Friday, December 31, 2010

Reverb10: December 31

Core story. What central story is at the core of you, and how do you
share it with the world? (Bonus: Consider your reflections from this month.
Look through them to discover a thread you may not have noticed until
today.)
I think I look at myself as being (still) the single mom who didn't get the financial support ordered and who constantly struggled to make ends meet when those ends were constantly being moved. I know the DD thinks I equate everything in my world to a financial value, which may well have been true, but hopefully is becoming less the case as I get older.

But building a financial future has long been a goal of mine, and one that I can't seem to grasp. In recent years, I've been doing better, but there's so much room for improvement and in the current economic environment it's more important than ever.

I am interested to see, looking back over the month's posts, that there is a commonality or theme running thru all of them: a strong motivation to live a wholistic life...to bring all the threads together under some unifying concept. That concept, I think is seeking a strong, viable community - from the standpoint of social relationships, economic strength (thru the local arena - because I do believe that the national and world economic fields will not strengthen without the local and regional communities becoming healthy first - much like "charity begins at home," you know?)

If nothing else, I'm finding that the focus I've had over the years, a propensity to voluntary simplicity and finding what's "enough" (YMOYL concept) for me, is still a valid one. I take baby steps every year.

And so onward to 2011 - more steps, more letting go, more focus on local roots and development. It can be done. Even if it's a slow process.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reverb10: December 30

Gift. This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What's
the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year?

This past November, I underwent out-patient surgery for a biopsy that was worrisome. I could not have gotten thru the day-long procedure without my friend Lynette who then also volunteered to spend the night (on an Aerobed on the floor that I realized too late I hadn't inflated properly!) to ensure I didn't fall down the stairs or otherwise endanger myself while the anesthesia wore off.

Family members we're handed, and we have no choice in the matter. Those folks, if we're lucky (and I have been!) become friends.

But the friend you choose as your sister is a gift beyond measure. I'm so grateful for mine.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Reverb10: December 29

Defining moment. Describe a defining moment or series of events that
has affected your life this year.

I've been drawn my whole life to a lifestyle that I can't seem to get to, but in July I gave myself a birthday gift that ended up being the perfect "taste" of the lifestyle I dream about. It was a day-long Yoga Retreat, in a lovely country setting, complete with thunderstorms and vegan food. Having longed for a sort of "crunchy, hippie, 1960s" sort of existence (I grew up a couple of years behind the real hippies, graduating high school in 1974) instead I focused on being a feminist and not doing the "traditional female roles" of teacher, nurse. I went into a field that was "up and coming for women" and supposedly better paying (accounting) only to realize I was miserable. But it took me years to get my degrees, and I wasn't about to do an about-face in my last semester of night school when the realization hit me like a ton of bricks! I became a Yuppie, instead, and let my fantasies transport me to a "back to the land" lifestyle of growing my own food and herbs, practicing yoga, and then morphing some of each into a kind of eco-feminism (which I still believe in). This was easier when I lived with my mother, as I had the time, and the land to practice "part-time farmer." I was also younger, and stronger. :)

But that day in July 2010, amongst like-minded women, breathing in the rain-drenched air from the wildflower garden thru the windows of the studio, practicing Sun Salutations and trying to follow ahimsa in not over-doing and hurting myself, I realized that this is the world I am best suited for, happiest in. And so I found myself inspired to include more yoga, more cooking with local ingredients and fewer animal products. I no longer have the land or the time to "farm" nor even enough light where I am to grow herbs in a pot (my cats would eat them indoors!).

I have accepted that I can only enjoy such days sporadically, tho' at least I account for a non-profit that does good works - and I do at least take comfort in that. So am finally practicing ahimsa that way...

It is a process, this learning to live the life we wish to live and provoking the changes we'd like to see in the world.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Reverb10: December 28

Achieve. What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do
you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful?
Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new
thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today.

I want to finally stop procrastinating on getting my financial house in order! I imagine I'll feel: more in control, more responsible, less encumbered by debt, free of obligations of the past.

I can do/think to get there:
1. create and stick to a budget (again)
2. track every penny (I know it works)
3. lock up the credit cards (safe deposit box)
4. participate in blog activities to get there (read personal finance & voluntary simplicity blogs)
5. pyramid payments (pay off highest balance first, then take the next highest and pay that off...etc)
6. "my future is worth working for"
7. rebuild the emergency fund (again)
8. remind myself how much fun it is to see debt balances drop and savings balances increase!
9. Re-read #8 (and make a game of it!)
10. create a knit stash club (again, but more diverse than just socks like the past two years) - knit lace, knit mittens, stash dive, and don't buy! Build up the Christmas gift stash beginning in January so you're less inclined to spend to buy Christmas gifts!!

Oh, I like the last 3...especially.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Reverb10: Dec 27

Ordinary joy. Our most profound joy is often experienced during
ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year?

Holding my first granddaughter for the first time! She is just a mite but the feeling of seeing the continuation of the family was very strong.

Otherwise, I have incredible ordinary joyous feelings whenever I complete a bag, or when I'm just sitting and knitting...There is such peace and joy in handwork.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Reverb10: Dec 26

Soul food. What did you eat this year that you will never forget?
What went into your mouth & touched your soul?

This year, for part of the year, our Thursday night yoga class would have a vegetarian pot luck on the second Thursday of each month. While I usually stopped at the Natural Foods Co-op and picked up something along the lines of Vegan Macro-Bento Spicey Spinach Noodles and Schezuan Dumplings, other members of our group were known to bring wonderful concoctions, many of them vegan, to share with us. One notable dish was this from my friend, potter Maya Boehler:

Barley & Corn Salad

2 cups spring or filtered water
Sea salt
1 cup pearl barley, sorted and rinsed
1 to 2 ears fresh corn, kernels removed
1 small red onion, diced
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 3 tablespoons umeboshi vinegar
2 teaspoons rice syrup
Juice of 1 lime

Bring water and a pinch of sea salt to a boil in a medium
saucepan over medium heat. Slowly add barley. Cover,
reduce heat to low, and cook 40 to 45 minutes, until barley
is tender and water is absorbed.
Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.

In a small bowl, combine the oil, umeboshi vinegar, rice syrup,
lime juice, mustard and a little salt. Whisk until blended. The
dressing should have a refreshing, yet spicy taste. Toss the barley,
vegetables and dressing together. Allow the salad to marinate in
the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 or 5 servings.

This year was one of shopping local markets for fresh, locally grown veggies and participating in Meatless Mondays. Mostly, I was eating vegetarian meals, salads, and watching my Weight Watchers Points. As a result, it's very hard for me to come up with ONE soul food to focus on. Except perhaps, my Mother's Nut Loaf. It's comfort food, it's tradition, it's my Mom's recipe.

That's as close as it gets to food that speaks to my soul...hmm...there's another loaf of it in the freezer, so perhaps it will be my New Year's dinner, too!

Reverb10: Dec 25

Photo - a present to yourself. Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.


A very recent photo of my daughter and me at a restaurant last weekend (ok, we're in the parking lot). My sister-in-law took the picture. We had driven to Busch Gardens Williamsburg (a 4.5 hour drive) to see my daughter perform in the orchestra of Rejoice! one of the holiday offerings at the park.

The photo shows two adult women. The me I strive to be is the mother who recognizes that fact. I am notorious for seeing my daughter as the unruly teenager who made everyone's life a challenge - far more than any of us anticipated. She hasn't had an easy life. But she's in her 30s now, has 4 kids, and is trying to make stability a priority.

We've really had our struggles over the past 20 years or so, and I've tried, always, to guide her in the *right* direction...of course, the *right* one for me, isn't the *right* one for her necessarily. Over the past year, I've come to realize that I didn't care for the "interference" of my family in my decisions when I was her age, and that of course, she wouldn't appreciate mine in hers. And so more and more I've been "letting go" on that, giving her the space to make her choices, without my domineering *guidance.*

That photo above shows two women who love each other. I think we're both working on the "...and respect each other's choices" part...and being a bit more successful this year than before.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Reverb10 - December 24

Everything's OK. What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?

Upon returning to my friend and yoga teacher, Debbie's Yoga for Everyone class on Thursday evenings last spring, a flow series of Warrior 2 to Revolved Warrior, passing back through Warrior 2 to Side Angle Pose challenged my physical strength and especially my balance and equilibrium. I tried each week to improve, specifically to bring my focus inward, as I already knew that the body would strengthen on it's own schedule. I'm not sure when things shifted in my body and mind, when the two seemed to mesh to the point that the Warrior Flow stopped being my most challenging pose series to being the one I look forward to the most, the one that I practice when I can only do one series (where before Sun Salutation would have been my pose of choice), but what I find now, is that this pose helps me transcend whatever else is going on in my world.

And now, as long as I can get thru a series of Warrior 2 each day, I know I'm strong enough to endure whatever comes.

But yoga is practice, after all, and so now the challenge is shoulder stand, a pose I'd never have thought I could do again. I'll progress at the pace I'm meant to, but I'm already up on my shoulders again, working to keep the weight off my neck and on my tri-pod of shoulders and elbows, reaching skyward with my feet, inverting my view of the world, my view of myself.

Which is what it's all about: the practice. All life is practice. The year to come is no different than the year before, except that new things become more challenging. If I can master one thing, I can move to the next and strive to master that.

It's the journey, not the destination. I'm taking that knowledge, that truism from class into 2011.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Reverb10 - December 22 & 23

Travel. How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like
to travel next year?

Travel is mostly via car in my life, but sometimes, like in August, I fly. I dislike flying, did feel that way long before the current attempts to keep us safe. IF I could travel the way I'd like, it would be by train. I'd wish enough time to not worry about the timetables, but would sit and knit my way wherever I'd like to go...Next year, I suspect the bulk of my travel again will be via car. with one possible flight.

New name. Let's meet again, for the first time. If you could
introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would
it be and why?

A new name? Ha! I already have new ones. Never having gone by my official, birth certificate name, most people have a hard time with my names. A few years ago I opened my handbag business and became "Nana Sadie Rose" which technically fits in more ways than meets the eye...I'm also Knitnana on my other blog...and that one fits, too, for the obsessive Knitter I am.

If I could come up with a name for myself, I think it would be "Angelique McNeil." As in "Angie." Not quite sure why, but it seems perfect.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Reverb10: Dec. 20 & 21

I've decided that this one warrants it's own separate post.

Beyond avoidance. What should you have done this year but didn't because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)

I wanted to learn to do my own website coding. I've depended on family and friends and it simply isn't worth it, I don't like stressing anyone, least of all myself. Did I do it? No. I am not in a position to learn this...too busy too crazy and frankly? I don't think the way you need to think to be a web designer.

Future self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?)

Five years from now, I want to be free of consumer debt and on my way to having a lot more in retirement savings. The advice for the future self goes like this: NO ONE ELSE is going to do this, it's up to YOU. And you know perfectly well you can do it. So exercise a bit more control (like I don't have it? I lost 50 pounds, quit smoking once and for all almost 7 years ago...I CAN do it!). The letter to my 10 years-ago self goes like this:

Remember that stuff is just stuff. While no one can take away the education you borrowed for, someone can steal your stuff, and charging for it steals your future and your freedom away from you. If you want it, pay for it with cash. If you don't have the cash, save up for it. Delayed gratification is a wonderful skill to hone.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Reverb10 - 6 Days Worth!

Appreciate. What's the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it? Family. And this year I've been able to show my gratitude by heading out to visit ... something that's been practically impossible in the past decade.

5 minutes. Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.

Family Reunion; Granddaughter born; medical crisis with negative dx!; meeting up with pal from highschool at cat show; dinner and chatting with another high school chum; knitting Ishbel; yoga workshop with Meenakshi; beginning the Rke TKGA chapter; adopting The Tonk; planning quick trip to hear DD at Busch Gardens Xmas Show; a snowy winter early 2010; another snowy winter beginning at the end of 2010; friends! family!

Friendship. How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?

My friend and yoga teacher Debbie has worked her entire adult life to live in the present moment. Returning to her studio for classes this past spring, continuing with a new yoga teacher, Colleen, as well, has helped me evolve to a point where I am less frazzled by and reactive to stressful events. I'm learning to step back, and look at a problem with detachment, reminding myself to release my preconceived notions about such things and just be with the discomfort. This obviously is a gradual thing, but I've seemed to make great strides with it as long as I continue my yoga practice...

Lesson learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

That I'm worth spending money and time on, as long as the purpose of the expense is in keeping with my goals.

Try. What do you want to try next year? Is there something you
wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn't go for it? Sweater knitting - I've promised myself over and over that I'm make a sweater. I have enough yarn purchased for 4 sweaters. It's time. 2011.

Healing. What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?

Yoga, hands down, healed me. Weight Watchers healed my addiction to food. Without those, I'd still be overweight and in pain, heading toward disability. All that has turned around because of yoga and Weight Watchers. Oh. Yeah. And the power of my own mind to stick to something!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Reverb10

Action. When it comes to aspirations, its not about ideas. It's
about making ideas happen. What's your next step?

I was visiting my friends' blogs this morning, after receiving today's Reverb10 challenge question, and came upon Margene's thoughts on minimalism and what it means to her. Considering my own inclination to live with less, I thought her guidelines were especially helpful.

Having lived a long time with the philosophy of Voluntary Simplicity and the concept of defining for myself what "enough" is, yet still suffering the angst of too much clutter, I thought, "this is my next step" in making my ideas happen.

I'd already considered the possibility of gifting special family items to the next generation this Christmas, and since our holiday will be celebrated together after the New Year, I think I'll spend the days I have off over Christmas doing just that...culling special things, writing a note about their family importance for each one, and wrapping for gifting.

It's a big step for me...as I have long felt that the things I inherited from my mother were so connected to my memories of her that I couldn't bear to part with them, keeping even some of the "cabinet pieces" (which, for the uninformed, means they're are much less than perfect, but have a "good" side you can show off in a cabinet where the "bad" side won't show!) that don't have much value other than sentimental.

But I am tired of the clutter, the stuff, the minutiae of my world. I'm ready for less!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Reverb10

Body integration. This year, when did you feel the most integrated
with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn't mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?

I've come to the place in my life when this happens fairly routinely: every time I engage in yoga practice, tho' it's during a yoga class and the guided instruction that facilitates such cohesion best. I've had two primary instructors in my life, but one has had more influence, simply due to the length of time I've been with her. She's not just an excellent teacher, but has the ability to use her voice, combined with well chosen music to bring focus to the practice. When I returned to yoga a year ago (after a several-year hiatus) I found that she had only intensified her ability to affect the tranquility and peace I found in her studio. But she's not just my yoga teacher, she is my friend.

It's been a hard year for her. The studio she'd had for 20 years was suddenly made unavailable to her. She moved everything to her own home, and became an itinerant instructor, teaching in a church and at a nearby Pilates studio owned by a friend. I returned to her during this period, and while I could sense her stress, was drawn in to her single-minded ability to assist her students toward the best practice they could have. In July, she finally found a new home for her studio, not so ideal as the original one, as it's shared with a Tai Qoan Do school. Up a steep set of outdoor stairs, the walls are thin and there are outbursts of sound as the students practice in their dojo across the hall. This has, however, aided in providing all of us with an opportunity to focus on the calm inside even as we are faced with the cacophony of the outside world around us. On the plus side, it's a spacious room with a huge wall of windows (the ceiling might be 12-15 feet up?) in a more than 100 year-old building and located in a community rich with small locally owned businesses, including a Farmer's Market and Co-op natural foods grocery store. There's an immediate sense of being a part of eclectic urban life as we challenge our bodies and minds while breathing in the amazing goodness of the local pizzaria downstairs! (There are photos down below in the post on Small Business Saturday of the Grandin Village main street.)

The more I practice, the more integrated I feel. The body/mind connection becomes increasingly seamless these days. I'm wondering if it isn't partly due to the wisdom of aging that occurs as one proceeds thru the decades of life. I'm rather certain that the yogi I was 20 years ago has evolved 1000-fold in the years since I began practice as a young woman.

And now, I have more reason, of course, to need that seamless transition to occur: the aches, pains, and edginess of aging, and the scratchiness of my Monkey Mind are greatly reduced by regular practice. It is in my Sun Salutes, six movements of the spine, shoulder stand, and chanting of OM that I seem able to transcend such petty, everday concerns.

Nasmaste.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Reverb10: Wisdom & 11 Things...

(I think it will probably be easiest to do combo posts of most of these, as I'm rarely able to do anything daily, except work!

December 10: Wisdom: What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how
did it play out? Early on in the year I made commitments to buy local, eat Meatless on Mondays, and to follow a more seasonal diet, focusing on the available produce from local farms. More and more often I bought from local farmer's markets (I didn't do the CSA again, because even a half-share is too much food for one person, and I still had a lot frozen from the year before when I participated in one). I ate more healthfully and learned a lot of new recipes to go along with these decisions. And I met some interesting people, too. It's harder to buy local, mostly organic produce when you're on a budget as I am, you have to plan (which I was not always successful at, but I am coming to acknowledge that folks with a creative bent have a harder time of this as a natural thing - creativity is very often messy and disorganized, so that side of my personality usually wins in my private life!). I found that I felt better, lost weight fairly easily, and visited the doctor less as I went on following this way of living my life. All aspects of this decision will follow me as major lifestyle changes from now on...Definitely a wise choice.

December 11. 11 Things: What are 11 things your life doesn't need in 2011? How
will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things
change your life?

This challenge has taken me quite a bit of time to think through, and it's so timely, as I truly want to live a bit more lightly. I've contemplated finding a place to live that would be suitable to my good friend, so that we can both cut expenses. She has a disability, so my townhouse isn't accessible much of the time. We both have cats, and we both have STUFF. The cats are non-negotiable for us both, but we fit the requirement for the city we live in even when they're added up! But there's a lot I could choose to release back into the stream of life to benefit others, and make smaller living possible.

1, Cable TV. I virtually never watch TV, and if I'm going to, it's likely to be a movie. I have a DVD player (not hooked up yet!), and I think saving the monthly fees from cable makes better sense than just turning it on for noise. NPR has better news, too!
2. Debt. I've been working on this for awhile, but there are signs I'll get some critical items behind me this year. I'm ecstatic! And inspired to redouble my efforts on the other items, too!
3. Clutter. I've followed in my Depression Era Mom's footsteps for too long. If I only eliminated the paper I've saved for years, it would be a huge step in the right direction, but I have collections that would be better gracing other people's shelves and cabinets. It's time to think about the next generation's need to not have my STUFF as the albatross around their necks!
4. Too-Large Clothing. I've dropped from a size 1X to a size 6 over the past year and I have years of the large sizes that could help other people be happy and warm.
5. Kitchen appliances - the "small" things that are seldom used. It's another of those, I thought I needed it when I bought it, but I've rarely if ever used it kinds of things. Just another thing to eliminate before my heirs inherit and have to deal with it!
6. Dark-enducing decor: I've lived in this tree-shaded townhouse in an older section of town for almost 4 years, and I tried to decorate it using the same things I used in an apartment in a complex that was mostly treeless and had large windows. The difference in interior lighting between the two places is striking, and the dark decor I brought with me only serves to further darken this space. I feel like a vampire much of the time. I've come to realize I need a change of scene to protect my mental state! So, carefully shopping yard sales and such, and making whatever I can, I think I'll change things around to try to brighten my world.
7. Complexity. In finances, in lifestyle, in any form. If it's stress-inducing, it's time to bring the subject at hand into the light and have a look at how it can be simplified.
8. My inclination to use Retail Therapy for fun and mood elevation. See #2 and #3 above. I used to know the "leave it and think about it for 24 hours - chances are you won't really NEED it!"
9. Much like using Retail Therapy for amusement, I spend a lot of time online, surfing or participating in various forms of social media. I think I'm better served by less of it! If nothing else, there'll be more time to knit!
10. Yarn! Oh my...did I type that? I have many many bins of wonderful yarns, a lot of which were bought at the closing of a favorite local shop. While I doubt that I need to eliminate it all, I'm sure I could pass some along thru either private sale, swap, or gifting.
11. Books and magazines - again, I'm a collector. I think a lot of what I have can go, other things can be transferred to e-book (If I'm able to get my Nook, as planned, of course).

Wow. I feel lighter all ready!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Reverb10 - Catching Up

Over in the sidebar, you'll see a new button for an activity I'm going to try to do every day. It's Reverb10, a commitment to reflect and write on the past year, and manifest the next one. Theoretically, this is what I try to do every year when I enter the last month, but I've not been overly successful on my own. As a result, I figured a focused attempt, with prompts from Reverb10 might make a difference.

I'm 8 days behind, of course, so I'm going to try to catch up here in one post, with just a paragraph or two on each of the prompts (including today's!).

December 1: One Word: Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word, Explain why you're choosing that word. Now imagine it's one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?

Last night, knitting away on Christmas gifts, I sorted through my thoughts about this past year and what one word I might choose. Not an easy thing to do, but I finally came upon this one: Awareness. I entered the year trying to become more aware of specific things:

1. my attempt to lose weight once and for all, becoming aware of the foods I eat and how they contribute to my health and well-being;
2. the environment, becoming (more) aware of the forces that damage this earth and the personal steps each one of us can take to nurture her and try to return her to health.

In both of these areas, I came to a better understanding of the concept of locality and community - buying local, healthful, and organic food not only makes me healthier, it makes my community healthier from the standpoint of the economy, it brings me into communication with local growers and citizens who are attempting to make a difference for our region, ecologically, economically, and politically as well. I was awakened more fully to small and local businesses, folks just trying to hang tough thru the Great Recession. New authors, new blogs, new friends, new projects all helped me to focus.

Next year? I think I'd like the word to be: Discipline. Moving forward in a practical and effective manner to implement changes in my own life and in the community with regard to those issues that I have become aware of this year. A continuation of what seems to me to be a strong positive movement as I enter into the powerful years of my life as an older woman, a crone from the perspective of ecofeminism.

December 2: Writing: What do you do each day that doesn't contribute to your writing - and can you eliminate it?

I rarely watch much television, but when I do, I find myself immersed in the political shout-outs and duels on cable television. I actually dislike the shouting, the incessant one-up-manship of these programs, and while I don't lose enormous amounts of time there, it is time lost that could be better spent writing or crafting. I can eliminate it, and probably will, by stopping my cable TV service and reducing my news gathering to NPR.

December 3: Moment: Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail.

In June, I participated in my first ever 5-K Walk as a part of Weight Watchers. Our location was a lovely park/greenway that runs through my town not far from my house. We were very lucky that the temperatures and humidity weren't extraordinarily high at that point. There was a breeze, the sun was brilliant - the greenway was in full leaf. And the camaraderie of the members of my Tuesday night WW Group made the day very special. Even as part of the last group of walkers to complete the event, other members remained at the finish, ensuring that everyone returned and was cheered for the accomplishment. We do have a very special group, but that simple act of community, of support, made the day extraodinarily special for us.

December 4: Wonder: How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year.

I made a commitment to try to seek out local sources of virtually anything I might need this year. I was consistently amazed to find businesses, farms, crafters all within a reasonable radius of my home. I did not answer every need, unfortunately, as my own business relies on supplies that are not available locally, but to find mostly local sources for food, housing, transportation, and recreation, and trying to work individually with people as opposed to corporations was rewarding.

December 5: Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

By the end of May, I'd let go of 30% of myself! Losing 50 pounds that had dragged me down for all of my adult life and contributed to terrible health consequences, was an enormous, and engrossing process. By finding Weight Watchers and committing myself to a lifestyle change of such magnitude, I came back to my high school weight. I'm healthier, I'm happier (and unfortunately, poorer financially, as I had to replace my entire wardrobe - I didn't factor that part in, go figure?). And I hope to never go back to that "old me."

December 6: Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

At present, I'm making presents! :) I can tell you I'm trying to use natural fibers (yarns and fabrics) to create those presents, but till the holidays are over, I really can't tell you specifically what they are! I do hope, in 2011, to finally make my first sweater for myself. A lovely tweedy wool yarn is ready and waiting, the needles are wood. In my favorite shade of light-wash blue jeans blue, I hope to begin in January!

December 7: Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

There have been several! Online, there's Ravelry the social networking site for knitters, spinners, and crocheters as well as Facebook where I not only have my personal page, but my business page as well. Locating folks from my past, and customers from my present has been delightful, but wow, doesn't this form of community take up a lot of time? Locally, my yoga classes, Weight Watchers group, and the local vendors I've supported are communities I think are definitely worth the time. Far more personal than I allow my online presence to be, the local groups know me about as well as anyone does. I'm comfortable with that closeness, unlike that of the communities online. Certainly I'll continue there, but hope to expand my business online community.

December 8: Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different - you'll find they're what make you beautiful.

I think, I hope, that my commitment to quality in every aspect of my life might be what makes me beautifully different. The work I do, the products I create, the people I influence, the friendships I am a part of, all benefit from my personal code of ethics that insists on quality. I believe that if you choose to do something, you must do it well. I try to put care into everything I do - ultimately, caring shines through it all and benefits those others in your life.

December 9 (Today!) Party. What social event rocked your socks off in 2010.

After 11 years absence, I flew to Vermont to participate in my family's annual reunion. I reconnected with aunts and uncles and cousins, met new family members I just knew the names of, and while I was there, my dear granddaughter was born (all the way across the country!). Other family members ensured I had access to the web to find her photos, and see the newest member of our large group. I hope they never think I didn't want to be with them over those 11 years away. It was economically impossible until this year. It poured rain all day, we were stuck in the basement of a very ancient small community church, but this reconnection with family was mind-blowing!

Ok...thank you for bearing with me in catching up these posts. Hopefully, I can keep up the rest of the month!
*wink*

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Small Business Saturday

I committed myself to the concept of Small Business Saturday, shopping local (tho' I must admit, another blogger suggested something I've thought about before, that even the big stores with a nationwide or larger reach, hire local folks, so what's "local" anymore, anyway?). Still I decided to give it a try. I started the morning at Java the Hut:

And you know what? I ordered a "skinny hazelnut latte" (with the sugar-free hazelnut) and I liked it better than my usual Starbucks...it was even a bit less expensive (but then again, overhead for this little hut in the center of a small mall parking lot a few blocks from my house is much less than what Starbucks shells out, I know)...

From here, with hot coffee warming my chilly fingers, I ran across town to my favorite fabric shop, Creative Quilting.

I didn't do as much damage as I sometimes do, but I had a particularly difficult fabric this time. Still, it's always fun to stop by and visit with Judy.

I stopped on the Farmer's Market again (as I did last weekend) and bought honey from one of the vendors. It's wild, local clover honey. I did shop a bit in the various stores but I'm at my wit's end of what to buy certain folks for the holidays...as a result, I got ideas, but didn't make decisions yet.

Then I headed into SW City to Grandin Village. I had to visit the Natural Foods Co-op, but first I visited a new shop called Urban Gypsy. I loved the ambience and the clothing was interesting (tho' a touch young for me) but I was saddened to see so much of it coming from China. Still, it's a neat shop and I wish them well.

The shop on the corner of that photo is Too Many Books, a used bookshop that's a lovely spot to pick up something interesting...if you've not succumbed to e-readers, yet, that is...

On up the street a couple of blocks is New To Me. It's a recycling store - lovely furniture, jewelry, clothing, virtually anything you could envision is right there, everything sold on consignment. It's the shop I always wanted to open, to be honest! I love to poke into the corners and see what's shown up since the last time I was there. If I had a bit of extra space, there was a lovely wardrobe in there today! :)

Finally, I took the time to run out to the edge of Salem, a town not far, but still not on my normal route these days. I'd heard there was a quilt shop there, Quilting Essentials, and I just hadn't made it out there before (since mostly my available days are Saturday, and I spend those sewing most of the time):
They've a nice shop, big and airy, with lots of choice fabrics. The folks working there were helpful, and a lot of fun to chat with. I bought a few things, and will be back, that's sure...

So that's my Small Business Saturday. I hope I helped our local economy a bit, and if you didn't get a chance to do so today, I'd say, pick your next day off and explore your own community. There are always surprises in store!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Meatless Thanksgiving Dinner...

I'll admit that we did have salmon - because my friend Lynette was having a second Thanksgiving dinner tonight, and they were having turkey, so I was flexible, because my turkey breast is going in the crockpot tomorrow for a weekend of meals...

But I really wanted to make my mother's traditional vegetarian recipe for Nutloaf. Big Sis kindly sent me the recipe and I think I can easily share it since my mother allowed it to be printed in the Unitarian Universalist Church of Roanoke's cookbook (which is ancient, I think the Women's Group had it printed in the 1970s)

Here are the ingredients:

Just in the top right-hand corner you'll see the English walnuts...

My mom had an antique meat grinder (which is not in my possession and which had never been used on meat, as I understand it) that she used to grind the nuts in. I used my Cuisinart! Times change, and I'm all about shortcuts.

The only other adaptation I made was swapping out Egg Beaters for the 2 eggs (saved a bit of fat that way...)

Aren't these lovely little loaves? (don't worry, I'm giving the recipe at the end)

I said all thru preparation of the meal that I'd take a photo of our plates. By the time I remembered to get the camera? Our plates were clean. So you get photos of the leftovers:
And I goofed and didn't baste it with the butter mixture my mom used. So maybe that, or maybe not using real eggs, or maybe both, but the nutloaf didn't slice well. It did make a lovely hash mixture on the plate. It doesn't matter. The flavor was there, and it was delish!

I also baked two organic Honeycrisp apples with maple sugar candies, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger dusted over them - these were HUGE apples:
each one weighed about a pound! I said that if these were the apples Eve offered Adam? Well...that was too much temptation for ANYONE! They are fabulous either baked or eaten out of hand!

Finally I made Pumpkin Fluff:
It's a recipe shared at Weight Watchers, and since I had to add it to etools, I don't think there's any copywrite to violate, so I'll share it:

1 can of pumpkin (NOT pie filling)
1 large package of Sugar-Free Fat-Free Vanilla instant pudding
2 cups of skim milk
1 8 oz tup of Cool Whip Fat Free
your favorite pumpkin pie seasonings (I use Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, and Cloves)

Make the pudding with the 2 cups of milk...I wisk it together and beat it well till it begins to set. At that point, I add the spices, then the pumpkin. The very last thing I do is fold in the Cool Whip and mix it well, but don't beat it, because you'll beat the "air" out of it and you want it fluffy. Chill and serve - one CUP is 1 WW point!
Who needs pumpkin pie?

Ok...here's the nutloaf recipe:
1 and 1/2 c. ground walnut meats
1 and 1/2 c. ground peanuts (Spanish or unsalted)
4 slices bread, broken up fine (or toast them lightly and pulse in food processor)
2 Tbs poultry seasoning
1 small onion, grated (oh heck I just tossed this in the Cuisinart, too)
2 eggs (or, as I said, I substitued the equivalent in Egg Beaters)

Mix dry ingredients; add eggs slightly beaten and the onion. Mold into two small loaves. Cover & bake in oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes - basting occasionally with 2 Tbs butter in one cup of boiling water. Do not bake too dry. (oh well, I missed this part of the directions!)

Slice the loaf & serve with tomato sauce:
1 large can of tomatoes thickened with flour
seasoned with 1 tsp grated onion salt and pepper

Mix the flour with a bit of water in a small lidded container and shake well so the flour isn't lumpy - I used hot tap water - then add that into the tomatoes. Heat and allow the sauce to thicken. I also used a can of tomatoes with Italian seasoning already in there, so I didn't add more onion or seasonings.

**by the way, I'm not affliated with Cuisinart, nor with any of the products shown in the photos, and am only a Lifetime member of Weight Watchers, not a paid representative - just for anyone who might wonder about it**

Have a terrific Thanksgiving Holiday!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Two Big Days Coming Up...

...and I don't mean Thanksgiving and Christmas, tho' they are, too.

I'm thinking about Buy Nothing Day (November 26) and Small Business Saturday (November 27).

Buy Nothing Day (BND) has been an event in my life for about as long as it's been going on (maybe longer, as I despise crowds and almost as much as that, I dislike spending a ton on *stuff* that very few people need). I think the most I've ever bought on BND has been emergency cat food.

This year's Small Business Saturday is an event I can totally get behind. I'm trying very hard to buy smaller, buy local, and give handmade as much as humanly possible. My focus this year in my gift giving will have much more reliance on supporting the small businesses in my town as well as the small crafters on Etsy (and yes, I, (Nana Sadie Rose, am one).

I'm interested in any purchase that supports:
1. my local arts community (handcrafted items and concert tickets)
2. the small businesses on our City Market: our huge Market Square Building has been closed for renovations that will take a long time to do - many of the small businesses that were housed there have relocated to other spots along the Market area (some just folded - sob!). Traffic is being re-directed around the building and it's not much fun to navigate. The upshot of that is that many folks are not going downtown they way they used to. But I will!
3. food entrepreneurs - locally grown, locally baked
4. Gift Certificates for services: yoga classes, massages, haircuts, and such.

Then, at the next level of gifting, I'm doing a Handmade Holiday:
5. handcrafted items on etsy
6. handcrafted items I create myself
7. handcrafted items from my local craft shows

Finally, for those family and friends farther away:
8. contributions of cash to groups that do good - in the local community. My hope is that Americans realize that for all our generousity to the people of countries afar, we have serious concerns in our own hometowns that need addressing (and need funding). Most folks are still feeling pinched, so contributions to nonprofits are down (yes, I work for one), and the corporations and governments that used to help fund these groups have had to cut back on their giving/funding, as well. If you have a group in your area that does good and has the need, consider a gift in the name of someone you care about. That nonprofit will send a thank-you to your honoree on your behalf. And your honoree won't have to figure out what to do with the *stuff* you gift...(yes, we all have that happen once in awhile, eh?)

I know folks like to use the big charities - and I won't say don't, do what works for you, but do take a moment to think about your local humane society, homeless shelter, domestic violence shelter, food bank, art museum, or opera company and symphony. Perhaps they have a greater need than the bigger groups at least during this time of economic distress.

Lastly? On Buy Nothing Day? Why not take the time to de-stuff your closets? And donate to a local organization that helps provide for folks just starting over, those who've lost everything due to natural or economic disaster?

Because after all, do we really need everything we've got? Isn't a bunch of it just "STUFF?"

And isn't this time of year about so much more?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Farmers Market STILL!

Yes, our area still has veggies on the Farmers Market downtown this weekend...While there's a vendor or two who bring in veggies from down south, I was able to buy local produce from Sandra's farmer friend from Franklin Co. He had a wonderful array of squashes, greens (spinach for salad on Turkey day and turnip greens tonight), and potatoes (red & white sweet, and white regular), and I picked up a couple heads of garlic and a big onion.

I baked the two red sweet potatoes for dinner tonight and Tuesday and froze some of the turnip greens after having a nice sized serving for dinner.

Life is good. Especially when you can hook up and visit (however briefly) with a friend. Her farmer friend did the honors and snapped a shot of us together:

That's pal Sandra (who I see too infrequently!) and me. If you're interested in seeing a little Fair Isle knitting, you can jump on over to my other blog and see the cat mittens I made that go with my lightweight winter coat.

I'm hoping to make an old vegetarian favorite for Turkey Day (when I won't be having turkey, I'll be having salmon with friend Lynette!). The recipe for the family dish has nothing to do with fish, of course, it's ...

Nut Loaf!

Be sure to stop by, okay?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

It's Been a Long Time!

This might seem pretty amazing, but I'm still eating from last year's CSA share! I had two small bags of peppers which I'd frozen whole after de-seeding them and lopping the tops off. I saved them with this in mind:

Raised a vegetarian, my Mom used to make stuffed peppers just this way: stuff with your favorite sage stuffing mix (I do use Stove Top, because I rarely have time to do anything more, and besides, it tastes JUST like my Mom's - at least the Savory Herb flavor does). Fit them into a covered casserole, top with a can of tomatoes (flavored with Italian herbs so I don't have to add anything) and sprinkle a tablespoon or so of shredded Parmesan cheese over the top. Bake at 350 for an hour or so.

Absolutely delish!

I've been gone a bit from this blog and I apologize. Life seems to be moving faster than a speeding bullet, and I've neglected both this one and my knitting blog. While the holidays are approaching, I think I'll be able to spare a few minutes to post occasionally, but I'm still toying with ideas for this particular blog and am unsure of the direction I'll take it. Let me know if there's something you'd like to see?
(((hugs)))

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Have You Discovered?

Patti? I just did...Well, let's just say you may not see me for a bit, as I have a lot of catching up to do...Putting my own world and life in perspective, and reading her stuff.

WOW!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Reposting From Cheap Healthy Good for Meatless Monday!

Making Spaghetti Sauce from Scratch apparently is very easy, and I think it will go on my fall list of "must-dos" because recently I've had no time, and had to eat things with little or no "chewability" thanks to a flare-up of my previously-under-control TMJ. I am okay with jarred sauce, but I usually doctor it up quite a bit. Why not just go ahead and make fresh, especially with tomatoes all over the place (for a bit longer, but they'll soon be gone). If I can act fast enough, maybe I'll can some? Oh, who am I kidding? That would mean buying all those canning supplies, so I guess I'll find room in the freezer instead.

I have no photos to share, but tonight's dinner is scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese and baby carrots cooked well beyond my preferred al dente to a very soft state, and covered with a honey (2 Tbsp), grated fresh ginger (to taste, I used about 1 Tbsp) and a mite of butter (just a tsp) glaze. Yummy. And easy to chew (or slide down the gullet as the case may be). Also really easy to make. Put the carrots on in a pot of water and boil to smitherines (ok, probably 10 minutes or so) and then mix the glaze ingredients in a small bowl and nuke for 30 seconds. I was able to use up the remains of a bag of baby carrots I'd been crunching on at lunch...which no doubt exascerbated the TMJ flare, right along with my dentist visit and X-rays...! (ouch)

The doc warned me to "cut my meat into teensy pieces" and I laughed. What meat?
(just the occasional salmon fillet, and I don't have to "cut" that - it flakes)

Meatless. The way to go, especially if you've got jaw issues!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Link...and Short Comment

I'm hoping I make up for being gone a bit, and I do hope to be back to regular posting soon. If you're not familiar with the site I'm featuring here, do start with this post Cheap, Heathly, Good, 20 Cheap Healthy Dishes Made From Ten Pantry Staples.

I wish my pantry looked like that! (I love the light, clean, spacious feel of that space!)
(sigh)
Now I'm off to clear out my pantry to send things off to Weight Watchers Lose For Good at my meeting tonight. I'm taking the list from the article above to my grocery store, and stocking up.

Then when I pick up fall veggies at the Farmers Market, I should be all set...

(hmm...better clear out the spice rack, too - some of them are really older than I'd like to admit!)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Meatless Monday After a Weekend Away

A long weekend away doing Nana Sadie Rose things...very busy, and very tired.

So the easiest thing to fix is a Vermont Hunter Cheddar Cheese toasted on Rosemary Sourdough with steamed pattypan squashes...

And then...to sleep, perchance to dream - oh heck, I'd rather NOT dream, but sound sleep would be really good!

Monday, August 30, 2010

It's Meatless Monday!

The next few Mondays my meals will be much the same for me...simple, fast to prepare, and full of the bounty that's at the Farmers Market right now:
I'm spending long hours at the sewing machine, creating stock, so pick-up food is the order of the day.

So here again, my new favorite tomato - the Heirloom Purple Cherokee - on two slices of locally baked rosemary sourdough with a touch of mayo (I'm sorry for you purists, but it's the fat-free jarred mayo; thankfully, I like that) and salt and cracked pepper. Along side you can see a block of my favorite cheese ever: Vermont Hunter Cheddar. This cheese, at room temperature has a bite that many don't like, but I was raised to consider it the finest there is. While in Vermont last weekend, I picked up a block, but it's been long enough that I forgot that the wax it's encased in needs to be encased in plastic or foil to protect surfaces...sure enough my carryon/knitting bag has black wax inside it.
:(
I will work on that. But this meal is simplicity personified.

And wow. Was it ever good.

The next couple of weeks I'll be slammed as I work feverishly to prepare for, and then vend at the National Capital Cat Show. I'll be hosting a booth near the front door, so do come and visit if you're in the Northern Virginia area. We'd love to see you! (One night, will be La Madelienes for dinner, and I make no promises, but often it's reasonably easy to eat Meatless there! I'll try to remember the camera!)
(((hugs)))

Monday, August 16, 2010

Meatless Monday - Chana Masala

I mentioned last week that I was having vegetarian at a local Indian restaurant after my yoga class. I did and it was wonderful!

I had Chana Masala, and a tomato/coconut soup (must search for recipe), along with naan...I found this recipe for Chana Masala which looks a lot like what I had, with, of course, jasmine rice.

We had such fun, seeing off the daughter of one of our members who has spent the summer in class with us. She's off to college, and we wanted to share a celebratory meal in her honor.

Monday, August 09, 2010

It's Another Meatless Monday...

I missed last week...I'm so sorry, but I did eat meatless, I promise (I'm doing this many more days than just Mondays, too...)

But I have a photo:

This meal included a mess of fresh green beans from my sis-in-law's garden. Now I have to admit that while I use the Southern term of "mess" to describe the large bag she brought me, I do not cook my green beans Southern-style. I simply cook them in water with a little salt, then serve them with a bit of butter and freshly cracked pepper.

I had 1/2 a sweet potato, too. I wrap them in aluminum foil and cook at 425 for 60 minutes...they're melt-in-your-mouth soft and sweet. Add a touch (a small one) of butter and a bit of salt and pepper, and yumm....

The corn and grape tomaotes and the Artisan Bread were from the chain grocer, but I didn't have a chance to get to the Farmer's Market this weekend. I'll make a better effort to do so next week!

Now, tonight? I'm going to one of our Indian restaurants...and I'll report back next Monday on the vegetarian meal I have...okay?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Meatless Monday...Farmer's Market Edition

I visited the Roanoke City Farmer's Market this weekend for the first time all summer (yes, I know I'm awful, and I really do love the place, but I despise having to pay to park so I do visit other Markets that don't have that drawback, but Roanoke's was the first and is the best, no argument).

I brought back a few things. I'm trying really hard this year to remember that it is just me, and I don't have much freezer space or time to put by. Still I tend to overbuy anyway...without applying the brakes? I'd have bags and bags of stuff and be overwhelmed (like last year with the CSA) and I'm trying hard to keep that in mind:
I picked up all three sisters, tho only two are here. My favorite October beans (or "shellies" as my Mom called them) cooked up nicely with a teaspoon or so of olive oil, freshly cracked pepper, a touch of salt and about a tablespoon of dried rosemary in the cooking water. I adore them and was promised the farmer who had these would have many many more all the rest of the summer - I might have to put some of these by, as it's just my favorite bean in the world (I take after Mom in a lot of ways, but when I eat these, I remember the simple delight she had in them and it's a lovely memory!). There were two ears of yellow/white corn, too, and the yellow squash was fabulous.

This is the primary reason I love the Roanoke City Market - because I can stop at On the Rise bakery for their amazing Rosemary Sourdough bread.

But then, as I wandered thru the marketplace, I suddenly heard my name, and lo and behold there was friend Sandra, who helps a friend of her's at his farmstand booth every weekend. Now I have another reason to go down there. What amazing produce!

Sandra immediately told me I had to try one of these:


Saturday and Sunday I had this for lunch, making it a purely meatless weekend (breakfast is always meat-free):
The peaches made my mid-afternoon snack extra special. I'm not a huge fan of peaches, except when they're fresh, in season, and eaten out of hand. This is a good year for peaches, apparently!

And the Cherokee Purple heirloom tomato? OMG. No joke, it's amazing. As soon as I took my first bite, I phoned Sandra and asked her to pick up a couple more of the treasures for this week. I added just a touch of fat-free mayo to the sourdough bread and tomato...I think I'll be stocking up on them each week as long as they last. Hmm...wonder if I can grow two or three of these plants next summer on the front stoop? (Those of you who've been here awhile know perfectly well that it will be a pitiful attempt. I just don't get enough sun...better to plan on every Saturday morning from July into September being at Sandra's friend's booth, right?)

Oh...And Sandra dropped off some of her fresh, home-grown basil on Sunday afternoon, and I made pesto, and added a few leaves and some mozzarella to the sandwich - it was equally amazing...

Monday, July 19, 2010

It's Meatless Monday AGAIN!

I was thinking salad, I was craving Mexican. Taco salad? Vegan style? Well...

I ended up tossing together what I had (wish I'd had a lime or lime juice, but I didn't) and came up with this:

I tossed in:
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained (and I patted them dry with a towel, too)
1 ear of yellow corn cooked and removed from the cob
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/3 of a Vidalia onion, chopped
1/2 a bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 small jalapeno (frozen from my CSA share last year), seeded and chopped

I seasoned with smoked paprika, cumin (probably 1 tbsp or more), a touch of hot sauce, and lemon juice and olive oil - I can't give you actual amounts, b/c (1) I didn't measure, and (2) I think probably you'll want to season to your own preference.

(I like mine spicey!)

And then I carefully mixed it all up (those black beans tend to mush if you're too forceful!). I tossed broken up multigrain Tostitos chips and romaine in a bowl and added the mixture on top.

Next time? I think I'll make up a bit of salsa and fat-free ranch dressing for a topper and add in some (non-vegan) sharp cheddar shreds.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Meatless Mondays - Veggies

I'm not sure you can tell what's on the plate (well, except that obviously there's an ear of corn!

My meatless meal tonight was veggies: On the right, the thing that's probably not obvious at all is a roasted white patty pan squash. Then there's the corn, and of course a garlic baguette with seasoned olive oil. I had nectarine for dessert.

So what is it with me? I seem to put many many white, yellow, pale, blah, beige sorts of foods on my plate. Or at least it seems to me as if there's a lot of it. (On the rare days I eat anything animal based (other than dairy - oh! There's that white stuff again) I eat chicken. White.Meat.

Hmm...I do eat carrots and winter squash, sweet potatoes (hmm...yellow, orange)

And tomatoes (red).

But Mom always taught me to have something green on my plate.

Oh well. In past weeks? It's been some sort of salad, so I guess it's okay that tonight's meal is blah, ho-hum, beige...right?

(oh, that black stuff? I'm totally enamoured of freshly ground pepper...)

Friday, July 09, 2010

In The Realm of Far-Fetched Fantasy...

I often dream of this for my retirement.

Of course, these days, the thought of spending the $$ for fuel to travel around the country combined with the limited balances in the IRAs - can anyone afford to retire anymore? - has me cringing in the midst of my daydreams.

(But you know? I've got a bit of a crush on the pink and white one with the vintage kitchen chair in front! Only I'd have nothing but pillows of barkcloth roses and lace inside!)

But there is the fact that these are pint-sized homes and one can park them as much as one can drive them. That little tidbit offers a glimmer of hope that living this way might be an option one day...(and who knows, maybe there'll be some sort of renewal energy source someone creates to work around the combustion engine in order to power them?)

Hmm...I'm thinking the SW (New Mexico) for the winter, and perhaps New Hampshire or Maine in summer? Now to whittle down the yarn and fabric stash to fit inside this tiny wheeled wonder...oh and then teach the cats to walk on a leash!
*wink*

Monday, July 05, 2010

Meatless Monday - Dinner Out!

So it's Mealess Monday again, and I'm expecting company. Dinner will be in a restaurant today, so will either be Buddhist Delight at a local Chinese place, or perhaps salad bar and baked potato at a local chain restaurant.

Sometimes, you just gotta go with the flow, you know?

Oh...and breakfast is a "fast food" sandwich I make myself:
Thomas' high fiber English Muffin
1/4 c Egg Beaters w/ shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Morningstar Farms veggie-sausage patty

It's really good, and only 5 points on Weight Watchers. Holds me over for a long morning, as well.
Happy 4th of July holiday weekend, if you're still enjoying a day off today!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Another Meatless Monday Salad Day...

I visited a newly forming farmers Market last week and was pleased to see the people in attendance, the vendors being patronized, and the quality of the food. I purchased beets, Swiss Chard, and a summer squash.
When I got home, I immediately put the beets in to roast with rosemary and olive oil, and then tossed the chard into boiling water for that night's dinner. The beets I knew would take a lot longer, so when they were done (and forgotten for a few hours in the cooling oven!) I just put them in the fridge for the future.

So for Meatless Monday, I was able to pull them out, chop them into a mixed mesclun green salad, add in a tablespoon or so of feta cheese and a couple of tablespoons of chopped walnuts. A quick vinagrette later (did you realize you can get the last vestiges of mustard out of a container by adding a bit of vinegar (balsamic or white - choose whatever) and shaking it into the container? The mustard mixture forms a base for vinegrette that's got some substance to it - that is, as long as you don't use that yellow stuff! I added in some canola oil (the flavor of the mustard would overpower olive oil) and then some rosemary to continue the flavor I'd already used with the beets.

It was a delightful salad! With our weekend temperatures posting close to 102, a cool salad keeps me from heating up the kitchen and that agrees with me completely! Someone at work (who doesn't get - or agree with - the warming of the globe or the level of commitment it takes to be an evironmentalist) asked why my upstairs was hotter than down, "don't you have air conditioning?"

Yup...I do. I also push it way up when I'm not home, and it's pretty high (77) when I'm there.

So I don't make the heat pump work harder to cool the house by heating up the kitchen (well, not often anyway...)

I promise I bought this baked item! A lovely mini-loaf of banana bread I picked up at the farmer's market.

I didn't save any. It was good.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Obviously, I Can Do This...

I'm a sewist and Knitter (yes, with a capital K), who must have huge amounts of cotton fabric and yarn in my stashes, and I'm also an armchair environmentalist who can only step up and do what one aging Nana can do from her overwhelming sense of duty, but very limited available funds and energy, so I'm going to make some knitted dishcloths and small fabric handtowels for this project:
Craft Hope Spreading seeds of hope one stitch at a time
How can you even watch the news footage in the Gulf and not be moved to do something - at least for me, anything is better than sitting by and feeling so helpless. Finally, today? I found something that *fits* with who I am, and what I can offer!

Thank you, Green Phone Booth

Monday, June 21, 2010

Yoga Night and Meatless Monday!

I have no photo yet for Meatless Monday - I'm making my own stuffed portabella mushroom cap after yoga tonight, tho' so I'll post a photo (if I don't inhale it, first). (I'm planning on sauteeing red bell pepper, olive oil, leeks and Italian seasoning, stuffing the cap, and then tossing feta on top to broil...hope it turns out as well as I think it will!)

In the meantime - because I'm going straight from work to pick up my 92 year old friend to go to yoga class together - I made sure to have a snack that will keep me going till after class tonight: Kefir. I'm not in anyway affiliated with that site, but I love their low-fat version - in strawberry, tonight. I once picked up a 1 cup bottle of it at the co-op and have saved the bottle, dutifully refilling it from my much larger one for ease in carrying to work (I know, I should reuse a small glass jar and recycle the plastic, and I will, promise, as soon as I empty one!). A cup is only 3 points and with the extra calcium, my bones are really benefitting, too.

edited to add photo and comments!
Here it is...my own version of the quickie portabellas I've been picking up at the grocery store for "fast food"

It turned out well, but yes, it does take longer to fix - I did everything I said above, except that I used orange peppers (2 slices, chopped) about 1 tablespoon of chopped leeks (from the CSA share last fall that I froze), a large garlic clove, chopped (also from the CSA last fall), and oregano, basil, salt and pepper to taste. Then about 2 tablespoons of feta - and I broiled it for probably 8 minutes in my toaster oven.

That's summer squash from the Farmer's market, and a serving (I slice those slices thinly to go farther!) of artisan olive bread with olive dipping oil (Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb seasoning flavors it). Dessert was fruit, but I ate a peach out of hand (I know it's not local, but oh it was good) with a few blueberries...and didn't get a photo of that.

A great Meatless Monday!

Friday, June 18, 2010

I Could Not Say This Any Better...

So I'm going to LINK it, instead.

This has been a crazy week, so I haven't posted much, either here or on my knitting blog. Tomorrow is a family yard sale and I'm going to be sending out into the world many things I no longer need to new homes that hopefully can use them. I know I'll be repeating this event in the fall, too. My goal is to rid myself of much that is weighing down my thought processes and my living space.

But I hope I'll have a little time on Sunday to review the post above, and the links embeded there and come up with a compact list of not less than 10 things to begin doing myself. Because we do each need to make a commitment to changing our behavior if we want to see the change we'd like in the world.

If you decide to join in as a result of that post? Let me know, okay? I'll be very interested.
Happy Weekend.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Wow the Weeks Fly By - It's Meatless Monday Again!

Over the weekend, a friend and I made a roadtrip to a small town about 45 minutes away to celebrate World Wide Knit in Public Day with a few friends at a yarn shop there. The shop is next door to a farmer's market and you know I had to visit with an eye towards Meatless Mondays, right?

I picked up potatoes and green beans (oh they were beautiful) and whipped up another batch of a meal that makes me think of my Depression-era Mom and her sisters and the vegetarian dishes I grew up with:

(they usually added milk to this, but I don't. I rarely have milk in the house, for one thing, and when I do, I tend not to add it to foods)

I got fresh summer squash, too. There was a huge storm that knocked out my power so I couldn't enjoy this on Saturday night but I whipped it up for tonight's dinner and there are plenty of leftovers for Monday. What do I do? Simple - boiled potatoes and green beans with just a touch of butter, salt, and pepper. I steam the squash and season the same way.

Why mess with perfection?

I had more of the artisan olive bread and olive oil as a complement to this meal. If you're wondering, yes, my meals tend to be pretty simple; I save the fancy stuff for when I'm out to eat - let the pros mess up the kitchen, is my motto!

Which you can see here in my knitting blog post for the WWKIP day event. We stopped at a new restaurant that we've heard about and I have to say the bruschetta was fabulous - and totally veggie, tho' not vegan.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Meatless Monday on a Yoga Class Night!

You get another of those super fast, what can I pick up at the grocery store, meals tonight for Meatless Monday! Tonight is yoga class, so I can't eat before, and when I get home the meal has to be light - I don't want to eat much after class, and besides sleeping on a full stomach isn't my idea of a good night's sleep, either!

This is a salad from the so-called "olive" bar at my local Kroger:

Still, it's pretty wonderful...a curried couscous salad, with wheat berries and small white beans. A delightful, lightly spicy concoction that I tossed over salad greens and then added in slivered yellow peppers and halved grape tomatoes.

(If it weren't Meatless Monday, a salmon fillet would have made a nice main dish, with a smaller salad.)

I have no way of knowing how many Weight Watchers points are in this, but I tend to err on the higher side just in case.

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

What's Water Got To Do With It?

(to paraphrase - What's Love Got To Do With It?)

Do you ever think about all the plastic in our lives? Does something like what's happening in the Gulf ever make you think of plastic? Do you have any idea how much petroleum is in the plastics we use daily?

If you've ever drunk a pre-packaged bottle of water? Read this:
Responsible Plastic explains this more concisely than any other place I've seen. (And yes, I did read all the way through it. *wink*

If you don't have a refillable water bottle? It's time to buy one.

If you have a problem remembering the reuseable grocery sacks in your trunk? It's time to get one of those that stuffs into their own tiny selves and fits in your purse.

If you haven't had the nerve to ask the Chinese Take-out place to please put your to-go meal in your own carry-away To-Go Ware or other rewashable, reuseable container? Please find your backbone!

Wow. That's some impact on the environment! (And if we all do those 4 things? THAT's what love's got to do with it...

As we used to say in the 70s - Love Your Mother!
(Mother Earth)

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Meatless Monday

I wonder if there will be lots of us doing "meatless" today, or if it will be a day that folks think they can skip?

After all, what's Memorial Day without the required cookout?

In my world, tho' Memorial Day is a regular workday - not at my place of employment but at my home business. Often I'm slammed trying to get bag orders filled and stock put back ahead of a July show. This year? The show isn't on the agenda, but there are still orders to fill, so my "cookout" becomes an indoor quick-fix event:

A Morningstar Farms Black Bean Burger (yes, there is cheese on it) on a Sandwich Thins wholegrain "bun," broccoli slaw, and fried potatoes (in a little olive oil and with green onions, red and green peppers all chopped with the potatoes, it's just 2 Weight Watchers points). In fact, using a low fat coleslaw dressing that entire meal up there is 8 points for the entire plate. I had points left for mixed berries and fresh pineapple (1.5 total there).

A patriotic meal in record time!

I hope your Memorial Day is not just meatless, but relaxing. Please keep all those who serve our country's interests or have given their lives for our benefit and their families in your thoughts!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Do You Feel Hopeless?

The catastrophe in the Gulf has weighed heavily on my mind for weeks (as I'm sure it has your's). I've never been to the area, but that doesn't mean I'm unaware of the incredible importance it holds in the ecosphere. I've been feeling totally overwhelmed and not quite sure what to do to make a difference other than redoubling my efforts at using less petroleum. I've begun to revisit my wish to take public transit as often as possible, and have decided to do a trial run this weekend, stopping downtown at the Farmer's Market, too.

But it's not enough (will anything ever be enough?).

I happened upon this site last night and decided to join up. Matter of Trust is an organization that, among other things, utilizes pet hair and animal fiber (alpaca, sheep!) to stuff pantyhose (even those with runs) to create booms that soak up the oil. They even have a study in process that evaluates whether the oil-soaked booms can then be used to be a fertile ground for mushrooms to reprocess the gunk into something useful. I think the results of that will be fascinating, and I'll be watching to see what happens there.

Right now, they need pantyhose. I've emailed to see if knee highs work as well, because I haven't worn pantyhose in years. Still. I'm going to be collecting The Meezer's and The Tonks fur in a bag to send them when they need more. If we all had a bag of it ready when the call went out? Wouldn't that be a phenominal way to make a difference with something that otherwise would end up in the landfill?

I feel a bit more positive. Organizations and groups that RETHINK this whole process of stuff? Well, that's my favorite kind to support.

And I'm going to keep on rethinking my own daily activities to see where else I can make adjustments to reduce my own need for plastic, petroleum...STUFF!
You?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Wise Environmental Choices....

I've been taking baby steps for some time to make smarter choices environmentally. There are plenty of things I've done with the primary focus being to reduce my electric bill (and while I'm sure it would be higher had I not done these things? It sure doesn't seem to be inching downward much - but so go the rate increases, eh?),

I've mentioned in previous posts that I'm trying to find interesting new places to visit (blogs and websites, mostly) with a focus on wise stewardship, environmental activism, and consumerism, too. So when I find something interesting and new, I like to let you all know...

The Conscious Shopper has been mentioned before. I like her style, I love her posts. She's totally committed to reducing her environmental footprint and helping all of us do the same...and right now? She's having an interesting contest.

Another place I visit often is Fake Plastic Fish. Don't you know, she's having a contest, too?

I can't imagine that I could ever get to the point of using no plastic, but because of her blog, I've rethought many things I do. I've finally started buying milk from our local creamery - in returnable glass bottles! I am using the Co-Op for that purchase, but even our local Kroger carries it. I don't use milk a lot, but it's nice to have this option...and the glass bottles are also a happy childhood memory!

On Fake Plastic Fish today, you'll also find links to this post over at Plastic Manners. An interesting addition to the typical Reduce, Reuse, Recycle mantra, she adds Rethink, Refuse to the three others. Then another addition I like that I've seen elsewhere - like my Ravelry Trash to Treasure group that does so - is Repurpose.

It's all about stopping, not doing the knee jerk reaction of just reaching and buying. Do you need that? If so, is it made from plastic? What will you do with it once it's empty? Can you recycle it? Reuse it? Repurpose it? If not, is there an alternative to the plastic?

With oil spewing into the Gulf, in a castrophic mess that will be with us for years, can we reconsider petroleum-based products completely? What LITTLE thing (or BIG thing?) can each one of us do? I'm planning to take the bus to the Farmer's Market every Saturday for local food, beginning this weekend...See? baby steps.

I know sometimes it feels like one person can't make that much of a difference.

But frankly, I'm coming around more and more to feeling empowered that I can do something at least...it's better than the overwhelming sense of futility that washes over me when I see photos of the coast covered in red slime...

What about you?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Macrobiotic Meatless Monday!

Tonight there simply was no time to cook, I hadn't thought about it at all, and I was hungry. I stopped at the Co-Op and picked up "fast food"

This is Shanhai Dumplings and Spinach Noodles by Macro Bento. I can't do the entire 1/2 a box for a single serving of either (they're spicy!), but that makes them last longer! Hot tea rounds out the macrobiotic meal.

And then I topped it off with a little crystalized ginger to help with digestion (and for a little more spicy-sweetness).

Who says you can't have meatless fast food?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Meatless Mondays Lunch This Time

It's that time again, and I've made lunch! It's a simple recipe, as I usually pack my lunches and I want things easy as pie (without the pie)

On the Weight Watchers point system this one weighs in at a heavy (NOT!) 4 points (but then I added strawberries for dessert, and a cup is 1/2 a point, so factor that into your counting)

A Hummus Veggie Wrap on Whole Wheat Tortilla:

(yes, this isn't the best photo, I'd already wrapped it up)

I buy my hummus tho' there are several good recipes out there to use if you want to make your own (if I ever get 20 minutes, I think I'd like to try one of them!). I spread 2 Tbls. of garlic flavored hummus on a warmed wheat tortilla, tossed on some baby spinach leaves, slivered some red pepper strips and drizzled a Ceasar Italian flavored dressing on it - I used a fat-free bottled kind, but you could make your own. IF you use olive oil, remember to add that into your point count, but don't worry, because you're using one of your Good Health Guidelines while you're at it!). I'm careful with the dressing, because I really just want a touch of flavor, not a soupy mess! Roll it up, steam a few spears of asparagus (with a touch of butter on it
for 1 point), salt, pepper, and the whole meal is ready in a flash. And I've got time to knit at my desk during lunch!

Happy Meatless Eating!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Meatless Monday Again!

For once I can claim credit for this recipe. I devised it after having something very similar at a fancy dinner some years ago:


Strawberry Spinach Salad
(I'm giving general quantities - I made this for just one serving)

1 cup fresh organic spinach, loosely packed
4-5 fresh strawberries, sliced (or more if you're like me and love them)
5 English walnuts chopped
2-3 Tbsp low-fat feta cheese (to taste)
Ken's fat-free Raspberry Walnut Vinagrette
(you may add slivered red or Vidalia onions to taste, my digestive system can't have them, but wish it could!)

Do I really need to give you directions to assemble? I think not.

(In the winter? Substitute canned mandarin oranges - or a clemantine, sectioned - it's every bit as good, and a fine salad to add to a soup or veggie chili meal.)
:)
Enjoy - Thankfully, 'tis the season for the freshest of ingredients...and wow is this good.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Meatless Monday!

Baingan Bharta (Eggplant Curry):

I can't take credit for the recipe, I found it here. I had no idea how it would come out, but it's good! I input all the ingredients to Weight Watchers e-Tools, and came back with 2 points per serving. Since it made 4 servings, and I was hungry, I doubled my portion for 4 points. Three points for the Na'an (which is storebought) and I thought I was in heaven for a dinner at 7 points!

I will tell you that I automatically chopped the onions, and then realized the recipe called for sliced (oops!). Then I did not have the garlic paste. There's an hysterical youTube video out there telling you how to make your own garlic paste, but I just mixed equal parts of minced garlic and finely grated fresh ginger into the mixture and didn't worry about it (yes, that's what garlic paste is. Equal parts of the two ingredients and perhaps a little water to make a paste...IF I could have found my mortar and pestle, I'd have made it up. Unfortunately, that's one thing that hasn't been unpacked since the move (three years ago).

Anyway! A great, warming meal (which I made last week when it was really quite chilly and appreciated no end!), not too difficult to make. Happy Meatless Monday!