Monday, April 30, 2012
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Saturday, April 28, 2012
- Sales of fast food kids' meals dropped 6% in 2011, thanks to parents who are choosing healthier meals or smaller portions.
- Chin implant surgery is on the rise. 71% more "chinplants" were performed in 2011 than the year before.
- The U.S. government has issued a mandate to car manufactures to increase average fuel efficiency of cars to 54.5 mpg by 2025.
- 34% of adults in the United States are obese.
- The average 2 year old child in America gets 41% of his vegetable calories from french fries.
- The European Union requires mandatory labeling on foods containing genetically modified organisms.
- The U.S. government says there is not proof that GMOs are harmful.
- If you don't water your lawn during the summer, it may turn brown but the underground part will survive, allowing the grass to come back when it cools off.
- A single bat can eat up to 1000 mosquitoes in a night. (Anyone see a bathouse in their future?)
- A new study had found that increasing your consumption of carbohydrates also increases your risk of breast cancer.
- Celiac disease, a disease that causes the immune system to attack the small intestine if one ingests gluten, is now 4 times more prevalent than it was 50 years ago.
- Americans average 18 pounds of sugar per person per year, which translates to about 18% of our calories.
- Over 50% of American women begin dying their hair in their youth.
- More than 90% of cancer diagnoses can be attributed to lifestyle or environment.
- A recent study showed that 93% of women talk negatively about the fat on their bodies. A third of those talk about it on a regular basis.
- 25% of groceries purchased in the U.S. are bought at Wal-Mart.
Friday, April 27, 2012
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
|photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net|
Legislation is underway in many areas to require that all foods containing GMOs be clearly labeled. Unfortunately, Monsanto has people in the right places and money in the right pockets, making it difficult to pass labeling laws.
In the meantime, what can you do? Write or call your legislators asking them to take action on labeling and let them know why genetically modified organisms should be better regulated. Buy seed from local farmers or buy seeds marked organic whenever possible. Buy local, pastured beef, chicken, and pork. Patronize brands that are committed to offering non-GMO foods. And, most importantly, share what you know with others! The more the public is educated about GMOs, Monsanto, and companies that sell us GMOs as food, the less they can get away with.
Monday, April 23, 2012
Find out who the local farmers are for starters. If you don't already know, try looking online. My favorite site for this is www.localharvest.org, which is a listing of farmer's markets and family farms, as well as some other sources of local sustainably grown food. This is the same site that I mentioned when I talked about CSAs in a previous post. Joining a CSA is a great way to get to know your local farmer personally by meeting up at a designated time each week to pick up a basket or crate of seasonal produce straight from the field. If you can't commit to a CSA (most require an up-front fee for the whole year), try the local farmer's market. If you go to the farmer's market before the grocery store, you may be surprised how much less you need at the store. If you have a deep freezer, you can buy meat locally and in bulk to save money and support local farms instead of huge corporations that process meat in disgusting conditions and raise the animals in even more shocking conditions. Imagine going to a local farm, purchasing an entire cow that was grass fed as nature intended, and filling the freezer with all that meat. Instead of running to the store to grab something for dinner, you can run to the freezer and choose ribs, ground beef, roast, ribeyes...you get the point!
If you learn how to freeze, can, or dry fruits and veggies to preserve them, you can ask vendors at the farmer's market about the produce they are throwing away. Perhaps they will let you take this overstock in bulk at a discount and even let you get it on a regular basis. They may even give it to you for free! These are items that are less than perfect and won't get picked up on the table at full price. Why let them go to waste? This could be your winter's supply of vegetables! You may never need to buy veggies in aluminum cans again!
Personally, I know how to "put up" many vegetables by blanching and then freezing and this is probably the easiest technique for preserving. I love to stock up on corn, tomatoes, and, my favorite, speckled butter beans. I get the corn from a farm about 20 minutes away. The farmer is friends with my parents and lets them take what they can pick by hand before he harvests the whole crop. I grow the tomatoes myself, and if I have a shortage my parents always grow tomatoes, too. We share if we have an overly abundant crop. The butter beans I buy form a farm that's about an hour away. They sale them to me directly by the bushel at wholesale prices.
I hope to soon be able to start doing some canning. I have done some reading on the processes and my mom does preserves and jams and jellies so she can give me advice, too. Getting started for a beginner can take a little money. I need a pressure cooker and I am currently on the hunt for a used one. I need more jars (I found a few at a local auction for free...people leave what they don't want when buying "lots"...more on that later...may be another blog...hmmm) and lids. I will keep you posted on this upcoming project.
Do you preserve summer produce for winter? What methods do you use? Care to share some canning advice with a beginner? I'd love to hear some comments on this!
Sunday, April 22, 2012
After a little rest, we drove to the head of the walking trail and took a nice walk, enjoying the creek that runs alongside the trail and all of the different types of plants. My son liked looking at the different marks and scars and hollows on the trees and telling us what each one looked like. We saw a cyclops, an alligator, and a heart just for starters! See some of our pictures at the botttom of the post.
The movie, Chimpanzee, was amazing! The views from overhead were spectacular and the story was so touching. You really should check it out, even if you don't have children to take. It's a great movie for everyone regardless of age. Congratulations Disney on another success!
Did your family celebrate Earth Day today? Comment and share what you did! I would love to hear it!
Now for a few pics...enjoy and good night!
Saturday, April 21, 2012
The good news or the bad news?
Okay the good wins!
You twisted my arm.
Seriously, though, there is good news in the grocery store. I went to buy the fixings for burgers today and in the ketchup section I saw a new product that made me a very happy mama. Now every family prefers Heinz or Hunts right? Sweet or spicy. Mine prefers the Heinz, luckily, because the new product is Heinz in a squeezable foil container with a little plastic spout and cap. It was only 99 cents, too.
Bye bye plastic! I despise plastic. Too much pollution is produced in creating it, it leaks chemicals into our food when we use it for storage, and it creates too much pollution again when it's recycled. Needless to say, I bought one!
The bad news? I ate fast food today. Of course, I said I would stop for a week starting Sunday, so I haven't failed my personal challenge in any way. But I realized again how hard it will be for me to give up those convenient drive-thru windows. And it's soooo unhealthy and fattening. Yuck.
Which brings me to the ugly news. I went to Taco Bell for lunch and my husband and daughter both decided to try the new Doritos Tacos. Okay, fine, right? Wrong! The taco comes in a cardboard wrap, which is then wrapped in their usual paper wrap. Why the waste? My daughter pointed out that the cardboard keeps the orange Doritos seasoning off of your fingers, but why the paper over it when we are not even dropping it in a bag. I was very disappointed in the wastefulness!
Last but not least tonight, I want to remind you that tomorrow is Earth Day! My family and I and my daughter's friend are all going to church at Newspring, then eating our brown bag lunches, going to see "Chimpanzee" at the theater next to the church, and finally, taking a nature walk on a trail that starts behind the theater. It ought to be a full day and fun day.
One last bit of advice? A gardening quote from good ol' Lewis Grizzard: "Don't bend over in the garden granny, you know them taters got eyes!"
Heehee! Good night!
Friday, April 20, 2012
Well, I went over that list myself a few times, both before and after I posted it on my blog, and I read them to my daughter. She was aghast that I would even want to attempt some of them, while others seemed fairly easy. After much thought, I decided that I would tackle the one that I knew would be hardest for me: no fast food restaurants for a week.
A whole week, people. With my fast paced days, fast food restaurants offer a quick and inexpensive solution to meals or snacks. On the other hand, I know, even as I order it, that the food is dripping with saturated fat and lacks pretty much anything that would pass as nutritious. Sure you can go to McDonald's and get a salad or fruit and yogurt. But do you? I mean, you can smell the fries as soon as you roll down the window to order! Not me. I give in to temptation and order the fries. And the burger. And the soda or smoothie or, my favorite, the frozen strawberry lemonade. Let me stop.
The point is it will be very hard for me to stay away from drive-thru windows. I will have to think ahead, buying groceries with the intention of cooking meals, cooking extra so that I can have an easy and quick option for lunch the next day, stashing nuts and other healthy munchies in my purse and in my truck. I will need willpower like I'm not sure I have, so prayers are needed and appreciated! In fact, tomorrow I will just sit down and place an online order for groceries so that I can kick off my 7 day fast food free spree when I wake up on Sunday. What a great way to start Earth Day!
If you are attempting one or more of the 9 challenges that I posted yesterday, I would love to hear which one and how it's going. Leave comments so that everyone can be inspired by or laugh at (with, I mean with, not at) each other's attempts to get a little closer to "normal."
“If every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetables and grains... the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads.” Environmental Defense Fund
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Recently I have been reading Folks, This Ain't Normal and You Can Farm (yes I am reading both at the same time), both of which were written by, you guessed it, Joel Salatin. Last night I came across a challenge list in Folks, This Ain't Normal that I would like to share with you. These are tasks that I believe we would all do well to attempt. Each one brings us closer to the lifestyle that was "normal" in the recent past, and which Salatin argues makes more sense. He makes a good argument, too. Choose one or more items from the challenge list and let me know how it goes. I dare you!
This is the list exactly as it appears in the book:
- Find and patronize local farmers, in whatever venue you desire, and then ask them if you can help solve their salvage or abundance problem. What is extra that you can acquire, perhaps at a discount in volume, to reduce throwaways?
- Preserve food yourself: dehydrating, canning, lacto-fermenting, parching, freezing, processing. A host of books exist to get you started. Ask your grandmother how she did it. commit to preserve one thing so it's not daunting.
- Take a fast food sabbatical - just one week, for starters. Fix a meal but make plenty so you have leftovers for lunches.
- Turn off the TV and read to the kids for two hours one night. I'll bet they'll want more and you might trun it into a couple of nights a week. You might actually be more lovable than when you're harried and hurried, bustling them off to some extraneous entertainment event. And reading together doesn't take any energy.
- Postpone the vacation trip and discover your local farm treasures.
- Buy a big freezer so you can buy meat in bulk and lay by. Get the money by selling your big flat-screen TV and canceling your Netflix account.
- Start a domestic hobby: woodworking, candle making, quilting, knitting, carving, repairing anything (furniture, appliances, electronics). These are the skills and crafts that have undergirded civilizations for centuries.
- Begin limiting your video game use. I saw a news report recently that measured average video game use by American men between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-five: twenty hours per week. Do you mean the flower of America's masculinity can't think of anything more important to do with twenty hours a week than sit in front of a video screen? Folks, this ain't normal. Can't we unplug already?
- If you have any land at all, grow something. Anything edible.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
How do I handle it? I think the secret to not going crazy is to love everything on your schedule. I truly enjoy my work and my blogging activities are my fun time. I love homeschooling my daughter for so many reasons. For example, we get lots more quality time together than if she were at a traditional school for 8 hours every day. She learns more easily and doesn't get embarrassed to ask questions. We can tailor the schedule and the activities around other things in our life. For example, Earth Day will be school work for us because she is studying ecology in science right now. The Farmer's Market is school, too, because she is studying healthy eating habits in Health. I could go on and on about why I love homeschooling and if I got started I could do the same with the subject of blogging or telling you why I love my job. Just like working in my garden, these things are not hard to do because I enjoy doing them. Speaking of the garden...I didn't have to water it tonight because it rained! That's one less thing to do tonight! After running strong all day, I do have trouble slowing down when I go to bed, but I read or do a puzzle in bed to help me clear my mind and get sleepy. Again, these are activities I love.
I have to go now because, as you know, I have lots more to do! In the title tonight I mentioned a little surprise. I found a special offer that you will love. I bought one! Just pay $18 for $40 from ecomom.com. Click the link below the picture to get this deal. Mine isn't a savings blog but I don't mind saving either! I forgot to mention...use coupon code APR10 to get $2 off the usual $20 price for this deal. Here it is and good night.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
The number rule of composting is no animal products. That includes dairy products. If you added butter to those beans...no compost pile for them. Meat products in the compost pile can lead to e.coli in the plants you fertilize with the compost, so that when you eat them you get e.coli. Yuck! If you are eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, the scraps and leftovers and trimmings and peelings make perfect compost. Coffee grounds can go into the pile, too, as well as grass clippings if you haven't used chemicals on the grass. Eggs are animal products, but rinse the shells and crunch them up into small pieces. You can add them to the compost or sprinkle these around the perimeter of your garden or flower beds to keep slugs out.
Rule number two of composting is to turn, turn, turn. You don't need a fancy container, although they do exist if you prefer that approach. Just shovel the stuff from the bottom and dump it on top. Turn daily. If you want to contain the pile, try a circle of chicken wire with an opening to get in with the shovel and turn.
Add worms to your compost if you want things to go faster. Their droppings are super fertilizer. There are worm composters available for that make it easier to get started if you want to go this route. You can get one on eBay for under $100. Or build a square from 2x4s and put it on legs made of 2x4s. Add a wire mesh bottom in the square and put worms and compost in top.
I am personally going the super-easy-to-get-started route...a pile in a corner of the back yard! At least the stuff is not in the trash can and my garden can benefit from natural non-chemical fertilizer this summer.
I would like to leave you with a quote from The Green Book, which I highly recommend you add to your reading list by the way... "If over the course of a year, everyone in the United States composted their kitchen scraps instead of sending them away with the trash, the organic waste diverted from landfills could make a three-foot-high compost pile to cover the city of San Francisco." That's three feet of black, nutrient rich, organic soil. Isn't that better than a three-foot-high landfill the size of San Francisco?
Monday, April 16, 2012
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Friday, April 13, 2012
I hope the Blog Party can help me reach more fans of green living and help me find more blogs that share my interests. Check out all the blogs on www.5minutesformom.com and share the ones you like.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
- Chop up ham into small pieces. Spread your fave spaghetti sauce on top of pitas and top with shredded mozzarella. Add the chopped ham and some strained canned pineapple. Bake just until cheese is melted well for easy Hawaiian pizza singles.
- Make a quiche with ham, fresh diced tomatoes, and green onions. Yummy! Just mix these ingredients and bake for 50 minutes on 350 degrees.
- Roll up a slices of swiss cheese in slices of ham and stuff into chicken breasts before baking as usual.
- When most of the meat has been used, place the bone with any remaining meat still on it into the crockpot with equal parts white corn, baby lima beans, and tomatoes. I use frozen corn and beans but canned whole tomatoes. When you open the cans, pour the juice in first, then let the kids have fun crushing the whole tomatoes to smithereens before adding them to the pot. Cook on low for about 12 hours, stir, and enjoy by the bowlful.
- Add the bone or diced ham to soup. This works best in potato, lentil, or split pea soup. For best results, let the bone simmer in the soup till the meat falls off.
Monday, April 9, 2012
- 30,000 people live in just one landfill in the Philippines, where children walk over broken glass, syringes and debris each day.
- 1,890,000 Kenyan children are infected with jiggers, burrowing fleas that cause painful lesions.
- 4,000,000 people have podoconiosis, a debilitating and disfiguring disease caused by living barefoot in volcanic soil.
- 740,000,000 people are affected by hookworm, a soil-transmitted parasite that can cause intestinal pain, weakness and cognitive impairment.
Sunday, April 8, 2012
The sermon at church today was so wonderful. It was not the typical Easter sermon, but it was just what I needed to hear. Apparently others agreed. So many people came forward and were saved today! It was absolutely amazing to see God work in such a big way. This song, Man In the Mirror, was actually performed at the end of the service. We could all do with a little less pride and a little more humility. We could all stand to take a longer look at the person in the mirror.
How can we complain about the world's problems when we do nothing to help? How can we have a legitimate complaint about anything before we deal with our sin and our own dirt? It's so easy to point fingers at others for causing our problems. We have to admit our fault in our situation first, or in some cases realize that we were not the one at fault. Then we have to do what we can to remedy the situation, which includes taking the problem to God in prayer and trusting that he will never lead you in the wrong direction.
When we are at peace with ourselves, it is easier to help others. I challenge you to spend some time soul searching. I will be looking in my mirror long and hard, too.
Saturday, April 7, 2012
I hope that you spend it remembering Jesus and the miracle of the resurrection.
I hope you attend a church service to be reminded that the open tomb is more important than the candy.
I hope that you marvel at the beauty that is Spring as the children run around looking for eggs among the azaleas and the bright new grass.
I hope that you spend time with family and appreciate all that each member brings to make your family unique.
I hope you eat well and are able to nap afterward.
Enjoy your holiday and may God bless you on this Easter Sunday.
Friday, April 6, 2012
Thursday, April 5, 2012
- Plant a tree. Simple. Or plant something else. This idea is especially good if you plant something native to the area. Plants that are imported from other areas can damage ecosystems.
- Walk or bike to school/work. If this isn't possible, carpool. Fewer cars on the road is still the end result and that means less carbon emitted.
- Organize a clean up. Get your family and even friends together to pick up trash at a nearby park or along the streets of your neighborhood.
- Clean out the garage or attic. Instead of throwing things away, take them to the Habitat for Humanity Home Store or another local organization. Things that can't be reused can be recycled. See how much you can keep out of landfills.
- Build a birdhouse and nail it to a tree in the yard. Don't have trees? Nail it to the porch railing, facing away from the house or apartment. This can be as simple as cutting a hole in a milk carton and hanging it!
- Visit a local organic farm. Most will let you volunteer to work for a day or part of a day to get a close up perspective on how things are done on the farm. This helps to farmer and educates you and your kids. Take home some fresh produce at the end of the day!
- Join a CSA. Community supported agriculture is a great way to support local farmers. Pay a fee in the spring and get a basket or box of fresh, in-season, produce each week during the farms growing season. This helps reduce carbon emissions also because you aren't buying food that traveled from other states on big trucks.
- Go to the Farmer's Market. Get to know local growers and get some good eats! Or just purchase a plant to put in the ground when you return home.
- Let the kids pick up leaves, flowers, grass, etc. from outside and use it to decorate a sheet of newspaper or recycled paper. Cut a frame from a cereal box and let them color the frame. Then hang it or gift it to a grandparent proudly!
- Been putting off recycling at home? Make 3 bins and designate a spot for them. One is for plastic, one is for aluminum, and one is for cardboard and paper. You'll find this will account for most of the trash that you've been sending to the landfill.
- Start a compost bin. A very basic bin can be made with a circle of chicken wire. Cut a space at the bottom that will allow you to reach in with a shovel to turn the compost. Or you can buy a bin at the hardware store. Never put animal products in your compost. If you season your vegetables with butter or drippings, those are animal products and those vegetables should not go in. Yard clippings and produce scraps should go into the bin. This is a great way to make free organic fertilizer.
- Write a letter to your congressman asking for less government funding to big industrial growers and more support for small family farms that use organic sustainable practices.
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
For the second time in a week, I find myself with a migraine headache. I take a prescription medication called Axert that helps. But does anyone know any natural remedies or preventatives? I don't know what triggers my headaches even though I had my first migraine at age 5. Medication has come a long way since then, but the pills are $12 each after insurance! Share with me if you have any helpful tips or your own migraine questions.
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
I am a huge proponent of local, sustainable agriculture and I am so pleased to be able to easily access a variety of their fares. When we buy locally grown food, we make a larger impact than many realize. For example, the food doesn't have to be transported thousands of miles (think California and Florida) which decreases carbon emissions and fossil fuel use. We also keep our money in the local economy, where it is more likely to continue to benefit our local job market and food prices. When buying organic, we are also showing our support for these farmers who bring us healthier, chemical-free produce. These organic farmers often make less due to lower yields but they continue because they believe in what they do and because they know we want this type of food. There are so many more reasons to buy local when it's available.
According to the Downtown Farmers' Market Facebook page, "the market is comprised of vendors implementing sustainable practices (organic growing, pasture based livestock, heritage breeds, heirloom varieities, re-purposing, re-cycling, reduced food miles, etc) and the market will implement green initiatives (ex: no plastic shopping bags)."
The Downtown Farmer's Market in Florence will be open every Wednesday from 3:00 to 7:30 pm. Hope to see you there!
Monday, April 2, 2012
Sunday, April 1, 2012