- good book and a tire swing -

- history at the picnic table -

- my new energy efficient dryer -

- colorful sarongs blowing in the breeze -

Simple things make me happy...

I have a dentist appointment in an hour, but i'll post more tomorrow. I'm bracing for bad news in the tooth department. Two wisdom teeth must go and a molar next to one. I'll be happy to be free of chronic sinusitis and to be able to chew properly would be heaven.

In the meantime, I found some interesting links that you may all draw something from.


"Thoughts Are Things and Words Have Power"

That's a phrase that our Priestess says, and the ring of truth is sometimes louder than bombs!

Bear reads this here blog.. Keeps him up on things i'm certain. He mentioned the last post and my desire to have one of those push blade mowers. Yep, I would. I think they are awesome! Little Bear mentions that the neighbors who moved from the house directly behind us left one in their backyard.

Holy cow batman! Really? Well, go get it boy! And so he climbed the fence (no one lives there at the moment) and he lifted it so Bear could grab it and drag it over.

- It's a Craftsman too! -

It cuts! It really... really cuts! There are some minor adjustments that Bear is hopeful he can fix, but i'm proud that we may have free-cycled a tool that would only be tossed, ending up in the landfill. It still has life, and I hope we can use it. *happy earth-lovin' dance*


Sewing, Cussing, and Eco Related Chit Chat

I can't sew to save my life. Possibly hand sew, but that's only because I would have more control. Machines and I are not compatible, BFF's, or occasional lunch mates. For all intents and purposes, we barely tolerate each other... but I managed to put together the 2 aprons. Cussing, sighs, and grunts accompanied the process of course. I'm just thrilled you can't see any major blemishes.. and if you can - keep it to yourselves. ;-)

- Teenager wanted a basic with front pocket and trim -

- I decided to get a bit fancier and do two fabrics -

- Twall pocket -

Little Bear is mending our gate (found loose nails that need to be hammered in), Teenager is reading, and after sewing and putting up laundry, i'm ready for a nap. Yeah, i'm a dreamer.

So again, Lisa over at The Tardy Homemaker posed a question that made me think of change.

Bear and I have made some simple changes over time that we feel pretty good about. Basic stuff such as cloth bags for groceries, riding Bike to work, recycling, buying only organic, organic fair trade body products, etc.. but there is so many more possibilities of course.

New thoughts:

Clothes line for times of good weather
A push / blade mower (no fuel but elbow grease)
Diva Cup (i'm SO ready for one!)
Hand washing dishes (I do a lot of this already - but make it permanent)
No more papertowels! ( I stopped buying paper plates a few years ago, why not the towels)
Walking and riding the bikes more for transportation

So many different things we can do to change. So many thoughts running through my head!

Comment some more ideas for me to consider. I would love it!

Time for some tea and a good day dream about that nap.


Gas Prices Getting You Down?

Well they are getting us down, that's for sure. But there are solutions my friends. Solutions for those who live in (or close to) the city anyhow.

We own a little PT Cruiser. It's not bad on the gas mileage... oh say around 32- 34 mpg. The tank is 12 gallons and is costing over $40+ to completely fill. That's outrageous! Bear rides a motorcycle and had the nice sticker shock of $17 to fill the tank yesterday. I want to say it's a 5 gallon tank.. give or take.

His solution this morning? Rode his personal bicycle to work! Show them honey.. I back you 100%! I just wish I had the stamina. I really do. I will try and that's all I can promise. I just hate feeling like my heart is going to explode with these blasted inclines and hills! Nonetheless, we live roughly 5 miles from Bear's work and he called me the minute he got there (he was still breathing heavy) and it took him 30 minutes. Pretty darn good!

Bear has been checking online for a very long time for one of these beauties:

He found it on Craigslist for a really good price and snagged it up on Saturday. We went for a quicky ride of 1 mile. I thought I was dying. Literally. You know when you're not sure the next inhale you try and take it going to work or fail? Yeah, that kind of pain. I survived but I felt like a wuss afterwards. I, too, need to try and build my stamina. I have no problem walking several miles, but the cardio explosive kind of stuff makes me hurt thinking about it.

But isn't she a beauty?

We walk to the grocery store when we need a couple of things, backpacks in tow, and I always feel good about it. The library is 1 mile away. Again, backpack is my friend. I envy the folks at Earth Home Garden who are car free, mountain living, bike riding, earth-loving dwellers who have lessened their impact in many way. We just couldn't be car free until Bear and I are alone. To get to that level of living would be a dream come true. Anything is doable. I just have to do it.

I think I have some aprons to make. ;)


Monday Madness

Why did I forget the sunscreen yesterday? I keep asking myself without a definitive answer, and so this morning.. Teenager and I are crispy fried chics! We spent the day at the Mile High Flea Market down the road and lacked the usual protective provisions what one with half a brain might actually remember to pack.*sigh* My morning shower lasted maybe 3 minutes (yeah, I know it's actually a good thing) instead of my typical 5 and shampooing my hair felt like a thousand tiny needles in my scalp, but life will go on.

I became inspired by Lisa over at The Tardy Homemaker to make our own aprons. I was bitching about ending up covered in flour and tiny bits of dough balls and low and behold Lisa posted about an apron swap she was a part of. I was sewing a bag the other day and consequently broke my very last needle, so my crispy teenager and I hopped in the car and went to purchase some at the place hell bent on world domination (only because it was the closest) and we found a few cutesy fabrics on the dollar shelf to play around with. I'll let ya'll know when we complete this wee project.

*Teenager chose the small flower print to the left and I liked the one with the gingham and flora!*

So after my short shower, I treated myself to some left over bread and tea.

*Mmmmm.. Yummy goodness!*

*Fried Oatmeal cakes for the kiddos! (recipe below)*

*Maple syrup is a staple in this house... Just look at how it glistens in the sun light. ;)*

This is my own concoction so the measurements aren't set in stone.

2 C quick oats
1 C applesauce (flavored is fine. This morning was blackberry)
1/2 C milk (I use soy)
1 tsp cinnamon
3 T maple syrup or honey
1 ripe mashed banana
raisins optional

Stir mixture together. It should have a moist / wet consistency. Heat skillet on medium heat. Melt butter and spoon a lump of oatmeal into pan spreading it out with the back of your spoon to make small pancakes. Brown, flip, plate, drizzle on syrup and enjoy.

Another variation is:

Heat oven to 375*

Spoon onto buttered cookie sheet like cookies. Bake 10 minutes! Cookies for breakfast.


Turning Off the T.V. Challenge

We're not huge watchers of the boob tube like other folks we know, but we do have a handful of things we like to watch (besides typical educational shows) such as Ghost Hunters, King of Queens, Everybody Loves Raymond, and my all time biggest addiction - Judge Judy! Don't ask me why... Maybe it's because she's crass and cranky, or because there are so many cases where I swear you can hear the banjos playing in the background and they are sadly entertaining.

When the TV comes on, it's usually not until 1pm when the first round of JJ comes on (she is on again at 4pm - blasted!) Little Bear and I also enjoy Deadliest Catch, but the point of this rant is that it's all had me thinking lately about the amount of time wasted in front of the tube.
There are a few great sites around that talk about the TV and all it DOESN'T have to offer.

Kill Your Television

Trash Your TV

Ten Financial Reasons to Turn Off Your Television - and Ten Things to Replace it With

And there are many more out there.. but the first link is full of enough articles to keep you busy for a long time.

So when I came across the challenge of turning off the "time waster", I jumped at it. I put it on the calendar, told Bear about it, and we both agreed it was a good idea. The kids will fuss but I think they'll be OK.

My brother doesn't own a TV. My nephew (5) is rarely exposed to it. He attends a progressive Montessori school and is a smart little guy with a wild and vivid imagination. I was guilty of putting my kids in front of the television as a pacifier, but at what cost? Did a little of their imagination die every minute they sat there? Would they be bigger and more avid readers? Greater in the physically active department? I don't know. Do I feel guilty? Yes. There was a time when Bear and I didn't have a TV. It was many moons ago but we still remember it like yesterday. I wish we could return to that time once again. Maybe. Who knows.

Personal challenge:

Read out loud to everyone (usually do this with Harry Potter)
Walk 2 extra miles a day (go from 3 to 5)
Play more games
Only use computer to check e-mail and blog progress
Be more in the kitchen with the kids
Finish (or start) projects I have longed to do!

We will begin the challenge on the 21st. How about you?


Get a Loaf of This!

Let me give you a back story if you don't mind..

Our family became vegan in the last few months. Bear and I did the master cleanse to "clean out" the system and get on track with proper eating. Bear lost 20 pounds during the fast and I wavered somewhere in the 10 pound range.

I have been staunch about buying mostly organic for some time but now we are more strict. I buy pretty much 100% organic EVERYTHING and the only time we have to deal with conventional is when we eat out.

We both feel so much better even though we had (have) a love of meat and dairy. It's a price to pay, but well worth it in the end.

So basically, my quest to find kick-arse recipes is priority! I have fallen head over heels with several sites, books, and You Tube videos that I think we are set in our mission for now.

In my quest, I came across this killer bread recipe:

5 tsp yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 cups hot water
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon salt
3 cups flour
1/3 cup olive oil
3 cups flour

Have ready 3 cups of flour in a large bowl and 3 cups in another.
Put warm water in a bowl with 5 tsp of yeast and the 1/4 of warm water. Set aside and do not stir. Mix the honey and salt with the 2 C of hot water and stir until everything is dissolved. Pour the honey and water mixture over the 3 cups of flour in the large bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon until everything is incorporated. On top of that, pour the olive oil and the yeast mix. Dump the other 3 cups on the top. I use my Kitchen Aid just to get it well mixed. Then I dump it out on a floured counter and kneed a few times. It doesn't call for kneeding, but I do it for a little good measure.

Make it into a large ball and divide in half. Place each half back into the bowls, cover with warm towel, and allow it to rise for 45 minutes. After the first rise is complete, shape them into loaves for pans or just simple rounds on a cookie sheet will do. Make sure they are far enough apart that they won't come together. Let rise for another 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375* and cook loaves for exactly 23 minutes!

Another way to mix it up a bit that we LOVE is:

4 cloves of garlic - chopped (I like a bit more sometimes)
zest of one lemon
3 T of fresh rosemary

Sprinkle this on when you add the oil and the yeast.

It's very simple for kids of any age to help out with. Teenager and Little Bear helped (OK fought) and there is more rising in the oven as I type. I use it as a homeschooling tool. Kids should learn how to cook and understand some of the science behind it, so we talked a lot about measurements and the actions of yeast.

Tonight it will accompany a wonderful Tuscan Bean dish with Italian Sausage. Yummy!

Considering it's snowing at the moment, I think it's befitting. (Yesterday's high was 83 - Sigh.)

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