Sunday, August 30, 2009

Garbage Free Lunches

"Be the change you want to see in the world." Mahatma Gandhi

I am re-posting this today because as Baby enters preschool next week, I need to buy a new lunchbox. Lunchopolis is fantastic, but there has been changes in where you can buy it. So, after much research and an unsuccessful trip to Whole Foods, we have discovered two websites where you can buy these wonderful lunchboxes, but unfortunately lime green is no longer available. So if you are interested, please go to one of these two websites:

Your Guide To Green

Home Green Solutions

At the end of the 2007-2008 school year, I vowed to myself that I would take a stand against all the garbage I produced in my children's lunch boxes. I sadly realized that the school encouraged zero recycling in the lunch room and knew I had to stop contributing. From yogurt cups to boxes of sandwich bags,3.5 billion (yes Billion) pounds of garbage is created each year just from lunch boxes.

I began my search for lunch boxes and the appropriate containers that fit snugly into the lunch box, I was quickly frustrated, and increasingly concerned about the plastics I was using to store my children's food. I was beginning to fret when I found my perfect solution!

Lunchopolis has created the garbage free lunch box. Lunchopolis was designed with everything you need to pack a healthy, planet-friendly lunch. This means no more sandwich bags, tinfoil, juice boxes or other unnecessary waster. Lunchopolis includes a lead-free, insulated lunchbox, four brightly tinted containers and a drinking bottle so you can pack a fresh, healthy, planet-friendly lunch with lots of variety. I bought the pink polka dots for my daughter H2, and the water for my son Puckstopper. Next year I will buy the Lime when My Baby starts preschool. And when I open my home business, this will be a product I hopefully will be retailing.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Reusable Dryer Lint?

I have heard of reusable ways to use dryer sheets, but dryer lint? Well, believe it or not, yes you can now re-use your dryer lint, for of all things, the children.

I recently picked up the Real Simple Fall 2009 Family special edition, hoping that I could find some special nugget for streamlining my back to school schedule, find a fast dinner recipe for those busy soccer evenings, or maybe just maybe find some nice back to school supply that would bring a smile to my children's faces. Never did I imagine finding something that would fit so perfectly on my blog.

The page in the magazine has been dog eared and long forgotten for a few weeks, until tonight when SP picked it up and I heard him shriek, "Now that is disgusting!" and I knew exactly what he had found. So you might think it's disgusting, and you might even think me crazy for finding merit in this activity for children that reuses of all things dryer lint, but if you know me at all by now you will know that I just love the ingenuity in this precious find.

So what is this find?

for the original recipe, please click the link below
Dryer Lint as Modeling Dough

To make the modeling dough:
1. Place 3 cups (shredded) dryer lint into a pot.
2. Pour in 2 cups water.
3. Stir in 1 cup flour.
4. Add ½ teaspoon vegetable oil.
5. If desired, add food coloring.

6. Stir continuously over low heat until the mixture binds together and is of a smooth consistency.

7. Pour onto a sheet of wax paper to cool.

8. Shape as you wish.

I have not tried this recipe yet, but if Real Simple published it, it must work. I am also still happily using my clothesline, so I am not creating too much dryer lint these days, but I can guarantee you that when the colder months come and I am home alone with Baby, this is one activity we will most certainly be trying! I will let you know how it goes and take some pictures of the little critters we make.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Nettle Meadow's Kunik

We went away to the Catskills a few weeks ago and my friend from Brooklyn brought a wheel of cheese called Kunik. It is a rich, yummy, triple cream, cheesy, butter - oh wait, I meant a rich, yummy, triple cream, buttery cheese! Made from a blend of cow and goat's milk on a farm in New York called Nettle Meadow, Kunik is one of my new favorites. I am pretty sure it is not the first time I have eaten it, but it is the first time I have eaten it since I started blogging and really paying attention to where my food came from. So get up and walk, no run, to your closest cheese monger and ask for Kunik - you will be happy you did!
I am particularly fond of the logo on their website:
"Happy Goats - Great cheese!"

Monday, August 24, 2009

Artisan Cheese Tasting

While preparing for my mini lesson on cheese, we tasted a lot of cheese. Several evenings were spent indulging my turophilic nature, and clogging poor SPs already threatened veins. I do love him and care for his health and well being and would happily say farewell to meat for a life time. But give up my cheese? I think not. This particular night we sampled several artisan cheeses, both local and international.
On this cheese board are the remains of Vermont's Jasper Hill's bloomy Constant Bliss, some out of this world Bandaged Cheddar from Cabot VT (and aged at Jasper Hill's caves), the amazing delicious buttery Eleanor Buttercup from Hahn's End from coastal Phippsburg Maine. The final and most visually appealing cheese is this one. The gorgeous yet far from local Campo deMontalban, a true cheese from La Mancha! I was so impressed with the color and texture of the rind of this cheese that I took another picture. Isn't she pretty? Maybe it's just me, and I need to set up a support group called Turophiles Anonymous. In this economy cheese is one of the most expensive things to buy. But there is no stopping a Turophile, we resist recessions. I think you should do the same and go out and support your local artisan cheese maker!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I am just crackers for cheese

Like Wallace I am just crackers for cheese.
"Gromit! it's the cheese Gromit!"

"Gromit, that's it! Cheese! We'll go somewhere where there's cheese!"

I took this silly picture while prepping for a mini lesson I did on cheese.
Can you guess why?

The funny hint is, that that sheep actually became a Water Buffalo in sheep's clothing.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Saturday Morning Sleeping-in

I really am a lucky woman. My husband SP really takes good care of me. I allowed to sleep as long as I want on Saturday mornings, which means that I am typically not up until the hour approaching noon. I can sleep that's for sure. I sleep about as well as I eat cheese - both of these things could make me famous. I digress... the point is that I am lucky. Better than lucky. Not only do I get to sleep in, but SP makes sure that a portion of breakfast is set aside for me so that I am well nourished when I finally decide to grace the world with my presence. See that picture above? It's a home made egg and CHEESE sandwich on Rye bread with ketchup, nicely wrapped in tin foil, and hand decorated by my loving husband SP.

Friday, August 21, 2009

My lilies have bloomed!

When my dear mother HiHo died, she asked us to remember her with flower and music. I haven't gone more than a week without a fresh flower in the house in all of these long 10 years.
I love when my lilies bloom because then I can bring fresh cut flowers into the house that smell just wonderfully! Of course, I cut the anthers and pollen off because of the mess they make! I love flowers and I thank HiHo for teaching me that! In this picture are one of the lilies I chose from White's Flower Farm in Litchfield CT. In the back ground is my knitting in a wonderful knitted and felted bag from my MIL Barby. The book is one on IPM that is getting a lot of action during this gardening season! The next flower to bloom looks like it will be my Phlox and then the Asters. I can't wait for this humidity to end so I can happily be outside again with all my wonderful plants!Link

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Backyard Beauties from Backyard Farms!

Why has it taken me so long to realize that those beautiful vine ripened tomatoes at the market are locally grown!? Backyard Farms grows those wonderful tomatoes year round in the largest greenhouse in New England. They even have native bumblebees inside the greenhouse to pollinate each tomato flower. Bees are struggling these years so it is a win win situation for the bees who then receive their food from the tomatoes’ pollen. I wonder if they will make honey too? Their use of sustainable energy and rainwater reclamation round them out to be one of my favorite discoveries this summer. I do hope that they will not fall prey to the late blight, because I just might have to rely on these beauties for my upcoming tomato sauce project! And better yet, they have recipes on their website! Thank you Backyard Farms for all that you do!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Summit Springs Farm

Another wonderful find at the farmers market this weekend was Summit Springs farm. I purchased this gorgeous quart of and some fresh cilantro. I used them with some local goat cheese to make a fantastic Farmer's Market Salad . These tomatoes really impressed me because of the variety of colors, but also because of the terrible late blight that we are facing. My plan to can sauce again this year is unlikely to come to fruition. So thank you Summit Springs for sharing some of your beauties with me! Summit Springs offers CSA to the local community, has a blog (which I will begin following today), and... they even have recipes on their website! Terrif!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Local Goat Cheese!

Fresh goat cheese from The Ram's Farm.
Mmmm mmm good!

That's not the best picture, I know, but I couldn't resist. I love cheese, but I REALLY love this cheese!

This stuff is so yummy and refreshing it almost makes me want to go swimming in there on this sweltering August day. I love Saturdays because I can find Helen and her cheese at the farmer's market and get my fix for the week! I am hoping that she will offer a cheese making class soon so that I can get my first hands on lesson in cheese making.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Restore Organic Law

My trip to the farmers market this weekend yielded three wonderful pints of organic wild blueberries. I promptly vacuum sealed them and put them in my freezer, for a winter full of yummy berry dishes for the family. Each quart of blueberries came with a sticker on it that identified that they were certified organic by MOFGA, picked on Arthur Harvey's blueberry farm in Hartford Maine, and packaged by Betsy’s of Maine. But the most interesting tidbit on the small sticker was the link to this website where I discovered the danger organic standards are in. In essence, lobbyists allowed the inclusion of non-organic substances to be allowed into foods that can still be labeled as organic. Harvey, a 72-year-old organic blueberry farmer and inspector, then sued Agriculture Secretary, alleging that the National Organic Program was overstepping the bounds of the Organic Foods Production Act. This change in the standards of organic foods and processing, "is to allow synthetic ingredients in manufacturing foods to be labeled organic. Prior to this change the words quoted above served as a firewall for organic products, preventing the addition of synthetics. But now, only the discretion of USDA will determine which synthetics are used---mostly without being named on the labels." If you are interested in preserving the purity of organic foods, please go to the website and see what you can do to help. A sample letter that you can send to law makers can be found here. Another website to visit is Organic Consumers. One thing I know for sure, I am proud of who and where my blueberries came from!

Friday, August 14, 2009

More Recommended Reading

Thank Goodness it is Friday! It's not only a payday when I can get some long awaited books (bought used of course) but tomorrow is the Farmer's Market!!! Yippeeee! It's the small things in life that really excite me! So without further ado, here are the books I have just been drooling over!

We let it go? Maybe it's time to go FISBO!

I am officially fed up with this real estate market, with it's lazy brokers and rude buyers. We knew putting the house on the market this spring would be a reach but our most recent feedback included the statement that we "let the place go and it would be a great deal if it was in better than average condition". WHAT!?

We bought this house brand new 5 years ago. It was a modular spec house for which nothing was done externally. It was a bare bones minimalist job with a heck of a lot of short cuts which we discovered and fixed. WE did all the work, including a 3 flued chimney, hard wood floors, and at least 3 gardens. We also repaired the stone walls, put paths in the woods, and put lawn back where the septic was installed. Were are they possibly talking about the quasi dirt road that we live on or the lack of a paved driveway? Maybe they were from down south somewhere and were expecting a pristine subdivision like the ones they have back where they came from.

I am the first to admit that we had just gotten back from vacation and having separated my shoulder two weeks ago, things were NOT spic and span around here, but we made this clear to our selling broker when they called with the last minute showing. We requested that this news be passed along. My guess was that it wasn't, just like the unanswered requests for open houses and ads in the local paper. Is this the tact that real estate brokers are now taking? Let it be a buyers market and do nothing to help sell? If I hear one more time that I should reduce the price of the house I think I will implode - it's already listed 20K below it's appraisal price and listed well below the money we have put into it over the years.

So my question is, should we just go FSBO (for sale by owner)? What do we need to do to do that? Maybe if we did, I could actually be a motivated selling broker who will attempt to sell the house for what it is - a score! Going FSBO we would save/earn us a lot of money and we would put great effort into being a good and motivated selling broker - that much I know is true. If you are reading this, I would really love some feedback, advice, or experience.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Homemade Fruit Fly traps

The season is here, just as those tomatoes start ripening in the garden and are brought into the house, those fruit flies find their way in. Unless the late blight has it's way with my tomatoes this year, I have a lot more tomatoes on their way inside. So last night, SP made our first fruit fly trap of the season. Here's how you do it.

1 liter plastic bottle
red wine or juice

  1. Cut the top of the bottle off (from the point it starts to taper)
  2. Place top down inside the bottom and tape cut edges together.
  3. Pour a small amount of wine in the bottom.
  4. Set out next to bowl of fruit or tomatoes.
  5. Periodically, place a hand or a piece of paper over the top and tap the bottle ensuring that the flies go downwards to their inevitable deaths.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Preserving the Harvest

I just received this book as a birthday present from Ms. Judy. I am SO excited to use it. I find that my Ball Blue Book is getting worn and is also limited in terms of my options. I am really looking forward to putting this book to good use! THANKS MS. JUDY!!!! And thanks to Carol Costenbader for writing it!