Monday, December 8, 2008

Meal Planning- Mo' Betta'

I have never, and I mean NEVER been one to eat healthy. I eat once a day, usually way later than is probably good for me, and it's typically in conjunction with snacking on sweets and pastries as well as flooded with cups of coffee. The problem I came across when trying to eat better is that I myself couldn't make a decision about what vegetables I was willing to eat. Who goes from eating like I do to just suddenly eating curried parsnips and spinach soup? No one does because it's crazy and ultimately takes way, way too much effort to think about and more so, to cook. So when you are responsible for not only your health, but that of your family's, what do you do? How do you stay on top of cooking so there's always good food? This has been my greatest struggle as a wife and mother. Luckily, another more experienced wife and mother of 4, that's right, 4, taught me a few things about meal planning.

Meal planning is one of those things that's easier said than done; however, the initial investment and commitment is well worth the rewards you will gain. There was a time (a brief time) when I was keeping up on meal planning: every Monday I would drive a giant lap around Seattle going from Trader Joe's to Costco to Ballard Market, gathering up the items I had put on my list which would inevetibly make all my meals for the coming week. It worked, it really did, until some small insignificant thing threw me off and here I am almost 3 years later starting again. As I said, it does work, which is why I am even willing to venture down that path again. If you do it well, you can truly benefit:

  • More thought about the meals means better food choices and healthier habits.

  • If you stick to what's on your list, and only shop once a week, you will save money.

  • You only buy as much as you need at the moment, avoiding storing up cash in you cupboard (especially if take a little time to go through it, to know what you already have).

  • Less trips to the store means less time and gas spent.

  • Planning allows you to make sure you are eating enough and not too much either.

The biggest reward is that you and your family will be eating healthier, more consistently and there is money to be saved as well.

For starters, we'll keep it simple, and I'll tell you what I am currently doing. We'll get to extra steps at another point.

Through a couple of friends, I have discovered New Roots Organics which is a locally owned and operated organic vegetable delivery company. It took me all of 5 minutes to sign up online, I later received a phone call to confirm details and receive instructions. Seeing as you know my eating habits now, you may wonder why I would ever make such an extreme decision. My son is eating solids and as I think about what kind of eating habits I am passing onto him, I realized it had to start with me. So, that's the reason I made the decision to change, but the method by which I would implement it is the best part. I hate making decisions about what to eat, I don't like healthy vegetables but at the same time, don't like the health problems associated with eating meat, so something needs to be reconciled here. I need to be able to cook lots of vegetables in order to replace the meat we don't eat at our house. By choosing a vegetable delivery service, I don't make any choices as to what vegetables to buy, I just get them, and then get recipes based on that!

I recieve one bin of vegetables every other Tuesday, for $35.00. NRO posts on their website what comes in that bin each weekend beforehand. The Monday before my delivery, like today, I look online and write down each vegetable and fruit I will be getting. I take my list, go to my favorite cookbooks, open it up to the index and look up each vegetable. For example, parsnips. I have never cooked with parsnips before so I didn't know anything about them. I did find a recipe in my 1,000 Vegetarian Recipes book for curried parsnips with lentils. I check out the recipe, it looks good and so I write down the ingredients I don't have. You'll find that some of the recipes will call for other vegetables that you already have in your bin, so you're really using up the whole thing! I like to cross off each vegetable as I find my recipes so that I know it's already been "used". Then I take my list, go to the store and am ready for cooking the next day when my veggies arrive. The only down side is that you get through the fruit pretty quick, so you may want to buy extra at the store or local farmer's market.

That's all there is to it. It provides me with the veggies They provide a wide variety of locally grown organic products that are delivered to your front door and

Friday, November 14, 2008

I love you too

From the Green Daily:

Body-washing: Just pour several drops of it full strength onto washcloth.
House-cleaning (floors, kitchens, sinks): Dilute one part soap into forty parts water for light cleaning, cut it half for heavier duty jobs.
Laundry: Use 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup for one regular load. You can also add a dash of baking soda to the load.
Shampoo: Not recommended for most people, but those with short or curly hair seem to be able to use it according to the company.
Pet washing: Lather it up well, but keep it away from their eyes.
Toothbrushing: Apply a drop or two of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap to a wet toothbrush, brush as normal.

Dr. Bronner's version:

Always dilute for Shave-Shampoo-Massage-Dental Soap-Bath!
Peppermint is nature's own unsurpassed fragrant Deodorant!
A drop is best Mint Toothpaste; brushes Dentures Clean!
A dash in water is the ideal Breath Freshener & Mouth Wash!
Peppermint Oil Soap for Dispensers, Uniforms, Baby, Beach!
Dilute for ideal After Shave, Body Rub, Foot Bath, Douche.
Hot Towel-Massage the entire body, always towards your heart.
Pets, silk, wool & body tingles head to toe - keeps cool!
3 dashes in water rinse most Sprays Off fruit & vegetables!
1/4 oz in qt H2O is Pest Spray! Dash, no rash Diaper-Soap!


For everyday body-washing: Get wet and pour soap full-strength onto hands-washcloth-loofah. Lather up, scrub down, rinse off, and tingle fresh & clean.
For other uses, dilute from one part soap into 40 parts water for light cleaning, to cutting it in half or using it full strength for heavy-duty grease-cutting jobs.
For shampoo, though we now recommend our new Shikakai soaps for this, many people are fond of using it as such. The method of application is to wet hair and scalp very thoroughly, squirt some soap into hands and work into a lather. Wash hair, then rinse well. Afterwards use our new citrus hair rinse and leave-in conditioners as directed.
For the laundry, use 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup for one regular load; adjust as needed depending on hardness of water. I've been told that adding a dash of baking soda makes it even better.
For toothbrushing, apply a drop or two of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap to a wet toothbrush. Brush as you normally would, rinsing accordingly. Be careful about using more than a couple drops of soap, as you might start foaming at the mouth. Many people with sensitive or softer teeth like to use our soap as a toothpaste because it lacks abrasives.

Dr. Bronners: creepy goodness

I find that it's simply too easy to accumulate cleaning products for every little thing in your house. Why does everything need it's own product? It doesn't make sense to have invested so much money into products that sit in a yucky plastic tub under your sink waiting to be used for it's one purpose. As I am committed to making cleaning more efficient around here, I have been thinking about what kind of product it would take to clean my entire house that is as natural and organic as possible, fairly traded, sold in bulk to reduce waste -and get this- actually works!

I typically sit in the aisle at the store looking at all the products available to me and check the backs. I have heard about Dr. Bronner's magic-ness, and was eager to learn more. Learning that Dr. Bronner's is so good you can even wash yourself and your pets with it, I wanted to give it a try. If it's healthy enough for me to put on my body, it's healthy enough to flush down a toilet into our ecosystem. Claiming 18+ uses, I was intrigued but also disappointed seeing as they pack more Confucius onto the bottle than clear cut directions.

So here comes the creepy goodness. Going to their website didn't exactly give me much more direction, but I did enjoy the weird sciencey Dr. Bronner picture. That's the creepy part. The goodness is in it's gentleness to the planet, our bodies and cleaning sprees. My toilet bowl has never been so white and smelled so delicious. Nothing like peppermint to say, I'm clean-and yet not contaminated with chemicals and perfumes. I have used it in the tub, bathroom and kitchen sinks, the floors and probably more I'm forgetting. My baby-puked-all-over-carpet is next (yes, I have carpet, how sad).

As I continue to use the small bottle I purchased as a test drive, I get excited thinking about the giant gallon bottle I will buy next. Not only is it concentrated which allows for more cleaning per packaging, it's in bulk too!

Cleaning can't be easier than squirting a little Bronner's in a bucket of water to clean your whole house or more Ecofriendly than organic+chemical free+fairly traded+concentrated.

Dr. Bronner, I love you.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

simple things like...

switching the laundry out of the washer and into the dryer before it all smells like I live in this house...

Sadly this was not one of my success stories this week and subsequently, our house smells like a rotten trailer out in the woods of the Olympic Peninsula.

Listening to the hum of my hard drive, Alice

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Water and Vinegar! REALLY?

Ok so that is exciting because I use the swifters and they totally streak the floors. So what amount of water and Vinegar do I use?

No more sticky floors

I was recently about to give up on my floors ever being clean, let alone not sticky. It seems that no one who eats or drinks anything is able to keep their beverages from spilling, and the dogs can't seem to pee outside. Then, the dirt from our houseful of shoes makes best friends with that sticky mess under the table, and voila! a sticky black and brown deer track through the dining room, to the bathroom and all the way to the kitchen.

I have tried Murphy's oil soap, which looked great while it was still wet, only to dry to a dull film, re-inviting grime and footprints. Then, I tried the swiffer wet things, which smelled a little too much like cleaner, and achieved the same filmy result.

Finally, after some soul {and google} searching I decided to try the age old method of vinegar & water, on my knees with a washcloth. Lucky for me we have tiny floors, because it works perfectly. The floors are shiny, smooth, and actually seem dirt resistant! It dries really fast, and since I am looking at what I am doing up close, I truly get a clean floor. Amazing.

Here is a long and useful list of uses for vinegar, my new best friend. {and just for good measure, here is another list, full of photographic aids...}

Roasting pumpkin seeds, Alice

Friday, October 17, 2008

Starting over?

Well girl it sounds like you are doing well! Clearing out clutter, opening doors to let the fresh air in and the neighbors are at ease that there are no dead bodies in the house, and returning something that you don't need. Good job! I'm not sure if you were asking me or anyone, but yes I so try to dust at least once a month and vacume under my bed at least every other week. I try I don't keep up the same every month, but I try. Right now I have to clean my room-which means folding and hanging up clothes and taking out the trash. I also will try to clean under the bed OH MY! well I am glad you are blogging again lets keep up the encouragement!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Facts worth Remembering

While reading Angry Chicken, I came across this post and felt it was important to share with you. I am really going to use that lye bit, since our pipes back up all the time.

The last few weeks have been successful at home, I have delivered an entire car-full of donations to the goodwill, and have a new pile started already. I have been able to leave all my doors open all week, which means I haven't been hiding dead bodies in my bedroom, or chihuahua poop in the hall. Ikea caused me a slight misstep, persuading me to purchase a box of dishes for $24.99. The fact that I didn't need them was irrelevant, they just kept telling me they were so simple, and new, and shiny, and easy, and ready to make my life all I ever hoped it would be. It was a trick. The worst part is going to be the return trek to Ikea to get my money back.

In love with this house, Alice

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Brand New Start

*Lady:A well-mannered and considerate woman with high standards of proper behavior.
A woman regarded as proper and virtuous.
A well-behaved young girl.
A woman who is the head of a household.
A woman, especially when spoken of or to in a polite way.
A woman to whom a man is romantically attached.
Informal. A wife.
a woman who is the counterpart of a lord, or the counterpart of a gentleman.
*Mettle: 1 a: vigor and strength of spirit or temperament b: staying quality : stamina 2: quality of temperament or disposition

We are starting over. All my posts said the same thing, 'My house is messy, I can't clean it up', and it started to bug me. So, let's start from scratch. What do you use to clean? How do you handle clutter? Do you ever actually dust? What about under your bed? Here's to putting squalor behind us, and moving on.