Gifts from Bend, OR

Live in Bend, Oregon and want to give a gift from Bend, Oregon? Follow my local gift giving series!

Green your coffee routine

Save 23 lbs of waste this year and start using a reusable coffee cup to keep you caffeinated.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Green plan for 2011

As you all know, I'm a big fan of Practically Green. They take the guess work out of going green gradually and offer up suggestions, products and ways to be efficiently eco-friendly.

New to their site is coming up with a Green Action Plan. Log in and go through the list (this took me two hours) and create it -- it's that simple. As I went through the list, I was already doing some of the actions and I earned a few badges and moved up a few levels to wicked green. It's a gradual process that you won't be able to do over night but my family and I have learned so much since starting this journey, it's amazing!

So here is my 2011 list. I'll tackle a few of these a month and report back. 
If you have suggestion on one of these items, feel free to comment or send me an email: shannon at workingmomgoesgreen dot com. 

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

In 2011, I resolve to

Lil B and his loot
Each year I say "I won't let the holidays get the best of me. They won't be stressful and I won't say 'woo, what happened?'" But I'm going to say it anyway -- woo, what happened?

I've been light on posts due to the holidays, parties and the one too many cookies I've eaten.  It's that time of year to reflect on what changes need to be made in the new year. I've been making a mental list in my head for weeks but it's time now to put fingers to keys and really commit.

So in 2011, I resolve to:
Change up my iPod in the Jeep. Right now, A Ghost is Born has taken over Wilco (The Album)'s spot. Before that, many U2 cds (I took U2 off my iPod and I think I need to do this to Wilco).

Attempt one craft project a month. For January's project, I am going to make glitter heels, inspired by these and Homa, who whenever I see her is wearing the cutest glitter heels.

Cook or bake one recipe a week from my stash of cookbooks. My cookbooks seem lonely. I'll be working from a Giada book in January. I hope to discover some new recipes and add them to our family rotation.

I will attempt to make homemade gnocchi and tamales.


I try to attempt making different varieties of homemade breads.

Get outside with my family once a week. I live in paradise, yet getting my family to go anywhere other than the park is like pulling teeth. Honestly, my husband would rather be inside playing his guitar but with his support, we will venture out and do something in our lovely paradise at least once a week.

Get healthy. I was telling my friend Ethan that the only healthy thing I've been putting in my mouth as of late is the good food from the fabulous food cart Soupcon. I promise to eat healthier. I have yet to really define the parameters but it I have thought about going vegan but I don't think that will work out with my cookbook resolution SO I will workout 4 days a week and eat in moderation. Diabetes runs in my family and I need to drop some weight. My hope is to get up at 5 am Monday through Friday and get in some exercise and also work on my blog before work.

Work on my green plan. Thanks for Practically Green, I am working on my 2011 Green Plan. More will come on that.

Save money. I have an amount in mind. That's all I will say.

Ask for experiences, not gifts. This year I asked for baking items. I really don't need anything but I want to be a better bread baker. Instead of asking for a material item, maybe an experience is in order. I have a few in mind.

Buy/sell used more used items. Ebay! Freecycle! Craigslist here I come!

Play with my son more. Sometimes I just get fixated on my to do list. Life is short. Sure, I'll help you with that puzzle, Lil B.

Date night once a month with my husband. Sometimes we get caught up in being parents that we don't take time to connect. Let's make that a priority.

Be grateful. Helps keep the negativity away.

Figure out my career path. I know what I want to do ... I just have to do it.

Engage more in social media (for the sake of my blog). I need to comment on blogs, interact on facebook and build a community, along with build a brand. I work in marketing and you'd think I would already be doing this. My hope is to emerge from bed at 5 am and either work out or engage in social media Monday through Friday. I'm also saving money to attend BlogHer in August and Blissdom in 2012.

Buy less stuff. That goes for everyone in my family.

Organize my closets. If this takes me emailing photos to my sister-in-law Ann and having her come up with a plan, well, then so be it!

Attend a music festival with my family. This one would be AWESOME.

OK, I think that is enough for now. More on my green plan later!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Meatless Monday: Salad with Pioneer Woman Ranch Dressing

photo courtesy of Pioneer Woman
You read that right, ranch dressing.

After gorging myself with cookies, candy, beer, wine, mimosas and Trader Joe's macaroni and cheese balls (pure bliss),  I noticed something lacking in my family's diet the past couple of week -- vegetables.

For Christmas Eve at our friend Jon's house, I vowed to make a veggie dish to make up for the fact I haven't seen them in weeks. Instead of the suggested tomato sauce dip, I opted for PW's ranch dressing which made it's debut at my cookbook club a few weeks back.

This stuff is SOOOO good, I could pour it on everything and bathe in it! And since I went through my first batch on Friday, I made a second batch yesterday and I'm not sharing.  You can make several modifications to the recipes. The first batch I did put in the cayenne pepper and paprika. The second batch, I left it out and added blue cheese crumbles. I blended with my blender stick and then proceeded to drench everything with it.

Homemade Ranch Dressing by the Pioneer Woman


1 clove (to 2 Cloves) Garlic
Salt To Taste
¼ cups Italian Flat-leaf Parsley
2 Tablespoons Fresh Chives
1 cup (Real) Mayonnaise (I used canola mayo)
½ cups Sour Cream (I used non-fat yogurt)
Buttermilk or milk (as Needed To Desired Consistency) (used a 1/2 cup
White Vinegar (optional, To Taste)
Worcestershire Sauce (optional, To Taste)
Fresh Dill (optional, To Taste)
Cayenne Pepper (optional, To Taste)
Paprika (optional, To Taste)
Fresh Oregano (optional, To Taste)
Tabasco (optional, To Taste)
Preparation Instructions

Mince the garlic with a knife and then sprinkle about an 1/8 to ¼ teaspoons of salt on it and mash it into a paste with a fork. Chop the parsley, chives and any of the optional herbs very finely and add to the garlic.

In a bowl combine all ingredients, adding other optional ingredients as you wish, tasting frequently and adjusting seasonings as needed. Chill for a couple of hours before serving, thin with milk or buttermilk if desired.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The thing about Christmas

Lil B in front of our tree
I've been light on the holiday posts mainly because I really didn't know where to start on making it a eco-friendly Christmas. I have had some guidance from Practically Green, my usual spot, but I have to admit, I've  been observing this year.

We would totally fail at being a zero waste household. My husband and I live away from most of our extended family so box after box of gifts have arrived for us and our recycle cart is full. So much for cutting down on the waste.  Instead of tackling the whole list, we did two of the six items suggested not to overwhelm ourselves and add more stress.

I really like reusing boxes, bags, bows and wrapping paper. I haven't had to buy these items in a few years. We also bought a real tree (not a live one) and plan to use it as firewood for our pit when we're finished.

I did cut down on the amount of holiday cards I sent out this year. Usually, we do around 100 but I cut the list down to 25 family members. Some of my family members still really enjoy getting holiday cards so I double them as thank you notes and wrote a personal message on the back. I do feel that thank you cards in the mail are important and more thoughtful and my dad is really good at reminding me about that extra special important touch.

So, on the list for next year? I plan to make gifts and holiday cards. I'm not exactly the craftiest person in the world so I'm saving ideas now. I've saved all the cards I've received since moving here so one thought is to make ornaments out of them and use them as gifts.

In the next coming days, I'm going to talk about our green New Year's resolutions. Yes, we have green goals already but I plan on adding and tweaking what we're already working on.

Until then, Merry Christmas from my family and I!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Filtering out hexavalent chromium

Over the weekend, our local news station ran a story about hexavalent chromium being found in the City of Bend's water supply. Yesterday, the City of Bend released a statement that The Environmental Working Group (EWG) confirmed that the sample was taken from a private water utility that operates with the city - Avion Water. The Avion Water sample tested at was 0.78 parts per billion, ranked 10th among the 31 water systems studied.

The water to our house doesn't come from Avion or the City of Bend but Roats Water. Their line was busy yesterday as I'm guessing a lot of customers are concerned like me but I came across this great post yesterday from Big Green Purse on how to protect yourself.

Diane offers three simple steps (make sure you read her post):
  1. Don't buy bottled water
  2. Filter your water
  3. Contact your elected officials
I haven't filtered my water in years mainly because there was always a claim that Bend had the best water around but I may have to re-think that. And as a friend reminded me this week, we're pretty lucky to have a clean water supply. Some countries don't. Good way to think about it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Meatless Monday: Roasted acorn squash

Image via Food Network
When I was a kid, I would totally turn my nose up at squash when my mom would make it. Instead, she would either fix me leftovers or make me a pb&j sandwich. As I grew older, I began to really love and appreciate squash. 

We're down to the last acorn squash in the household from our CSA and I am so sad about it. I don't really do anything fancy with it ... just cut in half, rub with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast it for 30-40 mins on 350. About 20 mins in, I sprinkle with gruyere cheese. Add a nice side salad and you'll be full. I find the simplest dishes to be the most fulfilling. 

Until next fall, acorn squash.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

One of my favorite Holiday items


My late Grandma Marie made this in the early 90s for all of her children. When my mom died, I took this out of her holiday stash for my house (I believed my brother Chris has the rest of the items). It is now more special since Marie's passing.

Anyway, one of my New Year's Resolutions is to get more crafty so I can make homemade gifts from the heart. If you have a suggestion on a site, book or class, let me know.

Happy holidays!
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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Lil B and Santa

I have hesitated for the last two years to introduce my son to Santa. We had breakfast with him today and Lil B was so excited, you thought he met a celebrity!

This holiday has felt like I am a kid again. I am grateful for the magic of the holidays this year and for my small family.
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Friday, December 17, 2010

Sulfate, paraben free shampoo

I found this at Costco today. Anyone use it or recommend it? It is sulfate and paraben free but I did notice it did contain PEG.
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The 80/20 rule series: mascara

Since learning about all the bad and harmful chemicals in my cosmetics, I have really toned down my usage of make-up and now only use concealer and mascara with the occasional eye shadow and liner. I have switch out my lipsticks, moisturizers and lotions but mascara -- my staple and a staple for a lot of other women has been hard to replace.

Each natural mascara I try doesn't stand up to my trusted and favorite brand (which will remain nameless). My favorite brand lasts all day, lengthens my lashed and brightens my eyes. The other three brands I have tried flake, don't lengthen and just weren't cutting the mustard. Rather than keep going broke buying different natural mascaras, I may just settle for my favorite and trusted brand.

Unless you have a suggestion, readers. (I am almost out of concealer and am looking for suggestions for that as well)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A call from the Universe? Maybe?

I'm going to take a break from talking about my green journey to talk about my personal journey. I started this blog over summer with the hopes that I would just be able to document the journey of my family from going from big fat wasters to becoming more eco-friendly. I never imagined that months later, that I would be typing that I'm looking for sponsors.

Last week, I counted a handful of people that thought my blog had potential to be sponsored and if I had looked into it. As I realist, I guess I never believed that this would be possible but I just kept running into folks who were reading or saw me present on it telling me get moving - this is real, it's big and it's realistic (to go green gradually).

Being a working mom is tough. Yes, I have the help of my husband but there still is shopping, dishes, laundry, holiday shopping and just taking care of a toddler in general that consume my life after working 40 hours a week. The free time I get during the day is my lunch and after 9 pm when I am just too exhausted to sit down and write. I have a list of things I want to do with my blog (videos, interviews, an original post everyday) and then there are things that I want to do to foster readership (comment on other posts, twitter, get more Facebook followers). I know how to do this as I do this at my day job but applying that to my blog, when do I find the time.

I read Crush It a few months ago and I was a little inspired to possibly wake up early and work away on my blog but then my grandma died and well, I lost my spark. I was still doing green things but I was more exhausted. After speaking last week and inspiring  folks, I think I now believe I can do this. Who needs sleep when you're motivated.

So here it is ... I'm looking for sponsors. I want to have it all. I have a vision on where I want to be a year from now. I know I will be there (that I'm not sharing with you but I have developed a vision board on this).

I won't take just any sponsor. It has to fit with the mission of my blog. And I don't want to be a giveaway blog either. As you can see, I'm still hashing this out.

I'm also not going to quit my job anytime soon. That's the realist in me.

But the first thing to do is tell the Universe which is exactly what I'm doing now.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

80/20 rule/confession: fast food

This should actually fall under confessions category but I already admitted this to the AdFed crowd and then I realized that I have never blogged about it. In talking about the 80/20 rule, this sorta falls under the 5/95 rule if that makes sense.

I am not a mother that is ever going to be able to say "my child has never eaten McDonald's." Yes, I know what a Happy Meal looks like after 137 days (image to the left). I am also a mom that won't be able to say "my child doesn't eat McDonalds anymore." My husband has a strange fascination with the McDonald's dollar menu. It's cheap, it's by his office and he loves hamburgers. When he was a work from home dad for a year, he treated my son to a cheeseburger every now and then. I swear that my child could say McDonald's before he said "mama." About twice a month, I let my son have his cheeseburger often as a treat for doing such a good job at the swimming pool (my husband is determined he'll be the next Michael Phelps). He knows this is a treat and he gets excited about it just like he does M&Ms (another thing he doesn't get often).

Personally, I don't eat McDonalds anymore. I would rather spend $5 at the local soup cart where be sources everything locally. I didn't eat a lot of fast food growing up as my parents would reserve that for us as a treat. The most important thing is that I teach my child that eating homemade, local/seasonal foods are important and that cheeseburger shouldn't be an everyday thing.

As for my husband, I have turned him onto the local food cart. He's hooked and hopefully that cuts down on the number of $1 cheeseburgers he eats.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The 80/20 rule series: disposable diapers

In working on my Adfed Ignite presentation, I realized that I have never wrote up anything about what I call the 80/20 rule. The blog, No More Dirty Looks, touched on this in a post back in August. The idea being that 80% of the time, my family will work hard at going green, being natural and supporting sustainability. And then there is the 20% of the time we won't be able to or can't or we're just not ready to make that change.

Going green just doesn't happen over night. It's a process. It's like a ying yang balance - we do want to do it all. There are some things we won't be able to do. Or something that we're not quite ready to give up. Over the next few days I'm going to talk about those items.

Thank goodness we're close to potty training and the end of diapers. We do not use cloth diapers and this is mainly because I tried and I couldn't keep up with the washing and my husband didn't quite support me on this effort (he would put a disposable on our son instead of a cloth diaper). As a working mom, something had to give. Instead, we chose to use compostable baby wipes because 23 million end up in the landfill. I know it's a small act compared to using cloth diapers but it's what we can do.

Has anyone tried Nature Babycare Eco-friendly diapers? This was something I stumbled upon when ordering Elements Naturals wipes by the case on Diapers.com. When I order my next case of wipes, I might have to order a pack and see. Their claim "100% chlorine-free and keep oil-based plastics away from babies delicate skin. Our absorbent pulp is from sustainably harvested Scandinavian forests and the unique center-channel means a less bulky fit while enhancing leak protection. Since we use 60% natural materials instead of plastic, our diapers are soft and cloth-like providing comfort without sacrificing protection."

Hmmm, to me, harvesting Scandinavian forests doesn't seem very sustainable because doesn't it take years for a tree to grow?

If we do have baby #2 someday, I may be up for trying cloth diapers again or an alternative like Nature Babycare.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Meatless Monday: Easy Pasta Fagioli

Image courtesy of HBO
When I think of pasta fagioli, mobsters from The Sopranos come to mind. For our first Christmas together, my husband bought me The Sopranos cookbook and I've made a few of dishes from it but many of them are all day dishes and who has that time? (at one time, I did) I was happy one day when in my Everyday Food Magazine, came a recipe for easy pasta fagioli in under 40 mins. Unfortunately, that recipes is not online but I found one that is really similar from Recipes4Living.com.

Fagioli is good with a good glass of white wine and very kid-friendly.

Easy Pasta Fagioli courtesy of Recipes4Living.com

Ingredients

1 Tbs. olive oil
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 thin slice onion, diced
1/2 tsp. chopped garlic
4 8-oz. cans tomato sauce
1 14-oz. can chicken broth
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 Tbs. dried parsley
1/2 Tbs. dried basil leaves
1 15-oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 C. ditalini pasta

Directions
Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute carrot, celery and onion until soft. Add garlic and saute briefly. Stir in tomato sauce, chicken broth, pepper, parsley and basil; simmer for 20 minutes. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ditalini pasta and cook for 8 minutes or until al dente; drain. Add beans to the sauce mixture and simmer for a few minutes. When pasta is done, stir into sauce and bean mixture.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Haven of upcycled crafts!

Today marked Bend's annual Indie Craft Loft, an event that happens a couple times a year, showcasing some amazing and gifted crafters. My whole intent in going this time was to get an upcycled gift for a holiday party I'm attending on Monday. I wanted to walk out with bags and bags of stuff for myself but this time of year isn't about me and really, I don't need anything (but sure do want a lot).

Here are a few that caught my eye ...

Upcycled Christmas stockings. Priced
$100 and up
Jenny's Vintage Creations
These are the most beautiful Christmas stockings! According to Jenny's Vintage Creations Facebook page: Jennifer Walters Nordby specializes in creating hand made vintage Christmas stocking that will make your mantle sparkle! Every holiday is her favorite, she creates beautiful Easter boxes embroidered in vintage findings she also makes fantastic Valentines Day cards, St. Patrick's day boxes, and beautiful Halloween creations!

I really want a set of these for my mantle. What a great heirloom!

got the blue one for Lil B
Stuff Made by Sweet Pea
Sweet Pea makes the cutest plushies. I've had my eye on one for my son for a while but when I got looking at them up close and personal, Sweet Pea suggest I pick one up with a cap on it.

According to her website: My recent obsessions are with plushies and prints, but I can't be limited to just that. I work from my kitchen table while my husband works in the garage making sculptures and my grouchy, black cat sleeps on the couch. The smell of coffee is ever present and the stereo is always on. Making stuff is my favorite thing to do.

Want want want!
Altered Designs by Tami
Tami takes watch parts and makes amazing necklaces. She takes scrabble pieces and makes rings and each time I look at her work, I want all of it! I didn't purchase anything for me but I did covert that necklace you see pictured to the left.

According to Tami's website her inspirations comes from being an altered artist I love looking for odd bits and bobbles that typically go unnoticed. Old cameras that no longer work become sculptures. Perhaps these funny little boys and girls will take you to the past or simply put a smile on a visitor's face. My custom made typewriter key bracelets can hold images of family near or far; bringing them closer to the ones that wear them. I collage necklaces using glass slides with vintage and new items that can compliment your mood and attire. I hope that you enjoy these pieces and they can be passed on to friends and family and bring a little bit of joy into your lives.

If you live in Bend, the Indie Craft Loft is happening today until 5 p.m. and tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Gossamer, the Knitting Place.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fake tree, Real tree debate

Our tree 2009
At the end of November, I asked my Facebook friends, "Fake, real or no tree? And why? I want to know." I received over 20 comments (which usually doesn't happen). It's a mixed bag on the green blogs what a "green" tree really means. I've found it's different for all folks and really there is no wrong answer to this question. If you believe your fake or real tree is the green way to go, I'm not going to pass judgement on you. 

So what are the pros and cons? Let me break it down ...

Fake tree: 
Pros: reusable, not killing a tree, no pine needles to pick up, no watering, great for folks with allergies, easy assemble, inexpensive
Cons: Made from harmful plastic, you have to store it, it's probably made in China, will sit in a landfill forever

waiting for Santa 2009
Real tree:
Pros: supporting the local economy (sometimes a charity), they smell great, grown as a renewable resource at a local tree farm (if you live in the Pacific Northwest), help with thinning the forest (if you head for the mountains and pick your own), biodegradable, compostable, could also use it in your fireplace/pit, you have fun picking it out off the lot or create memories if you head to the mountains to pick it out

Con: have to water it, could start on fire, have to keep heat away from it, bad for folks with allergies, you'll be picking up pine needles for the next 6 months, dying trees release greenhouse gasses when they decompose and overcrowd our landfills

Betsy of Eco-novice has a great blog post about this topic.

Potted living tree:
Pros: You plant it when you're done, supporting the local economy, they smell great, grown as a renewable resource at a local tree farm, you have fun picking it out.

Cons: You have to plant it (and if you don't have a yards, well, you'll need to find it a home), have to water it, could start on fire, have to keep heat away from it, bad for folks with allergies, you'll be picking up pine needles for the next 6 months, have to store it until the spring so you can plant it

Sarah at Practically Green has a great blog about this!

Christmas tree hunting 2007
So what are we doing? Since we don't have a yard, a potted living tree is out of the question so we're going real tree! We will be purchasing off a lot though in the past (pre-children) we have driven up to the Deschutes National Forest and hunted for a tree. We're going to save that task for when our son gets bigger and start creating memories. 

Again, there is no wrong answer to this question. If you believe your fake or real tree is the green way to go, I'm not going to pass judgement on you. 

We're picking up our tree tomorrow and I'm so excited to get it up and into the holiday spirit.

SimplyOrganic.net had a great blog on Christmas trees fake vs. real that was a great resource for this post.



Thursday, December 9, 2010

Story of cosmetics and AdBite

Today I did an Ignite style presentation about my blog to the Ad Federation of Central Oregon. I thought I would post my inspiration for my blog, The Story of Cosmetics for all my new AdFed readers.


Some other tidbits:
This is the third Ignite style presentation I've done and as usual, I get all worked up and nervous and then do a fabulous job. Now, I feel I need a nap.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Revisiting Goal #5: Learn to compost!

image courtesy of
Wonder Worman
It's time to check in on goal #5, composting. We're almost about to the two month mark and I have to say that I had no idea how much vegetation I was throwing away. I have a daily reminder when I go out to feed my worms my leftover banana peels (toddler eats them by the ton), strawberry tops, compostable baby wipes and other veggies. But it's winter and well, I'm worried that my little guys might crock!

So what does Wonder Worman have to say? Here official statement on cold weather and worms reads this on her blog:

I am often asked, “Wonder Worman what should I do with my Red Wigglers during the winter?” 
Depending on my mood, I may reply…
“Oh, avid composter, don’t fear!  You can still feed your Red Wigglers!  Just put on your comfy, warm boots and venture out in the beautiful, fluffy white stuff and feed those wigglers.  Just make sure you add some soft, colorful leaves to the bins to create a thick layer of natural insulation.  You want to keep your babies warm!”
Some days, I can’t stand Central Oregon weather, and I may reply…well, I really wouldn’t say this.  It’s kind of rude…but wouldn’t it be fun.
“Oh, whatever, don’t worry about those dreadful, icky, cold, crappy, days.  Even though I can’t stand those days,  the Red Wigglers don’t mind!  Just feed them when you can! They’ll live.”
Thanks Wonder Worman. Now, I need to go get some leaves (no trees in my yard) and give them a nice blanket of insulation.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Green FAIL! Skin cleanser

My son has nice skin
Remember when I talked about there might be some failures along the way? Here is another one I need to fess up about. At the beginning of October, I began to notice that my lips were really chapped and I was waking up with swollen lips and my skin on my face was red and dry. I thought the culprit was my lip balm so I switched back to petroleum based Aquaphor but my face was bright red. Turns out, I have minor rosacea according to my fellow Derm PA friend and the Yes to Carrots facial wash (for sensitive skin) was too much for my face so I went back to using Dove soap again.

After the holidays, I plan on trying the oil cleansing method as it should not be harsh on my poor skin but I am bummed because I have never had skin problems in my life and it's frustrating that I found this out by using a natural cleanser.

Do you have a method you think I should try? I would to hear about it.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Meatless Monday: Easy baked risotto

Over the years, I have become a risotto fan! It was my standard order at the restaurant formerly known at Stacatto (RIP - sniff) so when they closed, I went on a quest to find great risotto dishes. Some of my favorites include butternut squash and kale, spicy sausage, lemon risotto but all the stirring has gotten me down. I have a little one who needs my attention so I sometimes leave the risotto making to the weekends. But not anymore!

Thanks Ezra Pound Cake for introducing me to your easy baked risotto! It was a cinch to make and I didn't have to stir. Her recipe called for peas in the end but the possibilities are endless ... caramelized mushrooms, leeks, bacon - just leave your mix-ins until it's done baking.  This recipe will also leave you with a healthy helping of leftovers to make risotto cakes too (which our usual day after leftover risotto recipe)

Enjoy!

Easy Baked Risotto by Ezra Pound Cake

Serves 4 to 6
1 1/2 cup Arborio rice
4 1/2 cups vegetable broth (or chicken stock, if you’re not going meatless)
1 cup finely grated Parmesan
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Sea salt (or kosher salt) and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup frozen peas

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Place the rice and stock in a 10-cup baking dish (or Dutch oven), and stir to combine. Cover with foil (or the lid of the Dutch oven, if using), and bake for 45 minutes, until most of the stock is absorbed and the rice is al dente.

3. Grab a wooden spoon, and beat in your Parmesan, butter, salt and pepper. Stir in the peas. When the peas are warm, serve immediately.

What are you eating for Meatless Monday?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Buy upcycled holiday gifts

I'm so excited to take part in my first blog carnival via Retro House Wife Goes Green. I thought long an hard about this topic and got the idea after I heard about a local business that upcycles bags into beautiful gifts.

First off, I hate shopping and I'm not a fan of just giving or getting something that is not useful. Someone has a baby shower, I buy off their registry. Same with weddings. For birthdays, I give cash or gift cards if they're undecided on what they'd like. One year, I asked an old flame to get me new stainless steel measuring cups and spoons and he laughed. "I wish you were a jewelry girl, " he exclaimed.  It has taken my husband years to get this about me. This year, I told him I wanted to get rid of cable and start using the digital signal and buy a Roku (because everything I watch is on there anyways).  He's trying to figure out how to do this. Yes, I'm a boring practical girl. I will give my husband props .. last year, without prompting, he bought me an stick blender and I love love love it.

This year, were only buying for our parents, our child and one gift for each other. Our extended family has grown so much that we've decided to start focusing on our child but if I had all the money in the world, I would buy those around me upcycled gifts!

Sara Bella Upcycled is a company in Bend, Oregon that "makes beautiful gifts out of trash." They have something for everyone ... wine bags, wallets, belts, aprons, purses, shopping bags. You can order online or visit their store in the Old Mill in Bend, Oregon.

Nashelle is another company in Bend, Oregon. They specializes in jewelry from recycled precious metal and natural gemstones.  Many of their pieces are simple and elegant and can be worn everyday.  Any jewerly lovin' gal would be happy to received something so pretty from this company.

Another great place to look for upcycled gift items is Etsy.com. I came across the cutest keepsake soda pop can ornaments at Keepsake Souvenirs. Don't you think they would make a nice hostess gift?

Have someone special who likes to entertain? Well, maybe a repurposed wine bottle or vodka bottle will be a great way to showcase their holiday goodies. (via Our Glass Creations)

Or how about a chips bowl made from a vinyl record?

Yes, I could get lost on Etsy! What are your favorite upcycled gift or craft ideas? Feel free to share.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Cool whip is gross

courtesy of Martha Stewart
I have to admit, I have had my share of Cool Whip when I was growing up. In the past couple of years, I have forgone the oil based fake cream substance to whipping my own heavy cream thanks to my Kitchen Aid Mixer.  Still a fan of cool whip? Think again! Blogger Jonathan Fields did a little experiment to teach his daughter a lesson on why not to eat Cool Whip. Read up on his horrifying 12-day Cool Whip and start whipping your own cream.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Goal #7 Get smarter about recycling

Remember those goals? I'm still working on them. I'm onto #7 -- get smarter about recycling. I left it broad and vague on purpose mainly because we have a lot of work to do in this area.

One way I thought would be a smart way to recycle was to go through all of my winter clothes and consign them. That pile to the right, are the items I took the shop. Granted, they only took half (I took the rest to a local women's shelter), 6 weeks later, I made a whole $26! The upside, I was a whole $26 richer in my pocket. The downside, was it really worth it?

I do love clothes but I try to stay with the basics and try not to follow the trends. (sidenote: I look ridiculous in leggings and jeggings). I'm trying hard not to buy anything this winter. I did buy one sweater but that's probably about it. I have enough clothes in my closet to keep me looking great. It would be nice to just get down to one dresser and the closet so maybe I can tackle that on my breaks around the holidays.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Green your Thanksgiving

I have a love/hate relationship with the holidays. This is the time of year where I start to question why I moved so far away from family (my family is in Nebraska/Kansas/Louisana, while most of my husband's family is in Arizona). We have traveled at the holidays but once our son came along, we decided to stay put and start our own traditions.

This Thanksgiving, it will be just my husband, son and I. Instead of going all out, I ordered all the sides from my favorite locavore and food cart dude Soupcon and am going to roast a small organic turkey breast.  We may venture out for a morning stroll and start of new tradition of making Thankgiving Tree Placemats but that's about it.

I was laying in bed thinking about the subject of this blog post and came up with a list of ways to accomplish this in my head for future holidays.


  • buy an organic/local turkey or turkey breast
  • decorate using eco-friendly decor
  • make your own healthy substitutions for condensed soup
  • make your own pumpkin puree
  • drink organic wine/beer
  • eat local/seasonal (which most TG dishes are)
  • skip the box stuffing and make your own
  • don't drive that day; walk, bike if you have too 
  • reuse your leftovers (this year I plan to make turkey casserole and turkey enchiladas)
  • Use green cleaning products (dishwashing soap, dishwasher liquid, household cleaner)
  • If you're having a large party and don't want to wash all those dishes, use compostable plates/utensils
  • compost your scraps
  • Ditch the paper napkins for reusable napkins (it's fancier anyways)
I am sure there are other ways to green your Thanksgiving! I would love to hear what you and your family do for the environment this Thanksgiving.

Ciao! 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Meatless Monday: Chickpea Pasta

I found this recipe in Real Simple Magazine years ago and it quickly became one of my favorite go-to dishes! To make it vegetarian, we will swap the chicken broth for either veggie stock or water (it still tastes great even when made with water). It's also one that my husband is comfortable making to give me a break from dinner duty.

What are you making for meatless Monday?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Story of Electronics and how you can help

If you haven't seen this video, take a moment to watch and then read on.



I'm guilty of buying these "designed for the dumps" products. I have three laptops in my garage that I need to do something with and I recently donated four cell phones to a domestic violence shelter.

When I started this journey, recycling electronics was on the top of my list so I called Deschutes County Solid Waste to gather some details on e-waste recycling. Their website is a great resource for getting all the answers to your recycling needs locally in Central Oregon ... be it toxic waste, household or e-waste recycling. I started working on some videos but with everything that's been going on and now the holidays, I am pushing those videos to the first of the year.

If you don't live in Bend, click here to find out how to recycle electronics in your neck of the woods.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

DIY Natural Dishwasher Detergent

My dog wishes he could do this
One of my favorite websites, Green and Clean Mom, recently featured a DIYrecipe for natural dishwasher detergent. Click through to get Sommer's recipe.

I can't wait to use up all my dishwashing detergent so I can try this (and I hate loading and emptying the dishwasher)!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Green FAIL: No poo

FAIL
Remember how I said I was on the fence about going no shampoo. Well, I'm no longer on the fence. I spent the last month using just baking soda and cider vinegar and it was a big fail. It wasn't so much the vinegar part but pretty much all baking soda. The first couple days, my hair felt great and then I tried to go to every other day and my hair would be greasy but if I used it everyday, my hair would be dry and fizzy, along with my scalp.

Maybe I wasn't patient enough? I'm back using Bubble and Bee Shampoo but I would love to know your favorite shampoo without all the chemicals.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Meatless Monday: Mac and cheese

via Martha Stewart
For Meatless Monday, I'll be making mac and cheese. Fall to me is comfort food time and there is nothing more comforting than a big pot of mac and cheese.

What are you having for Meatless Monday?

How do you recycle?

courtesy of Keep America Beautiful
Today we're celebrating America Recycle Day. How do I plan to celebrate? By checking out what more I can do by visiting Practically Green.

When I started this adventure, recycling to me was just making sure I put the right items in my recycle cart each week but it has become so much more.

I encourage everyone to start an account on Practically Green. Right now, they have partnered with NBC Universal to Make Green Count by having consumers taking part in their Facebook app. The app reached its goal of accumulating 100,000 “points” within 24 hours of going live and NBC donated $10,000 to the Nature Conservancy. A new goal of 1 million points has been established, with another $10,000 contribution to the Nature Conservancy’s Gulf Restoration Fund planned if the new goal is met.

Happy recycling!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Making pumpkin puree

pumpkins are best enjoyed
with a pirate hat
I recently was telling my co-worker about how I was roasting pumpkins.  She stopped me mid-sentence and reminded me of the great pumpkin overdose of 2009 and how she hoped that didn't happen this year. Last year, I only roasted one pumpkin but so far this year, I have roast FIVE little sugar pumpkins.

The first round of puree, I used it for pumpkin curry soup, pumpkin doughnut muffins and pumpkin lasagna. I roasted two more that I'm saving the puree for pumpkin pasta, pumpkin cheese cake parfaits and salted pumpkin caramels WHICH reminds me, anyone in Bend have a candy thermometer I can borrow?

I have no idea why I'm obsessed with the flavor of pumpkin but usually by Thanksgiving, I'm ready close that chapter for the year with a slice of pumpkin pie. I'm also a big fan of the pumpkin spiced latte but at $4 a pop, I usually only treat myself to one a couple times a season.

So why roast your pumpkin and make your own puree instead of buying the canned version? Well, all things taste better when they are homemade and it's a cheaper way to get organic pumpkin puree.

My method, buy the sugar pumpkins (Trader Joes and Whole Foods had both organic and regular sugar pumpkins). These are best for baking/puree. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Split the pumpkins in half and scoop out the seeds and guts. Place the halves cut side down in a roast and roast for 90 mins or until the flesh is tender. Let the pumpkins cool and then scoop out the puree. I have a handy stick blender that I use to puree it. If you're not going to use right away, freeze your puree.

The best pumpkin pie recipe? Buy a Trader Joes sugar pumpkin and follow the recipe on the sticker. You'll thank me later for this tip.

Meatless Monday

Yes, I realized that I'm writing about Meatless Monday on Tuesday! Recently, I have started participating in this fun way of bringing more veggies into my family's life and cutting back on the meat we eat. I meal plan two weeks at a time and since CSA day is normally Wednesday (well for two more weeks), that was our veggie day. Since I wanted to commit to Meatless Monday, I made the switch a few weeks back. As I said yesterday, we have started to really cut down on how much meat we do eat.

I don't have a lot of recipes, so I rely on my old standby of my Everyday Food recipes or what's in my RSS feed.

Last night, I made a simple veggie curry, replacing the red curry paste and coconut milk with Trader Joes Red Curry Sauce . That bottle of joy has become a staple in our house. I didn't make the rice but used a frozen bag of brown rice from Trader Joes.

What are your favorite veggie recipes? I would love to hear.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Confession: I like red meat

As you may know, I had to make an unexpected trip back to Nebraska.  Since my trip was quick, I didn't really plan on meeting up with friends but had three goals ... see my grandma, drink my favorite beer, Boulevard (Deschutes is my 2nd favorite though) and have a Runza cheeseburger.  Usually when I go back and have more time, I add to my list eat at my favorite  Italian restaurant (which I did in fact get to do), eat dumplings and sauerkraut (which I did due to the fact it's traditional Polish funeral food) and eat good steak because I have YET to eat a good steak in the state of Oregon since moving here in 2004.

You read that right, I have to fly home for a good steak. And I'm not talking about Warren Buffett's usual at Gorats (funny side story, my brother used to make Buffett's favorite drink -- Cherry Coke, when he bar-tended there). I'm talking about something from the butcher shop or grocery store seasoned salt and pepper.

This Omaha visit was spent at my older brother's house with his wife and three kids. I've never stayed there before but since my dad moved to Lousiana, my brother offered. I made some comment about needing a good steak and he went to the butcher shop and grilled steaks up the next day. The steak was amazing. AMAZING.

Yes, I know what makes them taste good, isn't exactly eco-friendly or good for me. Nebraskans feed their cows corn (which is probably GMO corn). So, as part of gradually going green, I didn't really feel guilty about eating it. It is not something I can get everyday (well, unless I order from Omaha Steaks) and everything in moderation.

I am happy to report that we're down to eating red meat only twice a month now and more vegetarian dishes. But when I visit Nebraska, just know I'm gonna eat a good tasting, not good for you, steak.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Soup swap!

Pumpkin Curry Soup

The way to my heart ... good food (and wine) with friends so when my friend Alissa invited me to her soup swap, I couldn't say no!

How does a soup swap work? You make 6 quarts of homemade soup, put them in one quart bowls or bags and freeze ahead of the soup swap. Then you get together with friends, talk about your soup, pick numbers and pick six to take home to your family. To me, it's an excuse to get the girls together and drink some wine. I came home with butternut squash soup, two Thai soups, chili and a Cuban corn soup I'm dying to try.

If you're a person who needs more direction and details (I'm of the mindset keep it simple), there is a whole website dedicated to soup swapping and there is a national soup swap day ... Jan. 22, 2011! You bet I have big plans to throw a swap in on that day!

So what soup did I bring? It's pumpkin time in my house. So far this season, I have roasted 6 sugar pumpkins for puree so I brought a pumpkin curry soup recipe I grabbed from Serious Eats. Instead of grilling the pumpkins, I just used the roasted puree from my pumpkins. Next time, I think I'm going to make a fall favorite of my husband's -- roasted red pepper tomato soup from Sunset.

So who wants to swap soup?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Live in Bend? Compost your pumpkin

via Wonder Worman!
Don't throw your pumpkin away ... compost it! If you don't have a compost bin and live in Bend, Wonder Worman to the rescue!


Hope everyone had a happy and safe Halloween!  We did!
If you have been wondering where I am, read this post. I promise I will be back soon but I've been exhausted and it doesn't help that my toddler has decided he hates sleep (when I get my blogging done) for the moment

Friday, October 22, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Preventing breast cancer

It's breast cancer awareness month. Along with mammograms and self-examinations, you can prevent breast cancer by diet and exercise and reducing exposure to harmful chemicals in products. I was really touched by this video, produced by the Breast Cancer Fund.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Green your date night


I should make a label called "you can green just about anything" because Practically Green has a badge on their blog on a topic I never thought about greening ... date night!

A couple of hours a month where you can go out and reconnect with your partner. Now, when my husband and I go out, the topic usually goes back to talking about raising our son. Last weekend, we were invited to a private art show so we found a sitter (hard to do lately) and made plans.

For our green date night, after the art show, we dined at Common Table, a new non-profit restaurant which is conscience about healthy eating, sustainable agriculture, local sources of food, and ethical sourcing (there is a lot more they do so make sure you read about them on their website). In my honest opinion, this is the closest we have to a certified green restaurant. I had an amazing salad that was huge along with a pizza. My husband had a steak sandwich. Our meal wasn't so bad on the pocket book either .. under $25. Everything was fresh, seasonal and handmade. We didn't have any leftovers so we didn't have to green them.

Since we live in beer heaven, it was quite possible for us then to check off drinking locally brewed beer after dinner. I will also mention that I checked off drink eco-friendly wine after our beer stop.

So what is this PG badge missing? You're already commuting by driving in a car together but why not take it a step further -- walk or bike to your destination? This could easily be done by us. We live within 1.5 miles of a shopping/dining district.

Another idea? Find a sitter that will save you some green. I have often talked to my friend Fawn about she and her husband picking one night a month and I'll watch her daughter and us visa versa by creating a sitter swap. In this economy, finding a good sitter can cost up to $10 an hour.

Remember, date night is good for the whole family. Make the time each month and unwind!

How would or do you green your date night? I would love to hear.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Green your halloween

Halloween 2009
When I started this quest to go gradually green with my family, I didn't imagine all the twist and turns this would take. I never imagine the way I celebrated Halloween with my family was not environmentally friendly.

In the last year, I've started to read a lot of green blog/news sites and in the past couple weeks, they've been brimming with ideas to "green" your this spooky holiday.

First step: have a costume swap! They way I see it, this step can go two ways ... play date or wine night with the girls. What did I choose? Wine night! I sent that link to my two friends Alissa and Diana who needed a night out and we converged on a local wine shop and indulged on a plate of fine chocolates and red wine. We were having so much fun, we shut the shop down and almost forgot to swap costumes (we did this in the dark parking lot). If you're an ambitious mom with a lot of time, if you can't swap, make your own.

Charlie Brown Lil B
Second step: Make sure the face paints/make-up you use on your kiddos is non-toxic. Since my Lil B is going to be a dragon this year, thanks to my friend Alissa, we will probably skip the face paint but this is good to remember a couple years from now when he gets to pick his own outfit.

Third step: Green your Halloween party. If you're going to throw a party, use reusable or compostable plates. Your worm bin will love you and that's less that goes in the trash. Since having a child, our invites for Halloween parties have been null (and from what I understand, this is normal when you have a young child because sitters are hard to find on that night) but I'll put this in my brain and pull it out in a couple of years.

Now, I should be saying something about candy but I don't want to take all the fun out of Halloween and have my kid years later resent me for it so my exception, let them have candy in moderation.  Simple Organic has a fabulous post on this. Dr. Greene has some suggestions for items which are good to hand out and the kiddos will enjoy.

Looking for other suggestions: Healthy World, Healthy Child, GreenHalloween.org and Green and Clean Mom are some of my go to green resources.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Taking the no poo plunge

Going no poo!
You may remember that I went natural with my hair products. I told myself that after I was done with the shampoo I was using that I would give "no poo" aka baking soda a shot. Not to disappoint my readers, I started this transition recently and it hasn't been as successful as from switching from Dove to a natural product.

The first day of using a cup of water and a tablespoon of baking soda left me with fabulous hair! It felt a little thicker than usual. The second day, I was advised to not use anything in my hair while showering to give my hair a rest. The result, greasy hair, which is to be expected. There is a detox period and it's different for everyone so I just have to get used to it as my hair is dependent on getting washed everyday. On the third day, when I use the baking soda, it again, looks fabulous.

I've been using this guide to "no poo" and I have found it really helpful. If you have some tips/tricks on going no shampoo, I would love to hear them. I'm not too sure about it right now but then again, it's early.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Confessions: I like Dr. Pepper revisited

I confessed recently my love for Dr. Pepper so I was thrilled to see that there is a natural alternative called Dr. Zevia made with stevia. Here is a little video about it!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Kitchen to Garden via Practically Green

I'm not joking when I say I want to be like Sarah from Practically Green when I grow up. She has a great article on that very website about composting basics with links to some other great content. I spent many hours pouring through the content and this week, I got to check the box that says "I'm committed" to composting on Practically Green. Ten points for me!

If you haven't joined, Practically Green, you're missing out!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Upcycle your Halloween costumes

via Greenhalloween.org


Gather your friends and pull out your old Halloween costumes. Celebrate Greenhalloween.org's National Costume Swap this Saturday. What an awesome excuse to have a play date in your community!

Myths about composting

via WonderWorman.com
I've done plenty of research over the last few weeks on composting bins and I weighed the pros and cons of wood bins, plastic bins and just having a pile. Earth911.org is a great resource for just starting out on this journey. Their 13 common composting myths is a must read!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Goal #5: Learn to compost! Setting up the bin

After working on the first five goals I set for our family, I'm finally ready to move onto #5 which is learning to compost. For this task, I called in Laurie Perez, better known as Wonder Worman, to help me set up my wood worm bin in my backyard and get going on this baby.

Instead of a boring old blog post, I decided to capture Laurie and all of her sassiness on video. I don't know a darn thing about composting so I envision probably calling the Wonder Worman hotline several times a week. She doesn't know what she's getting herself into!




Laurie also has a cool blog about her worm experiments.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Jeff Tweedy, naturals products and my head is going to explode!


Kinda OK hair here, Mr. Tweedy
It is fairly safe to say, that I know more about Jeff Tweedy than green labeling, ingredients in products or natural certifications. I have often considered opening a twitter account just based solely on the fact that Jeff Tweedy has had ridiculous hair since he exited rehab for his pain killer addiction in 2004. Why do I know so much about Jeff Tweedy? I've been following his career since 1995 when I was handed Wilco's AM CD when the music director at the station I was interning for didn't want to air it (thank you Allison Steele). Oh and this beautiful thing called The Internet.

I've been struggling over understanding labels, certifications and ingredients for a month now. Last night, I almost had to take a xanax to get to sleep it was stressing me out so bad. Then I started thinking there had to be a way for me to make money and talk about Jeff Tweedy's hair. JUST KIDDING. Eventually, I fell asleep and when I woke up, I obsessed about it some more and some more. Then it hit me, why do I know so much about Jeff Tweedy? Well, I've been wasting my time over 15 YEARS reading* about him. It was then I decided that I needed to stop stressing about this and just start relaxing. 

I usually don't buy ice cream because I usually make a batch but I had put my ice cream maker away for the fall (usually only need it in the summer) and I was craving a scoop of vanilla on a fig galette I made. I ended up going with "naturally flavored" Tillamook which is an Oregon brand. As I was scooping it on my galette, I decided to take look at the ingredients and sure enough, I didn't pay close enough attention. It contained corn syrup and carrageenan (a Vaseline-like food additive and carcinogen). Going green FAIL.



The thing that ticks me off is how loosely the term "natural" is being used. At work today, I saw some hand lotion labeled "natural" on one of the nurses stations and I turned it around and noticed parabens, phthalates (artificial fragrance) and then acronyms like PEG-100 and a statement that said "only 70% of the ingredients used are natural." (note: this lotion was someone's personal lotion). How can a company consciously call a product like that natural?

My son loves vanilla wafers and graham crackers. Try finding one at your local grocery store that doesn't contain high fructose corn syrup. No joke, I spent 30 mins in the cookie aisle at Fred Meyer until I gave up and went to Whole Foods.

So where is a good place to start to learn about ingredients and labels? The EWG cosmetic database and the Bubble and Bee's blog have been a great resource for  learning about ingredients. I have come some way since starting this blog but I still don't quite understand some things. And this is where I need your help.

I'm not an expert on any of this and sometimes I'm not sure what to believe when I'm on the internet. I'm just learning and well, it's been a little frustrating seeing that my natural toothpaste also contains carrageenan.

Where do you go to learn about labels and ingredients? Who do you trust? Who do you not trust?

Hopefully, 15 years from now, I'll be able to say "I know more about natural products then I know about Jeff Tweedy."

*I just want to make this clear, my love of Jeff Tweedy has nothing to do with his looks but it would be nice if his hair was combed once in a while.

Goal #5: Learn to compost! About red wigglers

After working on the first five goals I set for our family, I'm finally ready to move onto #5 which is learning to compost. For this task, I called in Laurie Perez, better known as Wonder Worman, to help me set up my wood worm bin in my backyard and get going on this baby.

Instead of boring old blog post, I'm going to have a series of videos this week. First one, Laurie talks about using red wigglers and how she got into vermiculture composting.



Up tomorrow, setting up my Wonder Worman Wood Worm Bin!

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