Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cupcakes in a Jar

This is an idea from Martha Stewart Weddings. I made it for dessert when we had friends for dinner last week and they were amazing!
It is a layer of homemade triple berry jam, bottom half of a buttermilk cupcake, a layer of cream cheese frosting, top half of the cupcake and more cream cheese frosting. They are heaven! The bottom gets soaked in delicious jam and the frosting is so creamy. I ran out of jars so I did this with the remainder.
Same buttermilk cupcakes with the cream cheese frosting but topped with a raspberry. Also very yummy. The recipe can be found here. I made a little less frosting then the recipe calls for and I used whipping cream instead of whole milk and it gave it a more whipped consistency which I liked.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mason Bees

The mason bee is a gardeners best friend. This little bee does not live in a hive nor does it make honey but it is an amazing pollinator. A single female mason bee will visit nearly 2,000 blossoms a day. Unlike honey bees they will start earlier in the morning, finish flying later in the day and dull weather doesn't prevent them working. The mason bee does not sting which lends itself well to sharing time in the garden with them. They do not look like the traditional honey bee, mason bees are usually black to blue in color and resemble a house fly. Mason bees make their homes in small holes usually left by burrowing insects, however you can mimic this natural occurrence by building a mason bee house with several holes a piece of wood.
 The mason bee house should be sheltered and preferably near a building or shed we placed ours near the garage. Ours is homemade but you can buy pre-made ones at most garden stores. We fill ours with replaceable cardboard tubes so they can be cleaned each year. Last year we didn't get many bees so I decided to buy some mason bees this year. I bought 10.
They have already hatched and been out and about pollinating. I've seen at least 4 of them hanging out near the grapevine. One has already made it's nest in one of the tubes. I'm so pleased will these little workers and I hope to see many more of them in my yard. I've already begun planting tons of flowers and blossoms for them so they feel happy in my yard and spend their whole lives here. If you are interested in getting your own mason bee home started or purchasing some starter bees talk to your local garden centre or visit West Coast Seeds or Wildbirds Unlimited (which is where I got my bees and cardboard tubes from).

Monday, April 26, 2010

Meal Plan

After looking in my fridge and seeing way too much food I think its time I started planning meals again. I hate throwing things away and it's really hard to shop when you don't have a plan.

Monday: Leftovers night (looks like it's going to be soup and more soup)
Tuesday: Roast with pumpkin, yam rounds and spinach salad
Wednesday: Vegetarian Fajitas
Thursday: Swiss Chard and cheese frittata
Friday: Vegetarian Chow Mein
Saturday: Honey garlic chicken wings and quinoa salad
Sunday: Spicy Black Bean soup

Hopefully this week I can use up a lot of things from my crisper in the fridge and from the freezer. We need to try and use our frozen stuff to get ready for the side of organic beef we are getting and for the surplus out of the summer garden.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day everyone. My plan didn't exactly go the way I wanted it to but I did spend a serious chunk of my day thinking about how much I appreciate this planet. It is breathtakingly beautiful, forgiving, powerful, awe inspiring, life sustaining and everything else great about our lives. Here are some pictures of some of the beautiful things I have seen here on Earth (click on any of the pictures to see them larger). Thank you Mother Earth!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Plan for Earth Day

Tomorrow is Earth Day. I love Earth Day. Even though some people think it pointless, I think of it as a day to remember how much I love my planet, all the wonderful things it provides and all the beauty that surrounds me. For Earth Day I like to do everything as eco-friendly as I can (not that I don't strive for this in my everyday life but Earth Day is a day to make an extra effort).
My plan is to do no driving (Jon is car-pooling tomorrow), turn off all non-essential electrical things (I'll leave my fridge and freezer on), eat organic and local vegetarian meals, create no waste, pick up any garbage I see on the street and recycle or throw it out, conserve water, buy nothing, plant some flowers and veggies, use only rainwater to water in my greenhouse, wear my natural fiber clothes and say thank you for this amazing home.
If I had more time or money I would have liked to have volunteered for a non-profit environmental organization or made a donation to sustainability projects. If I wasn't working I would have also liked to have gone for a wilderness hike, somewhere I hadn't been before or toured OUR Eco-Village which is up-island from me.
I encourage everyone out there to do something wonderful for your planet tomorrow (and it will make you feel better too). Make Earth Day the start of a new eco-friendly life. I'd love to hear what other people have planned to celebrate Earth Day.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Face of Birth

This looks fantastic! I can not wait to see it. This film is not only about the power of homebirth but about the important issue of choice. No one should be told that because they choose not be poked with needles, talked to like they are idiots, told to ignore what their body is telling them and to lay on their back or that they cannot eat or drink too much that they are breaking the law. I believe in homebirth. I believe that you have the right to choose your maternity care just as you have the right to choose your dental or specialty care. There is no one who knows your body better than you do and I truly believe that mothers know how to birth, no matter how scared or unprepared you are, your mind and body can do it. Homebirth, to me, it the safest choice for both mother and child.

Friday, April 16, 2010

1 week without Poo

Well it's been a week and I'm really happy with my hair. I've only done 2 vinegar rinses and 4 baking soda washes this week but my hair is soft and shiny and it just looks fuller. I'm shocked by how such a simple change can make such a difference to my hair. Another added bonus is that I've notice my head feels less itchy. Which makes a lot of sense since I'm allergic to so many different things there was bound to be something in that long list of ingredients on my shampoo bottle that I was allergic to. I'm lovin' the lack of poo in my life.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

No Poo

I've decided to ditch the poo. I really should have done it a long time ago but I was worried that I would have greasy yucky hair. I haven't used shampoo since Thursday and did my first vinegar rinse last night. I'm actually really surprised but how clean my hair looks and how much more volume it has. I hope this works for me because it will save me a ton of money plus it's easier than going to the store and trying to find a shampoo that isn't filled with chemicals and its way better for the environment.
The way it works is that before you hop in the shower fill one jar with about a tablespoon of baking soda. Dissolve it in about 1/4 cup of water. It should look cloudy. When you are in the shower, wash just the top of your head with the baking soda wash. This will get the grease and dirt out of your hair. Then in another jar (or if you're like me just reuse the same jar) mix 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with about 1 cup of water. Rinse your hair with the vinegar mixture. This will wash the dirt out for the rest of your hair and give it a nice shine. Some people have said that using the vinegar rinse too often can dry your hair out. But I usually only wash my hair every other day unless I've gotten really sweaty or dirty. We will have to see if even that is too often. I've also read that some people worry that their hair will smell like vinegar but I didn't find that at all. But if it a concern for you, add a couple drops of your favorite essential oil to the vinegar rinse. I'll keep you posted on my hair minus the poo.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Shirt

I wanted a new shirt for Easter dinner. I decided to use this nice bright fabric because it just seemed so spring. It was a bit of a pain to make because the neckline just refused to lay flat but with some solid ironing time and couple of tweaks it ended up looking really nice with my grey sweater at dinner.
Happy Spring everyone!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Recipe: Caramelized Onion, Bacon and Goat Cheese Tart

Man was this delicious. I made it last night and we ate almost the whole thing. This was a meal idea intended to use up the leftover egg from our easter egg making and it was perfect!

You will need:
1 regular pie crust of your choice (we used regular shortening crust but you could use any kind you want)
5-6 eggs
1/4 cup good quality goat cheese
3 tsp of ground black pepper
2 tsp coarse salt
1/4 cup crispy bacon bits (please make your own don't use the pre-made junk)
1/2 medium onion, sliced
1-2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in the middle. Slice onion and add to a pan with the olive oil on low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and have a golden color. Cut up bacon and fry it until crisp, set aside. Whisk together eggs, most of the goat cheese (save a tablespoon or more for the top), salt and pepper, pour into prepared pie crust. Sprinkle top with bacon, caramelized onions and the remaining goat cheese. Bake until crust is golden and filling is cooked through (if you jiggle the rack you shouldn't see the filling jiggle), about 20-30 minutes. Enjoy with a side of asparagus or you favorite winter greens.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Natural Easter Eggs

Even though we don't really celebrate Easter, my family likes to get together for a nice turkey dinner. So I decided to make some colored eggs using natural dye to decorate the table with.
We made the dyes with several things you might have in your kitchen. I made the yellow using onion skins, the blue with old blueberries, and the pink with beets. We tried making green using spinach but we didn't get much color out of it. To make the dyes, just add about a cup or two of water to a pot and boil with the food item for about 5-10 minutes.
Then we strained the dye into mugs and added a couple tablespoons of vinegar. Some of the dyes took longer to dye the eggs than others. But I was really happy with the results. The yellow is really quick and really bright! I'm looking forward to next year and hopefully making even more colors (it does take some experimenting). Try it! I promise the colors are just as good if not better than the store bought ones.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Sewing Continues

I love this new shirt. I had a little trouble fitting it (but really I seem to be having trouble fitting anything to my body) so I needed to do some fixes after the fact but it's a fun spring shirt. Sorry it doesn't look very nice on the hanger but it is a lot cuter on.
A super basic skirt that I made one night. I think it maybe took me a half hour to make. But I just love the fabric. It's delicate and girly, perfect for summer since it is really light-weight.
I made this table-cloth today. I love it because the fabric really reminded me of Hawaii. I never thought to look for fabric at a thrift store but my mom found this at Value Village and thought it would work for me. Thanks Mom!