Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Importance of Community

Drama today.  Our wonderfully sweet almost 1 year old kitten that we have co-raised since he was 2 minutes old was lost...He always hangs around and today, he was was just "not there"..All day..  I suspected he might be in a neighbor's garage and would be home around dinnertime as people came home from work, but at 7pm, still no cat..  I have two young children who are very attached to him...and I didn't want them to have the heartbreak of losing him like that.. I was imagining all sorts of terrible things..hit by car, stuck under something, trapped, hurt, kitty-napped..  Not such great images when you still think of him as the little 2 minute old kitten not quite a year ago... 

After dinner, our family of 4 approached our neighbors.  (I was just reading in Radical Homemaking..about the importance of community, and as a Baha'i we are encouraged to reach out to community especially our neighbors)...Well, here we were meeting neighbors, we had only "seen" in passing.  One woman lives right behind us..behind our backyard fence..Our backyards are only separated by a fence.  She is 99 years old. She invited us in and gave us a tour of her house.  It was like going back in time...a wonderful experience to get a snippet of a time long past..She was one of the sweetest people I have met in a long while.  She put her arm around me and talk to my children and told us stories of her life and showed us a picture of her deceased husband who had made crafts with veterans for his profession (or retirement)..  She looked at his picture lovingly..."he was a very good man"---  I hope my husband can say that about me (if I die first) and vice versa..  She was one of the oringinals of our neighborhood.. been living here 50 years..  I'm sure she has seen a lot in 99 years..  We invited her to go to breakfast with us tomorrow.  (It is a Holy Day for Baha'is, the 9th Day of Ridvan)  So, my husband is taking the day off work, and I am taking the kids out of school to commemorate the Holy Day--have a family day, and go to our community celebration. 

While we visited with her, the thought occurred to me that the reason that our cat is missing is so we can connect with our neighbors (especially this woman)...  (but I was hoping desperately our cat was okay)

when we got home, still no cat.  I was a mess...trying not to cry and be dramatic in front of the kids (especially since they were staying optimistic and calm about the whole thing)..  Then at 9:45PM, my husband looked out the front window and exclaimed, "there he is!"

I couldn't believe it..I was thinking for sure, he must be dead or lost or hurt, or stolen...  He was wet, but he was fine!!!  Relief..  I brought him into the kids room, (they weren't "quite asleep" and let them hold/pet him before feeding him) And now, I'm going to go find him and get me some kitty snuggles.  (was that life #1/ 9 for him??)  He really is a wonderful cat...  mellow, smart, sweet, and puts up with the antics of a 5 and (almost 7 year old)...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Frugality and food. A Painters Palate

I was thinking quite a bit about my post yesterday about putting costs into perspective with "basic needs" and I found this blog about becoming more frugal.

I'm hoping to really read this blog and get some ideas..  One idea I liked so far is --quote-- "Almost Frugal is a blog about frugality and about learning to be frugal. For us, being frugal doesn't mean deprivation, it means being smart with your spending, saving and money goals." 

I think it is also about being creative...learning how to "make do with what you have"--turning what we have into different things--I am trying out this concept with my food shopping.  Sometimes I buy too much..this week, I thought in terms of "just getting by" letting some things "run out" (that it is okay to run out)and what has happened so far, is that we still have "plenty to eat"--I am finding food that would have been wasted is being turning it into "creative meals and snacks"--because that is all we have this week..  It forces me to be more creative....forces me to also cook from scratch more..(we have tons of bulk foods)--Bulk food is like a supply of art supplies to me..  So many possabilities of how to arrange them onto a canvas.   It is just as fun creating and cooking a meal to me as it is to compose a painting!  A few years ago, I had no idea how creative it could be to cook...It can occupy my mind, my body, and my creative energies..and provide healthy nourishment for my family all at the same time.  And it is limitless..the combinations..and possabilities..

Monday, April 26, 2010

Asparagus and Pizza!

3 cups of flour (sometimes I mix whole wheat and some white together-I do it differently each time)
2 TB oil
2TB sugar
1tsp salt
1 TB dry active yeast
1 1/4-- 1 1/3 cups warm water (it depends on how soft you want your crust)

Add warm water to dry ingredients, then add oil.  mix  and work the dough with mixer or by hand until it is stretchy and a bit sticky.  cover bowl with a plate and let sit on counter to rise for an hour.  Then roll onto baking pan/pizza stone (whatever you have on hand)  Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.  Put aside.

1 can of tomato sauce ( or your own canned tomato sauce)  
1 small can of tomato paste
garlic salt (or real garlic)
basil and/ or your spices of choice 
warm up and simmer so the flavor is cooked into it.

Mozzerella cheese or a mix of cheeses
I like to use seasonal vegetables.  Right now asparagus is in season.  Zucinni and eggplant are wonderful on pizza, in my opinion.  My kids really like pepperoni.  Garlic is also WONDERFUL on pizza too..  Basically whatever you like...  When fresh basil is in season, I put tons of it..  or spinnach.. Pizza can be very creative and can be done "on a budget"  and "in season"

Bake your pizza at 350 for 15 minutes. 

Thought for the Day: The Basics

Thinking out loud...

As I was washing the dishes this morning, I was thinking about how to save money become more frugal, live more simply.  What to give up?  This is the part of sustainability I wish to work on now.  How does one become a "Radical Homemaker" and be more independent from the corporate world? I don't think we can be indepenent from it entirely at this point? Especially when you don't have a huge amount of land to work with...However,  it does boil down to basics.

What do we need to live on?


In the US in order to have shelter, you need $$ to pay a mortgage or rent
For water, you need to pay your water bill--or have a well?  collect rainwater for "graywater" roof-run off?
For food, you can grow in your yard, in pots--this is where you can have a little wiggle room. 
And love is your friendships, your neighbors, your family...

We do not "need" TV, ipods, movies, games, toys... Those can be supplemented through our creativity.. 
(for me, I need books--  (-;  but a library is a free source of that..)  We (our family) can definitly improve on spending less in this category..

Other things to think about:

Saving for college for our kids
Paying for our college loans
Medical---fortunately we have insurance...but I know that this has been a tough one for many many people..and it shouldn't have to be..However, for many, if we eat less processed foods and eat more organic, whole grain, grassfed, veggies, get our "good bacteria"-probiotics...We will have fewer trips to the doc..  (but I realize some have chronic med issues that can be a drain that will not be easily "fixed"..

car---sometimes, the car isn't as needed..(we are thinking about going down to one car)--because we have public transportation and excellent bike trails around the city.  Biking, walking, bus, carpooling, etc..
Vacations--these can definitly be done frugally..camping, bringing your own food...limiting the sightseeing that costs $$..not driving too far away, except for "special" trips..

Well, I've got to end now..Take my daughter to preschool  (-;

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Feeling Soo inspired by book Radical Homemaking

Reading this book and feeling sooooo inspired. This is beyond liberal/conservative--It is NOT about being "subservient" or "less than"--It is about being independent of corporations--of developing SKILLS that have been that we don't have to be in such a hurry and have to buy (McDonalds or other convieniences)--so we can eat healthy food...and buy less "stuff" and instead spend time together as familiies and community..get to know our neighbors.. And also feel fulfilled/self-actualized---and be responsible to our planet, our animals, and people in 3rd world who sweat blood/starve to make our $5 t-shirts.

page 54

The first sacrice we make to this extractive economy is our time...we attribute little or no value to our time, unless it is used in a process whereby money changes hands..It matters not what the time was used for, so l ong as the trade resulted in the generation of dollars. "It could go to thinking up new ways to seduce children into drinking more cola, or plotting ways to subvert clean air laws," notes Rowe. "So long as the time has flowed into the market and increased the churn of money there, it has been used beneficially where the economic mind is concerned. " Once we have sacrificed our time to the extractive econonmy, there is even more money to be made, because we now must use our hard-earned cash in order to purchase substitues for the time we've traded. We buy take-out and fast food when we don't have time to cook dinner. We buy prescription drugs when we no longer have time to take care of our health and get ample rest. We buy luxury goods for our loved ones as a substitute for spending time together. We throw out our shoes when the soles wear thin, toss our electronics into landfills when they stop working properly, because it takes too much time to repair them. In the long run, we wind up cash-poor and time-destitute, while coporate American
accumulates our wealth."

Page 58 Toward a Life-Serving Econonmy

(Shannon Hayes says that whether we work in the home or outside the home, it is important we follow these 4 tenets in our livelihood)
1.  Respect and care for the community life.
2. Ecological integrity
3. Social and economic justice
4. Democracy, nonviolence and peac

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Exercise, the Brain, and Sustainability

I have so many topics I'd like to write about...but lately I'm having to share the computer with my daughter as she climbs on me and begs for PBS kids online.  (-; 

For about three months, I've been going to a gym.  (it is not the eco gym in article I'm mentioning)--too far away for me.  But, it it worth mentioning.  A gym that powers itself through solar paneling and from the exercisers--through the exercise bikes and treadmills.  What an idea!  Oregonian article about Portland's Green Microgym

I want to mention exercising, because, it has been one aspect of "health" that I have neglected for a very long time.  For three years, I've been gardening, eating more organic foods, cutting out processed foods, even making homemade cat and dog food for the pets as well, but I have not been much of an exerciser. (and I need to be since heart disease runs in my family)

So, finally, I got a gym membership.  The Bally's near me costs $30/month for my membership and I get free childcare.  Perhaps Bally's isn't the best?  But it is very close to where I live and affordable and so far I am loving it! 

So, I hop on the eliptical and "read".  I just finished the book, Spark by John J Ratey.  And I have to say, that it was inspiring to me.  I learned a lot from it.  The basic idea is that exercise makes you smarter, helps students in school, helps you cope with stress, anxiety, depression, Attention deficit, addiction, and slows aging.  Not to mention---self esteem! 

"In SPARK, John J. Ratey, M.D., embarks upon a fascinating and entertaining journey through the mind-body connection, presenting startling research to prove that exercise is truly our best defense against everything from depression to ADD to addiction to aggression to menopause to Alzheimer's. Filled with amazing case studies (such as the revolutionary fitness program in Naperville, Illinois, which has put this school district of 19,000 kids first in the world of science test scores), SPARK is the first book to explore comprehensively the connection between exercise and the brain. It will change forever the way you think about your morning run---or, for that matter, simply the way you think" (review from Amazon)

So, this has been my latest challenge, working exercise into my routine. I have the goal to go to the gym 3x/week for an hour of exercise each time with at least 30 minutes of cardio.  My success has varied from week to week depending on how busy we are, but I can't stress enough how important it is to exercise. It is not enough to just change ones eating habits alone. Exercise makes just as much of a difference to one's health as food.  It boosts the immune systems, helps make bones stronger to battle osteoporosis, helps prevent cancer (reduces free radicals??) I haven't really lost "weight" yet, but I do feel my muscle mass growing, my energy and moods improving, and I have a feeling I can do more--It makes me less intimidated by taking on physical challenges-realizing that there is "good pain"...And there is a a great feeling after find a rhythm in which I can sustatin for quite a long time.  I haven't had that kind of confidence in quite a long time. 

There have been times, I've felt good in that way...when I was 17 and biked everywhere around town.  Biking=freedom and independence and I became quite fit then.  And another time, after my daughter was born and I put the kids in the stroller and walked a lot--(to get them to nap)  and I had my daughter in an ergo carrier most of her first 2 years while I chased my toddler son around.  ergo carrier

So, I do have some "muscle memory" and that helps me now, as I am trying to get into shape.  It is easy to get discouraged.  Results are not always as immediate as I'd like, but nonetheless, at 2-3x/week.  I am getting stronger and at the very least, feeling like I am doing something for my heart.

The Green Microgym generates as much as 40 percent of its own electricity from solar panels and exercise machines like stationary bikes.

Radical Homemaking

"Domesticity can look a lot different these days when it means cooking more, shopping less and kicking the consumption habit"

"But Hayes' brand of domesticity looks a lot different than the cheerful stain-fighting women we see in detergent ads. The women and men Hayes profiles in her new book strive to eat locally, live on less, and untether themselves from a consumption-driven culture. They cook more, shop little and make do with what they have. They strive to view decisions through the lens of family, community, planet and social justice."

I like this idea "radical homemaker"---it truly is a revolution. A woman(or a man) can be feminist and enjoy being at home, working from home, caring for his/her children, and live in another way--a simpler way and consume less...

This is a different way of looking at homemaking--finally some validation for being feminist and truly loving and choosing a way of life that is very fulfilling!"  Some may argue that I am not doing something "worthwhile or fulfilling with my life or contributing financially to the family..But what I have to also take into account is  how much it "costs" to provide a second income. (childcare, clothing, time lost, needing to eat out, having to buy more processed foods because we are busier, hire someone to clean, extra gas, etc.)  And what can be more rewarding or more fulfilling than parenting my children and having the "time" to make sure they are getting food that is not processed and put in a can(coated with BPA) or allowing them to stay at home when they are sick.  That isn't to say, I don't need "intellectual stimulus of my own and adults to be around"---but for me, I find so much satifaction from my independent learning.  I have learned so much in the past couple of years; not just book learning, but learning that I can immediately apply.  I have found a deep appreciation for people who lived generations ago who had so much skill and know-how..People who could survive without electricty or running water. People who could build their own homes, grow and hunt, make soap, farm, preserve, make clothing, educate their children..  They spent time together..without television or ipods or computers to distract them. They did not have shortcuts (that I'm suspicious merely clutter our lives ie. dishwashers, microwaves..)  They did not waste (well, I'm sure there were people who wasted, but probably not those who were living simply off the land--pioneers.. They have much respect in my book.  They knew how to adapt, make do; they were resourceful. We can't go "back" but we can learn to use some of those skills..since how we are living now is not going to sustain us for long.  They were smart...and educated...and I have always...truly always wanted to know "how" they did it..Surely this is an education just as worthy as my MS in Counseling. 

 Article about Radical Homemaking in today's Oregonian


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