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.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Green plan and goals for 2012

I had grand plans for 2011. I had a long green list which in the back of my mind, I knew would take two years to accomplish You can view what progress we made by looking at what's checked off on that list.

Here is the remaining list of green goals I'm looking to accomplish in 2012
  • Earn the natural baby badge on Practically Green
  • Switch to compostable trash bags and liners 
  •  Recycle my old computer 
  • Plant a tree or bush 
  •  Install one low-flow shower head
  • Use a home-energy monitoring device to track electricity usage 
  • Install one low-flow faucet 
  • Upgrade my vehicle's fuel-economy by 5 MPG 
  • Buy a bathroom product made from renewable materials
  •  Install LEDs or CFLs in 10 light fixtures 
  • Use a broom instead of a hose to clean my driveway 
  • Bring hangers back to the drycleaners 
  • Track my trash for one week 
  • Get an energy audit 
  • Install smart power strip to turn off TVs and computers completely 
  • Turn off the lights when you leave a room 
  • Wrap a gift using used wrapping paper/boxes/bows/ribbons
  • Send e-cards for holiday 
  • Switch to LED holiday lights
  • Buy organic yogurt added
  • Switch to reusable training pants 
As for last year's resolutions, I stuck to most of them. I didn't learn how to make tamales, nor did a do a craft each month (more like every other month). I lost 15 lbs but then gained it back within 20 weeks of being pregnant. I didn't figure out my career path but came more and more to appreciate my job (even with its up and downs). The one thing I am disappointed in was not finding time to blog or engage in social media, personally.

The problem, I'm a working mom and there is some guilt with being in front of the computer and neglecting my son. My husband was pretty awesome and a couple times a month, would push me out the door to work on my blog at a coffee house. There were times when I just felt like my son (and husband) were a little more important than writing up our latest green goals. I took naps with my son instead (esp. the first 15 weeks of my pregnancy) or we read books or enjoyed a movie. 

This year, I decided to not come up with so many resolutions but come up with ones that will make a meaningful impact. So in 2012, I resolve to:

Have more friends over for dinner. More often then not, my focus is on my job and family which means friends come more of acquaintances. Since I love to cook/bake, I'm going to have more friends over for Sunday dinner. 

Take a parenting class with my husband. I haven't talked much about it but my son had a rough year. Because he had a pacifier for so long, that delayed his speech so in September he started speech therapy. With becoming more vocal (and also being a three year old), he definitely has found his voice and is testing boundaries. We've discovered that our parenting styles are not on the same page and that has confused my son so starting in two weeks, we're taking a three month long parenting class through Lil B's speech program.

Enjoy maternity leave. 

Not fall asleep in my son's bed each night.  After dropping the pacifier, Lil B has either fallen asleep in our bed and moved or I have fallen asleep in his bed. I need to cut the cord before the baby comes or we're going to have big big problems.

Eat more meatless meals. I got this awesome cookbook for Christmas with that goal in mind.

Get the baby room ready by Feb 1. I'm due in April but we have furniture to assemble and clothes to go through. 

Buy used over new for the new baby girl. I've been hitting up our local consignment stores for clothes and items. 

Organize and purge. My closets are still a mess!

OK, that's it for now. What are some of your goals/resolutions?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Creating holiday memories: baking with your child

As I mentioned, I have very fond memories of helping my mom bake cookies so this year I sought out holiday cookies Lil B would love to participate in making.

One of the best I have found is one that involves square pretzels and Hershey's Hugs. It's the perfect combo of sweet and salty and my co-worker proclaimed them "crack." It's easy for my three year old to follow the directions on but I had to watch him as he'd eat a pretzel, then eat a hug and then put them on the cookie sheet. This involved a lot of handwashing as you could imaging.

Sweet and Salty Pretzel Hugs
found on Pinterest

bag of square pretzels
bag of Hershey's Hugs

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line parchment paper on cookie then place pretzels on the sheet. Then top with Hugs. Bake for 2.5 mins until the chocolate is glossy. Remove from oven and press down melted Hugs with a square pretzel.

Creating Holiday Memories: Pick out ornaments from the Goodwill

Setting up our tree was a magical experience for our three year old this year. I was quite disappointed last year when he wasn't too interested in any of it but this year, but I could see it in his eyes this year. He enjoyed filling the tree with ornaments. He's enjoyed making cookies. He's obsessed with Rudolph and Frosty and wants to watch the Polar Express every night. He can't wait to find "Chippy"every morning.

After setting up our tree, Lil B noticed we didn't have an angel or star and talked my husband into going to the store to get one. My husband had remembered a story about our local Goodwill on the news talking about how they have an over abundance of Christmas decor this time of year. While I rested on the couch (this baby just zaps my energy), they headed out and came back with this:

My son loves the color purple and glitter (what kid doesn't?) and I thought it added a nice touch to the tree.

This will definitely be a holiday tradition -- buying a used ornament each year for the tree from the Goodwill. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My mother's pecan sandie recipe

One of my favorite activities to do with my mom as a child was bake Christmas Cookies. One of my favorites were her pecan sandies (aka snowballs, Mexican Wedding Cookies). I still have and treasure her hand written recipe without the directions on how to put it together. I make these every year and get requests on handing down the recipe so I thought I would share it with my readers (with directions).

Mary Lu's Pecan Sandies

1 cup butter, softened at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons water
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1 cup pecans, chopped fine
Powered sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a mixer, cream butter and sugar together until smooth then add water and vanilla until combined.  Add 1/2 cup of flour at a time on low with mixer until all added. Once combined, fold in pecans with a wooden spoon. Chill dough for 1 hour (her recipes says 3 hours but I have never chilled it that long). 

Roll into balls and place on a cookie sheet on parchment paper and bake for 20 mins. Once cooled, roll in powered sugar. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Meatless Monday: Stovetop Mac n Cheese

I realized last week, I have talked about this before but never posted the recipe. My go to mac n cheese is a Martha Stewart classic: stovetop mac n cheese. Mac and cheese, from viewing my Meatless Monday archives, is a winter staple in our house and one that is guaranteed to be lunch and leftovers throughout the week.
Sometimes I will mix in frozen peas at the end to make it pretty and to get our vegetables in. Sometimes I make it with elbow or shells or whatever is on hand. Getting the noodles done at the same time as the sauce can be tricky.

Stovetop Mac n Cheese
From Everyday Food

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Coarse salt
4 cups whole milk
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 pound small shell pasta or elbow macaroni
4 cups coarsely grated sharp yellow cheddar (3/4 pound)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium; add onion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is pale golden, has a slightly nutty aroma, and is the texture of cooked oatmeal, about 5 minutes.

Whisking constantly, pour in 2 cups milk; add 2 more cups milk and cayenne and whisk until smooth. Cook mixture, stirring constantly along bottom of pan, until boiling, 6 to 7 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens and does not feel grainy when a small amount is rubbed between two fingers, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente; drain thoroughly and return to pot. Remove sauce from heat and let cool 10 minutes (FYI, I usually skip this step. The one time I did let it cool, it quite didn't coat the noodles like I wanted). Quickly whisk in cheese, mustard, and Worcestershire. Pour cheese sauce over pasta and stir to coat.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Chippy is up to no good

Brian and I have been having fun with coming up with inappropriate things for Ben's "Chippy" to do. Most of this scheming takes place during nap or bedtime so Ben is unaware that Chippy is tainting Santa's cookies and hot cocoa with laxatives! Ha!

It's all part of Baby Rabies Inappropriate Elf Contest. When it's time to vote, I'll let you know. I hope I win that iPad!

Chippy spikes Santa's Cookies and Hot Cocoa with laxatives

It's rare that I show you my twisted side since this blog is mostly about our green journey but I sure did have fun coming up with inappropriate but PG-13 ways to portray Chippy. Now I must put him back where he was this morning not to fool Ben.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Five

Thank goodness it's Friday.

  • This morning I was told "I hate you" for the first time by my son. He was mad because he wanted to wear his Oregon Ducks jersey for the third day in a row to school. My husband had to work early and the shirts were dirty and I had to make him wear something else. Halfway to school, he threw his shoes at me.
  • This baby is really starting to move a lot. She is really craving double chocolate cake donuts with sprinkles.
  • Lil B is mostly potty trained but can't quite get #2. Any advice? 
  • My husband and I are entering the Inappropriate Elf Contest. His entry was The Shining but I think "step one, put a hole in the box" is probably the winner so far or maybe "wrong pole, Skippy."I have until Sunday to come up with mine.
  • I'm glad the weekend is coming though I need to wrap gifts, get boxes off to grandparents in the mail, bake more cookies and find sometime to blog.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Lifehacks: DYI Microdermabrasion

Want that fresh faced glow without spending a lot of dough? Take three parts baking soda, one part water and mix into a paste. Apply in a circular motion and then rinse. Thanks Pinterest!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Creating Holiday Memories: free or low cost ideas for holiday fun

I was lucky enough to grow up surrounded by a large family at the holiday season. It's something I often feel guilty about with my son so I try to make the holidays (and well, the rest of the year) special for him.

This Thanksgiving, we spent it potty training my son (more to come on that someday). It meant staying indoors and keeping him occupied with activities. First up, we made one ornament for the tree, which I was completely surprised he was totally into.
We spent most of the day following a three year old and making sure he made it to the potty but we had turkey dinner around 4 pm and since Lil B didn't take a nap, he feel asleep at 5:30 pm.

The next day, we spent the evening watching the annual Bend Christmas tree lighting.  That's when I got to thinking and crowdsourced one of my favorite mom sites, Bend Moms for Moms and asked the question "What are the best holiday activities to do with your kids in Bend?"

Here are just a couple ideas from the forum:

  • hunt for a Christmas tree in the national forest (cost $5)
  • decorate the tree
  • watch a local Christmas parade (we have two I can think of)
  • watch a tree lighting
  • pick up a few pinecones, glue sequins on and you've created a mini Christmas tree
  • make homemade ornaments
  • walk or drive and look at Christmas lights
  • go to the Reindeer farm (we have one in Redmond)
  • string popcorn for the birds outside
  • pick a name off the tree of joy and shop for a child in need
  • go sledding, skiing or snowshoeing
  • make Christmas cookies
  • go ice skating
  • search for the Elf on the Shelf
  • make paper snowflakes
  • go to the Goodwill and pick out used ornaments
  • Address holiday cards as a family
  • make a gingerbread house
  • watch Polar Express and drink hot chocolate
  • watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
  • attend a holiday party

My friend Alissa also clued me into this site which has tons of ideas to make these into an advent calendar.

What are your holiday traditions? I would love to hear them. I'll also be documenting the ones we do as a family.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Meatless Monday: Polenta with Rustic Marinara Sauce

photo from
This dish was so tasty, we forgot to take a photo. Oops. Polenta is easy to make. It's as easy as picking up a bag of Bob's Polenta and following the back directions.

Sometimes we once the polenta is molded, we'll either cut into wedges or circles and eat it cold or grill it on quickly on our grill pan.

Since it's easy to make, I usually don't mind making this quick marinara from Martha Stewart. It's so good, you'll fool your friends into thinking you spent all day slaving over it.

Polenta with Rustic Marinara  Sauce
Adapted Bob's Red Mill/Martha Stewart

2 cups water
Salt to taste
1/2 cup medium-grain yellow polenta
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Heat water lightly seasoned with salt to a boil over high heat, about 5 minutes. Quickly whisk in the polenta until fully incorporated.

Lower the heat to a low simmer, add the butter and allow the polenta to cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

Finish by stirring in the cheese and salt to taste.

Spread warm polenta evenly in an 8x8 pan. Put in the refrigerator and let cool until firm.

Marinara Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 minced garlic cloves
red-pepper flakes, pinch
two 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes with juice, crushed
2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 minced garlic cloves, and a pinch of red-pepper flakes over medium until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add two 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes with juice, crushed; season with salt and pepper. Cook at a rapid simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 15 minutes. Makes 4 cups.

To assemble, flip 8x8 pan over and cut into wedges or use a biscuit cutter and cut into circles. Serve cold or grill (brush with EVOO) in a grill pan for 2 mins per side. Top with marinara sauce.


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