Gifts from Bend, OR

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Green your coffee routine

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

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Movies to watch: Forks over Knives

Make that a soy latte
I've been hearing the buzz about the documentary Forks Over Knives for a while saying it will convert you into being a vegan. Being a vegan was a challenge I was going to take for a month last year until I found out I was pregnant. I could totally be a vegetarian but cutting out dairy seemed super extreme that I could never do. Never say never is what my mom used to say.

When the nation's top cardiologists are prescribing this diet over medication to treat and cure diabetes, heart disease and cancer, that is really something to think about. There was a clip on a woman in Canada with stage 4 breast cancer who changed her diet and has lived almost 20 years longer than she was expected and cured her breast cancer. Never say never, right?

When analyzing my family's consumption of meat and dairy -- it's high in dairy especially my son who loves yogurt and cheese which seem to be a preschooler's staples. My son will not eat vegetables and I'm told this is a phase who'll grow out of. He loves fruit though.

We've toyed with the idea of going meatless Monday - Thursday in our house. I even may start Vegan Tuesday, similar to Meatless Monday.

What are your thoughts? I would love to hear. I'm still processing the movie in my head. I guess the bottom line is everything in moderation.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: SNOWOMG!


Snow came really late this year. And that's pretty bad for a town whose economy counts on it for tourism. Last week, it snowed over 5 feet at our local resort, shutting it down for a day. We headed up to go sledding. Let's just say, pregnancy and watching your family sled, don't mix. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Green plan: Use reusable training pants

my son will kill me someday for posting this photo
After 3.5 years of diapers, we're finally diaper free in our house. I will admit, I should have done this sooner but nothing seemed to motive my son -- that was until he saw Cars 2 and he wanted new cars to play with. Everyone had advice for me ... put him and pull-ups and then try to switch back to diapers, he'll throw a fit! Have him aim on things in the potty! Have him watch Daddy! None of it worked, until a few folks told me about the 3 Day Potty Training. I heard about it at a baby shower, over lunch with Nanette and at work. This was going to work. And guess what, it did.

How it works? Have your child throw away their diapers. Watch them carefully as they pee their pants all day and put them on the potty. When they potty in the chair, give them a reward. By day three Ben was going on his own. To get the full details of the training, pay for the e-book and download it. He still has problems wetting the bed at night and has the occasional accident about once a week (like today, he was too busy playing) but it's been glorious for us, especially since we'll be back in the diaper game in a few months.

Instead of using Pull Ups for training (which in my opinion, don't work-- they are like expensive diapers) we had a couple Kushies training pants that we used during a three day period which worked out great. When I would put them on Ben after training, he would demand Spiderman undies because "I'm a big boy."

Yay! Well, until April, I guess.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Meatless Monday: Mushroom Pot Pie

I love getting inspiration from fellow bloggers and people I follow on Twitter. Imitation is the best form of flattery, right? Nanette, who is super cool in real life, made this recipe on Christmas Day for her brother-in-law who is a vegetarian.  Super intrigued, I asked her for the recipe.

The recipe was a hit in my house. All we really needed to add in the end was a tad bit more salt. If you can't find puffed pastry, maybe try canned biscuits on top when there is about 15 mins left in the baking process.

Mushroom Pot Pie
by Real Simple

Ingredients
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds mushrooms (such as cremini or button), halved, or quartered if large
4 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 celery stalks, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
kosher salt and black pepper
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup frozen peas
1 sheet puff pastry (half a 17.3-ounce package), thawed

Directions
Heat oven to 400° F. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, carrots, celery, onion, thyme, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the broth and peas; bring to a boil.

Transfer the mushroom mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish. Lay the pastry on top and cut several vents in it. Place the baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the crust is golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Let rest 15 minutes before serving.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Live local, buy local -- What does that mean to you?

A few months ago, that sticker to the left appeared in my goodie bag at a local marketing conference I attended. I decided to slap it on the back of my Jeep because I felt I was doing just that -- living local, buying local. Boy did that sticker give me a smack of reality.

The first instance of reality came while I was in the drive thru line for Starbucks. The month of October and November bring out my favorite treat, pumpkin spiced lattes. I then began to feel silly heading to Starbucks twice a week when I had a coffee shop in my work building that could make the same thing and cheaper. The reality, the taste wasn't the same but I was supporting local.

The next instance, Trader Joe's. I do most of my grocery shopping there because their dairy products don't contain hormones and their processed food line promise no artificial preservatives or flavorings. For the rest I shop at Fred Meyer, which used to be Oregon based and then remembered they are owned by Kroger. Oops.

Another .. banking. We bank at Chase. I like their mobile app as I can deposit small checks we get here and there. I do have a second account at Umpqua Bank, which is Oregon based.  But still, 90% of our banking is at Chase.

What do I do local? Apparently, not enough and that sticker made me realize that. I don't drink (or need to drink) a latte everyday but when I do, I'm really trying to hit locally owned shops whose drinks actually taste better thank Starbucks. They include places like Lone Pine Roasters or Backporch Roasters. Unfortunately, both places are on the opposite end of town from my office. If I can't have their latte, I don't need one. I have stopped buying coffee for home from Trader Joe's and have a good stash of 11 Roasters Bom Dia in the pantry.

For Christmas this year, my gift buying list was small, my husband, son,  parents and co-workers. I started this a couple years ago because we have so many family members on both sides, it was really stressing me out financially. Mostly everyone understood where I was coming from and felt relieved. For the parents, we got them gift cards to places they really enjoyed which was hard to buy locally for since they all live out of town. For my co-workers, I hit up a local jewelry maker who was having a big sale. My husband and son received gifts from local shops - coffee shops, toy shops. My husband did a great job of buying locally for me. He tracked down a pair of shoes at a local shoe store over Macy's.

There is so much more I need to work on and I do keep in mind this mission of this blog ... going green gradually.

What do you buy locally? And what do you need to work on? I'd love to know.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Pear and Chocolate Brioche Bread Pudding

I had a frozen loaf of homemade brioche that I needed to use up so I pulled out this recipe to try. It was so so tasty! Now I want to make another loaf of brioche to make it again!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Product Review: Shaklee Gentle Cleaning Bar and Balancing Moisturizer

I receive many requests to review products but most of the time they don't fit the scope of my blog ... going green gradually. But when Sommer Poquette emails you asking to try to a product, you take notice.

Sommer is the mastermind behind Green and Clean Mom and site Mommy is a Blogger which explains to children and the world what moms online might be doing with their blogs and also offers tips for mom bloggers.

I was pretty honored she emailed me being that my blogging hasn't been too consistant due to working full time, taking care of a family full time and being pregnant. She also presented me with a line of products that I was having a hard time greening -- beauty products, in particular a facial cleaning soap and moisturizer.

My beauty routine for my face had been using Dove Soap and Olay Moisturizer -- both a 4 on the Skin Deep Cosmetic Database.  Both contain parabens and SLS. I used a host of natural products and then I discovered the natural products where really bringing out my rosacea. Everything I tried was too harsh for my skin given that it was all natural. I don't normally have tricky skin and I was pretty lucky to never have an acne problem -- just rosy cheeks. I gave up and started using my Whole Foods Whole Body Wash on my face and Whole Body Lotion on my face. I still wasn't satisfied but my skin wasn't turning red anymore.

I was asked to pick two product to try for free and review from Shaklee. I had heard from friends that maybe I should try Shaklee but I don't know anyone who distributes it locally and I really don't have the time to take on the task of being a distributor. Shaklee offers a variety of green and natural products for nutrition, weight, home and beauty.

Shaklee's mission, according to their website is "to provide a healthier life for everyone and a better life for anyone. We do it by making natural products that are so exceptional, you just have to tell your friends. Every product that goes into every Shaklee bottle is designed to improve health, work without compromise, and be gentle on the planet. When you pick Shaklee, you will know three things to be true. It is always safe. It always works. And it is always green."

After browsing through the website, I picked out two products from the beauty line Enfuselle -- Gentle Action Cleansing Bar (Retail Price: $19.05 Member Price: $16.20) and Balancing Moisturizer (Retail Price: $24.70 Member Price: $21.00) both paraben free. I will note, they only have a couple of products on the Skin Deep Cosmetic Database but the ones they do are rated 0-2 but their back label is full of ingredients I can't pronounce (Gentle Action Cleansing Bar label and Balancing Moisturizer label)  but I went back to their mission above.

About the Gentle Action Cleansing Bar:
  • pH balanced and specially formulated for use on sensitive skin
  • Additional vitamins E and A boost skin’s softness and moisture retention
  • Rich lather leaves skin clean and refreshed
  • Perfect for shaving
  • Ideal for use in the shower
  • Hypoallergenic
  • paraben free
Basically I placed the bar in the shower and used it to wash my face instead of the Whole Body Wash I was using. Lather, put on your face and rinse -- that simple.

About the Balancing Moisturizer 
  • Lightweight, non-sticky formula doesn't add oil, yet it deeply nurtures and hydrates skin, rebalancing it so that it feels smooth, firm, and fresh with a long-lasting matte finish
  • Triple-patented Vital Repair+ supports the skin's natural defenses against UV-induced collagen breakdown.
  • paraben free
After out of the shower, before applying make-up, I put a quarter size amount of the moisturizer all over my face. 

The result: for the past month I've been using both products and I'm happy to report my skin looks great! Neither product made my face angry red and my skin has been pretty smooth with no break outs. I would buy this product again and what I'm particularly jazzed about is their line of baby products (which are rated on Skin Deep as a #2). If you're a Shaklee rep who lives in Central Oregon, I would love to talk to you.

Disclaimer: I was given the product to try at no charge. The opinions are my own. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Meatless Monday: Roasted Vegetable Soup

I love soup in the winter but I'm not a fan of tomato soup. For months, my husband has been begging me to make a tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for Meatless Monday. I came across this recipe in my Fresh Flavor Fast cookbook by Martha Stewart and Everyday Food and decided to give it a whirl.

The technique -- roast a number of vegetables, then place in veggies stock and bring to a boil, then puree. It was simple except the leeks burned! Next time, I will probably not roast the leeks but boil them in the veggie broth. Don't get me wrong, it didn't taste bad and added a layer of smoke to the soup but I think next time, I'll try it without burnt leeks. Another thing we added, 1/2 cup of heavy cream or half and half -- whatever you have in stock.

Roasted Vegetable Soup
adapted from Fresh Flavor Fast


Ingredients

6 beefsteak tomatoes, halved and cored
2 leeks, white and pale-green parts cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium vegetable broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup of heavy cream or half and half


Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In roasting pan, toss tomatoes with leeks, carrots, garlic, and oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in a single layer (tomato cut sides down) until tender, 1 hour. Using tongs, peel off tomato skins. Note: if you don't like burnt leeks, add the leeks to the veggie broth and cook until tender before adding the roast vegetables.

In saucepan, bring vegetables, vegetable broth, and 1 cup water to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes.

In batches, puree in blender. Stir in basil and heavy cream or half and half.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Spidey scooter

A little look at our Christmas. Our kid got spoiled at Christmas from the grandparents and was so exhausted from playing, he went to bed early.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Meatless Monday: Grilled polenta and tomato sauce

Making polenta is pretty easy. You can get a bag of Bob's for $3 and it usually makes 4 servings of polenta. With that, I usually will use it as a side, mold it to a pan and grill or make polenta lasagna. BUT there are sometimes, I like buying that $2 tube at Trader Joe's to slice and grill.

The recipe is simple. Slice the polenta to desired shape, brush with oil on each side along with seasoning with salt and pepper. Grill 5 minutes per side and top with prepared or homemade tomato sauce and cheese of your choice. Serve with a nice side of green salad.

It's the perfect meal for hectic weeknights!

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