Sunday, May 31, 2009


It has been almost 8 years since I've made my own pizza but today I decided to try it again. I made the dough from scratch as well as the sauce.

First round of toppings: sauce (with fresh basil and oregano from the garden), onions, some local bacon bits and panchetta.

Second round of toppings: spinach from the garden, local shitake mushrooms (yes we found local mushrooms yesterday), more basil and a little more local bacon.

I added way too much cheese but I used mozzarella, some shavings of local Olde Salty cheese and some Parmesan.

And its done. Aside from too much cheese, it was so yummy! Trust me homemade and local is soo much better than delivery.

Snapshot Sunday

Pizza dough rising on the table.

The toppings for the pizza, fresh from the garden.

My new birdhouse...decorated by moi!

Jon's lizard that hangs above the bathroom.

My new aloe plant and little cactus.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Garden Update

Here is the very first bunch of radishes from the garden. These were for my mom but we picked more and made potato salad.

Here is one of the biggest radishes from the garden (and it's organic!)

A baby pear. All the fruit trees have the beginning of fruit coming up.

Here's the sunny side of the garden. Everything is doing really well. Except there are a couple broccoli that up and died and one of my cauliflowers dropped dead. The first row of peas is all the way up and over the pea netting.

The shady side is just starting and seems to be doing pretty well. You'll notice little buckets in the garden and those are there to hold the weeds. So many weeds!

My tumblers. They have a ton of flowers so I'm hoping we get lots of tomatoes.

This basket of strawberries is doing soo well. It has tons of fruit and some are turning pink.

My grape has survived! And it seems to even be putting out new branches.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Basil? What's your deal?

My basil seems to hate me. First I started growing it in the greenhouse with the other herbs but it turned brown and died (while everything else took off). So I bought another basil plant and put it in the garden outside. Now it too is withering away. It won't produce new leaves, it is wilted and the leaves have brown edges. Yesterday I bought another plant and put it in the house near a window. If this one dies too, I'm done! It's going to be grocery store basil for me.
Is there a trick to basil that I am just not getting? I water it, I feed it, I try not to let it get too hot or too cold. What more does it want from me? (This is very distressing to me because I tend to my garden everyday and this is the only plant that keeps dying!)
I'll update the progress of the new basil and maybe I'll post a comparison of the new one to the old ones. Grrr, so annoying. Any tips are welcome!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Recipe: Chicken Corn Noodle Soup

This recipe is my own variation on the traditional Pennsylvania Dutch chicken corn soup recipe. But it was just so unhealthy I had to change it and now I make it all the time. It also freezes nicely so you can make a big batch and save some for later. Please note that I didn't write down exact amounts because I never make the same size batch twice.

You will need:
Chicken leftovers fat removed and shredded (if you have meat left on the bones save them for this)
1 can or box of chicken or vegetable stock
1 can organic kernel corn
Handful of organic spaghetti or linguine noodles
1/2- 1 whole onion, finely chopped
2-4 celery stocks, finely chopped
spices (I use sea salt, garlic powder, paprika, and black pepper)

To prepare, chop your onion and celery and shred your leftover chicken (if you can't get the meat of the bones it's ok, if you throw the bones in with the meat still attached it will boil off and add flavour). Add to a large pot or slow cooker the onion, celery, corn, chicken (meat and bones), chicken or vegetable stock and a couple cups of water. Set your slow cooker to low or turn your pot on to simmer and let the soup simmer for a couple hours. Give it a stir occasionally and you can remove the bones as soon as the meat comes off. About 30mins -1 hour before serving add the noodles (broken into bits about the size of your pinky finger) and the spices (remember that with soup you want to almost over-season because a lot of the flavor will be diluted). About 15 mins before serving begin tasting it and continue to season to taste. When the noodles are al dente, serve or store the soup.

This soup is great with some homemade pita chips or some homemade bread (try it will the pumpkin bread). This recipe is just a guideline, always to these recipes to your own tastes. You could add small cubes of potato or chopped carrot, or add flavor with green onions or leeks. Be creative and as always enjoy!

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Womans Body

As a woman, I spend 4 days out of every 28 just hating my body. Why would nature do this to me? The bloating, the cramps, the fatigue, the mood swings, it just seemed too cruel. But suddenly I realized that maybe if I got to know my body a little better things could be a little better. So that's what I did.
I've been reading "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" by Toni Werschler. It is full of everything that every woman should know. So that's when we decided to throw out the birth control pills and do it that natural way. We have been charting my cycles and it has almost become fun, trying to guess what is going to happen when.
So between actually knowing what was going on and knowing what helps (I've been taking Vitex to regulate my cycles and Dong Quay to help ease the cramps) my periods have been much easier to handle.
I encourage all women to read this book, learn your cycles, test your cervical fluid (do you even know what your cervix feels like?) and see what happens!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Snapshot Sunday

Some of the lily of the valley from my yard.

My loonie-tunes key chain collection.

Our wasp deterrent, seems to be doing the job.

Green Tips: Pass it on

This green tips is all about how to make green living contagious. Pass it on to your kids, your spouse, your friends, your family, your co-workers, everyone!

1. Try choosing activities to do with friends that don't require any extra materials or fossil fuels. Go for a bike ride together, play Frisbee in the park, hunt shells at the beach, go forging for wild fruit (make sure to take a guide book so you pick only the right stuff) or go for a hike somewhere neither of you have been.

2. Try talking to your boss and co-workers about car-pools, have a potluck lunch hour (homemade food brought in re-usable containers), put together a recycling center, ask if your workplace can switch to 100% recycled paper or rally everyone to participate in bike to work week.

3. For birthdays and other holidays ask family members if everyone could give eco-friendly gifts. Try things like homemade meals, a massage, organic bath products, gift cards for emission-free activities (rock climbing, kayaking tour, horseback riding trip, splunking) or donations to local charities or environmental groups.

4. Ask your spouse or roommates to follow a few household guidelines, if everyone pitches in its really easy. Always recycle, compost organic materials, don't use chemical cleaning products in the house, only run the washing machine and dishwasher when totally full and turn off any electrical objects that aren't in use.

5. Educate your kids on the importance of helping the Earth. Teach them how to recycle, walk with them to school or to the park instead of driving, teach them not to litter, help them to understand why we re-use old toys, backpacks, or containers. It is so important to start building healthy habits early.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Recipe: Best Cornbread

This is a really simple recipe for cornbread but the best I have found. Everytime I make it I feel like I need to spice it up but it always turns out great just as it is.

You will need:
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 cup milk
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour (though sometimes I use spelt or buckwheat instead)
1/4 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup oil
1 egg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix in a small bowl cornmeal and milk and set aside to soak. In a large bowl mix together flours, sugar and baking powder then set aside. In a small bowl mix together egg and oil, then add to the cornmeal mixture. Then slowly add cornmeal mixture to flour mixture and mix until smooth. Pour into a greased pie pan or 9in square baking dish. Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Hangin' Around

Today we got a great hammock! It took a while to figure out where and how to hang it, but it so relaxing and fun to lay in. It is 100% cotton and made in Brazil (fair trade). We also made sure to get one that is big enough for the two of us to lay in together.

It was such nice sun, warm weather today, I'm so glad we got it up and running to enjoy the day.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

How does your Garden grow?

Well mine is growing just lovely, thank you!

Everything that has been planted has sprouted! So the first row from the bottom to top we have lettuce (which isn't really loving the sand), spinach, sweet onion, chives, nasturtiums. Then the second row from bottom to top we have radishes, (a gap waiting for fall carrots), beets, summer carrots, parsley. Third row (a gap waiting for tomatoes), broccoli, cauliflower (a tepee waiting for pole beans) . Fourth row (a gap for bush beans), amaranth, (a gap for soybeans), Yukon gold potatoes.

Here we have two rows of English peas, to the right of the peas we have garlic, Swiss chard, zucchini, (a gap for pumpkins). One more row over is rhubarb, brussell sprouts, cucumber, (a gap for butternut squash). Last row is russet potatoes, (a gap for more bush beans), walla walla onions, artichoke, sunflowers.

My herbs LOVE the greenhouse and are getting too big for the box. I'm trying to figure out where to put my herb garden in the yard.

One of my many strawberry containers. I put it outside during the day so it pollinates then put it back in the greenhouse for the night. It is doing so well, I'm thrilled.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Recipe: Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are amazingly delicious! I got the idea from a book but changed a whole bunch of ingredients to make them just how I wanted.

You will need:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup spelt flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 egg
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/8 cup vegetable oil
1/8 cup milk (and more if you like them more moist)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsps molasses
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl mix together the flours, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside. In a large bowl mix together butter or margarine, oil, mile, brown sugar, honey, vanilla and molasses. Slowly add the flour mixture to the liquid mixture. Test the consistency, add more flour or liquid as needed. Add the zucchini and chocolate chips. Drop cookies onto a grease baking sheet. Bake until golden, approximately 20 mins.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Snapshot Sunday

My potatoes sprouting on the window sill.

The shoe rack with some really dirty shoes. And it appears one is missing its mate.

My card for my mom all ready to be delivered.

The best calendar ever. So full of useful information.

The clock on my mantle telling me I'm late leaving for our mothers day gathering.

Happy Mothers Day!

This post is not only for my own mother but to all the mamas I know. I can't say I know any Mama who isn't doing a great job raising amazing people.

Mom, you have always been the best Mom I could ever have asked for. Thank you for all the patience you have shown me, the love, compassion and support. I love you always and forever!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Magic of Vinegar

Vinegar has so many uses other than in food (which it is great for!). Your grandparents probably used it all the time for cleaning. Here are a whole bunch of ideas of how to make vinegar a staple in every aspect of your life.

Cleaners: Vinegar can be used to clean just about anything in your home. For an all-purpose cleaner mix 2/3 distilled white vinegar with 1/3 water and put in a spray bottle. To clean and disinfect cutting boards, wash with full strength distilled white vinegar. To clean stains in your carpet mix 1 teaspoon of liquid detergent and 1 teaspoon of white distilled vinegar in a pint of lukewarm water. Apply it to the stain with a soft brush or towel and rub gently. Rinse with a towel moistened with clean water and blot dry. Repeat this procedure until the stain is gone. Then dry quickly, using a fan or hair dryer.

Yard Work: Vinegar can be used to kill unwanted grass and weeds. Spray white distilled vinegar full strength on tops of weeds or on grass. Reapply on any new growth until plants have starved. You can also use vinegar to increase soil acidity. In hard water areas, add a cup of vinegar to a gallon of tap water for watering acid loving plants like rhododendrons, gardenias or azaleas. The vinegar will release iron in the soil for the plants to use. Vinegar can be used as plant food as well. Mix vinegar and water in a ratio of 1:8. Mix a separate solution of sugar and water in a mixture of 1:8. Combine the vinegar and sugar mixtures. Add to plant as long as needed.

Laundry: Zest up your wash with some vinegar. Clothes will rinse better if 1 cup of white distilled vinegar is added to the last rinse water. The acid in vinegar is too mild to harm fabrics, but strong enough to dissolve the alkalies in soaps and detergents. To hold colors in fabrics, which tend to run, soak them for a few minutes in white distilled vinegar before washing. For all the Mamas out there try using vinegar to clean your baby laundry. The addition of 1 cup of white distilled vinegar to each load of baby clothes during the rinse cycle will naturally break down uric acid and soapy residue leaving the clothes soft and fresh.

Health: Wow this one is endless but here is a start. To clear up respiratory congestion, inhale a vapor mist from steaming pot containing water and several spoonfuls of vinegar. If you are fair like me and get sunburns all summer try lightly rubbing white distilled or cider vinegar on the burn. Reapply as needed. Stop itchy bug bites and rashes by applying a paste made from vinegar and cornstarch. Keep on until itch disappears. Get rid of annoying warts by mixing lukewarm/warm water with a cup of white distilled vinegar. Immerse area with wart and soak 20 minutes everyday until wart disappears.

Random: Ditch the shampoo and try simply rinsing your hair with vinegar and baking soda. It does wonders. For a simple gold jewelry cleaner use one cup apple cider vinegar, then submerge solid gold jewelry item in vinegar for 15 minutes. Remove and dry with cloth. For those rare winter mornings when there is frost on the car, wipe the windows the night before with a solution of one part water to three parts white distilled vinegar. They won’t frost over. Remove bumper stickers by repeatedly wiping the sticker with white distilled vinegar until it is soaked. In a few minutes, it should peel off easily. Test on a small invisible area of the car to ensure there will be no damage to the paint.

These are just a sampling for all the things you can do with vinegar. If you want to explore more things to do visit The Vinegar Institute.

What Has Happened to My Brain?

I think I've seriously lost it! I can't remember a single thing. I can't remember where I'm going halfway through the bus ride (work duh?), can't remember why I called my Mom 3 seconds into the call, can't remember why I'm at the store, can't remember my own address, and the list goes on.
All of a sudden this week everything just left me. I'm saying numbers backwards at work, forgetting to give receipts, etc. I'm also talking slower. It seems like it is really hard to put words together.
Last night I stood a really good friend up. I feel sooo guilty but I can't understand why I had zero recollection of why I was at the mall. I'm starting to get really worried. I don't know if this a symptom of something serious. I can be forgetful but never this bad. I think I might go to the drug store and try some supplements and see if something helps. Hopefully my brain makes a full recovery, soon.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Snapshot Sunday

The bookcase in our office. A total mishmash of books and keepsakes.

"The Chair". When we are watching TV this is the chair, it is way more comfortable then the loveseat.

My freshly cleaned bathroom. I nearly broke my back scrubbing the tub but it looks so good now. Though I noticed, when I posted this picture, I missed some smudges on the mirror.

My piano. It's electric but it will have to do until I get the space for my upright piano that is still at my parents house. Note the huge stack of books (that's only about 1/3 of my collection) and one of Mozarts 12 variations open on the piano.

The makings for J's famous Caesar salad dressing. He was a little annoyed that I interrupted the process but it made a good shot. The salad was for a neighbourhood BBQ and it was delicious!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Green Tips: Eat Green

It is really good to think before you make a meal "Where does my food come from?". Being aware is the first step to eating green. Yes, being vegan is good for the environment but you can still eat your normal diet while helping the earth.

1. Eat local. Whenever possible buy food products grown and produced locally. Farmers markets are a great place to get local fruits and veggies as well as baked and canned goods. Imported products often have to travel thousands of miles to get to your home, it's like taking a international trip every time you go to the store.

2. Eat organic. This one is good for you and the environment. Commercial produce often uses many pesticides, insecticides, and fertilizers to maximize product, however these chemicals are really hard on the environment and your body. Not only does organic produce (and meat) help our earth but it tastes better and often has more nutrients. Give organic a try.

3. Grow your own. Try growing your own food. It is so rewarding to eat food fresh off the plant. If you don't have a yard try growing a few plants on your patio or on a windowsill. It's a money saver too.

4. Reduce your meat consumption. Meat farming takes a lot of land for very little product. Animals also release methanol into the atmosphere which is know greenhouse gas. Try a vegetarian dish once or twice a week. Vegetarian doesn't have to be bland so be creative.

5. Reduce packaging. Try not to buy pre-packaged food. Buy foods that come in as little packaging as possible then spend some time at home dividing it up into re-usable individual containers for snacks and lunches. This simple step will keep a lot of trash out of our landfills.

For information on what to buy organic and why check out the list of the dirty dozen foods (these are the foods that are most heavily sprayed). There are tons of great vegetarian recipes out there on the internet but here is a start. Bon appetit.