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.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ordering business cards

I have a rule ... family first, work second, self third and blog fourth. I have a list of things a mile long I want to do for my blog but time usually gets the best of me!

But not this time. For months, I have been wanting to order business cards from Botanical Paper Works and now, I'm going to cross that off the list especially since they are offering FREE shipping in April (because who doesn't LOVE FREE shipping?!?).

And if your looking for something special for Mom, check out these cute cards and gifts.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Family Gardener

As I wrote that title, instantly what comes to mind is the Minus 5 song from "Down with Wilco" called the Family Gardener.

There is a really good version of that song on Sunken Treasure that I have on my ipod. Recently, that song has reminded me of my husband who has a green thumb in our family. Preparations are underway to get our urban porch garden up and running.

He spent this weekend installing a few gutters so he can plant lettuce and onions. We also found some old containers in the garage that we will plant herbs in. We're also searching for hanging tomato planters but no one seems to have them just yet.

See that basket thing to the right of the photo? Last year, I tried planting herbs in there but was quite unsuccessful. Any ideas on something for that? I might Freecycle it.

Do you have any ideas and suggestions for us? We'd love to hear them.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Green plan: Reduce showers to 5 minutes

Did you know the average American's shower time is eight minutes? During that time, it's estimated that a standard show will use 7-10 gallons of water per minute.

I tracked my showers for six days and discovered my average was around 7.5 minutes -- during that time I would only wash my hair (most days with baking soda) and body. My longest was 12 minutes, only because I was so tired after being up from 2-4 a.m. with my toddler and I was trying to wake up! Almost eight minutes seems to long for those tasks so the past three weeks, I've been using my trusty kitchen timer to time out 5 minute showers. You can buy a shower timer, if you want to get fancy but your kitchen timer or your smartphone would probably do just as good of a job.
good ole kitchen timer

Why is this part of my green action plan so important? Not only is it worth 20 points on Practically Green, but it will help save on water and gas (hot water heater) bills. If you shower everyday, like me, that means you could be saving up to 140 gallons of water per week. My husband has always been pretty quick in the shower since he used to be in the Navy and took  navy showers and my three year old is afraid of the shower so he baths every other day.  We use his bath water to water plants and hopefully this summer we will use it to water our garden.

What are other ways you cut back on water in your house? We also follow the "if it's yellow let it mellow. If it's brown flush it down." Just remember to flush when you have guests over. I was quite embarrassed when the sitter discovered this when she last babysat.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Meatless Monday: Black bean burgers

Thank goodness for Costco. When life is hectic, they sell these awesome Morningstar Farms chipotle black bean burgers that you can do many things with like:

  • top a salad
  • make a wrap/burrito 
  • burger
  • mix with eggs
You get the picture. And yes, life has been pretty hectic which is why I'm telling you about my little short cut. Now go out and buy a case!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Lemon coffee cake

Lent is over meaning I can eat sweets again. Yesterday, I make this amazing lemon coffee cake courtesy of Martha Stewart. It was worth the 40 day wait!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Coloring Easter eggs

Last night, the little one (well, mostly me) colored eggs for Easter. Some of my friends will boil up 4 dozen and color them but I only opted to do six eggs -- 4 white and 2 brown eggs as I'm not a fan of eating hard boiled eggs for weeks. I know from last year that using brown eggs will give them a nice jewel tone.
eggs from 2010
The year, I tried the eco-eggs easter egg coloring kit and I got good results (last year, I used PAAS). I  let the eggs sit longer in the dye to get rich colors but I still think they could have used a longer time (more like 30 mins).
eggs from 2011
My husband and I wish we would have done another blue as they really looked like Robin eggs and I really like how the brown in the purple dye turned out pink. 

As you can see, the kid was pretty excited about the eggs.
Looks like a Robin egg


counting eggs
Happy Easter! How are you celebrating? We'll be attending an Easter egg hunt, going to brunch and seeing the family that lives locally. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

EWG launches redesigned Skin Deep Database

The EWG's Skin Deep database is my go to for ingredient checking in beauty products. Today they announced a new redesigned look.

According to their website:


Now Skin Deep has a new look and feel, as well as some great new features that we developed in response to your feedback: 
At the heart of EWG's Skin Deep, as with all our work, is a drive to make sure that consumers like you have the information you need to make smarter choices. If we have ever helped you pick a better shampoo, moisturizer or sunscreen, then I am asking for your help today. Without financial contributions from supporters like you, we won't have the resources to keep up our research.
 The site has a smoother, modern feel to it. Happy browsing!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Remember to bring your mug


As part of Earth Month, my favorite coffee place, Lone Pine, is asking folks to bring your own mug. I hope this drives home the importance of less paper cups in the landfill.
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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Red wigglers and toddlers: a good combo!

I hesitate to write this but I believe spring has sprung in Central Oregon which means playing outside on the weekends and after work to tire the toddler. My son has discovered the worms in the composter and will stand by the window and make requests to go out and "play" with the worms. It's not really playing but more or less my husband finding one and they giggle about it wiggling. I caught them in the act the other day.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Meatless Monday: Mediterranean Macaroni and Cheese

Mediterranean Macaroni and Cheese
I love mac and cheese so when I found this recipe from Everyday Food for Mediterranean Mac and Cheese, I had to give it a try. Anyway to "sneak" veggies in my mac and cheese is an opportunity that my child will get some veggies in his system. This recipe is simple and very tasty! Great for a weeknight dish. The husband says this is a keeper!

Mediterranean Macaroni and Cheese
by Everyday Food


Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
8 ounces elbow macaroni
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
8 ounces feta, crumbled

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Set a large pot of salted water to boil and butter an 8-inch square baking dish. In a small bowl, combine tomatoes, olives, and oregano.


Cook pasta 2 minutes less than package instructions; drain pasta and return to pot. Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium. Add garlic; cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Whisk in milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, whisking constantly, until sauce thickens, 3 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in 4 ounces feta. Stir in tomato mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Pour mixture over pasta; stir to combine.


Pour pasta mixture into dish and top with 4 ounces feta. Bake until sauce is bubbling and cheese begins to brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Homemade biscuits and gravy

yummy in my tummy
When former Bendite and cookbook club member, Anna moved away, I was glad she kept her food blog going. I'm often inspired by her recipes and her homemade biscuits and gravy was no exception. I have never made biscuits and gravy so when I saw the recipe on her blog, I couldn't get it out of my mind.

On Saturday morning, I made the biscuits as that was going to be the only time I would probably have available since we had a full schedule of activities for the day

Buttermilk Biscuits

Ingredients:
2 c. flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, diced
3/4 c. buttermilk, plus 4 T
2 T butter, melted

Preheat oven to 450 degrees with your rack in the middle.

Place flour, powder, soda, sugar and salt in food processor and mix to combine in six 1-second pulses.

Distribute butter evenly over and pulse 12 times. Pour buttermilk over and pulse 8 to 10 times, until wet clump forms.

Transfer dough to lightly floured surface and pat into a ball. Using floured rolling pin, gently roll out to 1/2 inch thick. Use floured biscuit-cutter to cut 8-9 biscuits.

This morning, I made the gravy part with my own additions for my husband. He was so excited as the smell filled the room.

Sausage and gravy (for biscuits and gravy)

Ingredients:

1 lbs of sausage (I used generic sage breakfast sausage)
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup milk
splash of cream (optional, I had some on hand)
dash of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Brown the sausage until cooked. Remove the sausage but leave the drippings. Add butter to the drippings and when melted add the flour and stir constantly until incorporated (about 1 min). Add milk, cream, cayenne, salt and pepper and whisk constantly until brought to a simmer. Turn down the heat and let it thicken, whisking occasionally. Pour over biscuits and sausage and eat.

I will never used store bought AGAIN!
I will definitely make this again!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bye bye yellow pages

I was so happy when this appeared on my door!
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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New toys: my indoor composter

Add caption
Since getting our worm bin in October, we've been storing our vegetable waste in the refrigerator and then making a couple trips out to the bin to feed the worms. My friend made a suggestion that I pick up a cute little composter from World Market. For under $20 I got the crock and some compostable bags for the cute little bugger.

Which reminds me -- switching to compostable trash bags is on my green plan. Any one have suggestions on bags to get? I'm about to run out of my Costco trash bags.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Green plan: veggie garden planning

We're working on two green plan goals at once: planting a vegetable garden and planting containers for vegetables. My husband and I can not agree on our garden. First issue is that we don't have space in our small yard for raised beds. Second issue is our area has a short growing period. Third issue is that I want to start small and he wants to go big.

how does your gutter garden grow?
He's been doing research and came across an article about an DIY vertical garden. He has me sold but I also don't want him to go overboard. As of right now, he's planning on installing them on our fence, not the house and he'd like to plant kale, lettuce and onions.

As for containers, I going to do a few herbs and tomatoes.  I also feel that maybe all that is too much and maybe we just only grow on vegetable.

I'll keep you posted on where we land. We have a few more weeks so things may change.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Meatless Monday: Rigatoni with Chunky Vegetables

Spring is trying to make it's way to our neck of the woods but the weather is not spring-like. Sure, my daffodils are blooming but usually, you are safe with driving over the mountain pass in April but last weekend I frantically looked for the chains for our Jeep as my son and I were heading over to Salem to meet some friends. The reality was the roads weren't that bad but for about 10 mins it was white out conditions at the top of the pass. Yikes.

To usher in spring, I've been cooking up spring-likes dishes. Rigatoni with chunky vegetables sauce is perfect for that. It's fast to make and you'll barely notice the vegetables, it's that delicious. Fast and delicious make a perfect combination to a busy work week.

Rigatoni with Chunky Vegetable Sauce
from Martha Stewart



Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced medium
2 medium zucchini, diced medium
1/2 pound cremini or button mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (28 ounces) tomato puree
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, coarsely chopped
1 pound rigatoni

Directions

In a medium pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add zucchini and mushrooms and cook until vegetables soften slightly, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add tomato puree, season with salt and pepper, and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a rapid simmer and cook until zucchini is crisp-tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in oregano.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta water; drain pasta and add to sauce, tossing to combine and adding enough pasta water to create a sauce that coats pasta. Serve immediately.

Friday, April 1, 2011

TGIF! Good reads for the week

Sheesh, where did this week go? Here's a tip for all of you parents out there: if your child is attached to his blanket, don't throw it in the wash while he's watchings. You'll have 2 hours of crying for his blankie.

Here is this week's good reads:

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