Saturday, December 29, 2012


Wow, December has whirled by and 2013 is nearly upon us! I haven't been able to get anything posted until now because I've just been too tired to get around to it! Clint has been on break for the whole month, so I picked up extra shifts at work. It was really great to get extra work, but it sure wore me out!

Towards the end of November, I finally finished my niece Briella's quilt and was able to send it back to her with my parents when they visited for Thanksgiving. Overall, I'm really happy with the way it turned out, and I hope "The Belle" enjoys it for a very long time!
This is my sweetie pie niece laying on her quilt. Could she be any cuter?

I was also able to whip out some stockings just in time for Christmas. I'm happy with the way they turned out too, although I admit that they're not very useful. They're so long and skinny that not much fits into them.
Vivian's is on the left, Clint's in the middle, and mine is on the right.

Speaking of Christmas, it is so much more fun with a baby! Vivian really is the delight of our lives, and we absolutely loved sharing such a special time with her.
Caught in action giving her endless pounder a good whack with the hammer.

Studying her new toy.

I like to wrap things in plain brown paper and twine. It's so much nicer than all the glitz and glamor.

A Christmas morning fire. My heart could burst.

Also this month, as part of my Re-education, I've been slowly reading Bleak House by Charles Dickens. I'm only about 1/3 of the way through, so I'm still suspending judgment, but I will say that so far I don't love it, I don't hate it . . . it's just very interesting. I've never read an author like Dickens before. Anyone out there have any opinions on Bleak House or Dickens?

Lastly, I want to share with you something that I'm absolutely over the moon about. This month Clint and I began sponsoring Molika through Transitions Global's Project EveryGirl. Many of you know that the issue of human trafficking is very near and dear to my heart, and that in the past I've been deeply involved in working against it. For the past few years however, I haven't been a part of any direct action, but have been eagerly on the lookout for the right opportunity. When Clint and I heard about Project EveryGirl and the chance to sponsor an individual girl in her process of restoration with Transitions Global (an organization we visited while in Cambodia), we knew we had discovered just the thing. After visiting Transitions Global, touring their home, and learning about their program, we were deeply impressed with the organization and really wanted to find a way to be a part of the amazing work they're doing. More than four years after our visit, we're finally getting that chance! If you also want to make a direct impact in the lives of those devastated by human trafficking, I can't recommend Transitions Global enough. They have an amazing program and are making a real, lasting difference in the lives of a lot of young women. Below is Molika's profile. There are many other girls needing sponsors too. I encourage you to check out the website to see which one inspires you!

Monday, November 19, 2012


Fall is the time to plant garlic, and as garlic is one of my favorite foods, I planted enough bulbs to almost completely cover the entire area of my two raised beds. The only area not planted in garlic is growing kale. I think I could live the rest of my life on nothing but garlic and kale.

I planted four varieties: Inchelium Red, Spanish Roja, Music, and Romanian Red. The night before planting I carefully separated individual cloves from the bulb. On planting day I placed the bulbs about five inches apart, labeled each row, and covered the cloves with one to two inches of soil.

Then I used our reel mower to chop up a big pile of fallen leaves. (In this picture the leaves don't look very chopped, but I assure you, they are.) I raked the chopped leaves into a cardboard box and dumped the box over my newly planted garlic cloves as a layer of mulch.

I had a very good leaf cruncher for a helper. She meticulously crunched one leaf at a time while studying every aspect of each leaf and taking breaks to chew on the stems.

And now all I have to do is . . . wait. The hardest part! I'm so looking forward to seeing shoots peeking through the leaves this spring!

Besides the amazing flavor and culinary diversity of garlic, it's pretty much a miracle substance. I call it a "substance" because, well, what is garlic, really? Is it a food? A spice? An herb? A medicine? It seems to fit into each of these categories but none explain it fully. It's too diverse to be pinned down to a single label. Did you know that garlic has been used medicinally for over 5000 years? It's antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal. It's lipid lowering and anti-inflammatory. Garlic is great for all sorts of infections, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, imbalances in intestinal flora, boosting the immune system, warts, cold and flu, ear infections, burns, circulation problems, and yeast infections. In fact, garlic is good for almost any ailment; the only time it's not recommended is around the time of surgery because of its blood thinning properties.

I was very intimidated by the thought of growing my own garlic. I have no idea why. Perhaps because it isn't anything like your typical garden vegetable, but so far the process is completely non-intimidating. We shall see if I'm singing the same tune this spring.

One of my favorite uses for garlic is in my famous hummus. I like a really garlicky, lemony hummus, and this is just the recipe for it. What about you? What are some of your favorite garlic recipes? I hope to be needing lots of them this spring and summer!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Historical Re-Education

Earlier in the week, I stumbled upon a great resource for my historical re-education. It's a podcast called Stuff You Missed in History Class. It features episodes 20-45 minutes in length, on all sorts of different historical topics and events. Clint and I listened to "Who was Tokyo Rose?" the other night, and it was very interesting and enlightening. I'm eager to listen to more and expand my knowledge!

As a side note while we're on the topic of podcasts, I've also been listening to a podcast from one of my favorite blogs (Chiot's Run) called Cultivate Simple. The podcast is described as, "A chronicle of a simple life." If you're interested in gardening, raising chickens, living simply, and the like, I really recommend the blog and podcast. But be prepared, it'll have you itching to begin all sorts of projects and read all kinds of new books. I love it! (Poor Clint though, I'm already petitioning for some chickens and a chicken tractor, thanks in part to this podcast!)

Back to the topic of history, I'm particularly interested in learning more about the Native Americans. I want to know more about their day-to-day lives, their herbal medicines, their agricultural practices, etc. Any book recommendations? I would also like to learn more about the Amish. Yes, I grew up in Amish country, had Amish friends and an Amish babysitter, but I don't know all that much about them, and I think my ignorance in this area is a shame. Plus, there is quite a bit about their lives that I admire and respect, and I'm so interested to know more. Any recommendations there? Lastly (for now), I would love to learn more about the Aztecs, particularly their agricultural practices. I recently read that they obtained seven harvests per year, the most productive agricultural system in world history. Wow. How did they do it? Why has this practice been discontinued? I want to know more!

What interesting things have you been reading or listening to lately? What have you been learning about? I would love to know!

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Re-Education

Looking back at my educational experience, I sometimes wonder, "What did I do during all those years that I was in school?" Really, how did I receive a high school diploma without having ever read one scrap of authors like Dickens, Thoreau, Twain, or Hemingway? On top of that, my lack of historical knowledge is simply astounding. Historically I'm in even worse shape than I am in literature. I'm genuinely embarrassed about how little I know about past events.

Well, not being one to sit on my duff in the face of such dire circumstances, I've decided to embark on my own re-education. I'm going back and reading any great, classic, or important works of literature that I've missed, and I'm re-reading the few that I was fortunate enough to be exposed to in high school. I have a couple lists here and here that I'm using as a loose starting point for the building my literary knowledge. Many I will read, some I won't. Some I already have. Some I will re-read. (By the way, these lists come from a high school student I know. She's one intelligent and admirable young lady! I will be a happy mother indeed if Vivian has similar attributes to her when she's grown. This student has an amazing mom who I suspect has something to do with her daughter's excellent character . . . ) I may write out my own official list eventually, but for now I'm taking a more relaxed approach and just reading whatever I come across that fits into my idea of educating myself in important works of literature.

So, what about you? What are some of your favorite classics or even modern "must-reads" that I should add to my informal list? What is the one book (ok, or a few books if you're like me and too much of a book-lover to narrow it down to one) I absolutely must read? I'm also especially interested in books about historical events. Any recommendations there?

Update 11/10/12: Ok, so I made a list. I can't help it; I love lists! Link here or you can click on the "Re-Education Reading List" tab.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Very Bookish Birthday

Yesterday Clint and I celebrated our 32nd and 26th birthdays, respectively. If the day was an indication of the year to come, then I'm liking the look of 26. I'm liking it a lot. My birthday was filled with so much love that I'm positively overflowing from it all.

I told my sister that my one birthday wish was for Vivian and I to Skype with her and Briella, my brand new niece! Briella Ann was born on October 7th, but since we live exactly 724.06 miles away from each other, Skype is the closest I can get to this little sweetheart for now! Getting to see her was a wonderful birthday gift. Isn't she absolutely beautiful and just as sweet as could be? Vivian was so excited to "meet" her cousin! She got really hyper and turned into a little wild woman. I could barely keep her contained. She wanted Briella to come over and play!

Clint came home early from work, and while Vivian was taking an extra long afternoon nap for us we shared our free birthday entree from Moe's - yum! Then we exchanged gifts with each other. I had gotten Clint a nice new pair of wool socks, and he gave me . . .
. . . a book about making my own clothes that has been on my wish list for ages! Since my parents got me a sewing machine for my birthday, he couldn't have picked out a better gift! I can't wait to get into it and start experimenting, but I'm forcing myself to finish Briella's quilt and some long overdue birthday gifts before I embark on any other projects. Clint is a really good gift-giver. He puts a lot of thought into it and always comes up with exactly the right way to say, "I love you."

My mother-in-law gave me a little money to buy myself something, so I marched myself and Vivian right down to our local independent bookstore, Avid, and just happened to catch them on their one year anniversary! I finally picked up a copy of one of my all-time favorite books, To Kill a Mockingbird, and also chose Wendell Berry's Bringing it to the Table. For Vivian I picked out a simple animal board book and also another BabyLit board book, Dracula. I thought it was fitting with Halloween just around the corner. Have you seen these BabyLit books yet? They're amazing! They are board book versions of classics. Our first one was Jane Eyre (another all-time favorite book of mine, and is probably Viv's favorite book too), and we also have Alice in Wonderland. I'm planning on A Christmas Carol for a stocking stuffer, and the other two current BabyLit books are Pride and Prejudice and Romeo and Juliet. And I hear three new one are due out in the spring. I'm not excited or anything.

I also received a completely unexpected package in the mail from my dear Sharon.
Three board books for Vivian about famous artists (how amazing is that?! I especially adore the van Gogh one) and an awesome quilting book for me! This is another book I'm refusing to let myself get into until I finish some of my lingering projects! The package also included some amazing fabric, selections that are just exactly my taste. (Sharon is another really good gift-giver.) They will be included in the quilt Sharon, Maggy, and I are all sewing our own versions of together. And check out that handmade card! It's easily my favorite thing from the whole package. So creative and full of love! And I literally had to pick my jaw up off the floor when I opened it. She included TWO unbelievably beautiful pendants from her etsy shop Wrought. I was blown away by her generosity, creativity, and friendship.

I also received sweet cards, texts, and facebook posts from other friends and family. I was totally feeling all the love!

And finally, I'll include a few photos from our hike up Tray Mountain on the day before our birthday. What more could I wish for than to spend a beautiful fall day in the mountains with my two favorite people in the world? Nothing, there is nothing more I could wish for.
Pre-hike. Just before setting off!
At the summit! Viv sure does love her dad.
Standing tall on the highest point of the mountain.
Vivian has started pointing at everything. I just can't help but squeeze her and kiss those sweet cheeks!

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Our spring garden had been almost too perfect. Every single crop I planted grew beautifully. We had more produce than we could manage, no pests, and no weed problems. Enter summer garden. We traveled to Indiana when all my seedlings were only about an inch tall and not ready for transplant, but I had to plant them anyway because I knew they wouldn't survive in their trays with no watering. A few did manage to survive the heat and intense sun out in the garden beds while we were gone though. However, I had no trellis or support for those that did make it, so the garden quickly became an unmanageable tangle. The cucumber plants succumbed to powdery mildew and most of the small number of fruits that survived were eaten by worms. The okra was knocked over in a rainstorm. My purple basil was covered in tiny worms. Etc. Etc. Well I'd finally had enough. It was time to reclaim my garden! Last week I finally weeded out all the weak, dying, and diseased plants and set about nursing the survivors back to health. I discovered that my main problem is the caterpillar of a moth, commonly known as armyworm or cutworm.

These caterpillars were all over my tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and basil, gnawing down the leaves to mere skeletons. I got so angry at those little suckers that I just began squishing them with my bare hands. It was so disgustingly satisfying. Disgusting to have lime green caterpillar guts squirting all over my hands, but so satisfying to pop the fat little bodies that were full of stolen food, my food. The garden almost instantly began to improve! So now, every morning and every evening, I grab a gardening glove (much better than the bare hand approach) and go caterpillar hunting. I don't stop until I've successfully squashed at least ten of them, turning over leaves, inspecting new chew marks, and keeping an eye out for any egg masses (which can contain 200-300 eggs!). The first few days I easily reached and surpassed my goal within minutes, but this manual removal seems to be doing the trick as it becomes increasingly more difficult each day to meet my squish quota, and the plants continue to look better and better.

With the infestation on the decline, I thought it would be safe to plant some seeds for the fall garden. I seeded two kales, two onions, a carrot, a leek, and spinach, all of which have sprouted already! I'm so looking forward to keeping the garden pest-free and enjoying some delicious fall greens!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Vivian's Masterpiece

Yummy. We used safe, organic, botanical dyes to make paint for Baby V. They smelled amazing!

She loves anything squishy and messy.

The finished project. Her first painting! A true masterpiece.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Bernette 20

Would you pause just for a second and take a good look at this beauty? Notice the sparkle. Notice the 60 different stitches. Notice all of the other features that I don't even have names for. Isn't it absolutely lovely? My parents bought this shiny new sewing machine for me as a combined birthday/Christmas present. My dear friend Sharon helped me pick it out and was just as excited about it as me I think. I call it my second baby, and it's part of the reason that yet another month has flown by since I've blogged. Every free second I get I've been whipping things up with it! The first thing I did was to finally finish the ring sling I had started before Vivian was even born. My old sewing machine piddled out on literally the last step before it was complete. All the layers I was trying to sew through were just too much for the old dame. But the Bernette sliced through those layers like butter! It was a beautiful thing. I used this tutorial in case you're interested in making one for yourself. It was super easy and fun! Vivian and I love it!
I also made a fabric high chair for the Viv using this tutorial. We were feeding her on the floor in her Bumbo, but that got old pretty quickly. Now she can sit at the table with us to eat! Can you tell that she loves it? Another quick, easy, and fun project.
For my next project I'm currently cutting endless mounds of fabric for a 'quilt' I'm making for my niece who is due to arrive in early October! I have a about half of the cutting part done so far and am working double time to try to have it finished by the time she's born! I can't wait to share photos of that once it's finished, and then to continue blazing through my "To Stitch" list. There are about a million things on it. What about you? Are you stitching anything exciting? Have any favorite tutorials to share? I'm going to try to blog a bit more regularly. No promises though. So until next time, happy stitching!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Beyond Organic

The main reason I buy organic items at the grocery store is not to avoid consuming biocides. Nor is it to avoid polluting the earth with these biocides. It's not to avoid synthetic ingredients in my food either. Although those things are all important to me, the main reason I buy organic is because that's the only way to be absolutely certain that I'm avoiding genetically modified food. (Today's post is not about GMOs, but we'll talk about the dangers of GMOs another time.) Beyond that, I'm not too impressed with certified organic food anymore. Why? Because what started out as a local, value-based movement has by and large transformed into just another arm of the industrial food system, a marketing tool, and a label behind which to hide loopholes, exceptions, and slack regulations meant to further line the pockets of food-producing giants. Let me explain.

Earlier this summer, the substance carrageenan was approved by the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) for the use in foods carrying the USDA's official organic label. Carrageenan is a stabilizer and thickener derived from seaweed, and it's a carcinogen. Yet, the NOSB, which is largely comprised of agribusiness representatives, has deemed this substance safe in food. And not just any food, we're talking certified organic food. How does a synthetic cancer-causer belong in organic food? This is just one example, an illustration to share with you what's really behind that label. You can see the list of all the substances approved in organics here if you're curious to know more. I personally like my food without a side of carcinogens and synthetics, but the organic label does not guarantee that these harmful substances won't be present in my food.

Let's turn to organic meat and eggs. One of the (many) reasons I stopped buying conventional animal products is because these animals are raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), where the conditions are inhumane, unsanitary, and just downright horrible. Other than the fact that I don't think it's right for animals to be treated that way, this system of producing food is dangerous. Sickness and disease in these animals is rampant. Cows are eating a diet of corn their digestive system isn't designed to handle, and so they become infected with E. coli. The conditions in which laying hens are kept are so cramped and filthy that 80% of eggs in the supermarket are contaminated with campylobacter. You wouldn't think that these same conditions would be acceptable under an organic certification, but they are. The feed has to be organic, but it's still the same system, just tweaked a bit here and there to continue to pull the wool over the eyes of the public.

I could go on and on . . . and on. But you get the point, right? "Organic" does not mean what the public thinks it means and wants it to mean. And that's the problem with certifications and labels. Their original meanings can become twisted, things can be hidden. So where do we go from there?

We go to our gardens, farmers markets, CSAs, and co-ops. We opt out of the food industry in general and become as locally oriented as possible. We eat at restaurants who source their food locally. We buy food that has no bar code and no packaging, from people with a face and a name, people we know! The more I've learned about the industrial food industry, both organic and conventional, the more my eating habits have shifted in this direction, and I encourage you to do the same! You will have to learn to eat seasonally if you don't know how to do that yet. (I'm still learning!) If you want tomatoes in January, you'll have to preserve them during the summer. You'll have to learn to eat fruits and vegetables that grow in your climate. You will have to buy food more than once a week because you'll be using fresh ingredients that won't keep in the fridge for days on end. You will have to eat "beyond organic," the term Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm uses to describe his farm. Well, he actually calls it a "family owned, multi-generational, pasture-based, beyond organic, local-market farm and informational outreach." And this is why labels fail us. You can't put all of that on a package. The solution? Opt out of the package.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Test Drive

It's been far too long since I last posted, almost two months! You can blame it on this little munchkin.
At the botanical gardens last week. She LOVES plants! We were there for three hours, and she was completely engrossed the entire time. Can't wait to plant her own little garden together next spring!
She has been demanding every second of my time. Clint and I think we named her quite appropriately - Vivian means "full of life" and has the same root word as vivacious, which means "lively and animated," and vivid, which describes something that is strong, clear, and bright. I think all of these are good descriptions of the little personality we're seeing more and more of each day!

Needless to say, I haven't had much time to spend in the kitchen either, but the limited time I've had has been nothing short of scrumptious. For a bit over a month, I've been experimenting with what I like to call a "vegan test drive." Basically I haven't been eating animal products (but I do still eat honey) except in situations where it's unavoidable (like when I'm a guest in someone's home and it's either not possible or impolite to maintain my eating preferences) or where a non-vegan treat is irresistible (which happens sometimes when you have a bad sweet tooth and work at a bakery, even though we have awesome vegan baked goods). I'll have to get into why I'm doing this in another post on another day!

Here is one of my current favorite test drive meals: quinoa "taco meat" with avocado, sprouts, salsa, and sunflower seed sour cream, all on a giant swiss chard leaf (harvested straight from the garden). It's filling, easy to throw together, satisfying, and just plain good! I could eat about three of these, even though they're huge! Good thing I never have enough time to get that many down :)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Easy Homemade Beauty Products!

Here on Ear to the Earth, we mostly talk about what goes into your body and the importance of a whole foods plant based diet, but today I want to discuss a few things that, although we don't eat them, end up inside our bodies all the same. As I'm sure we all know by now, our skin isn't an impenetrable barrier between us and the outside world; it is, in fact, permeable, and much of what our skin comes in contact with is absorbed straight into the bloodstream! I've been slowly transitioning the few beauty and personal care products I use from the creepy chemical-laden store bought brands to clean, safe, and simple homemade ones for some time now, but then one day I thought, "I kiss Viv's chunky little cheeks about 50 million times a day. I do NOT want to be plastering her with all these creepy toxins!" And so the great clean out has begun. I started with products I use on my face, since that's what comes in contact with her the most, and will move on to hair next. Until then, let me share with you these simple (but important!) changes I've made.

One of the only bits of makeup I wear is blush, and the only thing you need to make your own is a beet! I got the instructions from my favorite blog, YumUniverse, and I encourage you to toss whatever blush you're currently using and make your own beet blush today. It has such a nice subtle and natural color that I just love and can feel so good about applying to my skin.

I don't really use eyeliner, but sometimes for special occasions (like my wedding) I do use eyeshadow. Here is a super simple way to make your own eyeshadow/eyeliner from activated charcoal capsules, which you can find for less than $10 at your local health food store, and it works so well! Much better than any other eyeshadow or eyeliner I've ever used.

And finally, the lip balm. This is the one product I use all the time. Right after Vivian was born, the only things I wanted were water and my lip balm - ha ha! This recipe is marvelous, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to make enough to have one tin in every room of the house. It really is that good! Here's how to make it:

1t beeswax
1T coconut oil
1T grapeseed oil
6 drops orange essential oil (You can substitute other essential oils here; just be sure they're safe to apply to the skin!)

  • Heat beeswax and oils together in oven (on lowest temperature setting possible) till melted.
  • Remove from oven and add essential oil.
  • Pour into 2 lip balm tins, cap, and allow to cool.
These three things are so easy and inexpensive to make on your own, and the finished products are well worth the small bit of effort required. If you try any of them, I'd love to hear how they turn out!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Blueberry Studded Lemon Cookies

So even though I write a blog about health, it's no secret that I have an insatiable sweet tooth. (Someday I really, really want to cut sugar out of my life, but not today!) Today I had no means of satisfying that sweet tooth - no ready made goodies and none of the right ingredients to whip something up. I was desperate enough that I took stock of what I had and with it miraculously came up with the most divine cookie ever. I present to you Blueberry Studded Lemon Cookies.

I say these are blueberry studded because lemon really is the star of the show. I'm a bit lemon crazed; I just can't get enough of it, and so I used the zest and juice of an entire, rather large, organic lemon in this recipe.

Next time I want to try to vegetarianize them, replacing the butter with coconut oil and the egg with a chia egg, and I would also like to try a Lemon Lavender version because I love lavender as well. (Have I mentioned that I started an entire packet of lavender seeds? Some women think you can't have enough shoes, some think you can never have too many handbags. Me, I don't think you can ever have too much lavender or lemon!)

Blueberry Studded Lemon Cookies
1/2c organic butter, softened
3/4c honey
1 egg
Zest and juice of 1 organic lemon
1t vanilla
2c flour
2t aluminum free baking powder
1/2t salt
1c frozen blueberries
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line cookie sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
  • Cream together butter and honey, then add egg, lemon zest and juice, and vanilla extract, blending well.
  • Mix in dry ingredients.
  • Fold in blueberries.
  • Drop by rounded tablespoonful onto cookie sheet and bake 14 minutes.
  • Devour and share with a friend!
I have no idea how many cookies this recipe makes because I ate way too much cookie dough. Sweet tooth satisfied!

And the Viv photo for the post. This is her today during tummy time! She's 12 weeks old!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Wet Your Plants

My dear friend shared with me this sign she saw at a garden center: "Spring is here. We're so excited we wet our plants!" I must say I concur! At the time of my last post, Clint had just built the frames for my raised beds. This past weekend, he filled them with a truckload of deliciously-rich-with-compost soil, and I finally got to plant my first garden!
I know you're going to be a little surprised about this, but I went a little overboard in my planting (all from seed). I planted, or have started inside, four varieties of heirloom tomatoes, heirloom lemon cucumber, a flower petal salad, four varieties of basil, rosemary, thyme, parsley, oregano, lavender, heirloom summer squash, heirloom sweet pepper, heirloom okra, cardoon, heirloom purple carrots, spinach, red romaine, heirloom curly kale, borage, swiss chard, beets, broccoli, mesculun, beans, heirloom peas, milk thistle, calendula, chives, lemon balm, cilantro, dill, and echinacea. I promise I held back. The list of what I didn't plant but wanted to is just as long. Maybe we can add another bed or two next year.
Yes, I have a superman husband, and Vivian even helped too!
And, our CSA starts in two weeks, and the farmers market reopened this past Saturday! Yes, I'm definitely wetting my plants. Are you wetting yours? Have you planted anything this year?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

As of Late

Well, obviously I don't have nearly the time to blog as I did before The Viv. Sorry about that! She's zonked out at the moment though, so I thought I'd post some quick food-spiration. So here you have it, an actual original recipe of mine. But that's not as exciting as it sounds. I had an empty kitchen but was hungry for something healthy, so I pretty much just combined everything I had, and it was delish! Without further ado, I give you Black Bean & Pesto Quinoa.

Black Bean & Pesto Quinoa
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 zucchini
2 cups cooked black beans
8 oz arugula pesto
Raw sunflower seeds
  • Cook the quinoa
  • Cube zucchini and combine on cookie sheet with black beans. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in a 350 degree oven till zucchini is slightly browned and beans are crispy.
  • Thaw arugula pesto in a sink of hot water. (Haha, I had this in my freezer from the abundance of arugula I was getting in my fall CSA share. If you don't have frozen arugula pesto on hand, just make pesto like you normally would but sub arugula for basil!)
  • Once everything is cooked, roasted, and thawed, stir it all together, top with sunflower seeds, and enjoy!

 I also made this amazing, and I mean amazing, Edamame and toasted Coconut in Avocado recipe from Joy the Baker. This is a recipe I plan to repeat at least once a week; it's that good!

Last weekend Clint, Vivian, and I spent the majority of our time outside, and my super fantastic amazing husband built me two raised garden beds! I absolutely cannot wait to get planting!

And here's Viv in her retro Baby Banz. They're perfect for all her adventures!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Very Special Gift

Family and friends have been beyond generous and supportive of Clint and me as we have welcomed our new baby into the world. We've been almost smothered with gifts, cards, and prayers over the past six months or so! One of the most special gifts we received is this handmade quilt from my very dear friend Sharon.
The quilting and binding are all hand stitched, and Vivian's full name is beautifully embroidered in one corner. There is so much love and friendship in each of those individual stitches and in each piece of fabric chosen that I was overcome with emotion when the quilt arrived in the mail and I tore into the package. Viv is so lucky at have such a wonderful auntie, and I am so thankful to have such a wonderful friend!

Vivian (when she was a newborn) is obviously quite content wrapped up in so much love.

The beautiful hand stitching of her name
If you love the quilt as much as I do, you should check out Sharon's portfolio. I can guarantee it'll blow you away. She's one of the most talented and creative people I know, and her portfolio perfectly represents her unique style and skill!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Spring is in the Air

I have a nostalgic obsession with rhubarb. My great aunt used to grow rhubarb in her garden and dutifully deliver bags of it to my mom every spring. My mom would then turn it into the most amazing rhubarb crisp. That combination of sweet and tangy couldn't be more perfect, but now the copious amounts of butter and sugar are much less appealing to me! So with spring in the air and rhubarb season upon us, I was on the hunt for a healthy rhubarb recipe. Let me tell you, it wasn't easy! Most are either for strawberry rhubarb pie or variations on the rhubarb crisp my mom used to make. Obviously not an improvement nutritionally. Finally though, I found a recipe for Chia Rhubarb Apricot Muffins that sounded quite delightful, and it sure was! If you're a rhubarb fan, I recommend you make these as soon as you can get your hands on some fresh rhubarb!

I've also been craving massive amounts of veggies. I just can't seem to get enough! So when I spotted this recipe for Wild Rice and Quinoa Power Party in a Bowl that contains at least five different vegetables, I knew I'd found the perfect meal. In this photo, I topped it with avocado to make it even more delicious and nutritious!

And I think it's nearly impossible for me to post anymore without sharing a recent photo of Vivian, and this one sure does make me laugh!

Love and veggies, Lizzie

Thursday, March 1, 2012

TOMS Shoes

If you have a pair of TOMS and you're like me, you love you your TOMS! And what's not to love? Their motto is "One for One." Every time you buy a pair of shoes from TOMS, they give a pair to a child in need. As if the cuteness of the shoes wasn't enough, the company's philanthropy has only added to their crazy popularity. My poor TOMS are pretty beat up by now. I got them way back when the company was pretty new, and then my dog got a hold of them, but they're still great, right? Well, maybe they're actually not so great. Not too long after I purchased my pair, I noticed a little tag on the inside of the TOMS of my other friends, a tag not present in mine, a tag that read, "Made in China." What could this mean? We all know that many American companies outsource the production of their goods to China or other countries for the cheap labor and slack regulations. I personally try to avoid buying things from these countries because I don't want to support exploitation of any kind, wherever it lies on the scale between unfair labor practices and human trafficking, unless the company is dedicated to and transparent about paying their employees a living wage and investing in the betterment of the community. If that was the case behind the "Made in China" tag inside TOMS shoes, I'm still all about supporting them. If not however, it seems even worse than a company like Nike (who is well known for their exploitation of workers in the name of profit) doing the same thing because TOMS bases their entire image on doing good in the world, and exploiting the poor and vulnerable does not match up with doing good in the world. Well, my dear friend was considering purchasing a pair of TOMS and wanted to find out about their manufacturing practices, so she emailed the company. Below is their reply.

Does that answer satisfy you? It sure didn't satisfy me. What exactly does "representatives in the factories virtually every day" mean? Who are these representatives, and what exactly are they doing? And the term "human rights and safety efforts" sounds pretty weak to me. Come on TOMS, we need more than "effort" in this area, we need actual, concrete, ethical practices! I think this response from TOMS is weak, shallow, and does little to conceal that at the end of the day, they're more about profit than they are about giving back, despite all the bravado indicating otherwise.

I don't want to leave you without a alternative to the TOMS disappointment! Check out the company, soleRebels. They make their shoes in Ethopia, and pay their workers a living wage. They use locally sourced organic materials and utilize recycled and artisan materials as well, among many other positive things! Now that's a company I can get behind and support wholeheartedly!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Amateur Green Smoothie

Have you jumped onto the green smoothie bandwagon yet? I've tried before but was unsuccessful for two reasons. 1. I didn't have a good enough blender to get the greens completely pulverized. 2. I shamefully admit that I just didn't like them that much. What respectable eater of a mostly whole foods plant based diet doesn't like green smoothies? I was ashamed of myself! Well I can now say with relief that I've joined the green smoothie club with my beginner's recipe I recently came up with, and now I'll share it with you so you can join the club as well. It seems that most people do green smoothies for breakfast, but I've found that I love them as an afternoon snack. You know that time around two or three in the afternoon when you hit an energy slump and crave sugar? This will provide you with enough sweetness to satisfy that craving and give you real energy to make it through the rest of your day!

The Amateur Green Smoothie
1 frozen banana
Handful frozen pineapple
Handful spinach
Coconut water

This is obviously just a simple base that can be added to and/or adapted. I hope you try it, love it, feel great, and begin incorporating green smoothies into your diet every day!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Gratitude and Grains

This morning Miss V and I went on a short walk. She wore her best friend Fern's eggplant hat to stay warm, and I bundled her up inside my fleece. These little outings are now the highlight of my day! Needless to say, life has become much simpler around the Ross household since she was born just over a month ago. (FYI, simple does not always mean less stressful, hardy har har.) Sometimes that simplicity seems mind-numbingly boring, but it's really the most wonderful thing in the world. This time that I get to spend so intensely connected with my daughter will be gone in a flash, and I'll be reminiscing about her newborn days. I was reminded of how precious all of it is by some shocking news I received today. My step-cousin died suddenly this morning (they're not sure of the cause yet, possibly a heart attack), leaving behind three gorgeous children and an amazing wife. I'm giving Vivian lots of extra snuggles and smooches today and am feeling extra grateful for my wonderful husband Clint. I hope if you're reading this you take a little extra time today to show love and gratitude to those who are special in your life.

It's been a while since I've posted any food deliciousness, and I don't have any pictures or fancy reviews today, but I will share links to some yummy recipes that have been happening around here lately! I've unintentionally been exploring lots of new and different grains, and let me tell you, there's a whole lot more to breakfast life than oatmeal! You should pick a recipe or two out of the list to share and enjoy with those you love!

Dairy Free, Gluten Free, and Soy Free Mac & Cheese. This was so good we made it two nights in a row.
Crunchy Kale and Coconut Bowl. My first time eating farro. A new favorite.
Barley, Walnut, and Pear Salad with Raisins. I didn't have high hopes for this one, but it rocked my socks off!
Buckwheat, Chickpea, and Sweet Potato Jamaican Jerk Wrap. Was delicious as leftovers on a bed of spinach.
Toasted Four Grain Cereal. There's a tiny bit of prep the night before, but in the morning you just turn on the stove and within a few minutes have a warm, nourishing breakfast.

I have a lot more amazing recipes on my Pinterest page if you like what you see here!