Monday, December 12, 2011

Control vs Care

I read this post today by blogger Dan Pearce ... amazing, moving post: I’m Christian, unless you’re gay.

It hit really close to home for me, not because of the 'gay' thing, the post wasn't about being gay, and it wasn't about being Christian, it was about being human, and good, and kind, despite our differences. I loved it. And it really made me think of when my son and I were going through family counseling, and when I finally understood something our counselor kept saying: it doesn't matter what happened, it doesn't matter who was right or wrong, what matters is that we acknowledge and value the feelings the other person has surrounding the issue at hand, and let the rest go. It was one of those light bulb on moments. Seriously ah-freaking-ha. And wow, it's amazing the difference it has made not only in my relationship with my son, but in his choices - he no longer has a need to rebel because he's being heard, and he's being respected. He actually seeks out my counsel now, and he listens ... because I am listening and valuing him. It's pretty cool stuff.

It took a while for me to learn because I didn't grow up that way. Negative reinforcement was the name of the game in my upbringing. Everyone made everyone's issues everyone's business, and everyone had an opinion that everyone needed to hear. Boundaries are not to be respected in my family.

Generally, everyone picks on one person at a time. The 'pickee' changes, depending on which person in the family is currently having a rough time or handling something in a way that is not family-approved, whether they know anything about the issue(s) at hand or not. Since the last 'pickee' has gotten the majority of her shit straightened out, and since I've been having a bit of a rough time the past few years, I have become the new 'pickee'.

You see, I have problems. My son has problems. My boyfriend isn't perfect, so he has problems. In the grand scheme of things, I think our problems are no better than anyone else's, and they could be a lot worse. I am thankful for my blessings, that's for sure. I have learned through experience that my family sucks at solving problems, so I don't go to them for that kind of help. Where I get tripped up is when I occasionaly reach out to them for moral support. I don't know why I do this anymore, as I nearly always end up feeling like I'm the shit they just stepped in. It must be some left over, intrisic belief that they will actually be supportive rather than judgmental, that they will actually extend a hand to give me a hug rather than tell me how wrong, messed up, or my personal favorites, that I haven't 'dealt with my stuff' and 'need to be willing to do the work' - though no one seems to be able to offer me an example of what their version of these things looks like, nor give credit for any 'work' I've already done, because apparently I'll know I'm doing the work when I do it and they approve of it. Yes, very helpful, not. And it's always fun when they jump into an issue (read: all issues) to which they haven't been invited and about which they know nothing, because, well, because apparently blood relatives have an open invitation to comment on and sit in judgment upon any and all issues related to and/or concerning another blood relative. This open invitation comes in the form of 'caring' about that person.

I beg to differ.

I just wish they 'cared' enough to put away their pre-conceived ideas and actually listen to what I have to say, to what I'm feeling, and to respect that I'm a grown-up capable of making my own choices and handling my own shit. Naming all my faults and being pissed I'm not handling it their way doesn't contribute to the solution I haven't asked for. You see, I don't need their help, but it would be nice to have their compassion. I don't require them to agree with me, I don't require them to come up with a solution, I just wish they could put aside their conditions, and really just care.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Green oven cleaning success

So the oven turned out great! It took a little elbow grease, but considering I had no toxic fumes to inhale, wasn't bad at all. The oven could use another cleaning to really make it sparkle, but I'm not going to worry about that. The baking soda, salt & water mixture worked great! And it solved the problem I was having with over-browning.

Now for another green clean tip: get out tough stains, including those underarm yellow stains that just never go away no matter how much bleach you use. Check it out here at OnegoodthingbyJillee. Pretty neat stuff, and looks to be color safe as well. I can't wait to try it!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Happy T-day and oven cleaning

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving. I made the whole dinner this year, with the exception of the candied yams, and it turned out fantastic! Turkey, stuffing, garlic smashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauces, rolls, an apple pie and two pumpkin pies. My ex-husband wanted my yam recipe, so I told him if he made them he could use my recipe, and he did a good job, so he was forgiven for forgetting the green beans. I made everything from scratch, from the bread that went into the stuffing, to the rolls, gravy, pies, etc. My son apparently loved the gravy. There was probably 4 cups of it, and he practically sucked it through a straw! My feet and back were aching by the end of the day, but it was worth it. I love cooking for a group of people. It was a nice day.

The only problem was that my oven was browning everything really, really quickly. Thankfully I have a habit of checking things, and that saved my pies from burning on the top long before they were done. I had to cover the turkey within an hour of putting it in the oven! to keep the top from getting burned. My guess is that the oven is not heating evenly because of baked on whatever that happens over the course of 11 years of cooking.

Apparently it's beyond time to clean the oven. I hate cleaning the oven. I've lived in my house for going on 11 years, and have never cleaned the oven. Bad, I know. Oven cleaner is vile stuff, and I hate it.

I did some looking around on line for an environmentally friendly way of cleaning the oven and found a recipe I'm testing as I type this. 1 cup each salt, baking soda and water. Make into a paste and apply to all surfaces inside the oven. Turn the oven on to 500 degrees for one hour. Allow to cool, then wipe out with soapy water.

In another hour I'll know how it works :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Craft / Exercise Room ... complete!


Spent a few hours on my Craft/Exercise Room last night, and it's all nice and clean, and smells good too! This is also the home of my Persian kitty, Ashlee. She doesn't like the other animals in the house, so we moved her upstairs to the Craft Room so she could have her own space. She is much happier.

My environment has a direct impact on my ability to work and/or create. When it gets disorganized, I just can't concentrate. It distracts me, and I get all bogged down. Now that my entire second floor is clean, I feel like I can create. AND I can make use of the lovely treadmill again. I have made use of it, quite a bit, just not recently ... because the dreaded Looming Room was in direct sight, which affected the state of the Craft Room. Now it's all clean, sparkly and magickal!

And with the addition of lavender and bergamot essential oils to the mop water, it all smells soooo nice!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Return of the Magick Room

Ever have something you know you need to do, but it's a huge endeavor, so you put it off? And you put it off and you put it off, and then it becomes this huge thing hanging over your head? By then, it just seems impossible to accomplish, so you keep putting it off, and it becomes this huge weight hanging over your head.

This is what my son's old room was like for me. It was a HUGE mess, and I'm talking seriously gross. I won't go into details of parent vs child and all that stuff, because it's just plain more complicated than a simple "Go clean your room!" So for nearly a year, his room has been upstairs, unused, laying in wait, it's closed door looming at me each time I passed it. I don't know how the kid could stand to sleep in there, it was seriously disgusting. It got so I was avoiding the Looming Door, and because the Looming Door opened off my Craft Room, I began avoiding my Craft Room. Then my Craft Room started getting messy with me just throwing things in there rather than taking the time to organize, thus adding weight to that yoke already weighing heavily around my neck.

On top of the grossness, though, was the fact that the room was in an unusable state. Real estate is expensive, and this room was occuping nearly $9000 worth of square footage. Add the Craft Room, and that's nearly $40,000 of unused real estate! The room had been my Magick Room several years before I moved my son into it, and I really wanted to restore it to that - though it will also do double duty as second guest room. I had to get some motivation, so I scheduled a party. When it comes to my friends and parties, people stay the night. And not just any party, we're talking Samhain. I just needed to get started.

So, I called up my good friend Esther, and asked her to please, please, please help. Then my good friend Shawn volunteered, and the three of us got in there this past Saturday and started digging it out. They helped me get about half the trash out before we were all disgusted enough to need a drink and a good hand washing. That was the end of that for Saturday, but I could actually see the floor of the room! Progress! I woke up on Sunday totally motivated. I ate breakfast, had some coffee, cracked a window in the room to let out all the icky nasties, and went to town. It took me another three hours to get the rest of the trash out of the room, for a total count of 10 full bags of trash (tall kitchen bags). I found a few dishes and silverware I didn't know I was missing, and an assload of laundry, which included a ton of Rick's and my socks Luke had 'borrowed'. The sheets nearly stood on their own when I took them off the bed. Then it was another three hours of dusting, vacuuming and scrubbing, all the while my washer was doing overtime on bedding. I finished at about 6pm last night ... and here it is, my Magick Room!

Magick Room

Once I got the room done, I realized the weight of that room was a lot more than I thought. I noticed how much it really affected the rest of my house. I had avoided doing the deep cleaning, and the main floor is starting to show it. With my Magick Room restored, the weight has been lifted, and I am motivated to continue getting my house clean from top to bottom. It's hard to describe just what a great feeling it is. At the same time, I experienced a feeling of loss. My little boy is all grown up. There's no "Luke's Room" anymore. So, I left the window cracked to 'air it out' so to speak, and tonight I will smudge and bless it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Plum sauce, a success story

A full service, local foods co-op, Main Market Co-op, opened in our city about a year ago, from which my lovey, Rick, obtained a membership. We had hardly used it, as he kept going to the deli there to buy lunches of salads, etc., most of which were food/herb combinations I just couldn't palate, so he gave up and we stopped going there ... until this summer when we discovered their local produce boxes. $30 for a large box, $15 for a small box. Check out the list at the link above, and you'll see how truly great a deal that really is. The two of us go through a large box in about a week to 10 days.

One of the fun things with the produce boxes is getting vegetables and fruit with which I haven't cooked, either at all or not much, so I get to explore new recipes and ideas. As I've said before, I've only recently discovered how much I like to cook, and I'm enjoying experimenting, especially when the dish comes out really, really yummy, as was the case last night! We had received about a half pound of plums in our produce box, and I had some pork chops in the freezer. I thought, hmmm ... I'm forever seeing pork paired with fruit sauces, but I've never tried them. So I googled 'pork chop plum sauce', found a recipe for pork chops with ginger plum sauce, and naturally proceeded to change it to suit my own tastes and the ingredients I had available. It turned out FANTASTIC! I'm talking lick-your-plate-clean good.


Here's what I did:

1/2 to 3/4 pound plums
1 1/2 large garlic clove
4 pork chops (each about 1 inch thick)
vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp peeled & finely grated fresh ginger root
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp red-wine vinegrar
2 tbsp honey, plus 4 more or to suit your taste
1/2 tsp tarragon
1 tbsp all purpose flour

Quarter and pit plums and mince garlic. Combine soy sauce, red wine vinegar honey and tarragon in a bowl, set aside. Pat pork chops dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. In a 12-inch heavy skillet heat a few turns of the pan of oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and brown pork chops about 2 minutes on each side, transfer to a plate. Add a turn of oil, then add the garlic and gingerroot to skillet and sauté (don't worry about the bits stuck to the bottom - leave them there!), stirring constantly, 30 seconds. Stir in soy sauce, vinegar, honey, and tarragon mixture and bring to a simmer (it'll probably boil as soon as it hits the pan). Return pork chops to skillet and arrange plums around them. Simmer mixture, covered, over moderately low heat 50 minutes, or until meat is very tender. Transfer chops to a platter. Sauce will be at a simmer, sprinkle flour into sauce, about a half tablespoon at a time while stirring constantly until you reach the desired consistency (for me it was about 1 1/2 tbsp). Pour sauce over chops and garnish with scallion and plum (optional).

This turned out sooooooo yummy ... tonight I'm going to make Turkey Leek Burgers with Apples and Sage Mayo.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Giveaway at Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom

Mrs. B over at Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom is doing a great giveway right now. She has set up a drawing for Raven Grimassi's book "Old World Witchcraft". To quote the product description on Amazon:
Old World Witchdraft reveals rarely discussed topics such as the concept of Shadow as the organic memory of the earth. Readers will learn rooted techniques that possess power because these ways have always been connected to it. They will learn methods of interfacing with the ancestral current and with the organic memory of the earth. Through these they can connect with the timeless arts and learn methods of empowerment directly from the ancient source.

Totally new information about familiar tools is presented. For example, the mortar and pestle is a tool for spell casting, a device that creates interfacing with plant spirits and with shadow, and a focal point for veneration of the Plant Kingdom. Grimassi also presents the art of using plant ashes for magical sigil work.

If you haven't visited Mrs. B's blog before, you should correct that right now! Mrs. B writes offers a lot of excellent and practical information on her blog, delivered with a voice of reason touched with magick. Whether you're single, married, single with kids, married with kids, or whatever, you'll find some useful information over at Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom.

To put your name in her cauldron for the drawing, enter in her comments, and do it before noon EST on October 11th!


Monday, September 26, 2011

Magickal Mabon

Autumn is here. It seemed to come a bit early this year, what with the late arrival of summer-like weather here in the Inland Northwest, but we welcomed it all the same. I celebrated Mabon with several of my very close friends. It was a gorgeous day with sunny, clear blue skies and temperatures in the upper 80s. We had sooooo much fun!

We watched the sun set while drinking fruits of the harvest, such as cider, beer and wine (a very dangerous rum cocktail may have made it's way into the party as well), and eating dishes prepared from vegetables we'd grown in our gardens. Once the sun had set, we sat around the fire and wrote down things we'd like to change in our lives in the coming year. We tossed our desires into the magickal fire, which glowed green and blue, and followed up with Circle time in the Magickal Teepee. I wish I had a picture of that, but my phone takes crappy pictures at best during the day. What a fantastic night with my Goddess sisters!

Blessed Mabon everyone!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Unexpected uses for coffee grounds

A pile of coffee grounds goes into my compost bowl almost daily (except work days ... I'm too lazy to bring them home), because I know they're good for compost and the garden. I knew of other uses for them, such as an ant deterrent, or that they can be used to scour dishes, to dye paper, etc. I just haven't had any reason to try using them for those purposes, and scouring dishes with coffee grounds seems like more mess than it's worth. Balled up aluminum foil, k? Thanks!

Today I came across some pretty cool tips for using coffee grounds around the house that seem pretty practical. Here are a few I didn't know that I may have to try:

♦ As a deodorizer, whether it's in your refrigerator, car, ash tray, etc.
♦ Disguise scratches in darker wood furniture. Okay, I knew this one, but it was a good reminder.
♦ Use as a non-toxic bug repellant. Use a solution of coffee to spray your plants. The smell is too strong for most bugs. You’ll need to re-apply after a rain. I wonder if this will deter earwigs?
♦ Use coffee grounds to keep cats from digging and pooping in your garden. Not something I have trouble with, but it's a good tip!
♦ Use coffee grounds to deter slugs and snails. Both the smell and the abrasive surface help keep these pests out of the garden. I do have trouble with monster slugs that are big enough to melt your head, so I'm checking this out pronto.
♦ Keep your garden worms healthy. It's a food source and digestive aid for them. We loves us some worms in the garden!
♦ Brunettes can use it as a rinse to add softness, shine and highlights. My biggest concern, besides the mess, is what my hair smells like after the coffee treatment, but might have to give this one a go.

I obtained these hints from an article on Care2, so check that out for more tips.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Drama, drama, drama

The last few weeks have been focused more on real life drama than creating, unfortunately. I received the news of my son's impending fatherhood, which would be great if he and his girlfriend were 25 rather than 17, if they were finished with both high school and college, and if at least one of them had a self-supporting job - issues which are just the tip of the iceberg of hardships these two are facing. They were just plain irresponsible, and have not a clue about what they are truly facing. My son is insistent upon attending the school of hard knocks, no matter how hard we try to convince him of the alternatives.

Goddess, grant me the ability to give the best possible guidance, and the wisdom to get involved when I need to get involved and to stand back when I need to stand back.

Other than that, I've mostly just been working on a crochet project. I'm pretty new to crochet, and have never followed a pattern ... so getting to the 8th row and having to rip out the whole thing back to the 2nd row because I did the 3rd row wrong was a learning experience. I've had to put it down for a few days due to a dog bite ... from a dog who has had no socialization or training. This is not the fault of the dog, it's the fault of the owners. Unfortunately, down the road the dog will probably bite someone else, and then the dog will end up paying the ultimate price for his owners' irresponsibility. It's sickening. The bite was just shy of needing a stitch, but thanks to the wonderful antisceptic and antibiotic healing powers of honey, it's healing up quite nicely.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tip o'the Day - Reuse that aluminum foil!

I do my best to be as environmentally sound as possible, which includes re-using things. Where I live, the city does not recycle aluminum foil. I detest throwing out anything aluminum because aluminum is so highly recyclable, but at least I can get a few more uses out of foil I've used by balling it up and using it to scrub food off glass pans and bowls—they work just as well as steel scrubs. So I'm reusing and saving a few cents. Happy day!

Comforting tomato soup ... quick and easy on a work day

The weather turned a bit cooler here in the Inland Northwest this week, ie 70s instead of upper 80s to lower 90s. It's supposed to warm back up by the weekend, but the nights are getting cooler, and there is a definite chill in the air. Autumn is definitely on its way, and with the cooler temperature, soup sounded perfect for dinner last night.

I love soup. I do not love store-bought processed nasty canned flavorless full of sodium soup. I love making soup from scratch. It's hearty, easy and quick, all things I require for meals on work days. And what soup sounds perfect on a cool day? Tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches (on homemade bread).

My cooking style is like Rachael Ray's: I don't really measure, recipes are jumping off places to coming up with my own version, and I change things up a lot to suit the ingredients I have on hand, sometimes substituting this, leaving out that, or adding this. I generally always have the ingredients for tomato soup, and here's how I make it:

3-4 turns of the pan of vegetable or olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3-4 stalks celery, preferrably the inner portion of the bunch with all the leaves (leaves have so much flavor!), chopped
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
4 14 oz cans cut up/stewed tomatoes
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1 Bay leaf
Palmful dried basil
1/3 palmful dried oregano
Pinch dried sage
4 cups chicken broth
3 - 4 tsps sugar or honey (the absolute key to any tomato based soup/sauce!)
1 Pint heavy whipping cream
Salt to taste

Over medium heat, heat oil in a stock pot or Dutch oven, add onion, celery and garlic. Sautee until tender, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, paste, Bay leaf, basil, oregano, sage, and broth. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes. At this point, I like to use a stick blender to smooth the soup out a bit, but you could leave it as-is if you prefer. If you want to smooth it out a bit, do that just before adding the sugar, heavy whipping cream and salt, if desired, then serve.

Makes approximately 8 large bowls. I can never tell, Rick eats it so fast I lose track of how many bowls!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Lovely summer weekend

What a nice weekend, spent one day at a friends' house swimming in her pool. It was a gorgeous day, not a cloud in the super blue skies, and 90 degrees outside. These are the summer days I love to remember.

No, the pool is not dirty, it just needs to be painted.

The rest of the weekend I spent working on the wrap I'm crocheting (which is taking forever), started making a pendant using magazine paper, cooking, and baking bread using my new Breadman 2700. I liked making bread with my Kitchen Aid mixer, but I LOVE making bread with my bread machine!
This thing is awesome! I was able to make a 2 lb loaf of bread (equivalent to 2 loaves) yesterday, while at the same time cooking an entire turkey dinner complete with apple stuffing (using homemade bread), garlic-smashed potatoes, roasted acorn squash & turkey gravy.

I have learned the trick of pausing it just before the 3rd rise to remove the paddle and shape and score the loaf, which makes it nice and pretty when it's all done. Excuse the crappy picture, I just could not get away from the light glaring through my kitchen windows, and my phone camera sucks.

All in all, a very nice weekend.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

10 Things I Love

I love to browse Dianne Sylvan's blog from time to time. She's funny, deep, and real, and I just love that. I also love her posts on things she loves, so I'm taking a page out of her book, so to speak.

1. My house
From the moment I walked into it when I was looking to buy, I knew it was mine. There's just something about it. It's not perfect, there are a million things I could do to it, the least of which is a new kitchen, but it's all mine, and I love it.

2. Coffee
Black coffee. Keep the milk, sugar and syrups out of it. Just good black coffee, preferably fair trade and roasted locally. I like 4 Seasons Coffee (to make at home/work), a local coffee house which also happens to reside in my mother-in-law's building downtown.

3. My birthday quilt
This heirloom piece was handmade especially for me last year by my best friend Esther, and it is beautiful.

4. My T-Mobile MyTouch 3G phone
It was a Christmas gift from my lovey a few years ago. This has been a fantastic phone I use for much more than just a phone. It's never far from my side.

5. My 2001 New Beetle TDI, Bella Bug
I named her before Twilight ever existed, so there. I've had her since 2002. She's very comfy to drive, has heated seats, and gets 43 mpg highway. Fantastic car!

6. Autumn
The crispness in the air, the back to school feeling, the sweaters and hats and warmer clothes. Leaves turning red and gold, picking pumpkins, Halloween, and cozy days by the fire (which in my case is a candelabra in the fireplace because I need to have my chimney repaired). I love switching from light summer meals to warm comfort foods like clam chowder and pumpkin soup, or toasted cheese sandwiches and homemade tomato soup.

7. Making soup
Could you tell? I love thick, yummy soups. They're so easy, and usually cheap, to make.

8. IJournal app by
What I love the most about this app is the #gratitude tag. It's good to be thankful for our blessings, and to get into the daily habit of giving thanks. It also integrates well with the Catch Notes app, which I love for taking picture notes, etc. The apps can be accessed both on your phone or via internet.

9. My great-great-grandmother Laura's wedding ring
Blue topaz surrounded by seed pearls in a white gold setting. My paternal grandmother gave this heirloom to me when I was 13. It was her mother's mother's ring, which makes it very, very special to me.

10. Gyros from The West Wing
I love Mediterranean food, and I especially love gyros, but The White House is the only restaurant around here that makes them well, and it is unfortunately located about 30 miles away. But this summer they opened another location just a few miles from my house! More gyros for me!

Monday, August 22, 2011

My new year manifesting

My birthday was Sunday, and I had so many people celebrating with me. My family had a barbeque for me at the lake on Saturday (my request), and my friends threw me a big party that night. It was truly fantastic, I am so blessed with such wonderful people in my life. I can't wait to use the breadmaker several of my friends gave me!

I have a really good feeling about the upcoming year. The past several years have been difficult, to say the least, but this year ... well, I feel a positive change happening. This is going to be a good year for me in all respects: physically, spiritually and financially.

One thing I wanted to do was to start my new year out feeling good, ie., not hungover from imbibing too much at my party, and I was absolutely successful in that. It was great! Other party attendees were feeling a bit less great than me, it was a very good party...

I also spent some time dreaming about things I would like to manifest. Things like a new stove, and not just any new stove, I want my dream stove, which looks something like this:

It will fit perfectly in my 1937 home, which mostly likely housed a similar stove at one point. I currently have the average size range, with a little shelving unit next to it to take up the extra space. I love, love, love these vintage stoves!

And to go with my lovely vintage range, I would like a whole new kitchen that harkens back to 1930s style. The picture below is the type of kitchen I would love to have, except with a different color scheme. I'm not a fan of white anything in the kitchen, so maybe a butter yellow or sage green or even red! You see, I plan on winning the lottery.

I want a creative year, because creativity makes me feel good. I love the feeling I have when I've completed a project. This also means I want an organized year, because organization helps me be more creative. Yes, I am one of those people who needs a clean desk in order to work. Organization is freedom to me.

Speaking of organization, I also want a real, bona fide laundry room. My laundry room consists of a washer and dryer against a wall in my basement. I want an aesthetically pleasing laundry room offering organization and convenience. It won't have windows or anything, but it could have a sink, countertop and cabinetry a la the picture below:

I want to finally figure out a color I would like to paint my living, dining and hallway. It has been 10 years since I painted these rooms, so they are starting to need it.

And last but not least, I want to install a patio, a raised bed vegetable garden, and a perennial garden along the sidewalk in my front yard.

These things may not all come in the next year, but they will come! Blessed be.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Some nice changes

I've been keeping busy this summer, and I've changed some things up in my lifestyle. First of all, I gave up wine several weeks ago. I drink far too much of it, and my consumption of it is standing in the way of a lot of things, not the least of which is weight loss. And I haven't really missed it. I've allowed myself some in social settings, such as when Rick's mom was over - I had a glass with her. But I'm not keeping it in the house, and I'm not spending money on it (that'll save $20/week!).

Since giving up wine, I've re-discovered my motivation to get some exercise on a nearly daily basis. It makes me feel good :) I sleep better and wake up earlier, so it's just easier to get up in the morning.

Another change is that I've begun making bread rather than buying it. Rick and I like good quality bread, and buying it is expensive, with decent 100% whole wheat bread costing nearly $5/loaf. I decided that since bread is easy to make, I could save us $10/week making it. Well, a little over $8/week considering the cost of ingredients. I've found that I enjoy making bread, and seeing those finished golden loaves come out of the oven gives me a really nice sense of accomplishment.

And I've found my muse again, which I think has a lot to do with removing the wine from my household. I've started a crochet project, a pretty wrap which thus far looks like a pretty squiggle, and I've just been inundated with ideas for other projects, which I will post as I begin them.

I feel fall in the air already, and even had to wear a sweatshirt on my walk this morning. Farmers Almanac predicted the cooler than average summer, and also predicts we should have a slightly warmer than average September. Considering we've had less than six weeks of summer-like weather, I'm not near as ready for autumn as I usually am by this time, so hoping we have a really nice September.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Green Clean: Declogging a drain

I'm a bit of a treehugger, and I hate using chemicals in my home, especially nasty stuff like Drano or oven cleaner. It's amazing to me all of the simple ways one can keep a home clean without all of those toxic chemicals. It's not that difficult, and it's a hell of a lot easier on the ol' pocketbook. I mean, I'm seriously not much for manual labor, so if I can do it, anyone can.

One thing I deal with a lot in my house are slow drains, especially in the bathroom sink and tub. My house was built in 1937, and plumbing was more narrow back then than it is today, so the pipes tend to clog more easily. I try to maintain them through dumping boiling water down them periodically (yeah, yeah, I've heard of the enzyme stuff, which is all good and well, you just have to do it every damn day, and I always forget), but they still end up running slow after a while.

Like I said before, I abhor toxic chemical cleaners, so here's my recipe for clearing clogged or slow drains:

•Baking soda
•Toilet bowl plunger

I pour baking soda down the drain, top it off with vinegar, and plug the drain (the combo of these two things causes it to foam up, so if the drain is plugged, the pressure helps to push through the clog in the pipe). I repeat this a few times as sometimes this alone will solve the problem. If not, out comes the plunger. I fill the sink or tub with with just enough water (hot preferably) to create pressure, and plunge until the clog breaks up, and voilĂ ! Works like a charm every time!

Monday, June 27, 2011

20 uses for Tea Tree Oil

20 uses for Tea Tree Oil

For Health

1. Use a dab to treat acne.
2. An anti-fungal for treating Athlete's Foot, eczema, various yeast infections, etc.
3. An antiseptic to be used on cuts and burns.
4. An anti-viral: it may lessen the symptoms of colds and flu. Try using a few drops in the bath.
5. Add to a vaporizer to loosen chest congestion.
6. Add a small amount to shampoo to destroy head lice.
7. A small amount added to your bath can help with persistent body odor.
8. Treating sinus infection.
9. For dandruff and dry scalp.
10. In the form of aromatherapy, tea tree oil is used to treat colds, persistent coughs, acne, toothaches, and sunburn.

For Cleaning

11. To create an all-purpose cleaner, combine 2 teaspoons of tea tree oil in 2 cups of water in a spray bottle.
12. Another version would be 14 ounces of water with 1 ounce of Murphy's oil soap and 10 drops of tea tree oil.
13. Mix the above solution with kosher salt to scrub bathtub and bathroom tiles.
14. Add a few drops to dishwasher dispenser, then fill with a green dishwashing soap.
15. A few drops added to each load of laundry leave your clothes smelling cleaner.
16. Control mold with a tea tree oil/water spray.
17. Remove mustiness with that same tea tree oil/water spray.
18. To keep germs at bay, spray it on high chairs, car seats, and other high traffic spots.
19. 15 drops in a quart of water can be an effective insect repellent.
20. Be sure to take some with you when hiking and camping to put directly on insect bites or blisters.

Read more:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Laxy Laxy Friday

Coffee on lazy Friday morning ... all the sweeter as I have Fridays off!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cooking, creativity and spiritually ethical consumer choices

Wow, it's been a long time since I’ve posted. I’ve noticed that I go through phases of hybernation where I’m just not very social, creative or, well, into doing a whole lot of anything outside of drinking wine. Maybe it's my version of seasonal affective disorder, but without the depression. I apparently get more active in the summer, when it’s nice and warm and the sun is shining down through bright blue skies.

Despite that, this past year has blessed me with a new love for cooking. Being on a shoestring budget is a large motivator, especially since both Rick and I like to eat well, and by eating well, I mean a wide variety of whole grain, non-GMO, free-range and organic foods – a bit of a challenge on the aforementioned shoestring budget. For me, this is two-fold. It’s healthier all the way around, removing things like added sugars (corn syrup is terrible for you, unless you believe the corn industry, who is trying to SELL you something … reminds me of the doctors PG&E paid for, and we know how that ended up), preservatives, hormones, etc., and it’s also satisfies my moral and spiritual ethics a little better.

What I mean by moral and spiritual ethics, as it regards to food, is what I’m supporting and enabling with my food choices, ie where does my food come from? How is it grown? What kinds of fertilizers and chemicals are used? How does this food’s production affect the environment? Are the animals I’m eating being treated humanely? Are they being fed the diet nature intended, or the one that is cheap but makes them sick unless they’re shot up with antibiotics? How are the animals processed after slaughter? What chemicals are used in the processing (labels don’t have to disclose those because they’re considered part of a process, not an ingredient – but it still ends up in your food!)? I could go on and on.

There are so many disgusting things that go on behind the scenes, none of which are apparent in the grocery isle where it’s all neatly packaged and displayed. Think about that beef when it was on the cow, standing knee deep in excrement and shoulder to shoulder with hundreds to thousands of other cows. Sound appetizing? Sound healthy? As a consumer, what happens to my food before it reaches my stomach is important to me.

As a spiritual being, the energy inherent in that food, and the energy I am sending out into the world as a result of purchasing and consuming that food is also important to me. That energy can’t be all that great if it comes from a chicken who has never seen the outside of a cage, or one of those cows in the above paragraph, or wheat that’s been grown with toxic fertilizers which cause ground water pollution and into which is Round-Up genetically engineered. How can I say I honor Mother Earth and her inhabitants if I’m financially supporting their destruction?

Pitting all of that against a restrictive budget, what is one do? Well, I became an informed consumer. The more you know, right? In my case, it’s making the choice to learn how to cook meals in a way that is friendly to my time allowance (I work 10 hour days) using affordable ingredients that satisfy our nutritional, moral and spiritual goals. So, certain things I spend money on, certain things I don’t, it depends on the processes behind them. I cut out some things, limit others, and spend the majority on the rest. I’m not perfect, but I balance it out and do my best.

As a result, I’ve become a pretty decent cook! I was always okay, but I am so much better now! And I learned that I actually enjoy cooking, who knew? I enjoy trying new things. I enjoy being able to put a meal on the table that feeds us in all ways, body, mind and spirit. I enjoy being able to cook in a way that promotes sustainable practices. It’s one more way in which I can respect Mother Earth, her inhabitants, and all of her gifts … by appreciating and cherishing them, rather than abusing her abundance.

And don't forget, I am truly lazy, and this doesn't take away from that whatsoever.