Green Cleaning with Help from the Queen of Green

clean

image by mag3737, from Flickr

When I think of the colour green, I think of green cleaning.  I have always liked the idea of using cleaners that are not hazardous to our health and good for the environment.  That being said, I would rather buy a product that I think is a green cleaner than create my own concoction.  There is one product that most of us should have in our cupboards that many consider a miracle cleaner.  That, ladies and gents, is white vinegar.

The Queen of Green writes that vinegar removes 99% of surface bacteria, 80% of germs and 82% of molds.  I don’t know about you but I’m impressed!  Many of you may be familiar with some of the more common uses for vinegar.  Here are some that you may already know about.

1.  To clean and deodorize drain, pour one cup baking soda followed by one cup vinegar.   Wait 5 minutes and then pour hot water down the drain.

2.  To clean your microwave, combine 1/2 cup vinegar with 1/2 cup water in a glass container and bring to a boil.  Wipe inside of the microwave with cloth.

3. To clean cloudy glassware, soak paper towels in full strength vinegar, wrap around the inside and outside of glass, let stand, then rinse clean.

4. To remove odours from a lunchbox, leave a piece a bread soaked in vinegar overnight.

Did you know that you can remove persistent room odours by leaving vinegar in a bowl overnight?

I love picking up these tips.  My favourite use for vinegar is one I haven’t yet tried but would be very interested in finding out if it actually works.  Those of you who have dogs who had an encounter with a skunk know how difficult it is to get rid of that pungent odour.

Apparently, you dilute vinegar with 50% water, rub into your dog’s fur and rinse with warm water.  May need to repeated a couple of times.  Would love to know if this actually works.

You may want to take a look at www.springbreakup.ca and see what other green cleaning advice is available.  It is easier than ever to be green!

Happy spring cleaning,

Laurie

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Go Green with Kale

One of my New Year’s resolutions (although, as you know, I don’t really make them) is to add more diversity to my diet.  I tend to eat the way I do for two reasons: one, I like the taste of a particular food item; or two, it is nutritious.  I’ve never been one to worry if there are too many calories or too much fat.  That being said, I am a creature of habit when it comes to including vegetables in my diet.  Although I do consume the suggested amount of veggies from Canada’s Food Guide, I do tend to eat a lot of the same ones.

Broccoli is always number one in my books.  I eat it every day (along with my ice cream although not at the same time).  Not only do I love the taste of broccoli (served with my roasted garlic hummus), it is one of the most nutritional veggies around.

Kale

photo by Farmanac, from Flickr

My new, fairly frequent addition to my vegetable repertoire is kale.  Kale is a form of cabbage and is high in beta carotene, vit K, lutein, not bad fibre for a green vegetable and reasonable in the calcium department.  It has been credited with lowering cholesterol and possessing a whole host of anti-cancer properties.  Kale freezes well and actually tastes sweeter and has more flavour when it has been frozen.

I wanted to share a couple of recipes with you from a cookbook entitled Cooking Vegetarian (healthy, delicious and easy vegetarian cuisine) by Joseph Forest and Vesanto Melina.

Here are two of my favourite kale recipes:

AFRICAN CHICKPEA STEW

Makes 6 cups enough for 4 servings.

1 tbsp coconut or olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable stock or water
2 cups peeled, diced sweet potatoes or yams
1 cup cooked or canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
½ cup brown rice
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup peanut butter
2 cups thinly sliced kale
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp black pepper
Tamari
Hot chili pepper sauce

Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat.  Add onion and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until translucent.  Add garlic and cook for 3 minutes more.  Add stock, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, rice, and salt; bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes or until rice is cooked.  In a small bowl, blend peanut butter with enough liquid from the stew to make a smooth paste.  Stir this paste into the stew along with kale, lemon juice, pepper, tamari and chili pepper sauce to taste and cook for another 5 minutes.   Adjust the seasonings.

This nutrition-packed stew has a good balance of protein, fat and carbohydrate.

One of the reasons I enjoy this cookbook is the mix and match approach the authors take to putting together a meal.  Under the entrees section of the book, the authors have a section called International Roll-Ups where they provide recipes for six possible fillings based on various cultures.  This recipe includes many of the same ingredients of the first recipe.  The nice thing about this recipe, is that you can make the sauce (keeps for a couple of weeks) separately and your family can add the sauce and other items as they like.  I often poach chicken and add to recipe (did I just say that?) for the boys in the family.

Here’s the recipe for African Style Roll-Ups

1/3 cup cooked brown rice
1/3 cup mashed yam
1/3 cup sliced kale, lightly steamed
¼ cup alfalfa sprouts (yeah new ingredient)
2 tbsp spicy peanut sauce (recipe below)
Dash of hot pepper sauce

Spicy Peanut Sauce

½ cup unsweetened, unsalted peanut butter
½ cup coconut milk
¼ cup chopped ginger
¼ cup tamari or soy sauce
3 tbsp lime juice
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp chili paste
2 gloves garlic

Put all ingredients in food processor or blender for one minute.  Sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks

Give these recipes a try and let me know what you think!  Think green!

Laurie

Slow Easy!

owl crockpot

image by daftgirly, from Flickr

Are you grateful for your slow cooker?

I was out walking in the woods with a friend a week or so ago and began discussing the topic of gratitude.  Somehow we ended up talking about slow cookers.  Aeron is often out at the barn prior to dinner and finds it very convenient to start dinner before she and her daughter Emily leave for the barn.  A warm dinner is ready to eat when they return.  Aeron says that she finds it easier to eat well balanced meals when she is using her slow cooker.  She will be sharing her best slow cooker recipes with us shortly.

Do you remember having a slow cooker or crock-pot in your home when you were growing up?  The modern day slow cooker was developed by a company called Rival Industries using the trademark name Crock-Pot. The Crock-Pot was designed in the early 1970s based on the design of a bean pot called the Beanery.

With the emphasis on conserving energy, slow cookers became popular during the energy crisis.  The slow cookers were also a good choice for the record number of women who re-entered the workforce or began to pursue interests outside the home.

The motto for the Crock-Pot was “cooks all day while the cook’s away.”

I personally do not use my slow cooker to prepare my evening meals on a regular basis.  I do however use it frequently to prepare hot cereals overnight.  Here are two of my favourites:

This first recipe is based on a porridge recipe in The Eat Clean Diet Cookbook.

Crock-Pot Porridge

½ cup cracked wheat or bulgur 
1 ½ cup steel-cut oats

½ cup rye flakes

½ cup brown rice

¼ cup wheat germ7 ½ cups water or combination of liquids (rice milk, soya milk, almond milk)

4 ½ tsp vanilla

It is possible to add any dried fruit or nuts to this recipe.  I serve mine with ice cream!

Preparation:

Place all ingredients in a large crock-pot.  Stir well to combine all ingredients.  Cover.  Set on lowest cooking temperature and cook overnight.

The second recipe is not really a recipe per se.  This one is taken from Cooking Vegetarian.

Hearty Whole-Grain Cereal

Makes 4 cups

1 cup uncooked grain (such as amaranth, barley, brown rice, buckwheat, kamut berries, millet, oat groats, spelt berries, wheat berries or wild rice)

4 cups water

Put grains in slow cooker and cook on low heat for 8-10 hours until the water has been absorbed.

Try the recipe first with 2 or 3 grains.  Later, you can experiment and create your own!  Both recipes can be served cold as a pudding (again especially delicious with ice cream) or refrigerated and reheated as needed.

Do you have a favourite slow cooker recipe or website that you would like to share?  Let us know!

Laurie

New Year’s Resolutions After the Fact

stalled resolutions

Stalled Resolutions by ruffin_ready, from Flickr

As we move into the third week of January, I’m thinking it is time to address the concept of New Year’s Resolutions. New Year’s resolutions were first recorded by the Babylonians about 4000 years ago.  The focus of these resolutions was to ensure the return of farm equipment as the new year coincided with the start of a new farming season.  The New Year was moved from March to January by the Romans who spent their time counting stock from the previous year so that more ambitious goals could be set in the following year.  The Chinese equated New Year’s resolutions with house cleaning, viewing the new year as a time to clean the house from top to bottom.

Modern day resolutions can be defined as “a formal expression of intent” or “commitment to a personal goal.”  Resolutions almost always focus on self-improvement by making changes in habits and lifestyles.

At the end of the Depression, about ¼ of American adults made New Year’s resolutions.  By the start of the 21st century, about 40 per cent made resolutions.  Only about 10 percent of those that make resolutions actually keep them.

I’m personally not a big fan of making New Year’s resolutions.  Any of my “bad habits” that I should change, I am really not that interested in changing.

The problem with most people who make resolutions is that they set goals that are not sustainable.  Let me give you an example.  One of the goals that most people make is to exercise more.  First of all, the goal needs to be tangible.  What does exercise more look like?  The more tangible the goal, the easier it is to attain.  So say your goal is to exercise three times a week.  What kind of exercise will you do?  Often people will choose an exercise that they hear is great to lose weight (running?) or a place to exercise (because apparently the Club has good equipment).  If you don’t like a particular form of exercise, DO NOT DO IT!  If you are not a runner but perhaps you love to dance, then dance!  Don’t join a club because your friend enjoys it.  People are Club exercisers or they are not.  Find out what you like to do, where you like to do it, and set a tangible, measurable, realistic goal.

Same thing for diet!  As most of you know, I love wine, broccoli and ice cream.  I probably consume too much of all three but if that’s my biggest food and drink issue, oh well!

Rather than taking away things from your diet, try to add.  For example, try to add more veggies to your diet (or in my case, variety of vegetables).  Try to drink more water (one glass every time I brush my teeth) and never be hungry (carry nuts with you at all times).

So my external goals are simple:  eat more kale and swiss chard, drink more green tea and add those dead lifts to your weight lifting routine at least three times a week.

How’s that for setting goals?  Internal goals to follow!

Laurie

p.s.  Resolutions are more sustainable if you share!

New Year's Resolution

New Year's Resolution by mikecogh, from Flickr

Your Daily Dose of Inspiration

meditation

photo by HaPe_Gera, from flickr

A number of years ago, a friend sent me an invitation to sign up for inspirational e-mails that would arrive in your inbox on a daily basis.

This daily feel good message, Notes from the Universe, has over 385,000 subscribers in 189 countries.

Here is a selection of some of the e-mails I have received.

Having a dream is more important than having it come true.  Just a little oddity to spin the wheels of your mind.
The Universe

Detours, challenges and crisis are simply covers for miracles that had no way of reaching you.  It’s all good.
The Universe

The light is getting brighter
The path is getting clearer
And you are getting closer
That’s all I am saying
The Universe

If you are interested in receiving these daily e-mails (with no strings attached), check out http://www.tut.com/theclub/

May the forces be with you,

Laurie

Confessions of a Tarot Card Reader Wannabe

Psychic World

Psychic World in Las Vegas, by roadsidepictures, from Flickr

One of my activities on my “to do” list while visiting Sedona was to have some kind of psychic reading.  We had passed a number of centres that offered various types of what I will call psychic experiences.  Once we decided which centre we connected with, we went in to see what was available.   The receptionist indicated which “psychics” were available (not sure that was the term she used and it probably isn’t the correct one) and that our choice of reader should be based on an energy connection.

After making my choice (think I based it on the photo of the individual who I thought most looked like she had psychic powers), I was introduced to “the reader.”   We headed outside the building to an old run down trailer around the back.

Apparently, there are two types of tarot card readings.  Question readings involve addressing a specific question the seeker may have.  The second type of reading is known as an open reading and would address larger aspects of your life.  Given that I wasn’t really looking for a tarot card reading per se, I didn’t really have a specific question I wanted to have addressed so I opted for an open reading.

In a traditional tarot card reading, you have a seeker (the individual who is looking for answers and/or guidance) and the reader (someone who knows how to interpret the cards).  The seeker shuffles the deck and hands the deck back to the reader who lays the cards out in a pattern called a spread.  Each position in the spread has meaning and each card has meaning.

Although I was initially sceptical about the whole process, I was intrigued by some of the information the reader shared with me.  (Okay can’t go into too much detail here but how did she know I followed Chinese medicine?)

For some strange reason, I am interested in finding out more about tarot cards. What I have learned is that one of the differences between a psychic and a tarot card reader is that a psychic often channels spirits whereas a tarot card reader can interpret what is happening in your life and provide guidance on what to do about it.

0 The Fool

image by n0cturbulous, from Flickr

According to The Hermetic Order of Golden Dawn, “the most powerful sources of information come from within, the Tarot aids in coming in contact with one’s higher self.”  In Confessions of a Tarot Reader, Practical Advice from This Realm and Beyond, Jane Stern writes that “the tarot deck is the best method for seeking answers from beyond our limited realm of thought.” Basically, tarot cards are a way of exploring our unconscious by revealing hidden truths and are a powerful tool for both personal growth and insight.  A number of practitioners compared tarot card readings to techniques like psychotherapy and meditation.

It doesn’t really require a special gift to read tarot cards.  However, it is important that you choose a deck that you feel comfortable with and inspires.

I happened to pick up a tarot card deck at the Weekend in the Woods event at Hockley Resort a number of weeks ago.  I haven’t given the deck a second glance but now plan to learn more about the tarot readings and about myself.

Who knows, I may be a famous tarot card reader one day.  Stay tuned!

Laurie

take a crack at this, please.

image by mrs_eyepatch, from Flickr

Robin Hood meets Cruella de Vil (minus the fur)

Elizabeth’s last post, which included a smart pair of green shoes, inspired me to share with you a rather impulsive purchase.  I am not an impulsive shopper by nature.  In fact, I rarely buy items that are not on sale.  I think I tend to purchase items on sale because they are easier to justify.  The best way to justify your purchases (especially to your significant other) is to communicate in shopping speak (just thought of the term, kind of catchy, eh?).

In other words, you should refer to your purchases not by how much you spent but by how much you saved.

Another strategy I often use with the significant other when asked about a certain piece of clothing that I am wearing:  Oh this, I bought this last year at the end of the season on sale.  Don’t you remember?!?

I now follow the philosophy if you love it, buy it.  You are worth it (although I didn’t buy that frilly polka dot bathing suit in Florida:  would I ever wear it?…$150 for how much material!).

This brings me to my current dilemma.  About one month ago, I purchased a pair of knee high dark green (forest green) suede boots, pictured below.  I love them!  I paid full price (which I will not share with you just in case in gets back to the significant other) and I have absolutely no idea what to wear them with!

Photo courtesy of Shoe Kat Shoo

This brings me to the main topic of my post.  How do you figure out what to wear and how best to bring it all together.

I must admit that Elizabeth has graciously shared a number of helpful websites on figuring out your body type and how to put your outfits together.

One of the first websites/blogs that Elizabeth suggested is You Look Fab run by fashion stylist Angie, from Seattle.

Some of her most helpful blog posts refer to how to identify your body type and how to dress to flatter that type (link goes to a listing of posts on that topic).

The other blog The Vivienne Files shares ideas on how to create and accessorize a wardrobe.  I know I have too many clothes in my wardrobe.  Some I have had for many many years but for some reason, just can’t part with them.  I tend to wear the same things with the same other things over and over again.   Perhaps we can get together as a group and work on sorting out our current wardrobe and figuring out where to go from here.  What do you think?

In the interim, I will admire my green Robin Hood boots and hope that I will be inspired to create an outfit to wear them with.  Any ideas?

Laurie