Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book Review:: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

I am back from up north.  There is something completely blissful about being in a place where my to-do list is completely useless.  So I read.  Specifically, I read, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life" by Barbara Kingsolver and family.  This book is far from new, so many of you may have already had the chance to enjoy.  

In case you aren't acquainted with the book, I will give you the gist.  The author and her family commit to a year of local food.  They try to eat only items they have harvested themselves or can get locally (with a few exceptions).  The project was inspired by the desire to cut their carbon footprint and place importance on food, family, and growing culture.

Not only is the book easily accessible and well written, but Kingsolver shares her journey without guilting you about yours.  Some of my favorite parts were the essays from her husband sharing how to get more involved and tidbits from her daughter on what it's like to grow up in our food "culture" with recipes for local meals.  Best of all, the book emphasizes a feeling I have long held, that we each individually may not be able to change the whole world, but we won't get anywhere if we don't get started.  Little changes lead to bigger changes and inspire changes in others.

So if you are looking for some summer reading, maybe pick this up.  Perhaps you will be inspired to garden, go to a farmer's market, or just look a little more carefully while shopping in the grocery store.  Whatever you are inspired to do, surely it will make a difference.

Have you read "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle"?  Did you enjoy it?  What did you most get out of the book?

Friday, May 27, 2011

On My Mind::Up North

This week my mind is on up north.  That's the general term in Michigan for anywhere you vacation north of where you are.  For my family, that's Lake City, where my in-laws have a little place on Lake Missaukee.  It is one of the few places in the world more quiet than my own home.  No computer, no TV, just us, the lake and each other.  After the past few hectic weeks, I am ready for some extreme peace and quiet in nature.  Well, as quiet as it can get with these two guys around.

Linking to: On My Mind at Down to Earth
What are is on your mind this week?  Any big plans for the weekend?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Seeing "Forks Over Knives"

Over the weekend we were on the east side of Michigan.  As that is the only place right now in our state that "Forks Over Knives" is playing, we made the time to go see to the movies (thanks to gracious grandparents).  The movie was ok.  If you, or someone you care about, hasn't read "The China Study" or other books exploring  the benefits of a whole food, plant based diet, what they say is true, it could save your life.  However, if you are already moederately well-versed in all things vegan, the movie is more like icing on the cake.  There were a few things I learned that blew me away.  Like the fact that the U.S. spends 80 billion dollars (much of it on preventable food induced illness) each year on heath care.

But what really kind of put the wind in my hair, was the little theater we watched the movie in.  The landmark Main Art Theater in Royal Oak was adorably quirky.  Several times voted the best place to see an independent film by local press, the theater certainly seemed to cater to a different crowd, our crowd.  Paul ordered a peanut butter vegan cookie.  Our popcorn came in a bag printed with water based ink on chlorine free paper.  Hot tea was available to order.  Inside the theater we got to talk to other vegans about the books they were reading.  I imagine it's what people in cultural hubs get to experience much of the time.  For us, it was a totally out of the ordinary treat.

Friday, May 20, 2011

On My Mind...

I have decided to start participating in On My Mind, a photo feature started by Rhonda at Down to Earth.  Every Friday I hope to share with you something in my life on my mind and invite you to do the same.

On my mind this week is flooring.  We started the monumental (at least to us) task of pulling up (mold, dust, and allergen filled) carpet.  We just have a small corner of our room done, as we have to wait for nice enough weather to open the windows and the time to work to fall into alignment.  The thought right now is that we will repair and paint the cement and lay rugs where needed.  Even with the hope of having the toxicity of the carpet out of the house, the task is daunting.

What is on your mind this week?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Busy Bees

Like the bees that have temporarily taken over my red bud trees, we are busy around here.  The amount of rain we are receiving here in Michigan means detailed planning for spring projects.  The main focus has been getting the garden planted.  We tried gardening with minor success in the past and are trying very hard this year to do more and create gardening traditions.

The sketches in the garden journal are coming to life in the form of raised beds, squash and watermelon mounds, and container planting on the patio.  Hopefully come summer the time invested will reap its rewards.  For now I am just happy to have things in so that we might enjoy a little bit of vacation.  I will be back soon with home updates, reviews and giveaway, and more recipes.  Thanks for bearing with me while I make the most of spring.

What are you busy trying to get done this spring?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Recipe:: Coconutty Delicious Bars

My family and I have been gradually changing the way we eat even more lately.  I have been cooking up a lot more gluten-free, sugar-free, vegangoodness.  Every once in a while I stumble upon something worth sharing with you...like these (self-named) coconutty delicious bars.

These are an adaptation on the raisin nut bar recipe found in Clean Food.  I am not a big raisin fan, so I substituted dates and added some coconut.  Give it a shot.  Mix it up.  Make it yours.  And enjoy how yummy healthy can be.

1 1/2 cups chopped dates (I use the food processor)
1 cup quinoa flour (or brown rice flour)
1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
1 cup walnuts and almonds chopped (food processor again)
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
100% pure Apple juice as needed (I didn't use any)

Preheat oven to 350

Place dates in bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit 10 minutes or until soft. Drain and press out excess water. Chop softened dates and set aside.

In large bowl, combine flour, oats, nuts, and salt. In separate bowl, whisk together oil and syrup. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients, add dates and mix until blended. You want the dough to be moist enough to stick together. Add apple juice if needed to achieve this consistency.

Oil 6 x9 inch glass casserole and press in batter so it sticks together and is consistently thick throughout. Pre-cut into squares and bake 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely before removing from pan. Store in airtight container. 

Makes 16 squares.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It's that time of year again

Few things make me happier than laundry drying on the line.

Have you gotten hung up on it yet?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Garage Sale Finds:: Mother's Day Weekend

Everett and I went in search of garage sales to replace the ever-growing number of pants Tucker goes through each week.  We found some pants and also...

This super cute kid-size futon

...and this trivet which works perfectly in my kitchen (for only a quarter!).
Did y'all find anything tasty this weekend?
Linking to: Thrift Share Monday

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Maternal Wisdom: Happy Mother's Day!

When I first found out I was pregnant with my oldest, I rushed to tell my mom.  Her reaction wasn't at all what I was expecting.  Instead of the congratulations or thrill of excitement I had hoped to hear, it was more like, "Wow...well...wow that is something, huh?"

I was disappointed and told her so.   Not until this moment, 6 years later do I truly understand what she said to me in response, "Willo, of course I am happy for you.  Of course I will love this child and be excited to have them in my life.  But I know how much it totally changes a person's life to have children.  I know how your life will never again be the same, never again be totally yours.  I know what a difference this will make to you, good and bad."

Those words seemed harsh at first, but now I see them for what they are-words of pure, true maternal wisdom.  Because motherhood is on of the greatest spiritual journeys, but like any spiritual journey, not without its cost.  Our hearts are mortgaged from then on out.  I give mine gladly in this pursuit and give thanks to the boys that share it with me.

I honor all of you mothers out there and I share this bond with you.  The bond of the wisdom my mom shared with me and that only a mom can have.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Making Mom Happy

You may have heard, Mother's Day is coming up.  I usually give my mom a gift to charity as I do for all gifts.  This year was different because my mom got herself something very special, an iPad 2.  I wanted to help her celebrate her big purchase and prove myself helpful.

The earth-friendly (and super cute) case was found at Colcasac.  They provide cases made in America from  "tough materials that are easy on the environment."  Even better, they are members of 1% for the planet.
I chose the Austin for my mom and gave it to her last weekend so she could use it as quickly as possible.  She loves it and I love that I was able to do something good for both my mom and mother earth in giving it to her.

What are your plans for Mother's Day?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Garage Sale Finds:: Schoolcraft Sales

The season is here again for garage sales in Michigan.  In spirit if not in weather just yet.  Friday was fair and sunny though and it found Everett and I meandering through the neighboring village of Schoolcraft for the the local garage sales.  I must say we did very well for ourselves.

At the library I found this charming correspondence kit.  Is it just me or is there something so endearing about the idea of corresponding through a little kit with someone far away?

 Also from the library came these bookplates.  I adore books, bookplates, and these sweet birds.
 At a local church was this sleeping bag in perfect condition despite its being darlingly dated.
 The pillow and cover cost me $1.25.  Not only is it my favorite color, but it helped to completely impress my husband when I told him how much pillow covers can run in upscale catalogs.

What second hand goodies did you procure this this weekend?
Linking to: Thrift Share Monday.