Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Challenge #1: Eat a Pot of Rice

Last night I tried the Sweet And Sour Eggplant (see last post) and it was pretty good! As I was putting it in my dish, I realized I really should have served it over rice.  Which made me think, I really should be eating more rice.  This comes, in part, from reading The Kind Life by Alicia Silverstone.  I skipped all the first chapters and jumped right to the middle part that talks about how to eat a more vegan diet.  I've always thought I'd like to be a vegan, but lacked the motivation and will power to do it.  Now that Olivia is starting to stop eating purees, I've been faced with the question of how to feed her.  I know that a vegan diet is best, but

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

My Diet

A friend of mine said she wanted to live at my house for a week to eat like I do.  Kind of like a cleanse.   We then discussed the options of calling "my" cleanse by my first name or my last name.  We decided that using my first name would probably be preferable to using my last since my last name *might* give the wrong impression about what one would be expected to eat. This got me thinking about what I eat.  I'm always thinking about what I eat and trying to eat better--who isn't?  I got Alicia Silverstone's book, The Kind Diet, at the library again and I'm trying to reread it to help inspire me again.  It's harder to read now that Olivia is starting to wean herself.  I used to be able to read for at least half and hour when I nursed her, now as soon as I pick up a book, she wants to check it out too.  Apparently someone else is also reexamining how she eats...

I'm also in the process of planning a menu for our vacation in September.  Clearly I'm excited.  I'll be cooking for the 6 of us, plus my brothers in law and my mother and father in law.  In an attempt to please the masses, I'm going to try to cook "normal"

Monday, July 29, 2013


Wow!  It's been a long time since I blogged!  I've thought about blogging, it's been on my to do list, but I haven't had a great topic or the time to really sit down.  I'm starting to think that getting a puppy right now wasn't such a great idea...

Yesterday I watched part of a movie that I thought was worth mentioning on here.  I would have watched the whole movie, but I was doing laundry and I had to go to a birthday party, but what I saw was very eye-opening.  It was a documentary film called Gasland.  Evan and I saw the filmmaker on a talk show and thought it looked like an

Monday, July 15, 2013

Natural Japanese Beetle Killer

Sunday is my garden day.  Yesterday I worked in my garden a LOT, but not weeding, like I usually do, harvesting!  I jammed my garden full of plants this year.  Last year I felt I had too much wasted space, you know, for actually being able to walk in the garden and get to the plants.  So this year I took care of that problem.  Now I can't walk in the garden, the peas are growing over the pepper plants, I can't even see what I've got growing in there and weed control is futile because I can't get in there to weed.  So I learned my lesson.  No being greedy next year.  Make paths.  So...harvesting.  I got SO MAY green beans!  I did a Google search and found how to freeze fresh beans and filled a gallon ziploc-with beans left over to eat fresh this week!  I'm going to have beans galore by the end of the summer!

As I was out digging in my garden to find my plants, I found something else that I didn't like.  A plastic softball.  Oh, and Japanese Beetles.  Not many, they're not a problem--yet.  I want to take care of it before it becomes a problem.  But I don't want to spray any toxic chemicals on my organic garden.  So what's an organic, kid and pet-safe way to kill Japanese Beetles?  I remember the bags that my grandma and my mom used to put out.  We used to dare each other as kids to squeeze the bag.  It was so gross!  If you read no farther, hear this--DON'T USE THE BAG!  It attracts and traps Japanese Beetles, but it attracts way more than would normally be in your garden, causing more harm than good.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Recipe Friday: Tofu Triangles and Asian Dipping Sauce

I found this recipe in a book I think I've mentioned before, the Whole Family Cookbook.  I've made it twice and I think I can say its my new favorite.  I've pressed tofu before, but the way this recipe instructs really works! The dipping sauce would be good with chicken too so this is a great recipe for a vegetarian/ omnivore family like mine.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Grizzly Ridge: Coming July 20th

Next week the Akron Zoo will open it's newest exhibit: Grizzly Ridge.  As you may have guessed from past posts, I'm a big fan of the Akron Zoo.  It's close, it's small and it's got great programs for kids.    Since we almost qualify for a group discount when out whole family goes to the zoo, it's more economical for us to get the zoo membership.  With that membership it the zoo newsletter, ZooTales.  This issue's focus was on Grizzly Ridge, but not just about the animals that will be featured (they have a really cool back-story on each animal that will be there.  (Sorry, Evan, none were found on dead litter mates.)) but also about the design of the exhibit itself.  The Akron zoo is working to make Grizzly Ridge LEED certified (like their other exhibit building, Komodo Kingdom.)  LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and it is a "distinction given to projects and buildings that exhibit the highest standards of sustainability and energy efficiency" according to ZooTales.  How will they do that?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Chop Chop Magazine

I could have sworn I'd posted about this before, but I did a search on my blog and it didn't turn up, so sorry if I'm repeating myself.  If this were a video blog you'd understand why I *might* not be on top of things all the time.

So Chop Chop magazine.  I heard about it on Twitter from Michael Pollan's tweet.  It's a healthy eating magazine targeted at kids.  I promptly forgot about it.  When I was at the library and noticed that they had copies to check out I was super excited!  I wasn't disappointed!  I was, however, surprised

Monday, July 8, 2013

Shut Up!

Those two little words changed my summer.  Let me back up.  My oldest child has a Minecraft addiction.   He plays Minecraft on the computer, while watching a YouTube video of someone else playing Minecraft on the iPad.  He talks about nothing but Minecraft and wears his two Minecraft shirts almost continuously.  Obsession.  Really unhealthy.  This weekend I came downstairs and found him crying in front of the computer because someone killed him when he was wearing his diamond armor.  (Not sure about what this means, but I think it's really hard to find diamonds and therefore probably took him a really long time to find enough to make the armor?)  That same day we were all going to run errands.  Evan called down for Caden to stop playing because we were leaving and Caden yelled, "Shut Up!" to him.  Of course, Evan apologized and told Caden he could keep playing his game.  No, wait, I got that wrong.  Evan got mad.  Not out-of-control-rage like I get, but Evan-mad.  Long story short, Caden is no longer allowed to play any devices (after much discussion game consoles are now included under the term, "device" at our house.)  until the end of the summer.  Minecraft is deleted from our computer and his iPod as well as the iPad.  He's going cold turkey.

I know this sounds stupid, but I was afraid to do anything this drastic, even though I knew he needed a device intervention.  I really thought it would be like denying a heroine addict his daily fix.  But it's not.  And I'm so much happier.  It's a change in him like when he started taking his "Focus Pill."  He's interacting with the other kids.  He's doing imaginative play.  He's helping housebreak Jack- a little.  He talks to me.  He's talking about Minecraft still, but I'm hoping "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" won't apply here.  I'm hoping for "Out of sight, out of mind."  He's unplugged.  I'm mad at myself for letting it get so out of hand that he's at a loss of what to do without his devices.  It's just became such a way of life for him.  I'm glad Evan took the giant leap and cut him off.  Way to unplug him Evan!  Being greener and a good parent all in one!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Some Big Energy Changes At Our House

When I talk about conserving energy, I'm usually thinking on a small scale.  I unplug the toaster when I'm not using it.  I line dry most of my clothes.  I wash our clothes on cold whenever possible.  I do the short cycle on the dishwasher and let the dishes air dry over night.  This, my friends, is not the case with the latest development at our house.  We're getting a new furnace and air conditioner and clothes dryer!  The biggest energy consumers in a home!

I've been getting these letters from AEP about how our home compares to our neighbors.  We, of course, seem to be using way more energy than anyone else in our neighborhood.  I attributed it to the fact that there are 6 of us in here and most of the other homes have only one or two.  Of course we're going to use more energy!  But I think it's more about the fact that our furnace remembers when JFK was shot and our air conditioner has a Nixon campaign sticker on it.  I'm saying they're old.  So we're modernizing.  And with that modernization will come efficiency.  Our new heating/cooling system will be 95% efficient.  The repair man suspects we're functioning on a 65% efficient system now.  I'm excited to see the change in my electric bill, which will be the only real way I can tell the difference (well, that and the house will finally cool off like it's supposed to!)

After the Christine Challenge I started in the winter, I'm starting to wonder if it would have made such a big difference in my electric bill had I not been using the dryer that Evan and I got for free when we signed a two year lease with our 2001.  I'm going to continue to line dry (I'd like to do it outside if it would ever stop raining!!!)  but when I DO put clothes in the dryer (like my towels) I feel better knowing that I'll be using a more efficient machine.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Puppies and Death: Full and Empty

I tried to blog last week.  I composed many blogs in my head as I was doing other things, but when I sat down to actually write, I couldn't do it.  Writing it made it too real and too sad.  Abby's dead.
I'd say she was a good dog, but she wasn't.  She was rotten.  And we loved her for it.  When we came home the first thing she'd do was look for something to pick up.  She'd stand at the door with something in her mouth and wait to us to yell at her.  Once we did her tail would wag and she'd drop it.  Bad dog. But a good bad dog.  She was an old girl and when she threw up 10 times in one night, Evan took her to the vet.  She said Abby was in the process of dying.  She lost 5 pounds in a week and was losing her fur in chunks.  I knew she was dying for a long time, I just didn't want to admit it.  I tried to pass it off as her arthritis or her thyroid problem, which were both signs she was getting old, but I didn't want to see it.  In the end, Evan was the one who was with her when she died.  I am so grateful to him for sparing me the pain, but I also grieve for him because I was with Brodie and it was horrible.

We knew Abby was nearing the end and we thought we should think about getting a puppy while we still had an older dog to show the new one the ropes.  Well, looking at puppies quickly turned into applying to multiple rescues to actually get a puppy.  Unfortunately, we never got the overlap that we wanted.  Abby died the day before we went to the rescue to get Jack.
Evan and I both felt very guilty about getting Jack so soon after losing Abby, but Jack was never intended to be a replacement for Abby.  No one could ever replace her.  The thing that I love about Jack is that he's nothing like Abby.  He's Jack.  If anything, I see Brodie in him.  His puppiness brings back memories of a puppy Abby and Brodie.  Back when they were our only kids and we were first married.  It's funny having something from this life, the one where we've been married for 10 years and have 4 kids, overlap with our old life, where we were just starting out, just the two of us-and our dogs.

But enough about my tears and reminiscing!  We got Jack from Save A Mom Pregnant Dog Rescue in East Sparta, Ohio.  It's a fantastic rescue!  She only takes in pregnant or new mom dogs.  Jack is from Trixie's litter.  Trixie had already been adopted when we went to meet Jack, but we got to see some of his littermates.  We knew that we wanted to get a puppy, but not a PUPPY so Jack was a good age, 3.5 months (he was born on St Patrick's Day).  There were a few other litters there to choose from, but Denise, who runs the rescue, was able to tell us which dogs she thought we be a good fit for our family.  She led us in the right direction with Jack.  He has enough puppy in him to keep up with the kids, but he's really a pretty shy and calm guy.  We had him two full days before we even heard him bark.  He's only 14 lbs and Denise and the vet both think he'll only get to be about 30.
The only bad thing about her rescue is that unlike other rescues where they're all living in foster care, when you go to pick out your dog, you have to leave many more behind.  The day after losing Abby, it was very hard to walk away from the Rotty mom she had there.  Luckily, the Rott pups were only 4 days old so we weren't tempted to get an Abby look alike, although there was a litter of boxers, but they weren't ready to go yet and as you can imagine, my kids were ready to take their dog home NOW!  So Jack it was (I was actually kind of surprised that all of them agreed on the same pup!)  I'm still thinking about that Rotti and her pups and one of the other dogs that she had there, but housebreaking Jack and making sure he's not chewing things he's not supposed to is keeping my mind pretty occupied-thank goodness!  Check out SAM's Petfinder page to see all of the adoptable dogs. (Jack is still on there under Trixie's Boys.)
I feel good about getting a rescue dog, but I also feel good about getting a dog from this rescue.  We got Brodie from the Franklin County Animal Shelter (the dog pound) and I always felt like he was a true rescue.  Abby was from a rescue group, but she was one of the only litters they had and I felt like I wasn't really rescuing her because I know that puppies go fast.  Jack, on the other hand, came all the way from Alabama (and yes, I do hear a little southern drawl in his bark).  His mom was pulled from a high kill shelter by a good samaritan who thought she could find a local rescue to take the pregnant dog.  No one would.  So she kept the mom until she had the pups, thinking that someone would take them.  They wouldn't.  So she drove 10 hours in her new Mustang to meet Denise, who WOULD take them.  And that's the story of how a little dog, who's pregnant mother was about to be euthanized made his way to Canton, Ohio to be sleeping in the corner to the left of my table while I blog, exhausted from the 5 minutes he spent attacking a scrub brush, distracting me from the big, empty space on my right that used to be where Abby slept when I was at the table.  Full and empty.