On the same day every week you stop by a shop to pick up your box of fresh produce. You can choose the box size based on budget and cooking habits and you dollars go straight the the family farm — no middleman. The Robyn Van En Center for CSA Resources can direct you to the CSA nearest to you.
You can also grow some, most or all of your own food at your home depending on your space. My mom mentioned in the comments below (Thanks mom!) that Grow Lawns, Not Food is a great resource for people wishing to pursue this option. For the urban agriculturalist (or anyone really, I’m not exclusive), check out my small-space gardening posts: Hanging Gutter Part 1 (my adventure in Home Depot), Hanging Gutter Part 2 (when I actually put the thing together), and Small Space Gardening on a Budget (where I show you my apartment balcony garden).
And now the moment of truth… Where does your preferred supermarket land on the Better World Shopper rating scale?
I’m not really sure what happened, but sadly the writing for this post got lost and replaced with Your Best Butt forward. All my genius is just gone forever. *le sigh*
Anyway, The printable workout is still here and that’s probably what you came here for anyway. Sooooooooooo… enjoy:
Download the printable version here.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms by sides, bend your knees slowly until your upper legs are parallel with the floor and raise arms straight to shoulder level in front of you. Your chest should be slightly forward and your knees should not extend past your toes. Immediately return to standing with arms by side.
Take a big step forward with your left foot, bend your knees and lower your body until both legs form 90-degree angles. Push off with your left foot and stand back up. Do reps, and then repeat on other leg.
Starting standing with feet together and arms straight by your sides. Jump up and spread your arms and legs wide as you land. Jump up again to return to center.
About a week ago I read an article about consumerism. Basically the author was suggesting that in order to be sustainable you should stop purchasing. Anything. My response was that this is an unreasonable request. This may work for some people but it isn’t practical for the majority. Being green should be an attractive lifestyle to all kinds of people. I think the more important lesson for the green fashionista is to be conscience of WHAT your buying and both the quality and quantity of these items.
In Greening Your Home Part 1 (Big Purchases) and Part 2 (Decorating), I talk about learning your personal style for home decor instead of following every current trend. The same applies to your wardrobe and this an info guide for all you fashionistas because green is the new black (I always love in books or movies when a character says the title).
Make the cuts
The first step to a greener wardrobe is to edit it. I don’t mean get rid of everything that isn’t made of sustainable materials and replace these things with pieces that are more environmentally-friendly. That would be the opposite of green. What I mean is find the time to look at every article of clothing that you own. Assign a spot on the floor for YES and a spot for NO.
Look at each item carefully; try them on if you need to. Ask yourself:
- Do I like this item?
- Does it look good on me?
- Do I feel good while wearing this?
- Is it torn or have holes?
- Can I fix it within a week?
- Do I dread seeing someone while wearing this?
- Do I only wear it on laundry day?
If you haven’t worn something for a year, you probably don’t need it anymore. Some things (a wedding or bridesmaids dress, Halloween costumes, etc.) are exceptions. If you can’t think of a good reason to keep something, don’t! Put it in the NO pile and get it out of your life.
I don’t believe in MAYBE piles. I always end up keeping everything and it’s just a waste of time trying to kid yourself. Give yourself clear guidelines about what stays and what goes, and stick to them. Purging your wardrobe is oddly satisfying.
Develop a Shopping Strategy
If you have a game plan before you leave your house about how you plan to shop you will be more likely to keep on the righteous path toward green (I’m officially a green crusader after that statement). Here are a few tips that might help you on your journey.
- Always keep at least one reusable shopping bag by your front door or in your car. There is so much information about the evils of both plastic and paper bags but this post has neither the time nor the space so in the meantime you’ll have to take my word for it. When asked if you want paper or plastic always respond by saying, “Neither, I care about my planet and have brought my own bag.” Or something along those lines.
- Make a list and stick to it. If you make a list you will (hopefully) only include the things you really need, and you will resist the urge to go shopping out of boredom. Think of all the things you can do with your time now. Also, by sticking to the list you won’t be caught off guard by those strategically placed items that stores are so good at setting up in order to encourage you to buy on impulse.
- Opt for organic or sustainable materials. As I mentioned in Greening Your Home Part 2, conventional cotton farming practices are the most pesticide-intensive in the world. Organic cotton is more expensive but is also more luxurious and used in better quality clothing, which means you won’t have to buy clothes as often. Silk, cashmere, and wool are all sustainable materials, linen and hemp come from plants that even when not grown organically require very little treatment with pesticides.
- Consider vintage, consignment and thrifting. Now I could go on for pages about how much fun I find thrift stores (and I probably will at some point, so look forward to that). But the main thing you should take away from this post today is that clothes that are used require no additional energy to manufacture, the energy is already used and gone. Also you won’t be wearing the same outfit as a hundred other people.
|Some e-cards is really helping me tell a story today. They just really understand my life.|
- Don’t get suckered by sales. Sales are a clever ploy to get you to buy things you don’t need. There is a sale for every occasion: Father’s Day, Labor Day, After-Christmas, 4th of July. I know when you look at that label for 75% off it can be tempting, but just because you can get a brand-new shower head that also brews coffee for $19.95 doesn’t mean you need it.
- Treat everyone you come across with respect. No matter where you are shopping or what you are buying, everyone deserves to be treated with dignity, respect and friendliness. If you are unhappy about a policy or product, the people you come in contact with are not to blame.
Where to Buy
Now is the time I give you a list of the places you should be making purchases from. This list comes from A Better World Handbook and is ranked based on five factors: Human Rights, The Environment, Animal Protection, Community Involvement and Social Justice. They also have a Shopping Guide.
- A Companies – are social and environmental leaders
- B Companies – tend to be mainstream companies taking social/environmental responsibility seriously
- C Companies – have either mixed social and environmental records or insufficient data to rank them
- D Companies – engage in practices that have significant negative impact on people and the planet
- F Companies – have the worst social and environmental records
My parents were vegetarian throughout my childhood and during my teen years they had added white meat (birds) back into their diet. Considering I was dependent on them very much for food my diet mimicked theirs. Therefore, when I started becoming interested in cooking, I watched my mom to learn from her by example. This meant I never really learned how to cook red meat (mammals).
A friend of mine has a yak ranch in Fairplay, CO and I bought a pound of ground meat. I had this meat that I didn’t know how to cook but was interested in trying. I scoured Pinterest for yak meat recipes. I found some ideas but in the end I used the recipes to teach me how to cook the meat properly and added it to a chili. Chili is the best.
To start you need to brown the meat. Yak meat needs to be cooked slowly in order to preserve the flavor. You can also use ground beef or turkey. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the bottom of a large pot. Heat up the oil on medium low and add a pound of meat with one chopped onion.
Cook at a consistent, medium heat until meat is cooked through and onions are translucent.
Drain the liquid from the pan to cut the fat, or leave it in to increase flavor. Add a can of diced tomatoes with liquid.
Drain liquid from three cans of beans. Use some combination of chili beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans etc.
Then add the beans to the pot.
Add a can of tomato sauce, a cup of frozen corn,1 teaspoon paprika, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon oregano, 2 teaspoons garlic powder.
Let the liquid cook out for about 20 minutes. Add salt to taste.
Serve topped with cheese with a side of bread or Fritos.
- 1 lb. of ground meat
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 can of diced tomatoes
- 1 can tomato sauce
- 3 cans of beans (kidney, pinto, black etc.)
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
Brown the meat in the bottom of a large pot in a tablespoon of oil with chopped onions on medium heat. Add diced tomatoes with liquid. Drain beans of liquid then add beans to pot. Add the can of tomato sauce, corn and spices. Simmer on low for 20 minutes. Add salt to taste after cooking (salt makes beans tough, add it later to prevent this). Enjoy🙂
All around the world, many cultures have long viewed light as a symbol of consciousness and self-illumination. In The Origins and Historyof Consciousness, Erich Neumann wrote, “The world begins with the coming of light, opposition between light and darkness has informed the spiritual world of all peoples and molded it into shape.”
The only source of light for most of human history was, of course the sun, and today it remains our primary source of light. The Hindus called the sun Surya and they revered it as both the physical and spiritual heart of our world and the creator of life itself. They called the sun the “eye of the world” (loka chakshus), which was regarded as a pathway to the divine.
One important way many Hindus honored the sun was and is through the asana sequence known as Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutations. Namaskais a Sanskrit word, which can be derived from namas, meaning “to bow to” or “to adore.” The placement of joined-hands touching the heart at the beginning and end of each sequence shows that only the heart can know truth.
Ancient Yogis believed that each person replicates the world around, including “rivers, seas, mountains, fields… stars and planets… the sun and moon” (Shiva Samitha, II. 1-3). Therefore the practice of Sun Salutations allows each person to share their inner sun with the sun which shines down upon them.
There are many variations of Sun Salutations but generally it consists of eight basic postures in a similar order as follows, with alternating inhales and exhales as transitions between poses (Photos courtesy of Yoga Journal dot com):
I wrote this piece during my internship at the Society for Range Management for the SRM Outreach Blog. It’s about the positive and negative aspects of wind power based on an article I read. I thought it would be appropriate for Monday since I usually write about some environmental topic or other on Mondays… Anyway enjoy!🙂
CQ Researcher is a periodical that covers some of the most debated social and political topics of today. I recently read a CQ Researcher article titled, “Wind Power: Is Wind Energy Good for the Environment?” written by David Hosansky, which I found to be especially informative.
|Photo by Maggie Haseman,
National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, CO
In his article Hosansky outlines the history of how humans have harnessed the power of wind. Between 5,500 B.C.E. and 1,400 A.C.E., wind power was first employed in Southeast Asia to sail boats, and in windmills to pump water and grind grain. In the 18th and early 19th century and during the Industrial Revolution, steam began to replace wind, a well established energy source throughout Europe, as a power source. By the late 19th century, however wind reclaimed its early importance when scientists began developing windmills to bring electricity to rural areas, especially in Scotland, the United States, and Denmark. In the 1900s to 1980s most of the U.S. was reliant on nuclear energy and fossil fuels for electricity, farmers however used small windmills for irrigation pump operation. Between 1990 and present day, interest in alternative energy has increased due to rising oil prices, among other factors. Today, Hosansky cites China as the wind power world leader with a wind-energy capacity of 42 gigawatts, followed closely by the U.S. at 40 gigawatts.
A wind turbine works by capturing energy when the wind blows past the blade, there is a “lift” effect causing the blades to turn. As the blades turn, a shaft that is connected to the generator spins, creating electricity.
Wind Turbine Diagram and Parts
Blades: Every turbine usually has either two or three blades.
Rotor: The blades and the hub together are called the rotor.
Pitch: Blades are turned, or pitched, out of the wind to control the rotor speed.
Brake: A disc brake, which can stop the rotor in emergencies.
Low-speed shaft: The rotor turns the low-speed shaft at about 30 to 60 rotations per minute.
Gear box: Gears connect the low-speed shaft to the high-speed shaft and increase speeds from about 30 to 60 rotations per minute (rpm) to 1,000 to 1,800, rpm, the speed required by most generators to produce electricity.
Generator: Produces 60-cycle AC electricity.
Controller: The controller starts up the machine at wind speeds of about 8 to 16 miles per hour (mph) and shuts off the machine at about 55 mph.
Anemometer: Measures the wind speed and transmits wind speed data to the controller.
Wind vane: Measures wind direction and communicates with the yaw drive to orient the turbine properly with respect to the wind.
Nacelle: Contains the gear box, low- and high-speed shafts, generator, controller, and brake.
High-speed shaft: Drives the generator.
Yaw drive: Keeps the rotor on upwind turbines facing into the wind as the wind direction changes.
Yaw motor: Powers the yaw drive.
Tower: Towers are made from tubular steel, concrete, or steel lattice.
Caption Source: Department of Energy
Photo Source: Turbine Zone
Some of the issues I found interesting in Hosansky’s paper include the problem of wind intermittency, the financial constraints involved with wind power, the effect wind energy can have by displacing some emissions and pollutants, concerns about wildlife protection, and the land requirements for a wind farm.
|Photo by Charles Haseman,
Along I-80 near Des Moines, Iowa
Living in Colorado, a relatively windy state, I don’t notice a lack of wind but this article reminded me that not every place in the U.S. or the world receives gusts as powerful as those throughout the Great Plains and the west coast. The article discusses that wind power seems to be a perfect fit for the U.S., according to Hosansky, If wind turbines had the ability to operate at 100% of their capacity, wind power has the potential to supply 16 times the electricity needs of the United States; however wind turbines only generate 25-40% of their capacity due to wind intermittency. Another challenge is that the locations with the most persistent wind tend to be in sparsely populated areas away from major population centers and not necessarily when the demand for energy peaks. As a result, a large network of transmission lines is necessary to deliver the wind energy to the consumers, which could be costly.
I find the financial controversy outlined by Hosansky particularly fascinating. In order to reach the current U.S. goal of generating 20% of energy by wind power, the estimated cost is $200 billion, likely to be burdened onto ratepayers. This money would be used for turbines, improved transmission line capability and other infrastructure. Wind farms can also lower property value by up to 40%. On the other hand, turbines can result in local governments receiving “higher real estate tax revenue” and landowners leasing their land to build towers for $3,000 to $5,000 a year. The renewable energy standard President Obama presented will protect consumers from unstable fuel prices, save money, boost the economy and create green jobs. In addition the price of wind power is less than other renewable-energy sources.
|Photo by Charles Haseman,
Along I-80 near Des Moines, Iowa
To me, Hosansky’s summary of the effect of carbon dioxide and other pollutants, which are often noted as the culprits for climate change, and the way wind power impacts them is enlightening. “The extraction, transport and combustion of… fossil fuels can affect water and air quality, wildlife habitats and the global climate.” Additionally green energy does not necessarily include all renewable energies; cycling fossil fuel plants up and down in response to the intermittent wind is expensive and “can emit excessive pollution” and reduce the “effectiveness of environmental-control equipment.” In order to reduce emissions it would be more efficient to directly address that problem. Conversely, wind energy is a key energy source to reducing air pollution and carbon dioxide and other emissions from coal and natural gas. Besides hydropower, wind energy generates the most amount of electricity compared to every other renewable energy sources, and it is considered safer than nuclear energy. A combination of diverse mixed fuel sources such as wind, solar and a back-up system of newer and more efficient gas-fired plants that can be quickly ramped up or down can reduce emissions significantly because fossil fuel plants won’t be running as often.
|Photo by Charles Haseman,
Along I-80 near Des Moines, Iowa
Possibly the most popular argument against wind power that I have heard is about the detrimental effects it can have on wildlife, particularly birds and bats; Hosansky explains this captivating argument. Thousands of birds, including rare raptors such as golden eagles and burrowing owls have been killed by the blades of wind mills, and others have been electrocuted by wind-farm power lines. Additionally, in one year 2,000 bats may have been killed by a single wind farm. However, others suggest that wind farms can be placed far from migratory paths and “major populations of birds and bats” where such effects are less likely. Experts say that many reports of wildlife death were made prior to technological advances; modern wind mills are taller and kill far fewer animals. One report stated that turbines are low on the list of reasons why birds and bats die; pesticides, attacks by domestic and feral cats and collisions with windows kill much greater number of birds.
|Photo by Maggie Haseman,
National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, CO
Another interesting argument discussed by Hosansky concerns land requirements. “Wind farms require far more land… than traditional forms of electricity generation”; estimates say “45 times more than nuclear power and several times more than coal and natural gas plants”. Furthermore, the location of wind farms can damage sensitive ecosystems and destroy beautiful landscapes. Alternatively, ”the turbines take up relatively little space and [the] land around” them can still be utilized for other purposes such as farming, ranching and recreation, thus taking up less space than fossil fuel plants overall. Additionally, improvements in technology continue to allow for larger turbines, meaning fewer are necessary to generate the same amount of electricity. Moreover, between smog and a windmill, one person stated they’d take the windmill.
This article was eye-opening to me and really gave some insight into benefits of and current issues with wind power. I now believe I have formed an educated opinion around wind energy and based on the issues discussed above I personally support wind power. It seems that the issues with it can be solved and, in my opinion, the issues, when they are compared to the benefits, are minor. I enjoyed reading the story-like writing and the political perspective on wind energy. If you would like to read this article too, here is the citation:
Hosansky, D. (2011, April 1). Wind Power: Is wind power good for the environment?. CQ Researcher, 21, 289-312.
My mom had some leftover buttermilk from another recipe, which I find is often the case considering it comes from the store in large quantities, so we searched for a way to use it. We hoped that what we found would be a cake, because we love cake.
I found a recipe for a cake, which I altered a little to suit our needs. Mostly this means subbing softened butter for shortening, reducing the sugar content and number of eggs and increasing the buttermilk content. It also means adding dried cherries and miniature chocolate chips because, let’s face it, nothing can taste bad when it has cherries and chocolate in it.
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup softened butter
- 3 eggs
- 2 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 3/4 cup buttermilk
- *add-ins to your desired concentration optional*
Beat sugar, butter, vanilla and eggs together with spoon or mixer. Mix flour, salt and baking soda with a wire whisk in a separate bowl. Add to creamed mixture. Add buttermilk and continue mixing until smooth. Add in cherries, chocolate chips or other mix-ins. Pour into greased, 9×13 cake pan and bake in preheated 325 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes until centers tests done. Let cool and serve from pan.
Yum… Buttermilk cake.
Interestingly, I recently learned how to make butter and buttermilk at home. You can learn this (and many other things, like how-to make soap, shingles and cooking in a wood oven) if you come to the free Summer Heritage Event tomorrow evening at 5:30-7pm at Walker Ranch, just west of Boulder. But I’ll enlighten you here in case you can’t attend this event.
It’s so unbelievably easy, and delicious you will be surprised you haven’t been doing it yourself for ages. Take a pint of whipping cream, pour it in a mason jar (you can do it in batches if your jar isn’t large enough). Be sure the lid is on tightly, then shake the jar up and down to the beat of “Stayin’ Alive” by Bee Gees.
|Photo from I’d Eat It|
Side note: This is also an excellent arm workout, probably where the shake-a-weight idea came from.
The whipping cream will start getting really thick and you won’t feel it moving around much. If you opened the jar now, you would have whipped cream, but keep shaking with that steady beat. Eventually (between ten and 30 minutes) the side of the jar, which were coated, will become clear. The butter will form a solid mass in the center of the jar and the liquid you see is buttermilk.
Add two ice cube to the jar to solidify the butter and separate the liquid from it. You can then pour off the buttermilk, collect and store it in a airtight container.
You are now a certified 19th century prairie wife (Not meant to be sexist but that’s the way it was in those days).
How do you use up leftover ingredients?