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.

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)


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 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.


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

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


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