Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Zen Habits

I love this website http://zenhabits.net/. I can sooooo relate to his post on "The Minimalists Guide to Simple Housework". I too can only thrive in an uncluttered, clean house......and loved the tips - which I pretty much have already incorporated into our lives anyways. So hop on over and check out her 'zen habits'. We could all use a little zen.....

There is more to life than increasing its speed. - Gandhi

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Carrot Cookies

These drop cookies have an old-fashioned taste. The difference between these and sugar cookies is the carrots, which give the cookies colourful eye appeal and vitamin A. Its another good way to add extra veggies into a child's diet. Which seems to be the craze right now - disguising veggies into foods. I'm all for pureeing veggies into soups/sauces/cookies etc. as an extra punch to a child's diet. But I'm not for doing this exclusively. I think children need to learn to eat their vegetables and discover which veggies they like and don't like. Us mommies won't always be around them to 'disguise' vegetables into their foods. They need to learn to eat them!!
Here is a recipe that I veganized. It is adapted from the cookbook "Better Baby Food" by Daina Kalnins and Joanne Saab. It is a Canadian Cookbook made for The Hospital For Sick Children. I've sent a batch of these now and again to my son's kindergarden class. The teacher mentions how these 'carrot' cookies always raise a stir amongst his peers. ha ha But the end result is they always get eaten!
1/2 cup vegan margarine
1 cup packed brown sugar
egg substitute to equal one egg. (I use flax meal)
1 cup shredded carrots (about 2 medium)
1 1/2 cups white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400 F. With an electric mixer, cream together marg with sugar until light and fluffy. beat in egg substitute and carrots. In another bowl, combine flours , spices, and baking powder. Gradually stir into creamed mixture, blending well after each addition. Drop cookies onto baking sheets, press down with fork. Bake for 15 minutes.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Soy yarn

A yarn made from soy? You betcha. Think about it. Cotton, linen, and flax are vegetable fibers, and they work beautifully in knitted fabrics. So why not try it with an even more abundant crop, soy?
Although it sounds new and revolutionary, the concept of turning soy fiber into wearable clothing has been with us for years. In fact, on South West Trading Company's Web site you'll find a picture of Henry Ford wearing a Soy Silk suit as far back as the 1940s.
Soy Silk is an environmentally friendly fiber made from tofu manufacturing waste. Soy protein is liquefied and then extruded into long, continuous fibers that are then cut and processed like any other spinning fiber.
Soy Silk Phoenix yarn has a knitted tube composition that lies flat like a piece of linguini. It is available in undyed form, which is a supersoft shade of ivory, as well as several dyed forms, all of which have a somewhat rougher hand as a result of the dying process.
When my mother was shopping for yarn she came across some soy yarn and couldn't help but think of me and decided to knit the hat above for my birthday! I'm very pleased with the softness of this hat and the colours! Thank you mommy dearest!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Vegan Cooking/Lifestyle Class

I attended my first cooking class! And it was vegan to boot! I was shocked to see such a class offered here in our city so I took advantage of it. This city doesn't even have one vegetarian restaurant sadly enough. This class was offered at an Independent Grocer - they have a variety of classes offered throughout the year.
I was too shy to take any photos during the evening - but here is the menu we eat that night:

Appetizer - bean dip and black olive tapenade with tofu chips. I've never had any of these items before - very good!

Lentil soup - I've made various lentil soups over the years - but this one will replace all of those! You know what the secret ingredient is??? Minced apricots! It gave the soup a sweetness that made it delicious.

Mixed bean salad over greens - this was your run of the mill type bean salad. Loved it!

Entree - Mango & "Cream Cheese" Quesadillas: These were very good too. I've never considered putting mango into quesadillas but I will definately try it again. Also, I've never tried a soy cream cheese and it was surprisingly good.

Dessert: Chocolate banana mousse: I'm not a fan of banana anything - so I would probably leave out the banana another time. But I loved the consistency of this mousse. Some puddings with tofu taste gritty and/or too much like the soy. This one had none of those problems.

So, all in all, I had a very nice evening! I've never attended any sort of vegan function like this before so I hope to see more of them offered in this city. If anyone would like the recipes for the above mentioned courses, I'd be happy to post them for you.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Clutter Control

I've been busying downsizing our household things - things that we don't use - stuff that could probably make someone else happy. I've sent bags of stuff to various charitable organizations. It feels empowering getting rid of stuff. The saying 'less is more' is definately true!

For next Christmas I'm definately putting a cap on things we buy our kids. It is only mid January and alot of their christmas presents have been forgotten about already. So you know what I did - I packed up what I could and returned a few things to the stores. They didn't play with a couple of presents and I still had the original box/receipts - so why wouldn't I return them? I'm hanging on to the money until I decide what they really might need/want. I'm slowly learning that the less things that these kids have, the more enthusiastic they are about them. When they are given too many choices in what to play with - they end up playing with none of the stuff. OR, everything gets tossed around the room for us mommies to clean up. LOL

I'm really enjoying the 'minimalistic' look/feel to our house now. What do the rest of you do to keep the clutter at bay in your homes?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

My first Vegan wallet!!!

For Christmas - my hubbie gave me this Matt & Nat wallet!! It's awesome! My last wallet was falling apart and as things disengrate I am replacing them with more earth friendly/animal friendly items. In a local store downtown they were selling vegan wallets made by Matt and Nat. http://www.mattandnat.com/ which is based in Montreal Quebec.
I should have taken this photo the other way - but if you look at the top right hand corner you will see an inscription. It states:
"choose life choose positivity
choose the golden rule
choose to be at peace with
yourself choos salvation
scegliete di fate una differenza
choose to make a difference
choisissez de faire une difference
choose to be different choose to
be a rebel choose to be funky
choose to be yourself choose
to create a fashion statement"
Gotta love products like this one! Thank you hubbie!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

New Year - Fresh Start

Hey - hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season! We did - I'll be posting another day on some of the eco gifts I received!

Every year over the holidays I 'spring clean' my house. Obviously it is no where near spring here in Northern Ontario but I like to start out every year in an organized & clean house. So far we've been living in small quarters so it has never been a huge ordeal - about one or two days worth. I clean out closets, drawers - you name it. The basement is always the biggest task. Most stuff goes to goodwill but some does end up in the landfill. For the CLEAN part I use good ol' fashioned vinegar and baking soda. What you see above is my staples. The spray bottle is half vinegar/half water with a few drops of tea tree oil. I use that as my all purpose cleaner. Currently for dishes I am using Ecover - it is nice but in the past I have used a canadian brand Nature Clean that I will likely go back to using when the Ecover is finished. For my floors I use hot water with a big douse of vinegar and lavender essential oil. Baking soda with a bit of Ecover is used to scour my sinks and tub.

For our bathroom I use Nature Clean Toliet cleaner. It seems to work well enough but with any all natural cleaner it seems I have to clean the toliet more often then not. I was using Method as my all purpose bathroom cleaner but when it was finished I just filled up the bottle with the half vinegar/half water with essential oil concoction. The tub gets cleaned with the above mentioned baking soda/dish soap paste.

There you have it - a clean house with no toxic chemicals or fumes lingering around! This keeps our indoor air quality clean and most importantly I am not flushing down toxic waste into our precious waterways!