July 29, 2011

Getting back to a healthier, natural, economic and easier way of life

Once upon a time, I was more earth friendly. Once upon a time, I was a better recycler. Once upon a time I ate healthier. Once upon a time I loved to research which foods were "super foods" high in antioxidants and great for cancer fighting. Once upon a time I did my best to buy organic foods and was really succeeding. Once upon a time I was thoroughly intrigued with homesteading and the idea of living off the grid. Once upon a time I exercised. Once upon a time I did beginners yoga.

Well lately, I have found myself slipping further and further away from these important things. What has happened to me? Why have I slipped away from these things that I loved so much...that excited me...that stimulated my every brain cell?!

Well, there are a couple of reasons that may be the culprit...but I need to move past this and get to steppin'! I used to love this stuff...I thrived on this stuff...and it's really good stuff to thrive on!

I remember when I wanted to go organic and provide the healthiest possible food for my family. Of course it was overwhelming...but I didn't let that stop me. I just started out very, very slowly. I started with one or two things at a time and made a vow to continue with those things until I was ready to add another thing. Soon it became fun thinking about the next wonderfully healthy item I would add to my grocery list, or the next organic veggie I would incorporate. It was so easy this way. I was not 100% organic by any means, but let me say this, some organic is better than no organic...and I was completely satisfied with that. My husband was totally on board..he has always been interested in making our lifestyle healthier and being more earth friendly. The kids put up a struggle with choosing cereal that was healthy. I pushed and pushed {gently} but didn't give up. Finally..slowly but surely...they found cereals that they loved and I was happy. I didn't go totally off the deep end either...I actually allowed them one box of junky cereal every once in a while. By junky, I mean Lucky Charms, Apple Jacks, Count Chocula...stuff like that. Don't get me wrong...I really l.o.v.e. these cereals!! They taste delicious and I have fond memories of eating them as a child..and as an adult. I really didn't want to be some kind of extremist and have my kids eating monstrously at a friend's house because they couldn't get it at our house. No, no, no. I was not about that. I was level headed, firm and I followed through...and...once in a while, we ate something "bad".

I still baked. I made everything from scratch and tried to use the right products. My thought was this...making cookies homemade...you know exactly what's in them, and usually for that matter, you're talking about 6 ingredients like flour, sugar, butter, vanilla, egg and so on...and not a single chemical or preservative!!! I liked that...no...I loved that. I used to make chocolate chip cookies that were the best in the world! They were not cheap as I used organic butter, flour, eggs, sugar and dark chocolate chips. I believe everything in that cookie was organic except for the vanilla. I wasn't quite ready for that splurge. I would get the butter on sale and buy the flour in bulk and it wasn't that expensive. The only thing that was expensive was the organic dark chocolate chips. There was a certain store I used to buy them at and I could buy just as much as I needed, no more, no less. There was nothing funky or odd in these cookies, I cannot stand carob, so I would not even go there...they were just plain good.

Well, I have been doing a lot of thinking lately and I have been feeling that I need to slowly, but surely get back into what I used to be all about. I don't know that I can afford those organic dark chocolate chips anymore, but....it's okay!!! That's totally beside the point. I will do what I can with what I have and whatever my budget is. This is not about spending crazy amounts of money at fancy specialty grocery stores. It's about going back to what our grandmothers and grandfathers did years ago. They were the original "green" people. Part of the World War II generation, they lived simply, grew their own food, raised chicken for meat, re-used, re-purposed, and re-cylced because it was what they knew, how to survive, the right thing, ...it was a way of life...it's what you did. They were "green" and didn't even know it.

I have a confession to make. Please don't hold it against me because I am vowing to never do it again. Lately, I have been throwing empty baby food jars in the regular trash! I know! I know! Not every time, but here and there, and it's not right! Why? Because I am getting l.a.z.y.!! Plain and simple. As I mentioned, I am slowly but surely slipping further and further away from everything I was and it is not acceptable. It is time. It is time to get back into diligent recycling, taking the cardboard to the recycling center, getting that yoga mat out {dust it} and putting in that DVD, eat a handful of blueberries because it fights against Alzheimer's, drive to the local dairy weekly for milk...

{that's not all my milk, I used to go once a week with 2 of my friends}

...because it's wholesome and good and hasn't been tainted with preservatives or traveled thousands of miles in a truck from California that burned hundreds of gallons of fossil fuel to get here.

So, I have decided to take it one little step at a time as to not get overwhelmed....pick up one good habit at a time, and slowly but surely get back into it. It's the best for my family, for myself, for the earth. I have already started and have introduced two new things back into my world. I bought Seventh Generation liquid dish soap because it is all natural. I bought it at WalMart for just about $2.80. That's not so bad...I can handle spending a little more to know that I am putting less chemicals down the drain every time I wash the dishes. Also I researched how to make my own dish soap and am thinking of doing that in the future. For now, this is the first step. Slowly...surely.

The second thing I have been thinking about, is taking better care of my skin. I researched sugar scrubs for exfoliation and found how easy and inexpensive it is to make at home. I can use products I already have in my home and it costs pennies! I tried it today and had great results!! I am going to make a post on my sugar exfoliating scrub very soon, so I will leave that recipe for another day. Keep an eye out for it!

No doubt, you will still see plenty of recipes on my blog, as I intend for my family to continue eating! LOL!! I'm still the same me, I haven't gone off the deep end or anything, I'm just getting back to the old me. Just getting back to doing right by my body, my family's bodies, the earth, and living simpler like my forefathers and foremothers. I'll be posting some of my changes and I am looking forward to hearing your response. Til then!

I'll leave you with some photos of my lunch yesterday. It is an old time favorite of mine that I haven't had in a long while. You should try it, you'll love it!

*Organic blue corn with flax seed tortilla chips
*Cubed avocado sprinkled with lime juice and a smidgen of salt and pepper.
{corn chips bought at Target. It's by their signature food brand "Archer Farms"...$2.50 for a huge bag..the same size bag as would be Doritos, so you're really getting your money's worth here, not a skimpy little over priced bag just because it's organic}

Seriously, I can feel my saliva glands working right now just looking at this picture!!! This is one of my favorites!!  If you don't like lime juice, give lemon juice a try.

P.S. Just wanted to mention that I place more importance on eating local than I do eating organic. I have no desire to go to the grocery store and buy organic produce that has been trucked in from California. That is a huge turn-off to me.

July 27, 2011

my journal

I'd like to introduce a new feature on my blog.
It's called "just daily observations".
If you look to the right side of my blog just above my profile pic, you will see the link.

I'll be writing about things other than what's on my blog.
Basically, just daily observations...what's in my head.
Sometimes it may be a note about how beautiful the clouds look...
or how delicious those organic blue corn chips from Target are.

These entries are not meant to be the key to my soul or an in depth look at my personal feelings.

no no no.

I'll save that stuff for my personal journal that I write in most nights before bed.

Hope you enjoy it.

anyone for pizza?

I am tired...more mentally than physically. We've had family staying with us for 11 days. Everyone is gone now...and it's time to get things back to normal. My children's cousin from Maryland came to stay with us for one week. Here she is in the photo below.

It was a great experience for the kids. They had so much fun and no one fought. surprisingly! On the day that their cousin left, my cousin from Florida arrived. I mean down to the minute. There was no time in between to straighten the house or take a nap. All went well though and we had so much fun. My cousin stayed for 4 days and out of 4 days, we had pizza for dinner 3 nights. Don't ask me how that happened. None of us are quite sure. It just kinda happened. But we are talking really good pizza here people! And, each time it was different. The first time was white pizza with lots of veggies ordered from a local place. The second time, we were in down town Pittsburgh, getting hungry, were on foot, and choices were limited. But...this place has really good pizza. So, we had pizza for dinner! LOL! The third night we didn't really have dinner because we were at an amusement park...all day...in 90 degree weather. Yes, we closed the park down. But, we always do that when we go there! We all ate a variety of amusement park food that day! Then the last night he was here...umm, I tried to go Greek, I tried to go Chinese, I tried to go Thai, I tried! I even tried to get calzones...sorta like pizza. Somehow, that Prima Vera pizza with the capers, red onions, green olives, hot peppers, and garlic looked really, really good...and well, that's what we ordered! OMG!! Too funny! It. was. delicious! I even had leftovers for lunch the next day. I have problems! Pizza problems! LOL. Okay, no more pizza for at least a month!

{my sister and my cousin}

July 20, 2011

Collecting Bok Choy Boys

Do you know what Bok Choy Boys are?

Have no clue?

Have a look at these cute little guys! These are what's called Bok Choy Boys. They are made of vinyl and stand about 1 inch high. There are 12 different characters, all a different color. Each Bok Choy Boy dons their own Chinese symbol atop their large bulbous forehead. On the back of their head, a corresponding sign representing: fire, water, sky, peace, luck, power, day, love, moon, night, snow, and star.

My 9 year old son started collecting these little guys at the end of the school year. These adorable little figurines could be found throughout his class...in student's desk, pencil boxes, back packs and pockets. Boys and girls were trading back and forth and talking about the best places to buy them. Soon my son was asking me if we could go to the bowling alley so he could get a "ninja guy"...that's what the kids first called them before they knew what they were.

Bok Choy Boys can only be purchased in bubble gum machines at 50 cents a piece. The machines we frequent are located at The Dollar Tree, Giant Eagle grocery store, the bowling alley, K Mart, and our local Chinese buffet.

My son is still trying to get the moon, and luck {four leaf clover}.

Getting a duplicate in the gum ball machine is a little disapointing...but...you can use these to trade.

I have recently discovered that you can order the complete set of 12 on Amazon.com for $5.00...but that's not quite as fun as trying your luck at various machines around town.

My son and I chose to have our photography session down by the creek. This part of the creek is my favorite spot. It is about 10 degrees cooler down here and is not visible from the road or our house. The rocks are a constant cool temperature since they never see sunlight. I like to sit on the rock bed and kick off my flip flops and revel in this cool sanctuary.

My son decided the Bok Choy Boys should take a swim.

Ok, what's he up to?

Well, apparently Bok Choy Boys can breathe under water...so...it's all good.

It's always fun to see what kids collect. My son also collects rocks, bottle caps, and Beyblades {a battle spinning top toy}. If it was possible, he would also collect craw fish from the creek!

Stay tuned for my next post. I'll be featuring my niece's collection. I'll keep it a secret for now. She has over 1,000 pieces in her collection.

July 17, 2011

Mixed Berry Clafouti {klah*foo*TEE}

Well, I have to tell you that I absolutely love this dessert.

It's French.

I like French.

I like dessert.

It is actually a classic French breakfast dish...or brunch.

But...also, can be a dessert as well.

I just wanted to say...

it is sweet

it is tart

it is dense

it is moist

it is very



easy to make.

You will love it.

You will like it.

You will lovey dovey like it spike it.

Okay, that just makes no sense at all!


Anyhow, I really think you should try this recipe this summer.

All you need is a variety of summer berries...whatever you like.

Some flour, eggs, sugar, cornstarch, milk, melted butter, and powdered sugar.

Oh, and you need a blender.

I don't know why the blender.

But it just might be an important factor.

That's what the recipe said to use.

I questioned it.

I wondered about it.

I stopped wondering and stopped questioning.

I used the blender.

And got amazing results.


1 cup strawberries, washed, hulled and halved
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 pint red raspberries
1 handful blueberries
1 cup milk
3 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. melted butter
powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 or 10 inch pie pan with butter. In a small bowl toss strawberries with cornstarch. Place strawberries, cut side down, in prepared pie pan. Sprinkle raspberries and blueberries all around the strawberries. Blend the remaining ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour over berries. Bake 40 to 45 minutes until golden brown and set in the center. Remove from oven and dust with powdered sugar. Allow to cool and serve warm.

July 10, 2011

What I've been up to

haven't been posting very often.

the reason: lots going on!! :)

housework {yuck, uck, boo, hiss, boring}
still life robot sculptures with the kids
my birthday
shopping 80% off sales
making "to do" lists
drinking iced tea
writing in my journal
learning about art/sketch journals on YouTube
babysitting my 6 month old nephew 3 times a week
watering the garden
the drive in theater
other misc. stuff

i do have photos to share with you...
in no particular order

i"ll be back soon...
having lots of fun!

July 5, 2011

book review: How Starbucks Saved My Life by Michael Gates Gill

Ahhhhhhh...summer reading...I love it!

Here is a book I happened to bump into at The Book Tree {my local book trade store}.

Perusing the store, I happened to look down...and there, laying flat...not sitting upright and shelved properly...I spied the catchy title of a paperback "How Starbucks Saved My Life". Naturally I was drawn to the book, as I love Starbucks coffee. The book was white and trimmed in kelly green...the traditional Starbucks colors. "Hmmm" I thought.."now what could this be about?"

Picking up the book, I read the back and was instantly hooked! I was already holding a copy of Anne Frank's, Diary of a Young Woman, and was basically on my way out of the store...but making one final round to see if I missed anything. I'm so glad I did make that one final round.

To my pleasant surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It was an easy read and the pages just flew by. The book is a true story written by Michael Gates Gill based on the details from his journals at a time when he was down on his luck...cast aside by the younger, up and coming executives of a company he had been so tenaciously loyal to for over 20 years. So loyal in fact, he always put the company and it's interests before his own wife and children...a mistake he realized a little too late.

The book starts at the point where he is fired from his job and has to find his way looking for a new career. He was in his early 50's and all of his experience was in advertising. For a while, he made his way, starting his own consulting firm, but soon found life spiraling out of control. His wife divorced him, business dried up, clients seemed to fade away, no one was calling anymore, money was tight, and even more scarier than that, he recently found out that he had a brain tumor.

Financially and emotionally broke, he found himself sitting in a Starbucks...drinking a latte...in his $2,000 suit, with his expensive leather brief case and his cell phone..still trying to look the part of a successful businessman...when he was suddenly asked a simple question..."would you like a job?" Much to his own surprise he found the word "yes" coming out of his mouth. The woman that asked him the question was a manager of Starbucks. She was conducting interviews that day hoping to find potential employees.

The story goes from there. This man, once a money hungry, pompous, Mr. Powerful Big Shot advertising executive, now had to humble himself...lower himself...and work a real, honest to goodness job! He had completely ran out of options. He was used to being served, and now he was doing the serving. He was used to calling the shots and giving orders, now he would have to do what his boss told him to do...someone 35 years younger than he was! A definite culture shock for him...but soon he becomes aware of what life really means...what's really important.

If you want to find out how this man fairs at his humbling job at Starbucks...at the age of 63...working with people much younger, stronger and quicker than he....and you want to see how a working a good, honest job at $10 an hour changes his life..then pick up a copy of "How Starbucks Changed My Life"...you won't be sorry!

P.S. After reading the book, I recently found out that this story is to become a movie! Tom Hanks is to play the main character of the story. Apparently, he was very interested! I tried to find a release date, but things seem a little unclear as to when it is due to be out. The only thing I can find is that it is "still in development". I hope it all pans out and that we will get to see this on the big screen. I would love to see Tom Hanks play this part! It would be fantastic!