Thursday, July 31, 2008

bagless

Last night Mirelle and I went to our local Vitamin Cottage (a small natural grocery chain based in Colorado). We hadn't been in a while, and in the time we've been away, the store's gone completely bagless. How cool is that? And they're the only Vitamin Cottage store in Colorado that is doing so. Can I just say how great it was to be shopping and notice that every other shopper had reuseable bags with them. (If a customer shows up without a bag, they can purchase a cloth bag for $1, or use a cardboard box, of which the store has plenty.) Hopefully it will be a trend that will spread, motivated by the city of San Francisco.

Since I've been working with emagineGreen, I've felt inspired to explore what else I can do to continue along my ecoJourney (an emagineGreen keyword!). I've always been what I would call 'green' (back in the day, I spent many hours at my high school shuffling fermented recycle bins around). But, like with yoga, there's always more to learn, and a path to continue on.

My plan right now is to figured out a way to use less plastic - namely: produce bags, yogurt containers, mixed greens/salad containers and anything else that can't be recycled. The action I'm taking so far is this: I have some great little mesh produce bags that I'm using, and I reuse all of my bread bags for other things, until they're pretty worn out. Vitamin Cottage will recycle used bulk bags (they package all of their bulk items for you) if you take them back in. I wonder where I could take the plastic bread bags? My solution thus far to the yogurt container dilemma is to buy kefir (basically drinkable yogurt) that comes in reyclable bottles. But ideally I'd like to get back to making my own yogurt. And the salad? Just buying leaf lettuce, not mixed greens packaged in plastic. I realized that a lot of these things take a little more time. With convenience comes packaging. Often not recyclable.



If you haven't checked it out yet, Gorgeously Green is a good book. I have so many library books on my bedside table at the moment that I haven't gotten to it yet - just perused it briefly. This is a fun read to inspire more progress on your path to green (or more green)!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

nalgene with a purpose



Repurpose your old nalgene (you know, the one you shouldn't be using anymore because of BPA leaching). How's that for a brilliant idea - a solar powered cap that fits nicely on the nalgene's top. I think the nalgene co. should start selling these at an ΓΌber-discount, just to make up for all of the BPA they've put into the world.

Monday, July 28, 2008

two fantabulous summer recipes


Whew! Summer is getting hectic around these parts. Suddenly my work load is well, laden with stuff. All of which I'm very very grateful for, but yikes! I think I need another one of me.

I was very good and {mostly} didn't look at blogs last week. Well, maybe just a couple of peeks here and there. But it was helpful to take the week off from posting. I've created a new timesheet to log my client hours as I work, with columns for each client, and one called 'personal.' It'll be my own way of logging all of my hours spent at my desk, scoping out blogs not excluded. I think it'll be quite telling for me.

Summer's humming along at its typical blink-of-an-eye speed. We had some friends over for dinner last night, and thought I'd share some recipes for two things very summer. The zucchini is starting to come in at a mind-boggling pace, so this soup took care of last week's bounty.

chipotle honey butter (for corn)
from sunset magazine, july 2007
combine 2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (chopped up), 1/2 cup melted butter, 1/3 cup mild-flavored honey, such as clover, 1 garlic clove, minced, and 1/2 tsp salt. (You could blend it all up in the blender, but I just mixed it by hand.) Sooo good, especially on the Colorado Olathe sweet corn that's appearing (and quickly disappearing at the markets!)

cream of zucchini soup with fresh basil - serve chilled this time of year!
from munson farms (near us, in Boulder County). Visit them by going here.
Melt 2 Tbs butter in a 4 qt saucepan over Med heat. Add 1/2 cup chopped green onions (including the green tops). Cook 5 mins 'til softened, stirring occasionally. Add 2 lbs chopped zucchini - about 5 medium (I used some yellow squash too, and it added nice flecks of color). Cook about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add 3 cups chicken or veg broth, bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered, 20 mins. Add 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves. Allow to cool slightly.

Puree the soup in a blender, then stir in 1 1/2 cups half and half, salt and pepper. Serve chilled with a garnish of sour cream or plain yogurt and a basil leaf.

Ciao!

Monday, July 21, 2008

blogging hiatus

Need to check out of the blogosphere for a little while - I'm just maxed with work, and need to focus on that. I'm making a pact with myself not to visit any blogs this week either. (Going to be hard, but here goes.)

Here are just a couple of my favorites (visit them for links to more fabulous places to check out in the blogosphere)...

lobotoME
angry chicken
Small Notebook
The Artful Parent

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

weekend away

While Mirelle was gettin' some pool time with cousins and hanging with my parents,



We were out in the backcountry doing this.



It was so nice to get away and unplug for a few days! We spent two nights in the Maroon Bells Wilderness near Snowmass Lake. I'm still trying to catch up on work, so will post more later this week.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

step to the right

of your left hemisphere.

If you haven't heard Jill Bolte Taylor's story yet, I highly recommend carving out 20 mins. Sit back, and be amazed.

She was also featured on NPR, and a short excerpt from her book can be found here.



Listening to this last night with Ross was a good reminder of the importance of regularly engaging my brain's right hemisphere. My meditation practice (very very sparse these days) is an excellent way to do that, even just a little time each day. I'm convinced on the power of meditation - after a four day retreat a few years back, I remember coming back to my life and being so absorbed in whatever I was doing; it was challenging to try to step back into the rapid multitasking pace of my 'normal' life.

Monday, July 7, 2008

crayon aprons and such



Here's Mirelle sporting my old crayon apron I dug up at my parents' house a few months back. I love idea of making some of these as gifts for all of Mirelle's friends (now turning two). Ha! Very small chance that will happen, but I already found a good design on Skip to My Lou's blog. That one's not so much an apron, but a crayon roll. Super cute. Maybe someday I'll get the material and stay up late one night (or get up early one day, more likely) and crank some of these out. Could also just get this on etsy...


I'm also feeling really inspired by Artful Parent's blog to create a little art space for Mirelle. Oh, and hosting an art group!?! Maybe when I'm not working fulltime. Here are her suggestions for the top 10 art supplies for toddlers. I need to search around on craigslist for a good little art table.


We had a fun, busy weekend! Kept Mirelle up 'til 11 on the 4th. She's been making up for it ever since. The garden is growing, and growing, and I'm adding mileage to my long runs (still aiming for either the full or half marathon in September). We're heading out of town later this week for a few nights of backpacking while Mirelle hangs with my folks. She's going to be happy as a clam with them. And we are way, way, waaaay overdue for a backpacking trip. Do I even remember what to pack? (We went on a mini last summer with Mirelle - 1 mile in. I thought it was great, actually, but I was only carrying in Mirelle on my back ... Ross had everything else...!)

I'm hoping to post one more time this week before we head out. Putting together a little cheat sheet for my fridge of my 'go-to' recipes. (Inspired by angry chicken.) I'll post that if I get it done.

Gosh I love summer.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

how to...

get a lot of good things in your toddler at once:

Make these veggie burgers, then add a bit of melted cheese to the top. Worked for us!

1/2 c nuts or seeds
1/2 c cooked beans
1/2 c cooked rice
1/4 c shredded zucchini
1/4 c shredded carrot
1/4 c diced onion
1-2 cloves garlic (optional for the wee ones)
2 tsp spices of your choice
1/2 t sea salt
juice of half a lime

1. place nuts in food processor and process to a powder.
2. add remaining ingredients and pulse several times until mixture is well mixed and just starting to stick together.
3. Shape into patties about 3/4" thick. Grill or cook on skillet with olive oil.

We did black beans, pumpkin seeds, and if I had had it, a little cumin would have been good. I'll add a little chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (chopped up) to our burgers next time (not to Mirelle's though - too spicy.)

An Indian variation could use brown lentils and cashews, plus curry powder. Garnish with yogurt, cilantro, mint.

Thai option could have 1-2 t red or green curry paste and 1/4 c unsweetened shredded coconut.

Lots of options! (From this month's Vitamin Cottage newsletter.)

Now, off to 'gymnastics' with Mirelle. More like tumbling for tots. She's good for about the first 30 minutes - then starts to burn out. Gorgeous cool, overcast, post-rainy morning here today. Did something spontaneous yesterday ... hit the Boulder Farmer's Market for dinner instead of going to the grocery store. One point for me! Hehe. Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

rabbit, rabbit

We remembered this morning when we woke up to say 'rabbit rabbit' before anything else. (Well, Ross remembered, and I followed suit.) Guess it's supposed to provide good luck or something - here's the debrief from wikipedia. Speaking of rabbits, our former indoor cat (now an outdoor hunter) is leaving a lot of dismembered rabbits and mice in the backyard. Argh. Then he comes inside. Yuck. What to do?

So what's in store for July? We're in full-on summer. A few things happening around here:

1. Ross and I are in the second month of our new budget/spending plan. We've done away with credit cards (which we would pay off each month, but paying with a credit card didn't help with the budgeting). Now, we have a set amount in a checking account to be used solely for groceries, gas, and any extras (everything from haircuts to new shoes to date nights to home improvement). We're using a debit card to track that money. Last month we went over by about $400 we're thinking, but the budget's pretty tight, so we may adjust a bit. We'll see how it works. It's definitely been effective in reducing any impulse buying. Oh, and did I mention we've been eating a lot of beans? (see #2)


2. Eating beans, grains, and fresh greens from the garden. Greens are so easy to grow (you just need a little strip of space), and you can keep harvesting them all summer. My favorite are beet greens - I have one row that I thinned (so we can have some beets) - the other row is lush with greens that I'll just continue to harvest (then they grow back). Cool weather greens like bok choy go to seed quickly in the high heat, so they're not ideal. Last night we had crispy kolhrabi greens, yellow eye beans, and butternut squash tortellini (a splurge). Those beans are sooo delicious - creamy like baked potatoes. Mirelle gobbles them up.

3. Finding new ways to reduce our carbon footprint when we hit the road this month and next. This month's Body + Soul magazine has some great tips. A couple of my favorites:
1. Rent a hybrid. We're hoping to head north to Jackson WY and Yellowstone in August. I wonder if renting a hybrid would save us on gas (and definitely wear and tear on our car...?)
2. Pack lightly. A lighter car requires less gas.
3. Park in the shade. Thanks to my dad, I'm already a shade junkie when it comes to parking spots.
4. Camp (not on the B+S list). We'll be pitching a tent. I guess if we splurged, we could look for an eco-friendly hotel here.



Other goals of mine:
4. Make the time to do more spontaneous stuff!
5. Do one crafty project each month. On my list:
-large canvas
-paint old school lockers currently residing in the garage (see how cool these could look inside? BTW, that's someone else's really cool nursery. Photo found on ohdeedoh.)
-budget for and purchase unfinished adirondack chair and toy chest (stain chair, paint chest)

OK, that's it for now.

<< Just re-read post, and it's kinda funny that I wrote 'make the time to do more spontaneous stuff.' Isn't that a bit of an oxymoron? ha ha. >>