Saturday, February 14, 2009

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Another frustrating shopping experience

My youngest daughter has decided to be a vegan. She has been an ovo-lacto vegetarian for 10 years. Anyway, I’m trying to be supportive and keep food on hand that she can quickly eat without much preparation due to her busy school schedule. I’ve been experimenting with new vegan recipes and have been looking for spring roll wrappers, I found them today at a small local grocery store. Unfortunately they are heavily packaged in plastic and are imported from Viet Nam! My reason for going to this store in the first place is they have locally grown fruit and vegetables at a very reasonable price and then I buy the Vietnamese wrappers. I will keep looking for a more local alternative. We have a large Asian community nearby so the next time I’m in that area I will check their stores.

One more impact lowering behavior: start using a French press again for making coffee. No filters to buy or throw away or compost.

I am researching homemade laundry soap recipes as well as shampoo and conditioner.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Hooray for rain! except for the driving part

Yes we do get rain here on occasion. Our poor landscaping really needs it too. We made the mistake of putting in a large lawn in our investment property. It is about 8 miles further inland and up on a hill, the lawn has a southern exposure so gets lots and lots of sun. In other words it needs a lot of water and is not in keeping with my eco-friendly lifestyle.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Lola is just not feeling the love

Homemade cat treats! What a great idea, Greenies cost about a buck an ounce and I figured i could make a pound and a half for about $3 so that comes to about 12 1/2 cents an ounce. Not too shabby! Tuna, cornmeal, flour, canola oil what's not to love? Well these little tidbits were not readily chowed down by my lovely Lola. She gave them a quick lick and then showed a complete lack of interest. Drat, i may need to up the tuna ratio-- I won't give up that easily.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Today I'm thinking about packaging in general not just plastic. I bought a box of pretzels and some cereal hoping that the contents would be in something other than plastic like maybe a waxed paper bag. But no, it was not so, definitely in plastic bags. So then I was thinking how I would have been better off just buying the plastic bag of pretzels in the first place cuz at least then there'd only be one package. In an effort to avoid plastic i ended up with double the packaging definitely not my intention. Then I started thinking of what exactly is the best package as far as the earth's impact. We've all heard how paper bags use way more energy to make than plastic bags, but wildlife aren't choking and dying with hundreds of paper bag bits in their guts. My first choice is no package so that will be my ultimate goal. Second will be reusable packaging like a plastic container of cheese that can be used to store leftovers or as a portable food container for meals away from home. My third choice is the least packaging available if i can't find the product without packaging or in something reusable. Unless i decide to go without.

Looks like i'm going to have to try making my own pretzels.

So I'm out of Sequence

This was supposed to be included in my February 1 post.
I made homemade dog biscuits last month but I didn’t determine the yield so I will make again. Today has been a struggle not to go anywhere! The Super Bowl is on and I’m not a fan of either team so I’m not interested in watching. My husband is still in Brazil so normally I would go to a shopping center and look around but I decided to stay home and do some yard work instead. It was a beautiful day so I didn’t mind at all. Besides tomorrow I have a Starbucks meetup and have to take Michael to school and back so I can combine trips to stay with my plan of conserving energy. Still there were several times I was tempted to jump in the car and had to control my urge!

I am not a consumer of bottled water so that is a vice I don’t have to worry about but I did give up soft drinks partly because of the aluminum cans used.

Animals products today: milk in coffee, butter in homemade World Peace Cookies and a little cheese on top of my tofu chili. Not bad! I should mention that I do not expect to be perfect in my goals so I’m sure there will be occasions when I “fall off the wagon” so to speak.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Plastic, plastic everywhere!

Wow what a different experience it is to go grocery shopping with a conscious mind to avoid plastic. It was bizarre to stand in a far corner of the store and do a 180 degree look around and feel like I was in plastic land! I figure today I used 5 less bags of plastic than I normally would have. 3 produce bags -- I just plopped the food into my cart bare naked. and eliminated 2 plastic shopping bags cuz I brought my handy dandy canvas bag that is extra large and went without a bag for the 2 kinds of flour that I bought. Arrowhead mills organic whole wheat pastry flour on sale for $3.29 for a 5 pound bag! Same price for the organic unbleached all purpose. Woo hooo tasty treats are on the way! I seem to use a lot of exclamation points.

Look no plastic! Packaging made for a compost bin...perfection

Sunday, February 1, 2009

New, sort of, Year's Resolutions

I know it's already a month into the new year but hey I tend to procrastinate a bit. I can't be perfect! I've been reading some really inspirational blogs about people trying to make a difference in this sad world's situation, trying to eliminate plastic from their lives or going whole hog like "No Impact Man" and drastically reducing their carbon footprint. I can't commit to go as far as they have but I am definitely going to try and lead a more conscious earth friendly life. First off I have made a vow to absolutely eliminate my use of plastic shopping bags. I have some old ones in my car I can keep using until they fall apart but otherwise I'm not going to get any new ones. I have plenty of tote bags that i can keep in the car. In the past I'd leave them in the car and then say "oh well next time" but now if I forget I go back to the car and get them. My daughter visited Midway Atoll a few months ago and saw the effects our plastic mania has had on the albatross. The birds' decaying bodies reveal a belly full of plastic!

Here's my list of goals for 2009

1. Eliminate my use of plastic bags
2. Attempt to only purchase products that are minimally packaged
3. Reduce our families use of processed foods which will also reduce amount of packaging
4. Find alternatives for zip lock bags and plastic containers
5. Repair rather than replace whenever possible
6. Eat and prepare healthy whole foods in place of prepared and/or fast food
7. Reduce the amount of animal products I consume
8. Collect gray water for use on outdoor plants
9. Use less electricity by using sunlight when possible and less lighting in general
10. Be more conscious of combining car trips for shopping, errands etc., carpool

So basically follow a reduce, reuse, recycle lifestyle. One of my biggest challenges will be the resistance of other family members to follow in my footsteps. I need to remember that I can't control the decisions they make but I can lead by example. I will try to track my progress and have updates and post ideas I come across. I think we can make a difference if we all try. This morning I was about to turn on a lamp to read a book and realized if I moved into the family room it is nice an sunny and I don't need to turn on a light. I collected the water in a large bowl in the sink when I washed my hands and used that water on a plant in the backyard. Its a glorious day outside so instead of driving to the mall for some window shopping I will go out back and pull some weeds.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pretty flower but oh so fleeting

This Christmas Cactus was a real beauty! A lovely friend of mine gave me this plant for a house re-warming gift when we moved back into our home. Unfortunately shortly after taking this picture the many, many buds simply dried up and fell off. So sad for me, I followed the directions on the little tab on the plant but alas it wasn't meant to be.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Boo hoo feeling sorry for myself...and cookies!

Youngest daughter is on a trip today with another 18 year old girl and I think I'm going to make myself nuts! They are driving 500 miles to visit friends at college, then snowboarding. Of course all i can think about is how many things could go wrong instead of how much fun they will surely have. I guess its the mom thing because I wouldn't have thought twice about doing something similar a her age. Of course Iasked her to check in every few hours and it's been over 2 so i'm anxiously waiting for her to call. She packed a cooler full of vegan goodness so I'm not worried about them having enough to eat that's for sure. I made them some delicious vegan chocolate chip cookies this morning so they took those along also.

Here's that recipe:

Vegan Chocolate chip (more appropriately "chunk") cookies

1/2 cup brown sugar (I was out of this so used 1 T less of raw sugar and added a Tablespoon of molasses)

1/4 granulated sugar

2/3 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup soy milk

1 T cornstarch

2 tsps. vanilla extract ( I use the amazingly delicious vanilla bean paste)

1 and 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 - 1 cup chocolate chips (I didn't have vegan chips so chopped up a chunk of dark chocolate*)
depending on how chocolatey you want your cookies.

I use a stand mixer to beat the oil with the sugars (and molasses in this mornings case), milk and cornstarch for a good 2 minutes to get this mixed really well. Mix in vanilla. I then remove from the mixer and do the rest with a wooden spoon and/or good-sized rubber scraper, one of those spoony shaped ones does the job really well and scrapes down the sides of the bowl as a bonus. Add about 1/2 the flour and the baking soda and salt, mix well and add remaining flour; fold in chocolate chips/chunks.

I use a disher or scooper or whatever you call it size 50. I forgot to count the number of cookies i got but I'm guessing around 30. use a parchment paper lined cookie sheet or not. if you don't use parchment paper you might have to scrape the cookies off the sheet but it will still work ok.

Bake at 350 for 10 - 12 minutes. Baked mine for 12 and they were perfecto! I have checked my oven temperature recently I know its accurate. Let them cool on a wire rack or eat immediately if you like them hot and squishy!

* Whenever I chop a large piece of chocolate I get quite a bit of shavings along with my chunks but i just throw them in too. i think you'll find the different sizes of chocolate chunks are wonderful in these cookies.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Shall we try again?

Good lord it's 2009! I've decided to stop saying "'ll be here before you know it" because it always is and its starting to make me a little crazy. i get these notions in my head that before you know it something I'm looking forward to (or not) will be here and gone and then what? What I'm trying to say in my long winded way is that I am going to try to live each day to its fullest potential and stop lamenting that time is absolutely flying by! There, that is as close as I get to making a New Year's resolution. I am going to try to start blogging more regularly too because I've noticed that I haven't come across many bloggers in my age group. The over 45 age group that is... ok not going to think about the time moving fast thing, not going to do it!

I made some bread from the book "Artisan Bread in five Minutes a Day". I have been thrilled with the results. I can't figure out how to get my pictures in the right place on this blog. I try to drag them around but they don't seem to want to go where I tell them! I solved the problem I think by deleting one of the pictures. Apparently I need more experience with the blog world. These are pictures of the dough in midrise and the finished load of 100% whole wheat sandwich bread from the aforementioned (is this a word?) book. Delicious! My only complaint is the recipes are a little too salty so I reduce the salt called for by about 1/3.