Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Welcoming Fall...

Last post in August, which means it's September and that means fall is around the corner in my part of the world. I guess I always associated September with the fall season because of school. School means summer is over. The equation September + school = fall season! I don't know about you but I LOVE fall. It has so many wonderful aspects to it. I can't wait the 20 or so days till fall is technically here so I'm making a post today.

To me fall represents a time of change...as spring to most represents a time of re-birth. In fall we see changes from leaves changing color to the weather becoming colder/rainier. I also see warm sweaters to cozy up in and tea to sip on.Then there are the pumpkins to adore...and the gourds in all their shapes and sizes.Who can forget the fall harvest...including cranberries...yum!We are lucky enough to have a Cranberry Farm in our area. I checked it out a couple weeks ago after blueberry picking. They had the most delicious cranberries I have ever tasted! I am going to buy some of there fresh cranberries once they are harvested this September. I am so excited!

Speaking of fall harvests, our garden is starting to grow, grow, grow! And check out the cold frame my hubby built. He designed it this way so that our vegetables could grow taller with the cold frame still on, plus it opens and closes really easily. The only problem we had today was a little bit of rain water pooling on one side. I caught it before anything happened.

My garden has changed incredibly in a matter of a couple weeks. It's amazing how fast these little one's can grow. They have doubled there size since I planted them! In the front of this picture is broccoli, to the left is kale and in the very back is butter and romaine lettuce. I still have to plant my spinach. I need to get on that!

Change is really hard for lots of people including myself. I'm not a huge fan although I don't mind small changes here and there. It's when a bunch of things change all at once that can make it hard to deal with. Maybe that is why squash, gourds and pumpkins are all at their peak that time of the year. Comfort food, hello :)

This September will be a bit of a change for our family, because my guy is going back to school. Just to finish up a few classes and then he graduates with his degree. He hasn't been in school for a few years now, so this will be a huge adjustment for him. As for myself and my little one it will be an adjustment too, meaning we won't see him as much and also having to give him quiet time to do homework. I think this change will be good for us. My guy will be able to complete something he has been wanting to for a long time and we can move forward in our lives together.

Now go enjoy the last 20 days of summer and ask yourself what changes are happening in your life this Fall season?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Food for Thought

Food is fundamental part of our life and for most of us food is about pleasure, happiness, comfort, excitement, fun and fundamentally speaking survival. Food is also involved in our friendships, love and social interactions. I’ve been thinking recently about the food I eat and my state of happiness. I say state of happiness because I believe it is on a continuum or metaphorically speaking a roller coaster. I have ups and downs to my happiness and sometimes the ride stops all together and I get on the sad train. For me the sad train is also known as the SAD (Standard American Diet) train. I have definitely seen a correlation to my happiness when I’m eating high amounts of fresh vegetables, nuts, fruits and grain. My body feels healthy; my digestion is routine and painless. My state of mind is happy, my moods are enhanced and I feel good about being in my body. I can go for a long time without feelings of sadness, frustration, self-loathing or doubt. It’s usually when something effects my environment in a certain way that I find myself feeling upset. When I find myself eating foods that are processed within the day I am feeling tired, sluggish, and soon enough unhappy. Unhappy with how my body feels, unhappy with the pain in my joints and organs, and unhappy that I feel miserable.
From theses experiences, I believe the foods I eat give me short term or long term happiness. Short term happiness is usually from foods that release sugar in to the blood stream quickly meaning candy, fast food, foods laced with preservatives, soda, bottled juices, etc... Long term happiness comes from eating foods that are grown from the earth and sun meaning vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, etc...I’ve realized that I need to consume the best quality foods to have the best quality days. Since our bodies are in a continual state of repair as we age, we need the best possible energy to aid this process. The food we eat and the environment we live in are both essential in giving our bodies energy. Since I’m the owner and caretaker of my body I am going to without a doubt try to provide myself with foods that aid in replenishing and repairing my body.

Do certain foods make you happy? Have you seen a difference in the way your body and mind feel when you eat certain foods?

Here are some funny food quotes I’d thought I’d share:

High-tech tomatoes. Mysterious milk. Supersquash. Are we supposed to eat this stuff? Or is it going to eat us? ~Annita Manning

Shipping is a terrible thing to do to vegetables. They probably get jet-lagged, just like people. ~Elizabeth Berry

Plant a radish, get a radish, never any doubt. That's why I love vegetables, you know what they're about! ~Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Love Food :)

Working on a new post about loving healthy, fresh food! I was playing with my food this afternoon and this happened!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

New Commenting System & Update

I thought I'd let everyone know that I am putting in a new commenting system, so if you notice your comments have disappeared don't worry they will reappear within a few hours :) Hopefully this new system will be better and I will be able to individually reply to your comments!

Hope everyone is having a fun weekend :) I've been busy the past 3 days helping a friend sort stuff for the garage sale we had today. I sold a few of my own things and splurged some of my cash on straight from the garden produce from a neighbors veggie stand :)

Did I also mention I scored an Excalibur dehyrator!
It's an older 2500 model, but it was free, so how could I go wrong. It's a 5 tray system, runs well, but it just needs some love. I'm going to make a project out of re-conditioning it...there will be project updates!


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Top Ten

I thought I'd do something a little different today and post my top ten list. I dreamt about doing this, which I think is hilarious and pathetic. Don't I have anything better to dream about other than blog content?!?! I guess not :)

These are in no particular order, rather they are all things that are making me happy at the moment.

1. Our Fall Garden

Our fall veggie garden has been planted and it's beautiful. The picture shows that we made a simple raised garden bed. We might do another raised garden bed with some stone/concrete slabs we found when digging out the yard for this veggie garden. It will probably be a flower or herb bed :D
Butter Lettuce

I planted quite a few veggie starts including kale, broccoli, butter lettuce, and romaine. There is about 24 plants in total planted. I hope to plant from seed some spinach, since it's only a 30 day crop. It's amazing that it can take only 30 days to grow spinach.

2. Gardening Tips
I love learning about new and especially old ways of gardening. I find learning the old tricks of trade are really the most useful :) Here are some of the things I've learned from preparing a raised garden bed for this upcoming fall season...

If you are placing your bed on lawn or soil than you only need to add about 6" of soil mix. If you placing your raised bed on top of concrete, hard clay, or anything the roots of plant can't penetrate than you need roughly 9-12" of soil :)

We used a mix of our own compost, peat moss, and store bought organic topsoil. Try to find out where your soil is from and if it's been sterilized. Super important, so that your plants don't catch disease.

For fall planting know when the first frost of the season hits and count back from there to know when you should be planting. For example first frost hits mid October for us, so we will be planting our 30 day spinach crop anytime before mid September. Check out the above picture to locate your frost season in North America :)

3. Saving Plants

The little one and I did a wander through Wal-marts garden section and the plants were looking so sad being at many were at end of the season. We found these little guys though and rescued them! Four beautiful, small oregano plants, for only 50cents! We couldn't leave them behind and look how wonderful they look potted up together :) I've already used some in a soup and it was perfect in flavor!

4. Blueberry Basil Limeade
This has to be one of the most decadent juices I've tried. It would totally suit a special dinner or party. I think the basil gives it such a nice twist! I found this recipe on Gone Raw. I increased the basil, blueberries and lime in this recipe because I found it to watered down at first. Once I did that it was spot on, so you might want to decrease the water :) Just play with it and you'll find what you like best, so worth it!
Here is what I did...

2 cups of blueberries
6 large basil leaves
1/2 a limes juice
1/2 teaspoon agave (or whatever sweetener your prefer)
2 cups water (or less to your desired consistency)

Blend it up and serve over ice and garnish with some basil.
This juice of course does not have to be for special occasions like I mentioned before. It's a great everyday juice. My lil one LOVED it! He gulped it down and wanted more after :)

5.Spending Time doing Nothing
This is something I try hard to do! That sounds odd, but seriously when do we really do nothing these days. The past four weeks for us have been busy...I guess all of August has been non-stop, no wonder it's going by so fast. A couple nights a week my lil one and I will watch a special movie together that he has picked. Well last night it was Winnie the Pooh. This used to be one of my favorites as a kid, I'd always ask to watch it. It surprised me when I didn't remember the ending very well, which is a conversation between Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh. Don't worry this does have a point! Their conversation revolves around remembering to do absolutely nothing sometimes and just enjoy what is around us.

"Don't underestimate the value of doing nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering" -Winnie the Pooh, A.A Milne

6. My Son's Cowboy Garden Project
Here are pic's...

It's coming to end this little garden. We've been enjoying it for a couple weeks now, picking here and there. We've been adding it to salads and toppings on veggies. My lil guy LOVED this project and I would totally recommend it to any parent. What's great about it is that everyday they get to watch it grow, water it and the sense of accomplishment is priceless for sure. In the end we get to eat the sprouts yum!

7. Breakfast
I've never been a huge fan of breakfast, but since incorporating smoothies, green juices and fruits/nuts I never want to skip it! I actually look forward to breakfast, not the clean up though. Who likes cleaning up their juicer, really?!
Here are some pretty picture's of breakfasts that I usually have during the week :)
Fruit and Nut Breakfast Bowl with Blueberry Syrup

Blackberry/Blueberry Oat Milk Smoothie

Zucchini-Romaine Green Juice

8. Wire Jewlery
I love making making wire jewlery. I used to sell it online on artfire.com, but I found it wasn't really worth the fees per month, in comparison to how much I was selling. I did make some profits though, which paid for materials. Once I started working I totally stopped making new pieces because my time was so limited. I would have had to sacrifice other important things in my life to be able to do it, so away it went. I started making a few more pieces again, here and there. Mostly for myself or if a friend asks. It's something that I do enjoy doing because it's instant satisfaction.

Here are a few more of the pieces I've made :)
9. Blogging

I enjoy blogging because it's a medium in which I can express myself creativly through food and my life expeirences. I also found out quickly that it's a great way to connect with people, make new friends and be part of community of my interest. There is no way that I would be able to part of a large food community like this if I weren't online blogging. Another reason I blog is because it's my "me time." It's something that is seperate from being a mom, wife, friend, etc...I feel like I can be myself with no titles, roles or labels that I carry during the day.

There have been down-sides at times to blogging. Have you ever got sucked into the vortex of reading blog after blog, until you realize that you spent 2 hours just reading about other peoples lives. There are a couple blogs I have stumbled upon that leave me feeling like I am an ametuer blogger. These blogs tend to have perfect photos, good content, strong opinions and seemingly high education on varying topics. They leave me feeling inadequate, like their is no messy life behind their blog.

I am currently taking an online course that at one point will be discussing how women often compare themselves to other women. I guess in this case bloggers comparing themselves to other bloggers. Even though I have been blogging since 1999 having my own personal journal, I never felt as though I had to meet up to others expectations. Why do I sometimes feel this way now? Probably because I have moments where I compare myself to the seemingly perfect blogs. Leaving myself feeling the need to meet some expectation. Haha when did my blog ever become that important!

I realize I should take a look at the positive aspects of this situation. I should learn from these bloggers, appreciate what they have to share and I should learn to NOT compare myself to others. I also try to remember why I have my blog for the reasons I previously mentioned. That takes a lot of the pressure off and takes me out of that inadequate place.

Do you ever feel inadequate about your blog? Do you ever find yourself comparing yourself to other bloggers?

For some great blogging humor, check out these comics...they make me smile and laugh :)

10. Blog Awards
I was surprised and grateful when two bloggers decided to pass on awards to me.

Thank you so much blessedmama for the Happy 101 award! The award works this way, I list ten things that make me happy (done!). Then I pass on the award to ten blogs that make me happy :) If you've already received it and I mention you than just enjoy how much I appreciate your blog!

LittleMissBaker: This is my youngest sister's blog. She found something she is passionate about and I hope it leads her down a healthy, happy path.

Contagious Health: Melissa is compassionate, intelligent and fun blogger. I always look forward to her recaps, pictures and stories :)

What Run's Lori: Lori is insightful, inspiring, funny, exercising, delicious food making goddess!

The Way: Elle has one of my favorite blogs. She discusses important topics from health, wellness, spirtuality :) I love reading the articles she posts!

Bites and Bliss: A dedicated daily blogger! I admire those folks :) I feel like I get to follow her through a journey of healthy eating, exercise and life.

Raw Food Inspirations: I always try Pam's recipes, because she knows whats delicious!

The Raw Butterfly: Raw Butterfly is gentle, loving and kind. She posts helpful information and beautiful photos.

The(Teen)Age of Raw: A wonderful blog full of beautiful photos, stories about her life and eating raw as a teenage woman.

Rawkinmom:Love this blog because it's eating raw vegan through another mom's experience. Her family is amazing and she is so knowledgable :)

Rawdawgrory:I stumbled across this blog and I'm so glad I did. Rory is hilarious, educated and has amazing recipes. Not to mention him and his family are on a trek across the USA, talk about a journey :)

The rules for this award are, thank the person who gave you the award. Tell 7 things about yourself. Pass the award on to 10 bloggers you've recently discovered and you think are fantastic!

Thank you to Vegan And So Forth for the Versatile Blogger award!

7 things about myself

1. I have 3 sisters, but no brothers! Always wanted a older brother growing up :)
2. I have a degree in Social Work, my focus is in the mental health field.
3. I have moderate scoliosis aka my spine is curved. I have the typical S-shape curve, that you often see associated with scoliosis.
4. I broke my left wrist when I was 10 and my right ring finger when I was 12 both were during school related activities!
5. I do not have cable television. I watch movies in the evening sometimes, other than that the only shows I follow are HBO's True Blood and Grey's Anatomy.
6. I grew up living with my parents and grandparents. We lived on a large property where my grandparents had large gardens, and fruit trees.
7. I've travelled by car/truck, bus, train, ferry boat, passenger plane, canoe, kayak, hike, walked, ran, biked, but never by commercial airline!

I'm going to do what others have done with this wonderful award and pass it on to any of you that read my blog that have not recieved it. I know quite a few of you have, so if you havn't please do so because you deserve it :)

Writing dilemas

I have been writing a blog post over the past 2 days! I am usually able to get in 5 minutes here, 5 minutes there...it drives me a bit nutty doing it this way though. Unfortunately, the full time it takes me to write a post (an hour or so) I typically do not have in one sitting. I feel like one post takes days..wait it does! hehe :) Anyone else have this issue too? What do you do to stay focused and not frustrated?

Hopefully my post will be up today sometime, no promises though :)


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Flowers & Granola

I've been busy the past couple days enjoying my flowers and trying out some different bluberry recipes.

Here are a few pictures of what's been happening in my kitchen...

Blueberry-Orange GranolaBlueberry-Orange Granola Bars
Blueberry-Orange Donut Bits
I made three food options from the same recipe, which makes this recipe super versatile. The granola is delicious with milk, the bars are great for on the go, and the donut bits are just a healthy treat!

Here's the recipe:

(The Dry Mix)
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup almond
1 cup oats
1 cup buckwheat groats
2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice (mixture of cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg)

Blend everything in your food processor separately, except for the spice. This makes it easier to ensure that the seeds, oats, groats or nuts have broken down into small pieces. Add everything into a bowl. Add the pumpkin pie spice and mix.

*Note: If you don't have all these ingredients, use whatever you have in your cupboards. That's what I did! I'm sure these would be great with pecans or walnuts, or maybe some coconut!

(The Wet Mix)
1.5 cups dates
Orange Juice from 2 large oranges
2 tbsp vanilla
2 cups blueberries
Blend the dates, orange juice, and vanilla in the food processor till smooth. Add to the dry ingredients. Then blend the blueberries in the food processor and add to the dry. Mix everything!

Either form into little balls and place into the fridge. I let them harden for a 2 hours in the fridge and they were ready to eat! My lil one really enjoyed them this way :)The granola and the bars both need to be dehydrated for about a day or so. I knew my granola was done when it was crunchy and had very little moisture. I took the bars out at the same time and am storing them in the fridge since they do have a bit of moisture left in them. This makes them chewy and delicious :) As for the granola, it's my favorite way to eat this recipe. It's so good with milk and berries!

Give granola a try, it's much easier to make than I thought it would be. Hope everyone is having a great week!

And if you havn't checked out Bitt of Raw then you should because she is having an awesome giveaway! The deadline is August 27 to enter and believe me you want to enter for a chance to win!

Monday, August 16, 2010

I'm in blueberry bliss!

I switched it up yesterday, and decided to go blueberry picking with my mom, sister and my lil one.

Before I talk about that though, I should mention the rest of my week. I wasn't online much because I was staying at my parent's place. My parents were needing me to help them with a few things, so my lil one and I just camped at their house for the week.

We spent a few days searching used book and thrift stores. In which I was able to find a great juicing book! "Juicing!" By Judi Olstein, has recipes for juices, soups, sorbets, marinades, sauces, entrees, and salad dressings. It's quite different and only cost $2.00! I'll let you know if I make any of the recipes.

One morning I was looking at some of my sister's book and discovered she had a great smoothie book, which she purchased at the same bookstore I had found my juicing book at. Can you guess the price? Only $2.00!

"Smoothies for Life!" by Daniella Chace and Maureen B. Keane, gives a review of almost all the ingredients they use to make up their recipes. They give you alternatives to milks, talk about supplements, and even give you grocery lists for ingredients. This book is informative and at the same time had me laughing. The names of some of the smoothies are hilarious.
While reading this book, I stumbled upon a recipe for Oat Milk. I've never tried or seen Oat Milk before, so I thought I'd give it a go.

"Oat Milk"
1 cup of Oats
1 cup of water
Blend ingredients in a blender until creamy. Pour everything into a nut milk bag and squeeze out all the milk into a bowl. Wash the blender and create whatever smoothie you would like! This makes about 1/2 a cup of Oat Milk.

I made my own smoothie recipe, since I had to use what was on hand. I named it after the "short blonde bombshell", since they didn't seem to have brunettes involved in any of their recipe names. They did have a recipe for redheads called "Hot redhead with a secret!"

"Brunette Bombshell"

1 banana
1 peach (sliced)
1 cup of blackberries (picked by me and frozen)
1/2 cup of Oat Milk

Blend everything in a blender. Pour and enjoy. Makes 1 serving :)
Oat milk is something I will make again. The book recommends that it's best in smoothies and I would agree, since it's a pretty strong taste. I could see it working as a great substitute for milk in baking though. My lil one loved this recipe and said the drink tasted like a muffin! Too funny :)

Back to blueberry picking! We started off the morning being greeted by this little guy outside my parents house. We don't have any poisonous snakes here, let alone many snakes at all. This one just omits a nasty smell as defense, lesson learned as a kid. We all just looked at him and he looked back at us, until we all were bored.

Then we were off with $40.00 in each of our pockets, hoping to pick around 20lbs each. The farm we've been going to for years has the best price we can find at $2.00/lb u-pick. There are not many other u-pick blueberry farms around here, other than a 1 hour or more drive away. This farm is really beautiful and has helpful staff on hand. They supply you with buckets, let you drive right down to their patch, allow well-behaved children, and even sell little recipe books! They have around 1400+ bushes and a couple different varieties of blueberries. Really small blueberries for baking or those yummy big ones we buy in stores. We picked the big ones!

It was quite a hot morning, but we were able to pick just under 40lbs in a couple hours. Don't mind me looking like a sweaty farmer! I love those straw hats, they always make me feel like a farmer :) I had one, but wasn't wearing it in this picture. I think my lil one wanted to try it on.

My lil one even picked half a bucket and he was so good at just picking the "blue" ones. He loved being there because the blueberry patch was like a maze he could walk through. We all were way to hot by noon, so we packed up, purchased our berries and drove down to another farm. Before we left we admired the farm's horses! They were beautiful, friendly and hungry!

The other farm we went to sells their produce on the side of the road. Love veggie stands! This farm's main attraction is their corn maze and pumpkin patch.
I bought myself 2 green zucc's, 2 yellow zucc's and one of those green pumpkin looking squash. I still have to find out the name of that one. In the picture if your wondering what's under the white cloth, it was a bunch of beets on ice :) They also sold other produce, but were sold out for the day :(

Once we were home our afternoon was filled with...

Rinsing blueberries in cold water
Sorting blueberries in bowls
Preparing blueberries on cookie sheets to go into the freezer!

My guy made some blueberry jam last night as soon as he was home from work, and who knows what else I'll make with all these berries! I'm sure blueberry, zucchini and don't forget blackberry recipes will be a plenty on this blog in the near future :) I also wanted to mention that my son's "Cowboy Garden" is thriving, we have lots of sprouts growing! A few of you messaged asking how it was going, so I'll be posting a picture next post :)

I wanted to ask you, how much does it cost to pick blueberries at your local u-pick farm?