Monday, April 23, 2012


This morning, the air was summer-cool..the kind of warm, that is brisk in the early hours but promises to warm up as the sun works its magic. The cool was awakening, but not chilly cold.. the kind of warm that feels good while sneaking out in nightclothes capturing the awesome sky.. The open and gloriously alive with promise.. God's eyelashes, slowly opening presenting His magnificence. The eye, the light captured on the cloud's underside (from my perspective) reflecting back..lights and darks, radiating..shining..contrasting with wisps and voluptuousness, blues, grays, whites..Sounds-sweet bird conversations, louder as the neighborhood is still quiet..and the crisp, warm-cool air on my skin. And the smells of greens-grasses, leaves, flowers, and dirt..even the smell of the coolness, warming up. In every direction sky the stirrings of neighbors beginning their days. A stolen moment, as my children and husband wait inside, awake, unfed, and whining.. A mother trying to absorb the moment in a compacted minute to make up for the long, relaxed moment, I long to have.. Sunrises pass so quickly..special moments end so abruptly..babies grow up before I can catch my thought of them..I hope that when this time in my life passes,  I will find that my heart truly remembered-truly LIVED them in those fleeting sunrise moments..

Friday, April 20, 2012

Little Chores

We have made some changes this week that are really making a difference.

Our normal pattern of leaving the majority of the cleaning for the weekend is not working.

Last weekend when we asked our two older children to help us clean, they both threw tantrums citing that we were using them as slaves. They spent more time complaining than cleaning and it was a very painful process. It usually is a painful experience on the weekends trying to play catch up for a week long neglect.  To their credit, it is overwhelming thinking about all that needs to be done on our weekend that should be a time to play.

I have been afraid to ask them to help during the week because they are in school all day and still have homework, violin to practice, cub scouts, etc.. But, the amount of mess that they make is more than I can keep up with.

This past weekend was the last straw. They were taking on attitudes of entitlement that I was not happy to witness.

I told them that we were going to do thing differently starting with the expectation that they each were going to be expected to do a chore a day.

The results surprised me.

1. They did the chores willingly without much complaint.

2. They did them quickly so they would have free time sooner.

3. They seemed to feel good about themselves for doing it.

4. It did not take much time or hair pulling.

And there were some other realizations and surprises.

1. Two children doing 2 chores a day equal 14 tasks completed a week. They would never do that much on a weekend.

2. Because they cleared living room and kitchen floors of toys yesterday, I was able to sweep, vacuum, and mop those floors today in about 30 to 45 minutes time while the baby played in the same room.

3. We now do not have to spend hours cleaning the house tomorrow.

4. It is Friday and I do not have to be embarassed about letting anyone come over, when normally at this point in the week, the house is horribly cluttered.

I also realized that by breaking the housework into smaller tasks, it becomes much more manageable such as instead of having the goal be clean the whole kitchen, it is on thursday, clear floors, then friday sweep, vacuum, and mop the floors. This is also better, because when you have a baby/toddler to watch, you do not have huge chunks of time to complete huge tasks.

Also, smaller tasks are not so overwhelming for kids to do and they are much more willing to help when the tasks are in smaller bites.

Why did we not figure This out before now?

I really don't have to do it all...and I really shouldn't have to, either..

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The city

A couple weeks ago, my husband and I went on a date to My. Tabor park at twilight. We followed a trail that we have never explored before. The view of the city was amazing. I love Portland for many reasons; it's parks, its natural surrounding beauty, farms, sustainability ethic, people, but what is a city..physically?  There is a lot of pollution, generally, a lot of waste, materialism rampant co-existing with with poverty, factories, smoke, car exhaust, injustices.. In the  past, I have not liked cities..But, that was before I lived in Portland. This city is different (to me)..  All of what I do not like about cities is here, but it is much more than that, and has such natural beauty still here, that it is so much more liveable. 
Still, it is amazing to look at the city from above watching the lights below.  All the negative aspects of what it does to scar the earth are there, but it is amazing that it can still be beautiful..  Man-made,  and not so sustainable or natural, but  soo beautiful.  What an interesting juxtaposition! I  suppose it may also depend on how you view our overpopulated locusts taking over the  earth and eating everything in its path, or as beautiful gems glittering in the  night like the city lights; we create beauty even in our messes; or something in between..imperfect, making mistakes, but beautiful just the same..  Somehow, our  beauty still shines through our mistakes..Somehow, the city is beautiful, despite, how it has severely altered the landscape with cars and buildings..  Perhaps there is hope for us.  I would really like to  believe that.  We have really messed up our planet and have created systems that are not just, especially to the  poor..And we  have been so selfish--look at what we do to other countries..using  them to produce our cheap stuff..People work severely long days in China to produce our ipads, the  expense of their own families, so that we can get them  cheaply..  What mistakes we are making right now..  But, look at  how beautiful we are in the shining lights of the  night..Somehow, we are so amazingly beautiful too, even in the messes we make...Look at how beautiful  Portland is at night..Look at the  wonders we have created in architecture, technology, art, music!!  Look at how the streets are so organized and thought out!  So much beauty!  We are such creative creatures!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Is Healthy Whole Food only for the Elite?

Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?

thumbnail pic comes from the article.  (hope it is okay to repost here) let me know if it is not.  Giving credit to the article for the graphic..  I think it would also be good to show some other cost comparisons cost of TV dinners and also show the cost of organic/vs. non organic choices.. grocery store versus getting from farmer/or food co-op)

quote from article

The core problem is that cooking is defined as work, and fast food is both a pleasure and a crutch. “People really are stressed out with all that they have to do, and they don’t want to cook,” says Julie Guthman, associate professor of community studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and author of the forthcoming “Weighing In: Obesity, Food Justice and the Limits of Capitalism.” “Their reaction is, ‘Let me enjoy what I want to eat, and stop telling me what to do.’ And it’s one of the few things that less well-off people have: they don’t have to cook.”

We need to make some lifestyle changes in the way we approach food. It should and does not need to be more expensive to eat healthy food. Eating and enjoying the preparation of healthy real, unprocessed foods is not just for the elite and/or leisurely. 

For a long time now, the government has subsidized corn and soy which encourages the production of unhealthily fed cows, chickens, fish; the production of corn syrup which has been used in so much processed foods, and the use of oils that when consumed inflame our arteries causing heart disease, diabetes. The choice between convenience now, but health problems later  (or) Eating real, whole foods now, and living longer, healthier, accruing less med costs from chronic illnesses later..being there for our grandchildren (hopefully).  

(my own mother died at the age of 55 from heart attack)..she cut the fat off the meat and bought low fat foods, but she did not realize those chips and boxed foods, sodas, margarine were much more dangerous than animal fats..  Article on what really causes heart disease

 There really are some easy quick healthy ways to cook and eat. 

  • The crock pot is one great tool for this.  Get up a little earlier, and prepare some food in the crock pot to be ready by dinner time.  Also casseroles can be prepped ahead of time (refrigerated or frozen), to stick in the oven when the time is right.
  • Beans  are not expensive and are quick to prepare and be a main course or an added protein to help you feel full..  
  •  Potatoes and salads can be embellished many different ways to create a whole meal that is satisfying. You can add broccoli, bacon, hamburg, cheese, seeds, beans, etc to potatoes!  and it does not take very much "prep time" and it is really inexpensive. Salads can have added nuts, dried fruits, raw fruits, beans, tempeh, or left-over meat to become a whole meal.
  • Eggs-We can eat a lot more eggs than we thought..and they are a great staple any time of day, not to mention quick to prepare.
  • Sandwiches-There are so many types of sandwiches and they can be a lunch or a dinner, hot or cold. Simple or gourmet.  Want an easy dinner: grilled cheese sandwiches!  
  • Big Batches. When you do have an afternoon to cook, make a big batch of something or double the recipe. Freeze the excess into smaller batches.  This is a wonderful budget and time saver.  Make 2 lasagnas, make extra pancakes, make an extra large stew, chili..All of those things freeze well, and take little extra time to increase the quantity.  Two meals for the time of one (plus).
  • Soups-Every week, I buy a whole chicken, and that chicken provides 2-3 meals.  Meal 1-we eat the chicken as our main course, Meal 2-left-over chicken for sandwiches or smaller supplement to a meal, Meal 3-I use the bones to create chicken stock which makes a healthy soup!  Talk about stretching out the nutrients and cost of the chicken.
  • Purchasing bulk meats from a farmer, a meat CSA if you don't have as much freezer space, can save money on meats that are not fed corn or treated with hormones, etc..  
  • Food buying clubs-can help cut some of the costs of the jacked up grocery prices.  
  • Buying local, in season foods can be cheaper too. don't buy strawberries from Mexico in December.  In the winter, carrots, kale, cabbage, root vegetables, apples are usually not expensive staples.   In the summer-stock up on strawberries, corn, green beans and freeze them if you really want to eat them during winter months.  put your heating budget into your food budget during the summer..
  • Meal Planning: Plan out predictable menus that repeat each week or bi- week.  This is really good for budgeting $ and time. You have predictability in your shopping, planning and food prep.  For example: Monday-chicken night, Tuesday-soup night, Wednesday-bean night, Thursday-red meat night, Friday-homemade pizza night (or pasta), Saturday-crock pot or casserole, and Sunday-fish. There can be variety and flexibility with each category, but it is predictable and you can track cost and time that needs to go into each meal.  
  • Grow food in your yard, or in pots.  (and example of growing possibilities using cinder blocks at an apartment)  
  • Join a CSA, (community suppored agriculture) and get a weekly box of veggies during the summer (and sometimes even winter months)
  • in recipes calling for more exotic or expensive foods, use substitutions of foods you already have.
  • Herbs go a long way in adding flavor to foods..and you can grow them an indoor pot, or a garden outside..  One plant is all you need for years of flavoring! Rosemary bushes are hearty outdoor sources of flavor!  Oregano, mint, thyme, parsley also grow very well outside even sometimes in the cold..  You often do not have to keep replanting it..  My parsley goes to seed and reseeds itself for the next year.  

  • If a grocery store is not nearby and you do not have a car, bike to the store, use a backpack or bike trailer to lug the groceries. sometimes, the extra cost of having groceries delivered can eliminate the impulse spending in the store) 
  • if you do need to use a bus to get groceries, buy enough for 2 weeks so you don't have to go as often.  
  • Buy grains, beans, and nuts in bulk (popping corn, rice, wheat, oats  buy beans dried rather than canned.  Beans are a wonderful source of nutrition and there are so many uses for them..garbanzo beans alone are a wonderful staple..Ever roast them in the oven with olive oil and salt, hummus, in a casserole?  pinto beans for burritos, kidney beans in a chili, or a 3 or 4 beaned salad?  Beans are cheap..and very healthy!  Nuts are satisfying and can be stored in freezer/refrigerator, cheaper in bulk.
There are many more ideas out there too, to make food prep easier, cheaper, and fun..

Also, preparing food need not be drudgery after a long day of work, it can be pleasurable, when you turn it into a challenge, or a work of art..It can be relaxing too, if you listen to music, talk on the phone, ask friends to join in.  Heck, you can even watch TV, while you prep food, if you are really needing that wind-down time.  It can be educational for the kids if you include them in the prep too..  Food prep is art, it is community time, it is relaxing time..  It need not be a chore..  

And when it does feel like a chore, that night, might be a good night, to pull out one of the meals you have frozen from the weekend, to give yourself that break..  

So, what if you are faced with the choice, I can afford an apple or a big mac.  That big mac may fill you up, but that apple with give you something simple and have vitamins in it. It may not "fill you up"  but it won't come with it (negative nutrition)-- You won't die if you are a little hungry, but you will die(over time), if you eat too much of all those additives and oils..  

In the US, we eat so much food, but so much of what we eat is dead and empty of nutrition, but full of additives and hormones.. We need to care about this..  We need to not feel bad about paying attention and putting some more time and prioritizing food into our budget a little more..  We spend tons of money on entertainment, but feel badly if our food bill is too high..  but, if we cannot afford a high food bill or entertainment bill, we do have option of eating some healthy cheaper staples..or even eating less, as long as what we eat "COUNTS" towards providing nutrition to our bodies.  (and not negatively counts towards hurting our bodies)


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