Friday, March 23, 2007

Fruit From Heaven

Things have been busy, my friends, but there is light on the horizon! Beo and I are turning a business trip into a little getaway this weekend for a much needed break. Phew! Amidst the hectic pace and stress of the last couple of weeks, we received an amazing gift--a box full of sunshine sent by a positive Angel! Organic avocados, grapefruit, lemons, limes, bringing a taste of the exotic to our bleak pre-Spring days. It was the height of luxury this week, squeezing lime juice on our rice and beans, eating avocado (quite possibly my favorite food) with every meal, grapefruit for breakfast. What a bright blessing at a perfect time! I don't know that I've ever baked with real lemons before, but my Angel sent us Ponderosa Lemons, known as "Pie Lemons" in the south because they're the size of a large grapefruit and can take the place of the 6 usually called for in a recipe. I decided I had to find a killer recipe for these mommas, and I did. I made The Barefoot Contessa's Lemon Cake last night. Lemon cake is not necessarily one of my favorite things, and I tend to find complicated baking daunting, but this...this was heaven. Each and every step was worth it. I highly recommend this recipe if you are looking for a doable fancy recipe, going to a brunch, or just like lemon sweets. (If you're using "Pie Lemons", you'll only need two, not the six to eight the recipe calls for!) The recipe makes two cakes, so I had Beo take one to the neighbors. It got rave reviews from them, who said this morning that it was like eating Spring and Summer. So true! It was positively delightful, a highlight to our Sunshine Fruit Week. Thank you, Fruit Angel!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Hanna's Dream

My regular readers will know that I do my best to reign in my love of kids clothes. That's true, but I know a great source for sustainable, stylish kids clothes when I see one! I've had the chance to work with the owner of Hanna's Dream a bit this year. (Within my budget, I promise!) She is a real delight and has a great site. Hanna's Dream has everything from baby clothes to blankets to toys to adult clothing. Much of what they carry is hard-to-find European brands. There are lots of lovely natural organic color grown cotton pieces, but there are also fun and funky pieces as well. Their prices are very competitive and they're often offering great deals such as free-shipping or a percent off a certain brand, in addition to a daily special. Right now the site is offering 20% off all of their Lapsaky line for kids. They even offer used clothing occasionally. How cool is that? Take a look! I'll be adding a permanent link if you want to check back in the future.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Spark People Get a Free Online Diet
Things have been crazy around here once again. I do have some recipes to share once things calm down a bit! One thing I wanted to share is a website I've been enjoying: Spark People. This is a great site for a variety of purposes: losing weight, tracking nutrition, analyzing recipes, tracking exercise, setting goals, and more. I first learned about this site on my beloved Veggie Board. I was skeptical, only because it's FREE! I've been very impressed though. I think this site is probably just as valuable as the Weight Watchers site for folks trying to lose weight, and infinitely more useful for those just maintaing their weight. It's helped me to see where I'm doing okay with my nutrition, and what I need to work on. (I need to eat more spinach!) I've also really enjoyed being able to get a better idea of the nutrition in the recipes I create. It took me a bit to get used to the system, but if you're interested in this kind of program, I'd encourage you to give it a week or two and see how you like it. I'll keep a link to it in my sidebar in case you want to find if later. It's become a valuable tool for me.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Threadless T-Shirts

Only in Dreams - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever Hrududu ... the new guy  - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever We're on the same level - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever Star Men in Moon's Milk - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever I know an old lady who swallowed a fly - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever Get some fresh air - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever
This is one of those completely-off-my-normal-beaten-path things. I recently discovered through Groovy Green. This is a website that lets designers submit ideas for t-shirts, and some get printed and are available for purchase. The t-shirt designs are so independent and different. I have enjoyed just flipping through the various submissions. I'm a sucker for tees but have way too many. The kids on the other hand, could use a couple of new ones. I love that these designs really let them march to their own drummer. (A few of their favorites along with some of mine are pictured above.) The original post on Groovy Green pointed out some cool Eco-submissions. The tees aren't organic but they're printed mostly on American Apparel-not necessarily the savoriest company, but at least sweat free. Threadless is having a $10 sale right now, so check it out!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Resolution Check-In

It's March 1st-2007 is racing right along. Did you make any resolutions? Have they survived the first couple months of the year? I am reasonably happy with how my focus areas for 2007 are going. My main goals were to be more frugal, especially with food; to buy 50% of the kids clothes used, to be more resourceful, and to eliminate credit card spending. This is all about simplicity and sustainability.

Frugality and Food is going well. Our grocery budget for this year is already $100 less a month than 2006, and we've finished January and February with $100+ left in those budgets. We've done this sticking to local, organic, and low packaging. Make sure to check out my posts on frugality if you haven't already. I'm really amazed at how much further we've been able to cut back, even being 99% organic.

Things with the kids clothes are overall going well. Right now both kids have a solid half of their clothes second-hand. I confess that it has still been a real struggle for me to regulate my buying habits, however I have done much better than in the past. I have also been vindicated in my belief that quality counts. Sprout recently wore clean through a pair of pants and is on his way through another--his last 2 pair of, let's face it, sweatshop eco-disaster pants from a big chain. The ones from quality eco-friendly and socially conscious places are still going strong with barely a sign of wear, even though they've been through just as much.

In keeping with working with what we have-talents and skill included, I'm knitting an Easter cardigan for Bird rather than purchasing one. I don't do dainty, but it will be fun and cozy for one of my favorite celebrations of Spring. She may only be 3, but she already seems very excited about the fact that I'm making something for her to wear. I've been making decent progress, knitting as I watch documentaries (a recent habit), and should have it done on time.

Our credit card spending has improved dramatically. We are down a very decent amount for the year. We have used the cards a couple of times but they have so far all gotten paid off quickly and we've stayed far ahead of the game, enough so that Beo and I have decided to use a bit of our tax refund so that he can accompany me to a meeting I'm going to in warmer climes. It will be a much needed vacation for him, and we'll have a bit more time than usual to spend together.
It hasn't been all sunshine and roses, there have been slip-ups along the way, but we've kept working towards our goals and I feel proud to keep moving in the right direction and holding to the values I want to stick with this year. If you've fallen off your own bandwagon, don't forget that it's yours to stop when you need to. Pick yourself up, brush off, and climb right back on. If I hadn't done the same, I'd be in a cloud of dust myself.