Saturday, December 31, 2011

Spicy Lime Cabbage

Last night I made this Spicy Lime Cabbage, adapted from this recipe from the kitchen. If there's one thing you make this week, make this cabbage - it's that good! I'm telling you! (Especially if you've made a New Year's resolution to eat healthier, this is the perfect recipe to incorporate into your plan.) Not to mention how gorgeous and colorful it is. The deep purple of the cabbage and lovely green of the avocado just look beautiful together. Without further ado, the recipe:

Spicy Lime Cabbage
1 head purple cabbage
2 avocados, diced
Juice of 3 limes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon cayenne (the secret ingredient that made this so good!)
1/4 teaspoon honey (or sweetener of choice)
  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cut cabbage into 8 equal wedges and brush with olive oil. Bake for about an hour.
  • While cabbage is baking, make the dressing: Whisk together lime juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, cayenne, and honey.
  • Drizzle dressing over cabbage when it's finished cooking, and top each serving with avocado.
  • Devour.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Neat Things

Here are a few things I've been really enjoying lately that I wanted to share with you!

This blog: Progressive Pioneer. Just her Bookshelf on the right side of her blog had me hooked!

Clint introduced me to the band Future of Forestry. It's made up of a Native American guy, a Caucasian guy, and an Asian girl. I love all their layers in every sense of the word.

Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life. I just got this book with an gift card I had, and it's awesome! Brendan Brazier is a professional triathlete and two-time ultra marathon champion, and he's vegan. He explains how it all works in this book. (You don't have to be an elite athlete to benefit from what he has to say. In fact, he doesn't talk much about obtaining peak athletic performance; it's more about maintaining optimal health.) It's easy to read and simple to understand. Check it out, I think you'll love it!

What new things have you discovered lately?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Elimination Communication (Part 2) . . . What's the Beeswax?

As promised, here is the second installment in the Beeswax posts on Elimination Communication. If you missed the first post, you can find it here. For those of you who are already caught up, enjoy this interview with my very dear friend and EC expert, Maggy Smith, mother to three-month-old Fern!

When did you begin EC with your daughter?
We started when she was two months old.

What attracted you to EC?
I always like to think about how parents raise their children in other cultures, where they may not have what we have or view life the way we do. I realized that I had never seen a diaper while traveling and living in developing countries . . . and I also never saw poopy moms! Also, after being joined at the hip for two months with Fern, I realized that I already knew so many of her cues for "normal" baby stuff like burping, sleeping, hunger, etc., so I started to see if I could recognize cues for peeing and pooping. The cues were basically no-brainers and so easy to pick up on. It's a simple idea, simple to execute, and I'm a simple kind of mama.

What's the most difficult thing about EC?
I think the hardest thing is when I realize Fern is doing everything short of yelling in my ear, "I have to pee!" and I still miss it . . . because I was being distracted from her by something silly like the computer or not wanting to interrupt someone to take her to go potty. It's hard when I realize how much I ignore her. If I'm too preoccupied, I just stuff the boob in her mouth when she starts to squawk without asking myself why she's really squawking.

EC is also more difficult at night. Taking her to pee isn't the difficult part, but thinking in the fog of midnight mothering and realizing that no, she doesn't have to burp, she's asking to use the potty! What the books and blogs say about EC is so true - babies do not want to soil their nest! I usually see it in hindsight, but the times when Fern is the most restless and nursing like a maniac in the middle of the night is actually when she is trying to tell me to put her over her potty!

What is the biggest reward?
Hands down the biggest reward is knowing my baby better. She is one happy girl when she tells me she has to pee, and I meet her need . . . and that makes me one happy mama.

Also, she pooped in the potty at our favorite coffee shop and just generally uses public restrooms as she desires. It makes going out in public so much easier!

What's the most common reaction you get from people who haven't heard of this before?
One friend of mine said, "WHAT?! That's amazing! I've never heard of that!" but most people generally say something like, "Oh . . . hmmm . . . that's interesting," while scratching their head. But when I whip her cloth diaper off and she poops a big one in her potty, they usually sing a different tune. Of course there are always the people who think I'm a nut in general and write this off as being nutty, but I think that if these people stopped to learn about EC, they'd be wishing they had known about it for their own children. I will say that it isn't for everyone; our culture is different than the many cultures that have communicated with their babies in this way since the beginning. In our culture, it works best for parents who want to be with their children in a more communicative way. This can still happen when both parents work outside the home, but it's an attitude centered around being together as a family, not raising a young inconvenience, which is sadly the attitude promoted in our society.

Have you noticed any changes in Fern since you began EC?
Not really. It's natural for her, and she doesn't think twice about it. Although she is very happy when I hear her and act on it. The changes are mostly in me. It's like a new tool to use to know her better. I know that when she becomes what people in our culture call "fussy," she probably has to use the bathroom! (I hate the word fussy. I believe fussiness in general is a baby trying to communicate a need that is going unmet, leading to major frustration on the baby's part!)
How does EC fit in with your overall parenting philosophy?
This is another thing I love about it; my husband and I are 24-hour parents. That includes bathroom time. Knowing Fern so well that we know when she has to pee is amazing. Fern is with us constantly. We think of her as a happy addition to the two of us, not a burden. We wear her everywhere we go - we actually don't even have a stroller! I wear her in the house almost constantly, and she sleeps next to me in bed every night. Basically we practice attachment parenting, which works well for all three of us.

What advice would you offer to parents wanting to begin EC with their child?
Hold your baby over the potty after she wakes up in the morning, when you go to change the diaper, and ten minutes or so after nursing, after a nap, and before bed. You'll be surprised as how many times your baby will pee in the potty. Not always, but you'll see! Hold the baby against your chest, with your hands under her thighs, lifting them up closer to her chest, butt over the potty. That position is helpful for eliminating, and it is also a great cue for them to know, "Hey, it's time!" When they go, choose cue words to help them learn to connect the word with what they're doing. While Fern pees, we say "Pssssssssss," and while she's pooping we grunt and flex our stomach muscles so she feels them. Those are her cues. Soon she'll associate them with what she is doing. You can start by just using timing to learn your baby's cues and when she generally potties, but even by letting her try those times, or even just some of them, you'll start to learn her signs. And you'll see when she has a wet diaper and when you maybe could have pottied her.

Read Diaper Free for more detailed info and suggestions, and be ok with being geeked out of your mind that your little one peed in a potty! Don't be embarrassed to tell other parents how rad your kid is, cause theirs can be too! And talking about it is the best way for parents in our culture to learn about it, and to see what it could mean for their family.

Last piece of advice, don't hold your baby over the sink to potty unless you're SURE she doesn't have to poop. Learned that one the hard way.

I hope you enjoyed and benefited from the first ever Ear to the Earth interview! If you have any other questions for Maggy and Fern, just leave them in a comment. I'll be happy to pass them along and then get back to you with more of her expertise!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Marbled Banana Bread

Yum. This bread is good. And easy. And vegan. The chocolate and banana make a delicious combination. You could also add walnuts or dried cherries or whatever other additions your heart desires!
Make your own with this recipe from Post Punk Kitchen. I used olive oil where they used canola oil and whole wheat flour where they used all purpose flour, which is probably why my loaf looks darker and denser than theirs. And you should probably double this recipe and make two loaves instead of one - I wish I would have!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Oh Dreary Day

This is the second day in a row for gray, cloudy, rainy weather here, and it makes it so hard to get anything accomplished! Weather like this makes me want to lay on the couch watching movies and eating bonbons all day. (P.S., the trailer for The Hobbit came out today! I don't know how Clint and I are going to wait another whole year for the movie's actual release!) To try to avoid doing that, I instead whipped up this Wild Rice Salad with Oranges and Roasted Beets this morning and tucked it away in the fridge for lunch.
There's no cure for the doldrums like whole, fresh foods! I hope you're finding space amidst all the sweet holiday treats for some wholesome goodness like this salad.

In the continuing saga of the Ross household appliance meltdown, the part we needed for the washer arrived, so Clint dutifully went to replace the broken part this morning, only to find that the brilliant company sent us the wrong part! So now my poor husband is stuck out in the cold garage trying to rewire the wrong part to fit our washer. Something that should have taken 20 minutes to fix is now extending to an unforeseeable amount of time, and all the while our laundry pile continues its silent invasion of the house . . .

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Vegan IceDream

I don't know about you, but I'm so over junk food right now. We all like to indulge a little (or a lot) over the holidays, and every time I do, it's a big fat reminder of why I eat and love a whole foods plant based diet. The slice after slice of pecan pie, dairy lurking in everything, and processed foods I've been consuming over the past week just make me feel icky. There's no other way to describe it. Lethargic, unmotivated, foggy thinking, grouchy. Ugh. So enough was enough - it was time to eat real food again, but my biggest downfall with food is my infamous, insatiable sweet tooth! (Who's with me?!) In my desperation to satisfy my sugar cravings while still maintaining a wholesome diet, I came up with my new favorite recipe, Vegan IceDream.
So simple. So satisfying. Endless combinations and variations. Single serving size. Could it be any more perfect?

Vegan IceDream
2 frozen bananas
3 tablespoons (or more) nut butter of choice (I've never actually measured it)
Agave (or sweetener of choice) to taste
  • Blend all in food processor to the consistency of soft serve ice cream. Devour.
This is just the base. You can take it anywhere from here! In the photo above I added fair trade cocoa powder, hemp seeds, and frozen blueberries for a chocolate treat. I've topped it with my morning granola. You could add walnuts and dried cherries. A fruit syrup. Baked apples and pears. The possibilities are endless! Anything you would put on an ice cream sundae is fair game! I really hope you make this, see how easy and delicious it is, and share it with everyone you know.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Elimination Communication (Part 1) . . . What's the Beeswax?

I'm celebrating the recent arrival of our infant potty (pictured above) with a special Beeswax post about Elimination Communication (EC)! Ever heard of it? EC (also called Natural Infant Hygiene) is a way of communicating with your baby/infant about his or her elimination needs, and it goes right along with the philosophies of attachment parenting, babywearing, co-sleeping, breastfeeding on demand, etc.

I learned about EC from the book Diaper Free: The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene, by Ingrid Bauer. If you're at all interested in learning more, I would highly recommend this book!

This is how the author describes EC: "Fundamentally, Natural Infant Hygiene is about responding to the needs of your baby. Everything else about it - avoiding diapers, saving money, environmental benefits, a dry bed, less work - is secondary . . . Communicating with an infant about elimination is not a linear process focused on teaching a baby toilet independence. Just as the focus of breastfeeding is to nourish rather than to wean, Natural Infant Hygiene is a way of responding to a baby's needs today, not merely preparation for future toilet use."

I love the gentle, caring, and communicative nature of EC, and the fact that your baby can be toilet independent by one year of age! But how does it work? Basically, just as mothers learn their babies' cues when they're hungry, need comfort, etc., the EC mother learns her baby's signals for elimination needs as well. When your baby needs to go, you hold her over a potty, make the cueing sound you've established, and she goes right into the potty! But don't take my word for it - our little peanut is still cooking, so I haven't gotten to put it into practice yet. But my dear friend Maggy has! She has agreed to an interview to share with us about her experience with EC with her three month old baby Fern. Stay tuned for Elimination Communication (Part 2) for her expert advice!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Time is ticking away! Baby ________ is almost here and my anticipation is mounting daily, if not hourly! I've been frantically reading last-minute books, packing hospital bags, resting some each day, discussing middle names, spending time with Clint (he's off till spring semester!), and all in all just tying up loose ends. These are some of the results of all the activity.

This adorable cloud and raindrop mobile came straight from Maggy. She made one just like it and gave me all her leftover supplies. Now that it's up, I see that I need to add one or two more raindrops, but how cute is it?

I made that changing pad cover with leftover material from the curtains and a scrap of fabric Maggy gave me. Those little fabric baskets toward the corner hold all her diapers, and Clint installed the picture frame shelf my parents brought from my old bedroom which I can't wait to fill with photos of our baby girl.

I made this bunting out of a wool blanket I had and scrap fabric. I think it's so fun and celebratory!

There are a few more things I've made, but that's all I have photos of now. More coming soon!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dig In

I added a new feature to the blog today! There's a new tab at the top called "Dig In, Learn More." It's a list of my favorite books, articles, documentaries, and other resources I've learned from and would recommend to others. Most of them are related to subjects we frequently discuss here on Ear to the Earth. Browse through it sometime and let me know what you think! I hope you find something that interests you!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Soap Nuts

Ever heard of soap nuts? You can see what they look like there, in the picture. I just got some in the mail today, from my favorite website ever, YumUniverse. Soap nuts are actually a fruit with a shell that contains saponins. Saponins are plant glucosides that create a soapy substance when mixed with water. They make suds! All you have to do is put 5 or 6 soap nuts inside one of those little muslin bags shown in the photo and toss it in with your laundry  - that's it! They'll last for 5 or 6 loads, then you can compost them! No packaging, no chemicals, no mystery ingredients, no waste. Just soap nuts. (You can read more about them here.) I purchased a large kit, which contains enough soap nuts for 185 loads of laundry, and it cost about $30 with shipping and everything. Now that's my kind of cleaning product. I'll be adding a couple drops of lavender and lemon essential oils to the muslin bags to give my laundry a fresh scent, but you can use any combination you like or leave it scent-free. I ordered these back in November or something, but Heather (founder of YU) was out of stock, so as a thank you for my patience she threw in two dryer pillows for free! Just another reason I absolutely adore YumUniverse. It smells like there's lavender and calendula in there - two of my favorite herbs! Now off to a test load of laundry . . .

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Grandma Susan's Birthday Dinner

Well, yesterday was Grandma Susan's birthday, so we had her over for dinner to celebrate! (Grandpa Jake had to work, so he couldn't join in the festivities.) I was super excited about the menu, and the scents emanating from my kitchen were nothing short of glorious. I've been trying not to make so many soups lately, but I just couldn't resist this Vegan Cream of Broccoli Soup. "Vegan and creamy," you ask? Well yes, the creaminess comes from cashew cream, not scary processed vegan dairy substitutes, which means this soup is so packed with nutrition it's not even funny.

Now a good soup is certainly nothing to scoff at, but let's admit, you're not going to win any beauty awards with  plain bowl of blended mush. But these Curried Lentil, Spinach, and Brown Rice Balls are another story. Impressive, eh? They're actually not difficult to make at all and are full of nutritional goodness as well! The only suggestion I would add to the original recipe is to pop them into a warm oven for a few minutes before serving. By the time you finish forming them they're almost to room temperature, and a lukewarm dinner isn't very appetizing.

And finally, the birthday dessert was Lemon Cheesecake Cups. I rarely post recipes that have no nutritionally redeeming value because I want to spread health and spur others on in making better choices, not spread sickness and disease, but I'm also not against a completely superfluous treat now and again! And birthdays are perfect times for these treats! So, let me share with you this completely delectable dessert. If you love lemon and you love cheesecake, you're in for a real treat!

These are actually better the next day, so it's a great dessert to make ahead! This made 11 muffin cups for me. It would have made 12, but I had to test for quality control along the way :)

Lemon Cheesecake Cups
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
1/8 cup sugar
1/6 cup butter, melted

16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup sour cream
1/8 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • In bowl, combine crumbs, nuts, and sugar. Stir in butter. Press into muffin tin and set aside.
  • Beat together cream cheese and sugar till smooth. Add eggs, beating on low speed just till combined. Add lemon juice and vanilla; beat just till blended. Pour into crust.
  • Bake at 335 degrees for 30 min or till center is almost set. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes. Combine topping ingredients; spread over filling. Return to oven for 5 minutes. Cool an hour and refrigerate overnight.
  • (Next time I would probably line my muffin cups with parchment paper or something. These didn't come out very cleanly. I'm not one to turn down cheesecake just because it's a little rough around the edges, but it would have been more presentable with a cleaner release from the muffin tin.)

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Well, our baby is due next month. "Hooray!" and "Ahh!" at the same time! It suddenly seems like there isn't enough time left to get everything done, so in between frequent resting breaks I've been chipping away at the ever-growing, never-diminishing, Baby To-Do list.

Make blackout curtains: check. Paint wall behind curtains: check. (I mixed the green color myself from the guacamole we used in the dining room and didn't get it quite as light as I wanted. I meant to make it the same green color as in the third picture, so it may eventually get repainted. For now though, I have to move on to other things.) You can also see the adorable rug Grandma Darla (my mom) got us while she was here and the quilt that was made for my sister when she was a baby. We don't have a mattress for the crib yet, but we probably won't use it for the first six months or so since our baby will be sleeping in a co-sleeper attached to our bed. More on that later.

Grandma Darla also brought down this antique buffet with the idea to turn it into a dresser/changing table. Here's the "before."

Re-paint buffet: check. Here it is now. Do you love it as much as I do? It's easily my favorite piece of furniture in the house. I keep trying to find excuses to go into the room just so I can look at it.

There's so much more on the list! Fun things like "finish mobile" and not so fun things like "find pediatrician." Fun or not though, they all must be accomplished SOON!